Lives of all saints commemorated on July 3

Synaxis of the Saints of North America

On the second Sunday after Pentecost, each local Orthodox Church commemorates all the saints, known and unknown, who have shone forth in its territory. Accordingly, the Orthodox Church in America remembers the saints of North America on this day.

Saints of all times, and in every country are seen as the fulfillment of God’s promise to redeem fallen humanity. Their example encourages us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us” and to “run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). The saints of North America also teach us how we should live, and what we must expect to endure as Christians

Although it is a relatively young church, the Orthodox Church in America has produced saints in nearly all of the six major categories of saints: Apostles (and Equals of the Apostles); Martyrs (and Confessors); Prophets; Hierarchs; Monastic Saints; and the Righteous. Prophets, of course, lived in Old Testament times and predicted the coming of Christ.

The first Divine Liturgy in what is now American territory (northern latitude 58 degrees, 14 minutes, western longitude 141 degrees) was celebrated on July 20, 1741, the Feast of the Prophet Elias, aboard the ship Peter under the command of Vitus Bering. Hieromonk Hilarion Trusov and the priest Ignatius Kozirevsky served together on that occasion. Several years later, the Russian merchant Gregory I. Shelikov visited Valaam monastery, suggesting to the abbot that it would be desirable to send missionaries to Russian America.

On September 24, 1794, after a journey of 7,327 miles (the longest missionary journey in Orthodox history) and 293 days, a group of monks from Valaam arrived on Kodiak Island in Alaska. The mission was headed by Archimandrite Joasaph, and included Hieromonks Juvenal, Macarius, and Athanasius, the Hierodeacons Nectarius and Stephen, and the monks Herman and Joasaph. Saint Herman of Alaska (December 13, August 9), the last surviving member of the mission, fell asleep in the Lord in 1837.

Throughout the Church’s history, the seeds of faith have always been watered by the blood of the martyrs. The Protomartyr Juvenal was killed near Lake Iliamna by natives in 1799, thus becoming the first Orthodox Christian to shed his blood for Christ in the New World. In 1816, Saint Peter the Aleut was put to death by Spanish missionaries in California when he refused to convert to Roman Catholicism.

Missionary efforts continued in the nineteenth century, with outreach to the native peoples of Alaska. Two of the most prominent laborers in Christ’s Vineyard were Saint Innocent Veniaminov (March 31 and October 6) and Saint Jacob Netsvetov (July 26), who translated Orthodox services and books into the native languages. Father Jacob Netsvetev died in Sitka in 1864 after a life of devoted service to the Church. Father John Veniaminov, after his wife’s death, received monastic tonsure with the name Innocent. He died in 1879 as the Metropolitan of Moscow.

As the nineteenth century was drawing to a close, an event of enormous significance for the North American Church took place. On March 25, 1891, Bishop Vladimir went to Minneapolis to receive Saint Alexis Toth (May 7) and 361 of his parishioners into the Orthodox Church. This was the beginning of the return of many Uniates to Orthodoxy.

Saint Tikhon (Belavin), the future Patriarch of Moscow (April 7, October 9), came to America as bishop of the diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska in September 1898. As the only Orthodox bishop on the continent, Saint Tikhon traveled extensively throughout North America in order to minister to his widely scattered and diverse flock. He realized that the local church here could not be a permanent extension of the Russian Church. Therefore, he focused his efforts on giving the American Church a diocesan and parish structure which would help it mature and grow.

Saint Tikhon returned to Russia in 1907, and was elected as Patriarch of Moscow ten years later. He died in 1925, and for many years his exact burial place remained unknown. Saint Tikhon’s grave was discovered on February 22, 1992 in the smaller cathedral of Our Lady of the Don in the Don Monastery when a fire made renovation of the church necessary.

Saint Raphael of Brooklyn (February 27) was the first Orthodox bishop to be consecrated in North America. Archimandrite Raphael Hawaweeny was consecrated by Bishop Tikhon and Bishop Innocent (Pustynsky) at Saint Nicholas Cathedral in New York on March 13, 1904. As Bishop of Brooklyn, Saint Raphael was a trusted and capable assistant to Saint Tikhon in his archpastoral ministry. Saint Raphael reposed on February 27, 1915.

