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Orthodox icon of Saint Andrew the Apostle (4).
Commemorated November 30.
The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called was the first of the Apostles to follow Christ, and he later brought his own brother, the holy Apostle Peter, to Christ (John 1:35-42). The future apostle was from Bethsaida, and from his youth he turned with all his soul to God. He did not enter into marriage, and he worked with his brother as a fisherman. When the holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John began to preach, St Andrew became his closest disciple. St John the Baptist himself sent to Christ his own two disciples, the future Apostles Andrew and John the Theologian, declaring Christ to be the Lamb of God.
After the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, St Andrew went to the Eastern lands preaching the Word of God. He went through Asia Minor, Thrace, Macedonia, he reached the River Danube, went along the coast of the Black Sea, through Crimea, the Black Sea region and along the River Dniepr he climbed to the place where the city of Kiev now stands. He stopped overnight on the hills of Kiev. Rising in the morning, he said to those disciples that were with him: See these hills? Upon these hills shall shine forth the beneficence of God, and there will be a great city here, and God shall raise up many churches.
The apostle went up around the hills, blessed them and set up a cross. Having prayed, he went up even further along the Dniepr and reached a settlement of the Slavs, where Novgorod was built. From here the apostle went through the land of the Varangians towards Rome for preaching, and again he returned to Thrace, where in the small village of Byzantium, the future Constantinople, he founded the Church of Christ. The name of the holy Apostle Andrew links the mother, the Church of Constantinople, with her daughter, the Russian Church. On his journeys the First-Called Apostle endured many sufferings and torments from pagans: they cast him out of their cities and they beat him. In Sinope they pelted him with stones, but remaining unharmed, the persistant disciple of Christ continued to preach to people about the Savior.
Through the prayers of the Apostle, the Lord worked miracles. By the labors of the holy Apostle Andrew, Christian Churches were established, for which he provided bishops and clergy. The final city to which the Apostle came was the city of Patra, where he was destined to suffer martyrdom. The Lord worked many miracles through His disciple in Patra. The infirm were made whole, and the blind received their sight. Through the prayers of the Apostle, the illustrious citizen Sosios recovered from serious illness; he healed Maximilla, wife of the governor of Patra, and his brother Stratokles.
The miracles accomplished by the Apostle and his fiery speech enlightened almost all the citizens of the city of Patra with the true Faith. Few pagans remained at Patra, but among them was the prefect of the city, Aegeatos. The Apostle Andrew repeatedly turned to him with the words of the Gospel. But even the miracles of the Apostle did not convince Aegeatos. The holy Apostle with love and humility appealed to his soul, striving to reveal to him the Christian mystery of life eternal, through the wonderworking power of the Holy Cross of the Lord. The angry Aegeatos gave orders to crucify the apostle. The pagan thought he might undo St Andrew's preaching if he were to put him to death on the cross. St Andrew the First-Called accepted the decision of the prefect with joy and with prayer to the Lord, and went willingly to the place of execution.
In order to prolong the suffering of the saint, Aegeatos gave orders not to nail the saint's hands and feet, but to tie them to the cross. For two days the apostle taught the citizens who gathered about. The people, in listening to him, with all their souls pitied him and tried to take St Andrew down from the cross. Fearing a riot of the people, Aegeatos gave orders to stop the execution. But the holy apostle began to pray that the Lord would grant him death on the cross. Just as the soldiers tried to take hold of the Apostle Andrew, they lost control of their hands. The crucified apostle, having given glory to God, said: Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit.
Then a blazing ray of divine light illumined the cross and the martyr crucified upon it. When the light faded, the holy Apostle Andrew had already given up his holy soul to the Lord. Maximilla, the wife of the prefect, had the body of the saint taken down from the cross, and buried him with honor. A few centuries later, under the emperor Constantine the Great, the relics of the holy Apostle Andrew were solemnly transferred to Constantinople and placed in the church of the Holy Apostles beside the relics of the holy Evangelist Luke and St Paul's disciple St Timothy.
Abraham the Righteous Patriarch icon
Orthodox icon of Abraham the Righteous Patriarch.
Commemorated the Sunday of the Forefathers and always before Christmas.
The life of Abraham can be found in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament, Chapters 12-25. His constant obedience to God has earned him the title of "Righteous" and is a wonderful example so that we may offer our own obedience and love to God.
Anna, the Prophetess icon
Orthodox icon of Prophetess Anna, Hannah, the mother of Prophet Samuel.
Commemorated December 9.
The Holy Prophetess Hannah dwelt in marriage with Elkanah, but she was childless. Elkanah took to himself another wife, Phennena, who bore him children. Hannah grieved strongly over her misfortune, and every day she prayed for an end to her barrenness, and vowed to dedicate her child to God.
Once, as she prayed fervently in the Temple, the priest Heli thought that she was drunk, and he began to reproach her. But the saint poured out her grief, and after she received a blessing, she returned home. After this Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son, whom she named Samuel (which means “Asked from God”).
When the child reached the age of boyhood, the mother herself presented him to the priest Heli, and Samuel remained with him to serve before the Tabernacle (1 Kings/1 Samuel 2: 1-21).
Apostles' Council Icon
Orthodox Icon of the Council (Synaxis) of the Twelve Apostles of Christ.
Commemorated on June 30.
The Synaxis of the Glorious and All-Praiseworthy Twelve Apostles of Christ appears to be an ancient Feast. The Church honors each of the Twelve Apostles on separate dates during the year, and has established a general commemoration for all of them on the day after the commemoration of the Glorious and First-Ranked among the Apostles Peter and Paul. SAINT PETER June 29 and January 16, SAINT ANDREW November 30, SAINT JAMES, THE SON OF ZEBEDEE April 30, SAINT JOHN THE THEOLOGIAN September 26 and May 8, SAINT PHILIP November 14, SAINT BARTHOLOMEW June 11 and August 25, SAINT THOMAS October 6, SAINT MATTHEW THE EVANGELIST November 16, SAINT JAMES, THE SON OF ALPHAEUS October 9, SAINT THADDEUS OR JUDE, THE BROTHER OF JAMES June 19, SAINT SIMON THE ZEALOT May 10, SAINT MATTHIAS August 9, SAINT PAUL June 29.
Here is how each of them died: St. Peter was crucified upside down.St. Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross.Saint James, the son of Zebedee was beheaded.Saint John the Theologian died in a miraculous manner.St. Philip was crucified.St. Bartholomew was crucified, scraped and beheaded.St. Thomas was pierced with five spears.Saint Matthew the Evangelist was burned alive.Saint James, the son of Alphaeus was crucified.Saint Thaddeus or Jude, the Brother of James was crucified.Saint Simon the Zealot was crucified.Saint Matthias was stoned and then was beheaded after death.Saint Paul was beheaded. Emperor Constantine the Great built a grand church in Constantinople in honor of the Twelve Apostles were their relics were collected. Most Emperors and many patriarchs and bishops were also buried in the church. The Church was looted during the Fourth Crusade in 1204. In 1461, following the fall of Constantinople to Mehmed, the church was taken over by the Ottomans who demolished it to make way for the Fatih Mosque.
Orthodox icon of the Holy Forefathers, Abraham, Isak and Jacob.