March 31st (IV - 13)
Icon of St. Ipatios the Wonderworker
Righteous Joseph the Handsome (+ c. 1700 BC). PriestMartyr Ipatios, Bishop of Gangra (+ c. 326). Sainted-Hierarchs Jona (+ 1461) and Innokentii (Innocent) (+ 1879), Metropolitans of Moscow and WonderWorkers of All Russia. Monk Ipatii the Healer, of Pechersk, in the Farther Caves (XIV). PriestMartyrs Auda, Bishop of Persia, and Benjamin the Deacon (+ 418-424). Monks Apollonios the Hermit, of Egypt (IV); Ipatios, Hegumen of Ruthianeia (+ c. 446); Akakios the Confessor, Bishop of Meletineia (+ c. 249-251); Blaisios of Ammoriseia (IX). Martyrs Menander; Theophilos, Atheneos and others; Saints James, Anna; Amenonios.
Righteous Joseph the Handsome was a son of the Old Testament patriarch Jacob, and died in about the year 1700 before the Birth of Christ. His brothers by birth were jealous of him, because the father loved him more than the other brothers, and they feared him, since he told them about his dreams, foretelling his future greatness. The brothers decided to kill Righteous Joseph, but on the suggestion of the eldest of them, Reuben, they changed their minds and first threw Joseph into a pit, and then sold him to merchants who were journeying with a caravan to Egypt.
In Egypt Joseph was sold to Potiphar, -- head of the imperial bodyguards, and thanks to his mind and virtues, he earned the trust of his master. Righteous Joseph was exceedingly handsome, and the wife of Potiphar wanted to force him into adultery. But the chaste youth turned away the temptation. Then out of malice and spite the wife of Potiphar slandered Righteous Joseph before her husband, saying that the youth wanted to defile her. Believing the lie, Potiphar locked up the innocent youth in prison. Situated in prison, Saint Joseph the Handsome gained fame by his wise interpretation of dreams. Having solved the riddle of Pharaoh's dream, -- foretelling the approaching years of famine and misfortune for Egypt, Righteous Joseph was set free and made first counselor of Egypt. When the famine befell also the native-land of righteous Joseph in Palestine, Saint Joseph was able to re-settle his father with all his family into Egypt. Before his end, Righteous Joseph gave instructions to transfer his bones from Egypt to the Promised Land, which was done under the holy Prophet Moses (Comm. 4 September), 1496 BC. Through his sons Manassah and Ephraim, Saint Joseph the Handsome is situated at the head of two of the tribes of Israel.
The Bible (Gen. 37-50) testifies about the life of Righteous Joseph the Handsome.
The PriestMartyr Ipatios, Bishop of Gangra, was bishop of the city of Gangra in Paphlagonia (Asia Minor). In the year 325 he participated in the I OEcumenical Council at Nicea, at which the heresy of Arius was given anathema.
When Saint Ipatios was returning in 326 from Constantinople to Gangra, followers of the schismatics Novatus and Felicissimus fell upon him in a desolate place. The heretics ran him through with swords and spears, and threw him from an high bank into a swamp. Like the First-martyr Arch-deacon Stephen, Saint Ipatios prayed for his murderers. A certain Arian woman struck the saint on the head with a stone, and he died. The murderers hid his body in a cave, where a christian who kept straw there found his body. Recognising the body of the bishop, he hastened to report about this in the city, and the inhabitants of Gangra piously buried the remains of their beloved arch-pastor.
After death the relics of Saint Ipatios won reknown for numerous miracles, in particular the casting out of demons and for healing the sick.
From of old the Priestmartyr Ipatios was particularly venerated in the Russian land. Thus in the year 1330 was built at Kostroma the Ipatiev monastery, on the place of an appearance of the Mother of God with the Pre-eternal Christ-Child and saints that were present -- the Apostle Philip and the Priestmartyr Ipatios, bishop of Gangra. This monastery afterwards occupied a significant place in the spiritual and social life of the nation, particularly during the years of the Time of Troubles. The old-time copies of the Vita of the Priestmartyr Ipatios were widely distributed in Russian literature, and one of these entered into the compiling of the Chet'i Minei [Reading Menaion] of Metropolitan Makarii (1542-1564). In this Vita was preserved an account about the appearance of the Saviour to Saint Ipatios on the eve of the martyr's death. The veneration to the saint consists of prayers, words of praise and teaching on the day of his memory. The pious veneration of Sainted Ipatios was also expressed in the liturgical works of Russian authors. During the XIX Century was written a new service to the Priestmartyr Ipatios, distinct from the services written by the Monk Joseph the Studite, contained in the March Menaion.
