Lives of all saints commemorated on July 12

Martyrs Proclus and Hilary of Ancyra

The Holy Martyrs Proclus and Hilarion were natives of the village of Kallippi, near Ancyra, and they suffered during the time of a persecution under the emperor Trajan (98-117). Saint Proclus was put under arrest first. Brought before the governor Maximus, he fearlessly confessed his faith in Christ. The governor decided to compel the saint to submit himself to the emperor and offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. During his tortures, the martyr predicted to Maximus that soon he himself would be compelled to confess Christ as the true God. They forced the martyr to run after the chariot of the governor, heading towards the village Kallippi. Exhausted, Saint Proclus prayed that the Lord would halt the chariot. By the power of God the chariot halted, and no force could move it from the spot. The dignitary sitting in it became petrified. The martyr told him that he would remain unmoving until such time as he would sign a document with a confession of Christ. Only after this could the chariot continue on its way with the governor.

The humiliated pagan took fierce revenge on Saint Proclus. He commanded that Proclus be led out beyond the city, tied to a pillar and shot with arrows. The soldiers, leading Saint Proclus to execution, told him to give in and save his life, but the saint said that they should follow their orders.

Along the way to the place of execution, they met Hilarion, the nephew of Saint Proclus, who with tears embraced his uncle and also confessed himself a Christian. The soldiers seized him, and he was thrown into prison. The holy Martyr Proclus prayed for his tormentors and surrendered his soul to God beneath a hail of arrows.

Saint Hilarion was brought to trial and, with the same courage as Saint Proclus, confessed himself a Christian. After tortures he was sentenced to death. They tied the martyr’s hands and dragged him by his feet through the city, wounded and bloody, and then they beheaded him three days after the death of his uncle, the holy Martyr Proclus. Christians buried them together in a single grave.

Venerable Michael of Maleinus

Saint Michael Maleinus was born about the year 894 in the Charsian region (Cappadocia) and at Baptism he received the name Manuel. He was related to the Byzantine emperor Leo VI the Wise (886-911). At age 18 Manuel went off to Bithynia, to the Kyminas monastery under the guidance of the Elder, John Heladites, who tonsured him into monasticism with the name Michael. Fulfilling a very difficult obedience in spite of his illustrious lineage, he demonstrated an example of great humility.

After the passage of a certain time, he was found worthy of the grace of the priesthood. Constantly studying the Holy Scripture, Saint Michael showed how the priesthood ought to be properly conjoined with monasticism, he attained to a high degree of dispassion and acquired the gift of perspicacity. He was very compassionate and kindly towards people, he could not let remain without help and consolation those who were in need and in sorrow, and by his ardent prayer he accomplished many miracles.

After much monastic effort under the guidance of the Elder John, Saint Michael asked his blessing to live in a cave as a hermit. Five days of the week he spent at prayerful concentration, and only on Saturday and Sunday did he come to the monastery for participation in the divine services and to partake of the Holy Mysteries.

By his example of sublime spiritual life the holy hermit attracted many seeking salvation. In a desolate place called Dry Lake, the venerable Michael founded a monastery for the brethren gathering around him, and gave it a strict monastic rule. When the monastery was secure, Saint Michael went to a still more remote place and built there a new monastery. By the efforts of the holy abba, the whole mountain of Kyminas was covered with monastic communities, where constantly prayers were raised up for all the world to the Throne of the Most-High.

About the year 953, the youth Abraham entered the brotherhood, flourishing under the guidance of Saint Michael, who gave him the name Athanasius. Later, Saint Athanasius (July 5) founded the renowned Great Lavra, the first cenobitic monastery on Mount Athos. In the building of the Lavra great help was given to Saint Athanasius by Saint Michael’s nephew, the future Byzantine emperor Nicephoros Phocas (963-969), who met Athanasius while visiting his uncle. After fifty years of ceaseless monastic struggle, Saint Michael Maleinos went peacefully to the Lord in the year 962.

