Wednesday May 12, 2021 / April 29, 2021
Second Week of Pascha. Tone one.
Fast. Fish Allowed
Nine Martyrs at Cyzicus: Theognes, Rufus, Antipater, Theostichus, Artemas, Magnus, Theodotus, Thaumasius, and Philemon (3rd c.). Venerable Memnon the Wonderworker of Corfu (2nd c.). Venerable Nektarius of Optina (1928). Venerable Amphilochius of Pochaev (1970). Martyrs Diodorus and Rhodopianus, deacon, at Aphrodisia in Anatolia (284-305). St. Basil, bishop of Ostrog in Montenegro (Serbia) (1671). Saint John of Romania. Holy Martyrs of Lazeti (Georgia) (17th-18th c.
The Nine Holy Martyrs of Kyzika
Commemorated on April 29
The Nine Holy Martyrs of Kyzika: The city of Kyzika is located in Asia Minor at the coast of the Dardenelles (Hellespont) Straits. Christianity there began to spread about already during the time of the preaching of the Apostle Paul (Comm. 29 June). But under the times of persecutions by the pagans events came to this – that some of the Christians fled the city, while others kept their faith in Christ in secret. Therefore by the time of the end of the III Century Kyzika was still basically a pagan city, although there was also a Christian church there. The situation in the city distressed true Christians, who sought to uphold the Christian faith. From there were also the Nine holy Martyrs: Theognides, Ruphos, Antipater, Theostikhos, Artemon, Magnos, Theodotos, Thaumasios and Philemon. They hailed from various places, and were of different ages: both the young like Saint Antipater, and the very old like Saint Ruphos, and they came from various positions in society: among them were soldiers, countryfolk and city-people, and clergy. But all of them declared their faith in Christ and were all the more intense in their yearning for the spread and strengthening of the True Faith.
Having shown up in the city of Kyzika, the saints boldly confessed Christ and fearlessly denounced the pagan impiety. They were arrested and brought to trial before the city governor. Over the course of several days they were tortured, locked up in prison and again led out from it, and promised their freedom for a renunciation of Christ. But the valiant martyrs of Christ continued to glorify the Name of Christ. All nine martyrs were beheaded by the sword (+ c. 284-292), and their bodies buried nearby the city.
In the year 324, – when the Eastern half of the Roman empire came under the rule of Saint Constantine the Great (306-337, Comm. 21 May), and the persecutions against Christians ended, the Kyzika Christians removed the undecayed bodies of the 9 martyrs from the ground and placed them in a church, built in their honour.
Various miracles occurred from the holy relics: the sick were healed, and the mentally aberrant brought to their senses. The faith of Christ grew within the city through the intercession of the holy martyrs, and many of the pagans were converted to Christianity.
When Julian the Apostate (361-363) came to rule, the pagans of Kyzika turned to him with a complaint against the Christians for the destruction of pagan temples. Julian gave orders to rebuild the pagan temples and to lock up in prison bishop Eleusios. Bishop Eleusios was set free after the death of Julian, and the light of the Christian faith shined anew through the assist of the holy martyrs.
In Russia not far from the city of Kazan was built a monastery in honour of the Nine Martyrs of Kyzika. It was built by the monk-deacon Stefan, who brought with him from Palestine part of the relics of the saints. This monastery was built in the hope of deliverance through their intercession and prayers from various infirmities and ills, particularly the fever which raged through Kazan in the year 1687, “since, – writes Sainted Dimitrii of Rostov (+ 1709, Comm. 21 September), the compiler of the service to the 9 Martyrs, – by these saints was given abundant grace for the dispelling of feverish and trembling sicknesses”. Saint Dimitrii likewise described the sufferings of the holy martyrs and compiled a sermon on the day of their memory.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
HYMNS OF PRAISE
SAINT BASIL OF OSTROG
Saint Basil, God-pleaser
And wondrous healer of every affliction:
With the power of your Christ,
Whom you greatly loved,
You were able to heal the gravest of illnesses.
Even now are you able to heal all who honor you,
And who firmly believe in the Living God.
Do not cease to help, O glory of the Serbian people;
Do not cease to pray to the Lord for the sinful.
You are a saint of God in heavenly glory,
And saints are men with a full, healthy spirit.
In you we see a true man,
Free from sin and filled to overflowing with healing,
In whom there burns the fire of the Holy Spirit,
In whom abides the love of the resurrected Christ.
We are grateful to you and to the All-powerful God,
That through you God pours out abundant mercy;
Through you, His saint, wondrous and of angelic face–
Basil the Serbian, the God pleaser!
Nothing can be kept secret from the Omniscient God. At every moment, He knows all that is being done in the world, both in the external world and in the internal, spiritual world. Not one intention, not one desire, not one thought can a man conceal from God. How can you hide from God that which you cannot hide from men, from holy men? One day, Tsar Ivan the Terrible came to church to pray to God. In the church, Blessed Basil the Fool-for-Christ stood for prayer. It is true the Tsar was in church physically, but his thoughts were on Sparrow Hill, a short distance from Moscow, upon which he had begun to construct a palace. Throughout the liturgical services the Tsar thought about how he could extend and complete his palace on that hill. After the services the Tsar noticed Basil and asked him: “Where have you been?” Basil replied: “In church.” Basil then immediately asked the Tsar: “And where were you, O Tsar?” “I also was in church,” answered the Tsar. To this the clairvoyant saint replied: “You are not speaking the truth, Ivanushka, for I perceived how, in your thoughts, you were pacing about on Sparrow Hill and building a palace.”
Contemplate the Ascension of the Lord Jesus:
1. How the Lord, blessing His disciples, was raised above the earth and borne to heaven;
2. How the disciples watched Him as He ascended until a cloud hid Him from their sight.
on the incomparable love of Christ
“And to know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19).
The love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge! Surpasses, not the knowledge of God, but the knowledge of man, darkened and embittered by sin. God’s knowledge is equal to God’s love and neither surpasses the other. But man’s knowledge, alienated from God, does not at all comprehend God’s love, shown through the Lord Jesus Christ. God understands man, but man does not understand God. God attempted to enable man with reason to understand through nature and through the Old Revelation, through the Law and the prophets, but man did not want to submit to that knowledge. Then God attempted to overcome men through love, and through this love, to draw them to Himself. Hence the Incarnation of the Son of God, His sacrifice and His suffering to the death. Such inexpressible love on the part of God, beyond words and knowledge, has captured and returned many to God, that is, made them to understand and given them a new knowledge, pure and bright. But it has confused many of them as well, for it did not agree with their darkened and embittered understanding.
And to know, says the Apostle. How can we, brethren, know that which is beyond knowing and beyond understanding? In no other way than by a change of mind, an awakening and sharpening of the mind, an illumination and elevation of the mind: in brief, by the acquiring of a new mind, which has the capability of understanding the love of Christ, which is beyond the present sinful mind of men.
O the depth of God’s wisdom and knowledge! Whoever comes even a little closer to you feels that you are at the same time the depth of the love of God.
O Lord, ascended into heaven, illumine our minds with Thine understanding, that we may more easily make our own Thine unfathomable love toward mankind and weep–weep from sorrow because of our hardened hearts and because of our darkened and malicious minds, and weep for joy because of Thy love toward us, who are darkened and embittered.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.