Icons of the Church Year
Icons of the Mother of God
The Icons used on the website of the Orthodox Church in America have come from the following sources: the private collection and library of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius; St. Tikhon’s Seminary, St. Vladimir’s Seminary, the Metropolitan’s Chapel of St. Sergius of Radonezh; the Very Rev. John Matusiak; the Very Rev. Victor Sokolov; the New Valamo Monastery, Kuopio, Finland; Holy Transfiguration Monastery; St. Isaac of Syria Skete; The Georgian Orthodox Church, Tbilisi, Georgia; other sources.
The Lives of the Saints
The primary source for the Monthly Saints Accounts [Mesyatseslov] translated here by Fr. Stephen Janos is Tome 2 (September-February) and Tome 3 (March-August) of the series Reference Book for Clergy-Servers [Nastol’naya Kniga Svyaschennosluzhitelya] published by the Moscow Patriarchate, Moscow 1978 & 1979. [This translation is copyright © Stephen Janos, 1997-2001—All Rights Reserved]
We are supplementing this translation with original material for the Orthodox Saints of North America developed by the Department of History and Archives of the Orthodox Church in America, Syosset, NY.
Additional text resources are being utilized to expand the collection of saints lives made available on the OCA web site.
About the Redaction
This Second Tome of the “Reference Book for Clergy-Servers” [“Nastol’naya Kniga Svyaschennosluzhitelya”] consists of the “Mesyatseslov” [“Monthly-Saints-Accounts” or “Hagiography”). It includes, in accord with the tradition of the Eastern Church, basic accounts about the life and spiritual heritage not only of Russian saints, but also the saints of the undivided Church, entered into its diptychs / lists for eternal remembrance.
In the present edition were perused printed and manuscript Mesyateslovi Saint-lists of Divine-service Books—the Gospel, Epistle, Psalter, names written down in the Synaxarions, Prologues, the Chetii-Minei’s including the Great Chetii-Minei (i.e., “Great Reading-Menaion”) of Metropolitan Makarii, and likewise of the Priestmonk German (Tupilov) of the Trinity-St Sergius Lavra, Priest Ioann Miliutin and copy-lists from them, preserved in the Moscow Patriarchal Library.
During the preparation of information of the lives, there were perused as basis for memories primarily hagiographic histories and hagiographic literature, which enter into the corpus of Tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Mesyatseslov as Diptych Memory-list of the Orthodox Church gives a tangible answer to the question, what is the pathway of Church salvation, and of what itself is the Holy Church of Christ. In the Old Testament Church, particularly in the period of Gospel history and the succeeding history of the Church during the time of the New Testament, disciples of Christ went into the world, showing various pathways and manners of acquiring the Holy Spirit and giving significance to their own various epochs in the history of the Church.
To each rank in the Diptych of the Saints there corresponds their own particular view of spiritual exploit, their own especial pathway in the ascent to sanctity. This is immediately reflected in their hagiographic works. In the Lives, concrete characteristics are elaborated—there is a whole canon of description of saints of a given rank. A canon of the Lives is conditioned not by literature but foremost by life itself.
The unity of exploit determines also the unified manner of form of its description in the Lives / Vitae literature, subject to this or that other historical epoch. Even if we know not the details from the life of a saint, but only the saint’s belonging to this or that other rank (for example, a sainted-hierarch or sainted-monastic), we are able to guess at the general features and obtain insight of their exploit.
In the Mesyatseslov is preserved that which the history of the Church is rooted in. But even the very history of the Church in each period was variedly written: the materials, their manner of selection and preservation were dissimilar. About many of the martyrs and ascetics was preserved a memory, which is only merely the name of the saint, inscribed within the Mesyatseslovi / Saints-Vitae. But about others, there were detailed official reports contained in “The Acts of the Martyrs”, and about yet others—mere unsophisticated accounts about the miracle-workings, by which after death the Lord glorified His saints, from certain ones preserved (as for example, of prayerful quietude by ascetics) is only little, realized by spiritual power of expression.
In the Saints—is the centre core of spiritual life. It is variedly revealed in various times and of various nations, and the Holy Spirit speaks diversely through the chosen of God. The source fount of life eternal and the blessedness of the righteous—is One, but the workings of God, the ascent of the soul towards God-likeness, are manifold.
