Orthodox Saint of the Day

Orthodox Christian Saints & Martyrs.

Information on the lives of many of the saints and martyrs commemorated during the Orthodox Christian Liturgical year, including icons depicting the saints or feast days, according to the so-called New Calendar.

October 23 - Apostle James, the Brother of the Lord

Holy Apostle James, the Brother of God (Adelphotheos) was the son of Righteous Joseph the Betrothed of the Most Holy Theotokos (December 26). From his early years James was a Nazarene, a man especially dedicated to God. The Nazarenes vowed to preserve their virginity, to abstain from wine, to refrain from eating meat, and not to cut their hair. The vow of the Nazarenes symbolized a life of holiness and purity, commanded formerly by the Lord for all Israel. When the Savior began to teach the nation about the Kingdom of God, St James believed in Christ and became His apostle. He was chosen as the first Bishop of Jerusalem.

St James presided over the Council of Jerusalem and his word was decisive (Acts 15). In his thirty years as bishop, St James converted many of the Jews to Christianity. Annoyed by this, the Pharisees and the Scribes plotted together to kill St James. They led the saint up on the pinnacle of the Jerusalem Temple and asked what he thought of Jesus. The holy Apostle began to bear witness that Christ is the Messiah, which was not the response the Pharisees were expecting. Greatly angered, the Jewish teachers threw him off the roof. The saint did not die immediately, but gathering his final strength, he prayed to the Lord for his enemies while they were stoning him. St James' martyrdom occurred about 63 A.D.

The holy Apostle James composed a Divine Liturgy, which formed the basis of the Liturgies of Sts Basil the Great and John Chrysostom. The Church has preserved an Epistle of St James, one of the books of the New Testament.

In 1853, Patriarch Hierotheus of Alexandria sent to Moscow a portion of the relics of St James. The Church distinguishes between the holy Apostle James the Brother of God, and St James the son of Zebedee (April 30) and St James the son of Alphaeus (October 9).

Troparion - Tone 4
As the Lord's disciple you received the Gospel, O righteous James;
as a martyr you have unfailing courage;
as God's brother, you have boldness;
as a hierarch, you have the power to intercede.
Pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved.

Kontakion - Tone 4
When God the Word, the Only-begotten of the Father,
came to live among us in these last days,
He declared you, venerable James, to be the first shepherd and teacher of Jerusalem
and a faithful steward of the spiritual Mysteries.
Therefore, we all honor you, O Apostle.

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October 21 - Venerable Hilarion the Great

Saint Hilarion the Great was born in the year 291 in the Palestinian village of Tabatha. He was sent to Alexandria to study. There he became acquainted with Christianity and was baptized. After hearing an account of the angelic life of St Anthony the Great (January 17), Hilarion went to meet him, desiring to study with him and learn what is pleasing to God. Hilarion soon returned to his native land to find that his parents had died. After distributing his family's inheritance to the poor, Hilarion set out into the desert surrounding the city of Maium.

In the desert the monk struggled intensely with impure thoughts, vexations of the mind and the burning passions of the flesh, but he defeated them with heavy labor, fasting and fervent prayer. The devil sought to frighten the saint with phantoms and apparitions. During prayer St Hilarion heard children crying, women wailing, the roaring of lions and other wild beasts. The monk perceived that it was the demons causing these terrors in order to drive him away from the wilderness. He overcame his fear with the help of fervent prayer. Once, robbers fell upon St Hilarion, and he persuaded them to forsake their life of crime through the power of his words.

Soon all of Palestine learned about the holy ascetic. The Lord granted to St Hilarion the power to cast out unclean spirits. With this gift of grace he loosed the bonds of many of the afflicted. The sick came for healing, and the monk cured them free of charge, saying that the grace of God is not for sale (MT 10:8).

Such was the grace that he received from God that he could tell by the smell of someone's body or clothing which passion afflicted his soul. They came to St Hilarion wanting to save their soul under his guidance. With the blessing of St Hilarion, monasteries began to spring up throughout Palestine. Going from one monastery to another, he instituted a strict ascetic manner of life.

About seven years before his death (+ 371-372) St Hilarion moved back to Cyprus, where the ascetic lived in a solitary place until the Lord summoned him to Himself.

Troparion - Tone 8
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile,
and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance.
By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe!
Our Father Hilarion pray to Christ God to save our souls!

Kontakion - Tone 3
Podoben: “Today the Virgin…”
Today we gather to praise you with hymns,
O unfading light of the Spiritual Sun;
for you illumined those in the darkness of ignorance,
leading all to the heights of God, as they cried:
“Rejoice, Father Hilarion, rampart of ascetics.”

