Lives of all saints commemorated on September 16


Afterfeast of the Elevation of the Cross

From September 15 until the Leavetaking, we sing “O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ. O son of God crucified in the flesh, save us who sing to Thee: Alleluia” at weekday Liturgies following the Little Entrance.


Great Martyr Euphēmia the All-praised

The Holy Great Martyr Euphēmia (Ευφημία) was the daughter of Christian parents, the senator Philophronos and his wife Theodosia. She suffered for Christ in the year 304 in the city of Chalcedon, on the Bosphorus opposite Constantinople, the Queen of Cities.

Priscus, the Proconsul of Chalcedon, issued a decree which required all the inhabitants of Chalcedon and the surrounding area to attend a pagan festival, in order to worship and offer sacrifice to the idol of Ares. He threatened grave torments for anyone who failed to appear. During this impious festival, 49 Christians were hidden in one house, where they worshiped the true God in secret. The young virgin Euphēmia was among those who prayed there.

Soon their hiding place was discovered, and they were brought before Priscus to answer the charges against them. For nineteen days the martyrs were subjected to various torments, but none of them wavered in their faith, nor did they consent to offer sacrifice to the idol. The governor, beside himself with rage and not knowing any other way of forcing the Christians to abandon their faith, sent them to Emperor Diocletian for trial. He kept the youngest, the virgin Euphēmia, hoping that she would not persevere if she were left all alone.

Separated from her fellow-Christians, Saint Euphēmia fervently prayed that the Lord Jesus Christ would strengthen her for her impending ordeal. Priscus urged the Saint to offer sacrifice to the idol, promising her many rewards. When she refused, he ordered that she be tortured.

The martyr was tied to a wheel with sharp knives attached to it, which slashed her body. The Saint prayed aloud, and miraculously, the wheel stopped by itself and would not move despite all the efforts of the executioners. An angel of the Lord, came down from Heaven, removed Euphēmia from the wheel, and healed her of her wounds, and the Saint gave thanks to God.

Priscus did not notice the miracle which had taken place, so he ordered the soldiers Victor and Sosthenes to take the Saint to a red-hot furnace. But the soldiers, seeing two Angels in the midst of the flames, refused to carry out the Proconsul's order and declared that they believed in the God Whom Euphēmia worshipped. Boldly proclaiming that they were Christians, Victor and Sosthenes awaited punishment. They were sentenced to be devoured by wild beasts. In the arena, they begged God to forgive the sins they had committed, asking the Lord to receive them into the Heavenly Kingdom. A Divine voice was heard, and the two soldiers entered into eternal life. The beasts, however, did not harm their bodies.

Saint Euphēmia, cast into the fire by other soldiers, did not suffer. With God's help she emerged unscathed after many other torments. Ascribing these things to sorcery, Priscus ordered a pit to be dug. Filling it with knives, he had it covered over with earth and grass, so that the martyr would not notice this trap.

Once again, Saint Euphēmia remained safe, walking over the pit. Finally, she was sentenced to be devoured by wild beasts in the arena. Before her execution the Saint prayed that the Lord would deem her worthy of martyrdom. But none of the bears or lions attacked her, but only licked her feet. Finally, one she-bear wounded her foot, which bled slightly, and the Holy Great Martyr Euphēmia died right away. As her soul departed, there was an earthquake. The city was shaken, the walls fell down, and the pagan temples crumbled. As Saint Euphēmia lay dead in the sand, the guards and spectators fled in terror, so that the Saint's parents were able to take her body and bury it near Chalcedon.

Later, a majestic church was built over the grave of the Great Martyr Euphēmia. The sessions of the Fourth Ecumenical Council took place there in the year 451. At that time, the Holy Great Martyr Euphēmia confirmed the Orthodox confession of faith in a miraculous way, exposing the Monophysite heresy. That miracle is commemorated on July 11.

When the Persians captured Chalcedon in the year 617, the relics of the holy Great Martyr Euphēmia were transferred to Constantinople (around the year 620). During the Iconoclast heresy, the reliquary containing Saint Euphēmia's relics seems to have been thrown into the sea, but pious sailors recovered them. They were brought to the island of Lemnos, and they were returned to Constantinople in 796.

The incorrupt body of Saint Euphēmia is in the Patriarchal Church of Saint George at the Phanar in Constantinople. Portions of her relics are to be found in Kykkos Monastery on Cyprus, and in the Saint Alexander Nevsky Lavra at Saint Petersburg.


Repose of Saint Cyprian, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia

Saint Cyprian, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia, was a Serb by origin, and struggled on Mt. Athos. By his pious life and education he came to the attention of Patriarch Philotheus of Constantinople (1354-1355, 1364-1376), who in 1375 consecrated Cyprian as Metropolitan of Kiev and Lithuania.

