Holy Apostle Bartholomew*
Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Great Apostles. From all appearances, Bartholomew and Nathaniel are one and the same person. Together with the Apostle Philip and Philip’s sister, the virgin Mariamna – and for a time with St. John the Theologian – Bartholomew preached the Gospel first throughout Asia, then in India and finally in Armenia, where he died a martyr’s death. In Hierapolis, these holy apostles, by prayer, caused the death of a large serpent that the heathens kept in their temple and worshiped. Learn More
Holy Martyr Aquilina of Syria*
Aquilina was born in the Palestinian town of Biblos of honorable Christian parents. At age seven little Aquilina was already completely versed in the true Christian life, and at age ten she was so filled with divine understanding and the grace of the Holy Spirit that she preached Christ to her female companions with great power and zeal. When Diocletian’s persecution began, someone accused Aquilina before Volusian, the imperial deputy, who was more like a beast than a man. Volusian first ordered that Aquilina be flogged and then that a red-hot rod be passed through her ears and brain. To the last moment, the virgin Aquilina freely and openly confessed Christ the Lord, but when her brains and blood began to flow from her head, she fell as though dead. The deputy, thinking Aquilina was indeed dead, ordered her body to be carried outside the city and thrown upon a dung heap for the dogs to consume. But an angel of God appeared to her at night and said to her: “Arise, and be whole!” The virgin arose and was whole, and for a long time she offered up praise of thanksgiving to God, imploring Him not to deprive her of fulfilling the ascetic feat of martyrdom. A voice from heaven was heard: “Go; it shall be unto you as you ask!” And Aquilina set out for the town. The gates of the town of their own accord before her, and she entered the palace of the deputy like a spirit and appeared before his bed. The Deputy was seized with unspeakable fear, seeing alive the virgin whom he thought was dead. The following day, at his command, the executioners led Aquilina out to behead her. Before her beheading, the virgin Aquilina prayed to God on her knees and gave up her soul. The executioner cut off her lifeless head. Her relics gave healing to many of the sick. Aquilina was twelve years old when she suffered for the Lord. She suffered and was crowned with a martyr’s wreath in the year 293.
Jude the Holy Apostle and Brother of Our Lord*
St. Jude was one of the Twelve Apostles. He was the son of Joseph and Salome (not the Salome of Bethlehem, not another) and the brother of James, the brother of the Lord. Joseph the carpenter had four sons with Salome: James, Hosea, Simon and Jude. This Jude is sometimes called “Jude, the brother of James” due to his brother being better-known (Luke 6:16, Acts 1:13). St. Jude begins his epistle in this manner: Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James (Jude 1:1). Even though he could call himself the brother of the Lord as much as James, he did not do this, out of humility and shame, for he did not at first believe in Christ the Lord. When the elderly Joseph, before his death, wanted to leave a portion of his estate to Jesus, as well as to his other children, all of them protested, even Jude. Only James voluntarily set aside a share of his portion and intended it for Jesus. Jude is also called Levi and Thaddaeus. There is another Thaddaeus of the Seventy Apostles (August 21), but this Thaddaeus or Jude was one of the Great Apostles. Jude preached the Gospel throughout Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Idumea, Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia and Armenia. In Edessa, the town of Abgar, he augmented the preaching of the other Thaddaeus. When Jude was preaching in the regions around Ararat, he was captured by pagans, crucified on a cross and killed by being shot with arrows, that he might reign eternally in the Kingdom of Christ.
Nativity of Saint John the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord*
Six months before his appearance in Nazareth to the All-holy Virgin Mary, the great Gabriel, the archangel of God, appeared to Zacharias the high priest in the Temple at Jerusalem. Before announcing the miraculous conception by the unwedded virgin, the archangel announced the miraculous conception by the childless old woman. Zacharias did not immediately believe the words of the herald of God, and thus his tongue was bound by dumbness and it remained thus until eight days after the birth of John. On that day the relatives of Zacharias and Elizabeth gathered for the young child’s circumcision and naming. When they asked the father what name he wished to give to his son, since he was mute he wrote on a tablet, “John.” At that moment his tongue was loosed and he began to speak. The home of Zacharias was on the heights between Bethlehem and Hebron. Throughout all Israel there was spread the news of the appearance of the angel of God to Zacharias, as well as that of his dumbness and the loosing of his tongue at the moment he wrote the name “John.” The news of this even reached Herod. Therefore, when Herod sent soldiers to slay the children in Bethlehem, he directed men to the hills, to the dwelling place of the family of Zacharias, to kill John also. But Elizabeth promptly hid the child. Enraged at this, King Herod sent his executioners to Zacharias in the Temple to slay him (for it happened that it was again Zacharias’s turn to serve in the Temple of Jerusalem). Zacharias was slain between the court and the temple and his blood coagulated and petrified on the paving stones and remained a perpetual witness against Herod. Elizabeth hid with the child in a cave, where she died soon after. The young child John remained alone in the wilderness under the care of God and His angels.
Saints Peter and Paul, the Holy Apostles*
Peter was the son of Jonah and the brother of Andrew the First-called. He was of the tribe of Simeon, from the town of Bethsaida. He was a fisherman and was at first called Simon, but the Lord was pleased to call him Cephas, or Peter (John 1:42). He was the first of the disciples to clearly express faith in the Lord Jesus, saying: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16). His love for the Lord was great, and his faith in the Lord became gradually stronger. Learn More
Synaxis of the Holy, Glorious and All-praised Twelve Apostles*
Even though each of the Twelve Great Apostles has his own particular feast day during the year, the Church has set aside this day as a general feast of all the apostles together, and Paul with them. These are the names and the separate feast days of the Holy Twelve:
|Peter||June 29 and January 16|
|James the Son of Zebedee||April 30|
|John the Theologian||September 26 and May 8|
|Bartholomew||June 11 and August 25|
|Matthew the Evangelist||November 16|
|James the Son of Alphaeus||October 9|
|Thaddaeus or Jude the Brother of James||June 19|
|Simon the Zealot||May 10|
Let us also recall how each of these, the most holy and selfless men in the history of the world, ended his earthly life:
—Peter was crucified upside down.
—Andrew was crucified.
—James the Son of Zebedee was beheaded.
—John the Theologian reposed in a miraculous manner.
—Philip was crucified.
—Bartholomew was crucified, flayed and beheaded.
—Thomas was pierced with five spears.
—Matthew the Evangelist was burned alive.
—James the son of Alphaeus was crucified.
—Thaddaeus or Jude the Brother of James was crucified.
—Simon the Zealot was crucified.
—Matthias was stoned and then beheaded after death.
—Paul was beheaded.