The Monk Apollonios, when he was a fifteen year old youth, withdrew into the inner Thebaid wilderness (Lower Egypt), where he spent forty years at monastic exploits. On a suggestion from above he went across to a nearby wilderness and near Hermopolis he founded a monastery, at which gradually gathered about five hundred monks. Saint Apollonios was strict at fasting, on Sundays only did he partake of cooked food, and on the remaining days he ate only wild plants.
All the monks also followed the example of the monk Apollonios, pursuing asceticism at the monastery together with their preceptor. The holy ascetic died in the IV Century.
The Priestmartyrs Auda, Bishop of Persia, and the Deacon Benjamin: Saint Auda was bishop in Persia, and for the destruction of a temple of the fire-worshippers he was brought to trial before the Persian emperor Izdegerd I (401-402), who gave orders to re-construct the temple. When bishop Auda refused, the emperor ordered soldiers to destroy all the Christian temples, persecute the christians and subject them to torture. Saint Auda became the first martyr, and after lengthy torturing was beheaded. After thirty days other martyrs also were executed. Among them was the deacon Benjamin, undergoing particularly cruel torments: they put sharp needles under his nails and impaled him upon a spear.
The priestmartyrs died in the old Persian city of Suza.
The Monk Ipatios, Hegumen of Ruthianeia, was born in Phrygia (Asia Minor) into the family of a lawyer and he received a fine education. Once, when he was eighteen years old, his father punished him, after which the youth left home and went to Thrace (Balkans). There for a certain while he herded cattle, and then he settled with a presbyter, who taught him about the singing of psalms. Soon the chosen one of God took vows in one of the monasteries. Struggling against temptations of the flesh, the holy ascetic spent fifty days in the strictest of fasts, and then, with the blessing of the head of the monastery, at evening time in the presence of the brethren he drank wine with bread and was healed of his passions. In search of a new place for ascetic deeds, the monk Ipatios settled with two other monks at the neglected Ruthianeia monastery nearby Chalcedon (Asia Minor). The monastery was rebuilt and soon many monks gathered about the holy ascetic, and the monastery again began to flourish spiritually. At age forty the monk Ipatios was chosen hegumen and he guided the monastery during the span of forty years. Many monks, copying their guide, attained deep spiritual perfection. For his strict ascetic life and self-denying love towards others, Saint Ipatios was granted by the Lord gifts of wonderworking and healing. Through his holy prayers bread was multiplied at the monastery and there were healed many afflicted with demons, and the blind, the withered and the hemorrhaging, having come to the monastery. The monk Ipatios reposed in about the year 446, at eighty years of age. On the eve of his death he predicted of coming misfortunes: a devastating hailstorm, an earthquake, and the onslaught of Attila the Hun upon Thrace.
The Monk Ipatii, Healer of Pechersk, attained glory in the exploit of severe fasting and constant prayerful vigilance. By night he stood at prayer, slept very little, and ate only bread and water. The monk Ipatii devoted himself entirely to the service of the sick and for his self-denying act received from God the graced gift of miraculous healings. Those sick with various illnesses often hastened to his prayerful intercession. The memory of the monk Ipatii is celebrated also on 28 August, on the Sobor / Assemblage of the Saints of the Farther Caves.
38 Martyrs are also remembered on this day, beheaded by the sword under Julian (361-363).
Sainted Jona, Metropolitan of Moscow and WonderWorker of All Russia, was born in the city of Galich into a pious Christian family. The father of the future saint was named Feodor. At twelve years of age the youth took monastic vows in one of the Galich monasteries, from which he transferred to the Moscow Simonov monastery, where for many years he fulfilled various obediences. One time Sainted Photii, Metropolitan of Moscow (Comm. 27 May and 2 July), visited at the Simonov monastery and after the molieben, having blessed the archimandrite and brethren, wanted also to bless the monks fulfilling obedience at the monastery tasks. When he came to the bakery, he saw then the monk Jona asleep from much work, and the right hand of the fatigued monk was bent in a gesture of blessing. Sainted Photii asked not to wake him; he blessed the sleeping monk and prophetically predicted to those present, that this monk would be a great hierarch of the Russian Church and would guide many on the way to salvation.
The prediction of the Saint was fulfilled. After several years Saint Jona was made bishop of Ryazan and Murom.
