Lives of all saints commemorated on June 19

Apostle Jude the Brother of the Lord

The Holy Apostle Jude, one of the twelve apostles of Christ, is descended from King David and Solomon, and was the son of Righteous Joseph the Betrothed (Sunday after the Nativity of the Lord) by his first wife.

The Holy Apostle John the Theologian writes in his Gospel, “... neither did his brethren believe in Him” (John. 7:5). Saint Theophylact, Archbishop of Bulgaria, explains this passage. He says that at the beginning of the Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, Joseph’s sons, Jude among them, did not believe in His divine nature. Tradition says that when Saint Joseph returned from Egypt, he began to divide his possessions among his sons. He wanted to allot a share to Christ the Savior, born miraculously and incorruptibly from the All-Pure Virgin Mary. The brothers were opposed to this because Jesus was born of another mother. Only James, later called “The Brother of God,” offered to share his portion with Him.

Jude came to believe in Christ the Savior as the awaited Messiah, and he followed Him and was chosen as one of the twelve Apostles. Mindful of his sin, the Apostle Jude considered himself unworthy to be called the Lord’s brother, and in his Epistle he calls himself merely the brother of James.

The Holy Apostle Jude also had other names: the Evangelist Matthew terms him “Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddeus” (Mt. 10:3). The Holy Evangelist Mark also calls him Thaddeus (Mark 3:18), and in the Acts of the Holy Apostles he is called Barsabas (Acts 15: 22). This was customary at that time.

After the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, Saint Jude traveled about preaching the Gospel. He propagated the faith in Christ at first in Judea, Galilee, Samaria and Idumaia, and later in the lands of Arabia, Syria and Mesopotamia. Finally, he went to the city of Edessa. Here he finished the work that was not completed by his predecessor, Saint Thaddeus, Apostle of the Seventy (August 21). There is a tradition that Saint Jude went to Persia, where he wrote his catholic Epistle in Greek. In the Epistle much profound truth was expressed in a few words.

Saint Jude’s Epistle speaks about the Holy Trinity, about the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, about the good and bad angels, and about the dread Last Judgment. The Apostle urges believers to guard themselves against fleshly impurity, to be diligent in prayer, faith and love, to convert the lost to the path of salvation, and to guard themselves from the teachings of heretics. He also says that it is not enough just to be converted to Christianity, but faith must be demonstrated by good works. He cites the rebellious angels and men punished by God (verse 6) to support this.

The Holy Apostle Jude died as a martyr around the year 80 near Mt. Ararat in Armenia, where he was crucified and pierced by arrows.

Venerable Barlaam of Shenkursk

Saint Varlaam was known as Vasily Stepanovich Svoezemtsev in life, in monasticism he was given the name Varlaam Vazhsky.

Vasily Stepanovich was born around 1390 into the family of the Novgorod Boyar (his father was Stepan Vasilyevich). At baptism he received the name Vasily. He was married and had two sons, Ivan and Semyon. According to another version of his life, he had two daughters and eight sons. Vasily served as mayor of Novgorod until 1445. He also served as a representative of the Boyar family of Svoezemtsev, Novgorod.

In 1426, he founded Varlaamiev Vazhsky Monastery, where subsequently the town of Pinezhsky was founded. In 1456, Vasily Stepanovich was tonsured a monk and given the name Barlaam Vazhsky by the first Hegumen of St. John Theological Monastery. Saint Varlaam lived as a monastic for six years, and upon his death on June 19, 1462, he was buried next to the church of John the Theologian, which he had built.

Martyr Zosimus the Soldier at Antioch, in Pisidia

The Martyr Zosimus lived in the city of Apollona (Thrace) during the reign of Trajan (89-117), the persecutor of Christians. The saint was consumed with the desire to become a Christian. When he heard about the start of a persecution of Christians, he left military service, was baptized, and devoted himself to prayer and good deeds.