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October 21 - Translation of the relics of St Hilarion the Bishop of Meglin in Bulgaria

The Transfer of the Relics of Saint Hilarion, Bishop of Meglin, to the Bulgarian city of Trnovo, occurred in the year 1206. Prior to this event, the body of the saint rested in the city of Meglin.

St Hilarion received a fine Christian upbringing. At eighteen, he entered a monastery. Because of his virtuous and strict life he was chosen to be igumen of the monastery. He was very concerned about the salvation of the monks’ souls. He unceasingly exhorted those souls entrusted to him not to waste precious time intended to prepare for salvation. Particularly persistent, Hilarion eradicated drunkenness in the monastery.

In 1134, when the Bogomil heresy was spreading through Bulgaria, he was consecrated bishop of Meglin. The followers of the heresy believed that “good and evil manifest themselves as independent principles, and a struggle between the two ensues.” St Hilarion tirelessly fought against the Bogomils with apostolic zeal and fervent prayer. He continually unmasked their heresy and exposed their hypocritical guise of piety. In refuting the teaching of the heretics, St Hilarion said:

“You are not Christians at all, since you are hostile to the Cross of Christ the Savior. You do not acknowledge the One God, you slander the teachings of the Old Testament venerated by Christians. You deceive people by hypocritical meekness while full of pride. True piety is not possible in those who do not see their own heart’s corruption, but by those who ask God’s grace with prayer and humility. Evil thoughts, envy, vanity, greed, lies are not the deed of some evil thing within man to be conquered by mere fasting. These vices are the fruit of self- love which demands rooting out by spiritual efforts.”

Because of the saint’s exhortations many of the heretics abandoned their false teaching and returned to the holy Church. St Hilarion also successfully struggled against the rise of the Armenian Monophysite heretics in Bulgaria, who acknowledged only the divine nature of Christ. The saint fell asleep in the Lord in 1164.

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October 20 - Righteous Child Artemius of Verkola

Holy Righteous Artemius of Verkola was born in the village of Dvina Verkhol around the year 1532. The son of pious parents, Artemius was a child who was courageous, meek and diligent for every good deed. On June 23, 1545 the twelve-year-old Artemius and his father were taken by surprise in a field by a thunderstorm. A clap of thunder broke right over their heads, and the child Artemius fell dead. People thought that this was a sign of God’s judgment, therefore they left the body in a pine forest without a funeral, and without burial.

Some years later, the village reader beheld a light over the place where the incorrupt body of the Righteous Artemius lay. Taken to the church of St Nicholas in 1577, the holy relics were shown to be a source of numerous healings. In this village a monastery was later built, called the Verkhol. In 1918, the impious Soviets chopped the holy relics into pieces and threw them into a well. The memory of St Artemius is also celebrated on October 20.

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October 20 - Greatmartyr Artemius at Antioch

Holy Great Martyr Artemius of Antioch was a prominent military leader during the reigns of the emperor Constantine the Great (May 21), and his son and successor Constantius (337-361). Artemius received many awards for distinguished service and courage. He was appointed viceroy of Egypt. In this official position he did much for the spreading and strengthening Christianity in Egypt.

St Artemius was sent by the emperor Constantius to bring the relics of the holy Apostle Andrew from Patras, and the relics of the holy Apostle Luke from Thebes of Boeotia, to Constantinople. The holy relics were placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles beneath the table of oblation. The emperor rewarded him by making him ruler of Egypt.

The emperor Constantius was succeeded on the throne by Julian the Apostate (361-363). Julian in his desire to restore paganism was extremely antagonistic towards Christians, sending hundreds to their death. At Antioch he ordered the torture of two bishops unwilling to forsake the Christian Faith.

During this time, St Artemius arrived in Antioch and publicly denounced Julian for his impiety. The enraged Julian subjected the saint to terrible tortures and threw the Great Martyr Artemius into prison. While Artemius was praying, Christ, surrounded by angels, appeared to him and said, "Take courage, Artemius! I am with you and will preserve you from every hurt which is inflicted upon you, and I already have prepared your crown of glory. Since you have confessed Me before the people on earth, so shall I confess you before My Heavenly Father. Therefore, take courage and rejoice, you shall be with Me in My Kingdom." Hearing this, Artemius rejoiced and offered up glory and thanksgiving to Him.

On the following day, Julian demanded that St Artemius honor the pagan gods. Meeting with steadfast refusal, the emperor resorted to further tortures. The saint endured all without a single moan. The saint told Julian that he would be justly recompensed for his persecution of Christians. Julian became furious and resorted to even more savage tortures, but they did not break the will of the saint. Finally the Great Martyr Artemius was beheaded.

His relics were buried by Christians. After the death of St Artemius, his prophecy about Julian the Apostate's impending death came true.

Julian left Antioch for a war with the Persians. Near the Persian city of Ctesiphon, Julian came upon an elderly Persian, who agreed to betray his countrymen and guide Julian's army. The old man deceived Julian and led his army into the Karmanite wilderness, where there was neither food nor water. Tired from hunger and thirst, Julian's army battled against fresh Persian forces.

Divine retribution caught up with Julian the Apostate. During the battle he was mortally wounded by an unseen hand and an unseen weapon. Julian groaned deeply said, "You have conquered, Galilean!" After the death of the apostate emperor, the relics of the Great Martyr Artemius were transferred with honor from Antioch to Constantinople.

St Artemius is invoked by those suffering from hernias.

Troparion - Tone 4
Your holy martyr Artemios, O Lord,
Through his sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God.
For having Your strength, he laid low his adversaries,
And shattered the powerless boldness of demons.
Through his intercessions, save our souls!

Kontakion - Tone 2
Let us gather to sing worthy hymns in honor of Artemios,
The pious and victorious marty who defeated his enemies:
He is great among martyrs and generous in performing miracles,
And he intercedes with the Lord on behalf of us all!

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October 20 - Venerable Gerasimus the New Ascetic of Cephalonia

Saint Gerasimus the New Ascetic of Cephalonia was born in the village of Trikkala in the Peloponessos. As a young adult, he became a monk on the island of Zakynthos. On the Holy Mountain he became a schemamonk and studied with the ascetics of Mt Athos. Receiving a blessing from the Elders, the monk went to Jerusalem to worship at the Life-bearing Tomb of the Savior. After visiting many holy places in Jerusalem, Mount Sinai, Antioch, Damascus, Alexandria and Egypt, he returned to Jerusalem where he became a lamp-lighter at the Sepulchre of the Lord.

The monk was ordained a deacon and then a priest by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Germanus (1534-1579). St Gerasimus maintained the discipline of an ascetic. For solitude he withdrew to the Jordan, where he spent forty days without respite. Having received the Patriarch’s blessing for a life of silence, St Gerasimus withdrew to Zakynthos in solitude, eating only vegetation.

After five years he was inspired to go the island of Cephalonia, where he lived in a cave. He restored a church at Omala, and he founded a women’s monastery where he lived in constant toil and vigil for thirty years. He prayed on bent knees stretched out on the ground. For his exalted life he was granted a miraculous gift: the ability to heal the sick and cast out unclean spirits.

At 71 years of age, the venerable Gerasimus knew that he would soon die. He gave his blessing to the nuns and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord on August 15, 1579. Two years later, his grave was opened and his holy relics were found fragrant and incorrupt with a healing power.

Since the Feast of the Dormition falls on August 15, St Gerasimus is commemorated on August 16th. Today’s Feast celebrates the uncovering of his holy relics in 1581.

Troparion — Tone 1

Let us praise divine Gerasimos the protector and champion of Orthodoxy, / An angel in the flesh and a God-inspired wonder-worker. / He received from God the gift of healing / And grants cures to those who honor him!

Kontakion — Tone 3

Today the island of Cephalonia / Calls upon multitudes of Orthodox to praise godly Gerasimos, / Boast of Orthodoxy, its defender and champion.

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October 19 - Translation of the relics of Venerable St John the Abbot of Rila in Bulgaria

Today we commemorate the transfer of the relics of Saint John, Abbot of Rila in Bulgaria (1238).

Saint John of Rila, the great spiritual ascetic of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and Heavenly Protector of the Bulgarian nation, was born in the year 876 in the village of Skrino in the Sredets district [now Sofia].

After he had been orphaned, the boy became a cowherd in order to avoid people. Once the rich man beat him for losing a cow with its calf. The boy cried long and he prayed, that God would help him. When he found the cow with the calf, the water at that time flowed high and strong in the River Struma. The young cowherd prayed, he placed his own tattered shirt on the water, made the Sign of the Cross over it, took up the calf in his arms and went with it, as though on dry land, to the other bank of the river where the cow was.

The rich man, hidden in the forest, was frightened upon seeing this miracle. He rewarded the youth generously, then sent him away from his home. Having given away his things, the boy left his village. Where and when the saint took monastic tonsure is unknown.