Martyrs Theodore and his son, John, of Kiev

The Holy Martyrs Theodore the Varangian and his son John lived at Kiev in the tenth century, when the Varangians, ancestors of the present day Swedes and Norwegians took an active role in the governance and military life of Rus. Merchants and soldiers, they opened up new trade routes to Byzantium and to the East, they took part in campaigns against Constantinople, and they constituted a significant part of the populace of ancient Kiev and the princely mercenary retinues. The chief trade route of Rus, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, was then called “the Way from the Varangians to the Greeks.”

The chieftains and organizers of the early Russian realm relied upon their Varangian retinues in their undertakings. Just like the Slavs, among whom they lived, many of the sea-faring newcomers under the influence of the Byzantine Church accepted holy Baptism. Kievan Rus stood between the pagan Scandinavians and the Orthodox Byzantines. Therefore, the spiritual life at Kiev was affected by the vivifying influence of the Christian Faith (under Saint Askold in the years 860-882, under Igor and Saint Olga in the years 940-950), and then by the destructive whirlwind of paganism, blowing down from the north from the Varangian Sea (under the reign of Oleg, killing Askold in 882; under the revolt of the Drevliani murdering Igor in 945; under Prince Svyatoslav, who refused to accept Baptism despite the insistence of his mother, Saint Olga).

When Svyatoslav was killed by the Pechenegs in 972 (other sources say in 970), the principality of Kiev was entrusted to his eldest son, Yaropolk. Oleg, the middle son, held the Drevlianian land, while Vladimir, the youngest son, held Novgorod. The reign of Yaropolk (970-978), just like that of his grandmother Olga, again became a time of predominating Christian influence in the spiritual life of Rus. Yaropolk himself, in the opinion of historians, confessed Christianity, although possibly of the Latin rite, and this did not correspond at all to the interests of the Scandinavian mercenary retinue. They were pagans, who were accustomed to consider Kiev a bulwark of their own influence in the Slavic lands. Their leaders strove to create discord between the brothers themselves. They incited a fratricidal war between Yaropolk and Oleg. After this when Oleg was killed, they supported Vladimir in a struggle against Yaropolk.

The future Baptizer of Rus started on his way as a convinced pagan and he relied upon the Varangians, especially those having come to him from over the sea, as his military force. His campaign against Kiev in 978, crowned with complete success, pursued not only military-political aims: it was also a religious campaign of Russo-Varangian paganism against the outgrowth of Kievan Christianity. On June 11, 978 Vladimir “sat on the throne of his father at Kiev,” and the hapless Yaropolk, invited by his brother for negotiations, was treacherously murdered when he arrived at the entrance hall by two Varangians who stabbed him with swords. In order to intimidate the Kievans, among whom were already many Christians both Russian and Varangian, to renew and strengthen with new idols, human sacrifices were made in the pagan sanctuary, a practice unknown to the Dniepr Slavs until then. The chronicles speak of Vladimir setting up idols: “And they brought them sacrifices, acclaiming them gods, and they brought to them their own sons and daughters, and these sacrifices went to the devils... both the Russian land and this hill were defiled with blood”.

The martyrdom of Saints Theodore and his son John may have taken place during this first period of the triumph of paganism at Kiev with Vladimir’s accession to power. In that case, the date might be July 12, 978. It is probable, however, that the exploit of the holy martyrs took place in the year 983, when the wave of pagan reaction rolled not only through Rus, but throughout all the Slavic-Germanic world. Almost simultaneously pagans rose up against Christ and the Church in Denmark, Germany, the Baltic Slavic principalities, and everywhere the unrest was accompanied by the destruction of churches, and by the killing of clergy and Christian confessors. This was the year Vladimir went on campaign against the Lithuanian tribe of the Yatvyagi, and gained victory over them. In recognition of this victory the Kievan pagan priests again decided to make a bloody sacrificial offering.

“Among the Kievans,” reports Saint Nestor the Chronicler, “lived a Varangian by the name of Theodore, who was in military service at Constantinople long before this, and was baptized there. His pagan name, preserved in the term ‘Turov pagan temple,’ was Tur (Scandinavian Thor) or Utor (Scandinavian Ottar), and this other signature is also found in the old manuscripts. Theodore had a son John, a devout and handsome youth, confessing Christianity like his father.”

“And the elders and boyars said: let us cast lots upon the boys and girls. Upon whichever one it falls, that one we shall slaughter in sacrifice to the gods.” The lots thrown by the pagan priests, evidently not by chance, fell upon the Christian John.