The first All American Council took place March 5-7, 1907 at Mayfield, PA, and the main topic was “How to expand the mission.” Guidelines and directions for missionary activity, and statutes for the administrative structure of parishes were also set forth.

In the twentieth century, in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, countless men, women, and children received the crown of martyrdom rather than renounce Christ. Saints John Kochurov (October 31) and Alexander Hotovitzky (December 4 and August 7) both served the Church in North America before going back to Russia. Saint John became the first clergyman to be martyred in Russia on October 31, 1917 in Saint Petersburg. Saint Alexander Hotovitzky, who served in America until 1914, was killed in 1937.

In addition to the saints listed above, we also honor those saints who are known only to God, and have not been recognized officially by the Church. As we contemplate the lives of these saints, let us remember that we are also called by God to a life of holiness.

Martyr Hyacinth of Caesarea, in Cappadocia, and those with him

Saint Hyacinth, a native of Caesarea in Cappadocia, was raised in a Christian family. The emperor Trajan made the boy his “cubicularius” (chamberlain), unaware that he was a secret Christian.

One day, while the emperor and his entourage were offering sacrifice to idols, the young Hyacinth remained at the palace, shut himself up in a small room, and prayed fervently to the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the servants overheard him praying and denounced him to the emperor. He said that although Hyacinth was entrusted with an imperial position, he did not honor the Roman gods, and was secretly praying to Christ.

Hyacinth was brought to trial before Trajan, who tried to persuade him to deny Christ and sacrifice to the deaf and dumb idols, but the holy martyr remained steadfast and declared that he was a Christian. He was whipped and thrown into prison, where the only food given to him was what had already been offered to the idols. They hoped that he would be overcome with hunger and thirst and eat it. Saint Hyacinth did not eat the food, and he died after thirty-eight days. When they came to torture him again, they found his dead body.

The jailer saw two angels in the cell. One covered the saint’s body with his own garment, and the other placed a crown of glory on his head.

The twelve-year-old Hyacinth suffered for Christ in the year 108 in the city of Rome. Later, the saint’s relics were transferred to Caesarea.

Saints Diomedes, Eulampius, Asclepiodotus, and Golinduc also suffered with Saint Hyacinth.

Translation of the relics of Hieromartyr Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow

The Transfer of the Relics of Saint Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow and Wonderworker of All Russia: After the martyric death of Saint Philip (January 9), his body was buried at the Otrocha monastery, in Tver. The monks of the Solovki monastery, where he was formerly igumen, in 1591 requested permission for the transfer of his relics to their monastery. The much-suffering and incorrupt body was placed in a grave, prepared by Saint Philip for himself while still alive, beneath the portico of a temple of Saints Zosima and Sabbatius of Solovki, nearby the grave of the Elder Jonah (Shamin), his beloved guide in monastic deeds.

On April 29, 1649 a grammota by Patriarch Joseph was sent to Elias, the igumen of the Solovki monastery, concerning the solemn uncovering of the relics of Saint Philip. On May 31 the relics were transferred into a new reliquary and placed in the Transfiguration cathedral.

In 1652 Nikon, then Metropolitan of Novgorod, proposed that the relics of the three martyred hierarchs: Metropolitan Philip, and Patriarchs Job and Hermogenes be transferred to Moscow. With the blessing of Patriarch Joseph, Metropolitan Nikon set off in 1652 to Solovki for the relics of Saint Philip and solemnly conveyed them to Moscow. Into the hand of the saint was put a document of repentance by Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich, in which he asked the forgiveness of sins of his great-grandfather Ivan the Terrible, “transgressing” his own power afront the power of the Church. On July 3 the holy relics were met in Moscow: “a pastor, innocent and cast out, was returned to his own throne.” In the Dormition cathedral, “he stood in his own place for 10 days.” All day, from morning until night, the bells rang as if it were Pascha. Afterwards the holy relics were placed in the Dormition Cathedral at the south door of the altar.

