Contemporary icon os Saint Mercurius (Merkourios, Merkurios).
Commemorated November 25th.
St. Mercurius icon (2)
Orthodox icon of Saint Mercurius, Merkourios, Merkurios, Mercourio (2), by Theophanis the Cretan (1530), Church of Protaton Karyes Mount Athos.
Commemorated November 25th.
St. Merope the Martyr icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Merope.
Commemorated December 2nd.
St. Methodius Bishop of Patara icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Methodius the Hieromartyr Bishop of Patara.
Commemorated June 20.
The Hieromartyr Methodius, Bishop of Patara (Lycia in Asia Minor), was distinguished for his genuine monastic humility. Calmly and with mildness he instructed his flock, but he firmly defended the purity of Orthodoxy and he energetically contended against heresies, especially the widespread heresy of the Origenists.
He left behind him a rich literary legacy: works in defense of Christianity against paganism, explications of Orthodox dogmas against the heresy of Origen, moral discourses, and explanations of Holy Scripture. St Methodius was arrested by the pagans, steadfastly confessed before them his faith in Christ, and he was sentenced to death by beheading in the year 312.
St. Miltiades the Martyr icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Miltiades the Martyr.
Commemorated April 10.
St. Modestos Icon
Orthodox Icon of Saint Modestos, Parthriarch of Jerusalem.
Protector of animals.
Commemorated December 18.
Saint Modestus was born into a Christian family in Cappadocian Sebasteia (Asia Minor). He had a strong attraction towards strict monastic life and accepted monastic tonsure. He became head of the monastery of St Theodosius the Great in Palestine. At this time (the year 614), military forces of the Persian ruler Chosroes fell upon Syria and Palestine, killing ninety thousand Christians and destroying Christian churches.
Patriarch Zacharias of Jerusalem and a multitude of Christians were taken into captivity, along with the Cross of the Lord. St Modestus was entrusted to govern the Jerusalem Church temporarily as locum tenens of the patriarchal cathedra. With the help of Patriarch John the Merciful of Alexandria, St Modestus set about restoring devastated Christian shrines, among which was the Sepulchre of the Lord. He reverently buried the murdered monks from the monastery of St Sava the Sanctified.
After fourteen years, Patriarch Zacharias returned from captivity with the Cross of the Lord, and after his death St Modestus became Patriarch of Jerusalem. St Modestus died at age 97 in the year 634.
St. Moses the Ethiopian icon.
Orthodox icon of Saint Moses the Ethiopian.
Commemorated August 2.
Saint Moses Murin the Black lived during the fourth century in Egypt. He was an Ethiopian, and he was black of skin and therefore called Murin (meaning like an Ethiopian. In his youth he was the slave of an important man, but after he committed a murder, his master banished him, and he joined a band of robbers. Because of his bad character and great physical strength they chose him as their leader.
Moses and his band of brigands did many evil deeds, both murders and robberies. People were afraid at the mere mention of his name. Moses the brigand spent several years leading a sinful life, but through the great mercy of God he repented, left his band of robbers and went to one of the desert monasteries. Here he wept for a long time, begging to be admitted as one of the brethren. The monks were not convinced of the sincerity of his repentance, but the former robber would not be driven away nor silenced. He continued to ask that they accept him. St Moses was completely obedient to the igumen and the brethren, and he poured forth many tears of sorrow for his sinful life.
After a certain while St Moses withdrew to a solitary cell, where he spent the time in prayer and the strictest fasting in a very austere lifestyle. Once, four of the robbers of his former band descended upon the cell of St Moses. He had lost none of his great physical strength, so he tied them all up. Throwing them over his shoulder, he brought them to the monastery, where he asked the Elders what to do with them. The Elders ordered that they be set free. The robbers, learning that they had chanced upon their former ringleader, and that he had dealt kindly with them, followed his example: they repented and became monks.
