Lives of all saints commemorated on June 7


Synaxis of All Saints

The Sunday following Pentecost is dedicated to All Saints, both those who are known to us, and those who are known only to God. There have been saints at all times, and they have come from every corner of the earth. They were Apostles, Martyrs, Prophets, Hierarchs, Monastics, and Righteous, yet all were perfected by the same Holy Spirit.

The Descent of the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to rise above our fallen state and to attain sainthood, thereby fulfilling God’s directive to “be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44, 1 Peter 1:16, etc.). Therefore, it is fitting to commemorate All Saints on the first Sunday after Pentecost.

This feast may have originated at an early date, perhaps as a celebration of all martyrs, then it was broadened to include all men and women who had borne witness to Christ by their virtuous lives, even if they did not shed their blood for Him.

Saint Peter of Damascus, in his “Fourth Stage of Contemplation,” mentions five categories of saints: Apostles, Martyrs, Prophets, Hierarchs, and Monastic Saints (PHILOKALIA [in English] Vol. 3, p.131). He is actually quoting from the OCTOECHOS, Tone 2 for Saturday Matins, kathisma after the first stichology.

Saint Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (July 14) adds the Righteous to Saint Peter’s five categories. The list of Saint Nicodemus is found in his book THE FOURTEEN EPISTLES OF ST PAUL (Venice, 1819, p. 384) in his discussion of I Corinthians 12:28.

The hymnology for the feast of All Saints also lists six categories: “Rejoice, assembly of the Apostles, Prophets of the Lord, loyal choirs of the Martyrs, divine Hierarchs, Monastic Fathers, and the Righteous....”

Some of the saints are described as Confessors, a category which does not appear in the above lists. Since they are similar in spirit to the martyrs, they are regarded as belonging to the category of Martyrs. They were not put to death as the Martyrs were, but they boldly confessed Christ and came close to being executed for their faith. Saint Maximus the Confessor (January 21) is such a saint.

The order of these six types of saints seems to be based on their importance to the Church. The Apostles are listed first, because they were the first to spread the Gospel throughout the world.

The Martyrs come next because of their example of courage in professing their faith before the enemies and persecutors of the Church, which encouraged other Christians to remain faithful to Christ even unto death.

Although they come first chronologically, the Prophets are listed after the Apostles and Martyrs. This is because the Old Testament Prophets saw only the shadows of things to come, whereas the Apostles and Martyrs experienced them firsthand. The New Testament also takes precedence over the Old Testament.

The holy Hierarchs comprise the fourth category. They are the leaders of their flocks, teaching them by their word and their example.

The Monastic Saints are those who withdrew from this world to live in monasteries, or in seclusion. They did not do this out of hatred for the world, but in order to devote themselves to unceasing prayer, and to do battle against the power of the demons. Although some people erroneously believe that monks and nuns are useless and unproductive, Saint John Climacus had a high regard for them: “Angels are a light for monks, and the monastic life is a light for all men” (LADDER, Step 26:31).

The last category, the Righteous, are those who attained holiness of life while living “in the world.” Examples include Abraham and his wife Sarah, Job, Saints Joachim and Anna, Saint Joseph the Betrothed, Saint Juliana of Lazarevo, and others.

The feast of All Saints achieved great prominence in the ninth century, in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise (886-911). His wife, the Holy Empress Theophano (December 16) lived in the world, but was not attached to worldly things. She was a great benefactor to the poor, and was generous to the monasteries. She was a true mother to her subjects, caring for widows and orphans, and consoling the sorrowful.

Even before the death of Saint Theophano in 893 or 894, her husband started to build a church, intending to dedicate it to Theophano, but she forbade him to do so. It was this emperor who decreed that the Sunday after Pentecost be dedicated to All Saints. Believing that his wife was one of the righteous, he knew that she would also be honored whenever the Feast of All Saints was celebrated.


