The Holy Martyrs Trophimus, Theophilus, and thirteen martyrs with them, suffered during the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Brought to trial, they bravely confessed themselves Christians and refused to offer sacrifice to idols. After fierce tortures, they broke the legs of the holy martyrs and threw them into a fire. Strengthened by the Lord, they came out of the fire completely unharmed, and they glorified Christ all the more. Unable to break the will of the holy confessors, the torturers beheaded them.
Saint Apollinaris was a disciple of the Apostle Peter, whom he followed from Antioch to Rome sometime during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius (41-54). Saint Peter appointed Apollinaris as Bishop of Ravenna. Arriving in Ravenna as a stranger, Saint Apollinaris asked shelter of a local inhabitant, the soldier Irenaeus, and during their conversation he revealed the purpose for which he had come.
Irenaeus had a blind son, whom Saint Apollinaris healed, after he had prayed to the Lord. The soldier Irenaeus and his family were the first people in Ravenna to believe in Christ. The saint stayed at the house of Irenaeus and preached about Christ to everyone who wished to hear his words. One of the miracles that Saint Apollinaris performed was the healing of Thekla, the incurably sick wife of the tribune. Through the prayers of the saint, she got up from her bed completely healthy. Not only did she believe in Christ, but so did her husband the tribune. In their house Saint Apollinaris set up a small church, where he celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Saint Apollinaris ordained two presbyters, Aderetus and Calocyrus, and also two deacons for the newly-baptized people of Ravenna.
Saint Apollinaris labored with great zeal, preaching the Gospel at Ravenna for twelve years, and the number of Christians steadily increased. Pagan priests complained about the bishop to the governor Saturninus. The hierarch was brought to trial and subjected to grievous tortures. Thinking that he had died, the torturers took him out of the city to the seacoast and threw him into the water. The saint, however, was still alive. A certain pious Christian widow helped him and gave him shelter in her home. Saint Apollinaris stayed with her for six months, and secretly continued to preach about Christ. The saint’s whereabouts became known when he restored the power of speech to an illustrious resident of the city named Boniface, whose wife had requested the saint to help her husband.
After this miracle many pagans were converted to Christ, and once again Saint Apollinaris was brought to trial and tortured. His bare feet were placed on red-hot coals. They expelled him from the city a second time, but the Lord again kept him alive. The saint did not cease preaching until he left the city. For a certain time Saint Apollinaris found himself elsewhere in Italy, where he continued to preach the Gospel as before. Returning to his flock in Ravenna, Saint Apollinaris went on trial yet again and was sentenced to banishment.
In heavy fetters, he was placed on a ship bound for Illyrica and the Danube River. Two soldiers were responsible for escorting him to his place of exile. Three of the clergy voluntarily followed their bishop into exile. Along the way the vessel was wrecked and everyone drowned, except for Saint Apollinaris, his clergy and the two soldiers. The soldiers, listening to Saint Apollinaris, believed in the Lord and were baptized. Not finding any shelter, the travelers came to Moisia in Thrace, where Saint Apollinaris healed a certain illustrious inhabitant from leprosy. Both he and his companions were given shelter at the man’s home. In this land Saint Apollinaris preached tirelessly about Christ and he converted many of the pagans to Christianity, for which he was subjected to persecution by the unbelievers. They beat the saint mercilessly, then they sent him back to Italy aboard a ship.
After a three year absence, Saint Apollinaris returned to Ravenna and was joyfully received by his flock. The pagans, however, entered the church where the saint was serving the Divine Liturgy, scattered those at prayer, and dragged the saint before the idolatrous priests at the pagan temple of Apollo. The idol fell and shattered to pieces just as the saint was brought in. The pagan priests brought Saint Apollinaris to Taurus, the new governor of the district for trial. Apollinaris performed a new miracle, healing the son of the governor, who had been blind from birth. In gratitude for the healing of his son, Taurus tried to protect Saint Apollinaris from the angry crowd. He sent him to his own estate outside the city. Although Taurus’s wife and son were baptized, he feared the anger of the emperor, and did not receive Baptism. However, he was filled with gratitude and love toward his benefactor.
Saint Apollinaris lived for five years at Taurus’s estate and preached without hindrance. During this time pagan priests sent letters of denunciation to Emperor Vespasian requesting a sentence of death or exile for the Christian “sorcerer” Apollinaris. But the emperor told the pagan priests that the gods were sufficiently powerful to take revenge for themselves, if they felt insulted. All the wrath of the pagans fell upon Saint Apollinaris: they seized him and beat him fiercely as he was leaving the city for a nearby settlement. Christians found him barely alive and took him to the settlement, where he lived for seven days. During his final illness the saint did not cease to teach his flock. He predicted that after the persecutions ended, Christians would enter upon better times when they could openly and freely confess their faith. After bestowing his archpastoral blessing upon those present, the hieromartyr Apollinaris fell asleep in the Lord. Saint Apollinaris was Bishop of Ravenna for twenty-eight years, and he reposed in the year 75.
The celebration in honor of the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God on July 23 was established in memory of the deliverance of the Dormition Lavra monastery from a Turkish siege on July 20-23, 1675.