Later, when the rest of the band of robbers heard about the repentance of St Moses, then they also gave up their thievery and became fervent monks. St Moses was not quickly freed from the passions. He went often to the igumen, Abba Isidore, seeking advice on how to be delivered from the passions of profligacy. Being experienced in the spiritual struggle, the Elder taught him never to eat too much food, to remain partly hungry while observing the strictest moderation. But the passions did not cease to trouble St Moses in his dreams. Then Abba Isidore taught him the all-night vigil.
The monk stood the whole night at prayer, so he would not fall asleep. From his prolonged struggles St Moses fell into despondency, and when there arose thoughts about leaving his solitary cell, Abba Isidore instead strengthened the resolve of his disciple. In a vision he showed him many demons in the west, prepared for battle, and in the east a still greater quantity of holy angels, also ready for fighting. Abba Isidore explained to St Moses that the power of the angels would prevail over the power of the demons, and in the long struggle with the passions it was necessary for him to become completely cleansed of his former sins. St Moses undertook a new effort.
Making the rounds by night of the wilderness cells, he carried water from the well to each brother. He did this especially for the Elders, who lived far from the well and who were not easily able to carry their own water. Once, kneeling over the well, St Moses felt a powerful blow upon his back and he fell down at the well like one dead, laying there in that position until dawn. Thus did the devils take revenge upon the monk for his victory over them. In the morning the brethren carried him to his cell, and he lay there a whole year crippled. Having recovered, the monk with firm resolve confessed to the igumen, that he would continue to live in asceticism.
But the Lord Himself put limits to this struggle of many years: Abba Isidore blessed his disciple and said to him that the passions had already gone from him. The Elder commanded him to receive the Holy Mysteries, and to go to his own cell in peace. From that time, St Moses received from the Lord power over demons. Accounts about his exploits spread among the monks and even beyond the bounds of the wilderness. The governor of the land wanted to see the saint. When he heard of this, St Moses decided to hide from any visitors, and he departed his own cell. Along the way he met servants of the governor, who asked him how to get to the cell of the desert-dweller Moses.
The monk answered them: Go no farther to see this false and unworthy monk. The servants returned to the monastery where the governor was waiting, and they told him the words of the Elder they had chanced to meet. The brethren, hearing a description of the Elder's appearance, told them that they had encountered St Moses himself. After many years of monastic exploits, St Moses was ordained deacon. The bishop clothed him in white vestments and said, Now Abba Moses is entirely white! The saint replied, Only outwardly, for God knows that I am still dark within.Through humility, the saint believed himself unworthy of the office of deacon. Once, the bishop decided to test him and he bade the clergy to drive him out of the altar, reviling him as an unworthy Ethiopian. In all humility, the monk accepted the abuse. Having put him to the test, the bishop then ordained St Moses to be presbyter.
St Moses labored for fifteen years in this rank, and gathered around himself 75 disciples. When the saint reached age 75, he warned his monks that soon brigands would descend upon the skete and murder all that were there. The saint blessed his monks to leave, in order to avoid violent death. His disciples began to beseech the monk to leave with them, but he replied: u201cFor many years already I have awaited the time when the words which my Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, should be fulfilled: All who take up the sword, shall perish by the sword (Mt. 26: 52). After this, seven of the brethren remained with the monk, and one of them hid nearby during the attack of the robbers. The robbers killed St Moses and the six monks who remained with him. Their death occurred in about the year 400.
This is the Orthodox icon of Saint Natalia who was married in her youth to Saint Adrian. The emperor promised a reward to whomever would inform on Christians to bring them to trial. Then the denunciations began, and twenty-three Christians were captured in a cave near Nicomedia. They were tortured, urged to worship idols, and then brought before the Praetor, in order to record their names and responses. Adrian her husband, and the head of the praetorium, watched as these people suffered with such courage for their faith.
Seeing how firmly and fearlessly they confessed Christ, he asked: What rewards do you expect from your God for your suffering? The martyrs replied: Such rewards as we are not able to describe, nor can your mind comprehend. St Adrian told the scribes, Write my name down also, for I am a Christian and I die gladly for Christ God.The scribes reported this to the emperor, who summoned St Adrian and asked: Really, have you gone mad, that you want to die? Come, cross out your name from the lists and offer sacrifice to the gods, asking their forgiveness. St Adrian answered: I have not lost my mind, but rather have I found it.
Maximian then ordered Adrian to be thrown into prison. St Natalia, knowing that her husband was to suffer for Christ, rejoiced, since she herself was secretly a Christian.She hastened to the prison and encouraged her husband saying: You are blessed, my lord, because you have believed in Christ. You have obtained a great treasure. Do not regret anything earthly, neither beauty, nor youth (Adrian was then 28 years of age), nor riches. Everything worldly is dust and ashes. Only faith and good deeds are pleasing to God.
On the pledge of the other martyrs, they released St Adrian from prison to tell his Saint Natalia about the day of his execution. At first St Natalia thought that he had renounced Christ and thus had been set free, and she did not want to let him into the house. The saint persuaded his wife that he had not fled from martyrdom, but rather had come to give her the news of the day of his execution. They tortured St Adrian cruelly and St Natalia did not cease to encourage her husband.
She asked him also to pray to God for her, that they would not force her into marriage with a pagan after his death. The executioner ordered the hands and the legs of the saints to be broken on the anvil. St Natalia, fearing that her husband would hesitate on seeing the sufferings of the other martyrs, asked the executioner to begin with him, and permit her to put his hands and legs on the anvil herself. They wanted to burn the bodies of the saints, but a storm arose and the fire went out.
Many of the executioners even were struck by lightning. St Natalia took the hand of her husband and kept it at home. Soon an army commander asked the emperor's approval to wed St Natalia, who was both young and rich. But she hid herself away in Byzantium. St Adrian appeared to her in a dream and said that she would soon be at rest in the Lord. The martyr, worn out by her former sufferings, in fact soon fell asleep in the Lord.
St. Nektarius icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Nectarius, Nektarius, Nektarios of Aegina, the Metropolitan of Pentapolis.
Commemorated November 9.
Saint Nectarius, the great wonderworker of modern times, was born Anastasius Kephalas in Selebria, Thrace on October 1, 1846. On November 7, 1875, Anastasius received monastic tonsure at the Nea Moni Monastery on Chios, and the new name Lazarus. Two years later, he was ordained a deacon. On that occasion, his name was changed to Nectarius. Later, when he was a priest, Fr Nectarius left Chios and went to Egypt. There he was elected Metropolitan of Pentapolis. Some of his colleagues became jealous of him because of his great virtues, because of his inspiring sermons, and because of everything else which distinguished St Nectarius from them.
Other Metropolitans and bishops of the Patriarchate of Alexandria became filled with malice toward the saint, so they told Patriarch Sophronius that Nectarius was plotting to become patriarch himself. They told the patriarch that the Metropolitan of Pentapolis merely made an outward show of piety in order to win favor with the people. So the patriarch and his synod removed St Nectarius from his See. Patriarch Sophronius wrote an ambiguous letter of suspension which provoked scandal and speculation about the true reasons for the saint's removal from his position. St Nectarius was not deposed from his rank, however.
He was still allowed to function as a bishop. If anyone invited him to perform a wedding or a baptism he could do so, as long as he obtained permission from the local bishop. St Nectarius bore his trials with great patience, but those who loved him began to demand to know why he had been removed. Seeing that this was causing a disturbance in the Church of Alexandria, he decided to go to Greece. He arrived in Athens to find that false rumors about him had already reached that city.
His letter of suspension said only that he had been removed for reasons known to the Patriarchate, and so all the slanders about him were believed. Since the state and ecclesiastical authorities would not give him a position, the former Metropolitan was left with no means of support, and no place to live. Every day he went to the Minister of Religion asking for assistance. They soon tired of him and began to mistreat him. One day, as he was leaving the Minister's office, St Nectarius met a friend whom he had known in Egypt.
Surprised to find the beloved bishop in such a condition, the man spoke to the Minister of Religion and Education and asked that something be found for him. So, St Nectarius was appointed to be a humble preacher in the diocese of Vitineia and Euboea. The saint did not regard this as humiliating for him, even though a simple monk could have filled that position. He went to Euboea to preach in the churches, eagerly embracing his duties. Yet even here, the rumors of scandal followed him. Sometimes, while he was preaching, people began to laugh and whisper.
Therefore, the blameless one resigned his position and returned to Athens. By then some people had begun to realize that the rumors were untrue, because they saw nothing in his life or conversation to suggest that he was guilty of anything. With their help and influence, St Nectarius was appointed Director of the Rizarios Seminary in Athens on March 8, 1894. He was to remain in that position until December of 1908. The saint celebrated the services in the seminary church, taught the students, and wrote several edifying and useful books. Since he was a quiet man, St Nectarius did not care for the noise and bustle of Athens. He wanted to retire somewhere where he could pray.
On the island of Aegina he found an abandoned monastery dedicated to the Holy Trinity, which he began to repair with his own hands. He gathered a community of nuns, appointing the blind nun Xenia as abbess, while he himself served as Father Confessor. Since he had a gift for spiritual direction, many people came to Aegina to confess to him. Eventually, the community grew to thirty nuns. He used to tell them, I am building a lighthouse for you, and God shall put a light in it that will shine forth to the world. Many will see this light and come to Aegina. They did not understand what he was telling them, that he himself would be that beacon, and that people would come there to venerate his holy relics.
On September 20, 1920 the nun Euphemia brought an old man in black robes, who was obviously in pain, to the Aretaieion Hospital in Athens. This was a state hospital for the poor. The intern asked the nun for information about the patient. Is he a monk? he asked. No, he is a bishop. The intern laughed and said, Stop joking and tell me his name, Mother, so that I can enter it in the register.He is indeed a bishop, my child. He is the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Pentapolis.The intern muttered, For the first time in my life I see a bishop without a Panagia or cross, and more significantly, without money.
Then the nun showed the saint's credentials to the astonished intern who then admitted him. For two months St Nectarius suffered from a disease of the bladder. At ten thirty on the evening of November 8, 1920, he surrendered his holy soul to God. He died in peace at the age of seventy-four. In the bed next to St Nectarius was a man who was paralyzed. As soon as the saint had breathed his last, the nurse and the nun who sat with him began to dress him in clean clothing to prepare him for burial at Aegina.
They removed his sweater and placed it on the paralyzed man's bed. Immediately, the paralytic got up from his bed, glorifying God. St Nectarius was buried at the Holy Trinity Monastery on Aegina. Several years later, his grave was opened to remove his bones (as is the custom in Greece). His body was found whole and incorrupt, as if he had been buried that very day. Word was sent to the Archbishop of Athens, who came to see the relics for himself. Archbishop Chrysostomos told the nuns to leave them out in the sun for a few days, then to rebury them so that they would decay.
A month or two after this, they opened the grave again and found the saint incorrupt. Then the relics were placed in a marble sarcophagus. Several years later, the holy relics dissolved, leaving only the bones. The saint's head was placed in a bishop's mitre, and the top was opened to allow people to kiss his head. Both during his life and after his death, St Nectarius has performed thousands of miracles, especially for those suffering from cancer. There are more churches dedicated to St Nectarius than to any other modern Orthodox Saint.
St. Nektarius icon (2)
Orthodox icon of Saint Nektarius,Nektarios of Aegina, Bishop of Pentapolis (2).
Commemorated November 9.
St. Nektarius icon (3)
Orthodox icon of Saint Nektarius, Nektarios of Aegina, Bishop of Pentapolis (3).
Commemorated November 9.
St. Nektarius icon (4)
Orthodox icon of Saint Nektarius, Nektarios of Aegina, Bishop of Pentapolis (4).
Commemorated November 9th.
St. Nektarius icon (5)
Orthodox icon of Saint Nektarius, Nektarios of Aegina, Bishop of Pentapolis (5)
. Commemoreted November 9th.
St. Neophytes of Cyprus Icon
Orthodox Icon of Neophytes of Cyprus .
Commemorated April 12th.
