Lives of all saints commemorated on October 17

Prophet Hosea

The Holy Prophet Hosea the first of the minor prophets, belonged to the tribe of Issachar. He lived during the ninth Century before Christ, in the kingdom of Israel. He was a contemporary of the holy Prophets Isaiah, Micah and Amos. During this time, many of his fellow Israelites had forgotten the true God, and worshipped idols. The holy Prophet Hosea attempted to turn them again to the faith of their Fathers by his wise counsels. Denouncing the iniquities of the people of Israel (i.e. the northern kingdom Israel), the prophet proclaimed to them great misfortunes from a foreign people and their removal into captivity by Assyria.

Almost a thousand years before the coming of the Savior, and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the prophet foretold the end of sacrificial offerings and of the priesthood of Aaron (Hos. 3:4-5), and that the knowledge of the True God would spread through all the earth (Hos. 2:20-23). Hosea spoke also about Christ, how He would return from out of Egypt (Hos. 11:1; compare Mt. 2:15), that He would be resurrected on the third day (Hos. 6 and especially Hos.6:2; compare with 1 Cor.15:4), and that He would conquer death (Hos.13-14. Compare 1 Cor.15:54-55).

The prophesies of Saint Hosea are included in the book that bears his name. The prophetic service of Saint Hosea continued for more than sixty years. The God-inspired prophet died in deep old age, having devoted all his life to fulfilling the Will of God.

Monastic Martyr Andrew of Crete

The Hieromartyr Andrew of Crete lived during the reign of the iconoclast emperor Constantine Kopronymos (741-775), who ordered Christians, under penalty of death, to remove the holy icons from their churches and homes. Believers, who fearlessly resisted the impious iconoclast, and held firmly to the traditions of the holy Fathers, were locked in prison. When the venerable Andrew heard that the emperor was throwing virtuous and pious Christians into prison instead of thieves and robbers, he went to the Church of the Great Martyr Mamas (September 2) in Constantinople and in front of everyone, denounced the heretic for persecuting the true Faith.

In an attempt to justify himself the emperor said that it was folly to bestow veneration on wood and paint. To this the monk replied that whoever suffers for holy icons suffers for Christ, but whoever reviles the icon upon which Christ is depicted, offers insult to Christ Himself. The enraged iconoclast gave orders to torture Saint Andrew without mercy.

As he was being dragged through the streets to the place of execution, someone cut off the saint’s feet. As a result, Saint Andrew was freed from his torments by death. A hundred years later a Canon was written to the saint by Saint Joseph the Hymnographer (April 4). The saint heals those afflicted with seizures.

Venerable Anthony, Abbot of Leokhnov, Novgorod

Saint Anthony of Leokhnov, Novgorod, was from the Tver lineage of the Veniaminov nobles. The monk lived as a hermit not far from Novgorod, in the Rublev wilderness at the River Perekhoda. In about the year 1556 he resettled with the wilderness-dweller Tarasius, who lived beyond Lake Ilmen at Leokhnov, near Stara Rus, and received monastic tonsure from him. Thus began the wilderness monastery in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord, afterwards called the Leokhnov or Ivetsk-Antoniev monastery. Saint Anthony lived to old age, having acquired the gift of clairvoyance.

In the year 1611, when the Swedes had laid waste the area around Novgorod, the monk on the invitation of Metropolitan Isidore moved to Novgorod. He died on September 14, 1611 at age 85 and was buried near the church of the holy Evangelist Luke, on the side towards the church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia). Before his death, and in the presence of many of the monks, he said that his body would rest in his wilderness-monastery. A disciple of the monk, named Gregory, returned to the site of the monastery that had been laid waste and burned by the Swedes, built a cell and a chapel, and remained there to live.

Saint Anthony appeared to him three times in a dream and said, “Brother Gregory, go to Novgorod, tell Metropolitan Cyprian and the elders of the city that they should put me in the place of my monastery.” After Gregory’s report, the Metropolitan led a church procession to the grave of Saint Anthony. The incorrupt relics were transferred to the Leokhnov monastery on July 13, 1620. At the uncovering of the relics, a blind man named Joseph gained his sight, and many other miracles occurred.

There is a special order of commemorations, celebrated by the churches in the name of Saint Anthony of Leokhnov, both in the village of Leokhnov and in the Rublev wilderness-monastery. On the second Friday after the Feast of the Foremost Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29), we celebrate the Uncovering and Transfer of the Relics of Saint Anthony from Novgorod to the Leokhnov monastery. On the Ascension of the Lord, the coming of Saint Anthony from the Rublev wilderness to Leokhnovo is remembered. On October 17 the Repose of the saint, who died on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, in the ninth hour of the evening, is commemorated. At the Rublev wilderness monastery the memory of the Consecration of the church in the name of the venerable Anthony on August 30 (1873) is also celebrated.

