Saint Mary of Egypt
The biography of this wonderful saint was written by St. Sophronius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Once, during Great Lent, a certain priest-monk, the Elder Zosimas, withdrew into the wilderness beyond the Jordan, a twenty-day trek. Suddenly, he caught sight of a human being with a withered and naked body, whose hair was as white as snow, and who fled from Zosimas’s sight. The elder ran for a long while, until this person stopped at a brook and cried out: “Abba Zosimas, forgive me for the sake of the Lord. I cannot face you, for I am a naked woman.” Learn More
Venerable Joseph the Hymnographer*
Joseph was born in Sicily of pious and virtuous parents, Plotinus and Agatha. After the death of his parents, Joseph moved to Thessalonica, where he was tonsured a monk. As a monk, he was a model to all in fasting, extreme abstinence, ceaseless prayer, chanting of the Psalms, vigils and labor. The bishop of Thessalonica ordained him a hieromonk. While visiting Thessalonica, the distinguished Gregory of Decapolis was so impressed with Joseph, because of his rare character, that he invited him to his monastery in Constantinople. When the flame of the iconoclastic heresy erupted again under Leo the Armenian, Joseph was sent to Rome to call upon the pope and the Roman Church to battle for Orthodoxy. While en route, Joseph was captured by pirates and taken to Crete, where the heretics detained him in prison for six years. Joseph rejoiced that he was made worthy to suffer for Christ, and for that he continually praised God, considering his iron chains as an adornment of gold. Early in the morning on the Feast of Christ’s Nativity, in the sixth year of Joseph’s imprisonment, the wicked Emperor Leo was slain in church while attending matins. At that same moment, St. Nicholas appeared to Joseph in prison, saying: “Arise and follow me!” Joseph felt himself being elevated in the air and, all at once, found himself before the gates of Constantinople. All true believers rejoiced at his coming. He composed canons and hymns for many saints. He possessed the gift of clairvoyance, for which Patriarch Photios appointed him the spiritual father and confessor for priests, recommending him as “a man of God, an angel in the flesh and a father of fathers.” In extreme old age, Joseph gave up his soul to the Lord, Whom he had faithfully served both in works and in hymns. He died peacefully on the eve of Holy and Great Thursday in the year 883.
Saint Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople
Our holy father Eutychius was born in a Phrygian village in about 512. He was brought up by his grandfather, the skevophylax of the Church of Augustopolis, and afterwards went to Constantinople to continue his studies. Understanding that the wisdom of this world is folly, he dreamed of embracing the monastic life. However, God showed him that He called him to another service for the upbuilding of the Church, and he was ordained priest at the age of thirty by the Metropolitan of Amaseia, who wished him to be Bishop of Lazica. When someone else was elected to this see, Eutychius was able to realize his holy project and retire to the monastery of Amaseia, where he later became its abbot. Learn More
Holy Hieromartyr Gregory V, Patriarch of Constantinople
Born in 1745 in the bosom of a poor family from Dimitsane in the Peloponnese, Saint Gregory received his earliest education from his uncle who was a hieromonk, and then went to live with him in Smyrna. Becoming a monk in the monastery on the island of the Strophades, he completed his theological studies on Patmos. On his return to Smyrna, Metropolitan Procopius, who showed him a fatherly affection, made him archdeacon and then ordained him priest. When Procopius was elevated to the Patriarchate in 1788, he consecrated Gregory to succeed him.
For twelve years, the holy hierarch governed the great and wealthy city of Smyrna, the metropolis of Hellenism in Asia Minor, with wisdom and apostolic zeal. He had several churches rebuilt there, founded schools and organized a system of charity for the underprivileged. Learn More
Our Holy Father Martin I, Pope of Rome, and of the Holy Bishops of the West who suffered with him for the True Faith
This pillar of Orthodoxy lived in the time of the Emperor Constans II Pogonatus (641-68). Barely three months after Saint Martin had been raised to the episcopal throne in 649, a council of a hundred and five bishops was convened in the Basilica of St. John Lateran. This council condemned the Monothelite heresy and the Typos, published by the Emperor, in which truth and error were confused through political opportunism. Saint Martin, having been Pope Theodore’s apocrisiarius in Constantinople, was well informed of the intentions of the Emperor and his theologians, who, in proclaiming one single will in Christ, were deviously seeking to bring the Monophysites of the East back into alliance. Learn More
Holy Virgin Martyrs Agape, Chionia and Irene and their companions
Agape, Chionia and Irene were three sisters who came from a wealthy and influential family in Thessalonica. When the edict of Diocletian was proclaimed (c. 304), which prohibited people from keeping copies of the Holy Scriptures in their homes, they fled from the city to protect their faith and settled at the top of a high mountain, near a lake, where they led a life of prayer with a holy ascetic named Zoilus. They remained in the body at the top of the mountain, but their spirits were already established in heaven.