It was reported to the prefect Domitianus of Antioch that Zosimus had betrayed the emperor by taking off his military insignia and attaching himself to Christians. At the trial, Saint Zosimus confessed his faith in Christ and refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. He was subjected to fierce torments but, strengthened by the grace of God, he did not feel the pain. The prefect gave orders to heat a copper bed red-hot and to put the saint on it. The martyr made the Sign of the Cross, laid down on the bed, but remained unharmed.

Departing the city, Domitianus gave orders to place iron sandals with sharp nails in the soles on the martyr’s feet, and to have Zosimus follow after him. The Lord gave Saint Zosimus the strength to follow after the horses.

The martyr was locked in prison, where they tormented him with hunger and thirst, but an angel of the Lord fortified him with bread and water. Saint Zosimus still refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Finally, he was beheaded, and surrendered his soul to God.

Venerable Paisius the Great

Saint Paisius the Great lived in Egypt. His parents, Christians, distributed generous alms to all the needy.

After the death of her husband his mother, on the suggestion of an angel, gave her young son Paisius to the clergy of the church.

The youth Paisius loved monastic life and spent his time in one of the Egyptian sketes. Renouncing his own will, he lived under the spiritual guidance of Saint Pambo (July 18), finishing all the tasks assigned him. The Elder said that a new monk in particular needs to preserve his sight, in order to guard his senses from temptation. Paisius, heeding the instruction, went for three years with his eyes cast downwards. The saintly ascetic read spiritual books, and he was known for his ascetic fasting and prayer. At first he did not eat any food for a week, then two weeks. Sometimes, after partaking of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, he survived without food for seventy days.

Saint Paisius went into the Nitrian desert in search of solitude. There he lived in a cave carved out by his own hands. The saint was granted a wondrous vision: the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to him that through his labors the Nitrian wilderness would become inhabited by ascetics. He asked the Lord where the monks would obtain the necessities of life in the desert. The Lord said that if they would fulfill all His commandments, He Himself would provide all their necessities, and would deliver them from demonic temptations and cunning.

In time, a number of monks and laymen gathered around Saint Paisius, and a monastery was established. The most important rule of Saint Paisius was that no one would do anything by his own will, but in all things would fulfill the will of his elders.

Since his tranquility was being disturbed by so many people, the saint withdrew to another cave farther away. Once, he was transported to a paradisical monastery and partook of the immaterial divine food. After his ascetic labors for salvation, the Lord granted His saint the gift of prescience and healing the souls of men.

One of his disciples, with the saint’s blessing, went to sell his handicrafts in Egypt. On the way he encountered a Jew, who told the simple-minded monk that Christ the Savior is not the Messiah, and that another Messiah will come. Confused, the monk said, “Maybe what you say is true,” but he did not attribute any particular significance to his words. When he returned, he saw that Saint Paisius would not acknowledge his arrival, and he asked the reason for his anger. The saint said, “My disciple was a Christian. You are not a Christian, for the grace of Baptism has departed from you.” The monk repented with tears, and begged to have his sin forgiven. Only then did the holy Elder pray and ask the Lord to forgive the monk.

A certain monk on his own initiative left the desert and moved near a city. There he had encounters with a woman, who hated and blasphemed Christ the Savior. Under her influence, he not only left the monastery, but also scorned faith in Christ, and finally he reached a state of total disbelief.

Once, through the blessed Providence of God, Nitrian monks came by his home. Seeing them, the sinner remembered his own former life and he asked the monks to ask Saint Paisius to pray for him to the Lord. On hearing the request, the saint prayed fervently, and his prayer was heard. The Lord, appearing to His saint, promised to forgive the sinner. Soon the seduced monk’s woman companion died, and he returned to the desert where, weeping and distressed for his sins, he began to labor at deeds of repentance.

Saint Paisius distinguished himself by his great humility, and performed ascetic deeds of fasting and prayer, but he concealed them from others as far as possible. When the monks asked which virtue is the highest of all, the saint replied, “Those which are done in secret, and about which no one knows.”

