Let us the faithful praise the divine Gerasimus, who hath been newly revealed to us as a protector of the Orthodox, an angel in the flesh, and a God-bearing wonderworker. For he worthily received from God the unfailing gift of healing; he restoreth the ailing and healeth demoniacs. Wherefore, he poureth forth healings upon them that honour him.
Assembling today, in hymns we praise thee as a never-waning luminary of the noetic Sun; for thou hast shone forth upon those in the darkness of ignorance, guiding all up to the divine heights, O Hilarion. Wherefore, we cry out: Rejoice, O father, thou foundation of all fasters!
"The Seven Youths of Ephesus: Maximilian, Iamblicus, Martinian, John, Dionysius, Exacustodianus (Constantine) and Antoninus, lived in the third century. St Maximilian was the son of the Ephesus city administrator, and the other six youths were sons of illustrious citizens of Ephesus. The youths were friends from childhood, and all were in military service together.
When the emperor Decius (249-251) arrived in Ephesus, he commanded all the citizens to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Torture and death awaited anyone who disobeyed. The seven youths were denounced by informants, and were summoned to reply to the charges. Appearing before the emperor, the young men confessed their faith in Christ.
Their military belts and insignia were quickly taken from them. Decius permitted them to go free, however, hoping that they would change their minds while he was off on a military campaign. The youths fled from the city and hid in a cave on Mount Ochlon, where they passed their time in prayer, preparing for martyrdom.
The youngest of them, St Iamblicus, dressed as a beggar and went into the city to buy bread. On one of his excursions into the city, he heard that the emperor had returned and was looking for them. St Maximilian urged his companions to come out of the cave and present themselves for trial.
Learning where the young men were hidden, the emperor ordered that the entrance of the cave be sealed with stones so that the saints would perish from hunger and thirst. Two of the dignitaries at the blocked entrance to the cave were secret Christians. Desiring to preserve the memory of the saints, they placed in the cave a sealed container containing two metal plaques. On them were inscribed the names of the seven youths and the details of their suffering and death.
The Lord placed the youths into a miraculous sleep lasting almost two centuries. In the meantime, the persecutions against Christians had ceased. During the reign of the holy emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450) there were heretics who denied that there would be a general resurrection of the dead at the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some of them said, "How can there be a resurrection of the dead when there will be neither soul nor body, since they are disintegrated?" Others affirmed, "The souls alone will have a restoration, since it would be impossible for bodies to arise and live after a thousand years, when even their dust would not remain." Therefore, the Lord revealed the mystery of the Resurrection of the Dead and of the future life through His seven saints.
The owner of the land on which Mount Ochlon was situated, discovered the stone construction, and his workers opened up the entrance to the cave. The Lord had kept the youths alive, and they awoke from their sleep, unaware that almost two hundred years had passed. Their bodies and clothing were completely undecayed.
Preparing to accept torture, the youths once again asked St Iamblicus to buy bread for them in the city. Going toward the city, the youth was astonished to see a cross on the gates. Hearing the name of Jesus Christ freely spoken, he began to doubt that he was approaching his own city.
When he paid for the bread, Iamblicus gave the merchant coins with the image of the emperor Decius on it. He was detained, as someone who might be concealing a horde of old money. They took St Iamblicus to the city administrator, who also happened to be the Bishop of Ephesus. Hearing the bewildering answers of the young man, the bishop perceived that God was revealing some sort of mystery through him, and went with other people to the cave.
At the entrance to the cave the bishop found the sealed container and opened it. He read upon the metal plaques the names of the seven youths and the details of the sealing of the cave on the orders of the emperor Decius. Going into the cave and seeing the saints alive, everyone rejoiced and perceived that the Lord, by waking them from their long sleep, was demonstrating to the Church the mystery of the Resurrection of the Dead.
Soon the emperor himself arrived in Ephesus and spoke with the young men in the cave. Then the holy youths, in sight of everyone, lay their heads upon the ground and fell asleep again, this time until the General Resurrection.
The emperor wanted to place each of the youths into a jeweled coffin, but they appeared to him in a dream and said that their bodies were to be left upon the ground in the cave. In the twelfth century the Russian pilgrim Igumen Daniel saw the holy relics of the seven youths in the cave.
