Synaxis of All Saints

The Sunday following Pentecost is dedicated to All Saints, both those who are known to us, and those who are known only to God. There have been saints at all times, and they have come from every corner of the earth. They were Apostles, Martyrs, Prophets, Hierarchs, Monastics, and Righteous, yet all were perfected by the same Holy Spirit.

The Descent of the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to rise above our fallen state and to attain sainthood, thereby fulfilling God’s directive to “be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44, 1 Peter 1:16, etc.). Therefore, it is fitting to commemorate All Saints on the first Sunday after Pentecost.

This feast may have originated at an early date, perhaps as a celebration of all martyrs, then it was broadened to include all men and women who had borne witness to Christ by their virtuous lives, even if they did not shed their blood for Him.

Saint Peter of Damascus, in his “Fourth Stage of Contemplation,” mentions five categories of saints: Apostles, Martyrs, Prophets, Hierarchs, and Monastic Saints (PHILOKALIA [in English] Vol. 3, p.131). He is actually quoting from the OCTOECHOS, Tone 2 for Saturday Matins, kathisma after the first stichology.

Saint Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (July 14) adds the Righteous to Saint Peter’s five categories. The list of Saint Nicodemus is found in his book THE FOURTEEN EPISTLES OF ST PAUL (Venice, 1819, p. 384) in his discussion of I Corinthians 12:28.

The hymnology for the feast of All Saints also lists six categories: “Rejoice, assembly of the Apostles, Prophets of the Lord, loyal choirs of the Martyrs, divine Hierarchs, Monastic Fathers, and the Righteous....”

Some of the saints are described as Confessors, a category which does not appear in the above lists. Since they are similar in spirit to the martyrs, they are regarded as belonging to the category of Martyrs. They were not put to death as the Martyrs were, but they boldly confessed Christ and came close to being executed for their faith. Saint Maximus the Confessor (January 21) is such a saint.

The order of these six types of saints seems to be based on their importance to the Church. The Apostles are listed first, because they were the first to spread the Gospel throughout the world.

The Martyrs come next because of their example of courage in professing their faith before the enemies and persecutors of the Church, which encouraged other Christians to remain faithful to Christ even unto death.

Although they come first chronologically, the Prophets are listed after the Apostles and Martyrs. This is because the Old Testament Prophets saw only the shadows of things to come, whereas the Apostles and Martyrs experienced them firsthand. The New Testament also takes precedence over the Old Testament.

The holy Hierarchs comprise the fourth category. They are the leaders of their flocks, teaching them by their word and their example.

The Monastic Saints are those who withdrew from this world to live in monasteries, or in seclusion. They did not do this out of hatred for the world, but in order to devote themselves to unceasing prayer, and to do battle against the power of the demons. Although some people erroneously believe that monks and nuns are useless and unproductive, Saint John Climacus had a high regard for them: “Angels are a light for monks, and the monastic life is a light for all men” (LADDER, Step 26:31).

The last category, the Righteous, are those who attained holiness of life while living “in the world.” Examples include Abraham and his wife Sarah, Job, Saints Joachim and Anna, Saint Joseph the Betrothed, Saint Juliana of Lazarevo, and others.

The feast of All Saints achieved great prominence in the ninth century, in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise (886-911). His wife, the Holy Empress Theophano (December 16) lived in the world, but was not attached to worldly things. She was a great benefactor to the poor, and was generous to the monasteries. She was a true mother to her subjects, caring for widows and orphans, and consoling the sorrowful.

Even before the death of Saint Theophano in 893 or 894, her husband started to build a church, intending to dedicate it to Theophano, but she forbade him to do so. It was this emperor who decreed that the Sunday after Pentecost be dedicated to All Saints. Believing that his wife was one of the righteous, he knew that she would also be honored whenever the Feast of All Saints was celebrated.


Martyr Agrippina of Rome

The Holy Martyr Agrippina, was by birth a Roman. She did not wish to enter into marriage, and totally dedicated her life to God. During the time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Valerian (253-259) the saint went before the court and bravely confessed her faith in Christ, for which she was given over to torture. They beat the holy virgin with sticks so severely that her bones broke. Afterwards they put Saint Agrippina in chains, but an angel freed her from her bonds.

