Orthodox icon of Saint Pachomius, Pachomios, 'Αγιος Παχώμιος. Contemporary icon
Commemorated May 15.
Saint Pachomius the Great was both a model of desert dwelling, and with Saints Anthony the Great (January 17), Macarius the Great (January 19), and Euthymius the Great (January 20), a founder of the cenobitic monastic life in Egypt.
Saint Pachomius was born in the third century in the Thebaid (Upper Egypt). His parents were pagans who gave him an excellent secular education. From his youth he had a good character, and he was prudent and sensible.
When Pachomius reached the age of twenty, he was called up to serve in the army of the emperor Constantine (apparently, in the year 315). They put the new conscripts in a city prison guarded by soldiers. The local Christians fed the soldiers and took care of them.
When the young man learned that these people acted this way because of their love for God, fulfilling His commandment to love their neighbor, this made a deep impression upon his pure soul. Pachomius vowed to become a Christian. Pachomius returned from the army after the victory, received holy Baptism, moved to the lonely settlement of Shenesit, and began to lead a strict ascetic life. Realizing the need for spiritual guidance, he turned to the desert-dweller Palamon. He was accepted by the Elder, and he began to follow the example of his instructor in monastic struggles.
Once, after ten years of asceticism, Saint Pachomius made his way through the desert, and halted at the ruins of the former village of Tabennisi. Here he heard a Voice ordering him to start a monastery at this place. Pachomius told the Elder Palamon of this, and they both regarded the words as a command from God.
They went to Tabennisi and built a small monastic cell. The holy Elder Palamon blessed the foundations of the monastery and predicted its future glory. But soon Palamon departed to the Lord. An angel of God then appeared to Saint Pachomius in the form of a schemamonk and gave him a Rule of monastic life. Soon his older brother John came and settled there with him.
Saint Pachomius endured many temptations and assaults from the Enemy of the race of man, but he resisted all temptations by his prayer and endurance.
Gradually, followers began to gather around Saint Pachomius. Their teacher impressed everyone by his love for work, which enabled him to accomplish all kinds of monastic tasks. He cultivated a garden, he conversed with those seeking guidance, and he tended to the sick.
Saint Pachomius introduced a monastic Rule of cenobitic life, giving everyone the same food and attire. The monks of the monastery fulfilled the obediences assigned them for the common good of the monastery. Among the various obediences was copying books. The monks were not allowed to possess their own money nor to accept anything from their relatives. Saint Pachomius considered that an obedience fulfilled with zeal was greater than fasting or prayer. He also demanded from the monks an exact observance of the monastic Rule, and he chastized slackers.
His sister Maria came to see Saint Pachomius, but the strict ascetic refused to see her. Through the gate keeper, he blessed her to enter upon the path of monastic life, promising his help with this. Maria wept, but did as her brother had ordered. The Tabennisi monks built her a hut on the opposite side of the River Nile. Nuns also began to gather around Maria. Soon a women’s monastery was formed with a strict monastic Rule provided by Saint Pachomius.
The number of monks at the monastery grew quickly, and it became necessary to build seven more monasteries in the vicinity. The number of monks reached 7,000, all under the guidance of Saint Pachomius, who visited all the monasteries and administered them. At the same time Saint Pachomius remained a deeply humble monk, who was always ready to comply with and accept the words of each brother.
Severe and strict towards himself, Saint Pachomius had great kindness and condescension toward the deficiencies of spiritually immature monks. One of the monks was eager for martyrdom, but Saint Pachomius turned him from this desire and instructed him to fulfill his monastic obedience, taming his pride, and training him in humility.
Once, a monk did not heed his advice and left the monastery. He was set upon by brigands, who threatened him with death and forced him to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Filled with despair, the monk returned to the monastery. Saint Pachomius ordered him to pray intensely night and day, keep a strict fast and live in complete solitude. The monk followed his advice, and this saved his soul from despair.
The saint taught his spiritual children to avoid judging others, and he himself feared to judge anyone even in thought.