There is a second commemoration of the seven youths on October 22. According to one tradition, which entered into the Russian PROLOGUE (of Saints' Lives), the youths fell asleep for the second time on this day. The Greek MENAION of 1870 says that they first fell asleep on August 4, and woke up on October 22.
There is a prayer of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus in the GREAT BOOK OF NEEDS (Trebnik) for those who are ill and cannot sleep. The Seven Sleepers are also mentioned in the service for the Church New Year, September 1."
10-23Saint Iakovos the Apostle, brother of Our Lord
As the Lord's disciple, O righteous One, you received the Gospel, as Martyr, you have unwavering courage, as the Lord's brother, you have forthrightness, as Hierarch, intercession. Intercede with Christ our God, that our souls may be saved.
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.
10-25The Holy Martyrs Marcian and Martyrius the Notaries
Ye struggled well even from earliest childhood, O wise Martyrius and all-blessed Marcian, and kept unchanged the Faith held by the Orthodox; for ye cast down Arius, the blaspheming apostate, as ye followed after Paul, your divinely-wise teacher. Wherefore with him ye also have found life, as God the Trinity's excellent champions.
Saint Tabitha, the widow raised from the dead by the Apostle Peter, was a virtuous and kindly woman, belonged to the Christian community in Joppa. Being grievously ill, she suddenly died. At the time, the Apostle Peter was preaching at Lydda, not far from Joppa. Messengers were sent to him with an urgent request for help. When the Apostle arrived at Joppa, Tabitha was already dead. On bended knee, St Peter made a fervent prayer to the Lord. Then he went to the bed and called out, “Tabitha, get up!” She arose, completely healed (Acts 9:36).
St Tabitha is considered the patron saint of tailors and seamstresses, since she was known for sewing coats and other garments (Acts 9:39).
Troparion — Tone 1
With the flow of the many-streamed river of almsgiving / You watered the dry earth of the needy. / Showering alms on the widows and the poor, / You shone with the light of your works / And were radiant with grace, O Tabitha. / Glory to Christ who loves you! / Glory to Christ who has blessed you! / Glory to Christ whom you followed as a true disciple and a spotless lamb!
Kontakion — Tone 2
You served the Savior in holiness / By your God-fearing deeds, / And were a model of love as his disciple. / O Tabitha, we praise your memory!
10-26Holy, Glorious Demetrius the Myrrhgusher of Thessalonica
The Great Martyr Demetrius the Myrrh-gusher of Thessalonica was the son of a Roman proconsul in Thessalonica. Three centuries had elapsed and Roman paganism, spiritually shattered and defeated by the multitude of martyrs and confessors of the Savior, intensified its persecutions. The parents of St Demetrius were secretly Christians, and he was baptized and raised in the Christian Faith in a secret church in his father’s home,
By the time Demetrius had reached maturity and his father had died, the emperor Galerius Maximian had ascended the throne (305). Maximian, confident in Demetrius’ education as well as his administrative and military abilities, appointed him to his father’s position as proconsul of the Thessalonica district. The main tasks of this young commander were to defend the city from barbarians and to eradicate Christianity. The emperor’s policy regarding Christians was expressed simply, “Put to death anyone who calls on the name of Christ.” The emperor did not suspect that by appointing Demetrius he had provided a way for him to lead many people to Christ.
Accepting the appointment, Demetrius returned to Thessalonica and immediately confessed and glorified our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of persecuting and executing Christians, he began to teach the Christian Faith openly to the inhabitants of the city and to overthrow pagan customs and idolatry. The compiler of his Life, St Simeon Metaphrastes (November 9), says that because of his teaching zeal he became “a second Apostle Paul” for Thessalonica, particularly since “the Apostle to the Gentiles” once founded at this city the first community of believers (1 Thess. and 2 Thess.).
The Lord also destined St Demetrius to follow the holy Apostle Paul as a martyr. When Maximian learned that the newly-appointed proconsul was a Christian, and that he had converted many Roman subjects to Christianity, the rage of the emperor know no bounds. Returning from a campaign in the Black Sea region, the emperor decided to lead his army through Thessalonica, determined to massacre the Christians.
