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Archive for the ‘Saints and Martyrs’ Category

Troparion of St Leo Tone 3
Thou wast the Church’s instrument/ in strengthening the Church’s teaching of true doctrine;/ thou didst shine forth from the West like a sun/ and didst dispel the heretics’ error./ O righteous Leo, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.

Kontakion of St Leo Tone 3
From the throne of thy priesthood, O glorious one,/ thou didst stop the mouths of the spiritual lions;/ thou didst illumine thy flock with the light of the knowledge of God/ and with the inspired doctrines of the Holy Trinity./ Thou art glorified as a divine initiate of the grace of God.

The Tome of St. Leo

Catholic Encyclopedia article on St. Leo
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Troparion of St Photios the Great Tone 5
As a radiant beacon of wisdom hidden in God,/ and a defender of Orthodoxy revealed from on high,/ O great Photios, adornment of Patriarchs,/ thou dost refute the innovations of boastful heresy,/ O light of the holy Church,/ preserve her from all error,/ O luminary of the East.

Kontakion of St Photios the Great Tone 8
With garlands of chant let us crown the Church’s far-shining star,/ the God-inspired guide of the Orthodox, the divinely sounded harp of the Spirit and steadfast adversary of heresy/ and let us cry to him: Rejoice, O most venerable Photios.

From the Prolog:

Photius was a great beacon of the Church. He was the emperor’s relative and a grandson of the glorious Patriarch Tarasius. He was a vigorous protector of the Church from the authority-loving pope and other Roman distortions of the Faith. In six days he went through all the ranks from a layman to patriarch. He was consecrated patriarch on Christmas day, 857 A.D. and died in the Lord in the year 891 A.D.

A life of St. Photios from the OCA website:

Saint Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, “the Church’s far-gleaming beacon,” lived during the ninth century, and came from a family of zealous Christians. His father Sergius died as a martyr in defense of holy icons. St Photius received an excellent education and, since his family was related to the imperial house, he occupied the position of first state secretary in the Senate. His contemporaries said of him: “He so distinguished himself with knowledge in almost all the secular sciences, that it rightfully might be possible to take into account the glory of his age and compare it with the ancients.”

Michael, the young successor to the throne, and St Cyril, the future Enlightener of the Slavs, were taught by him. His deep Christian piety protected St Photius from being seduced by the charms of court life. With all his soul, he yearned for monasticism.

In 857 Bardas, who ruled with Emperor Michael, deposed Patriarch Ignatius (October 23) from the See of Constantinople. The bishops, knowing the piety and extensive knowledge of Photius, informed the emperor that he was a man worthy to occupy the archpastoral throne. St Photius accepted the proposal with humility. He passed through all the clerical ranks in six days. On the day of the Nativity of Christ, he was consecrated bishop and elevated to the patriarchal throne.

Soon, however, discord arose within the Church, stirred up by the removal of Patriarch Ignatius from office. The Synod of 861 was called to end the unrest, at which the deposition of Ignatius and the installation of Photius as patriarch were confirmed.

Pope Nicholas I, whose envoys were present at this council, hoped that by recognizing Photius as patriarch he could subordinate him to his power. When the new patriarch proved unsubmissive, Nicholas anathematized Photius at a Roman council.

Until the end of his life St Photius was a firm opponent of papal intrigues and designs upon the Orthodox Church of the East. In 864, Bulgaria voluntarily converted to Christianity. The Bulgarian prince Boris was baptized by Patriarch Photius himself. Later, St Photius sent an archbishop and priests to baptize the Bulgarian people. In 865, Sts Cyril and Methodius were sent to preach Christ in the Slavonic language. However, the partisans of the Pope incited the Bulgarians against the Orthodox missionaries.

The calamitous situation in Bulgaria developed because an invasion by the Germans forced them to seek help in the West, and the Bulgarian prince requested the Pope to send his bishops. When they arrived in Bulgaria, the papal legates began to substitute Latin teachings and customs in place of Orthodox belief and practice. St Photius, as a firm defender of truth and denouncer of falsehood, wrote an encyclical informing the Eastern bishops of the Pope’s actions, indicating that the departure of the Roman Church from Orthodoxy was not only in ritual, but also in its confession of faith. A council was convened, censuring the arrogance of the West.