Saint Pachomius cared for the sick monks with special love. He visited them, he cheered the disheartened, he urged them to be thankful to God, and put their hope in His holy will. He relaxed the fasting rule for the sick, if this would help them recover their health. Once, in the saint’s absence, the cook did not prepare any cooked food for the monks, assuming that the brethren loved to fast. Instead of fulfilling his obedience, the cook plaited 500 mats, something which Saint Pachomius had not told him to do. In punishment for his disobedience, all the mats prepared by the cook were burned.
Saint Pachomius always taught the monks to rely only upon God’s help and mercy. It happened that there was a shortage of grain at the monastery. The saint spent the whole night in prayer, and in the morning a large quantity of bread was sent to the monastery from the city, at no charge. The Lord granted Saint Pachomius the gift of wonderworking and healing the sick.
The Lord revealed to him the future of monasticism. The saint learned that future monks would not have such zeal in their struggles as the first generation had, and they would not have experienced guides. Prostrating himself upon the ground, Saint Pachomius wept bitterly, calling out to the Lord and imploring mercy for them. He heard a Voice answer, “Pachomius, be mindful of the mercy of God. The monks of the future shall receive a reward, since they too shall have occasion to suffer the life burdensome for the monk.”
Toward the end of his life Saint Pachomius fell ill from a pestilence that afflicted the region. His closest disciple, Saint Theodore (May 17), tended to him with filial love. Saint Pachomius died around the year 348 at the age of fifty-three, and was buried on a hill near the monastery.
St. Theophilus the Myrrhgusher of Macedonia icon
Orthodox icon of Theophilus, Theophilos, Theofilos the Myrrhgusher of Macedonia icon
Commemorated July 8th.
Saint Theophilus was from Ziki in Macedonia, and lived during the sixteenth century. He had a very good education, but more importantly he dedicated himself to God, purifying himself from every soul-destroying passion, and acquiring every virtue which filled him with the grace of the All-Holy Spirit.
He travelled to Alexandria, at the request of Patriarch Niphon of Constantinople, in order to determine whether the stories about Patriarch Joachim being able to move mountains and to drink poison with no ill effects were true or not. After looking into the matter, he was able to verify that these stories were true.
After completing this work, Saint Theophilus went to struggle on the Holy Mountain, living first at Vatopedi, then at Iveron before settling at Saint Basil’s cell near Karyes. Although he did not seek the praise of men, the fame of the holy ascetic became known on Mount Athos, and in other places as well. His holy life and spiritual gifts could not be hidden, but were revealed by the Lord.
When the Archbishop of Thessalonica reposed, Saint Theophilus was nominated for this office. Out of humility, however, he declined to accept the position.
In 1548, as he felt the approach of death, Saint Theophilus told his disciple Isaac not to give him an honorable burial, but to tie a cord around his feet and drag him out of the monastery, and then to throw his body into a nearby stream.
When the saint fell asleep in the Lord on July 8, 1548, Isaac carried out the instructions of his Elder. Although he was reluctant to do this, he obeyed the saint just as he had always done when Saint Theophilus was alive.
By God’s will, the holy relics of Saint Theophilus were later found and brought to his cell. Then a fragrant myrrh began to flow from the saint’s incorrupt body, which was later enshrined at the Pantokrator Monastery.
Orthodox icon of Saint Nicholas, Nikolai Velimirovic, Bishop of Zhicha, Serbia
Commemorated March 18th.
Saint Nikolai of Zhicha, “the Serbian Chrysostom,” was born in Lelich in western Serbia on January 4, 1881 (December 23, 1880 O.S.). His parents were Dragomir and Katherine Velimirovich, who lived on a farm where they raised a large family. His pious mother was a major influence on his spiritual development, teaching him by word and especially by example. As a small child, Nikolai often walked three miles to the Chelije Monastery with his mother to attend services there.
Sickly as a child, Nikolai was not physically strong as an adult. He failed his physical requirements when he applied to the military academy, but his excellent academic qualifications allowed him to enter the Saint Sava Seminary in Belgrade, even before he finished preparatory school.
After graduating from the seminary in 1905, he earned doctoral degrees from the University of Berne in 1908, and from King’s College, Oxford in 1909. When he returned home, he fell ill with dysentery. Vowing to serve God for the rest of his life if he recovered, he was tonsured at the Rakovica Monastery on December 20, 1909 and was also ordained to the holy priesthood.
