2018-10-18

Science of the Saints, 19-X-2018 (6 Oct.), Holy And Glorious Apostle Thomas


The Holy Apostle Thomas was born in the Galilean city of Pansada and plied the trade of fisherman. Hearing the good tidings of Jesus Christ, he left all and followed after Him. The Apostle Thomas is included in the number of the holy Twelve Apostles, the twelve closest disciples of the Saviour.

By the account of Holy Scripture, the holy Apostle Thomas did not believe the reports of the other disciples about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: "Unless I see in His hand the wound of the nail, and place my finger into the wound of the nail, and place my hand in His side, I shalt not believe." (Jn. 20: 25) 

On the eighth day after the Resurrection the Lord appeared to the Apostle Thomas and showed His wounds. "My Lord and my God,"cried out the holy apostle (Jn. 20: 28). 

"Thomas, being once weaker in faith than the other apostles," says Saint John Chrysostom, "toiled through the grace of God more bravely, more zealously and tirelessly than them all, such that he went preaching almost over nearly all the earth, not fearing to announce the Word of God to savage nations."

According to Church Tradition, the holy apostle Thomas founded Christian churches in Palestine, Mesopotamia, Parthia, Ethiopia, and India. Preaching the Gospel earned the apostle a martyr's death. For having converted the wife and son of the governor of the Indian city of Meliapur (Melipur), the holy apostle was locked up in prison, suffered torture, and finally, having been pierced with five spears, he expired to the Lord. 

Part of the relics of the holy Apostle Thomas are in India, in Hungary, and on Athos. With the name of the Apostle Thomas is connected the Arabian (or Arapet) Icon of the Mother of God.

2018-10-17

Science of the Saints, 18-X-2018 (5 Oct.), Holy Martyr Charitina


The Holy Martyress Charitina was orphaned in childhood and raised like an actual daughter by the pious Christian Claudius. The young woman was very pretty, very sensible, kind, and fervent in faith. She imparted to other people her love for Christ, and she converted many to the way of salvation.

During a time of persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), Saint Charitina was subjected to horrible torments for her strong confession of the Lord Jesus Christ, and she died with prayer to the Lord (in the year 304).

2018-10-16

Science of the Saints, 17-X-2018 (4 Oct.), Holy Hieromartyr Hierotheus Of Athens


The Hieromartyr Hierotheos, Bishop of Athens, was a member of the Athenian Areopagia and was converted to Christ by the Apostle Paul together with Saint Dionysius the Areopagite. 

The saint was consecrated by the Apostle Paul to the dignity of bishop. By tradition, Bishop Hierotheos was present together with Bishop Dionysios at the funeral of the Most Holy Mother of God. 

Saint Hierotheos died a martyr's death in the first century.

2018-10-15

Science of the Saints, 16-X-2018 (3 Oct.), Holy Hieromartyr Dionysius The Areopagite


The Hieromartyrs Dionysius (Denis), Bishop of Athens, Presbyter Rusticus, and Deacon Eleutherius were killed at Lutetium (ancient name of Paris) in Gaul (modern-day France, where Saint Dionysius is honoured as patron of all France, under the French name-forms "Denis" or "Denys"). This occurred in the year 96 (another source suggests the year 110, during the time of persecution under the Roman emperor Dometian [81-96]). 

Saint Dionysius lived originally in the city of Athens. He was raised there and received a fine classical Greek education. He then set off to Egypt, where he studied astronomy at the city of Heliopolis. Together with his friend Apollophonos he witnessed the solar eclipse occurring at the moment of the death by Crucifixion on the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. "Either now the Creator of all the world doth suffer, or this visible world is coming to an end," Dionysius said then. Upon his return to Athens from Egypt, he was chosen to be a member of the Areopagus Council (Athenian high court).

When the holy Apostle Paul preached at the place of the Athenian Areopagus (Acts 17:16-34), Dionysius accepted his salvific proclamation and became a Christian. Over the course of three years Saint Dionysius remained a companion of the holy Apostle Paul in preaching the Word of God. Later on, the Apostle Paul established him as bishop of the city of Athens. And in the year 57 Saint Dionysius was present at the repose of the Most Holy Mother of God.

Already during the lifetime of the Mother of God, Saint Dionysius had journeyed especially from Athens to Jerusalem, so as to meet Her. He wrote to his teacher the Apostle Paul: "I witness by God, that besides God Himself, there be naught else in such measure filled with Divine power and grace. No one amongst mankind can fully grasp in mind what I beheld. I confess before God: when I was with John, who did shine out amidst the Apostles, like the sun in the sky - when I was brought before the countenance of the Most Holy Virgin, I experienced an inexpressible sensation. Before me gleamed a sort of Divine radiance. It transfixed my spirit. I perceived the fragrance of indescribable aromatics and was filled with such delight, that my very body became faint, and my spirit fain but could bear these signs and marks of eternal beatitude and Heavenly power. The grace from Her overwhelmed my heart, and shook my very spirit. Had I not in mind thine instruction, I should have mistaken Her for the very God. It is impossible to stand before greater blessedness than this, which I then perceived."

