Lives of all saints commemorated on June 21


Martyr Julian of Tarsus, in Cilicia

The Holy Martyr Julian of Tarsus was born in the Asia Minor province of Cilicia. He was the son of a pagan senator, but his mother was a Christian. After the death of her husband the mother of Saint Julian moved to Tarsus, where her son was baptized and raised in Christian piety. When Julian reached age 18, a persecution against Christians began under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Among those arrested was Saint Julian. They brought him before the governor Marcian for trial, and for a long time they urged him to renounce Christ. Neither tortures nor threats, nor promises of gifts and honors could convince the pious youth to offer pagan sacrifice and deny Christ. The holy confessor remained steadfast in his firm faith.

For a whole year they led the martyr through the cities of Cilicia, everywhere subjecting him to interrogation and tortures, after which they threw him in prison. Saint Julian’s mother followed after her son and prayed that the Lord would strengthen him. In the city of Aegea, she besought the governor to permit her to visit the prison, ostensibly to persuade her son to offer sacrifice to idols. She spent three days in prison with Saint Julian, exhorting him to be strong until the end.

Saint Julian was again brought to stand before the governor. Thinking that the mother had persuaded her son to submit to the imperial decree, the governor began to praise her prudence. But suddenly she boldly confessed Jesus Christ, and even more fearlessly and boldly denounced polytheism. The governor then gave orders to cut off her feet, since she had accompanied her son from Tarsus. They tied the Martyr Julian into a sack, filled with sand and poisonous snakes, and threw it into the sea. The body of the sufferer was carried by the waves to the shores of Alexandria, and with reverence was buried by a certain pious Christian. The martyr’s death occurred in about the year 305. Afterwards his relics were transferred to Antioch. Saint John Chrysostom honored the holy Martyr Julian with an encomium.


Hieromartyr Terence, Bishop of Iconium

Saint Terence was Bishop of Iconium in Lycaonia in the first century. He was tortured and beheaded for his faith in Christ.


Saint Julius, Presbyter of Novara, and his brother, Saint Julian the Deacon

Saints Julius the presbyter and Julian the Deacon, brothers by birth, were natives of Myrmidonia. For his virtuous life Saint Julius was ordained to the priesthood, and his brother as a deacon. Inspired with zeal for the spreading of the Christian Faith, the holy brothers received permission for the building of churches and set off preaching to remote sections East and West within the Roman Empire, where pagan temples still existed and where offering of sacrifice to idols was still made. Visiting several lands, they converted many pagans to Christianity, persuading them not only by word, but also by numerous miracles. At Constantinople they turned to the pious emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450) requesting permission to build churches upon the sites of pagan temples.

Having received the blessing of the patriarch and the permission of the emperor, the holy brothers built many churches. The people considered it their duty to assist them in this matter. Once, some people went past a church under construction. Fearing that they would be talked into taking part in this work, they engaged in a deception, in order to get away. One of them feigned being dead, and when Saint Julius invited them to take part in the work, they excused themselves, saying that they had to bury a dead person. The saint asked, “You’re not lying, are you?” The passers-by persisted in their ruse. Then Saint Julian said to them, “Let it be according to your words.” Having continued on farther, they discovered that the one pretending to be dead really was dead. After this, no one else dared to lie to the holy brothers.

Foreseeing his own impending end, Saint Julius set off in search of a place to build his one hundredth church, which he believed would be his last. Reaching Lake Mukoros, he saw a beautiful island. Because of the huge quantity of snakes on it, no one was able to settle there. Saint Julius decided to build a church upon this island. Having prayed, he sailed off to the island on his mantle as though on a boat, and set up a cross on it. In the Name of God, the holy ascetic ordered all the snakes to gather together and leave the island. All the venomous vipers slithered into the lake and re-established themselves upon Mount Kamunkin.

On the island Saint Julius built a church in honor of the holy Twelve Apostles. At this time his brother, Saint Julian, finished construction on a church near the city of Gaudiana and decided to build a crypt for his brother Julius by the church. Saint Julius paid his brother a visit and advised him to hurry with the construction of the crypt, prophetically foretelling that he would lie in it. Indeed, Saint Julian the Deacon soon died and was buried in the crypt built by him. Saint Julius the Presbyter reverently buried his brother and returned to the island, where he soon died and was buried in the church of the Twelve Apostles he had built. From his grave many of the sick received healing. The blessed end of the holy brothers occurred after the first half of the fifth century.


Martyr Archil II, King of Georgia

The Holy Martyr Archil II, King of Georgia belonged to the dynasty of the Chosroidoi, and he was a direct descendant of the holy emperor Saint Mirian (+ 342).

During the reign of Archil II, Georgia was subjected to a devastating invasion by Murvana-Kru (“the Wild”), so called by the Georgian people for his inexorable cruelty. The position of the Georgian people was desperate, and the emperor Archil II, together with his brother Myro, the ruler of Western Georgia, tearfully implored the intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos, and She showed forth Her mercy.