When the messengers told Theodore that his son “had been chosen by the gods themselves to be sacrificed to them,” the old warrior decisively answered: “This is not a god, but wood. Today it is, and tomorrow it rots. They do not eat, nor drink nor speak, but are crafted by human hands from wood. God however is One, and the Greeks serve and worship Him. He created heaven and earth, the stars and the moon, the sun and man, and foreordained him to live upon the earth. But these gods, what have they created? They themselves are made. I shall not give my son over to devils.”

This was a direct challenge by the Christian to the customs and beliefs of the pagans. An enraged crowd of pagans rushed at Theodore, smashed up his courtyard, and surrounded the house. Theodore, in the words of the chronicler, “stood at the entrance way with his son,” and with weapon in hand he bravely met the enemy. (The entrance way in old Russian houses as mentioned was set up on posts of a roofed gallery of the second storey, which was reached by a ladder). He calmly gazed upon the demon-possessed pagans and said: “If they are gods, let them send one of the gods to take my son.” Seeing that the brave and seasoned warriors Theodore and John could not be beaten in a fair fight, the besiegers knocked down the gallery posts. When they were broken, the crowd rushed upon the confessors and murdered them.

Already during the time of Saint Nestor, less than a hundred years after the confessor’s deed of the Varangians, the Russian Orthodox Church numbered them among the Saints. Theodore and John became the first martyrs for the holy Orthodox Faith in the Russian land. They were called the first “Russian citizens of the heavenly city” by the transcriber of the Kiev Caves Paterikon, the holy Bishop Simon of Suzdal (May 10). The last of the bloody pagan sacrifices at Kiev became the first holy Christian sacrifice with a co-suffering for Christ. The pathway “from the Varangians to the Greeks” became for Rus the pathway from paganism to Orthodoxy, from darkness to light.

On the place of the martyrdom of the Varangians, Saint Vladimir later built the Desyatin Church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, consecrated on May 12, 996. The relics of Saint Olga were transferred into it in the year 1007.

Wondrous is God in His saints! Time does not spare stones and bronze, but the lower framework of the wooden house of the holy Varangrian martyrs, burned a thousand years before, has been preserved to our day. It was discovered in the year 1908 during the excavation of the altar of the Desyatin church at Kiev.

Saints Theodore and John are invoked by women who have miscarried.

Venerable Arsenius of Novgorod the Fool-For-Christ

No information available at this time.

Venerable Simon, Abbot of Volomsk

Hosiomartyr Simon of Volomsk, in the world Simon, son of the peasant Michael from the vicinity of Volokolamsk, was born in the year 1586. At 24 years of age, after long pilgrimage through Orthodox monasteries, he received monastic tonsure at the Pinegsk Makariev monastery. In the year 1613 he settled in the Volomsk forest, 80 versts to the southwest of Ustiug at the River Kichmenga. Here he spent five years alone, away from people. He nourished himself with vegetables which he himself cultivated, and sometimes asked for bread in some settlement.

When lovers of the quiet life began to gather to him, Saint Simon, through a grant of Tsar Michael Theodoreovich and with the blessing of the Rostov Metropolitan Barlaam, built a temple in honor of the Cross of the Lord, and in 1620 was made head of the monastery he founded. A strict ascetic, serving as an example to all in virtue, love of toil, fasting and prayer, he was wickedly murdered in his own monastery on July 12, 1641. The body of the venerable Simon was buried on the left side of the church he built.

Veneration of the saint began in 1646 after grace-filled miracles at his relics were attested. His Life was written in the seventeenth century.

Martyr Golinduc (in Baptism Mary), of Persia

The Holy martyr Golinduc, in Baptism Mary, lived in Persia during the reign of Chosroes I the Elder. She was the wife of the chief magician of the Persian empire. Endowed with a lucid mind, Golinduc perceived the falseness of the pagan wisdom, and she pondered much about what the true Faith might be. When she learned of Christianity, she very much wanted to know what it taught. Soon through the providence of God, her wish was fulfilled. In sleep an angel showed Golinduc the place of torment for sinners and the paradise in which dwell the believers in Christ, the true God. After this dream she began fervently to pray to the true God, so that He might help her become a Christian. The angel of God directed Golinduc to a Christian priest, from whom she received holy Baptism with the name Mary.