At the place where the relics of Saint Philip were met in Moscow by clergy and people, a cross was set up, which gave its name to the Cross Tollgate in Moscow (at the Rizhsk rail-station).

Venerable Anatolius of the Kiev Near Caves

No information available at this time.

Venerable Anatolius the Recluse of the Kiev Far Caves

No information available at this time.

Saint Basil, Bishop of Ryazan

Saint Basil, Bishop of Ryazan and Murom: His memory is celebrated by the Church on June 10 and July 3 (the day of his death in 1295). On June 10, 1609 the holy relics of Bishop Basil at Ryazan were uncovered and transferred to the Dormition cathedral church.

Saint Basil I, Wonderworker of Ryazan, is mentioned in the Lavrentian Chronicles. In the ancient list of Ryazan hierarchs, he is mentioned as the fourth. (Basil II was consecrated as bishop in 1356 by Saint Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow,). An older tradition connects with Saint Basil the transfer to Ryazan of the wonderworking Murom Icon of the Mother of God (April 12). Saint Basil was at first bishop of Murom. But by the slander of the spirit of evil, the citizens rose up against him, unjustly accusing him of transgressions unbecoming an archpastor. Then the saint, after prolonged prayer, left for the River Oka, and spreading out on the water his bishop’s mantiya he stood upon it, holding in his hands the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of Murom. A strong wind carried him against the current and after several hours he reached Ryazan, where he was received with reverence by the prince and people of Ryazan.

Even during his lifetime Saint Basil was regarded a righteous and pious man. Long before his relics were uncovered at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Ryazan people cherished his memory and called him “their constant intercessor, helper in sorrows and travail.” To him most often they turned before setting out on journeys: seeking his help against problems on dry land, and to protect them from drowning in the water.

In about the year 1540 the monk Erazm Ermolaev wrote “An Account of Basil, Bishop of Ryazan and Murom”.

Right-believing Princes Basil and Constantine Vsevolodovich of Yaroslavl

In their youth, holy Princes Basil and Constantine Vsevolodovich lost their father, Vsevolod, who fell in battle with the Tatars (Mongols). Saint Basil, the elder brother, succeeded to the throne. As prince, he had to face a multitude of concerns, tasks and sorrows. The city and the villages were devastated from the invasion of the Tatars, many households remained without shelter and food, and he had to concern himself about everything and about everyone. Besides this, it was necessary to gain the good will of the Tatar Khan, and the holy prince more than once journeyed for this reason to the Horde. He suffered also a family misfortune, the loss of his only son.

All his tribulations the holy prince suffered without complaint, and he ruled the princedom like a true Christian. He did not enter into disputes with other princes, he concerned himself with the unfortunate among his subjects, and he built churches. But soon his life, filled with many sorrows, exhausted the strength of the prince, and he took sick and died in the year 1249.

After him holy Prince Constantine succeeded to the throne. He strove to imitate his brother, but to his great dismay, everywhere he saw pillage and murdering done by the Tatars. In 1257 the Tatars fell upon Yaroslavl itself. The prince came out to fight the enemy, but here in this battle he gave up his life for his country. In the year 1501 the incorrupt relics of the holy princes were uncovered and now rest in the Yaroslavl cathedral.

Venerable John, Wonderworker of Yarenga, Solovki

No information available at this time.

Venerable Longinus, Wonderworker of Yarenga, Solovki

Saint Longinus, the wonderworker of Yarenga, is also commemorated on October 16.

Blessed John of Moscow the Fool-For-Christ

Blessed John, Fool-for-Christ, Wonderworker of Moscow, was born on the outskirts of Vologda. In his youth he toiled at a saltworks, where he was a water-carrier. The saint combined strict fasting and prayer with his heavy work. Later he moved on to Rostov, where he began his exploit of holy foolishness for the sake of Christ. He wore chains with heavy iron crosses, and on his head was a heavy iron cap, for which they called him “John Big-Cap”. In Moscow he went barefoot and almost naked in even the most severe frost, and he foretold the great misfortunes for Russia, the Time of Troubles and the incursion of the Poles, saying that “in Moscow will be many visible and invisible devils.”