At a battle by the Rivers Abasha and Tskhenis-Tskhali the Georgian forces miraculously gained the victory over the significantly superior forces of Murvana-Kru.

After this victory the emperor Archil II was occupied with the restoration of the Georgian kingdom. He rebuilt the city of Nukhpatis, rebuilt ruined churches in Mtskheta and furthered the acceptance of Christianity by many of the mountain tribes. But soon Georgia suffered a new Arab invasion with the sudden appearance of Dzhidzhum-Asim (Jijum-Asim). Having paid a tribute to the Arabs, the emperor did not expect this invasion. In order to deliver the land from new devastation and avert the intrusion of Islam upon it, he deemed it beneficial to go himself to Dzhizhum-Asim, and subject formerly independent Georgia to the Arabs, and ask for peace. Placing all his hope on the mercy of God and ready to offer up his soul for his holy Faith and for his nation, Saint Archil went to the camp of the Arabs. Dzhidzhum-Asim received him hospitably and promised his suzerainty, but insisted on acceptance of Mohammedanism. As the “Georgian Chronicle” relates, the holy emperor Archil calmly said, “It will not be, that I should forsake Christ, the True God, Who for our salvation took upon Himself human flesh. I know, if I obey you, then I shall die a spiritual death and shall suffer eternally. If for my firmness you put me to death, I shall then rise as did my Lord, and I shall go to Him”.

Hearing these words, Dzhidzhum-Asim gave orders to seize the confessor and take him off to prison. But neither tortures nor promises could make the eighty-year-old emperor Archil apostasize.

On March 20, 744 the holy emperor Archil was beheaded. The body of the martyr was secretly taken by Georgian Christians to the locale Ertso and buried in Kakhetia, in the Notkor church built by the holy emperor himself.


Martyr Luarsab II, King of Georgia

The Holy Martyr Luarsab II, Emperor of Georgia was born in 1587. He was the son of George X (1600-1603), poisoned by the Persian shah Abbas I (1584-1628). After the death of his father Luarsab remained with his two sisters, Choreshan and Helen. He was still a child, but distinguished himself by his intellect and piety. Despite his youthful age, he was crowned with the name Luarsab II. In 1609 Georgia suffered invasion by a Turkish army under the leadership of Deli-Mamad-khan. The young emperor gave decisive battle to the Turks near the village of Kvenadkotsi (between Gori and Surami). On the eve of battle the 14,000 Georgians spent all night in prayer. In the morning after Divine Liturgy and having received the Holy Mysteries, the Georgian forces put 60,000 enemy soldiers to flight in a heroic battle.

The Persian shah Abbas I, alarmed over this victory by the Georgians, and bearing enmity towards Luarsab II, sought for an opportunity to destroy him. Because he saved Kartli (Central Georgia) from destruction Saint Luarsab was forced to give his sister Helen in marriage to the Moslem shah Abbas. But even this did not stop the shah. Several times he entered Georgia with a large army. Because of the treachery of several feudal lords, the emperor Luarsab and the Kakhetian emperor Teimuraz I were compelled at the end of 1615 to withdraw to Imeretia (Western Georgia) to the Imeretian emperor George III (1605-1639).

Shah Abbas I laid waste to Kakhetia and, threatening Kartli with ruin, he demanded that he should have Luarsab II, promising that if he came, he would conclude a peace. The emperor Luarsab II, trying to preserve the churches of Kartli from devastation, set out to shah Abbas with the words, “I place all my hope in Christ, and whatever fate awaits me, life or death, blessed be the Lord God!”

Shah Abbas I received Saint Luarsab II amicably and, it would seem, was prepared to fulfill his promise. After a hunt together Shah Abbas invited him to Mazandaran, but Luarsab II refused to eat fish (since it was Great Lent), despite the threats and demands of the shah. The enraged shah began to insist that the Georgian emperor accept Islam, in return for which he promised to let him go with great treasures to Kartli, threatening death by torture if he did not. The emperor Luarsab II, having from his youth kept strict fast and constantly at prayer, without hesitation refused the demands of the shah. They seized him and imprisoned him in the impenetrable fortress of Gulab-Kala, near Shiraz. The Mrovel Bishop Nicholas relates, that the emperor Luarsab spent seven years imprisoned in chains, undergoing cruel torments and frequent beatings to force him to accept Islam. But the holy confessor remained faithful to the Holy Church of Christ and accepted a martyr’s death in the year 1622 at 35 years of age. Two of his faithful retainers were martyred with him.

By night the bodies of the holy martyrs were cast out of the prison without burial, but on the next day Christians committed them to earth in a common grave.


Venerable Anastasia of Serbia

Saint Anastasia was the mother of Saint Sava of Serbia (January 12). She was the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Romanus, and received the name Anna when she was baptized. Later, she married the Serbian king Stephen Nemanya (September 24).

She finished her life as a nun, receiving the name Anastasia.