In 1910 he went to study in Russia to prepare himself for a teaching position at the seminary in Belgrade. At the Theological Academy in Saint Petersburg, the Provost asked him why he had come. He replied, “I wanted to be a shepherd. As a child, I tended my father’s sheep. Now that I am a man, I wish to tend the rational flock of my heavenly Father. I believe that is the way that has been shown to me.” The Provost smiled, pleased by this response, then showed the young man to his quarters.
After completing his studies, he returned to Belgrade and taught philosophy, logic, history, and foreign languages at the seminary. He spoke seven languages, and this ability proved very useful to him throughout his life.
Saint Nikolai was renowned for his sermons, which never lasted more than twenty minutes, and focused on just three main points. He taught people the theology of the Church in a language they could understand, and inspired them to repentance.
At the start of World War I, Archimandrite Nikolai was sent to England on a diplomatic mission to seek help in the struggle of the Serbs against Austria. His doctorate from Oxford gained him an invitation to speak at Westminster Abbey. He remained in England for three short months, but Saint Nikolai left a lasting impression on those who heard him. His writings “The Lord’s Commandments,” and “Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer” impressed many in the Church of England.
Archimandrite Nikolai left England and went to America, where he proved to be a good ambassador for his nation and his Church.
The future saint returned to Serbia in 1919, where he was consecrated as Bishop of Zhicha, and was later transferred to Ochrid. The new hierarch assisted those who were suffering from the ravages of war by establishing orphanages and helping the poor.
Bishop Nikolai took over as leader of Bogomljcki Pokret, a popular movement for spiritual revival which encouraged people to pray and read the Bible. Under the bishop’s direction, it also contributed to a renewal of monasticism. Monasteries were restored and reopened, and this in turn revitalized the spiritual life of the Serbian people.
In 1921, Bishop Nikolai was invited to visit America again and spent two years as a missionary bishop. He gave more than a hundred talks in less than six months, raising funds for his orphanages. Over the next twenty years, he lectured in various churches and universities.
When Germany invaded Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941, Bishop Nikolai, a fearless critic of the Nazis, was arrested and confined in Ljubostir Vojlovici Monastery. In 1944, he and Patriarch Gavrilo were sent to the death camp at Dachau. There he witnessed many atrocities and was tortured himself. When American troops liberated the prisoners in May 1945, the patriarch returned to Yugoslavia, but Bishop Nikolai went to England.
The Communist leader Tito was just coming to power in Yugoslavia, where he persecuted the Church and crushed those who opposed him. Therefore, Bishop Nikolai believed he could serve the Serbian people more effectively by remaining abroad. He went to America in 1946, following a hectic schedule in spite of his health problems which were exacerbated by his time in Dachau. He taught for three years at Saint Sava’s Seminary in Libertyville, IL before he settled at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan, PA in 1951.
He taught at Saint Tikhon’s and also served as the seminary’s Dean and Rector. He was also a guest lecturer at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary in NY, and at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY.
On Saturday March 17, 1956 Bishop Nikolai served his last Liturgy. After the service he went to the trapeza and gave a short talk. As he was leaving, he bowed low and said, “Forgive me, brothers.” This was something unusual which he had not done before.
On March 18, 1956 Saint Nikolai fell asleep in the Lord Whom he had served throughout his life. He was found in his room kneeling in an attitude of prayer. Though he was buried at Saint Sava’s Monastery in Libertyville, IL, he had always expressed a desire to be buried in his homeland. In April of 1991 his relics were transferred to the Chetinje Monastery in Lelich. There he was buried next to his friend and disciple Father Justin Popovich (+ 1979).
English readers are familiar with Saint Nikolai’s PROLOGUE FROM OCHRID, THE LIFE OF ST SAVA, A TREASURY OF SERBIAN SPIRITUALITY, and other writings which are of great benefit for the whole Church. He thought of his writings as silent sermons addressed to people who would never hear him preach. In his life and writings, the grace of the Holy Spirit shone forth for all to see, but in his humility he considered himself the least of men.
Though he was a native of Serbia, Saint Nikolai has a universal significance for Orthodox Christians in all countries. He was like a candle set upon a candlestick giving light to all (MT 5:15). A spiritual guide and teacher with a magnetic personality, he attracted many people to himself. He also loved them, seeing the image of God in each person he met. He had a special love for children, who hastened to receive his blessing whenever they saw him in the street.