At the Constantinople Council it was decided to avoid a fragmentation of the Russian metropolia, and that “upon the death of Saint Alexis (February 12), he should become the Metropolitan of All Rus.” At Moscow, Saint Cyprian endured many sorrows from the Great Prince, so at first he lived either in Lithuania or at Constantinople. Only in the year 1390, in the time of Great Prince Basil Dimitrievich, was he accepted as primate at Moscow.

Saint Cyprian concerned himself with the correction of the service books. There are preserved autographic manuscripts of certain Slavonic translations by the saint, witnessing to his great scientific work. And by his pastoral epistles he encouraged the faith of the Church. His activity in the translation of liturgical literature is widely known.


Saint Sebastiana the Martyr, disciple of Saint Paul the Apostle, at Heraclea

The Holy Martyr Sebastiana was a follower of the holy Apostle Paul. During a persecution against Christians under the emperor Dometian (81-96), she was on trial as a Christian before the governor named Georgios in the city of Marcianopolis in the Mizea region.

Saint Sebastiana firmly confessed her faith in Christ, and for this she was subjected to cruel tortures. At first they beat her, and then they threw her into a red-hot oven, from which she emerged unharmed. They sent the saint to the city of Heraklea, where sentence was pronounced on her a second time.

The governor, named Pompian, gave orders to tie the saint to a tree and lacerate her body with roof-tiles. The martyr remained unbroken in her faith. Then the governor gave her to be eaten by wild beasts. There too, the Lord preserved the holy martyr, and the beasts refused to touch her. Then, by order of the governor, Saint Sebastiana was beheaded. Her body, thrown into the sea, was taken by angels to the island of Rhodes (in Thrace, in the Sea of Marmara).


Martyr Melitinḗ of Marcianopolis

The Holy Martyr Melitinḗ (Μελιτινή, or Μελιτηνή) lived in the city of Markianopolis in Thrace during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161). Antiochus was the ruler of Thrace at that time. Since he was a fierce persecutor of Christians, he ordered that Melitinḗ be arrested, because she was a devout Christian whose fiery preaching converted many pagans to Christ. The Lord blessed her with the gift of wonderworking and, by the power of her prayers, she shattered the idols of Apollo and Herakles. Antiochus tried to make her worship the pagan "gods," but his efforts were in vain.

Since the Saint could not be persuaded to deny Christ, she was handed over to the ruler's wife and some crafty women who tried to win her over her with flattery and kindness. Not only was Saint Melitinḗ not deceived or persuaded by their efforts, she converted the ruler's wife to Christianity. She who tried to conquer Melitinḗ was defeated. She wanted to make Melitinḗ an idolator, but she herself became a Christian. The two women, concealing this from Antiochus, worked together and brought many pagans to Christ.

The madman Antiochus was furious when he learned the truth, and had both women beheaded. Saint Melitinḗ walked bravely to her death, and to everlasting glory as well.

A certain Christian from Macedonia, whose name was Akakios, was passing through Markianopolis on his way back to his own country. Since Saint Melitinḗ's holy relics remained unburied, Akakios asked the ruler for them, intending to bury them in Macedonia. Antiochus did not suspect his godly intention, so he gave him the Saint's body. Akakios took the holy relics and placed them in a chest, and then he left for his own country in haste. While at sea, he became sick and died. The ship put in at a promontory on the island of Limnos in order to bury the Saint's relics. Akakios, who loved the martyrs, was also buried near the tomb of Saint Melitinḗ.


Martyrs Victor and Sosthenes at Chalcedon

Saints Victor and Sosthenes (Σωσθένης) are mentioned in the Life of the Holy Great Martyr Euphēmia (Ευφημία). The Proconsul Priscus ordered the soldiers Victor and Sosthenes to throw the Saint into a red-hot furnace. In the flames, however, they saw angels who prevented them from touching the Saint. When they refused to carry out the order, they were placed in shackles. Other soldiers, who threw Saint Euphēmia into the fire, were burnt by the flames escaping from the furnace, but inside the furnace, the martyr remained unharmed.

The Proconsul tried to make Victor and Sosthenes bow down to the idols, but they replied that they had come to know the true God. As they were led to the wild beasts, they begged the Lord to forgive the sins they had committed in their pagan delusion. Then a Divine voice came from Heaven, calling them to their rest, and they surrendered their souls to the Lord. The animals did not touch their bodies. Later, the two martyrs were buried secretly by some Christians.

In some calendars, such as the Roman Martyrology, the Saints' day of commemoration is listed as September 10.


Venerable Dorotheus the Hermit of Egypt

Saint Dorotheus, Egyptian Hermit, a native of the Thebaid region in Egypt, labored in asceticism for 60 years in the Skete desert, on the Western side of the River Nile. Palladius, Bishop of Helenopolis and author of the renowned Lausiac History, had been a disciple of Saint Dorotheus in his youth, and has preserved memories of him.

