2nd Saturday of Great Lent: Memorial Saturday

Saturday is the day which the Church has set aside for the commemoration of faithful Orthodox Christians departed this life in the hope of resurrection to eternal life. Since the Divine Liturgy cannot be served on weekdays during Great Lent, the second, third, and fourth Saturdays of the Fast are appointed as Soul Saturdays when the departed are remembered at Liturgy.

In addition to the Liturgy, kollyva (wheat or rice cooked with honey and mixed with raisins, figs, nuts, sesame, etc.) is blessed in church on these Saturdays. The kollyva reminds us of the Lord’s words, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).The kollyva symbolizes the future resurrection of all the dead. As Saint Simeon of Thessalonica (September 15) says, man is also a seed which is planted in the ground after death, and will be raised up again by God’s power. Saint Paul also speaks of this (I Cor. 15:35-49).

It is customary to give alms in memory of the dead in addition to the prayers we offer for their souls. The angel who spoke to Cornelius testifies to the efficacy of almsgiving, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God” (Acts 10:4).

Memorial services for the dead may be traced back to ancient times. Chapter 8 of the Apostolic Constitutions recommends memorial services with Psalms for the dead. It also contains a beautiful prayer for the departed, asking that their voluntary and involuntary sins be pardoned, that they be given rest with the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles in a place where sorrow, suffering, and sighing have fled away (Isaiah 35:10). Saint John Chrysostom mentions the service for the dead in one of his homilies on Philippians, and says that it was established by the Apostles. Saint Cyprian of Carthage (Letter 37) also speaks of our duty to remember the martyrs.

The holy Fathers also testify to the benefit of offering prayers, memorial services, Liturgies, and alms for the dead (Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Saint John of Damascus, etc.). Although both the righteous and those who have not repented and corrected themselves may receive benefit and consolation from the Church’s prayer, it has not been revealed to what extent the unrighteous can receive this solace. It is not possible, however, for the Church’s prayer to transfer a soul from a state of evil and condemnation to a state of holiness and blessedness. Saint Basil the Great points out that the time for repentance and forgiveness of sins is during the present life, while the future life is a time for righteous judgment and retribution (Moralia 1). Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Gregory the Theologian, and other patristic writers concur with Saint Basil’s statement.

By praying for others, we bring benefit to them, and also to ourselves, because “God is not so unjust as to forget your work and the love which you showed for His sake in serving the saints...” (Heb. 6:10).


Martyrs Eutropius, Cleonicus, and Basiliscus of Amasea

The Holy Martyrs Eutropius, Cleonicus and Basiliscus suffered in the city of Pontine Amasea (Asia Minor) in about the year 308.

The brothers Eutropius and Cleonicus, and Basiliscus the nephew of the Great Martyr Theodore the Recruit (February 17), were comrades. After the martyric death of Saint Theodore, they wound up in prison and by their preaching brought many of the pagans in prison with them to the Christian Faith.

When he tortured Saint Theodore, the governor Publius perished shamefully, struck down by divine wrath. Asclepiodotus was chosen as ruler of Amasea, and was more inhumane than his predecessor. Knowing the comrades of Saint Theodore the Recruit were all in prison, the governor commanded that they be brought to him. Saints Eutropius, Cleonicus and Basiliscus thus firmly confessed their faith in Christ before this new governor. They were mercilessly beaten, so that their bodies were entirely bruised.

As he was being tortured Saint Eutropius prayed loudly to the Savior, “Grant us, O Lord, to endure these wounds for the sake of the crown of martyrdom, and help us, as You helped Your servant Theodore.” In answer to the saint’s prayer, the Lord Himself appeared to the martyrs with His angels and the holy Great Martyr Theodore the Recruit, saying to them: “Behold, the Savior has come to help you, that you may know life eternal.”

Soldiers and many of the people standing nearby were also granted to behold the Savior. They urged Asclepiodotus to halt the tortures. Seeing that the people were distraught and ready to believe in the true God, the governor commanded the martyrs to be taken away. The governor then invited Saint Eutropius to supper and urged him to offer public sacrifice to the pagan gods, yet remain a Christian in soul. Eutropius refused this offer.

On the following day they brought the martyrs to a pagan temple, to force them to offer sacrifice. Eutropius entreated the Savior: “Lord, be with us, and destroy the raging of the pagans. Grant that on this place the Bloodless Sacrifice of the Christians be offered to You, the true God.” No sooner had these last words been spoken, than an earthquake began. The walls of the temple collapsed, and the statue of the goddess Artemis was smashed to bits. Everyone fled from the temple to avoid being crushed among the rubble. In the noise of the earthquake a voice was heard from on high: “Your prayer has been heard, and on this place a house of Christian prayer shall be built.”

When the earthquake ended, the governor Asclepiodotus, barely recovered from his fright, gave orders to drive high wooden stakes into the ground, tie the martyrs to them and pour boiling tar over them. The saints began to pray to God, and Eutropius cried out turning to the torturers: “May the Lord turn your deed against you!”