He was a man of compunctionate prayer, and possessesed the gift of tears which purify the soul (Saint John Climacus, LADDER, Step 7). He was a true pastor to his flock protecting them from spiritual wolves, and guiding them on the path to salvation. He has left behind many soul-profiting writings which proclaim the truth of Christ to modern man. In them he exhorts people to love God, and to live a life of virtue and holiness. May we also be found worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven through the prayers of Saint Nikolai, and by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever. Amen.
Orthodox icon of Saint George Karslidis, Karslides, Γεώργιος Καρσλίδης, Elder of Syphsa Monastery in Drama Macedonia, Greece.
Commemorated November 4.
NOTE: the name of the store on the icon is a watermark. Your icon will NOT have it.
The blessed Elder George came from Pontus and was orphaned and left on his own very early in life. After being persecuted and imprisoned by the atheist regime in Georgia, he came to Greece where the humble man lived with such asceticism and zealous faith that he was granted the gifts of discernment, vision, foresight and prophecy. Father George was born in Argyroupolis (Gümüşhane) in the Black Sea region in 1901.
He was orphaned at an early age and his upbringing fell to his devout grandmother. After the death of his grandmother and sister he and his grandfather left for Erzurum in Greater Armenia. The death of his grandfather and the abuse of his brother took him to the Caucasus. Alone, poor, hurt and needy, accompanied by Saints in dreams and visions, he arrived in Tiflis, in Georgia, and was taken by the bishop there to the Holy Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring. He was clothed in the honorable monastic habit at the age of only nine and would wear it for over half a century. His Tonsure He had loved the ascetic life and prayer since his childhood.
On 20 July 1919, he was tonsured a monk and his name changed from Athanasios to Symeon. It is reported that at the moment when he was tonsured, the bells began ringing of their own accord. At the Monastery, he met an uncle of his who was the bishop, who helped him spiritually. The atheist regime of the Revolution of 1917 persecuted the Church, the clergy and monasticism. Together with other monks of the Monastery he was imprisoned in a sunless, underground room through which sewers ran. He withstood dreadful privations, trusting in God. Many of the brethren died as martyrs there. He himself escaped certain death through the aid of the Mother of God. On 8 September 1925, he was ordained to the priesthood and renamed George. He conducted services in Georgian. He soon acquired a name as a discerning, visionary Elder with foresight.
Many people came from far and wide to make the young hieromonk’s acquaintance and seek his advice. In 1923 he left Tiflis for Sukhumi. In his frequent Liturgies he would commemorate a great many names. In his cell, he studied and prayed continually. Abstinence, asceticism, vigils and fasting were a constant part of his life. His prophesies were fulfilled, and people began to regard him as a saint. In 1929, he was able to come to Greece. Arrival in Greece He glorified God for his salvation. Pontus, Georgia and Russia remained in his memory as places of struggles, hardships and sacrifices. From Thessaloniki, where he arrived on 19 October 1929, he moved on to Katerini and then on further to the villages of Alonia and Koukkos, Mikro Dasos near Kilkis, and finally, in 1930, to Sipsa near Drama.
The maltreatment in the prison in Georgia had left him half-paralyzed, very weak and he often had great difficulty in walking, so that he had to be carried to go where he wanted to. His only possessions were a few Church books in Georgian, priest’s vestments, icons and a part of the relic of his sister, Anna. Many people started to come to him for help. Father George, who loved God, the saints, his brethren and all other people, conducted services of supplication, confessed people and admonished them. In 1938, he built the little Monastery of the Ascension. Here he would celebrate, confess, preach, foretell, and work miracles for twenty years. His cell and the church became a pool of Siloam for the bodily and spiritual ailments of many people.
He traveled to Jerusalem as a pilgrim and then to the Holy Mountain, where he met holy figures who convinced him to stay where he was because the faithful had great need of his presence and witness. In 1941, he was miraculously saved from certain death at the hands of the Bulgarians, who had arrested him and wanted to execute him. The whole of his life passed in a continuous miracle.
