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The Shepherd's Guild

Soldier Saints

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St. Demetrius the Great Martyr
 
October 26
 
    He was a Christian born of wealthy parents in Thessalonica. During the persecution of the Church. Demetruis was arrested and taken to be imprisoned. The emperor Maximian was going to Thessalonica that day and ordered the Christian detained until he could be investigated by him and tried. Maximain then went to the arena for the games to watch his favorite gladiator, the champion Lyaeus. The emperor offered a reward to any man who would defeat his favorite champion and one young man, an unknown named Nestor, jumped into the midst and accepted the offer. The emperor, knowing the gladiator Lyaeus to be much his superior, tried to dissuade the young man, but he insisted on fighting him. Much to everone's shock, Nestor killed the huge Lyaeus with one blow. Furious at losing his favorite champion, Maximian rose up in a huff and stormed out without giving Nestor the promised reward. When his officers met him and asked him what was to be done with the Christian Demetrius awaiting him, he angrily replied, "Run him through with your spears!" Thus Demetrius perished without trial , a martyr for the Lord. This happened in about 306. His relics were treasured in Thessalonica in a church built in his honor by Leontius, a Christian prefect of Illyria.
 
Source: "A Daily Clendar of Saints" by Rev. Lawrence R. Farley

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Great Prince Alexander Nevsky
 
Commemorated on May 23 (also, August 30 & November 23)

Alexander Yaroslavich (Александр Ярославич in Russian), the fourth son of Grand Prince Yaroslav II Vsevolodovich of Vladimir, was born in Pereslavl-Zalessky on May 30, 1219. He was the grandson of Vsevolod III (Big Nest, for his numerous family). Being fourth in line, he was considered to have no chance of succeeding his father to the throne of Vladimir. In 1239, he married Alexandra, the daughter of the Prince of Polotsk. After his father was poisoned during a visit to see Uzhedei, the Mongol/Tatar Grand Khan in 1246, Alexander succeeded as the Grand Prince of Vladimir.

In 1236, he was called by the leaders of Novgorod (formally, Lord Novgorod the Great) as their military leader in defense against Swedish and German invaders. He was named the Prince of Novgorod. At the time Novgorod was a major trading center and was associated with the Hanseatic League. On July 15, 1240, Alexander and his army surprised the Swedish army in a battle at the confluence of the river Izhora with the Neva. With his victory over the Swedes, Alexander put an end to a further invasion from the north and increased his political influence in Russia. However, the victory did not help his relations with the boyars and he soon had to leave Novgorod. In recognition of his victory the nineteen year old Alexander was given the name "Nevsky" (of the Neva).

In the spring of 1241, the Novgorod leaders again called upon Alexander to defend them from the invading and crusading Teutonic Knights. Again he and his army stopped the invasion, this time in the famous battle on the ice during the "Battle on Lake Peipus" near Pskov on April 15, 1242. By defeating, first, the Swedes and then the German Teutonic Knights, Alexander stopped their eastward expansion for several centuries. However, he fought many more battles against the Swedes, including one defeat in 1256 when they tried to block Novgorod’s access to the Baltic Sea. With the defeat of the Teutonic Knights, Alexander took to strengthening the defenses of the Russian lands in the northwest by completing a peace treaty with Norway in 1251.

In the meantime, Mongol/Tatar forces had invaded the Russian lands, sweeping through both the northern and southern regions, destroying principal cities such as Yaroslavl, Vladimir, Chernigov, Pereaslavl, and reducing Kiev to a small village. Alexander choose a course of submission and co-operation with the Tatars as he considered that resistance was hopeless. When in 1247, the Tatars came for tribute, he used his reputation as a hero of Novgorod to convince the citizens of Novgorod that submission was best under such hopeless conditions. When in 1263 a few towns refused to pay tribute to Tatar tax-collectors, Alexander made his fourth trip to the Tatar headquarters to beg the khan to stop the Tatar army that was enroute to Novgorod. While he succeeded, this was his last and most difficult of his service for his people; he died on November 14, 1263 during his journey home. Upon receiving the news of his death, Metropolitan Cyril of Vladimir announced in the cathedral: My dear children, know that the sun of Russia has set. (Source: Orthodox Wiki)

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St. John the Soldier
 
Commemorated on July 30

The Holy Martyr John the Warrior served in the imperial army of the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). He was sent with other soldiers to seek out and kill Christians.While appearing to be a persecutor, St John rendered great help to the Christians. He freed those who had been arrested, warned others of dangers threatening them, and assisted in their flight. St John showed charity not only to Christians, but to all the destitute and those needing help. He visited with the sick, and he consoled the grieving. When Julian the Apostate learned about the actions of the saint, he ordered him locked up in prison.