In 1431 Saint Photii died. Five years after his death, Saint Jona was chosen Metropolitan of All Russia for his virtuous and holy life. When the newly chosen metropolitan journeyed to Patriarch Joseph II (1416-1439) in Constantinople, in order to accept confirmation as metropolitan, it turned out then, that shortly before this the nefarious Isidor, a Bulgarian by descent, was already established as Russian metropolitan. Spending a short while at Kiev and Moscow, Isidor journeyed to the Council of Florence (1438), -- where he accepted Uniatism. A Sobor / Council of Russian hierarchs and clergy deposed metropolitan Isidor, and he was compelled to flee secretly to Rome (where he died in 1462). Saint Jona was unanimously chosen Metropolitan of All Russia. His consecration by the blessing of the Constantinople Patriarch Gregory III (1445-1450) -- was the first time that it was done by Russian hierarchs in Moscow. On 15 December 1448 Saint Jona became Metropolitan and with arch-pastoral zeal he began to assert piety among the flock, encouraging the Orthodox faith in the land by word and by deed. And beneathe his exalted dignity he continued as before with his personal monastic efforts.
In 1451 the Tatars unexpectedly advanced on Moscow; they burned the surroundings and prepared for an assault on the city. Metropolitan Jona with clergy made procession along the walls of the city, with tears beseeching God for the salvation of city and people. Beholding the dying monk Antonii of the Chudov monastery, -- who was noted for his virtuous life, Saint Jona said: "My son and brother Antonii! Pray to the Merciful God and the All-Pure Mother of God for the deliverance of the city and all Orthodox Christians". The humble Antonii replied: "Great hierarch! We give thanks to God and His All-Pure Mother, -- She hath heard thy prayer and hath besought Her Son, -- the city and all Orthodox Christians wilt be saved through thine prayers. The enemy will soon take flight. Only I alone am destined by the Lord to be killed by the enemies". Just as the elder said this, an enemy arrow struck him.
The prediction of Starets Antonii occurred: on 2 July, on the feast of the Placing of the Robe of the MostHoly Mother of God, confusion broke out in the ranks of the Tatars, and in unexplained fear and terror they turned to flight. Saint Jona built in his courtyard a temple in honour of the Placing of the Robe of the MostHoly Mother of God , -- in memory of the deliverance of Moscow from the enemies.
The blessed end of Saint Jona followed in the year 1461. By the grave of the Saint began to occur numerous healings.
In 1472 the relics of holy Metropolitan Jona were opened undecayed and placed in the Uspensky Sobor / Cathedral of the Kremlin (the feast of Transfer of the holy Relics is celebrated 27 May). A Sobor of the Russian Church in 1547 established the individual day of memory to Sainted Jona, Metropolitan of Moscow. In 1596 Patriarch Job established the celebration to Sainted Jona in the Sobor / Assemblage of other Moscow Hierarchs, on 5 October.
Sainted Innocent (Innokentii) (Veniaminov), Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomensk (26 August 1797 - 31 March 1879), was glorified in canonisation by the Russian Orthodox Church on 6 October 1977. He was born in the village of Anginsk in the Irkutsk diocese. The Apostle of America and Siberia bespoke his good-news "even to the ends of the earth": in the Aleutian islands (from 1823), in the six dialects of the local tribes on the island of Sitka (from 1834), amongst the Kolosh (Tlingit); in the remotest settlements of the extensive Kamchatka diocese (from 1853); amidst the Koryak, Chukchei, Tungus in the Yakutsk region (from 1853) and North America (in 1857); in the Amur and the Usuriisk region (from 1860).
Having spent a large part of his life in journeys, Saint Innocent translated into the Aleutian language a Catechism and the Gospel, and in 1833 he wrote in this language one of the finest works of Orthodox missionary activity -- "A Directive of the Way to the Kingdom of Heaven". In 1859 the Yakut first heard the Word of God and Divine-services in their own native language. Twice (in 1860 and 1861) Sainted Innocent met with the Apostle to Japan -- Sainted Nikolai (Comm. 3 February), sharing with him his spiritual experience.
A remarkable preacher, Sainted Innocent said: "Exactly that, whosoever aboundeth in faith and love, can have mouth and wisdom, and the heart cannot resist their serving it".
Having begun apostolic work as a parish priest, Saint Innocent closed with it upon the cathedra of Moscow First-Hierarchs (5 January 1868 - 31 March 1879). He was devoted to the Will of God during all the course of his life, and he left behind a testimonial of faith to his successors decreed in the words of the prophet: "From the Lord are the footsteps of man directed" (Ps. 36: 23). The memory of Saint Innocent is celebrated twice during the year: on 23 September (6 October) and on 31 March (13 April).
About Sainted Innocent -- in the "Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate": 1949, # 7, p. 36-44; 1955, # 1; 1975, # 3, p. 58-65; 1977, # 12, p. 3, 58-65; 1979, # 3, 4, 5, 6.
© 1997 by translator Fr. S. Janos.