With the aid of Saint Nicholas, he was partially cured, at least to the extent that he could support himself. He was always sparing, simple, fasting, vigilant, sickly and prayerful. He spoke little, was careful, strict and serious. He visited the sick and poor in great need, because he himself had been helped and he knew how to help others. At the Holy Proskomidi (Office of Oblation), he would remember thousands of names of the living and the departed. Some of them he would make a note of, and, at the end of the Divine Liturgy would summon the relatives privately and tell them the problems facing their loved ones, living or dead. If they were dead, he would tell the relatives how they had ended their lives.
Pure and innocent people saw him celebrate the Liturgy without his feet touching the ground. At the divine services he was luminous, peaceful and joyful. He concelebrated with saints. “I rarely celebrate alone” the Elder would say. He was particularly devoted to the Mother of God, the Honorable Forerunner and Saint George. He would send ill and needy people to different saints and, through his prayers, everything would turn out well. Out of humility, he did not wish his unworthiness to be honored, but that God should be glorified by his saints. He used to call the saints “visitors”, and he had the gift of being able to see the state of the souls in church. The Elder observed the canons of the Church very strictly and was not indulgent as regards inadmissible “dispensations”. He was even stricter with the unrepentant.
He held the vocation of Spiritual Father in very high esteem and took his responsibilities seriously. He had no desire to surround himself with supporters who would flatter him, but retained a discriminatory severity. His aim was always to bring humility to the persons confessing, along with genuine contrition and repentance, for the salvation of their immortal souls. The Charismatic Pastor His fervent faith, ascetic existence and pure life brought the humble and worthy servant of the Most High gifts of discernment, vision, foresight and prophecy. God enlightened the blessed Elder to the extent that he could see things far away and in the past as if they were close and in the present, even, sometimes, things which were in the future, as many of his spiritual children relate.
Some doubted the Elder’s gifts, but when they got to know him they were not slow to recognize that he was truly a man of God. The Elder used his gifts for the assistance and salvation of souls, not to expose or shame people or to promote and boast about himself. He spoke with tears about imminent hardships: the German occupation in 1940, the Bulgarian incursion, and the Civil War. He read people’s hearts like an open book. In order to retain his humility, he sometimes feigned stupidity, like foolishness for Christ. Virtue takes a great deal of effort to acquire and ample skill to preserve. In his pastoral work, the Elder showed particular attention to women, who, because of their wealth of sensibility easily exaggerate the honor to be paid to others.
He was quietly strict with them. But he concealed a heart that was full of love for everyone. His almsgiving was always in secret. Once it got dark, he would send some of his confidantes off with clothes and food for the poor. He comforted those who were grieving and cared conscientiously for the departed. He loved children, gave them affectionate advice and shared little gifts with them unstintingly. He always tried to conceal himself and never wanted to be in the limelight or to be honored. The Elder never wanted anyone to leave his Monastery hungry. He would cook and bake bread and share his efforts with everyone as a “blessing”.
He was hardworking, tireless, charitable and open-handed. For all of this, the faithful harbored great respect and love for the Elder. He accepted the love of his children, but did not provoke or desire it. He was humble and liked especially to talk about holy humility. In the end, he lived in sacred isolation. Most people did not understand him and some, indeed, misunderstood him. There were only a few who could understand the depth of his spirituality. His Demise He foresaw and foretold exactly the date of his departure from this life.
Having been prepared for some time, he awaited it with even greater prayer, giving his final instructions to his spiritual children. Three days before his death, the Sacrament of Divine Unction was celebrated. He took his Communion. He forgave, blessed and made his farewells to everyone. He died on 4 November 1959. The last words which passed his lips were: “Open to me the gate of loving-kindness, blessed Mother of God”. An orphaned, grieving and inconsolable body of people accompanied him to his final resting place, behind the Church of the Ascension, where he had served for about thirty years. His face was peaceful, joyful and radiant. His dead body was supple, just as is the case of those on the Holy Mountain.
The two cypress trees at his grave bent, as though in veneration, as he had foretold, and lots of birds gathered at the time of his burial, with no fear of the large crowd of people. Everyone was now certain that they were burying a Saint. He had been asked to be buried in his vestments, with his cross and the liturgical books that he had bought from Georgia.
