June 05, 2010

All saints of Russia!

At baptism Vladimir was called Basil and was the son of Prince Svyatoslav, and the grandson of Igor and Olga. In the beginning Vladimir was a total pagan both in his belief and in his lifestyle. Learning that other faiths exist, he carefully began to inquire as to which of them was the very best. For this reason he sent emissaries to Constantinople. When the emissaries returned they informed the prince that they attended a service in the Orthodox Church of the Divine Wisdom and that they were "outside themselves, not knowing whether they were on earth or in heaven." This inspired Vladimir to be baptized and to baptize his people. The main idol, Perun, was removed from the hill of Kiev and hurled into the Dnieper river. After embracing the Christian Faith, Vladimir completely changed his life and exerted all of his efforts to correctly fulfill all the rules of this Faith. In place of the destroyed idols, Vladimir ordered churches to be built throughout his state and he built a beautiful church to the All-Holy Mother of God in Kiev. This church was built on the same spot where St. Theodore and his son, John, earlier suffered martyrdom for Christ (July 12). With that same irresistible effort with which Vladimir earlier protected idolatry, he now spread Christianity. He found repose in the Lord in the year 1015 A.D.

From his early youth, Theodosius shunned laughter and rejoicing and dedicated himself to godly-thoughts and prayers. Because of this, he was often abused by his mother, especially one day, when his mother noticed an iron belt around his naked body from which his shirt was bloodied. Having once read the words of the Savior in the Gospel "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me" (St. Matthew 10:37), Theodosius left the home of his parents and fled to the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev to see the Venerable Anthony. Anthony received him and, shortly afterwards, tonsured him a monk. When his mother found him and asked him to return home, he counseled his mother and she also entered a convent and was tonsured a nun. Theodosius shortly surpassed all the monks by his mortification, meekness and goodness, and became very dear to Anthony who installed him as abbot of the monastery. During the time that he was abbot, the brotherhood of the monastery greatly increased, churches and cells were built and the Constitution [the Rule] of the Studite Monastery was introduced in its entirety. God endowed Theodosius with abundant grace because of his virginal purity, great labor in prayer, love toward his fellow man and so this man of God possessed great power over unclean spirits, healed diseases and discerned the fate of men. Along with St. Anthony, Theodosius is considered the founder and organizer of monasticism in Russia. He died peacefully in the year 1074 A.D. His healing relics repose next to the relics of Anthony.
Saint Alexander Nevsky

Alexander was the son of Prince Yaroslav. From childhood, his heart was directed to God. He defeated the Swedes on the river Neva on July 15, 1240, for which he received the appellation ``Nevsky'' [``of the Neva'']. On that occasion, Saints Boris and Gleb appeared to one of Alexander's commanders and promised their help to the great prince, who was their kinsman. Once, among the Golden Horde of the Tartars, he refused to bow down to idols or to pass through fire. Because of his wisdom, physical strength and beauty, even the Tartar Khan respected him. He built many churches and performed countless works of mercy. He entered into rest on November 14, 1263 at the age of forty-three. On this day, November 23, the translation of his relics to the town of Vladimir is commemorated.

The Venerable Sergius of Radonezh

Sergius was a great ascetic and light of the Russian Church. He was born in 1313, in Rostov, of devout parents, Cyril and Maria. After his parents' deaths, Bartholomew-for that was his baptismal name-became a monk, and founded the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in the forests of Radonezh. As a quiet and gentle servant of God, he knew only labor and prayer. Because of the purity of his heart he was made worthy of the gift of miracle-working, even resurrecting the dead in the name of Christ. The Holy Theotokos appeared to him many times. Princes and bishops came to him for advice. He blessed Prince Dimitri Donskoy, and foretold his victory in the battle for the liberation of Russia from the Tartars. He saw into the hearts of men as well as future events. His monastery was full of monks, even during his lifetime and, century after century, has been one of the most important centers of spiritual life and God's miracles. St. Sergius entered into rest in the year 1392. Following his repose, he appeared many times to various people.

Tikhon was born in a simple peasant family in the village of Korotsk in the providence of Novgorod in the year 1724 A.D. He received the monastic tonsure at age thirty-four and because of his mortifications and great spiritual wisdom, soon received greater and greater service until finally he was consecrated as the Bishop of Voronezh. His episcopacy lasted for almost five years and, because of frail health, he withdrew and took up residence in the monastery of Zadonsk. He died peacefully in the year 1783 A.D. in Zadonsk where his miracle-working relics now repose. He was a great ascetic of the Russian Church, rare shepherd, intercessor and an author of the most beautiful spiritual works. By his wisdom, holiness and asceticism, Tikhon can be equated among the great fathers of the Orthodox Church of ancient times. Because of the many witnessed miracles over his relics, he was proclaimed a saint, at first, by the people and after that by the official church in the year 1861 A.D.

Seraphim was one of the greatest Russian ascetics, discerners and miracle-workers. He was born in 1759 A.D and died in 1833 A.D. Seraphim was distinguished by great humility. When the entire world praised him, he referred to himself as "the wretched Seraphim."

Source: The Prologue of Ohrid

No comments: