Relics of saints
Hieromartyr Hilarion, Archbishop of Verey
The holy New Martyr Archbishop Hilarion (Vladimir Alexievich Troitsky in the world), an outstanding theologian, an eloquent preacher, and a fearless defender of Christ’s holy Church, was born around 1885.
Vladika Hilarion wrote many books and articles on various topics, including “The Unity of the Church.” His Master’s thesis, “An Outline of the History of the Church’s Dogma,” was over five hundred pages long, and was a well-documented analysis of the subject.
During the Council of 1917 he delivered a brilliant address calling for the restoration of the Moscow Patriarchate, which had been dissolved by Tsar Peter I in the eighteenth century. When Saint Tikhon (April 7) was chosen as Patriarch, Saint Hilarion became his fervent supporter.
Saint Hilarion was consecrated as bishop on May 20, 1920, and so the great luminary was placed upon the lampstand (Luke 11:33). From that time, he was to know less than two years of freedom. He spent only six months working with Patriarch Tikhon.
Vladika was arrested and exiled in Archangelsk for a year, then he spent six years (1923-1929) in a labor camp seven versts from Solovki. There at the Filomonov Wharf he and at least two other bishops were employed in catching fish and mending nets. Paraphrasing the hymns of Pentecost, Archbishop Hilarion remarked, “Formerly, the fishermen became theologians. Now the theologians have become fishermen.”
Archbishop Hilarion was one of the most popular inmates of the labor camp. He is remembered as tall, robust, and with brownish hair. Personal possessions meant nothing to him, so he always gave his things away to anyone who asked for them. He never showed annoyance when people disturbed him or insulted him, but remained cheerful.
In the summer of 1925, Vladika was taken from the camp and placed in the Yaroslav prison. There he was treated more leniently, and received certain privileges. For example, he was allowed to receive religious books, and he had pleasant conversations with the warden in his office. Saint Hilarion regarded his time at the Yaroslav Isolated Detention Center as the best part of his imprisonment. The following spring he was back at Solovki.
In 1929 the Communists decided to exile Archbishop Hilarion to Alma-Atu in central Asia. During his trip southward from the far north, Saint Hilarion was robbed and endured many privations. When he arrived in Petrograd, he was ill with typhus, infested with parasites and dressed in rags. When informed that he would have to be shaved, he replied, “You may now do with me whatever you wish.” He wrote from the prison hospital, “My fate will be decided on Saturday, December 15. I doubt I will survive.”
Saint Hilarion died at the age of forty-four in the hospital of a Petrograd prison on December 15, 1929. His body was placed in a coffin hastily made from some boards, and then was released to his family. The once tall and robust Archbishop Hilarion had been transformed by his sufferings into a pitiful white-haired old man. One female relative fainted when she saw the body.
Metropolitan Seraphim (Chichagov) provided a set of white vestments for the late Archbishop. He was also placed in a better coffin.
Metropolitan Seraphim presided at the funeral of Saint Hilarion, assisted by six bishops and several priests. The saint was buried at Novodevichii Monastery.
Saint Hilarion is commemorated on December 15 (his repose in 1929); May 10 (his glorification in 1999); the Third Sunday after Pentecost (All Saints of St. Petersburg); July 11 (The Finding of his relics in 1998); and on the Sunday nearest to August 26 (All Saints of Moscow).
Great Martyr Irene
The holy Great Martyr Irene was born in the city of Magedon in Persia during the fourth century. She was the daughter of Licinius, the pagan ruler of a certain small kingdom, and his wife Licinia, and at birth her parents named her Penelope.
Penelope was very beautiful, and her father kept her isolated in a high tower from the time she was six so that she would not be exposed to Christianity. He also placed thirteen young maidens in the tower with her. An old tutor by the name of Apellian was appointed to give her the best possible education. Apellian was a Christian, and during her lessons, he told the girl about Christ the Savior and taught her about the Christian Faith and Christian virtues.