The tar began to flow beside the bodies of the martyrs, like water over marble, scorching the torturers. Those seeing this fled in terror, but the governor in his bitterness gave orders to rake their bodies with iron hooks and to sting their wounds with mustard mixed with salt and vinegar. The saints endured these torments with remarkable firmness.

The night before their execution the saints spent their time at prayer, and again the Lord appeared to them and strengthened them.

On the morning of March 3, Saints Eutropius and Cleonicus were crucified, but Basiliscus was left in prison.

Saint Basiliscus was executed on May 22 in the city of Komana. They beheaded him, and threw his body into a river, but Christians found his relics and buried them in a ploughed field. Later at Komana a church was built and dedicated to Saint Basiliscus.

An account of the life of the holy martyr is found under May 22.


Virginmartyr Piama

The Virgin Piama lived in asceticism not far from Alexandria. The saint lived in the home of her mother, as in a hermitage. She partook of food at the end of the day, and after prayer she spun flax.

Saint Piama was granted the gift of discernment. The people of a more populous village, blinded with greed, planned to destroy the small village of the holy maiden in order to divert water to their own fields when the Nile overflowed its banks. Saint Piama saw their wicked intent and reported it to the village elders. The startled elders fell on their knees before the saint, imploring her to go to the neighboring people and dissuade them from their evil purpose.

The nun Piama did not go to meet them, since for a long time she shunned contact with people. The saint spent all night at prayer, and in the morning the people of the neighboring village armed themselves and set off for the village of the holy maiden. Suddenly, they froze in their tracks and were not able to proceed farther. The Lord revealed to the impious people that the prayer of Saint Piama held them back. The people came to their senses and repented of their wicked intent. They sent messengers to the village with a request for peace and said, “Thanks be to God, Who through the prayers of the maiden Piama has delivered us.”

The saint peacefully fell asleep in the Lord in the year 337.


Saint Zeno

No information available at this time.


Saint Zoilus

No information available at this time.


Icon of the Mother of God of Volokolamsk

The Volokolamsk Icon of the Mother of God is a copy of the Vladimir Icon of the Moscow Dormition cathedral. The icon was brought from Zvenigorod to the Dormition monastery of Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk on March 2, 1572, during the second week of Great Lent and was solemnly met by Igumen Leonid (1563-1566; 1568-1573) and all the monastic brethren.

It is distinguished by its particular depiction on the margins of Saint Cyprian (right) and Saint Gerontius (left), Metropolitans of Moscow.

The name of Metropolitan Cyprian is associated with the first arrival of the ancient Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God from Constantinople to Moscow in the year 1395, and under Metropolitan Gerontius in 1480 the Vladimir Icon came finally to Moscow.

In the year 1588 the Volokolamsk Icon was dedicated atop the gate in the church at the south gates of the Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk monastery in honor of the Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (August 26).

At the end of the seventeenth century, when a church of the same name was built in Moscow at Staraya Basmanna, the church atop the gate of Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk was rededicated in honor of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. The Volokolamsk Icon was transferred to its proper place on the iconostasis of the new cathedral Dormition church of the monastery of Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk.

In 1578, the icon was recognized as wonderworking.


Saint John (Chrysostom) IV, Catholicos of Georgia

The Holy Catholicos John IV (Chrysostom) led the Apostolic Church of Georgia from approximately 980 to 1001.

Catholicos Basil III’s “Story of Saint Shio’s Miracles” describes how the hitherto childless parents of Saint John prayed at length to Saint Shio of Mgvime. After the birth of John, his God-fearing parents sent him to be raised at Shio-Mgvime Monastery.

There he acquired the sanctity and wisdom for which he would later be called “Chrysostom,” meaning “golden mouth” in Greek. By this name he has been known throughout the history of the Georgian Church.

There is yet another John called “Chrysostom” who was also a Catholicos, from 1033 to 1049. This John was a disciple of Holy Catholicos-Patriarch Melchizedek I and his successor as chief shepherd of the Georgian Church.

His life and labors were full of the same holiness as those of the holy catholicos John who is commemorated on this day. For this reason John IV and John V are often erroneously believed to be one and the same person.


Venerable Shio Mgvime

The Georgian Orthodox Church commemorates Saint Shio of Mgvime several times throughout the year. Saint John of Zedazeni and his twelve disciples, among whom was Saint Shio of Mgvime, are commemorated on May 7; the repose of Saint Shio is celebrated on May 9; and on Cheese-fare Thursday the Church celebrates the miracle that, for centuries, occurred every year at Saint Shio’s grave.

The 19th-century historian Marie Brosset wrote that every year prior to the 18th century, on Cheese-fare Thursday, the relics of Saint Shio rose up out of the ground from the place of their burial. Those who approached them in faith and reverence received healing of their afflictions.

In the 18th century the Persian shah Nadir (1736-1747) invaded Georgia. Hearing about this miracle and becoming convinced of its truth, the enraged shah assailed the monastery and destroyed the shrine containing the saint’s holy relics. A group of Christians later gathered Saint Shio’s holy relics and reburied them in their former place, but to this day they have never risen again.