Saint Dorotheus led a austere and ascetic life. After finishing his prayers, he went into the noonday heat to gather stones along the seashore to build cells for the other hermits. By night the saint wove baskets, in exchange for which he received the supplies he needed in order to live.

Food for Saint Dorotheus consisted of bread and the meager grass in the wilderness. Once a day he partook of food and drank a little water. He did not lie down to sleep, but only dozed off sometimes at work, or after eating.

Once, Saint Dorotheus sent his disciple to fetch water, but he returned saying that he saw a snake in the well and that the water in the well was now poisoned. Saint Dorotheus went to the well himself, took up a ladle of water, and making the Sign of the Cross over it he drank it, saying: “Where the Cross is, there the demonic powers do no harm.” Saint Dorotheus died peacefully at an advanced age.


Martyr Ludmilla the grandmother of Saint Wenceslaus, Prince of the Czechs

The Holy Martyr Ludmilla, a Czech (Bohemian) princess, was married to the Czech prince Borivoy. Both spouses received holy Baptism from Saint Methodius, Archbishop of Moravia and Enlightener of the Slavs (Comm. 11 May).

As Christians, they showed concern for the enlightening of their subjects with the light of the true Faith, they built churches and invited priests to celebrate the divine services. Prince Borivoy died early at age 36. Saint Ludmilla, as a widow, led an austere, pious life and continued to be concerned for the Church during the reign of her son Bratislav, which lasted for 33 years.

Bratislav was married to Dragomira, with whom he had a son, Wenceslaus (Vyacheslav). After the death of Bratislav, eighteen-year-old Wenceslaus came on the throne. Taking advantage of the inexperience and youth of her son, Dragomira began to introduce pagan manners and customs in the country.

Saint Ludmilla, of course, opposed this. Dragomira came to hate her mother-in-law and tried to destroy her. When Saint Ludmilla moved away to the city of Techin, Dragomira sent two boyars in secret to murder her. Saint Ludmilla was praying at the time, and the two assassins entered the house and carried out Dragomira’s orders.

The relics of the holy Martyr Ludmilla were buried in Techin in the city wall. Numerous healings occurred at her grave. Prince Vyacheslav transferred the body of Saint Ludmilla to the city of Prague and placed it in the church of Saint George.


New Martyrs Isaac and Joseph of Georgia

The holy martyrs Isaac and Joseph the Georgians were born into a Muslim family, but their Georgian mother, a Christian, secretly raised them according to the Christian tradition.

The brothers were so firmly dedicated to the Faith that they journeyed to Byzantium to request that Emperor Nicephorus I Phocas (802-811) permit them to settle in his capital. The pious ruler extended a warm welcome to the brothers, who were already well known and respected by the nobility of Theodosiopolis (Karnu).

Learning of the brothers’ intention, the emir of Theodosiopolis demanded to know the reason for their journey to Constantinople. The brothers answered him openly, citing their Christian Faith as the reason for their journey. Hearing this, the emir was infuriated, but he did not want to kill the brothers, since they were deeply respected by the people of his city. Instead he resolved to convert them from the Christian Faith.

Isaac and Joseph’s elderly father tearfully pleaded with them to deny Christ, while the emir promised them every honor and reward for betraying Him, and terrible suffering and death in the case of their refusal. But the holy brothers answered the emir, saying, “Remember that the flesh is like grass and every glory of this earth is like a flower that grows in the grass. When the grass withers, the flower also dies (c.f. Isaiah 40:6-7). Your threats of torture and death are for us rather absurd, for neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:38-9).”

The young men’s boldness enraged the emir, and he ordered his servants to execute them.

Before the holy brothers gave up their souls, they knelt to the ground and prayed: “O Holy King and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, look down upon Thy servants with mercy and receive us as a holy sacrifice. Number us among Thy martyrs and make us worthy of the crown of righteousness, for every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from Thee, the Father of lights (c.f. James 1:17)!”

Then they bowed their necks beneath the sword.

The executioners chopped off their heads, leaving their bodies untouched. That night their holy remains shone with a radiant light.

This miracle frightened the godless persecutors, and they ordered the local Christians to bury the holy martyrs’ remains. The local bishop and clergy committed their bodies to the earth with great reverence.

A church was later erected over the place where Saints Isaac and Joseph were laid to rest.


“Support of Humble” Icon of the Mother of God

The Icon of the Mother of God, “Support of the Humble”, appeared in 1420 at Stony Lake near Pskov. That same year, on September 16, it was transferred to Pskov and placed in the cathedral church. Today’s celebration was established in memory of the transfer of this wonderworking icon.


New Hieromartyr Gregory (Raevskii) of Tver

No information available at this time.


Saint Procopius

Saint Procopius was born in Bohemia, in the village of Hotun. In his dignity of priest he toiled much to spread the Christian Faith in Czechia. By the River Zasava he founded a monastery in the name of Saint John the Forerunner, where he died in the year 1053.