Saint Tryphon the Martyr
Commemorated on February 1
The Martyr Tryphon was born in Phrygia,
one of the districts of Asia Minor, in the village of Lampsacus. From his early years the Lord granted him the power to cast
out demons and to heal various maladies. He once saved the inhabitants of his native city from starvation. St Tryphon, by
the power of his prayer, turned back a plague of locusts that were devouring the grain and devastating the fields.
Tryphon gained particular fame by casting out an evil spirit from the daughter of the Roman emperor Gordian (238-244). Helping
everyone in distress, he asked only one thing from them: faith in Jesus Christ, by Whose grace he healed them.
the emperor Decius (249-251) assumed the imperial throne, he began a fierce persecution of Christians. Someone reported to
the commander Aquilinus that St Tryphon was boldly preaching faith in Christ, and that he led many to Baptism. The saint was
arrested and subjected to interrogation, during which he fearlessly confessed his faith.
He was subjected to harsh
tortures: they beat him with clubs, raked his body with iron hooks, they scorched his flesh with fire, and led him through
the city, after iron nails were hammered into his feet. St Tryphon bravely endured all the torments without complaint.
he was condemned to beheading with a sword. The holy martyr prayed before his execution, thanking God for strengthening him
in his sufferings. He also asked the Lord to bless those who should call upon his name for help. Just as the soldiers raised
the sword over the head of the holy martyr, he surrendered his soul into the hands of God. This event occurred in the city
of Nicea in the year 250.
Christians wrapped the holy body of the martyr in a clean shroud and wanted to bury him
in the city of Nicea, where he suffered, but St Tryphon in a vision commanded them to take his body to his native land to
the village of Lampsada. Later on, the relics of St Tryphon were transferred to Constantinople, and then to Rome.
Russia, St Tryphon is regarded as the patron saint of birds. There is a story that when Tsar Ivan the Terrible was out hunting,
his falconer carelessly allowed the Tsar's favorite falcon to fly away. The Tsar ordered the falconer Tryphon Patrikeiev to
find the bird within three days, or else he would be put to death. Tryphon searched all through the forest, but without luck.
On the third day, exhausted by long searching, he returned to Moscow to the place called Marinaya Grove. Overcome
with weariness, he lay down to rest, fervently praying to his patron saint, the Martyr Tryphon, for help.
In a dream
he saw a youth on a white horse, holding the Tsar's falcon on his hand. The youth said, "Take the lost bird, go to the Tsar
and do not grieve." When he awakened, the falconer actually spotted the falcon on a pine tree. He took it to the Tsar and
told him about the miraculous help he received from the holy Martyr Tryphon. Grateful to St Tryphon for saving his life, Tryphon
Patrikeiev built a chapel on the spot where the saint appeared. Later on, he also built a church dedicated to the holy Martyr
Tryphon in Moscow.
The holy martyr is greatly venerated in the Russian Orthodox Church as the heavenly protector of
Moscow. Many Russian icons depict the saint holding a falcon on his arm.
Greatmartyr Theodore Stratelates "the General"
Commemorated on February 8
The Great Martyr Theodore Stratelates came from the city of Euchaita
in Asia Minor. He was endowed with many talents, and was handsome in appearance. For his charity God enlightened him with
the knowledge of Christian truth. The bravery of the saintly soldier was revealed after he, with the help of God, killed a
giant serpent living on a precipice in the outskirts of Euchaita. The serpent had devoured many people and animals, terrorizing
the countryside. St Theodore armed himself with a sword and vanquished it, glorifying the name of Christ among the people.
his bravery St Theodore was appointed military commander [stratelatos] in the city of Heraclea, where he combined his military
service with preaching the Gospel among the pagans subject to him. His gift of persuasion, reinforced by his personal example
of Christian life, turned many from their false gods. Soon, nearly all of Heraclea had accepted Christianity.
this time the emperor Licinius (311-324) began a fierce persecution against Christians. In an effort to stamp out the new
faith, he persecuted the enlightened adherents of Christianity, who were perceived as a threat to paganism. Among these was
St Theodore. Licinius tried to force St Theodore to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. The saint invited Licinius to come
to him with his idols so both of them could offer sacrifice before the people.
by his hatred for Christianity, Licinius trusted the words of the saint, but he was disappointed. St Theodore smashed the
gold and silver statues into pieces, which he then distributed to the poor. Thus he demonstrated the vain faith in soulless
idols, and also displayed Christian charity.
