March 6th (III - 19)
Icon of the 42 Martyrs of Ammoria
Holy 42 Martyrs at Ammoreia: Constantine, Aetios, Theophilos, Theodore, Melissenos, Kallistos, Basoes and others with them (+ c. 845). Uncovering of the Venerable Cross and Nails of the Lord by the Holy Empress Helen at Jerusalem (326). Monk Job ( SchemaMonk Jesus or Joshua) of Anzersk (+ 1720). MonkMartyr Konon (Conon) and his son Konon (+ c. 270-275). Monk Arkadios of Cyprus (+ post 361) and his Disciples: Martyrs Julian and Euboulos (+ c. 361). MonkMartyr Maximus. Martyr Euphrosynos. Saint Anphymos. Icons of the Mother of God: Chenstokhovsk (Czestochowa), Shestokovsk ("Hearth"), and "Graced of Heaven" ("Blagodatnoe Nebo").
The Holy 42 Martyrs of Ammoreia: Constantine, Aetios, Theophilos, Theodore, Melissenos, Kallistos, Basoes and the others with them: During the time of a war between the Graeco-Byzantine emperor Theophilos (829-842) and the Saracens, the Saracens managed to besiege the city of Ammoreia (in Galicia in Asia Minor). As a result of treason on the part of the military commander Baditses, Ammoreia fell, and forty?two of its military defenders were taken captive and sent off to Syria. Over the course of seven years of exhaustive imprisonment they tried in vain to persuade the captives to renounce the Christian faith and accept Mussulmanism. The captives stubbornly resisted all the seductive offers and bravely held out against the terrible threats. After many torments that failed to break the spirit of the Christian soldiers, they condemned them to death, in the hope of shaking the steadfastness of the saints before the actual execution. They said to the Soldier Theodore: "We know that thou, having forsaken the priestly dignity, didst become a soldier and shed blood. Thou canst not hope upon Christ, ?- so accept Mahomet". But the martyr with conviction replied: "I wilt not renounce Christ, and moreover, in that I left the priestly duty, the bloodshed was necessary".
The condemned calmly and without fear walked up to the executioners. They beheaded them, and threw their bodies into the River Euphrates. In the service to them, these holy passion-bearers are glorified as: the "All-Blest" Theodore, the "Unconquered" Kallistos, the "Valliant" Constantine, the "Wondrous" Theophilos and Basroes the "Most?Strong".
And indeed the betrayer Baditses did not escape his shameful lot: the enemy knew, that it is impossible to trust a traitor, and they killed him.
The Uncovering of the Venerable Cross and Nails by the Holy Empress Helen at Jerusalem (326) -- the account about this event is located under 13 and 14 September.
The Monk Job of Anzersk, in the world John, was born at Moscow in the year 1635. He began his pastoral service in one of the parish churches. He lived strictly, like a monk, in fasting and the constant prayer of: "Have mercy on me, O Lord! Spare me, O Lord!". His love for people was amazing, and he always sought out the opportunity to do good for neighbour. With total commitment, Father John helped all that were needy, he concerned himself about the wronged and innocently suffering, he encouraged the spiritually weak, and the profligate he gently and wisely brought to their senses, and he consoled and gave guidance. His house was always open for the needy -- feeding them, giving them a fatherly chat, he would send them off cheered up, clothing them for the road, such as he was able. If he himself unexpectedly offended anyone, he right out regretted it and immediately asked forgiveness.
News about the good pastor reached even tsar Peter I, and the saint was summoned for priestly service to the imperial church, chosen confessor of the tsar and the imperial house. Using his influence at court, the saint strove all the more to be of help to the poor. Visiting captives in the prisons, he had a good influence on criminals through the Word of God, while the innocently condemned he encouraged in patience, and those in debtors prison he helped pay off the debt.
With the advance of years Father John, devoting himself to contemplation on God, emerged from his house only for church services, though not ceasing his benevolent work through persons of authority.
In 1701, falsely denounced before the tsar (allegedly, having learned about some evil intent, "he as a priest would not reveal the source"), the saint was banished to the Solovetsky monastery and tonsured into monasticism with the name Job. After many a tribulation the starets-elder Job was freed of obediences and he lived as an hermit in silence in his cell. Learning about the holy life of the ascetic and having ascertained, that the starets had been slandered, tsar Peter I wanted the priest to return to him, but the Monk Job refused. In 1702 for greater silence he transferred over to the Anzersk skete?monastery of the Holy Trinity, where soon after the death of the Anzersk organiser Eleazar, he was appointed its head.
Calling to mind the words of the Lord: "To whom much is given, much also is expected of him" (Lk. 12: 48), the PriestMonk Job exerted much toil and effort in his new responsibilities. As a wise teacher he taught everyone in humble obedience to God and its aspects as the first virtue, without which no one can be saved; he instructed also about constant work and concern for neighbour. He himself visited the sick, washed and bandaged their wounds, and often he healed them of their infirmities through his prayer. Amidst this he never slackened with church services nor his cell rule of prayer.
