Lives of all saints commemorated on January 5

Eve of the Theophany of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

The fourth day of the Forefeast of Theophany falls on January 5. If January 5th falls on a weekday, the following order is observed:

Vespers on the evening of the 4th, then Matins. The First Hour is not read after Matins.

On the 5th we read the Royal Hours, followed by Vespers and the Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great.

If the Eve of Theophany falls on Saturday:

The Royal Hours are read on Friday, but there is no Liturgy. Vespers on the evening of the 4th, followed by Matins. The Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is celebrated on Saturday morning.

If the Eve of Theophany falls on a Sunday:

The Royal Hours are read on Friday, but there is no Liturgy. Vigil is served on Saturday evening, and the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is celebrated on Sunday.

There are thirteen readings at Vespers on the Eve of Theophany, and the entrance is made with the Gospel. There is fasting today, whatever day of the week it may be.

Hieromartyr Theopemptus, Bishop of Nicomedia, and Martyr Theonas

The Holy Martyrs Theopemptus and Theonas suffered in Nicomedia in the year 303. Saint Theopemptus was bishop in Nicomedia in the time of Diocletian. Speaking out against idolatry, he defended the faith in Christ. Because of this, he became one of the first victims of the Diocletian persecution.

The saint refused to obey the emperor’s order to worship an idol of Apollo. Saint Theopemptus was thrown into a red-hot furnace, but by the power of God he remained alive. The emperor came to the furnace by night with a detachment of soldiers, and there he saw the saint alive and praying to God. Ascribing the miracle to magic, Diocletian thought to exhaust Saint Theopemptus by depriving him of food and drink for twenty-two days, but the martyr was preserved by the will of God.

The emperor brought the famous sorcerer Theonas to overcome Bishop Theopemptus’ supposed magical power. Theonas prepared a poison for Saint Theopemptus, put it into a little cake, and offered it to him to eat. The poison did no harm at all to Saint Theopemptus. Then Theonas tried an even stronger poison on the martyr. Seeing that Saint Theopemptus remained unharmed, he came to believe in Christ. They threw him into prison together with the holy bishop, who taught and baptized him, giving him the name Synesios (which means “full of understanding”).

At dawn Diocletian summoned Saint Theopemptus, and again tried to turn him to pagan impiety. Seeing that the bishop remained firm in his faith, he subjected him to many grievous tortures, after which the saint was beheaded. The holy martyr Theonas refused to offer sacrifice to idols, so he was buried alive in a deep ditch. This occurred at Nicomedia in the year 303.

Venerable Syncletica of Alexandria

Saint Syncletica was a native of Alexandria, the daughter of rich parents. She was very beautiful, but from a young age she thought only about things pleasing to God. Loving the purity of virginity, she refused to marry anyone, and spent all her time in fasting and prayer.

After the death of her parents, she distributed her inheritance to the poor. She left the city together with her younger sister, and lived in a crypt for the rest of her life.

News of her ascetic deeds quickly spread throughout the vicinity, and many devout women and girls came to live under her guidance. During the course of her ascetic life the saint zealously instructed the sisters by word and by deed.

In her eightieth year she was struck by an intense and grievous illness. The nun bore her ordeal with true Christian endurance, and the time of her death was revealed to her in a vision. After giving final instructions to her nuns, she surrendered her soul to God around the year 350.

Prophet Micah

The Holy Prophet Micah was a companion of the holy prophet Elias. He prophesied the ruin of King Ahab in a war with the Assyrians, for which he was cast into prison. Set free after the downfall of Ahab (3 Kings 22: 8-22), the holy prophet Micah died as a martyr in the ninth century B.C.

Saint Apollinaria of Egypt

The renowned Apollinaria (Απολλιναρία) lived during the reign of Leo the Great (‎457–474), and was the daughter of Anthemius, a former proconsul of Rome during the minority of Theodosius the Younger (408-450). Saint Apollinaria was renowned for her beauty and wisdom, as well as for her fervent faith and whole-hearted devotion to Christ. From a young age she was inclined to live a life of virginity, and she prayed to God night and day that she might achieve her desire, which was to remain a virgin until death. For this reason she entreated her parents to let her go to Jerusalem. When they granted her permission, the blessed one took some male and female servants with her, as well as gold, silver and expensive clothes, and left for Jerusalem. There she distributed everything to the poor. After she venerated the Holy Places, she freed her servants, keeping just one old servant and a eunuch with her. With them, she went to Alexandria. Arriving there at a level and even place, she decided to rest a little from her weary journey. Slipping away from her servants, she changed into monastic garb and hid in a marsh, where she lived a life of asceticism for several years in strict fasting and prayer. One day, an angel appeared to her in a dream and instructed her to go to the monastery of Sketis, which was under the spiritual direction of Saint Macarius of Egypt (January 19), and to call herself Dorotheus. Saint Macarius accepted her as one of the brethren, and she quickly distinguished herself by her ascetical life.

Saint Apollinaria’s parents had another daughter who was possessed by an unclean spirit. They sent her to Saint Macarius at Sketis, who brought the afflicted girl to "Father Dorotheus." Through her prayers, and by divine grace, her sister was healed. Everyone wanted her to remain with them, but she bade all of them farewell and returned to her monastic cell. Soon, her sister was attacked by a violent demon, who made her appear to be pregnant. The demon spoke through the girl’s lips, saying that Dorotheus had forced himself on her. Her outraged parents sent soldiers to the monastery to find the monk who had defiled their daughter. Saint Apollinaria took the blame and accompanied the envoys to the home of her parents in Rome. There she revealed her secret to them, healed her sister, and returned to Sketis. She reposed in the year 470, and was found worthy to dwell in the heavenly abodes (John 14:2). Only after her death, as the monks were preparing her body for burial, was it discovered that “he” was actually a woman. The Saint was buried in a cave in the monastery church of Saint Macarius of Egypt.

Saint Apollinaria is commemorated on January 4 in Greek usage, while the Slavic churches honor her on January 5.

Venerable Phosterius the Hermit

Saint Phosterius the Hermit led an ascetical life on a lofty mountain, where he was fed by an angel. He brought many back to the Church from the heresy of Iconoclasm by his miracles and saintly life.

Venerable Menas of Sinai

Saint Menas lived in asceticism for more than fifty years in the monastery of Sinai, where he died peacefully in the second half of the sixth century. Myrrh flowed from his holy relics. Saint John Climacus speaks of this wonderful man in THE LADDER OF DIVINE ASCENT (Step 4:34).

Venerable Gregory of Crete

Saint Gregory of Akrita was born on the island of Crete in the year 760, and was raised by pious parents. At this time the iconoclast heretics persecuted the Orthodox. The youth Gregory, wanting to preserve his Orthodox Faith, went to Seleukia and led a life of piety.

At the age of twenty, Saint Gregory went to Jerusalem and lived there for twelve years, enduring fierce persecution from the Jews. From there Saint Gregory journeyed to Rome, where he entered a monastery. He became acquainted with Saint Michael, Bishop of Synnada (May 23), who took him along and settled in a monastery on the Cape of Akrita (Sea of Marmora). The saint accomplished great ascetic deeds and died there around the year 820.

Venerable Romanus the Martyr

New Martyr Romanus of Karpenisi was born in Karpenisi in central Greece. He was a monk on Mt. Athos for a time, and suffered for Christ at Constantinople, beheaded by the Turks in the year 1694. His relics were taken by ship to England.