Learning of this, St Demetrius ordered his faithful servant Lupus to distribute his wealth to the poor saying, “Distribute my earthly riches among them, for we shall seek heavenly riches for ourselves.” He began to pray and fast, preparing himself for martyrdom.
When the emperor came into the city, he summoned Demetrius, who boldly confessed himself a Christian and denounced the falsehood and futility of Roman polytheism. Maximian gave orders to lock up the confessor in prison. An angel appeared to him, comforting and encouraging him.
Meanwhile the emperor amused himself by staging games in the circus. His champion was a German by the name of Lyaeos. He challenged Christians to wrestle with him on a platform built over the upturned spears of the victorious soldiers. A brave Christian named Nestor went to the prison to his advisor Demetrius and requested a blessing to fight the barbarian. With the blessing and prayers of Demetrius, Nestor prevailed over the fierce German and hurled him from the platform onto the spears of the soldiers, just as the murderous pagan would have done with the Christian. The enraged commander ordered the execution of the holy Martyr Nestor (October 27) and sent a guard to the prison to kill St Demetrius.
At dawn on October 26, 306 soldiers appeared in the saint’s underground prison and ran him through with lances. His faithful servant, St Lupus, gathered up the blood-soaked garment of St Demetrius, and he took the imperial ring from his finger, a symbol of his high status, and dipped it in the blood. With the ring and other holy things sanctified by the blood of St Demetrius, St Lupus began to heal the infirm. The emperor issued orders to arrest and kill him.
The body of the holy Great Martyr Demetrius was cast out for wild animals to devour, but the Christians took it and secretly buried it in the earth.
During the reign of St Constantine (306-337), a church was built over the grave of St Demetrius. A hundred years later, during the construction of a majestic new church on the old spot, the incorrupt relics of the holy martyr were uncovered. Since the seventh century a miraculous flow of fragrant myrrh has been found beneath the crypt of the Great Martyr Demetrius, so he is called “the Myrrh-gusher.”
Several times, those venerating the holy wonderworker tried to bring his holy relics, or a part of them, to Constantinople. Invariably, St Demetrius made it clear that he would not permit anyone to remove even a portion of his relics.
It is interesting that among the barbarians threatening the Romans, Slavs occupied an important place, in particular those settling upon the Thessalonian peninsula. Some even believe that the parents of St Demetrius were of Slavic descent. While advancing towards the city, pagan Slavs were repeatedly turned away by the apparition of a threatening radiant youth, going around on the walls and inspiring terror in the enemy soldiers. Perhaps this is why the name of St Demetrius was particularly venerated among the Slavic nations after they were enlightened by the Gospel. On the other hand, the Greeks dismiss the notion of St Demetrius being a Slavic saint.
The very first pages of the Russian Primary Chronicle, as foreordained by God, is bound up with the name of the holy Great Martyr Demetrius of Thessalonica. The Chronicle relates that when Oleg the Wise threatened the Greeks at Constantinople (907), the Greeks became terrified and said, “This is not Oleg, but rather St Demetrius sent upon us from God.” Russian soldiers always believed that they were under the special protection of the holy Great Martyr Demetrius. Moreover, in the old Russian barracks the Great Martyr Demetrius was always depicted as Russian. Thus this image entered the soul of the Russian nation.
Church veneration of the holy Great Martyr Demetrius in Russia began shortly after the Baptism of Rus. Towards the beginning of the 1070s the Dimitriev monastery at Kiev, known afterwards as the Mikhailov-Zlatoverkh monastery, was founded, The monastery was built by the son of Yaroslav the Wise, Great Prince Izyaslav, Demetrius in Baptism (+ 1078). The mosaic icon of St Demetrius of Thessalonica from the cathedral of the Dimitriev monastery has been preserved up to the present day, and is in the Tretiakov gallery.
In the years 1194-1197 the Great Prince of Vladimir, Vsevolod III the Great-Nest (Demetrius in Baptism) “built at his court a beautiful church of the holy martyr Demetrius, and adorned it wondrously with icons and frescoes.” The Dimitriev cathedral also reveals the embellishment of ancient Vladimir. The wonderworking icon of St Demetrius of Thessalonica from the cathedral iconostas is located even now in Moscow, at the Tretiakov gallery. It was painted on a piece of wood from the grave of the holy Great Martyr Demetrius, brought from Thessalonica to Vladimir in 1197.