Theodore was arrested and subjected to fierce and refined torture. He was dragged on the ground, beaten with iron rods, had
his body pierced with sharp spikes, was burned with fire, and his eyes were plucked out. Finally, he was crucified. Varus,
the servant of St Theodore, barely had the strength to write down the incredible torments of his master.
however, in His great mercy, willed that the death of St Theodore should be as fruitful for those near him as his life was.
An angel healed the saint’s wounded body and took him down from the cross. In the morning, the imperial soldiers found
him alive and unharmed. Seeing with their own eyes the infinite might of the Christian God, they were baptized not far from
the place of the unsuccessful execution.
St Theodore became “like a day of splendor” for those pagans dwelling in the darkness of idolatary, and he enlightened
their souls “with the bright rays of his suffering.” Unwilling to escape martyrdom for Christ, St Theodore voluntarily
surrendered himself to Licinius, and discouraged the Christians from rising up against the torturer, saying, “Beloved,
halt! My Lord Jesus Christ, hanging upon the Cross, restrained the angels and did not permit them to take revenge on the race
to execution, the holy martyr opened up the prison doors with just a word and freed the prisoners from their bonds. People
who touched his robe were healed instantly from sicknesses, and freed from demonic possession. By order of the emperor, St
Theodore was beheaded by the sword. Before his death he told Varus, “ Do not fail to record the day of my death, and
bury my body in Euchaita.” He also asked to be remembered each year on this date. Then he bent his neck beneath the
sword, and received the crown of martyrdom which he had sought. This occurred on February 8, 319, on a Saturday, at the third
hour of the day.
Theodore is regarded as the patron saint of soldiers. He is also commemorated on June 8.
Martyr Philothea the Monastic
Commemorated on February 19
The Monastic Martyr Philothea was born in Athens in 1522. Her parents, Syriga and Angelos Benizelos, were
renowned not only for being eminent and rich, but also deeply devout. Often the kind-hearted Syriga had implored the Most
Holy Theotokos for a child. Her fervent prayers were heard, and a daughter was born to the couple. They named her Revoula.
The parents raised their daughter in deep piety and right belief, and when she was twelve years old they gave her
away in marriage. Her husband turned out to be an impious and crude man, who often beat and tormented his wife. Revoula patiently
endured the abuse and she prayed to God, that He might bring her husband to his senses.
After three years Revoula's
husband died, and she began to labor in fasting, vigil and prayer. The saint founded a women's monastery in the name of the
Apostle Andrew the First-Called (November 30 and June 30). When the monastery was completed, the saint was the first to accept
monastic tonsure, with the name Philothea.
During this time Greece was suffering under the Turkish Yoke, and many
Athenians had been turned into slaves by their Turkish conquerors. St Philothea utilized all her means to free her fellow
countrywomen, ransoming many from servitude. Once, four women ran away from their Turkish masters, who demanded that they
renounce their Christianity, and took refuge in the monastery of St Philothea.
The Turks, having learned where the
Greek women had gone, burst into the saint's cell, and beat her. They took her to the governor, who threw the holy ascetic
into prison. In the morning, a mob of Turks had gathered, and they led her out of the prison. The governor said that if she
did not renounce Christ, she would be hacked to pieces.
Just when St Philothea was ready to accept a martyr's crown,
a crowd of Christians assembled by the grace of God. They pacified the judges and freed the holy ascetic. Returning to her
monastery, St Philothea continued with her efforts of abstinence, prayer and vigil, for which she was granted the gift of
wonderworking. In Patesia,an Athens suburb, she founded a new monastery, where she struggled in asceticism with the sisters.