When Penelope reached adolescence, her parents began to think about her marriage. One night Penelope beheld the following vision: a dove entered the tower with an olive branch in its beak, depositing it on the table. An eagle also flew in carrying a wreath of flowers, and left it on the table. Then a raven flew in through another window and dropped a snake on the table. In the morning Penelope woke up and wondered about the meaning of the things she had seen. She related them to her tutor Apellian and he explained that the dove symbolized her superior education, and that the olive branch represented the grace of God which is received in Baptism. The eagle and the olive branch indicated success in her future life. The snake signified that she would experience suffering and sorrow.
At the end of the conversation Apellian said that the Lord wished to betroth her to Himself and that Penelope would undergo much suffering for her heavenly Bridegroom. After this Penelope refused marriage, was baptized by the priest Timothy, and he named her Irene (peace). She even urged her own parents to become Christians. Shortly after being baptized, she smashed all her father’s idols to pieces.
Since Saint Irene had dedicated herself to Christ, she refused to marry any of the suitors her father had chosen for her. When Licinius learned that his daughter refused to worship the pagan gods, he was furious. He attempted to turn her from Christ by having her tortured. She was tied up and thrown beneath the hooves of wild horses so that they might trample her to death, but the horses remained motionless. Instead of harming the saint, one of the horses charged Licinius, seized his right hand and tore it from his arm. Then it knocked Licinius down and began to trample him to death. This caused a great deal of confusion among the people there but Irene consoled them with the words of Christ: “All things are possible to the one who believes” (Mark 9: 23). And indeed, with wondrous faith, she prayed and through her prayers Licinius rose unharmed in the presence of many eyewitnesses with his hand intact. Then, Licinius and his wife were baptized as Christians, along with almost 3000 others who turned away from the worship of inanimate idols. Licinius abandoned his domain and lived in the tower he had built for his daughter. There he spent the rest of his life in repentance.
Saint Irene lived in the house of her teacher Apellian, and she began to preach Christ among the pagans, leading them to the path of salvation.
When Sedekias (Yesdegerd), the new prefect of the city, heard of the miracles performed by the saint, he summoned Apellian and questioned him about Irene’s manner of life. Apellian replied that Irene, like other Christians, lived in strict temperance, devoting herself to constant prayer and reading holy books. Sedekias summoned the saint to him and urged her to stop preaching about Christ. He also attempted to force her to sacrifice to the idols. Saint Irene staunchly confessed her faith before the prefect, not fearing his wrath, and prepared to undergo suffering for Christ. By order of Sedekias she was thrown into a pit filled with vipers and serpents. The saint spent ten days in the pit and remained unharmed, for an angel of the Lord protected her and brought her food. Sedekias ascribed this miracle to sorcery, and he subjected Saint Irene to many other tortures, but she remained unharmed. Under the influence of her preaching and miracles even more people were converted to Christ, and turned away from the worship of inanimate idols.
Sedekias was deposed by his son Sapor, who persecuted Christians with an even greater zeal than his father had done. Saint Irene went to her home town of Magedon in Persia to meet Sapor and his army, and ask him to end the persecution. When he refused, Saint Irene prayed and his entire army was blinded. She prayed again and they received their sight once more. In spite of this, Sapor refused to recognize the power of God. Because of his insolence, he was struck and killed by a bolt of lightning.
After this, Saint Irene walked into the city and performed many miracles. She returned to the tower built by her father, accompanied by the priest Timothy. Through her teaching, she converted five thousand people to Christ.
Next, the saint went to the city of Callinicus, or Callinicum (possibly on the Euphrates River in Syria). The ruler of that place was King Numerian, the son of Sebastian. When she began to teach about Christ, she was arrested and tortured by the pagan authorities. They enclosed her inside three bronze oxen, one after another, which were heated until they were red-hot. When the Great Martyr was placed within the third ox, it began to walk about, and then it split asunder. Saint Irene emerged from it as if from the fires of hell. This resulted in thousands of souls converting to the faith of Christ.
Sensing the approach of death, Numerian instructed his eparch Babdonus to continue torturing the saint in order to force her to sacrifice to idols. Once again, the tortures were ineffective, and many people turned to Christ.