In the year 363 Julian the Apostate was killed in his war with the Persians. St John was set free and devoted his life to service of neighbor, and he lived in holiness and purity. He died in his old age.

The precise year of his death is unknown, and the place of burial of St John the Warrior was gradually forgotten. Then he appeared to a certain devout woman and indicated the location of his tomb. This became known throughout the region. His uncovered relics were placed in a church of the Apostle John the Theologian in Constantinople. The Lord granted the relics of St John the Warrior the power of healing. Through the prayers of St John, the aggrieved and sorrowing received comfort.

In the Russian Church, St John the Warrior is revered as a great intercessor in sorrows and difficult circumstances. We also pray to him for the recovery of stolen articles.

Source: OCA

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St. Procopius the Great Martyr

Commemorated on July 8
 
Saint Procopius was the first victim of Diocletian's persecution in Palestine in 303. A native of Aelia or Jerusalem, he lived in Scythopolis where he occupied three offices in the Church: those of lector, of interpreter of the Syriac language, and finally, in spite of his sufferings, of exorcist. Discovered, he was led to Caesarea where the President ordered him to sacrifice to the gods and obey the four emperors. The martyr acting keenly on the sense of the words said to him: "The polyarchy is disastrous. It is better that there be only one Sovereign, only one Emperor." He was immediately led out to be beheaded and thus found the short road which leads to heaven.

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The Holy Martyr Longinus the Centurion
 
Commemorated on October 16

The Holy Martyr Longinus the Centurion, a Roman soldier, served in Judea under the command of the Governor, Pontius Pilate. When our Savior Jesus Christ was crucified, it was the detachment of soldiers under the command of Longinus which stood watch on Golgotha, at the very foot of the holy Cross. Longinus and his soldiers were eyewitnesses of the final moments of the earthly life of the Lord, and of the great and awesome portents that appeared at His death. These events shook the centurion’s soul. Longinus believed in Christ and confessed before everyone, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Mt. 27:54).

According to Church Tradition, Longinus was the soldier who pierced the side of the Crucified Savior with a spear, and received healing from an eye affliction when blood and water poured forth from the wound.

After the Crucifixion and Burial of the Savior, Longinus stood watch with his company at the Sepulchre of the Lord. These soldiers were present at the All-Radiant Resurrection of Christ. The Jews bribed them to lie and say that His disciples had stolen away the Body of Christ, but Longinus and two of his comrades refused to be seduced by the Jewish gold. They also refused to remain silent about the miracle of the Resurrection.

Having come to believe in the Savior, the soldiers received Baptism from the apostles and decided to leave military service. St Longinus left Judea to preach about Jesus Christ the Son of God in his native land (Cappadocia), and his two comrades followed him.

The fiery words of those who had actually participated in the great events in Judea swayed the hearts and minds of the Cappadocians; Christianity began quickly to spread throughout the city and the surrounding villages. When they learned of this, the Jewish elders persuaded Pilate to send a company of soldiers to Cappadocia to kill Longinus and his comrades. When the soldiers arrived at Longinus’s village, the former centurion himself came out to meet the soldiers and took them to his home. After a meal, the soldiers revealed the purpose of their visit, not knowing that the master of the house was the very man whom they were seeking. Then Longinus and his friends identified themselves and told the startled soldiers to carry out their duty.

The soldiers wanted to let the saints go and advised them to flee, but they refused to do this, showing their firm intention to suffer for Christ. The holy martyrs were beheaded, and their bodies were buried at the place where the saints were martyred. The head of St Longinus, however, was sent to Pilate.

Pilate gave orders to cast the martyr’s head on a trash-heap outside the city walls. After a while a certain blind widow from Cappadocia arrived in Jerusalem with her son to pray at the holy places, and to ask that her sight be restored. After becoming blind, she had sought the help of physicians to cure her, but all their efforts were in vain.

The woman’s son became ill shortly after reaching Jerusalem, and he died a few days later. The widow grieved for the loss of her son, who had served as her guide.

St Longinus appeared to her in a dream and comforted her. He told her that she would see her son in heavenly glory, and also receive her sight. He told her to go outside the city walls and there she would find his head in a great pile of refuse. Guides led the blind woman to the rubbish heap, and she began to dig with her hands. As soon as she touched the martyr’s head, the woman received her sight, and she glorified God and St Longinus.

Taking up the head, she brought it to the place she was staying and washed it. The next night, St Longinus appeared to her again, this time with her son. They were surrounded by a bright light, and St Longinus said, Woman, behold the son for whom you grieve. See what glory and honor are his now, and be consoled. God has numbered him with those in His heavenly Kingdom. Now take my head and your son’s body, and bury them in the same casket. Do not weep for your son, for he will rejoice forever in great glory and happiness.”