Orthodox icon of Saint Myron, Bishop of Heraklion Crete
Commemorated August 8th.
Saint Myron, Bishop of Crete, a wonderworker, in his youth was a family man, and worked as a farmer. He was known for his goodness, and he assisted everyone who turned to him for help. Once, thieves burst in upon his threshing floor, and Saint Myron himself helped them lift a sack of grain upon their shoulders. By his generosity the saint so shamed the thieves, that in future they began to lead honorable lives.
Out of profound respect for the saint, the Cretan people urged him to accept ordination to the priesthood in his native city of Raucia, and afterwards they chose him Bishop of Crete.
Wisely ruling his flock, Saint Myron received from the Lord the gift of wonderworking. At the time of a flood on the River Triton, the saint stopped its flow and went upon it as upon dry land, and then he sent a man back to the river with his staff to command the river to resume its course. Saint Myron fell asleep in the Lord at the age of 100, around the year 350.
Orthodox icon of Saint Polychronios, Polychronis the Priest- Martyr
Commemorated October 7th
The Holy Martyr Polychronios the Presbyter – was the son of a landowner. He was raised with a love for work and in Christian piety. Reaching maturity, Polychronios left his parental home for Constantinople and began to work for one of the rich vineyard owners. The vineyard owner was amazed at the love for toil and the ascetic life of the youth. For his fine work the saint received much money, with which he built a church. Soon he was ordained to the dignity of presbyter. According to tradition, Saint Polychronios participated in the acts of the First OEcumenical Council. He was murdered by heretics (Arians) at the altar of the church (IV Century).
Orthodox icon of Saint Leontius, Leondios, Leontios, Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Commemorated May 14th.
Saint Leontius was Patriarch of Jerusalem from 1223-1261, according to Saint Gregory Palamas (Nov. 14) and Theodore, a monk of Constantinople. His life was similarly described by Theodore, a monk of Constantinople.
This Life was translated from Greek into the Russian language in an abridged form. It was translated a second time more fully by Saint Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (July 14), who says the death of the Patriarch actually occured in 1175.
Orthodox contemporary icon of Saint Mary of Clopas- Cleopas, the Myrrh-bearer.
Commemorated April 23.
The name of the store in the icon is a watermark. Your icon will NOT have it
St. Mary was one of the “three Marys” who followed our Lord, stood at the foot of the Cross when he died, and were the first to hear the good news of His Resurrection at the side of His tomb. She was the wife of St. Cleophas, and mother of St. Simon, St. James the Less, St. Jude, and St. Salome (the mother of St. James and St. John).
In 47, St. Mary, along with others, was placed on a boat without sails or oars and pushed out into the open sea. The boat miraculously landed in France, and a church was established there known as “Holy Mary of the Sea.”
She also traveled to Spain as a missionary, and died at Ciudad Rodrigo.
Orthodox icon of the Appearance of our Lord on the road to Emmaus. Contemporary icon.
Note: the name of the store in the icon is a watermark
St. Boniface Enlightener of Germany icon
Orthodox icon Saint Boniface, Apostle to the Germans. Contemporary icon.
Commemorated June 5.
NOTE: the name of the store in the icon is just a watermark.
The life of St. Boniface is not one of miracles or visions or doctrinal disputes but rather of the slow, hard work of evangelizing among those who have not heard the Gospel of Christ.
Born around the year 675 into a Christian Anglo-Saxon peasant family, Boniface was given the name Winfrid by his parents. When he was a young boy, the family was visited by several missionary monks, and the conversations about their work inspired the boy to a desire to devote himself to such work. Soon he was sent to a monastery to be educated and to begin his service to the Church. Winfrid excelled in academics and became a monastic teacher of some renown (a grammar which he wrote for his students still exists).
At the age of 30, he was ordained a priest, but his early desire to be a missionary persisted, and in 716, he left England for Friscia (modern Netherlands) where Ss. Wilfrid and Willibrord had begun the conversion of the native people. However, the political situation in Friscia had deteriorated so much that missionary work was impossible at this time, so Winfrid returned home to his monastery. When he was elected abbot, he refused the office and instead went to Rome to see if the Patriarch (Pope Gregory II) could direct his missionary aspirations. It was at this time that the monk took the name Boniface (for the Latin, bonifatus, fortunate). Gregory sent him to Hesse and Bavaria, but on the way there, Boniface discovered that the political climate in Friscia had improved, so he first spent three years there, assisting the aging Willibrord. Then, after three years in Hesse, Boniface was made a bishop with the responsibility for organizing the newly-emerging church in this expanding area.