In the summer of 1675 during the Zbarazhsk War with the Turks, in the reign of the Polish King Jan Sobesski (1674-1696), regiments composed of Tatars under the command of Khan Nurredin via Vishnevets fell upon the Pochaev monastery, surrounding it on three sides. The weak monastery walls and its stone buildings did not offer much defense against a siege. The igumen Joseph Dobromirsky urged the brethren and laypeople to pray to their heavenly intercessors: the Most Holy Theotokos and Saint Job of Pochaev (October 28).
The monks and the laypeople prayed fervently, prostrating themselves before the wonderworking icon of the Mother of God and the reliquary with the relics of Saint Job. At sunrise on the morning of July 23, as the Tatars were planning an assault on the monastery, the igumen ordered an Akathist to the Theotokos to be sung. At the opening words, “O Queen of the Heavenly Hosts,” the Most Holy Theotokos suddenly appeared over the church, in “an unfurled gleaming-white omophorion,” with angels holding unsheathed swords. Saint Job stood beside the Mother of God, bowing to Her and beseeching Her to defend the monastery.
The Tatars believed the heavenly army was a vision, and in confusion they began to shoot arrows at the Most Holy Theotokos and Saint Job, but the arrows fell backwards and wounded those who shot them. Terror seized the enemy. In a flight of panic and without looking, they trampled upon and killed each other. The defenders of the monastery attempted pursuit and took many prisoners. Some of the prisoners afterwards accepted the Christian Faith and remained at the monastery thereafter.
The Icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” (With Coins) was glorified in the year 1888 in St. Petersburg, when during the time of a terrible thunderstorm lightning struck in a chapel. All was burned or singed, except for this icon of the Queen of Heaven. It was knocked to the floor, and the poor box broke open at the same time. Somehow, twelve small coins (half-kopeck pieces), became attached to the icon. A church was built in 1898 on the site of the chapel.
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The Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God is among the most venerable sacred items of the Orthodox Church. Located at the Dormition Cathedral, Pochaev, Ukraine, the icon is renowned throughout the Slavic world and is venerated by Orthodox Christians throughout the world. Christians of other confessions also come to venerate the wonderworking image of the Most Holy Theotokos, together with the Orthodox. The wonderworking icon has been kept at the Pochaev Lavra, an ancient bastion of Orthodoxy, for about 400 years. (The account of the transfer of the icon to the Pochaev monastery is found under September 8). The miracles which issued forth from the holy icon are numerous and are testified to in the monastery books with the signatures of the faithful who have been delivered from unclean spirits, liberated from captivity, and sinners brought to their senses.
In the year 1721, Pochaev was occupied by Uniates. Even in this difficult time for the Lavra, the monastery chronicle notes 539 miracles from the glorified Orthodox icon. During the time of the Uniate rule in the second half of the eighteenth century, for example, the Uniate nobleman Count Nicholas Pototski became a benefactor of the Pochaev Lavra through the following miraculous circumstance. Having accused his coachman of overturning the carriage with frenzied horses, the count took out a pistol to shoot him. The coachman, turning towards Pochaev Hill, reached his hands upwards and cried out: “Mother of God, manifest in the Pochaev Icon, save me!” Pototski several times tried to shoot the pistol, which had never let him down, but the weapon misfired. The coachman remained alive. Pototski then immediately went to the wonderworking icon and decided to devote himself and all his property to the building-up of the monastery. From his wealth the Dormition cathedral was built, as well as buildings for the brethren.
The return of Pochaev into the bosom of Orthodoxy in 1832 was marked by the miraculous healing of the blind maiden Anna Akimchukova, who had come on pilgrimage to the holy things together with her seventy-year-old grandmother from Kremenets-Podolsk, 200 versts away. In memory of this event, the Volhynia archbishop and Lavra archimandrite Innocent (1832-1840) established the reading of the Akathist on Saturdays before the wonderworking icon. During the time of Archimandrite Agathangelus, Archbishop of Volhynia (1866-1876), a separate chapel was constructed in the galleries of the Holy Trinity church in memory of the victory over the Tatars, which was dedicated on July 23, 1875.
The Pochaev Icon is also commemorated on Friday of Bright Week and on September 8.
Saint Anna (Susanna) of Leukadio (or Leukati) was born in Constantinople in 840 during the reign of Emperor Theophilos the iconoclast (829-842), and was the daughter of a wealthy and distinguished family. She had many physical and spiritual gifts because she was raised “in the discipline and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
After the death of her parents, she inherited her father’s estate, which she shared with the poor. This beautiful young woman was loved by a certain Hagarene1 who lived in Constantinople and asked her to marry him, and he obtained the consent of Emperor Basil I the Macedonian. Anna turned down the proposal, since she did not wish to marry him. The Hagarene tormented her and declared that he would have her as his wife, even if she did not wish it. The Saint tearfully entreated God to deliver her from this temptation. Indeed, the compassionate and righteous God heard her prayers. Punished for his impudence, the Hagarene was struck down by divine judgment and he died.
Around 896 Anna went to a certain church dedicated to the Mother of God in Constantinople. There she devoted herself to fasting, vigil, and prayer. For fifty years she lived in this angelic way. After a slight illness, she delivered her blessed soul to God. Years after her burial, her relics were found to be whole, incorrupt, and emitting a divine fragrance. By her grace-filled relics, demons were cast out, the blind received their sight, and the lame walked. So, in this manner, God glorifies those who glorify Him.
1 The Moslems were regarded as descendants of Hagar, Abraham's concubine (see Genesis, chapter 16).