In 1710 the Monk Job accepted the great Angelic form [i.e. schema-monk] with the name Jesus [or "Joshua" in idiomatic English useage, as with the Old Testament book of "Joshua", which in Slavonic is the book of "Jesus, Son of Navin"]. The Mother of God Herself soon delineated his ultimate path to SchemaMonk Jesus: She appeared to him in a dream together with the skete-monastery's first head and patron -- the Monk Eleazar of Anzersk (Comm. 13 January), and She said that on an hill, henceforth called a second Golgotha, on Anzersk Island, shouldst be built a church of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and a skete-monastery established. Accepting this wondrous dream as being God's blessing, the Starets Jesus in 1714 resettled to Mount Golgotha and with the help of his disciples, the schema-monk Matfei and the monk Makarii, he founded the Golgotho?Crucifixion skete-monastery, where he continued with his much-toiled efforts.
In 1715 a wooden church in honour of the Crucifixion of the Lord was built.
The aged builder, in example for the brethren, himself often chopped wood, carried water up the hill, and in the bakery kneaded dough. In his cell the elder constantly busied himself with handicrafts, and the money which he obtained from this he divided into three parts: for church needs, for the needs of the brethren, and alms for the poor. For himself he kept nothing, having only of his own several religious books.
For his God-pleasing life the monk was granted an especial revelation. Through his fervent prayers, the MostHoly Mother of God Herself appeared to him in his cell and showed the place on the hill, where to dig the well and get water, sufficing for the needs of the monastery. When the wondrous water-spring was uncovered, the monk explained to the brethren: "Never grieve nor despair, but always trust in God. Remember His promise: "A mother would sooner forget her child, than I would you"". With the help of God the holy saint was able to foresee the wicked intent of some strangers who once came to him, and by his prayer: "Lord, send down sleep upon Thine servants, beset with vain pleasing of the enemy", -- he lulled to sleep the malevolent for five days and nights, and by this he led them to a sincere repentance. Another time he lectured robbers, commanding them to stand motionless under their heavy load of loot for two days, although these did not plead for forgiveness.
God revealed to Saint Jesus the time of his approaching end. Quite some while before his death the saint notified the brethren, that he would die on a Sunday at the rising of the sun. Having devoted his whole life to the service of God and neighbour, and having prepared himself for the appointed hour, the humble ascetic repented contritely, such that it took very little for him to please the Lord.
The monk reposed, as he foretold, on a Sunday -- on the Sunday of Orthodoxy -- in the morning at the rising of the sun, on 6 March 1720.
In the pre-death moments of the saint, his cell shone with an extraordinary light, there was a fragrance and the Psalter-song was heard: "For I shalt go forth into a place of wondrous habitation, yea even the house of God, in a voice of rejoicing and confession, of the din of celebration" (Ps. 41 : 4).
The Holy PriestMartyr Konon (Conon) lived in Iconium (Asia Minor). Having become a widower, he withdrew with his seven year old son to a monastery. By his pious life the saint was granted help from above -- he cast out devils, he healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and preached the teaching of Christ amongst the pagans, converting many. Reports about him reached the governor Dometian, a persecutor of Christians. Saint Konon was brought to trial and they directed him to offer sacrifice to idols, but the preacher would not and he was handed over for tortures. At the trial was brought also the seventeen year old son of the martyr -- Deacon Konon. After deceitful persuasions failed to get him to renounce the True Faith, both father and son were subjected to cruel tortures: having stripped and laid them on a red-hot cot, they drenched them with hot oil, they threw them in a cauldron with boiling tin, sulfur and tar, they suspended them upside down and scorched them with a choking smoke, -- but preserved by Heavenly power, the martyrs remained unharmed. The shamed torturers in a rage then resorted to an horrid means to destroy the preachers -- to saw them up with a wooden saw. Learning of this sentence, the saints asked time for prayer and they cried out to the Lord: "We give thanks to Thee, O Lord, for vouchsafing us to suffer for Thine Name! We beseech Thee, grant peace unto Thine Church, put to shame its persecutors, strengthen and increase those believing in Thee, grant us to come unto Thee and give peace unto our souls".
And there resounded the Voice of God from the sky, summoning up the holy sufferers. Having signed themselves with the Sign of the Cross, the holy martyrs consigned their souls to the Lord. And at once an earthquake happened, and all the idolous temples in the city collapsed.
Monks secretly buried the bodies of the martyrs at the monastery, where the saints during life had asceticised. This occurred during the reign of Aurelian in the years 270-275. The relics of the holy martyrs were later on transferred to Italy, to the city of Acerno (Campania).
The Monk Arkadios from the time of his youth devoted himself to monastic efforts. The saint asceticised on the Island of Cyprus during the time of the emperor Constantine the Great (206-337). He was teacher of the holy Martyrs Julian the Physician and Eubolos, executed under Julian the Apostate (361-363). Bewailing the martyr's death of his students and having consigned their bodies to earth, the Monk Arkadios himself soon peacefully expired to the Lord.
The Chenstokhovsk (Czestochowa) Icon of the Mother of God, by tradition, is regarded as among the 70 icons of the done by the holy Evangelist Luke (Comm. 18 October). It was written at Jerusalem, in the Mount Zion section (where it was that the Last Supper occurred in the Cenacle, or common dining room). In the years 66-67, during the time of the assault on Jerusalem by Roman forces under the leadership of Vespasian and Titus, the Christians fled Jerusalem, going to the locale of Pella. Together with other holy things, they preserved in caves also the Chenstokhovsk Image of the Mother of God. In the year 326, when the holy Empress Helen went about through Jerusalem for veneration at the holy places and found the Cross of the Lord, she received also this icon as a gift from Christians, which she conveyed to Constantinople and placed in a court chapel, where it remained over the course of five centuries.
The wonderworking image was brought to Russia with great reverence by the founder of the city of L'vov (Lemberg -- 1268-1270), the Galitsko-Volynsk prince Lev Danilovich, and it was placed in the Bel'zsk castle under the supervision of Orthodox clergy.
Later on, during the conquest of Western Ukraine by the Polish, the wonderworking icon came into the possession of the Polish governor prince Vladislav Opol'skii. The Tatars (Mongols), bursting in upon the expanse of Russia, and set siege to the Bel'zsk castle. Hoping on the help of the Mother of God, prince Vladislav brought out the venerable icon from church and installed it upon the city wall. Pierced by an enemy arrow, the wonderworking image preserved henceforth traces of a trickle of blood. A pernicious mist then falling upon the Tatar forces compelled them to lift their siege of the castle and withdraw to their own territories. The Heavenly Mediatrix in a dream vision commanded the prince to transfer the wonderworking icon to the Chenstokhovsk Mount Yasna. The monastery on Mount Yasna -- (the Mount of "Witnessing" -- as they termed it from the many miracles happening there), was founded in 1352. Prince Vladislav conveyed thither the sacred image and entrusted it into the care of monks of the Paulinian Order. Some years later, ruffians plundered the monastery. Having looted it of all its valuables, they wanted to snatch also the wonderworking image, but an invisible force held back the horses, and the sleigh-cart with the icon would not budge from the spot. In a rage one of the robbers flung down the holy icon upon the ground, and another struck at it on the face. Herewith a proper punishment befell all: the first burst into pieces, the hand of the second withered off, and the others either fell down dead or were struck blind.
In the mid XVII Century the Swedish king Charles X Gustavus, having captured Warsaw and Cracow (Krakov), suffered a blow beneathe the Chenstokhovsk monastery at Mount Yasna. The help and intercession of the Heavenly Queen gave courage to the Polish, and king Jan Cazimir, returning to L'vov, promulgated a declaration, in which he entrusted his realm to the protection of the Mother of God, calling Her Chenstokhovsk Image the "Polish Queen". The war with the Swedes ended successfully for the Polish in the year 1656.
The many miracles from the Chestokhovsk Wonderworking Image were recorded in a special book, kept in the church of the Chenstokhovsk monastery. Many a copy was made from this icon, both for Catholic and also for Orthodox churches.
In the year 1813, when Russian forces entered the Chestokhovsk fortress, the head and brethren of the Lavra presented General Saken a copy of the wonderworking image. Afterwards the wonderworking image was transferred to Saint Peterburg and placed in the Kazan cathedral.
The Shestokhovsk ("Hearth"), or Sheltomezhsk, Icon of the Mother of God revealed itself in the mid XVIII Century at Moscow, in the family of a certain Nikolai Dimitrievich Skripitsyn. One time a servant girl, whom they called blest, saw in a dream that in a stove-chimney was hidden an icon of the MostHoly Mother of God. The household paid no attention to her tale of this amazing dream, until a linen bundle fell down on the hearth-stove the next day. In it was a fairly large image of the Mother of God (approximately 2 by 1.5 meter). At the right hand of the Mother of God were seen burn?marks, evidencing that although it had been in a fire, the holy icon miraculously had not burnt. The precious icon, receiving the name "Shestokhovsk ("Hearth", from the word "Shestok" meaning "Hearth"), was elegantly adorned by the household and venerated with the deepest reverence. Before his death, the owner of the house bestowed it in blessing upon his children.
Unable to decide to whom should belong this holy icon, the heirs gave it over to a church in the Sheltomezha village of the Tver gubernia, from which it received its second name -- Sheltomezhsk.
Glorified by many a miracle, church processions were made carrying the ancient icon far about through the districts of the Tver diocese, for healing the sick and conquering evil spirits.
In the year 1887, in honour of the wonderworking icon, in the village of Sheltomezha was founded the Shestokhovsk Ascension women's monastery.
The Icon of the Mother of God, named "Graced of Heaven" ("Blagodatnoe Nebo"), is situated on the iconostas of the Moscow Archangel cathedral of the Kremlin. It is known, that this image was earlier situated at Smolensk and brought to Moscow by Sophia, daughter of the Lithuanian prince Vitovt, when she became the spouse of the Moscow prince Vasilii Dmitrievich (1389-1425). On the icon, the Mother of God is imaged in full stature. On Her left arm is the Divine-Infant. Certain people call also this image of the Mother of God "What Name we Thee" ("Chto Tya narechem").
Besides the day of 6 March, celebration of this image is made also on the Sunday of All Saints.
© 2000 by translator Fr. S. Janos