The holy confessor died from the tortures she endured. The Christians Bassa, Paula and Agathonike secretly took the body of the holy martyr and transported it to Sicily, where many miracles were worked at her grave. In the eleventh century the relics of the holy Martyr Agrippina were transferred to Constantinople.


Righteous Artemius of Verkola

Holy Righteous Artemius of Verkola was born in the village of Dvina Verkola around the year 1532. The son of pious parents, Artemius was a child who was courageous, meek and diligent for every good deed. On June 23, 1545 the twelve-year-old Artemius and his father were taken by surprise in a field by a thunderstorm. A clap of thunder broke right over their heads, and the child Artemius fell dead. People thought that this was a sign of God’s judgment, therefore they left the body in a pine forest without a funeral, and without burial.

Some years later, the village reader beheld a light over the place where the incorrupt body of the Righteous Artemius lay. Taken to the church of Saint Nicholas in 1577, the holy relics were shown to be a source of numerous healings. In this village a monastery was later built, called the Verkola. In 1918, the impious Soviets chopped the holy relics into pieces and threw them into a well. The memory of Saint Artemius is also celebrated on October 20.


Second Translation of the relics of Saint Herman, Archbishop of Kazan

Today we commemorate the second translation of the relics of Saint Herman, Archbishop of Kazan, in 1714.

St Herman is also commemorated on November 6 (his repose) and on September 25 (transfer of his relics in 1595).


Martyrs Eustochius, Gaius, Probus, Lollius, and Urban, of Ancyra

The Holy Martyrs Eustochius, Gaius, Probus, Lollia and Urban suffered for Christ during the time of a persecution under the emperor Maximian (286-310).

Saint Eustochius was a pagan priest, but seeing the unyielding courage of the Christian martyrs, and the miracles worked by them, he converted to Christ. He went to Bishop Eudoxius of Antioch, was baptized by him, and was ordained to the priesthood. In the city of Lystra Saint Eustochius converted his nephew Gaius and all his household, among which included the children Probus, Lollia and Urban. Soldiers of the emperor arrested Saint Eustochius and took him for trial, but tortures could not turn Eustochius from his faith. They then sent the saint to the governor Agrippinus in the Galatian city of Ancyra. The newly-converted Gaius was also sent with him with his household. All of them, even the women and children, underwent fierce torture, but the martyrs did not deny Christ and so were beheaded.


Synaxis of the Saints of Vladimir

No information available at this time.


Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God in memory of the Saving of Moscow from the Invasion of Khan Achmed

Today the church celebrates the miracle of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, which led to the saving of Moscow from the invasion of Khan Achmed in 1480.

The Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is also commemorated on May 21 and August 26.


Icon of the Mother of God “Tenderness” of the Pskov Caves

The “Tenderness” Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God was found in the monastery of the caves in 1521, and was transferred to the city of Pskov by the pious Christians Basil and Theodore. The Icon is particularly renowned for the deliverance of Pskov and the Pskov Caves monastery from the army of Stephen Bathory (1533-1586) in 1581. It is commemorated on May 21, June 23, August 26, October 7, and on the Seventh Sunday of Pascha.

The Tenderness Icon of the Mother of God is of the Eleousa (Umilenie) type, and is regarded as the patroness of the city of Pskov.


Ss. Niketas and Daniel

Saint Nikitas of Thebes was a resident of the city of Heptapyle (Seven Gates) in Thebes. At the age of sixteen he became a monk and gathered around himself other ascetics who were attracted by his spiritual character and high moral standards. He was accounted worthy of the charism of working miracles, and fell asleep in the Lord, full of days.

In the Life of Saint Nikitas it is stated that he once traveled to Patras, where he met the ascetic Saint Daniel in the citadel. Saint Daniel lived in the 11th century and was from Patras, where he lived in great asceticism and prayer. He received from God the gift of hospitality, such as that of Abraham; that is, to receive and host people, offering them rest by giving them spiritual guidance.