In 867, Basil the Macedonian seized the imperial throne, after murdering the emperor Michael. St Photius denounced the murderer and would not permit him to partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. Therefore, he was removed from the patriarchal throne and locked in a monastery under guard, and Patriarch Ignatius was restored to his position.

The Synod of 869 met to investigate the conduct of St Photius. This council took place with the participation of papal legates, who demanded that the participants sign a document (Libellus) condemning Photius and recognizing the primacy of the Pope. The Eastern bishops would not agree to this, and argued with the legates. Summoned to the council, St Photius met all the accusations of the legates with a dignified silence. Only when the judges asked him whether he wished to repent did he reply, “Why do you consider yourselves judges?” After long disputes, the opponents of Photius were victorious. Although their judgment was baseless, they anathematized Patriarch Photius and the bishops defending him. The saint was sent to prison for seven years, and by his own testimony, he thanked the Lord for patiently enduring His judges.

During this time the Latin clergy were expelled from Bulgaria, and Patriarch Ignatius sent his bishops there. In 879, two years after the death of Patriarch Ignatius, another council was summoned (many consider it the Eighth Ecumenical Council), and again St Photius was acknowledged as the lawful archpastor of the Church of Constantinople. Pope John VIII, who knew Photius personally, declared through his envoys that the former papal decisions about Photius were annulled. The council acknowledged the unalterable character of the Nicean-Constantinople Creed, rejecting the Latin distortion (“filioque”), and acknowledging the independence and equality of both thrones and both churches (Western and Eastern). The council decided to abolish Latin usages and rituals in the Bulgarian church introduced by the Roman clergy, who ended their activities there.

Under Emperor Basil’s successor, Leo, St Photius again endured false denunciations, and was accused of speaking against the emperor. Again deposed from his See in 886, the saint completed the course of his life in 891. He was buried at the monastery of Eremia.

The Orthodox Church venerates St Photius as a “pillar and foundation of the Church,” an “inspired guide of the Orthodox,” and a wise theologian. He left behind several works, exposing the errors of the Latins, refuting soul-destroying heresies, explicating Holy Scripture, and exploring many aspects of the Faith.

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Saint Brigid of Kildare

 

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Troparion of St Brigid of Kildare Tone 1
O holy Brigid, thou didst become sublime through thy humility,/ and didst fly on the wings of thy longing for God./ When thou didst arrive in the Eternal City and appear before thy Divine Spouse,/ wearing the crown of virginity,/ thou didst keep thy promise/ to remember those who have recourse to thee./ Thou dost shower grace upon the world, and dost multiply miracles./ Intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.

Kontakion of St Brigid Tone 4
The holy virgin Brigid full of divine wisdom,/ went with joy along the way of evangelical childhood,/ and with the grace of God/ attained in this way the summit of virtue./ Wherefore she now bestows blessings upon those who come to her with faith./ O holy Virgin, intercede with Christ our God/ that He may have mercy on our souls.

From the OCA website:

Saint Brigid, “the Mary of the Gael,” was born around 450 in Faughart, about two miles from Dundalk in County Louth. According to Tradition, her father was a pagan named Dubthach, and her mother was Brocessa (Broiseach), one of his slaves.

Even as a child, she was known for her compassion for the poor. She would give away food, clothing, and even her father’s possessions to the poor. One day he took Brigid to the king’s court, leaving her outside to wait for him. He asked the king to buy his daughter from him, since her excessive generosity made her too expensive for him to keep. The king asked to see the girl, so Dubthach led him outside. They were just in time to see her give away her father’s sword to a beggar. This sword had been presented to Dubthach by the king, who said, “I cannot buy a girl who holds us so cheap.”

St Brigid received monastic tonsure at the hands of St Mael of Ardagh (February 6). Soon after this, she established a monastery on land given to her by the King of Leinster. The land was called Cill Dara (Kildare), or “the church of the oak.” This was the beginning of women’s cenobitic monasticism in Ireland.