He spoke the truth to everyone fearlessly, regardless of what position they might occupy. Even to Tsar Boris Godunov, he often said: “Clever mind, sort out the things of God. God waits for a long time. Yes, it hurts.”

Before his death Saint John indicated the place where he wanted to be buried: at the Protection church on Rva, which was later known as the cathedral of Saint Basil the Blessed (August 2). Preparing himself for burial, he removed the chains he had worn under his clothing and poured water over himself three times. Just before his repose (? 1589), the blessed one received the gift of healing. In Moscow, he was venerated as a great wonderworker and seer. On June 12, 1672, the relics of the blessed one were found resting under a crypt in one of the chapels of the Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed. His Service and Life were preserved in Lists of the seventeenth century.

Venerable Nikodemos, Abbot of Kozhe Lake

Saint Nikodemos of Kozhe Lake (in the world Nikita) was born in the village of Ivankovo near Rostov into a peasant family. When he was still a young man working with his father in the fields, he heard someone call, “Nikodemos! Nikodemos!” indicating his future monastic state.

After the death of his parents he learned the trade of blacksmith in Yaroslavl and then went to Moscow. One time, going past Kulishka, Nikita stopped at the hut of the holy fool Elias, who upon seeing him cried out: “the Khuzyugsk ascetic has arrived.” These words made a strong impression upon Nikita, and he perceived them as a call to the monastic life.

After giving away everything he owned, he went to Archimandrite Paphnutius of the Chudov (Miracle of the Archangel Michael) monastery, asking to be accepted as one of the brethren.

In this monastery he was tonsured with the name Nikodemos. For eleven years Saint Nikodemos was an example to the brethren in humility, obedience, non-covetousness and brotherly love. In 1602 the igumen of the monastery, Paphnutius, was made Metropolitan of Sarsk, and he took Nikodemos with him. But the saint wanted a solitary and ascetic life. A year afterwards, with the Metropolitan’s blessing, he traveled to the north and at first entered the cenobitic Kozhe Lake monastery, in which he spent a year and a half.

His desire for solitude led him to the Rivulet Khuzyuga, five versts from the Kozhe Lake monastery. There in a forest thicket he built a small cell and lived in it without emerging for thirty-five years, in imitation of Saint Paul of Thebes (January 15).

Saint Nikodemos fulfilled his Rule of prayer for the world in total quiet, far from the world. He shared with the brethren of the monastery the fruits of his labor, also the fish, which he loved to catch. Wild deer walked around his hermitage without fear. Saint Nikodemos spent the night in prayer, and only occasionally did he permit himself to sleep while sitting up.

Through his austere efforts he attained a high degree of spiritual perfection, acquiring the gift of tears and of unceasing prayer. God also granted him clairvoyance and the power to heal the sick.

Once two radiant men appeared to Saint Nikodemos: Saint Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow (February 12), and Saint Dionysius, Archimandrite of the Holy Trinity Sergiev Lavra (May 12), in angelic (monastic) garb. They told him that he would depart to the Lord in forty days, on July 3, 1640.

The relics of Saint Nikodemos rest beneath a crypt in the Theophany church of the Kozhe Lake monastery. The Life of the saint was written by his disciple, the hieromonk James.

Martyrs Mark and Mocius

The Holy Martyrs Mocius and Mark were arrested as Christians and brought to trial by the governor Maximian. They refused to offer sacrifice to idols, for which they suffered death by beheading in the fourth century.

Saint Alexander, founder of the Monastery of the “Unsleeping Ones”

Saint Alexander, Founder of the Monastery of the “Unsleeping Ones,” was born in Asia and received his education at Constantinople. He spent some time in military service but, sensing a call to other service, he left the world and accepted monastic tonsure in one of the Syrian wilderness monasteries near Antioch, under the guidance of igumen Elias. He spent four years in strict obedience and monastic effort, after which he received from the igumen blessing to dwell in the desert. Going into the wilderness, the monk took with him nothing from the monastery, except the Gospel. The monk then struggled in the desert for seven years. Afterwards, the Lord summoned him to preach to pagans.

