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March 19th (IV - 1)

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of St. Chrysanthos and St. Daria

Martyrs Chrysanthus and Daria (+ 283) and with them the Martyrs Claudius the Tribune with his wife Ilaria (Hilaria) and their sons Jason and Maurus, and Didorus the Presbyter and Marianus the Deacon. Monk Innokentii of Komel'sk and Vologda (+ 1521). Martyr Pancharios (+ c. 302). Saints Cromites and Martyrios. Martyr Demetrios of Tornada (+ 1564). Icon of the Mother of God, named "Tenderness" ("Umilenie"), of Smolensk (1103).

The Holy Martyrs Chrysanthus and Daria and with them the Martyrs Claudius the Tribune with his wife Ilaria (Hilaria) and their sons Jason and Maurus, and Diodorus the Presbyter and Marianus the Deacon: Saint Chrysanthus came from a pagan family, and received a fine education. Among the books which came his way were those in which pagans discussed Christianity. But the youth wanted to read books written by Christians themselves. The youth finally managed to find books of the New Testament. The Holy Scripture enlightened the rational soul of the youth. He found the presbyter Carpothoras hiding away from persecution and received holy Baptism from him. After this he began openly to preach the Gospel. The father of the youth tried every which way to sway his son from Christianity and finally got him married off to the beauty Daria, a priestess of Pallas Athena. But Saint Chrysanthus managed to convert his wife to Christ, and the young couple by mutual agreement decided to lead celibate lives. After the death of the father they began to live in separate houses. Saint Chrysanthus gathered around him several youthful converts to Christ, and around Saint Daria gathered pious women.

Townspeople made complaint to the eparch Celerinus, that Saints Chrysanthus and Daria were preaching celibacy. Saint Chrysanthus was given over for torture to the tribune Claudius.

The torments however were not able to shake the bravery of the young martyr, since the power of God clearly aided him. Struck by this, the tribune Claudius himself came to believe in Christ and accepted holy Baptism together with his wife Ilaria and sons Jason and Maurus and all his household staff and soldiers. When news of this reached the emperor Numerian (283-284), he then commanded them all to be executed. The Tribune?Martyr Claudius was drowned in the sea, and his sons and soldiers were beheaded. Christians buried the bodies of the holy martyrs in a cave not far away, and Saint Ilaria constantly went there to pray. One time they followed her and led her off for torture. The saint asked that they give her several moments for prayer, at the end of which she died. A servant buried the saint in the cave alongside her sons.

The torturers sent Saint Daria off to an house of ill repute. But there also a lion sent by God protected her. All who tried to defile the saint were knocked to the ground by the lion, but leaving them alive. The martyress preached about Christ to them and converted them to the way of salvation.

They threw Saint Chrysanthus into a fetid pit, whither all the vulgar of the city were wont to throng. But an Heavenly Light shone on him, and in place of the stinking pit it was filled with fragrance.

Then the emperor Numerian gave orders to give Saints Chrysanthus and Daria over into the hands of the executioners. After tortures, the martyrs were buried alive in the ground.

In a cave, situated not far from the place of execution, Christians began to gather, honouring the day of the martyrdom of the saints. They celebrated Divine-services and communed the Holy Mysteries. Learning of this, the pagan authorities gave orders to seal the entrance to the cave, filled with those praying.

Thus in torments perished many a Christian, two of which are known of by name: the Martyrs Presbyter Diodorus and the Deacon Marianus.

The Monk Innokentii of Komel'sk and Vologda was born at Moscow, and was descended from the lineage of the Moscow princes Okhlyabinin. He became a monk in the monastery of the Monk Kirill of Belozersk (+ 9 June 1427), and was put under the guidance of the Monk Nil Sorsky (+ 1508, Comm. 7 May).

The Monks Innokentii and Nil wandered through the East visiting Palestine, Constantinople, and spent several years at the Athos monasteries. Having returned to Rus', the saints settled not in their original Kirillo-Belozersk monastery, but within solitary cells for monastic seclusion. Out of love for wilderness-life they then withdrew into the impassable forest at the River Sora, some 15 versts from the monastery. Here they erected a cross, dug out a well, and made themselves cells separately, after the manner of the skete wilderness-monasteries. With great toil a church was built on a marshy spot. The hermits led strict lives.

Foreseeing his own demise, the Monk Nil sent Saint Innokentii to the River Nurma and predicted to him: "God doth send thee there, and thy monastery shalt be one of life in common; my wilderness monastery after my death will remain such as it was during my life, with the brothers living separately each in his own cell".

Upon the death of the Monk Nil, his holy disciple withdrew into the Vologda hinterland and in 1491 he built a cell at the Rivulet Eda, which flows into the River Nurma. In a short while disciples began to gather to him. And following the final command of his teacher, the Monk Innokentii did not seek any donations for it.

The Monk Innokentii toiled for thirty years at building his monastery. On the basis of the works of the holy fathers and in particular the writings of the Monk Nil of Sorsk, he left behind an instruction for the brethren. The Monk Innokentii bid them first of all to avoid wrangling and disputes and asked them to preserve love for Christ and spiritual peace. The saint forbid young and beardless monks to be accepted and tonsured at his monastery, and he forbid entry to women at the monastery. In departing the monastery a monk lost his right to a cell, and if he returned, then he could occupy it only with the consent of the monastery head and the brethren. The monk asked that a future church be consecrated in the name of the great and holy John the Forerunner, Baptiser of the Lord, in remembrance of the Third Finding of Saint John the Baptist's Venerable Head (Comm. 25 May), since Saint John -- is a patron for all monks and wilderness dwellers (ultimately the monastery was called Transfiguration after its chief temple).

The Monk Innokentii died on 19 March 1521. In accord with his last wish he was buried in a corner of the monastery near a marsh. Upon his grave was placed a stone, inscribed with the year, month and day of his repose.

The Holy Martyr Pancharios was an official of the emperor Maximian (305?311). He abandoned Christianity and became a pagan. His mother and sister in learning of this sent him a letter, in which they urged the apostate to heed the fear of God and the impending dread Last Judgement. Having repented himself, Saint Pancharios openly confessed his faith before the emperor Maximian, for which he suffered torture at Rome, and then was dispatched to Nicomedia and there beheaded (+ c. 302).

The Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God, named "Tenderness" ("Umilenie"), manifest itself in the year 1103 at Smolensk. Another Smolensk "Umilenie" ("Tenderness") Icon is known of from the vicinity of Okopa (down from Smolensk). This icon was situated in the encampment of the Russian armies of the military-commander (voevoda) Shein, holding back Polish besiegers from destroying Smolensk over the course of 20 months (1611-1613).

© 2000 by translator Fr. S. Janos

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