The miracles performed by St Brigid are too numerous to relate here, but perhaps one story will suffice. One evening the holy abbess was sitting with the blind nun Dara. From sunset to sunrise they spoke of the joys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and of the love of Christ, losing all track of time. St Brigid was struck by the beauty of the earth and sky in the morning light. Realizing that Sister Dara was unable to appreciate this beauty, she became very sad. Then she prayed and made the Sign of the Cross over Dara’s eyes. All at once, the blind nun’s eyes were opened and she saw the sun in the east, and the trees and flowers sparkling with dew. She looked for a while, then turned to St Brigid and said, “Close my eyes again, dear Mother, for when the world is visible to the eyes, then God is seen less clearly by the soul.” St Brigid prayed again, and Dara became blind once more.

St Brigid fell asleep in the Lord in the year 523 after receiving Holy Communion from St Ninnidh of Inismacsaint (January 18). She was buried at Kildare, but her relics were transferred to Downpatrick during the Viking invasions. It is believed that she was buried in the same grave with St Patrick (March 17) and St Columba of Iona (June 9).

Late in the thirteenth century, her head was brought to Portugal by three Irish knights on their way to fight in the Holy Land. They left this holy relic in the parish church of Lumiar, about three miles from Lisbon. Portions of the relic were brought back to Ireland in 1929 and placed in a new church of St Brigid in Dublin.

The relics of St Brigid in Ireland were destroyed in the sixteenth century by Lord Grey during the reign of Henry VIII.

The tradition of making St Brigid’s crosses from rushes and hanging them in the home is still followed in Ireland, where devotion to her is still strong. She is also venerated in northern Italy, France, and Wales.

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Troparion of the Three Great Hierarchs Tone 1
Let all who love their words come together and honour with hymns/ the three luminaries of the light-creating Trinity:/ Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian,/ and renowned John of golden speech,/ who have enlightened the world with the rays of their divine doctrines,/ and are mellifluous rivers of wisdom/ who have watered all creation with streams of divine knowledge;/ they ever intercede with the Trinity for us.

Kontakion of the Three Great Hierarchs Tone 2
Thou hast taken the sacred and divinely inspired heralds,/ the crown of Thy teachers, O Lord,/ for the enjoyment of Thy blessings and for repose./ For Thou hast accepted their sufferings and labours above every burnt offering,/ O Thou Who alone dost glorify Thy Saints.

From the OCA website:

During the eleventh century, disputes raged in Constantinople about which of the three hierarchs was the greatest. Some preferred St Basil (January 1), others honored St Gregory the Theologian (January 25), while a third group exalted St John Chrysostom (November 13).

Dissension among Christians increased. Some called themselves Basilians, others referred to themselves as Gregorians, and others as Johnites.

By the will of God, the three hierarchs appeared to St John the Bishop of Euchaita (June 14) in the year 1084, and said that they were equal before God. “There are no divisions among us, and no opposition to one another.”

They ordered that the disputes should stop, and that their common commemoration should be celebrated on a single day. Bishop John chose January 30 for their joint Feast, thus ending the controversy and restoring peace.

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Troparion of St Ignatious the Godbearer Tone 3
Soaring with love for Him Who holds thee in His hands,/ thou wast shown to be a Godbearer, O Ignatius./ Thou didst finish thy course in the West/ and pitch thy dwelling in the unwaning day of the heavens./ O righteous Father, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.

Another Troparion of St Ignatius Tone 4
Like a treasure of rich and abundant gifts/ thy relics were carried piously from Rome to thy flock./ Whilst lovingly celebrating their return/ we receive the grace of healing of our souls and bodies: /and we ever sing of thy martyr’s contest, O glorious Hieromartyr Ignatius.

Kontakion of St Ignatius Tone 4
Thou didst rise in the East today,/ and having enlightened all creation with thy teachings/ thou wast adorned with martyrdom, O Godbearing and divine Ignatius.

From the Prolog:

The principal feast of St. Ignatius is celebrated in winter on December 20. On this date is commemorated the translation of his relics from Rome, where he suffered martyrdom, to Antioch where earlier he was a bishop. When St. Ignatius was summoned to Rome before Emperor Trajan to account for his faith, he was accompanied on this long journey by several citizens from Antioch who were motivated in this by a great love toward their wonderful Arch-shepherd. Since he would never deny his faith in Christ, this saint of God who abhorred all adulation and promises of Emperor Trajan, was condemned to death and was thrown into the Circus Maximus before wild beasts. The wild beasts tore him apart, and he gave up his soul to God. His companions then gathered his exposed bones and took them to Antioch and honorably buried them. But when the Persians captured Antioch in the sixth century, the relics of St. Ignatius were again translated from Antioch to Rome.