In the present edition were perused all of the basically available Russian hagiographies, from Saint Dimitri of Rostov (+1709, commemorated 28 October) up through the contemporary continuators of his work in the Russian Church, such as Archpriest Aleksandr Derzhavin (+1962), investigating the methodologies of scientific work of Saint Dimitri in his extensive inquiry “The Chetii-Minei of Saint Dimitri, Metropolitan of Rostov, as Church-historical and Literary Memorial.” 1The works of the Rostov saint-hierarch retain great renown in the Russian Church to the present day 2
Another hagiography was produced by Archbishop of Chernigov Philaret (Gumilevsky, +1865). He was the first to make use in saints lives of archival materials, as regards Russian saints. 3
Many works on the history of the Russian Church and its saints were made renown by publications of the writer of the last century A. N. Murav’ev (+1874). Especially valuable and compiled by him, with the blessing of the Metropolitan of Moscow Philaret (+1867) was: “Lives of the Saints of the Russian Church, likewise of Iveria and the Slavs and locally venerated Ascetics.” 4
In 1876 there came out in print the work of Archimandrite Sergei Spassky, afterwards Archbishop), having influence on all the following inquiries in Russian hagiography—“The Complete Mesyatseslov of the East”. For it the author was bestowed by the Moscow Spiritual Academy the degree of Doctor of Church History. In this “Mesyatseslov” is gathered detailed investigation of the hagiographic histories of all the Orthodox East. 5
Extensive work in the gathering and collection of the manuscript hagiographic legacy in the Russian Church was performed by the indefatigable Church archeographer N. Barsukov 6 and the head of Trinity-St Sergius Lavra, educated in the learned traditions of the Optina monastery—Archimandrite Leonid (Kavelin, +1891). The “Holy Rus’” of Archimandrite Leonid, published in the year of his death, is his spiritual bequeathal to succeeding generations of Russian hagiographers. 7
In 1893 V. Vasil’ev presented at the Moscow Spiritual Academy the magisterial treatise “Outline in the History of Canonisation of Russian Saints.” 8 Remarking on this treatise, written with the blessing of the Most Holy Synod by the Doctor of Church History the academician E. E. Golubinsky (+1912), gave rise later to the fundamental work “History of Canonisation of Saints in the Russian Church.” 9
During these years Bishop Dimitri (Sambikin, afterwards Archbishop, +1908) compiled a large hagiographic revision—“Mesyatseslov of the Saints.” 10 In his work Archbishop Dimitri collected the learned achievements of Church histories, hagiographies and regional studies, working in the various dioceses of the Russian Church.
In the furnished Mesyatseslov of the Vitae-Lives, inquiries into the lives of Gruzinian (Georgian) Saints was compiled from materials of Gruzinian hagiography. 11
At the beginning of the XX Century, during the preparation of the Chetii-Minei for publication into the Russian language, a commission—convened under the Most Holy Synod, deliberated textual and historical problems of these Church commemorations. Members of the commission expressed contrary opinions on the cause of described miracles contained in the Lives. Some suggested to exclude them, based on doubt of their credibility, and others demanded to edit out the corresponding places in the sources, ascribed to “perceptions of the time.”
The professor of Moscow University, V. O. Kliuchevsky, in concluding remarks gave an objective appraisal to the expressed opinions and advocated a point of view, which also was brought to attention. He put forth two criteria for Orthodox hagiography: “First of all, the faith of ancient Christians was stronger than is now. By faith and miracle. Secondly, we would sin against historical truths, if we artificially alter those things, which occurred through the centuries”—the eye-witnessed sufferings of the martyrs, witnessed not only by Christians, but also by pagan-notary transcribers which also was included in ancient Christian writings.
Church historians uncover new sources and new facts. Taking into consideration the given and established merit of science, traditional hagiographies in the present edition are frequently supplemented and authenticated. In particular, the hagiographic publications “Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate” and “Theological Works” are utilized.
The Vitae-Lives research about the holy fathers and teachers of the Church is supplemented by indices in print of their works in the Russian language [indices omitted in this English translation]. The Mesyatseslov in the present edition does not exhaust all the materials. The work is presented according to the accessed, examined and published Church historical sources. In accord with the accepted structure of the “Reference Book for Clergy-Servers”, the present material contains chapters of spiritual experience of Orthodox ascetics. In the Vitae-Lives it speaks about the exploit of prayer, about the solitude of ascetics for silent prayer or about the inner Jesus Prayer. To the discerning of this insight of spiritual effort are devoted extracts from the works of the holy fathers.
2. Chetii-Minei (Kniga zhitii svyatikh [Book of Lives of Saints]). In 4 Books, ed. Kievo-Pechersk Lavra, 1689-1705. Ibid., 2nd edition in 1 Book, 1711. 3rd edition, in 4 Books, 1754. Ibid., in 4 Books, Moscow, 1829.