The saint converted to Christ the local city ruler named Rabul, who afterwards was consecrated a bishop and for 30 years occupied the bishop’s cathedra of the city of Edessa. Together with Rabul all the local inhabitants accepted Baptism, and before receiving the sacrament they burned their idols in the city square. Having confirmed the newly-converted in the Faith, Saint Alexander again went into the desert, where by chance he came upon a cave of robbers. Unafraid of the danger that threatened him, he preached the Gospel to them and urged them to repent. In fact, all the robbers did repent. They accepted holy Baptism, and they transformed their cave into a monastery, where they dwelt in prayer and penitence. Saint Alexander appointed an igumen for them, gave them a monastic rule, and he himself resettled still farther in the desert.

For several years he lived in complete solitude. But even there lovers of solitude began to flock to the monk. A monastery emerged, numbering 400 monks. Desiring at this monastery to establish uninterrupted praise to the Lord, the monk prayed for three years, that the Creator would reveal to him His will, and having then received the revelation, he initiated at the monastery the following order: all the monks were divided into 24 watches of prayer. Changing shifts each hour, day and night they sang in two choirs the Psalms of David, interrupting this only for the times of the divine services. The monastery received the name “ the Unsleeping Ones,” because the monks sang praise to God throughout the day and night.

Saint Alexander guided the monastery on the Euphrates for twelve years. Afterwards, leaving one of his disciples, the experienced Elder Trophimus as its igumen, he set out with some chosen brethren through the cities bordering on Persia, preaching the Gospel among the pagans. After this missionary journeying, Saint Alexander lived with his monks for a certain while at Antioch. There he built a church for the city-dwellers, and a home for the sick and homeless with the money that charitable Antiochians put at his disposal. However, through the intrigues of the jealous, Saint Alexander was compelled to move to Constantinople.

Here he founded a new monastery, in which he also initiated a monastic rule of “unceasing vigilance.” Saint Alexander and his monks suffered at Constantinople under the Nestorian heretics, enduring beatings and imprisonment. After this, when the storm of unrest abated, Saint Alexander spent the last days of his life at the Constantinople monastery he founded. He died in extreme old age in about the year 430, after 50 years of incessant monastic effort. He is also commemorated on February 23.

Saint Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople, was born at Alexandria in the second half of the fourth century, at a time when many representatives of illustrious Byzantine families ardently strove to serve the Church of Christ armed with Greek philosophic wisdom. Having studied philosophy, Saint Anatolius was ordained a deacon by Saint Cyril of Alexandria (January 18). Anatolius was present at the Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus in the year 431 (September 9), at which the holy Fathers condemned the false teaching of Nestorius.

Saint Anatolius remained a deacon at Alexandria after the death of Saint Cyril (+ 444), when the See of Constantinople was occupied by Dioscorus, a supporter of the heresy being spread by Eutyches, which said that the Divine nature in Christ had fully swallowed up and absorbed His human nature. This false teaching undermined the very basis of the Church’s teaching about the salvation and redemption of humankind [trans. note: Since “what is not assumed is not saved”, if Christ has only a Divine nature and not a human nature, then the salvation of humankind, and even the Incarnation of Christ would be rendered heretically docetic]. In the year 449 Dioscorus and his followers convened a heretical “Robber Council” at Ephesus, having received also the support of the emperor. The great advocate of Orthodoxy, Saint Flavian, the Patriarch of Constantinople, was deposed.

Elected to the See of Constantinople, Saint Anatolius zealously set about restoring the purity of Orthodoxy. In 450, at a local Council in Constantinople, Saint Anatolius condemned the heresy of Eutyches and Dioscorus. Having died in exile, the confessor Flavian was numbered among the saints and his relics were transferred to the capital.

In the following year, 451, with the active participation of Patriarch Anatolius, the Fourth Ecumenical Council was convened at Chalcedon. The Fathers of the Chalcedon Council affirmed the dogma about the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, “perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, true God and true man, made known in two natures without mingling, without change, indivisibly, inseparably” (Greek: “asynkhutos, atreptos, adiairetos, akhoristos”).

After a life of constant struggle against heresy and for truth, Patriarch Anatolius died in the year 458.