During the Vigil for St Dionysius the Areopagite (October 3), the Turks seized St Philothea and tortured her. Finally,
they threw her down on the ground half-dead. The sisters tearfully brought the holy martyr, flowing with blood, to Kalogreza,
where she died on February 19, 1589. Shortly thereafter, the relics of the holy Monastic Martyr Philothea were brought to
the Athens cathedral church. (Source: OCA)
Saint John Cassian
Our venerable and God-bearing Father John Cassian was a
4th/5th century monastic saint
known for his writings on the monastic life and for correctives of the anti-Pelagian writings
of St. Augustine of Hippo. His feast day in the Orthodox Church is February 29 (celebrated
on February 28 in non-leap
years), and it is also kept locally in Marseilles, France, on July 23.
St. John was born in the Danube Delta in what is now Dobrogea,
Romania, in about 360 (some sources instead place him as a native of Gaul). In 382 he entered a monastery in Bethlehem and after several years there was granted permission, along with
his friend St. Germanus of Dobrogea, to visit the Desert Fathers in Egypt. They remained in Egypt until 399, except for a brief period when
they returned to Bethlehem and were released from the monastery there.
Upon leaving Egypt they went to Constantinople, where they
met St. John Chrysostom, who ordained St. John Cassian as a deacon. He had to leave Constantinople in 403 when Chrysostom was exiled, eventually settling close to Marseilles, where he was
ordained priest and founded two monasteries, one for women and one for men.
St. John's most famous works are the Institutes,
which detail how to live the monastic life, and the Conferences, which
provide details of conversations between John and Germanus and the Desert Fathers. He also warned against some of the excesses
in St. Augustine of Hippo's theology whilst refraining from criticising him by name. For this reason he has sometimes been accused of Semi-Pelagianism by theRoman Catholic Church and some Protestant commentators.
St. John died peacefully in 435.
The Saint's qoutes on gluttony and fasting:
"I shall speak first about control of the stomach, the opposite to gluttony, and about how to fast and what and how much
to eat. I shall say nothing on my own account, but only what I have received from the Holy Fathers. They have not given us
only a single rule for fasting or a single standard and measure for eating, because not everyone has the same strength; age,
illness or delicacy of body create differences. But they have given us all a single goal: to avoid over-eating and the filling
of our bellies... A clear rule for self-control handed down by the Fathers is this: stop eating while still hungry and do
not continue until you are satisfied."
St. Luke the Righteous of Greece
Saint Luke was the descendant of a family from Aegina which, because of the frequent invasions of the Saracens,
left Aegina and dwelt in Phocis, where the Saint was born in 896, From his earliest childhood Luke ate neither flesh, nor
cheese, nor eggs, but gave himself over with his whole soul to hardship and fasting for the love of heavenly blessings, often
away clothing to the poor. for which his father punished him. After his father's death he secretly left home to become a monk,
but the Lord, inclining to the fervent prayers of his mother, made him known, and he returned to her for a time to care for
her. For many years he lived as a hermit, moving from place to place; he spent the last part of his life on Mount Stirion
at Phocis, where there is a city named Stiris. The grace of God that was in him made a wonder-worker, and his tomb in the
monastery of Hosios Loukas, famous for its mosaics, became a source of healings and place of pilgrimage for the faithful.
According to some he reposed in the year 946; according to others, in 953.
St. Photios the Great, Patriarch of Constantinople
Commemorated on February 6
St. Photios was born around 820 AD to holy parents, who were confessors of the Faith. His parents were persecuted
for defending icons against the iconoclasts and were exiled from Constantinople. His greatness was not only due to his defence
of Orthodoxy against heretical papal practices, but also connected to his love and meekness. He vigorously opposed the addition
of the filioque clause to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, and wrote On the Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit to preserve "the
purity of our religion" and to hinder "those who chose to promote any other definition of dogma than the unanimous and common
faith of the pious." This treatise became the pattern for all subsequent Byzantine anti-Latin polemics.