After the death of the Apostle Paul, and wanting to continue on with his work, Saint Dionysius set off preaching into the Western lands, accompanied by the Presbyter Rusticus and Deacon Eleutherius. They converted many to Christ at Rome, and then in Germany, and then in Spain. In Gaul, during the time of a persecution against Christians by the pagan authorities, all three confessors were arrested and thrown into prison. By night Saint Dionysius made Divine Liturgy with co-serving Angels of God. In the morning the martyrs were beheaded. According to an old tradition, Saint Dionysius took up his head, proceeded with it to the church and only there fell down dead. A pious woman named Catulla buried the remains of the saint.

The written works of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite are of extraordinary significance in the Theology of the Orthodox Church [and also for late Medieval Western theology]. Over the expanse of almost four centuries - until the beginning of the fourth century - the works of this holy father of the Church were preserved in an obscure manuscript tradition, primarily by theologians of the Alexandrian Church. The concepts in these works were known and utilised by Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Dionysius the Great - pre-eminent figures of the catechetical school in Alexandria, and also by Sainted Gregory the Theologian. Saint Dionysius of Alexandria wrote to Saint Gregory the Theologian a Commentary on the "Areopagitum." The works of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite received general Church recognition during the sixth-seventh centuries. Particularly relevant are the Commentaries written on them by the Monk Maximus the Confessor (+ 662).

2018-10-14

Science of the Saints, 15-X-2018 (2 Oct.), Holy Hieromartyr Cyprian & Martyr Justina


The Hieromartyr Cyprian, the Holy Martyress Justina, and the Martyr Theoctist perished at Nicomedia in the year 304.

Saint Cyprian was a pagan, a native of Antioch. While still in early childhood he was given over by his misguided parents for service to the pagan gods. From seven years of age until thirty, Cyprian studied at the most outstanding centres of paganism - on Mount Olympus, in the cities of Argos and Tauropolis, in the Egyptian city of Memphis and at Babylon. 

Having attained to eminent wisdom in pagan philosophy and the sorcerer's craft, on Olympus he was consecrated into the pagan priesthood. Having discovered great power by the summoning of unclean spirits, he beheld the very prince of darkness, and conversed with him and received from him a host of demons in attendance.

Having returned to Antioch, Cyprian became revered by the pagans as an eminent pagan priest, amazing people by his ability to conduct spells, to summon pestilence and plagues, and to seance the dead. The mighty pagan priest brought many a human soul to ruin, teaching them magic spells and service to demons.

But in this city there lived a Christian - the Virgin Justina. Having turned her own father and mother away from pagan error and led them to the true faith in Christ, she dedicated herself to the Heavenly Bridegroom and spent her time in fasting and prayer, remaining a virgin. 

When the youth Aglaides proposed marriage to her, the saint responded with a refusal. Agalides turned to Cyprian and sought his help for a magic spell to charm Justina into marriage. But no matter what Cyprian tried, he could accomplish but nothing, since the saint by her prayers and fasting wrecked all the wiles of the devil. 

By his conjured spells Cyprian set loose demons upon the holy virgin, trying to rouse in her the fleshly passions, but she dispelled them by the power of the Sign of the Cross and by fervent prayer to the Lord. Even one of the demonic princes and Cyprian himself, by the power of sorcery having assumed various guises, were not able to sway Saint Justina, guarded round about by her firm faith in Christ. All the spells dissipated, and the demons fled at the mere look or even name of the saint. Cyprian in a rage sent down pestilence and plague upon the family of Justina and upon all the city, but this was beaten back by her prayer.

Cyprian's soul, corrupted by its domination over people and by its incantations, showed up in all the depth of its downfall, and the abyss of nothingness of that which he served. "If thou dost take fright at even the mere shadow of the Cross and the Name of Christ indeed maketh thee to tremble," said Cyprian to Satan, "then what wilt thou do, when Christ Himself is come before thee?" 

The devil thereupon flung himself upon the pagan priest who was in the process of repudiating him, and began to beat and strangle him. Saint Cyprian then first tested for himself the power of the Sign of the Cross and the Name of Christ, in guarding himself from the fury of the enemy. Afterwards, with deep repentance he went to the local Bishop Anthymos and consigned all his books to the flames. And the very next day, having gone into the church, he did not want to emerge from it, though he did not yet accept Holy Baptism.

By his effort to follow a righteous manner of life, Saint Cyprian discerned the great power of fervent faith in Christ, and redeemed his more than thirty year service to Satan: seven days after Baptism he was ordained reader, on the twelfth day: sub-deacon, on the thirtieth: deacon, and after a year he was ordained priest. And in a short while Saint Cyprian was elevated to the dignity of bishop. 

