Lives of all saints commemorated on April 30


Bright Tuesday

Commemoration of Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesbos

Newly-Appeared Martyrs of Lesbos, Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene These saints were martyred by the Turks on Bright Tuesday (April 9, 1463) ten years after the Fall of Constantinople. For nearly 500 years, they were forgotten by the people of Lesbos, but “the righteous Judge... opened the things that were hid” (2 Macc. 12:41).

For centuries the people of Lesbos would go on Bright Tuesday to the ruins of a monastery near Thermi, a village northwest of the capital, Mytilene. As time passed, however, no one could remember the reason for the annual pilgrimage. There was a vague recollection that once there had been a monastery on that spot, and that the monks had been killed by the Turks.

In 1959, a pious man named Angelos Rallis decided to build a chapel near the ruins of the monastery. On July 3 of that year, workmen discovered the relics of Saint Raphael while clearing the ground. Soon, the saints began appearing to various inhabitants of Lesbos and revealed the details of their lives and martyrdom. These accounts form the basis of Photios Kontoglou’s 1962 book A GREAT SIGN (in Greek).

Saint Raphael was born on the island of Ithaka around 1410, and was raised by pious parents. His baptismal name was George, but he was named Raphael when he became a monk. He was ordained to the holy priesthood, and later attained the offices of Archimandrite and Chancellor.

In 1453, Saint Raphael was living in Macedonia with his fellow monastic, the deacon Nicholas, a native of Thessalonica. In 1454, the Turks invaded Thrace, so the two monks fled to the island of Lesbos. They settled in the Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos near Thermi, where Saint Raphael became the igumen.

In the spring of 1463, the Turks raided the monastery and captured the monks. They were tortured from Holy Thursday until Bright Tuesday. Saint Raphael was tied to a tree, and the ferocious Turks sawed through his jaw, killing him. Saint Nicholas was also tortured, and he died while witnessing his Elder’s martyrdom. He appeared to people and indicated the spot where his relics were uncovered on June 13, 1960.

Saint Irene was the twelve-year-old daughter of the village mayor, Basil. She and her family had come to the monastery to warn the monks of the invasion. The cruel Hagarenes cut off one of her arms and threw it down in front of her parents. Then the pure virgin was placed in a large earthen cask and a fire was lit under it, suffocating her within. These torments took place before the eyes of her parents, who were also put to death. Her grave and the earthen cask were found on May 12, 1961 after Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene had appeared to people and told them where to look.

Others who received the crown of martyrdom on that day were Basil and Maria, the parents of Saint Irene; Theodore, the village teacher; and Eleni, the fifteen-year-old cousin of Saint Irene.

The saints appeared separately and together, telling people that they wished to be remembered. They asked that their icon be painted, that a church service be composed for them, and they indicated the place where their holy relics could be found. Based on the descriptions of those who had seen the saints, the master iconographer Photios Kontoglou painted their icon. The ever-memorable Father Gerasimos of Little Saint Anne Skete on Mt. Athos composed their church service.

Many miracles have taken place on Lesbos, and throughout the world. The saints hasten to help those who invoke them, healing the sick, consoling the sorrowful, granting relief from pain, and bringing many unbelievers and impious individuals back to the Church.

Saint Raphael is tall, middle-aged, and has a beard of moderate length. His hair is black with some grey in it. His face is majestic, expressive, and filled with heavenly grace. Saint Nicholas is short and thin, with a small blond beard. He stands before Saint Raphael with great respect. Saint Irene usually appears with a long yellow dress reaching to her feet. Her blonde hair is divided into two braids which rest on either side of her chest.

Saints Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene (and those with them) are also commemorated on Bright Tuesday. Dr. Constantine Cavarnos has given a detailed account of their life, miracles, and spiritual counsels in Volume 10 of his inspirational series MODERN ORTHODOX SAINTS (Belmont, MA, 1990).

The Appearance of the Iveron (Portaitissa) Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos on Mt. Athos.

This icon was the property of a pious widow who lived in the area of Nicea in Asia Minor during the time of the iconoclastic emperor Theophilus (829-842). When the emperor’s men arrived there to find and destroy every holy icon, this faithful widow threw the wonderworking icon of the Theotokos into the sea. Then she beheld a strange wonder. The icon stood upright on the water and traveled westward across the waves in this position.

After a time the icon arrived in front of the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos. A certain holy hermit named Gabriel received it in his arms from the water, and he gave it to the monks. They built a little church for the icon near the gate of the monastery, and they placed the icon there. From that time it was called the Portaitissa.

Since then the Most Holy Theotokos has worked many miracles through her holy icon. She has cured those who were possessed by demons, healed those who were lame, and given sight to the blind. At the same time, she has protected the monastery from every danger and saved it from invasions of foreigners. Among those who received benefit from the Portaitissa was a Russian princess, the daughter of Tsar Alexei Michailovitch (1651).

