2020-06-04

Science of the Saints, 5 June, The Holy Martyr Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre


The Hieromartyr Dorotheus was bishop of the Phoenician city of Tyre, during the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Heeding the words of the Gospel, the saint withdrew from Tyre and hid away from the persecutors. He returned to Tyre during the reign of Saint Constantine the Great (306-337). Again occupying the bishop's throne he guided his flock for more than 50 years, and converted many of the pagans to Christianity. 

When the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) began openly to persecute Christians, Saint Dorotheus was already over 100 years old. He withdrew from Tyre to the Myzean city of Udum (present day Bulgarian Varna). Delegates of the emperor arrested him there. For his refusal to offer sacrifice to idols they began cruelly to torture the holy elder, and under torture he gave up his soul to the Lord (+ c. year 362, at age 107).

To Saint Dorotheus is ascribed by some the compiling of a work, "The Synopsis," a collection of sayings including lives of the holy prophets and apostles.

2020-06-03

Science of the Saints, 4 June, Our Holy Father Metrophanes, Patriarch of Constantinople


Sainted Mitrophanes, Patriarch of Constantinople, was a contemporary of Saint Constantine the Great (306-337). His father, Dometius, was by birth a brother of the Roman emperor Probus (276-282). Having reasoned out the falseness of the pagan religion, Dometius came to believe in Christ. During a time of terrible persecution of Christians at Rome, Saint Dometius set off to Byzantium with two of his sons, Probus and Mitrophanes, and began to be instructed in the law of the Lord by Bishop Titus, a man holy of life. Seeing the ardent desire of Dometius to labour for the Lord, Saint Titus ordained him presbyter. And after the death of Titus there was elevated upon the bishop's throne first Dometius (272-303), and thereafter his sons, Probus (303-315), and in 316 Saint Mitrophanes.

Upon a time having come to Byzantium, the emperor Constantine was delighted by the beauty and comfortable setting of the city. And having seen the holiness of life and sagacity of Saint Mitrophanes, the emperor took him back along to Rome. Soon Constantine the Great transferred the capital from Rome to Byzantium and he brought Saint Mitrophanes there. In the year 325 there was convened the First Ecumenical Council for resolving the Arian heresy. Constantine the Great had the holy fathers of the Council bestow upon Saint Mitrophanes the title of Patriarch. In such manner, the saint became the first Patriarch of Constantinople. Saint Mitrophanes was himself very old, and was not able to be present at the Council, and he sent in place of himself the chorbishop Alexander. At the close of the Council the emperor together with the holy fathers visited with the ailing Patriarch. At the request of the emperor, the saint disclosed his choice of worthy successor to himself - Bishop Alexander, foretelling that after Alexander there would be elevated upon the patriarchal throne Paul (at that time a reader), and to the Patriarch of Alexandria Alexander he foretold that his successor would be the archdeacon Saint Athanasius.

Saint Mitrophanes peacefully expired to God in the year 326, at age 117. His relics rest at Constantinople in a church erected in his memory.

2020-06-02

Science of the Saints, 3 June, The Holy Martyr Lucillian and his Companions


The Holy Martyrs Lucillian, his companions Claudius, Ipatius, Dionysius, and Paula the Virgin: Lucillian was a pagan priest during the time of the Roman emperor Aurelian (270-275). In his old age he became persuaded of the falseness of the pagan religion, and with all his heart he turned to the faith in Christ the Saviour, and was baptised.

Under the influence of his preaching many a pagan was converted to Christianity. Then certain Jews, out of concern for his spreading faith in the Christ crucified by them, reported against Lucillian to the Nicomedia city-governor Sylvanus, who thereupon urged the elder to return to idol-worship. For his refusal, they smashed the jawbone of Saint Lucillian, beat him with canes and suspended him head downwards, and then they locked him away in prison. Here he met up with four lads that were confessors of Christianity - Claudius, Ipatius, Paul, and Dionysius. Saint Lucillian urged them to stand firm in the faith, and to fear neither tortures nor death. After a certain while they brought them to trial and then thrown into a red-hot furnace, but suddenly rain poured down extinguishing the flames, and the martyrs remained unharmed. The governor again sentenced them to death, sending them off to Byzantium for carrying out the sentence. The holy lads were beheaded by the sword, and the holy Martyr Lucillian was nailed to a cross with quite many nails.