New Martyr Niketas of Nisyros near Rhodes

The Holy New Martyr Niketas was born in the town of Mandraki on the Aegean island of Nisyros (Νίσυρος), and his father was one of the town's leaders. The father had committed some crime for which he was arrested, and was put on trial by the Moslems. Afraid that he would be executed, he decided to save his life by becoming a Moslem along with his family. Niketas, who was too young to understand the significance of this change, was given the name Mehmed. The Christians of Nisyros despised them for denying Christ, so the family had to move to the island of Rhodes.

One day Niketas got into a fight with a Muslim boy with whom he was playing. When the boy's mother heard about it, she started to yell at Niketas and called him an infidel. Puzzled by this, Niketas asked his mother what it meant. She ignored his questions but Niketas was persistent in his attempts to discover the truth. At last his mother relented and told him how they had become Moslems. Then he wished to know what his Christian name was, the one he had received at his Baptism. When he was told it was Niketas, he was determined to return to his ancestral faith, and waited for an opportunity to escape from the island.

Niketas took a ship to the island of Chios and landed at the harbor of Lithe. He walked without knowing where he was going, and soon he arrived at the Byzantine Monastery of Nea Moni. There he told his story to the Igoumen and asked for some advice concerning his salvation. The Igoumen told him to visit Makarios, the former Metropolitan of Corinth,1 who was living on the island as an ascetic at that time. When Makarios heard his Confession, he was received back into the Church through Holy Chrism, and he also received spiritual guidance.

Niketas decided to remain at the Monastery of Nea Moni, where he began to live an ascetical life. Wishing to undertake even greater struggles, Niketas went to live in the Cave of the Holy Fathers near the Monastery. There he met the ascetic Anthimos. He was told that a Christian who has denied Christ must return to the place of his denial, and confess his faith in Jesus Christ, reject Islam and suffer martyrdom. Niketas rejoiced when he heard this, and then he returned to the Monastery, where he told the Fathers of his desire. Seeing his determination, they chanted the Canon of Supplication to the Theotokos (Paraklesis), and he received a blessing to carry out his intention.

When the young man arrived at the port of Chora on Chios, he was arrested by a Moslem tax collector from the Crimea, because he had no proof that he paid the head tax, which was required of all Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire. As he was being led to prison, the tax collector stopped at a place called Bounaki, where he looked for other tax evaders. Just then a priest named Daniel, who knew Niketas, happened to come by and called out to Niketas using his Moslem name Mehmed. When he asked Niketas why he was being detained, he was told it was because he did not pay the head tax. Then Father Daniel shouted: "Here is something new! Are Moslems now obliged to pay the head tax?"

When Niketas explained to him that he was a Christian named Niketas, the Moslem from the Crimea overheard their conversation and came to investigate. Then Niketas was taken to the Turkish judge and was interrogated.

Niketas admitted to the judge that he had been a Moslem and was circumcised, but then he decided to return to the Christian faith which is the true faith. He also wished to be called by his baptismal name Niketas. The judge therefore ordered that Niketas be imprisoned and tortured for ten days so he might come to his senses and return to Islam. Niketas remained steadfast and was not afraid, even though they cursed him and beat him without mercy. They brought him food to eat, but he chose not to eat, saying: "I am being fed with food which you do not have, and I rejoice with joy which you cannot experience." He was also placed in a stable so he would be trampled by the wild horses, but when it was discovered that he was unharmed, he was returned to the prison.

After the ten days had passed, the Turks realized that Niketas had no desire to return to Islam, and was even more steadfast in his Orthodox Christian faith. They led Niketas to the edge of the city, to a Metochion (Dependency) of the Athonite Monastery of Iveron. Once again, he was urged by the executioners to become a Moslem again and thereby escape death. Niketas replied: "I am a Christian; my name is Niketas, and I shall die as Niketas."

The executioners made Niketas kneel several times, trying to frighten him, but he said to them: "Why do you delay? Kill me quickly that I may enjoy the blessedness of Paradise." The executioner repeatedly struck his neck with the sword in order to cause him greater pain. After several blows, the seventeen-year-old Niketas was decapitated and received the crown of martyrdom on June 21, 1732. Christians dipped cloths in his martyric blood, and when it was applied to the eyes of the blind, they received their sight. Although the Turks threw dirt over his body to dishonor it, the body would remain clean for many days. In order to prevent the Christians from taking his sacred relics, they were thrown into the sea.

The head of Saint Niketas was preserved in a box with a glass cover in the Monastery of Saint Mark the Evangelist on Chios. It is thought that Christians bribed the guards, or stole the head. The next day, when the Saint's relics were tossed into the sea, the guards, hoping to avoid punishment, did not bother to inform the authorities that the head was missing. Later, the skull was given to Saint Parthenios of Chios (December 8), who founded the Monastery. There was no mention of where the holy relic was, so that the monks would not be punished for having it.

The Saint's holy relics are in the church of Saint Niketas at Nisyros. His head is kept at Iveron Monastery on Mount Athos.


1 This Makarios is not to be confused with Saint Makarios of Corinth (April 17), who lived from 1731-1805.