The icon arrived at the Holy Mountain on Bright Tuesday 1004. Therefore, the Iveron Monastery celebrates this bright festival even to the present day. The Divine Liturgy takes place in the church by the sea, where holy water gushed up when the monk Gabriel took the icon from the sea.

The Iveron (Portaitissa) Icon is also commemorated on March 31.

Ktitorissa or Bematarissa Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of Vatopaidi Monastery. (Παναγία Κτιτόρισσα ή Βηματάρισσα)

When certain Arabs invaded Vatopaidi Monastery, Hierodeacon Sabbas, the Bemataris (custodian of the sanctuary) was responsible for the sacred relics and other valuables kept there. He managed to hide the Icon and Constantine's Cross in a well of the Holy Altar, with an oil lamp burning before them. The monastery was looted and the monks were taken captive and brought to Crete. Seventy years later, Hierodeacon Sabbas was released and he returned to his monastery. There he found some young monks whom he didn't know, and they knew nothing about the hidden relics. Then they uncovered the well and discovered the Icon and the Cross standing upright upon the water, with the oil lamp still burning!

Today the Ktitorissa Icon is in the synthronon (stone seats behind the altar) of the Holy Sanctuary, and it is also called the Foundress, or Builder, because her discovery may be related to the rebuilding of the monastery by three brothers (the monks Athanasios, Nicholas and Anthony) who lived there around the end of the X century.

In memory of this event, the Paraklesis (Canon of Supplication) to the Theotokos is sung every Monday evening, and the Divine Liturgy is served every Tuesday morning in the katholikon. The Ktitorissa Icon is honored on Bright Tuesday, when it is taken around the Monastery in procession.

The Martyrs of Saint David of Garesja Monastery in Georgia in 1616 (also April 4).

The Venerable Patapius, Nikon and Hypomone.

These saints struggled in a cave where the monastery of Saint Patapius was built (in the metropolis of Corinth). There the skulls of Saint Patapius the New and Saint Hypomone are treasured, and also the jaw of Saint Nikon the New. These holy relics were placed in silver reliquaries by the Most Reverend Metropolitan Panteleimon (Karanikola).

Saint Patapius is also commemorated on December 8.


Apostle James the Brother of Saint John the Theologian

The Holy Apostle James, the son of Zebedee, was the brother of Saint John the Theologian, and one of the Twelve Apostles. He and his brother, Saint John, were called to be Apostles by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who called them the “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17). It was this James, with John and Peter, who witnessed the Raising of the Daughter of Jairus, the Lord’s Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, and His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Saint James, after the Descent of the Holy Spirit, preached in Spain and in other lands, and then he returned to Jerusalem. He openly and boldly preached Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, and he denounced the Pharisees and the Scribes with the words of Holy Scripture, reproaching them for their malice of heart and unbelief.

The Jews could not prevail against Saint James, and so they hired the sorcerer Hermogenes to dispute with the apostle and refute his arguments that Christ was the promised Messiah Who had come into the world. The sorcerer sent to the apostle his pupil Philip, who was converted to belief in Christ. Then Hermogenes himself became persuaded of the power of God, he burned his books of magic, accepted holy Baptism and became a true follower of Christ.

The Jews persuaded Herod Agrippa (40-44) to arrest the Apostle James and sentence him to death (Acts 12:1-2). Eusebius provides some of the details of the saint’s execution (CHURCH HISTORY II, 9). Saint James calmly heard the death sentence and continued to bear witness to Christ. One of the false witnesses, whose name was Josiah, was struck by the courage of Saint James. He came to believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. When they led the apostle forth to execution, Josiah fell at his feet, repenting of his sin and asking forgiveness. The apostle embraced him, gave him a kiss and said, “Peace and forgiveness to you.” Then Josiah confessed his faith in Christ before everyone, and he was beheaded with Saint James in the year 44 at Jerusalem.

Saint James was the first of the Apostles to die as a martyr.


Uncovering of the relics of Saint Nikita, Bishop of Novgorod

Saint Nikita the former Recluse of the Kiev Caves fell asleep in the Lord in 1109, after serving as Bishop of Novgorod for thirteen years.

Bishop Nikita was glorified as a saint during the reign of Tsar Ivan Vasilievich, and his holy relics, dressed in full vestments, were uncovered on April 30, 1558. That day was marked by the healing of many people. His relics now rest in the cathedral of the holy Apostle Philip in Novgorod.

St Nikita of Novgorod is also commemorated on January 31, the day of his repose, and on May 14.


Saint Donatus, Bishop of Euroea in Epirus

Saint Donatus lived during the reign of the holy Emperor Theodosius the Great (379-397) and was bishop of the city of Euroea (in Albania). Not far from this city, in the vicinity of Soreia, was a brackish spring of water. When the saint learned of this, he went with clergy to the spring and cast out a monstrous serpent, which died. The saint prayed, he blessed the spring and drank the water without harm. Seeing this miracle, the people glorified God.