Christ’s holy martyr then traveled to the city of Constantina, forty miles northeast of Edessa. By 330, the Persian king Sapor II (309-379) had heard of Saint Irene’s great miracles. To prevent her from winning more people to Christ, she was arrested, beheaded, and then buried. However, God sent an angel to raise her up again, and she went into the city of Mesembria. After seeing her alive and hearing her preach, the local king was baptized with many of his subjects.
Wishing to convert even more pagans to Christianity, Saint Irene went to Ephesus, where she taught the people and performed many miracles. The Lord revealed to her that the end of her life was approaching. Then Saint Irene left the city accompanied by six people, including her former teacher Apellian. On the outskirts of the town, she found a new tomb in which no one had ever been buried. After making the Sign of the Cross, she went inside, directing her companions to seal the entrance to the cave with a large stone, which they did. She also told them that that no one should move the stone until four days had passed.
Apellian returned after only two days, and found that the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty. There are conflicting accounts about her holy relics being taken to Constantinople and other places, including Patras, Samos, and Patmos. According to the Western Martyrologies, Saint Irene was martyred in Thessaloniki after being thrown into the fire, while according to the Menologion of Emperor Basil II, Saint Irene completed her martyric contest by being beheaded.
Saint Irene led thousands of people to Christ through her preaching, and by her example. The Church continues to honor her memory and to seek her heavenly intercession. She is invoked by those wishing to effect a swift and happy marriage. In Greece, she is also the patron saint of policemen. Saint Irene is also one of the twelve Virgin Martyrs who appeared to Saint Seraphim of Sarov (January 2) and the Diveyevo nun Eupraxia on the Feast of the Annunciation in 1831. By her holy prayers, may the Lord have mercy upon us and save us. Amen.
Saint Theophan the Recluse, Bishop of Tambov
Saint Theophan the Recluse, Bishop of Tambov
George Govorov, the future Saint Theophan, was born on January 10, 1815 in the village of Chernavsk in the Orlov province where his father was a priest.
At first, George attended a primary school at Liven, then a military school. From 1837-1841 he studied at the Kiev Theological Academy, and probably visited the Monastery of the Caves several times. In these surroundings, it was not surprising that he received the monastic tonsure while he was still a student. After graduation Hieromonk Theophan was appointed rector of Kiev’s church schools, and later became rector of the seminary in Novgorod. Before he retired from teaching, Father Theophan served as a professor and Assistant Inspector at the Petersburg Academy.
Saint Theophan was not completely happy with academic work, so he asked to be relieved of his duties. He was assigned to be a member of the Russian Mission in Jerusalem. After being raised to the rank of Archimandrite, he became Rector of Olnets Seminary. Soon he was assigned as the chief priest of the embassy church in Constantinople. Saint Theophan was eventually recalled to Russia to become rector of the Petersburg Academy, and supervisor of religious education in the capital’s secular schools.
On May 9, 1859 Saint Theophan was consecrated as Bishop of Tambov, where he established a diocesan school for girls. During his time in Tambov he came to love the secluded Vysha Monastery in his diocese. In 1863 he was transferred to Vladimir and remained there for three years. He also established a diocesan school for girls at Vladimir.
The holy bishop visited parishes throughout his diocese serving, preaching, restoring churches, and sharing the joys and sorrows of his flock. It was very difficult for Bishop Theophan to live in the world and become involved with vain worldly disputes. Many abused his trust, but he could not bring himself to chastise anyone. Instead, he left such unpleasant tasks to the Archpriest of his cathedral.
He was present at the uncovering of the relics of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk in 1861, and this made a tremendous impression on him, for he had much in common with that saint. He had loved Saint Tikhon from early childhood, and always spoke about him with great enthusiasm. When Saint Tikhon was glorified as a saint on August 13, Bishop Theophan’s joy knew no bounds.
In 1866 his request to be relieved of his duties as Bishop of Vladimir was granted. He was appointed as Superior of the Vysha Monastery, but soon resigned from that position. He was permitted to live there and to celebrate services whenever he wished. He also received a pension of 1000 rubles.