Witness to the deed of the holy martyrs was the holy Virgin Paula, who had dedicated herself to the service of those suffering for the faith in Christ. She provided food to Christian prisoners, washed their wounds, brought medications and also buried the bodies of martyrs. After the death of Saint Lucillian and the four lads, she returned to Nicomedia and continued on with her holy service. The holy virgin was arrested and cast into a furnace, but by the power of God she remained unharmed. Then they sent her off to Byzantium, where the holy martyress was beheaded by the sword.

2020-06-01

Science of the Saints, 2 June, Our Venerable Father Nicephorus the Confessor


Sainted Nicephorus the Confessor was born in Constantinople in the second half of the eighth century. Deep faith and preparation for the deed of confessor were instilled in him by his parents, Theodore and Eudocia. They gave their son a genuine Christian upbringing, reinforced by the example of their own life. His father suffered as a confessor of Orthodoxy under the Iconoclast emperor Constantine Copronymos (740-775). His mother, having shared in all the tribulation with her husband, followed him into exile, and after his death she returned to Constantinople and finished her life in a convent. Saint Nicephorus received a fine secular education, but most of all he studied the Holy Scriptures and he read spiritual books.

During the reign of Leo IV (775-780), Saint Nicephorus received the position of imperial counselor. Situated at the imperial court, he continued to lead a strict and virtuous life, he firmly preserved the purity of his Orthodox faith and zealously defended the veneration of holy icons. After the death of Leo IV, during the reign of Constantine VI (780-797) and his mother Saint Irene, at Nicea in the year 787 was convened the Seventh Ecumenical Council, which condemned the Iconoclast heresy. Being deeply knowledgeable in the Holy Scriptures, Saint Nicephorus in the emperor's name entered into the Council in the defense of Orthodoxy, by which he rendered great assistance to the holy fathers of the Council.

After the Council, Saint Nicephorus remained for several years at court, but the whole life of vanity all more and more became burdensome to the saint. He retired his position and settled in solitude near the Bosphorus, spending his life in scholarly work, and in quietude, fasting and prayer. Saint Nicephorus built a church, founded a monastery, and led a strict monastic life even before taking monastic vows.

During the reign of emperor Nicephorus I (802-811), and after the death of the holy Patriarch Tarasios (784-806), Saint Nicephorus was chosen to his place: he received monastic vows and the priestly dignity and was elevated to the patriarchal throne on 12 April 806, on the day of holy Pascha.

Under the emperor Leo V the Armenian (813-820), a passionate adherent of the Iconoclast heresy, there again began for the Church a period of unrest and persecutions. The emperor was not immediately able to begin open persecution against Orthodoxy, since Iconoclasm was condemned at the Seventh Ecumenical Council. The holy Patriarch continued to serve in the Great church, bolding urging the people to preserve the Orthodox faith, and he led the consequent and unremitting struggle with heresy. The emperor began to recall from exile the bishops and clergy, excommunicated from the Church by the Seventh Ecumenical Council. Having convened with them an heretical council, the emperor demanded that the Patriarch appear for a dispute about the faith. The Patriarch refused to argue about the faith with heretics, since the teachings of the Iconoclasts were already condemned in the anathema of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. He endeavoured all the more to bring the emperor and those around him to their senses, he fearlessly explained to the people the teaching about the veneration of holy icons, he wrote admonitions to the empress and to the city-governor Eutykhianos, the closest one to the imperial dignity, attaching at the end the prophetic words about a quick perishing of heretics from "the punishing hands of the Lord." Then the heretical council passed an excommunication of holy Patriarch Nicephorus and his predecessors, the blessedly-reposing Patriarchs Tarasios and Germanos. Saint Nicephorus was sent at first to a monastery at Chrysopolis, and later to the island Prokonnis in the Sea of Marmara. After thirteen years of deprivation and sorrow the holy Patriarch Nicephorus died in exile on 2 June 828.