Martyrs and Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian in Cilicia, and their brothers, Leontius, Anthimus, and Eutropius

The Martyrs and Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian in Cilicia (Arabia), and the Martyrs Leontius, Anthimus and Eutropius. The holy brothers Cosmas and Damian were physicians in Arabia, who believed in Christ. They traveled through the cities and the villages, preaching Christ and healing the sick. The saints would not take any sort of payment for the help they rendered. In Cilicia, pagans seized the holy physicians and led them before the governor, Lysias. Since they refused to renounce Christianity, the governor ordered the saints to be brutally beaten, and then cast into the sea.

An angel of God rescued them from the sea and brought them to shore. Then the pagans beheaded the saints and three other Christians: Leontius, Anthimus, and Eutropius.

The Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Arabia should not be confused with the Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Asia Minor (November 1), or the Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Rome (July 1).

Translation of the relics of Saint Lazarus “of the Four Days in the Tomb”, Bishop of Kiteia, Cyprus

The Transfer of the relics of Righteous Lazarus of the Four Days, Bishop of Kiteia on Cyprus, took place in the ninth century. The Righteous Saint Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, lived in the village of Bethany, not far from Jerusalem. During His earthly life the Lord Jesus Christ often visited the house of Lazarus, whom He much loved and called His friend (John 11:3,11), and when Lazarus had died and lain four days already in the grave, the Lord raised him from the dead (John 11:1-44). (The Church remembers Saint Lazarus on the Saturday of the Sixth Week of Great Lent, “Lazarus Saturday.”)

Many of the Jews, when they heard about this, came to Bethany. Being persuaded of the reality of this most remarkable wonder, they became followers of Christ. Because of this the High Priests also wanted to kill Lazarus. Righteous Lazarus is mentioned in the Holy Gospel once more: when the Lord had come again to Bethany six days before the Passover, Lazarus was also there (John 12:1-2, 12:9-11). After his raising, Saint Lazarus lived another thirty years as a bishop on the island of Cyprus, where he spread Christianity and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord.

The holy relics of Saint Lazarus were discovered in Kiteia. They were within a marble coffin, upon which was inscribed: “Lazarus of the Four-Days, the friend of Christ.” The Byzantine emperor Leo the Wise (886-911) gave orders to transfer the relics of Saint Lazarus to Constantinople in the year 898 and place them within the church of the Righteous Lazarus.

“In Giving Birth, You Preserved Your Virginity” Icon of the Mother of God

The Icon of the Mother of God “In Giving Birth, You Preserved Your Virginity” (“A Virgin Before Birth and After Birth”) was transferred to the Nikolaev Peshkov monastery of Moscow diocese by the Moscow merchant Alexis Grigorievich Mokeev. Around the year 1780 Alexis joined the brethren of the monastery. He had given all of his wealth to the igumen of the monastery, Archimandrite Macarius, and the holy icon remained in his cell.

After Alexis’s death, the icon was brought to the archimandrite, who observed that the icon was painted in oil on canvas and not according to the prescribed rules of iconography (using egg tempera on wood), and he installed it over the exit door of the chapel of Saint Methodius, which was on a street not far from the monastery.

The glorification of the holy icon began in 1827, when Captain Platon Osipovich Shabashev, going past the chapel at night, saw an extraordinary light coming from the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. Another time he had a vision of the icon at a time when he found himself in difficult circumstances. In a dream, Platon beheld the radiant icon of the Mother of God in the clouds above the chapel of Saint Methodius and heard a voice say, “If you wish to be delivered from temptation, pray before this icon.” Platon obeyed the guidance of the Mother of God, and the sorrow passed him by.

The pious Platon told the Superior of the monastery about the miracles. He then transfered the holy image into the monastery. When they went to put the icon in a ornamental case, the image of the Most Holy Virgin, painted on canvas, stiffened taut upon a board, on which was concealed a depiction of the Mother of God of finest quality. Numerous miracles are recorded to have taken place from this icon in 1848 during an outbreak of cholera, when many praying before it were healed.

This icon of the Mother of God is of the Hodēgḗtria type.

“Deliverer” Icon of the Mother of God

The “Deliverer” Icon of the Mother of God, before being brought to the New Athos Simono-Kananitsk monastery in the Caucasus, was on Mount Athos with a brother of the Russian Saint Panteleimon monastery, Schemamonk Martinian (+ 1884). The pious schemamonk had received this icon from the ascetic Theodoulus. The holy icon was glorified by miracles for many centuries. After praying before this icon the inhabitants of Sparta, Greece were delivered from locusts in 1841.

From the Monastery of Saint Panteleimon, according to the final wishes of Schemamonk Macarius, this icon was given to the New Athos monastery on July 20, 1889, and the festal celebration in its honor was designated as October 17.