As he prepared to leave his diocese, he wished to focus on his own salvation, and to concentrate on undisturbed communion with God. On July 24, 1866 he bade his diocese farewell, leaving the world for a life of reclusion, and to devote himself to writing spiritual books. Through these books, Saint Theophan has become the spiritual benefector of all Orthodox Christians. Although he sought the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt. 6:33), a reputation as a writer of great significance for the whole world was also added to him.
Bishop Theophan wrote many books, but received no profits from their sale. He tried to keep them as inexpensive as possible, and they quickly sold out. He wrote about topics which others before him had not fully treated, such as how to live a Christian life, how to overcome sinful habits, and how to avoid despair. He tried to explain the steps of spiritual perfection systematically, as one who had himself gone through these various steps. Some of his books include THE SPIRITUAL LIFE AND HOW TO BE ATTUNED TO IT, THE PATH TO SALVATION, and LETTERS ON THE SPIRITUAL LIFE. He also translated the PHILOKALIA in five volumes, and THE SERMONS OF ST SIMEON THE NEW THEOLOGIAN.
For the first six years in the monastery, Bishop Theophan attended all the services, including the early Liturgy. He stood still in church with his eyes closed so that he would not be distracted. He often celebrated Liturgy on Sundays and Feast Days.
Beginning in 1872, he cut off all relationships with people (except for his confessor) and no longer left his cell to attend church. He built a small chapel in his quarters and dedicated it to the Lord’s Baptism. For ten years he served there on Sundays and Feast Days. For the last eleven years of his life he served every day by himself. Sometimes he would sing, and sometimes he kept completely silent.
Whenever anyone visited him on business, Bishop Theophan would reply with as few words as possible, then immerse himself in prayer. If anyone sent him money, he would distribute it to the poor, keeping only a small portion to purchase books.
Whenever he was not occupied with writing or praying, the reclusive bishop worked at carpentry or painting icons. He received from twenty to forty letters each day, and he answered all of them. He was able to discern each writer’s spiritual condition, then give detailed answers to the questions of those who were struggling for the salvation of their souls.
His eyesight deteriorated in his latter years, but he did not curtail his work because of it. In the evening, his cell attendant would prepare everything for the bishop to serve Liturgy the next morning. After finishing the Liturgy, Bishop Theophan would knock on the wall to signal the cell attendant to serve him tea. On days when there was no fasting, he would eat lunch at 1:00 P.M. This consisted of one egg and a glass of milk. At four o’clock he would have some tea, and then no more food that day.
Bishop Theophan began to get weaker at the beginning of 1894. He was still writing on the afternoon of January 6, but when the cell attendant came to check on him at 4:30 he found that the bishop had departed to the Lord.
Saint Theophan’s body lay in the small church in his cell for three days, then three more days in the cathedral. There was no trace of corruption, however. He was laid to rest in the Kazan church of the Vysha Monastery.
Several of Saint Theophan’s books have been translated into English, and are reliable spiritual guides for Orthodox Christians of today. Saint Theophan’s gift was the ability to present the wisdom of the Fathers in terms which modern people can understand. Since he lived close to our own time, many readers find his books “more approachable” than the earlier patristic literature. He treats the life of the soul and the life of the body as a unified whole, not as two separate elements, and reveals to people the path of salvation.
Repose of Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow
Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Apostle to America was born as Vasily Ivanovich Belavin on January 19, 1865 into the family of Ioann Belavin, a rural priest of the Toropetz district of the Pskov diocese. His childhood and adolescence were spent in the village in direct contact with peasants and their labor. From his early years he displayed a particular religious disposition, love for the Church as well as rare meekness and humility.
When Vasily was still a boy, his father had a revelation about each of his children. One night, when he and his three sons slept in the hayloft, he suddenly woke up and roused them. He had seen his dead mother in a dream, who foretold to him his imminent death, and the fate of his three sons. She said that one would be unfortunate throughout his entire life, another would die young, while the third, Vasily, would be a great man. The prophecy of the dead woman proved to be entirely accurate in regard to all three brothers.
From 1878 to 1883, Vasily studied at the Pskov Theological Seminary. The modest seminarian was tender and affectionate by nature. He was fair-haired and tall of stature. His fellow students liked and respected him for his piety, brilliant progress in studies, and constant readiness to help comrades, who often turned to him for explanations of lessons, especially for help in drawing up and correcting numerous compositions. Vasily was called “bishop” and “patriarch” by his classmates.
In 1888, at the age of 23, Vasily Belavin graduated from the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy as a layman, and returned to the Pskov Seminary as an instructor of Moral and Dogmatic Theology. The whole seminary and the town of Pskov became very fond of him. He led an austere and chaste life, and in 1891, when he turned 26, he took monastic vows. Nearly the whole town gathered for the ceremony. He embarked on this new way of life consciously and deliberately, desiring to dedicate himself entirely to the service of the Church. The meek and humble young man was given the name Tikhon in honor of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk.
He was transferred from the Pskov Seminary to the Kholm Theological Seminary in 1892, and was raised to the rank of archimandrite. Archimandrite Tikhon was consecrated Bishop of Lublin on October 19, 1897, and returned to Kholm for a year as Vicar Bishop of the Kholm Diocese. Bishop Tikhon zealously devoted his energy to the establishment of the new vicariate. His attractive moral make-up won the general affection, of not only the Russian population, but also of the Lithuanians and Poles. On September 14, 1898, Bishop Tikhon was made Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska. As head of the Orthodox Church in America, Bishop Tikhon was a zealous laborer in the Lord’s vineyard.
He did much to promote the spread of Orthodoxy, and to improve his vast diocese. He reorganized the diocesan structure, and changed its name from “Diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska” to “Diocese of the Aleutians and North America” in 1900. Both clergy and laity loved their archpastor, and held him in such esteem that the Americans made Archbishop Tikhon an honorary citizen of the United States.
On May 22, 1901, he blessed the cornerstone for Saint Nicholas Cathedral in New York, and was also involved in establishing other churches. On November 9, 1902, he consecrated the church of Saint Nicholas in Brooklyn for the Syrian Orthodox immigrants. Two weeks later, he consecrated Saint Nicholas Cathedral in NY.
In 1905, the American Mission was made an Archdiocese, and Saint Tikhon was elevated to the rank of Archbishop. He had two vicar bishops: Bishop Innocent (Pustynsky) in Alaska, and Saint Raphael (Hawaweeny) in Brooklyn to assist him in administering his large, ethnically diverse diocese. In June of 1905, Saint Tikhon gave his blessing for the establishment of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery.
In 1907, he returned to Russia, and was appointed to Yaroslavl, where he quickly won the affection of his flock. They came to love him as a friendly, communicative, and wise archpastor. He spoke simply to his subordinates, never resorting to a peremptory or overbearing tone. When he had to reprimand someone, he did so in a good-natured, sometimes joking manner, which encouraged the person to correct his mistakes.
When Saint Tikhon was transferred to Lithuania on December 22, 1913, the people of Yaroslavl voted him an honorary citizen of their town. After his transfer to Vilnius, he did much in terms of material support for various charitable institutions. There too, his generous soul and love of people clearly manifested themselves. World War I broke out when His Eminence was in Vilnius. He spared no effort to help the poor residents of the Vilnius region who were left without a roof over their heads or means of subsistence as a result of the war with the Germans, and who flocked to their archpastor in droves.
After the February Revolution and formation of a new Synod, Saint Tikhon became one of its members. On June 21, 1917, the Moscow Diocesan Congress of clergy and laity elected him as their ruling bishop. He was a zealous and educated archpastor, widely known even outside his country.
On August 15, 1917, a local council was opened in Moscow, and Archbishop Tikhon was raised to the dignity of Metropolitan, and then elected as chairman of the council. The council had as its aim to restore the life of Russian Orthodox Church on strictly canonical principles, and its primary concern was the restoration of the Patriarchate. All council members would select three candidates, and then a lot would reveal the will of God. The council members chose three candidates: Archbishop Anthony of Kharkov, the wisest, Archbishop Arseny of Novgorod, the strictest, and Metropolitan Tikhon of Moscow, the kindest of the Russian hierarchs.
On November 5, following the Divine Liturgy and a Molieben in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a monk removed one of the three ballots from the ballot box, which stood before the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev announced Metropolitan Tikhon as the newly elected Patriarch. Saint Tikhon did not change after becoming the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church. In accepting the will of the council, Patriarch Tikhon referred to the scroll that the Prophet Ezekiel had to eat, on which was written, “Lamentations, mourning, and woe.” He foresaw that his ministry would be filled with affliction and tears, but through all his suffering, he remained the same accessible, unassuming, and kindly person.
All who met Saint Tikhon were surprised by his accessibility, simplicity and modesty. His gentle disposition did not prevent him from showing firmness in Church matters, however, particularly when he had to defend the Church from her enemies. He bore a very heavy cross. He had to administer and direct the Church amidst wholesale church disorganization, without auxiliary administrative bodies, in conditions of internal schisms and upheavals by various adherents of the Living Church, renovationists, and autocephalists.
The situation was complicated by external circumstances: the change of the political system, by the accession to power of the godless regime, by hunger, and civil war. This was a time when Church property was being confiscated, when clergy were subjected to court trials and persecutions, and Christ’s Church endured repression. News of this came to the Patriarch from all ends of Russia. His exceptionally high moral and religious authority helped him to unite the scattered and enfeebled flock. At a crucial time for the church, his unblemished name was a bright beacon pointing the way to the truth of Orthodoxy. In his messages, he called on people to fulfill the commandments of Christ, and to attain spiritual rebirth through repentance. His irreproachable life was an example to all.
In order to save thousands of lives and to improve the general position of the church, the Patriarch took measures to prevent clergy from making purely political statements. On September 25, 1919, when the civil war was at its height, he issued a message to the clergy urging them to stay away from political struggle.
The summer of 1921 brought a severe famine to the Volga region. In August, Patriarch Tikhon issued a message to the Russian people and to the people of the world, calling them to help famine victims. He gave his blessing for voluntary donations of church valuables, which were not directly used in liturgical services. However, on February 23, 1922, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee published a decree making all valuables subject to confiscation.
According to the 73rd Apostolic Canon, such actions were regarded as sacrilege, and the Patriarch could not approve such total confiscation, especially since many doubted that the valuables would be used to combat famine. This forcible confiscation aroused popular indignation everywhere. Nearly two thousand trials were staged all over Russia, and more than ten thousand believers were shot. The Patriarch’s message was viewed as sabotage, for which he was imprisoned from April 1922 until June 1923.
His Holiness, Patriarch Tikhon did much on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church during the crucial time of the so-called Renovationist schism. He showed himself to be a faithful servant and custodian of the undistorted precepts of the true Orthodox Church. He was the living embodiment of Orthodoxy, which was unconsciously recognized even by enemies of the church, who called its members “Tikhonites.”
When Renovationist priests and hierarchs repented and returned to the church, they were met with tenderness and love by Saint Tikhon. This, however, did not represent any deviation from his strictly Orthodox policy. “I ask you to believe me that I will not come to agreement or make concessions which could lead to the loss of the purity and strength of Orthodoxy,” the Patriarch said in 1924.
Being a good pastor, who devoted himself entirely to the church’s cause, he called upon the clergy to do the same: “Devote all your energy to preaching the word of God and the truth of Christ, especially today, when unbelief and atheism are audaciously attacking the Church of Christ. May the God of peace and love be with all of you!”
It was extremely painful and hard for the Patriarch’s loving, responsive heart to endure all the Church’s misfortunes. Upheavals in and outside the church, the Renovationist schism, his primatial labors, his concern for the organization and tranquility of Church life, sleepless nights and heavy thoughts, his confinement that lasted more than a year, the spiteful and wicked baiting of his enemies, and the unrelenting criticism sometimes even from the Orthodox, combined to undermine his strength and health.