When Saint Chrysogonus, the spiritual father of Saint Anastasia Pharmocolytria (22 Dec.), perished by the persecutors’ swords, God revealed to Zoilus the place where the martyr’s body was to be found, so that he could give it worthy burial. Some days later, Chrysogonus appeared to him in a dream and told him that, nine days later, the three sisters would be arrested and would gloriously offer their lives for Christ, together with Saint Anastasia. Learn More
Holy New Martyr John of Ioannina
Saint John came from Ioannina in Epirus. On the death of his parents, he went to live in Constantinople, where he had acquired a little workshop in order to work as a tailor. He lived a devout and God-pleasing life. The Turks of the neighbourhood put endless pressure on him to renounce his faith in order to acquire riches and many advantages from the Sultan. The Saint repulsed these propositions, making fun of them. Finally, the pesterings of the Turks gave birth in him to the desire to offer his life for love of Christ. He spoke of this to his confessor, who wisely dissuaded him. Learn More
Saint George the Great Martyr and Triumphant*
This glorious and victorious saint was born in Cappadocia, the son of wealthy and virtuous parents. His father suffered for Christ, and his mother then moved to Palestine. When George grew up he entered the military, where he attained, in this twentieth year, the rank of tribune, and as such he was in the service of the Emperor Diocletian. When Diocletian began his terrible persecution of Christians, George came before him and courageously confessed that he was a Christian. Learn More
The Holy Martyrs Pasicrates and Valentine
Originally from Durostorum (now Silistra in Bulgaria), in Moesia, the two holy martyrs served in the Roman army during the persecution of Diocletian. Pasicrates was twenty-two years old and Valentine was thirty. Realising that many Christians had submitted to the imperial edicts and had sacrificed to idols through fear of torture, they were seized by a divine zeal and publicly proclaimed themselves disciples of Christ, probably at the same time as Saint Julius the Veteran, one of their fellow-citizens. Learn More
Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark*
Mark was a traveling companion and assistant to the Apostle Peter, who, in his first Epistle, calls him his son – not a son according to the flesh but a son according to the spirit (I Peter 5:13). While Mark was in Rome with Peter, the faithful begged him to write down the saving teaching of the Lord Jesus, His miracles and His life for them. Thus Mark wrote his Holy Gospel, which the Apostle Peter himself saw and bore witness to as true. Mark as appointed as bishop by the Apostle Peter and was sent to Egypt to preach. And thus St. Mark was the first preacher of the Gospel and the first bishop in Egypt. Egypt was entirely oppressed by the thick darkness of paganism, idolatry, soothsaying and malice. With the help of God, St. Mark succeeded in sowing the seed of the teaching of Christ throughout Libya, Ammonicia and Pentapolis. From Pentapolis St. Mark came to Alexandria, where the Spirit of God led him. In Alexandria he succeeded in establishing the Church of God, in ordaining bishops, priests and deacons, and in firmly strengthening them all in the honorable Faith. Mark confirmed his preaching through many great miracles. When the heathens raised accusations against Mark as a destroyer of their idolatrous faith, and when the governor of the city began searching for Mark, he again fled to Pentapolis, where he continued to strengthen his earlier work. After two years, Mark returned to Alexandria, to the great joy of all the faithful, whose number had greatly multiplied. On this occasion, the pagans seized Mark, bound him tightly, and began to drag him over the cobblestone pavement, crying out: “Let us drag the ox to the pen.” Wounded and bloodied all over, Mark was cast into prison, where at first a heavenly angel appeared to him, encouraging and strengthening him. Then Lord Jesus Himself appeared to him and said: “Peace be to thee, Mark, my Evangelist!” To this Mark replied: “Peace to be Thee also, my Lord Jesus Christ!” The next day the vicious men brought Mark out of prison and again dragged him through the streets with the same cry: “Let us drag the ox to the pen.” Completely exhausted and worn out, Mark uttered: “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” Mark expired and his soul went to the better world. His holy relics were honorably buried by Christians and, through the centuries, have given people healing from all afflictions, pains and diseases.