On 13 March 847 the undecayed relics of the holy Patriarch Nicephorus, having lain in the ground for nineteen years, were solemnly transferred to Constantinople into the cathedral church of Saint Sophia.

Saint Nicephorus was outstanding as a church activist of his times, "a credit to his era and his cathedra," and, having much served the Church, he left behind an extensive spiritual legacy - numerous works of historical, dogmatic and canonical content.

2020-05-31

Science of the Saints, 1 June, The Holy Martyr Justin the Philosopher and his Companions


The Holy Martyr Justin the Philosopher was born at Sykhem - an ancient city of Samaria. Justin's parents, being Greeks, were pagan. From the time of his childhood the saint displayed profundity of mind, love for knowledge, and a fervent devotion to the cognition of Truth. When he came of age he studied the various schools of Greek philosophy: the Stoics, the Peripatetics (Aristotelians), the Pythagoreans, the Platonists - and he concluded that none of these pagan teachings revealed the way to the knowledge of the True God.

Once, when he was strolling in a solitary place beyond the city and pondering about where to seek out the way to the knowledge of Truth, he met an old man, who in the ensuing conversation revealed to Justin the essential essence of the Christian teaching and advised him to seek out the solutions to all the questions of life in the books of Holy Scripture. "But before anything else," said the holy elder, "pray diligently to God, so that He might open to thee the doors of Light. No one is able to comprehend Truth, unless it be given him in understanding by God Himself, Who revealeth it to each that seeketh Him in prayer and in love."

In his thirtieth year of life, Justin accepted holy Baptism (between the years 133 and 137). From this time Saint Justin devoted his talents and vast philosophical knowledge to preaching the Gospel among the pagans. He began to journey about throughout the Roman empire, everywhere sowing the seeds of the faith of salvation. "Whosoever is able to proclaim Truth and does not proclaim, that one will be condemned by God," he wrote.

Justin opened up a school where he preached Christian philosophy. Saint Justin subsequently defended the veracity and the salvificity of the Christian teaching, persuasively confuting pagan sophistry (thus, for example, in a debate with the Cynic philosopher Crescentius) and heretical distortions of Christianity (in particular, he spoke out against the teachings of the Gnostic, Marcian).

In about the year 155, when the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) started a persecution against Christians, Saint Justin personally gave him an "Apologia" in defense of Christians innocently condemned to execution - Ptolemy and Lucias, the name of a third remaining unknown. In the "Apologia" he demonstrated the falseness of the slander against Christians accused "unjustly for the mere name as loathsome and transgressive Christians." The "Apologia" made such a favourable effect upon the emperor that he ceased with the persecution. Saint Justin journeyed with the decision of the emperor to Asia Minor, where they were persecuting Christians with particular severity, and he himself distributed the joyous message about the imperial edict throughout the surrounding cities and countryside.

At Ephesus occurred the debate of Saint Justin with the Rabbi Trypho. The Orthodox philosopher on the basis of the Old Testament prophetic writings demonstrated the truth of the Christian teaching of faith. Saint Justin gave an account of this debate in his work "Dialogue with Trypho the Jew."

A second "Apologia" of Saint Justin was addressed to the Roman Senate. It was written in the year 161, soon after Marcus Aurelius (161-180) ascended the throne.