Among the canons enacted was the 28th Canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council stating that the See of Constantinople is equal to the throne of Old Rome. The churches of Asia Minor, Greece and the Black Sea region, and all new churches that might arise in these regions were placed under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople, in accord with the 28th Canon.

Saint Anatolius also made a large contribution to the literary treasury of the Orthodox Church. He composed liturgical hymns for Sundays, for certain Feasts of the Lord (the Nativity and the Theophany of Christ), for the martyrs ( Saint Panteleimon the Healer, Saint George the Victory-Bearer, Saint Demetrius of Thessalonica). In the service books they are designated simply as “Anatolian” verses.

Monastic Martyr Gerasimus the New of Carpenision

No information available at this time.

Icon of the Mother of God the “Milk-Giver” of the Hilandar Monastery on Mount Athos

The “Milk-Giver” Icon of the Mother of God was originally located at the Lavra of Saint Sava the Sanctified near Jerusalem. Before his death, the holy founder of the Lavra foretold that a royal pilgrim having the same name as himself would visit the Lavra. Saint Sava told the brethren to give the wonderworking icon to that pilgrim as a blessing.

In the thirteenth century, Saint Sava of Serbia visited the Lavra. As he approached the reliquary of Saint Sava the Sanctified, the saint’s staff fell at his feet. The brethren asked the visitor his name, and he told them he was Archbishop Sava of Serbia. Obeying the instructions of their founder, the monks gave Saint Sava his staff, the “Milk-Giver” Icon, and the Icon “Of the Three Hands” (June 28 & July 12).

The holy archbishop took the icon to Hilandar on Mount Athos and put it on the right side of the iconostasis in the church of Saint Sava at the kellion of Karyes, which is attached to Hilandar. The icon was later named Typikonissa, since the Rule (Typikon) of Saint Sava was preserved there.

The Hilandar “Milk-Giver” Icon is also commemorated on January 12.

Saint George the God-Bearer

Saint George the God-bearer and Recluse labored in the Black Mountains near Antioch during a time when the churches and monasteries there flourished. Orthodox Christians from many parts of the world came to settle there, and as a result, tensions often arose between monks of different nationalities. In order to remain detached from the conflicts, Fr. George found refuge in an impregnable cleft of a very high mountain. For this reason he is also called Saint George the Recluse.

Nevertheless, the monks of the Black Mountains were well aware of the pious life led by George the Recluse. Venerable George of the Holy Mountain journeyed to the Black Mountains in search of a spiritual guide and, after praying in each and every monastery, finally asked Saint George the Recluse, “a man innocent as a dove,” to fill this role.

George the Recluse received the young ascetic and found a home for him in the monastery. His disciple remained with him for three years, leading the strictest ascetic life, until finally George the Recluse clothed him with the schema and “perfected him in the monastic life.”

Then, after sending him on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he blessed George to resettle at the Ivḗron Monastery on Mt. Athos and to continue the holy work of Saint Ekvtime of Mt. Athos.

George returned to the Holy Mountain but, instead of translating books as his spiritual father had advised him, he performed other obediences for seven years. When Saint George the Recluse heard this, he sent his disciple Theodore to Mt. Athos to rebuke him and remind him that he was sent there to translate theological texts from the Greek to the Georgian language. This time George of the Holy Mountain humbly obeyed the will of his teacher.

When he was not with George of the Holy Mountain, Saint George the Recluse confined himself to strict solitude and, like his spiritual son, dedicated much of his time to literary pursuits. He was closely acquainted with the writers of Ivḗron and other Georgian monasteries, and he encouraged his spiritual son to continue his labor of translating Orthodox theological literature.

Saint George the Recluse copied Davit Mtbevari’s translations of the Life of Martha (the mother of Simeon of the Wonderful Mountain) and the Life of Saint Barlaam (of the Syro-Caucasus). When George heard that no copies of these Lives existed on Mt. Athos, he transcribed the texts and sent them to the Athonites.

Saint George the God-bearer and Recluse reposed in 1068, after the death of his venerable disciple Saint George of the Holy Mountain.