The woman carried out the saint’s instructions and returned to her home in Cappadocia. There she buried her son and the head of St Longinus. Once, she had been overcome by grief for her son, but her weeping was transformed into joy when she saw him with St Longinus. She had sought healing for her eyes, and also received healing of her soul.

souce: St. George Orthodox Military Assoc.

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The Holy Martyr Andrew Stratelates
 
Commemorated August 19

He was an officer, a tribune, in the Roman army in the time of the Emperor Maximian. A Syrian by birth, he served in his native land. When the Persians attacked the imperial Roman army, this Andrew was entrusted with the command in the battle against the enemy whence his title: commander, stratelates. A secret Christian, although as yet unbaptised, Andrew commended himself to the living God, and, taking only the cream of the army, went to war. Before the battle, he told his soldiers that, if they all called upon the aid of the one, true God, Christ the Lord, their enemies would become as dust scattered before them. All the soldiers, fired with enthusiasm by Andrew and his faith, invoked Christ's aid and attacked. The Persian army was utterly routed. When the victorious Andrew returned to Antioch, some jealous men denounced him as a Christian and the imperial governor summoned him for trial. Andrew openly proclaimed his steadfast faith in Christ. After harsh torture, the governor threw Andrew into prison and wrote to the Emperor in Rome. Knowing Andrew's popularity among the people and in the army, the Emperor ordered the governor to set Andrew free, but to seek another occasion and another excuse (not his faith) to kill him. By God's revelation, Andrew came to know of this imperial command, and, taking his faithful soldiers (2,593 in all) with him, went off to Tarsus in Cilicia, where they were all baptised by the bishop, Peter. Persecuted here also by imperial might, Andrew and his companions withdrew deep into the Armenian mountain of Tavros. There in a ravine, while they were at prayer, the Roman army came upon them and beheaded them all. Not one of them would recant, all being determined on death by martyrdom for Christ. On the spot where a stream of the martyrs' blood flowed down, a spring of healing water sprang forth, healing from every disease. The bishop, Peter, came secretly with his people and buried the martyrs' bodies in that same place. They all suffered with honour at the end of the third century and were crowned with wreaths of eternal glory, entering into the Kingdom of Christ our God.

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St. George the Great-martyr and Trophy-bearer

Click here for the Life of St. George

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St. Theodore Stratelates ("the general) and Great Martyr 

February 8
 
There are few martyrdoms that are more than costly. The costliness of a martyrdom depends on the greatness of the good things of this world that a Christian gives up, receiving suffering in its place; and it depends also on the greatness of the suffering which he endures for the sake of Christ. St. Theodore, a Roman commander in the army of the Emperor Hicinius and governor of the city of Heraclea, scorned his youth, his good looks, his military status and the goodwill of the Emperor, and in place of all this received terrible tortures for the sake of Christ. Firstly Theodore was flogged, receiving 600 lashes on the back and 500 lashes on the stomach; then he was crucified and pierced through with arrows. Finally he was slain with the sword. Why all this? because St. Theodore loved Christ more than anything else in the world. He scorned the foolish idol -worship of the superstitious Emperor, shattered the silver and gold idols, giving the pieces to the poor, brought many to the Christian faith and urged the Emperor himself to reject idolatry and believe in the one God. During the whole of this torture, Theodore repeated unceasingly: 'Glory to Thee, my God, glory to Thee!" He suffered on February 8th, 319, at the three o'clock in the afternoon, and entered into the Kingdom of Christ. He is regarded as the protector of soldiers, who turn to him for help. His wonderworking relics were taken from Euchaita to Constantinople and buried in the Church At Blachernae.
 
Source: pomog.org

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St. Theodore the Recruit and Great Martyr
 
The Holy Great Martyr Theodore the Recruit was a soldier in the city of Alasium of the Pontine district (Asia Minor, Black Sea), under the command of a certain Brincus. They commanded him to offer sacrifice to idols. St Theodore firmly confessed his faith in Christ the Savior in a loud voice. The commander gave him several days to think it over, during which time St Theodore prayed.
They charged him with setting a pagan temple on fire, and threw him into prison to be starved to death. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him there, comforting and encouraging him. Brought to the governor, St Theodore boldly and fearlessly confessed his faith, for which he was subjected to new torments and condemned to burning. The martyr Theodore climbed onto the fire without hesitation, and with prayer and gave up his holy soul to God.
This occurred in about the year 306 under the Romanus emperor Galerius (305-311). Unharmed by the fire, the body of St Theodore was buried in the city of Euchaita, not far from Amasium. His relics were afterwards transferred to Constantinople, to a church dedicated to him. His head is in Italy, in the city of Gaeto.
 
Later on, fifty years after the death of St Theodore, the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), wanting to commit an outrage upon the Christians, commanded the city-commander of Constantinople during the first week of Great Lent to sprinkle all the food provisions in the marketplaces with the blood offered to idols. St Theodore appeared in a dream to Archbishop Eudoxius, ordering him to inform all the Christians that no one should buy anything at the marketplaces, but rather to eat cooked wheat with honey. (oca.org)

We pray to St Theodore for the recovery of stolen articles.
 
source: saintsoftheday108.blogspot.com

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St Theodore (Ushakov) the Righteous Admiral

St Theodore, one of Russia's greatest naval heroes of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was born in 1745.

The unvanquished Admiral was the terror of his country's enemies, and the deliverer of those whom the barbarians had taken captive. He served during the Russo-Turkish War (1787 - 1791), and also fought against the French. Although he fought many naval battles in the Black Sea and in the Mediterranean, he never lost a single one, and he was never wounded.

St Theodore once visited the Greek island of Kerkyra (Corfu), where he venerated the relics of St Spyridon of Tremithus (December 12), and gave support and encouragement to the Orthodox Christians in that place.

Since his naval reforms were unpopular with his superiors, St Theodore was forced to retire in 1807 by Tsar Alexander I. Having neither wife nor children, the admiral settled in the town of Alekseevo near the Sanaxar Monastery, where he regularly attended services on Sundays and Feast Days. During Great Lent he would stay in the monastery, fasting with the monks and attending the services.

Igumen Nathaniel of Sanaxar regarded St Theodore as "a neighbor and a significant patron" of the monastery. In addition to his generous gifts to the monastery, the admiral frequently gave alms to the poor and needy. He never sought earthly glory or riches, but spent his life in serving God and his neighbor.

St Theodore died in 1817 at the age of seventy-two. After navigating the sea of life with all its storms and struggles, he entered the calm harbor of eternal rest. He was buried at Sanaxar Monastery beside the church. The monastery was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1991, and St Theodore's grave was found in 1994.

St Theodore was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Russia in 2004, and a reliquary in the shape of a naval vessel was made to enshrine his holy relics.

The holy Admiral Theodore should not be confused with his relative St Theodore (Ushakov) of Sanaxar Monastery (February 19 and April 21), a monastic saint who lived from 1719 to 1791.

St Theodore is honored as a great military leader who defended Russia just as St Alexander Nevsky (November 23) and St Demetrius of the Don (May 19) did before him. One of the Russian Navy's atomic cruisers has been named for him, and a movie has been made about his life and career. The composer Khachaturian has also written a musical piece called "Admiral Ushakov."
 
source: OCA

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St. Artemuis the Great Martyr of Antioch
 
Commemorated on October 20
 
Artemius was an Arian Christian, as Emperor Constantius II was. Constantius ordered Artemius to go in the lands beyond the Danube and to bring back to Constantinople the relics of Andrew the Apostle, Luke the Evangelist and Saint Timothy. Artemius accomplished his task and was rewarded with the appointment to the rank of dux Aegypti.

One year later Constantius was succeeded by his cousin Julian, who was a Pagan. The people of Alexandria accused Artemius of several atrocities, and Julian condemned him to death. Artemius was beheaded in 363 in the city of Antioch, where he had been recalled by Emperor Julian the Apostate for maladministration of his province. The charges stemmed from his persecution of pagans in Alexandria, and his use of troops in the seizure and despoliation of the Temple of Serapis instigated by George of Cappadocia. After his death, the people of Alexandria killed George.

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Saint Minas the Martyr

November 11

Saint Minas or Menas was born in Egypt in the mid-3rd century AD to idolatrous parents, but became a Christian in adolescence. When he came of age, he decided to follow a career in the Roman army and served as a cavalry officer in Asia Minor.

In 303 AD began the great persecution of the Christians under the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian, which lasted until 311 AD. Roman soldiers were ordered to arrest and torture Christians to make them renounce their faith.

St Minas, true to his faith, resigned from the Roman army and lived as a hermit in the mountains. When he was about 50 years of age, a divine vision revealed that the time had come for him to suffer martyrdom. He left the safety of the mountains and went down to the city, where he declared his faith before the idolaters.

He was arrested, imprisoned and horribly tortured. He was whipped, flayed and dragged naked along a road of sharp stones. Despite his horrific martyrdom, the saint refused to renounce his faith and was eventually beheaded.