One of the most precious depictions of the saint, a fresco on a column of the Vladimir Dormition cathedral, was painted by the holy Iconographer Andrew Rublev (July 4).
The family of St Alexander Nevsky (November 23 also venerated St Demetrius. St Alexander named his eldest son in honor of the holy Great Martyr. His younger son, Prince Daniel of Moscow (March 4), built a temple dedicated to the holy Great Martyr Demetrius in the 1280s. This was the first stone church in the Moscow Kremlin. Later in 1326, under Ivan Kalita, it was taken down and the Dormition cathedral was built in its place.
The memory of St Demetrius of Thessalonica is historically associated in Rus with the military, patriotism and the defense of the country. This is apparent by the saint’s depiction on icons as a soldier in plumed armor, with a spear and sword in hand. There is a scroll (in later depictions) on which is written the prayer of St Demetrius for the salvation of the people of Thessalonica, “Lord, do not permit the city or the people perish. If You save the city and the people, I shall be saved with them. If they perish, I also perish with them.”
In the particular spiritual experience of the Russian Church, veneration of the holy Great Martyr Demetrius of Thessalonica is closely linked with the memory of the defense of the nation and Church by the Great Prince of Moscow, Demetrius of the Don (May 19) . “An Account of the Life and Repose of the Great Prince Demetrius of the Don, Tsar of Russia,” written in the year 1393, already regards the Great Prince as a saint, as also do other old Russian histories. Great Prince Demetrius was a spiritual son and disciple of St Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow (February 12), and a disciple and associate of other great figures of prayer in the Russian Land: St Sergius of Radonezh (September 25), Demetrius of Priluki (February 11), St Theodore of Rostov (November 28). The Account states:
He [Great Prince Demetrius] worried much about the churches of God, and he held the territory of the Russian land by his bravery: he conquered many enemies who had risen against us, and he protected his glorious city Moscow with wondrous walls. ...The land of Russia prospered during the years of his reign.
From the time of the building of the white-walled Kremlin (1366) by Great Prince Demetrius, Moscow was called “White-Stoned.”
By the prayers of his Heavenly patron, the holy warrior Demetrius of Thessalonica, Great Prince Demetrius, in addition to his brilliant military victories, also gained the further prominence of Russia. He repelled the onslaught of the Lithuanian armies of Olgerd insert into lives values (0, 1368, 1373), he routed the Tatar army of Begich at the River Vozha (1378), and he smashed the military might of all the Golden Horde at the Battle of Kulikovo Field on September 8, 1380 (the Feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos), set between the Rivers Don and Nepryadva. The Battle of Kulikovo, for which the nation calls him Demetrius of the Don, became the first Russian national deed, rallying the spiritual power of the Russian nation around Moscow. The “Zadonschina,” an inspiring historic poem written by the priest Sophronius of Ryazem (1381) is devoted to this event.
Prince Demetrius of the Don was greatly devoted to the holy Great Martyr Demetrius. In 1380, on the eve of the Battle of Kulikovo, he solemnly transferred from Vladimir to Moscow the most holy object in the Vladimir Dimitriev cathedral: the icon of the Great Martyr Demetrius of Thessalonica, painted on a board from the grave of the saint. A chapel dedicated to the Great Martyr Demetrius was built at Moscow’s Dormition Cathedral.
The St Demetrius Memorial Saturday was established for churchwide remembrance of the soldiers who fell in the Battle of Kulidovo. This memorial service was held for the first time at the Trinity-St Sergius monastery on October 20, 1380 by St Sergius of Radonezh, in the presence of Great Prince Demetrius of the Don. It is an annual remembrance of the heroes of the Battle of Kulikovo, among whom are the schemamonks Alexander (Peresvet) and Andrew (Oslyab).
St Demetrius is regarded as a protector of the young, and is also invoked by those struggling with lustful temptations.
10-27Saint Nestor the Martyr of Thessaloniki
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Thine all-holy memory doth cheer and gladden the whole world, calling all to come to thine august and ven'rable temple; wherein now, with jubilation we have all gathered, and with odes we hymn thy triumphs, O Martyr Plato, and with faith, we cry out to thee: Rescue thy people, O Saint, from barbarous foes.