After Baptism she left her magician-husband, and he complained to the emperor Chosroes. The emperor himself, and dignitaries sent by him, and illustrious women all urged Golinduc to return to her husband. For her decisive refusal the emperor sentenced her to be imprisoned for life. In prison Saint Mary-Golinduc spent 18 years.

During the reign of Chosroes’ successor, his son Ormisdas, there arrived in Persia an ambassador of the Byzantine emperor Mauricius, named Aristobulus. Having learned that for many years Mary the Christian was languishing in prison, Aristobulus repeatedly visited her in prison with the permission of the emperor and taught her to sing the Psalms of David. After the departure of Aristobulus, Ormisdas gave orders to present Saint Mary-Golinduc before him and for a long time he tortured her, subjecting her to all sorts of beatings and torments. But in all the torments through the intercession of God the saint was preserved unharmed. When they gave her over for defilement, the Lord made her invisible to the impious and preserved her purity. Finally the emperor gave orders to cut off the martyr’s head, but the Lord sheltered her from the hand of the executioner and brought her to Christians living in concealment.

When the persecution against Christians in Persia ceased during the reign of Chosroes II, who occupied the throne with the help of the Byzantine emperor Mauricius, Saint Mary-Golinduc began openly to preach the Christian Faith.

At the end of her life Saint Mary made pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where she prayed at the tomb of the Lord and other holy places. On the return journey she died (+ 591) in the church of the holy Martyr Sergius at Nisibis.

Venerable John the Georgian of Mount Athos

Saint John was born the son of a nobleman during the reign of King Davit Kuropalates.

For his love of Christ he left his family and the world to be tonsured a monk. After informing the royal court of his decision, Saint John received a blessing from his spiritual father to travel to Greece, where he settled at a monastery on Mt. Olympus.

At that time, as a “sign of friendship,” the Byzantine emperor returned the Georgian lands he had conquered to King Davit Kuropalates, but as a “sign of dedication,” he demanded that children of the nobility be sent as surety. Among those sent to Byzantium was Saint John’s son, Ekvtime. Saint John begged the Byzantine emperor to release his son, and when Ekvtime was finally freed, John took him back with him to the Monastery of Saint Athanasius the Athonite (the Great Lavra).

At that time the famed Georgian military commander Tornike Eristavi came to visit Saint John. Tornike was soon tonsured a monk and given the new name John (the saint is commemorated as John-Tornike), and he settled at the Monastery of Saint Athanasius the Athonite as well.

Soon the Georgian faithful began to flock to the Monastery of Saint Athanasius, and John withdrew from the monastery to a more secluded place, where he constructed a cell and a church in honor of Saint John the Theologian. Two more churches were later built in that same area in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos and Saint John the Baptist. In such a way the celebrated Ivḗron Monastery of Mt. Athos was established, with Saint John as its first abbot.

After the repose of his faithful friend and assistant Saint John-Tornike, it became difficult for Saint John to continue to labor on the Holy Mountain. He and several of his disciples planned to leave Athos, but in the end they remained at the insistence of the Byzantine emperor.

John soon fell ill with gout and was bedridden for several years. Prior to his death he summoned his son, Ekvtime, confessed to him his sins, and designated him abbot of the Ivḗron Monastery. He told his son that Saint Giorgi (later “the Builder”) should succeed him as abbot, then blessed all the brothers and “fell asleep among the ranks of the righteous in the arms of his son.”

Saint Ekvtime robed the holy relics of his fleshly and spiritual father in costly linens and later erected a church in honor of the Archangels over his grave.

Venerable Gabriel the Georgian of Mount Athos

Saint Gabriel was a monk of the Ivḗron Monastery on Mt. Athos. In summer he would withdraw to the inaccessible cliffs, and in winter he would return to the monastery and observe a strict rule of silence. Clad in a coarse robe and eating nothing but roots and herbs, Saint Gabriel was truly a “heavenly man and an earthly angel.”