Hieromartyr Theodotus, Bishop of Ancyra

The Holy Martyr Theodotus lived in Ancyra of Galatia in the third century. He was distinguished by his kindliness and concern. At the height of the persecution under Diocletian (284-305) he provided Christians with everything they needed, and gave them shelter in his home. There they secretly celebrated church services.

Saint Theodotus visited the Christian captives in prison, paid their bail, and reverently buried the bodies of martyrs who had been thrown to the wild beasts. Once he buried the bodies of seven holy women martyrs, who were drowned in the sea (May 18). They reported this to the governor.

After refusing to offer sacrifice to idols, and denouncing the folly of paganism, Saint Theodotus confessed Christ as God, for which they subjected him to terrible tortures and beheaded him with a sword. They wanted to burn the holy martyr’s body, but could not do so because of a storm which had arisen, so they gave his holy relics to a certain Christian for burial.

Saint Theodotus is also commemorated on May 18.


Hieromartyr Marcellinus, Pope of Rome, and those with him

Saint Marcellinus was Pope of Rome during the height of the persecution against Christians under Diocletian and Maximian (284-305), when 17,000 men were martyred a single month. During this time Saint Marcellinus was also arrested. Afraid of the fierce tortures, he burned incense and offered sacrifice to idols. The emperor called him his friend and clothed him in splendid robes. Although he had encouraged others to undergo torture for Christ, he gave in to cowardice. He wept bitterly, filled with remorse.

During this time, a Synod of 180 bishops and presbyters met at the city of Sinuessa (in Campania). Saint Marcellinus appeared at the assembly in penitential sackcloth, his head sprinkled with ashes. He confessed his sin before the delegates and asked them to judge him. The Fathers of the Council said, “Judge yourself! From your lips this sin came forth, from your lips let judgment be pronounced. We know that even Saint Peter denied Christ out of fear, but he wept bitterly for his sin, and received forgiveness from the Lord.”

Then Marcellinus pronounced sentence upon himself, “I strip myself of the priestly dignity, of which I am unworthy. After death, do not bury my body, but instead throw it to the dogs. Cursed be the one who dares to bury it.”

Upon his return to Rome Marcellinus went to the emperor, threw down the fine clothing given him, and said that he regretted his renunciation of Christ. The enraged emperor had him tortured, and sentenced him to death.

Saint Marcellinus prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who mercifully receives sinners who repent, then willingly placed his head beneath the sword. The holy martyrs Claudius, Cyrinus and Antoninus were beheaded with him.

The body of Saint Marcellinus lay for thirty-six days along the wayside. Appearing in a vision to the new bishop Marcellus, the holy Apostle Peter said, “Why have you not buried the body of Marcellinus?”

“I fear his curse,” replied Saint Marcellus.

“Perhaps you do not remember,” said the Apostle Peter, “that it is written: ‘He that humbles himself shall be exalted.’ Therefore, go bury his body with reverence.”

Fulfilling the command of the Apostle Peter, Saint Marcellus buried the body of Saint Marcellinus in a crypt, built for the burial of the bodies of martyrs by the illustrious Priscilla, along the Via Salaria.


Hieromartyr Sisinius the Deacon of Rome and those with him

Saint Sisinius the deacon suffered at Rome along with the hieromartyr Marcellinus, Bishop of Rome, the holy deacon Cyriacus; also Smaragdus, Largus, Apronian, Saturninus, Crescentian, Papias and Maurus and the holy women martyrs Priscilla, Lucy and the Emperor’s daughter Artemia during the persecution of Diocletian and Maximian (284-305) and their successors, Galerius (305-311) and Maxentius (305-312).

The emperor Maximian, ruler of the Western Roman Empire, deprived all Christians of military rank and sent them into penal servitude.

A certain rich Christian, Thrason, sent food and clothing to the prisoners through the Christians Sisinius, Cyriacus, Smaragdus and Largus. Marcellus thanked Thrason for his generosity, and ordained Sisinius and Cyriacus as deacons.

While rendering aid to the captives, Sisinius and Cyriacus also were arrested and condemned to harsh labor. They fulfilled not only their own work quota, but worked also for the dying captive Saturninus. Therefore, Maximian sent Sisinius to Laodicius, the governor of the district.

They locked the saint in prison. The head of the prison, Apronian, summoned Sisinius for interrogation but, seeing his face shine with a heavenly light, he believed in Christ and was baptized. Later, he went with Sisinius to Marcellus and received Chrismation. Marcellus served the Liturgy, and they partook of the Holy Mysteries.

On June 7, Saints Sisinius and Saturninus were brought before Laodicius in the company of Apronian. Apronian confessed that he was a Christian, and was beheaded. Saints Sisinius and Saturninus were thrown into prison. Then Laodicius gave orders to bring them to a pagan temple to offer sacrifice. Saturninus said, “If only the Lord would turn the pagan idols into dust!”

At that very moment the tripods, on which incense burned before the idols, melted. Seeing this miracle, the soldiers Papias and Maurus confessed Christ. After prolonged tortures Sisinius and Saturninus were beheaded, and Papias and Maurus were locked up in prison, where they prayed to receive illumination by holy Baptism. The Lord fulfilled their desire. Leaving the prison without being noticed, they received Baptism from Marcellus and returned to the prison.

At the trial they again confessed themselves Christians and died under terrible tortures. Their holy bodies were buried by the priest John and Thrason.

Saints Cyriacus, Smaragdus, Largus and other Christian prisoners continued to languish at hard labor.

Diocletian’s daughter Artemia suffered from demonic oppression. Having learned that the prisoner Cyriacus could heal infirmities and cast out devils, the emperor summoned him to the sick girl. In gratitude for the healing of his daughter, the emperor freed Cyriacus, Smaragdus and Largus. Soon the emperor sent Cyriacus to Persia to heal the daughter of the Persian emperor.

Upon his return to Rome, Cyriacus was arrested on orders of the emperor Galerius, the son-in-law of Diocletian, who had abdicated and retired as emperor. Galerius was very annoyed at his predecessor because his daughter Artemia had converted to Christianity. He gave orders to drag Cyriacus behind his chariot stripped, bloodied, and in chains, to be shamed and ridiculed by the crowds.

Marcellus denounced the emperor openly before everyone for his cruelty toward innocent Christians. The emperor ordered the holy bishop to be beaten with rods, and dealt severely with him. Saints Cyriacus, Smaragdus, Largus, and another prisoner, Crescentian, died under torture. And at this time the emperor’s daughter Artemia and another twenty-one prisoners were also executed with Cyriacus.

Marcellus was secretly freed by Roman clergy. Exhuming the bodies of the holy martyrs Cyriacus, Smaragdus and Largus, they reburied them on the estates of two Christian women, Priscilla and Lucy, on the outskirts of Rome, after they had transformed Lucy’s house into a church.

Ascending the throne, Maxentius gave orders to destroy the church and turn it into a stockyard, and he sentenced the holy bishop to herd the cattle. Exhausted by hunger and cold, and wearied by the tortures of the soldiers, Marcellus became ill and died in the year 310.


Martyrs Kyriake, Kaleria, and Mary of Caesarea, in Palestine

The holy women martyrs Kyriake, Kaleria (Valeria), and Mary lived in Palestinian Caesarea during the persecution under Diocletian (284-305). Having received instruction in the Christian Faith, they abandoned paganism, settled in a solitary place and spent their lives in prayer, beseeching the Lord that the persecution against Christians would come to an end, and that the Faith of Christ would shine throughout all the world.

The governor tried to force them to worship idols, but they bravely confessed their faith in Christ. For this reason, they were tortured and received the crown of martyrdom.


Martyr Zinaida (Zenais) of Caesarea in Palestine

No information available at this time.