Lives of all saints commemorated on November 4

Venerable Joannicius the Great

Saint Joannicius the Great was born in Bithynia in the year 752 in the village of Marikat. His parents were destitute and could not provide him even the basics of an education. From childhood he had to tend the family cattle, their sole wealth. Love for God and prayer completely dominated the soul of the child Joannicius. Often, having shielded the herd with the Sign of the Cross, he went to a secluded place and spent the whole day praying, and neither thieves nor wild beasts came near his herd.

By order of the emperor Leo IV (775-780), a multitude of officials went through the cities and towns to draft young men for military service. Young Joannicius was also drafted into the imperial army. He earned the respect of his fellow soldiers for his good disposition, but he was also a brave soldier who struck fear in the hearts of his enemies. Saint Joannicius served in the imperial army for six years. More than once he was rewarded by his commanders and the emperor. But military service weighed heavily on him; his soul thirsted for spiritual deeds and solitude.

Saint Joannicius, having renounced the world, longed to go at once into the wilderness. However, on the advice of an Elder experienced in monastic life, he spent a further two years at the monastery. Here the saint became accustomed to monastic obedience, to monastic rules and practices. He studied reading and writing, and he learned thirty Psalms of David by heart.

After this, commanded by God to go to a certain mountain, the monk withdrew into the wilderness. For three years he remained in deep solitude in the wilderness, and only once a month a shepherd brought him some bread and water. The ascetic spent day and night in prayer and psalmody. After each verse of singing the Psalms Saint Joannicius made a prayer, which the Orthodox Church keeps to this day in a somewhat altered form, “The Father is my hope, the Son is my refuge, the Holy Spirit is my protection.”

By chance, he encountered some of his former companions from military service. The saint fled the wilderness and withdrew to Mount Kountourea to hide himself from everyone. Only after twelve years of ascetic life did the hermit accept monastic tonsure. The saint spent three years in seclusion after being tonsured. Then he went to a place called Chelidon to see the great ascetic Saint George (February 21). The ascetics spent three years together. During this time Saint Joannicius learned the entire Psalter by heart. As he grew older, Saint Joannicius settled in the Antidiev monastery and dwelt there in seclusion until his death.

Saint Joannicius spent seventy years in ascetic deeds and attained to a high degree of spiritual perfection. Through the mercy of God the saint acquired the gift of prophecy, as his disciple Pachomius has related. The Elder also levitated above the ground when he prayed. Once, he crossed a river flooded to overflowing. The saint could make himself invisible for people and make others also hidden from sight.

Once, Saint Joannicius led Greek captives out of prison under the very eyes of the guards. Poison and fire, with which the envious wanted to destroy the saint, did him no harm, and predatory beasts did not touch him. He freed the island of Thasos from a multitude of snakes. Saint Joannicius also saved a young nun who was preparing to leave the monastery to marry; he took upon himself the agonized maiden’s suffering of passion, and by fasting and prayer, he overcame the seductive assault of the devil.

Foreseeing his death, Saint Joannicius fell asleep in the Lord on November 4, 846, at the age of 94.

Hieromartyrs Nicander, Bishop of Myra, and Hermas, the Presbyter

The Hieromartyrs Nicander, Bishop of Myra, and Hermas the Presbyter, were disciples of the holy Apostle Paul’s follower and fellow ascetic, the holy Apostle Titus of the Seventy (August 25), and they were ordained by him to the priesthood.

Living the ascetic life amid incessant pastoral works, the saints converted many pagans to Christ. For this they were arrested and brought before the city prefect, Libanius. Neither flattery nor threats swayed the holy martyrs to renounce Christ. Then Libanius gave orders that they be tortured.

The saints endured fierce and inhuman torments: they were tied to horses and dragged over stones, their bodies were raked with iron hooks, and they were cast into a hot oven. The Lord helped them endure things that a mere man by his own strength could not endure. Towards the end, iron nails were hammered into their heads and hearts. They were thrown into a pit, then covered over with earth.

After enduring such a cruel death, now they live forever in the joy of the Lord (Mt. 25:21).

Venerable Mercurius the Faster of the Kiev Caves

No information available at this time.

Venerable Nicander, Abbot of Gorodensk, Novgorod

No information available at this time.

Saints John, Stephen, and Isaiah of Georgia

Among the multitude of saints we remember those Christians who dedicated their earthly lives to glorifying God and serving others. In a single lifetime they performed all the spiritual feats of the venerable and devout fathers, confessors, and martyrs.

Among the saints canonized by the Georgian Church, only four have been called “Righteous.” They are Saint Ilia Chavchavadze, well known as the “father” and “uncrowned king” of the Georgian nation, and Saints John, Steven, and Isaiah the Georgians.

It is believed that Holy John, Steven, and Isaiah lived in Jerusalem and guarded the Tomb of our Lord. It is probable that the Georgian Orthodox Church proclaimed them deserving of exceptional honor in recognition of their dedicated service at the Tomb of the Savior.

For several centuries the Georgian Church has glorified the Righteous John, Steven, and Isaiah and asked for their intercessions before the Lord.

Blessed Simon of Yurievets

Blessed Simon of Yurievets was born in the city of Yurievets in the Povolzhsk or Volga region. Forsaken by his parents, the saint took upon himself the exploit of foolishness for Christ. Both winter and summer he went barefoot, dressed only in a shirt, so that his skin became blackened and withered from fasting.

Thoughtless people often were cruel to him, sometimes beating him. The holy fool never complained, but prayed for those who mistreated him. Blessed Simon was fond of praying on the porches of various churches. The ascetic exploit of self-denial cleansed his soul, and he received from God the gift of clairvoyance: he foresaw many things and predicted the future. Contemporaries, mentioning his name, beheld various miraculous signs.

Just before his death, the saint went to the house of the military commander Theodore Petelin. He, not knowing the saint, in a fit of anger gave orders to beat him. Saint Simon fell grievously ill. He summoned a priest, made his confession, received the Holy Mysteries of Christ and commended his soul to God. The commander later repented of his sin.

The city gathered for the saint’s funeral, and the body of Blessed Simon was buried in Theophany monastery. This occurred on November 4, 1584. In the year 1635, Patriarch Joasaph ordered the Theophany monastery’s Igumen Dionysius to compile an account of the life and miracles of Blessed Simon and gave a blessing to paint his icon. The Feast of Blessed Simon was established in the year 1635.

Venerable Gabriel of Atonelni

No information available at this time.