Having returned to Italy, Saint Justin, like the Apostles, preached everywhere the Gospel and by his Divinely-inspired words he converted many to the Christian faith. When the saint arrived at Rome, the envious Crescentius, whom Justin always defeated in debate, brought against him many false accusations before the Roman court. Saint Justin was put under guard, subjected to torture and accepted a martyr's death (+ 166).

In addition to the above-mentioned works, the following array of compositions belong to the holy martyr Justin the Philosopher: "Observations about the Soul," "Demonstration against the Hellenes," "Speech against the Hellenes." Saint John Damascene preserved a significant part of a non-surviving work of Saint Justin "About the Resurrection." The church historian Eusebius asserts that by Saint Justin were written books entitled "The Singer," "Denunciation of all Existing Heresies," and "Against Marcian."

The relics of Saint Justin the Philosopher rest in Rome, and in the Russian Church the memory of the martyr is particularly glorified in temples of his name.

2020-05-30

Science of the Saints, 31 May, The Holy Apostle Hermes


The Holy Apostle Hermes was a bishop in Philippopolis, Thrace. He was a Greek, but he spent some time in Rome. The holy Apostle Paul greets him in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom 16:14). The Apostle Hermes endured much grief from the pagans for preaching the Gospel, but he died in peace.

According to Tradition, Saint Hermas is the author of The Shepherd, an instructive book based on revelations from angels.

2020-05-29

Science of the Saints, 30 May, Our Venerable Father Isaac, Hegumen of the Dalmatian Monastery


The Monk Isaac lived during the fourth century, accepted monastic vows, and pursued asceticism in the wilderness.

During the years of the reign of the emperor Valentus (364-378), a zealous adherent of the Arian heresy, they began to persecute the Orthodox, closing and destroying churches. Having learned of the persecution, the Monk Isaac quit the wilderness and arrived in Constantinople, so as to console and encourage the Orthodox. At this time, barbarian Goths, dwelling along the River Danube, were making war against the empire. They seized Thrace and advanced towards Constantinople. 

When the emperor Valentus was leaving the capital with his soldiers, the Monk Isaac, turning himself towards the emperor, loudly cried out: "Emperor, unlock the churches of the Orthodox, and then the Lord will aid thee!" But the emperor, disdaining the words of the monk, confidently continued on his way. Three times did the monk repeat his request and prophecy. The angry emperor gave orders to hurl the Monk Isaac into a deep ravine, grown over with prickly thorns. By day the ravine was a swamp, and to emerge from it was impossible. But the monk with the help of God remained alive, and he emerged, overtook the emperor and said: "Thou wanted to destroy me, but the holy Angels did save me from peril. Hear me, open up the churches to the Orthodox and thou shalt defeat the enemy. If however thou dost not heed me, then thou shalt not return alive, but shalt perish in fire." The emperor was astonished at the boldness of the monk and ordered his attendants Saturninus and Victor to take the monk and hold him in prison until his return.

The prophecy of the saint soon happened. The Goths defeated and began to chase down the Greek army. The emperor together with his Arian generals took refuge in a barn with straw, and the attackers set it afire. After receiving news about the perishing of the emperor, they set free the Monk Isaac and began to honour him as a prophet of God. 

Onto the throne was then chosen the holy Emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395), who on the advice of Saturninus and Victor summoned the elder to himself, meeting him with great respect, beseeching prayers to the saints and fulfilling all his instructions: he banished the Arians from Constantinople and restored the churches to the Orthodox. 

The Monk Isaac wanted to return into the wilderness, but Saturninus and Victor besought him not to leave the city, but rather to protect it with his prayers. In the outskirts of Constantinople they built for the saint a hut, where monks gathered to him. Thus arose a monastery, the hegumen and spiritual guide of which was the Monk Isaac. He nourished also the laypeople, and helped many of the poor and suffering. Having reached extreme old age, the Monk Isaac made co-hegumen together with him the Monk Dalmatos, by whose name the monastery was called. The Monk Isaac died in the year 383, and his memory is celebrated also on 22 March.