The Hieromartyr Cyprian converted to Christ so many pagans, that in his diocese there was no one left to offer sacrifice to idols, and their pagan temples fell into disuse. Saint Justina withdrew to a monastery and there was chosen hegumeness. 

During the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian, Bishop Cyprian and Hegumeness Justina were arrested and brought to Nicomedia, where after fierce tortures they were beheaded with the sword. The Soldier Theoctist, looking upon the guiltless sufferings of the saints, declared himself a Christian and was executed together with them. 

Knowing about the miraculous conversion to Christ of the holy Hieromartyr Cyprian, a former servant of the prince of darkness and by faith shattering his grip, Christians often resort to the prayerful intercession of the saint in their struggle with unclean spirits.

2018-10-13

Science of the Saints, 14-X-2018 (1 Oct.), St Romanus The Melodist


The Monk Romanus the Melodist was born in the fifth century in the Syrian city of Emessa.

Having moved on to Constantinople, he became a church attendant in the temple of Saint Sophia. The monk spent his nights alone at prayer in a field or in the Blachernae church out beyond the city.

Saint Romanus did not initially have the talent for reading and song. One time, on the eve of the Nativity of Christ, he read the kathisma verses, but so poorly that another reader had to take his place, and the clergy made fun of Romanus. 

The youth for a long while in grief prayed before an icon of the Most Holy Mother of God. The Mother of God appeared at night in a dream-vision to the saint, and having given him a scroll (in Greek "kondakion"), commanded him to eat it. Thus did the Monk Romanus receive the gift of book understanding, composition, and the making of churchly song. This was on the day of the Nativity of Christ. For the all-night vigil Saint Romanus in a wondrous voice sang forth in church his first kondak: "Today the Virgin giveth birth to the Transcendent One..." 

From this scroll ("kondakion") all the songs of the monk became known as kondakions or kondaks. Saint Romanus was also the first to write in the form of the "ikos," a song form which he incorporated into the all-night vigil at his places of domicile (in Greek "oikos").

For his zealous service Saint Romanus was ordained to the dignity of deacon and became a teacher of song. Up until his death, which occurred in about the year 556, the Monk-Deacon Romanus the Melodist composed nearly a thousand church songs, many of which Christians still use to glorify the Lord.

Legends & Lore of Southern Illinois: Hazards of Travel


The forest roadways of southern Illinois were lonely ones and ofttimes hazardous. This is suggested in the early records of Randolph County by recurring entries like, "For holding an inquest over a body found on Ford's Ferry Road - 10 dollars."

That an item of record for the Cave-in-Rock region should appear in the Randolph County record may seem strange, but it should be remembered that Randolph County then included practically all of southern Illinois. The first mention of Ford's Ferry Road thus appears in the Randolph County records at Chester. When references to this road are assembled, they add up on one fact - it was not a safe one to travel. Ford's Ferry Road received its name from a ferry located just below the present Ohio dam about three miles above Cave-in-Rock. It was operated by James Ford, who regularly lived in Kentucky. At one time, however, he lived in and was a citizen of Illinois. This is shown by the fact that he served as overseer of the poor for Cave-in-Rock Township. His crossing was the best and most used ferry along that section of the river.

To make travel by way of his crossing more attractive. Ford established a good tavern beside the trail on the Kentucky side a few miles south of the Ohio. Another man, William Potts, built a second one at the north end of the improved section of roadway in Illinois. Potts' Tavern was located beside a fine spring at the southern slope of a hill still called Potts' Hill. A farmhouse stands a short distance west from Illinois Highway 1 where the tavern once was located. The first building was a large two-story double log house with a hallway or "dog trot" between. This place became one of the most widely known in all the region. The length of roadway between it and Ford's Tavern in Kentucky was called Ford's Ferry Road.

James Ford and William Potts, operating taverns about twenty miles or a day's travel apart became well acquainted. According to tradition, they even became associated in certain operations like robbing unwary travelers. By their plan, each robbed independently as opportunity afforded, but not wishing to see a prosperous appearing traveler go unrobbed, a kind of mutual help service was established.

According to stories surviving, if a traveler whose appearance indicated that he might be a good prey came to either tavern, the owner made all reasonable efforts to relieve him of his valuables. If, however, opportunity did not arise to do so, a messenger would be dispatched to the other tavern ahead of the visitor with information concerning him. Potts, thus, would notify Ford concerning travelers from the north, and Ford in turn would relay information concerning those coming from the south.

There are indications that others in addition to Ford and Potts profited unduly from these travelers. Anyway, there is a strange coincidence in the fact that a certain respected citizen in the area often advertised a "stray horse" for sale about thirty days after the recorded disappearance of a traveler. The law required that anyone taking up a stray should hold it thirty days, then advertise it for sale to reimburse himself for the feed bill. Possibly stray horses just liked to go to this man's place, which was some miles from the road.

Today's traveler on Illinois Highway 1 south of Saline River sees some bits of an abandoned and overgrown trail that once was Ford's Ferry Road.


"Legends & Lore of Southern Illinois" - John W. Allen