Through Boniface’s hard work and patient teaching, the conversion of the Germanic pagan people began to take hold. Part of his success was due to the common links between his native Anglo-Saxon tongue and the dialects of the Teutonic tribes. Boniface constantly sought the advice of other bishops (particularly Bishop Daniel of Winchester). He was also wise in requesting the help of English monastics who came willingly to this land and established monasteries as centers of Christianity and learning.
Boniface’s evangelistic work was primarily for the conversion of pagans to the Christian faith, but he often encountered those who had at some time in the past been baptized but who had slipped back into the practices and beliefs of their pagan past. A famous story is told of Boniface’s dramatic methods of putting an end to pagan beliefs: he called a public assembly and with axes, he and his fellow missionaries cut down a sacred oak tree, dedicated to the god of Thunder, Thor. When the terrified people saw that nothing happened to those who had done this unthinkable thing, they held the missionaries in higher esteem, and when the oak wood was used for the building of a church on that same spot, many became Christians.
Boniface was eventually made a metropolitan (archbishop) and he expanded his organizing and reforming activities to the church in Gaul. His efforts were always more successful when he had the support and cooperation of the political leaders and they were often thwarted by the interference of civil authorities.
In 754, when he was nearly 80 years of age, Boniface desired to return to the place of his first mission work, Friscia. There, as he and a number of other monks were waiting on a river bank preparing for the baptism of some converts, they were suddenly attacked by a band of pagan warriors and Boniface and fifty others were killed. It is said that St. Boniface forbade the monks to shield him, willingly accepting martyrdom, and that he held up the Gospel book he was reading to protect it. The body of the missionary, along with the damaged book, were taken to the monastery he had founded in Fulda, where the relics still reside.
St. Boniface has come to be known as the “Apostle to the Germans”. He has provided us with a remarkable example of zeal for the spreading of the gospel to those who have never heard it and the renewing of the faith in those who have fallen away. His example is one of untiring work in hostile and dangerous environments, patience in waiting for circumstances to become more favorable for evangelization, and wisdom in seeking t
St. Syncletike of Alexandria icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Syncletike (Sngletike, Syncletica) of Alexandria. Contemporary icon.
Commemorated: January 5th
Saint Syncletike was from Alexandria in Egypt. She lived eighty-three years in virginity and asceticism, and became the leader and teacher of many nuns. What Saint Anthony the Great was to men, she became to women: a model of mortification of the flesh, of patience in afflictions, and of wise instruction; for this, she is known a "Amma," a title corresponding to "Abba." Towards the end of her long life, she was stricken with an exceedingly painful disease, which she endured with faith and magnanimity. She reposed in the middle of the fourth century. It is said of Saint Syncletike that she was the virgin who hid Saint Athanasius from the Arians for more than a year in the environs of Alexandria, and it is to Saint Athanasius that her life is ascribed (PG 18:1488-1557).
St.Ia of Cornwall icon
Orthodox icon Saint Ia of Cornwall. Contemporary icon.
Commemorated February 3..
St. Ia or Hya was an Irish virgin of noble birth, who introduced Christianity to this area in the fifth century. She was among the followers of St. Barricius, who was a disciple of St. Patrick.
One day, St. Ia went to the seashore to depart for Cornwall from her native Ireland along with other Sts. Fingar and Piala. Finding that they had gone without her, and fearing that she was too young for such a hazardous journey, she was grief stricken and began to pray.
As she prayed, she noticed a leaf floating on the water and touched it with a rod to see if it would sink. As she looked, the leaf grew bigger and bigger. She realized that God had sent it to her and, trusting Him, she embarked upon the leaf and was carried across the Channel, reaching her destination before the others.
When the King of Cornwall learned that these blessed persons were preaching the Gospel of Christ, he had them put to death by the sword on the same day.