3. Philaret, Archbishop of Chernigov. Russkie svatie, chtimie vseiu Tserkov’iu ili mestno, Opyt opisannii ikh [“Russian Saints, venerated by all the Church or locally, Research of their Descriptions”]. Toms 1-9. Chernigov, 1861-1865. 2nd ed., Bk. 1-3, Chernigov, 1865.
Besides this, to His Grace Philaret belong the works:
+ Istoricheskoe uchenie ob ottsakh Tserkvi [“Historical Teachings about the Fathers of the Church”], SPb. [Saint Peterburg], 1859. 2nd ed., SPb., 1882
+ Svyatie yuzhnikh slavyan [“Saints of the Southern Slavs”], Chernigov, 1865. 2nd ed. SPb., 1872. 3rd ed. SPb., 1883. 4th ed. SPb., 1894
+ Svyatie podvizhnitsy Vostochnoi Tserkvi [“Holy Ascetics of the Eastern Church”], SPb., 1871. 2nd ed. SPb., 1885. 3rd ed. SPb., 1898
+ Zhitiya svyatykh chtimykh Pravoslavnoiu Tserkoviu, so svendeniyami o prazdnikakh Gospodskikh i Bogorodichnykh, i o yavlenykh chudotvornykh ikonakh. Sizobrazheniyami svyatykh i prazdnikov akad. F. G. Solntseva [“Lives of the Saints venerated by the Orthodox Church, with accounts about the Feasts of the Lord and the Mother of God, and about Appearances of Wonderworking Icons. With Depictions of the Saints and Feasts by acad. F. G. Solntseva”]. 1st ed. SPb., 1885. Ibid., 2nd ed., sup., Toms 1-12, SPb., 1892. Ibid., 3rd ed., SPb., 1900. (This work of His Grace Philaret includes in itself revised material of preceding books and is a comprehensive work in the area of hagiography).
4. Zhitiya svyatykh Rossiiskoi Tserkvi. Takzhe Iverskikh i slavyanskikh i mestno chtimykh podvizhnikov blagochestiya, tt.1-18. SPb., 1855-1868. Up until 1858 with the month of May, entitled: “Lives of the Saints of the Russian Church, likewise of Iveria and the Slavs”.
7. Svyataya Rus’, ili svedeniya o svekh svyatykh i podvizhnikakh blagochestiya na Rusi (do XVIII veka), obsche i mestno chtimykh, izlozheny v tablitsakh, s kartoiu Rossii i planom Kievskikh pescher. Spravochnaya knizhka po russkoi agiografii [“Holy Rus’, or the Account of all the Devout Saints and Ascetics (through the XVIII Century), venerated generally or locally, interpolated from Tabular Lists, with a Map of Russia and Plan-sketch of the Kievan Caves. Reference Booklet on Russian Hagiography”]. SPB., 1891 (OLDP, No. 97).
10. Mesyatselov svyatykh, vseiu Russkoiu Tserkoviu ili mestno chtimykh, i ukazatel’ prazdnestv v chest’ ikon Bozhiei Materi i svyatykh ugodnikov Bozhiikh v nashem otechestve [“Mesyatseslov of the Saints, venerated throughout all the Russian Church or locally, and a Directory of Feasts in honour of Icons of Mother of God and holy God-pleasing Saints in our Fatherland”]. Segments 1-4 (Sept.-Dec.), Kamenets-Podol’sk, 1892-1895 (Supplement to “Podol’sk Diocesan News”). Segments 5-12 (Jan.-Aug.), Tver’, 1897-1902 (Supplement to “Tver’ Diocesan News”).
Besides this, to Archbishop Dimitrii belong a number of separate publications, dedicated to selected saints. In particular there should be mentioned his producing of the work: “Sobor svyatykh 70-ti apostolov” [“Assemblage of the 70 Disciples”], Tver’, 1900-1902; 2nd ed. Kazan’, 1907.
Bishop Kirion. Zaslugi gruzinskogo monashestva i monastyrei dlya otechestvennoi Tserkvi i istorii [“The Merit of Georgian Monasticism and Monasteries for the Native Church and History”], Tiflis, 1899.
Pamyatniki drevnogruzinskoi agiograficheskoi literatury [“Memorials of Old-Georgian Hagiographic Literature”], under editorship of acad. K. S. Kekelidze, Tbilisi, 1956.
Kalendar’ Gruzinskoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi [“Calendar of the Georgian Orthodox Church”], Tbilisi, 1977.