When the Feastday in honor of this icon was first celebrated at the Simono-Kananitsk monastery, a storm cast more than a ton of fish ashore at the monastery. On the icon the Most Holy Theotokos holds the Divine Infant in Her left arm, and He blesses with His right hand.

Saint Joseph, Catholicos of Georgia

Saint Joseph (Jandierishvili) received his spiritual education at David-Gareji Monastery. He was endowed by the Lord with the gift of wonderworking. His prayers healed the terminally ill and demon-possessed. For his wisdom and virtue, he was consecrated bishop of Rustavi, and in 1755 enthroned as Catholicos-Patriarch. Saint Joseph remained a monk-ascetic in spite of his hierarchical rank.

In 1764 Holy Catholicos Joseph, like Saint Gregory the Theologian, humbly stepped down from the archpastor’s throne and withdrew to Akhmeta in northeastern Georgia. With his own hands he cultivated a vineyard and distributed his harvest to the poor. The climate in that region was capricious—droughts were frequent, and hail would devastate the fragile crops, laying waste to the farmers’ labors. But while Saint Joseph was laboring there, the region suffered neither drought nor hail.

Through Saint Joseph’s prayers, the sick were healed and the blind received sight. Those who dwelt near him loved him deeply and put their hope in him. Saint Gabriel the Lesser remarked joyfully in one of his writings: “Once I saw and two times I kissed the hand of this holy man.”

Having lived in godliness to a ripe old age, Catholicos Joseph reposed peacefully in the year 1770.

Martyr Kozman

The Life of Saint Kozman has not been preserved. In the commemorations for this day it is mentioned only that he died a martyr’s death in the region of Kartli.

Here it is fitting to note that, due to its geopolitical circumstances, Georgia has throughout history been a constant victim of foreign aggression. To give one’s life for his motherland and Faith became so customary for the Georgian people that the Georgian Church is unable to commemorate all of its martyrs by name. Unfortunately, errors of faith and time have erased from the pages of history the lives and virtues of many of the elect. Today, the Church calendar and the prayers with which the faithful honor the martyrs remain the sole means for the Church to acknowledge the lives of these holy men and women.

Martyr Susanna, Queen of Georgia

Saint Shushanik (Susanna) was the wife of the Georgian prince Varsken, the ruler of Hereti (a province of southeastern Georgia). Hereti was under Persian control at that time; Varsken was essentially the viceroy for the Persians. Having been raised in a pious Christian family, she was deeply penetrated with love and the fear of God.

At that time Kartli was under heavy political pressure from Persia, and Prince Varsken visited the Persian king Peroz in hopes of encouraging more friendly relations between the two countries. He willingly denied the true Faith, converted to the worship of fire, and promised the king to convert his wife and children upon his return to Hereti.

Having approached the border of Hereti, Varsken sent messengers to Tsurtavi, the city in which he ruled, to ensure that his subjects met him with due respect. The blessed Shushanik, having learned of her husband’s betrayal, fell to the ground and wept over him with bitter tears. Then she took her four children, deserted the palace, and sought refuge in a nearby church.

That evening Shushanik was visited by her spiritual father, the elder Jacob, who predicted, “Varsken’s cruelty and mercilessness are unmistakable. Know that terrible trials await you. Will you be firm and unbending in your position?”

“I would rather die than unite with him and destroy my soul!” she answered.

Three days later the prince arrived in Tsurtavi. As promised, he tried to persuade his wife to convert, but Saint Shushanik firmly answered, “As you have renounced your Creator, so I am renouncing you. I will no longer take part in your affairs, no matter what suffering I must endure!”

The next time, Varsken sent his younger brother Jojik and Bishop Apots to convince Shushanik to return to the palace. Shushanik refused for some time, but in the end she yielded to their persuasion. She set off for the palace with the Holy Gospel and the Lives of the holy martyrs, and when she arrived she locked herself in a squalid cell. Two days later Varsken returned to the palace and invited Shushanik, his brother Jojik, and his sister-in-law for supper. The queen, however, could not bring herself to share a meal with one who had betrayed Christ: she pushed away the cup that Jojik’s wife had offered her, thus further angering her husband.

The furious Varsken beat his wife mercilessly, fettered her in irons, locked her in prison, and forbade the guards to let anyone in to see her.

Saint Shushanik spent six years in captivity. While she was serving her sentence, she helped the poor that came to her. Through her prayers the sick were healed and children were born to the childless. Before her death, Holy Martyr Shushanik blessed those around her and requested that she be buried at the place from which her unbelieving husband had dragged her out of the palace.

This happened in the year 475. The clergy and people alike wept bitterly over Shushanik’s tragic fate. Her holy relics were buried in accordance with her will.

In 578, with the blessing of Catholicos Kirion I, Saint Shushanik’s holy relics were translated to Tbilisi, where they remain today, in the Metekhi Church of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Saint Susanna of Georgia is also commemorated on August 28.