In 1924, Patriarch Tikhon began to feel unwell. He checked into a hospital, but would leave it on Sundays and Feast Days in order to conduct services. On Sunday, April 5, 1925, he served his last Liturgy, and died two days later. On March 25/April 7, 1925 the Patriarch received Metropolitan Peter and had a long talk with him. In the evening, the Patriarch slept a little, then he woke up and asked what time it was. When he was told it was 11:45 P.M., he made the Sign of the Cross twice and said, “Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee.” He did not have time to cross himself a third time.
Almost a million people came to say farewell to the Patriarch. The large cathedral of the Donskoy Monastery in Moscow could not contain the crowd, which overflowed the monastery property into the square and adjacent streets. Saint Tikhon, the eleventh Patriarch of Moscow, was primate of the Russian Church for seven and a half years.
On September 26/October 9, 1989, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church glorified Patriarch Tikhon and numbered him among the saints. For nearly seventy years, Saint Tikhon’s relics were believed lost, but in February 1992, they were discovered in a concealed place in the Donskoy Monastery.
It would be difficult to imagine the Russian Orthodox Church without Patriarch Tikhon during those years. He did so much for the Church and for the strengthening of the Faith itself during those difficult years of trial. Perhaps the saint’s own words can best sum up his life: “May God teach every one of us to strive for His truth, and for the good of the Holy Church, rather than something for our own sake.”
Saint Nektarius the Wonderworker, Metropolitan of Pentapolis.
Saint Nektarius was born in Selyvria of Thrace on October 1, 1846. After putting himself through school in Constantinople with much hard labour, he became a monk on Chios in 1876, receiving the monastic name of Lazarus; because of his virtue, a year later he was ordained deacon, receiving the new name of Nektarius. Under the patronage of Patriarch Sophronius of Alexandria, Nektarius went to Athens to study in 1882; completing his theological studies in 1885, he went to Alexandria, where Patriarch Sophronius ordained him priest on March 23, 1886 in the Cathedral of Saint Sabbas, and in August of the same year, in the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, made him Archimandrite. Archimandrite Nektarius showed much zeal both for preaching the word of God, and for the beauty of God’s house. He greatly beautified the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, and years later, when Nektarius was in Athens, Saint Nicholas appeared to him in a dream, embracing him and telling him he was going to exalt him very high.
On January 15, 1889, in the same Church of Saint Nicholas, Nektarius was consecrated Metropolitan of the Pentapolis in eastern Libya, which was under the jurisdiction of Alexandria. Although Nektarius’ swift ascent through the degrees of ecclesiastical office did not affect his modesty and childlike innocence, it aroused the envy of lesser men, who convinced the elderly Sophronius that Nektarius had it in his heart to become Patriarch. Since the people loved Nektarius, the Patriarch was troubled by the slanders. On May 3, 1890, Sophronius relieved Metropolitan Nektarius of his duties; in July of the same year, he commanded Nektarius to leave Egypt.
Without seeking to avenge or even to defend himself, the innocent Metropolitan left for Athens, where he found that accusations of immorality had arrived before him. Because his good name had been soiled, he was unable to find a position worthy of a bishop, and in February of 1891 accepted the position of provincial preacher in Euboia; then, in 1894, he was appointed dean of the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School in Athens. Through his eloquent sermons his unwearying labours to educate fitting men for the priesthood, his generous alms deeds despite his own poverty, and the holiness, meekness, and fatherly love that were manifest in him, he became a shining light and a spiritual guide to many. At the request of certain pious women, in 1904 he began the building of his convent of the Holy Trinity on the island of Aegina while yet dean of the Rizarios School; finding later that his presence there was needed, he took up his residence on Aegina in 1908, where he spent the last years of his life, devoting himself to the direction of his convent and to very intense prayer; he was sometimes seen lifted above the ground while rapt in prayer. He became the protector of all Aegina, through his prayers delivering the island from drought, healing the sick, and casting out demons. Here also he endured wicked slanders with singular patience, forgiving his false accusers and not seeking to avenge himself. Although he had already worked wonders in life, an innumerable multitude of miracles have been wrought after his repose in 1920 through his holy relics, which for many years remained incorrupt. There is hardly a malady that has not been cured through his prayers; but Saint Nektarius is especially renowned for his healings of cancer for sufferers in all parts of the world.