Saint Paisius died in the fifth century at a great old age, and he was buried by the monks. After some time his relics were transferred by Saint Isidore of Pelusium (February 4) to his own monastery and placed beside the relics of his friend Saint Paul, with whom Saint Paisius was particularly close during his life.

Saint John the Solitary of Jerusalem

Saint John the Hermit was an ascetic in Palestine. He passed his days in fasting and prayer in a cave near Jerusalem. The uncovetous ascetic had only an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, before which a lampada was always lit.

The holy Elder often visited the holy places of Jerusalem, and Mount Sinai, and he went to pray at the graves of the holy martyrs and ascetics. Whenever he went out, the saint left the lampada burning before the icon of the Queen of Heaven and he asked Her blessing for the journey. When he returned after a month, or even after six months, the Elder found the lampada burning and filled with oil.

Once, he happened to go on a narrow trail, with two sides so overgrown with bushes, that it was impossible for two people on foot to pass each other. Suddenly, the saint saw a lion coming toward him. The beast stood up on its hind legs and cleared the way for the saint.

Once, a monk came to the cave to visit Saint John. Since he did not notice even the bare necessities, he asked Abba John why he lived in such poverty. The holy Elder said that his cave contained spiritual riches greater than any earthly treasures.

Saint John the Hermit reposed in the sixth century in extreme old age, and was numbered with the saints.

Venerable Paisius of Hilandar, Bulgaria

Saint Paisius of Hilandar was born in the year 1722 in Bansko into a pious family. One of his brothers, Laurence, was igumen of Hilandar Monastery, and another was noted as a generous benefactor of Orthodox temples and monasteries. Saint Paisius himself went through his obedience at Rila Monastery.

In 1745 at age twenty-three, Saint Paisius went to his brother in the Hilandar Monastery on Mount Athos, where he received monastic tonsure. The ascetic matured spiritually on the Holy Mountain. He studied Holy Scripture and he was found worthy of ordination to the holy priesthood.

In the year 1762 Saint Paisius wrote The History of the Slavo-Bulgarians, a book upholding the Christian Faith and awakening the national self-awareness of the subjugated Bulgarian nation.

Amid the darkness of foreign oppression the saint rekindled the lamp of Orthodoxy, lit formerly by Saints Cyril and Methodius (May 11). The time and place of the saint’s blessed end is unknown.

On June 26, 1962 the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church under the presidency of His Holiness Patriarch Cyril, and with the participation of all the Metropolitans, expressed the indebtedness of the Church and country to Saint Paisius. They decreed that Paisius of Hilandar and Bulgaria be glorified as a saint, and directed that his memory be celebrated on June 19, “when, according to the Orthodox calendar, Saint Paisius the Great is commemorated.”

The name of Saint Paisius is borne by a state university in Plovdiv, and by many institutes and schools in other cities and villages of Bulgaria. This testifies to the deep veneration of the saint by the Bulgarian nation.

Repose of Saint Job, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia

Saint Job, the first Patriarch of Moscow, was born into the family of pious tradesmen in Staritsa near Tver in the 1530s. His baptismal name was John.

After his death in 1607, the relics of Patriarch Job were buried by the western doors of the Dormition Church of the monastery in Staritsa. Many miracles took place at his grave.

In 1652, on the recommendation of Metropolitan Nikon of Novgorod, Tsar Alexei ordered that the relics of Saint Job and Saint Philip (January 9) be transferred to Moscow.

Metropolitan Barlaam of Rostov presided at the uncovering of Saint Job’s relics in Staritsa. The Patriarch’s incorrupt and fragrant relics became the source of healing for many who were afflicted by physical and mental illnesses.

On March 27 a procession set off for Moscow with the relics. On Monday of the sixth week of Lent (April 5), the relics of Patriarch Job were brought to the Passions Monastery. From there, the procession proceeded to the Kremlin, and the relics of the saint were placed in the Dormition cathedral. A few days later, Patriarch Joseph died and was buried next to Saint Job.

Saint Job has long been revered as a worker of miracles. The Altar Crosses in the churches of the Staritsa monastery and the Tver cathedral contained particles of his holy relics.