From the OCA website:

The Transfer of the Relics of the Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer: (See December 20). After the holy hieromartyr Ignatius was thrown to the lions in the year 107 on the orders of the emperor Trajan, Christians gathered up his bones and preserved them at Rome.

Later, in the year 108, the saint’s relics were collected and buried outside the gate of Daphne at Antioch. A second transfer, to the city of Antioch itself, took place in the year 438. After the capture of Antioch by the Persians, the relics of the Hieromartyr Ignatius were returned to Rome and placed into the church of the holy Hieromartyr Clement in the year 540 ( in 637, according to other sources).

St Ignatius introduced antiphonal singing into Church services. He has left us seven archpastoral epistles in which he provided instructions on faith, love and good works. He also urged his flock to preserve the unity of the faith and to beware of heretics. He encouraged people to honor and obey their bishops, “we should regard the bishop as we would the Lord Himself” (To the Ephesians 6)

In his Letter to Polycarp, St Ignatius writes: “Listen to the bishop, if you want God to listen to you… let your baptism be your shield, your faith a helmet, your charity a spear, your patience, like full armor.” (Compare Eph. 6:14-17 and the Wisdom of Solomon 5:17-20. Also THE LADDER 4:2)

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Saint Ephraim the Syrian

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Troparion of St Ephraim Tone 8
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile,/ And your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance./ By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe./ O our holy father Ephraim, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!

Kontakion of St Ephraim Tone 2
O Ephraim, as a lover of silence/ thou didst ever forsee the hour of reckoning and bitterly lament;/and by thy words thou wast indeed a teacher, O righteous one./ Wherefore, O father of all the world,/ thou dost rouse the slothful to repentance.

The Saint Ephrem the Syrian Library

Ephrem the Syrian

The Prayer of St. Ephrem

An article on St. Ephrem’s prayer by Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann

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Troparion of St Felicitas and her seven martyred sons Tone 1
Truly thou art blessed, O holy Felicitas,/ for thou didst never doubt the mercy of Christ our God,/ and in spite of all temptations, with thy seven sons thou didst rejoice/ to return to Him rather than to languish in dishonour on earth./ Wherefore pray for us that we may follow thy example/ for the salvation of our souls.

Kontakion of St Felicitas and her seven martyred sons Tone 2
Unfailing loyalty to Christ was thy virtue,/ O holy Felicitas,/ for despite all threats and torments thou didst inspire thy sons/ to resist all for the salvation of their souls./ Without hesitation thou didst willingly follow them,/ winning the crown of martyrdom./ Wherefore we pray for grace to emulate thine all-praised example.

From the OCA website:

The Holy Martyr Felicitas with her Seven Sons, Januarius, Felix, Philip, Silvanus, Alexander, Vitalius and Marcial. St Felicitas was born of a rich Roman family. She boldly confessed before the emperor and civil authorities that she was a Christian. The pagan priests said that she was insulting the gods by spreading Christianity. St Felicitas and her sons were turned over to the Prefect Publius for torture.

St Felicitas witnessed the suffering of her sons, and prayed to God that they would stand firm and enter the heavenly Kingdom before her. All the sons died as martyrs before the eyes of their mother, who was being tortured herself.

St Felicitas soon followed her sons in martyrdom for Christ. They suffered at Rome about the year 164. St Gregory Dialogus mentions her in his Commentary on the Gospel of St Matthew (Mt.12:47).

From the Prolog of Ochrid

As a Christian, Felicitas was condemned to death along with her seven sons during the reign of Emperor Antoninus in the year 164 A.D. She implored God only that she not to be killed before her sons, so that she might be able to encourage them during their torture and death in order that they would not deny Christ. According to God’s Providence, it so happened. With joy, this superb mother accompanied her sons one by one until she had witnessed the death of all seven sons. Then, she herself, with gratitude to God, received a martyr’s death. She and her sons suffered in Rome where their relics repose.

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