At the very first he pursued asceticism on a high and barren hill, eating only wild plants. His hut was of brushwood. After a short while robbers fell upon him by night, beat him, and drove him off from there. Then he found a deep cave and settled in it. Soon, his nephew St Luke also settled there.

The place was quite unpopulated, so that St John at first considered the appearance of Luke a demonic trick, but learning that the youth sought the salvation of his soul, he lovingly accepted him. Not for long, however, did they live together. St John's brother found the ascetics, and forcibly took away his son. Along the way home the youth died from the bite of a snake. The brother repented and asked forgiveness of the monk. The wanderer went then frequently to the grave of the righteous youth; his beloved place of rest was there.

St John spent twelve years in the desolate cave, and then he went into the Rila wilderness and settled in the hollow of a tree. He fasted and prayed a great deal, wept incessantly, and ate only grass. Seeing such endurance, God caused beans to grow, which he ate for a long time. The beans and his exploits made him known to people.

Once a flock of frightened sheep ran along the hilly steep paths, and did not stop until the place where the monk lived. The shepherds, following after the flock, with astonishment saw the hermit, who amicably greeted them: "You arrive here hungry. Pick some of my beans and eat." All ate and were satisfied. One gathered many beans in reserve. Along the way home he offered them to his comrades, but there were no beans in the pilfered pods. The shepherds turned back penitent, and the Elder stood there, saying with a smile: "See, children, these fruits are appointed by God for subsistence in the wilderness."

From that time they began to bring to the monk the sick and those troubled by unclean spirits, which he healed by prayer. Fleeing celebrity, the monk went from his beloved tree-hollow and settled on a high and rocky crag difficult of access, where he dwelt for seven years under the open sky. Reports about the great ascetic reached even the Bulgarian king Peter (927-969), who wanted to meet him. St John wrote a letter, refusing such a meeting out of humility.

Later on St John accepted under him the guidance of monks, who built a monastery with a church in the cave where St John formerly lived. He wisely tended his flock and died on August 18, 946 at 70 years of age.

Five years before his end he wrote in his own hand "A Testament to Disciples," one of the finest creations of Old Bulgarian literature. The holy life of the ascetic and the remarkable mercies of God through his prayers were a fine preaching of the Christian Faith in the newly-baptized Bulgarian land. In the uneasy time of struggle of Bulgaria with Byzantium, under the west Bulgarian king Samuel (976-1014), St John appeared to his disciples, commanding them to transfer his relics to Sredets (Sofia), where the Bulgarian Patriarch Damian (927-972) was hiding. It is presumed that the transfer of relics took place in the year 980.

Somewhat later, the right hand of St John of Rila was transferred to Russia (presumably to the city of Rila, where a church was constructed in the name of St John of Rila, with a chapel dedicated to the martyrs Florus and Laurus, on the day of their commemoration (August 18) on which he died).

The name of St John was known and loved by the Russian people from antiquity. Data about the death of the saint is preserved, especially in Russian sources (the MENAION for August in the twelfth century, in the Mazurinsk Chronicle).

In the year 1183, the Hungarian king Bela II (1174-1196), during a campaign against the Greeks, seized the chest with the relics of St John, together with other booty, and took it to the city of Esztergom.

In the year 1187, after he embellished the reliquary, he sent back the holy relics with great honor. On October 19, 1238 the relics of St John were solemnly transferred to the new capital, Trnovo, and put in a church dedicated to the saint. On July 1, 1469 the holy relics of St John of Rila were returned to the Rila monastery, where they rest to the present day, granting grace-filled help to all the believers.

Troparion - Tone 1
Your life was a foundation of repentance
and a model of compunction,
an image of consolation and spiritual perfection,
equal to the angels, O venerable one.
You persevered in prayer, fasting and tears, O Father John;
intercede with Christ God for our souls.

Kontakion - Tone 8
Imitating the life of the angels and forsaking all earthly things,
you fled to Christ, O venerable one.
Protecting yourself with His commandments,
you were shown to be an unshakable pillar against the attacks of the enemy.
Therefore, we cry to you: "Rejoice, O Father John, most brilliant light!

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Orthodox Christian Saints & Martyrs. Information on the lives of many of the saints commemorated during the Orthodox Christian Liturgical year, including icons depicting the saints, martyrs, or feast days. The saints serve as our examples and intercessors for us as we struggle to lead our lives in a Christian manner from day to day. For information about the Orthodox Christian faith please visit: http://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith
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