St. Neophytos was born in the year 1134.He secretly departed from his paternal home and sought to find a monastery where his parents would not find him. He found a monastery on Mount Koutsoventes dedicated to Saint John Chrysostom.There he struggled devoutly in the monastery. His parents soon discovered where he was concealed. When his parents saw the fervor of his faith, they acceded to his monastic desire. Once again he set out for the Monastery of Saint John Chrysostom.
He was tonsured and was clothed in monastic garments and was given the obedience to work in the vineyards. After working in the vineyard for five years, he was given a blessing by the abbot to become the monastery's ecclesiarch in which capacity he served for two years. He desired was to go to the Holy Lands to live as an ascetic under the guidance of a desert father. Receiving permission he left for the Holy Land where he venerated all the holy places around Jerusalem.
One day as he was asking for Gods direction our Lord appeared to him and spoke to him in the following words: "Not in this desert but go to another place where the king will descend and grant you a morsel." Saint Neophytos returned to the Monastery of Saint John Chrysostom until he could determine to which desert our Lord was directing him. The Lord God in His wisdom and out of love for the Orthodox people of Cyprus did not allow the blessed one to leave the Island. He left the city and went north of Paphos, high on a mountain, he found a desert place with a steep precipice.
There he found a small cave and immediately knew that this was the desert which the Lord selected for him. After fifteen months, on the Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross [September 14th] his cave was ready. Within this cave he vowed to enclose himself giving it the name Enkleistra or Enclosure. He confined himself to physical darkness so that he may receive the Heavenly and Uncreated Light of the Most Holy Trinity.
His fame spread everywhere and many flocked to him for his prayers and blessing. In a divine vision Basil, the Bishop of Paphos, was commanded by our Lord to ordain His Saint to the Priesthood. He was thirty-six years of age when through Gods Providence he entered the final stage of preparation which would make him the spiritual father of all Cyprus when the Latin cloud would descend upon it. With his few disciples he started the construction of a monastery not too far from his cave.
For thirteen years they worked unceasingly to build this future spiritual centre of Cyprus, as if the man of God knew what the Lord had ordained for him. Not only did he insure that the monastery had as many writings of the great Fathers as possible, but he zealously endeavored to acquire the Holy Relics of many Saints for the fathers to venerate and from which they would receive enlightenment. On May 6th 1191, Richard the Lion-Heart invaded and captured Cyprus on his way to Jerusalem to take part in the Third Crusade.
From this day on the people of Cyprus were ruled by non-Orthodox foreigners until 1958. Richard the Lion-Heart sold Cyprus to the monastic order of the Knights Templars, who in turn sold it to the deposed King of Jerusalem, Guy de Lusignan, in 1192. The Franks introduced the Feudal system and all Cypriots became serfs. The Orthodox Church was persecuted and all educated people and most bishops were forced to leave. Using similar methods in Southern Italy and in Sicily, the Papacy forced the people to become Roman Catholics.
Saint Neophytos, at fifty-eight years of age, Saint Neophytos led the resistance against the latinization of Cyprus without going against his vow to remain in his cave. He decided that after forty years in his beloved cave he would have to leave and go higher up on the precipice. Placing a ladder on the ledge outside his cave he stood on top of the ladder and excavated a small opening which with time he enlarged so that it would become his new place of habitation. Once the new cave was complete he wished to make a ledge upon which he could walk.
As the ledge was nearing completion, Satan, the hater of good, caused a boulder to dislodge and, as it rolled, it took with it the man of God. The Lord, however, wished to glorify His Saint even more and just as the Saint was about to roll off the ledge and fall to his death, the boulder was held back by the hand of God. Underneath the boulder the Saints right hand and part of his robe were caught whereas the rest of him was already over the ledge. The Fathers who were watching helplessly from down below glorified God for His mercy and rushed to dislodge the Saint from the boulder. This new cave was named New Zion.
There, he accustomed himself to living in total silence not even attending the Divine Services except on the Lords Day, on which day he would also instruct his disciples. The man of God reposed on April 12th, 1219.