Once, at dusk, the monks of the monastery beheld a pillar of light shining forth upon the sea. The vision lasted for several days, and finally monks from every monastery on the Holy Mountain gathered and descended together to the sea.

They beheld an icon of the Mother of God shining brilliantly and floating upright upon the surface of the water. The fathers lowered a boat onto the water, hoping to bring the icon back with them to the shore, but each time their boat approached the icon, it drifted farther out to sea.

Finally the frustrated monks offered prayers and supplications to God in order to discern His will, and the Most Holy Theotokos appeared in a divine revelation and told them that the monk Gabriel alone was worthy to bring the icon bearing her image out from the sea. At the same time, she appeared to the God-fearing Gabriel and told him, “Enter onto the sea and walk out upon the waves with faith, and I will send my love and mercy upon all the monks of this monastery.”

The elders of Mt. Athos located the rocky dwelling of the hermit Gabriel not far from the Ivḗron Monastery. They brought Gabriel with them and went down to the sea with hymns and censing. Gabriel stepped out onto the water and, walking upon the waves as upon dry land, approached the icon. At the same time, the holy image drew nearer to him. Clutching the holy icon to his breast, Gabriel crossed back over the waves and delivered the icon safely to the shore. (The story of the miraculous Ivḗron Icon of the Theotokos is recounted in detail in the commemorations for February 12.)

Saint Gabriel reposed peacefully on Mt. Athos.

Icon of the Mother of God “of the Three Hands” on Mount Athos

The Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Three Hands”: The wonderworking icon, before which Saint John of Damascus (December 4) received healing of his amputated hand, was given by him to the Lavra of Saint Sava the Sanctified. In the thirteenth century the icon was in Serbia, and afterwards it was miraculously transported to Athos to the Hilandar monastery. A more detailed account about the icon is located under June 28.

In Greek usage, this Icon is commemorated on June 28, where a more detailed account is to be found.

Saint Veronica (Bernice), the woman with the issue of blood

The account of the woman with an issue of blood, who had the unusual name of Veronica, may be found in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew (9:20-22), in Saint Mark's Gospel (5:25-34), and also in Saint Luke's Gospel (8:43-49).

The Synaxaristes of Saint Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain states that this Saint was from the city of Paneada. When the Lord healed her issue of blood, she was very grateful, because for twelve years she had "suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and nothing had helped, but instead she became worse" (Mark 5:26).

She had heard of Christ, and decided to go to Him, believing that she would be healed merely by touching His garment. When she did this, the Savior felt that power had gone forth from Him. Turning to the crowd, He asked who had touched His garment. His disciples were puzzled by the question, since many people were pressing Him on all sides. Saint Veronica came forward and fell down before Him in fear and trembling, and admitted what she had done. The Lord said, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your affliction" (Mark 5:34).

In her gratitude, she made a statue of Him and placed it in front of her house, where everyone could venerate it. A healing plant grew at the base of the statue, which was able to cure various diseases.

Later, Saint Veronica became a member of the early Church. After living a life of holiness, she surrendered her soul to God.

Roman Catholics venerate a saint named Veronica, who is said to have wiped the Savior's face with her veil as He carried His Cross to Golgotha. She is not the saint who is commemorated by the Orthodox Church. That cloth was called the "Veronica," or true image (from vera and iconica) of Christ's face. Saint Gregory of Tours uses this word (Vita Patrum chapter 12) for an image (see the Greek word εικόνα). This incident, is not mentioned in the Gospels.

Some uninformed iconographers confuse these two women and depict our Saint Veronica holding a cloth with the imprint of Christ's face, which is not in accordance with Orthodox Tradition. On August 16, the Orthodox Church commemorates the Image not made by hands, the cloth which Christ sent to King Abgar with the imprint of His Face.

Saint Serapion the New

Saint Serapion (Σεραπίων) lived in Alexandria during the reign of Emperor Severus (222-235). He was a devout man who did whatever was beneficial. He was arrested by the archon Aquila, and when he was asked what religion he followed, he confessed courageously that he believed in Christ and honored Him.

The archon was furious when he heard the Saint's reply, and so he was thrown into a fire and was burnt alive, thereby receiving the incorruptible crown of martyrdom from the Lord.