Another time, Saint Donatus prayed and brought forth water from a dry and rocky place, and during a drought he entreated the Lord to send rain to the parched land.

The daughter of the holy Emperor Theodosius fell terribly ill and was afflicted by an unclean spirit. Saint Donatus came to the palace, and as soon as he arrived the devil left and the sick woman was healed.

A certain man, shortly before his death, repaid a loan to a money-lender. The creditor tried to extort the money a second time from the dead man’s widow. The saint resurrected the dead man, who told where and when the loan had been repaid. After obtaining a receipt from the creditor, the man fell asleep in the Lord.

Saint Donatus reposed in peace about the year 387.


Uncovering of the relics of Saint Basil, Bishop of Amasea

The Hieromartyr Basil, Bishop of Amasea, lived at the beginning of the fourth century in the Pontine city of Amasea. He encouraged and comforted the Christians suffering persecution by the pagans. During this time the Eastern part of the Roman Empire was ruled by Licinius (311-324), the brother-in-law of the holy emperor Constantine the Great (May 21). Licinius deceitfully signed Saint Constantine’s Edict of Milan (313), which granted religious toleration to Christians, but he hated them and continued to persecute them.


Martyr Maximus of Ephesus

The Holy Martyr Maximus suffered for his faith in Christ, and was run through with a sword.


Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov, Bishop of Stavropol

No information available at this time.


Icon of the Mother of God “of the Passion”

The Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Passion” The icon received its name because on either side of the Mother of God are two angels with the implements of the Lord’s suffering: the Cross, the lance, and the sponge.

There was a certain pious woman, Katherine, who began to suffer seizures and madness after her marriage. She ran off into the forest and attempted suicide more than once.

In a moment of clarity she prayed to the Mother of God and vowed that if she were healed, she would enter a monastery. After recovering her health, she only remembered her vow after a long time. Afraid and mentally afflicted, she took to her bed. Three times the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to her, commanding the sick woman to go to Nizhni-Novgorod and to buy Her icon from the iconographer Gregory.

After she had done this, Katherine received healing. From that time on, miracles have occurred from this icon. The Feast day of this icon is on August 13, commemorating its transfer from the village of Palitsa to Moscow in 1641. A church was built at the place where it was met at the Tver gates, and in 1654, the Strastna monastery was built.

The icon is also commemorated on April 30, and on the sixth Sunday after Pascha (the Sunday of the Blind Man) in memory of the miracles which occurred on this day. Other “Passion” icons of the Mother of God have been glorified in the Moscow church of the Conception of Saint Anna, and also in the village of Enkaeva in Tambov diocese.


New Martyr Argyra

The holy New Martyr Argyra lived in Proussa, Bithynia, and came from a pious family. She was a beautiful and virtuous woman. When she was eighteen, she married a pious Christian, and they moved into a neighborhood inhabited by many Moslems.

After only a few days, she was approached by a Turkish neighbor, the son of the Cadi (magistrate). He boldly declared his love for her, and tried to convert her to his religion. She rejected his advances, saying that she would rather die than be married to a Moslem. She did not tell her husband, fearing that he would go after the Turk and then be punished for it.

The Moslem brought her to trial and testified that she had assented to his advances, but then had laughed and said she was only joking. His lies were corroborated by false witnesses, and Argyra was sent to prison.

The saint’s husband, hoping to get her a fair trial, appealed to Constantinople. There the accuser repeated his lies before the judge. Saint Argyra said that she was a Christian, and that she would never deny Christ. The judge ordered her to be flogged, then sentenced her to life in prison.

She was often taken from her cell, interrogated, beaten, then returned to prison. This continued for seventeen years. The saint was also insulted and tormented by the Moslem women who were incarcerated for their evil deeds. The Evil One incited them to annoy Saint Argyra with these torments and afflictions, but she endured all these things with great courage and patience.

According to the testimony of many Christian women who were in prison with her, she humbled her body through fasting. Her heart was filled with such love for Christ that she regarded her hardships as comforts.

A pious Christian named Manolis Kiourtzibasis sent her word that he would try to have her released, but Saint Argyra would not consent to this. She completed her earthly pilgrimage in the prison, receiving the crown of martyrdom on April 5, 1721.

After a few years her body was exhumed, and was found to be whole and incorrupt, emitting an ineffable fragrance. Pious priests and laymen took her body to the church of Saint Paraskeve on April 30, 1735 with the permission of Patriarch Paisius II.

Her relics remain there to this day, where they are venerated by Orthodox Christians from all walks of life, to the glory of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Saint Argyra’s name comes from the Greek word for silver (argyre). THE NEW MARTYR ARGYRA 1688-1721 by P. Philippidou (which also contains a Service to the saint) was published in Constantinople in 1912.