The filioque doctrine, espoused by Western Christian, has its source from Augustine of Hippo (359 - 432
AD). Augustine had a fertile imagination, who could not shake off the Platonic influence of his youth. The doctrine of a 'double
procession of the Holy Spirit' was first adopted in the West at the Synod of Toledo (447 AD), which appears to have
followed Augustine's teachings. This addition was forbidden by the Fourth Ecumenical Council (451 AD). Here is the origin
of the problem that was to agitate the Church for a thousand years. Contentions that the filioque has Biblical foundations
have yet to be demonstrated.
St. Photios was forced to become Patriarch of Constatinople, however he took his calling seriously and at
once set to work as a man of God. One of his activities was to correct the error of pope Nicholas of Rome who enslaved the
people of the West with threats of condemnation to hell for disobedience to the pope. Holy Photios wrote Nicholas "Nothing
is dearer that the Truth." In the same letter he noted "It is truly necessary that we observe all things, but above all, that
which pertains to matters of Faith, in which but a small deviation represents a deadly sin."
As a Father of the Church, St. Photios was also known for his brillance and for his missionary zeal. He
blessed St. Cyril in his work of developing an alphabet for the Slavonic people, and for the later work of St. Cyril and his
brother St. Methodios as missionaries to the Slavonic people.
Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia
Commemorated on February 23
St Polycarp was Bishop of Smyrna and one of the Apostolic Fathers. He was orphaned at an early
age, but at the direction of an angel, he was raised by the pious widow Kallista. After the death of his adoptive mother,
St Polycarp gave away his possessions and began to lead a chaste life, caring for the sick and the infirm. He was very fond
of and close to St Bucolus, Bishop of Smyrna(commemorated February 6). He ordained Polycarp as Deacon, entrusting to him to
preach the Word of God in church. He also ordained him to the holy priesthood.
St Polycarp was especially close to and a student of St John, and sometimes accompanied him
on his apostolic journeys. He was also personally acquainted with 'others who had seen the Lord'. St Polycarp served as a
link between the Apostolic age and Orthodoxy of the latter part of the second century.
Shortly before his death, St Bucolus expressed his wish that Polycarp be made Bishop of Smyrna.
When St Polycarp was consecrated as Bishop, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him. St Polycarp guided his flock with apostolic
zeal, and he was also greatly loved by the clergy. St Ignatius the God-Bearer of Antioch (commemorated December 20) also had
a high regard for him. Setting out for Rome where execution awaited him, he wrote to St Polycarp, "This age is in need of
you if it is to reach God, just as pilots need winds, and as a storm-tossed sailor needs a port".
St Irenaeus of Lyons records to his friend Florinus:
"I was still very young when I saw you in Asia Minor at Polycarp's, but I would still be able
to point out the place where Blessed Polycarp sat and conversed, and be able to depict his walk, his mannerisms in life, his
outward appearance, his speaking to people, his companionable wandering with John. How he himself related, together with other
eyewitnesses of the Lord, those things that he remembered from the words of others. He also told what he heard from them about
the Lord, His teachings and miracles…Through the mercy of God to me, I then already listened attentively to Polycarp
and wrote down his words, not on tablets, but in the depths of my heart. Therefore, I am able to bear witness before God,
that if this blessed and apostolic Elder heard something similar to your fallacy, he would immediately stop up his ears and
express his indignation with his usual phrase: 'Good God! That You have permitted me to be alive at such a time!'"
St Polycarp was a new kind of Christian for his time. He was not a Jew and was not familiar
with Old Testament Scriptures; instead, he immersed himself in the Apostolic tradition. This is evident by his writings that
weaved together phrases from a wide range of Apostolic writings. Here is a quote from his letter to the Philippians, dated
c. 135 AD, that seems appropriate for the Easter period,"Everyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh
is an Antichrist; whoever does not confess the testimony of the cross, is of the devil; and whoever perverts the sayings of
the Lord for his own desires, and says that there is neither resurrection nor judgement, such a one is the first-born of Satan.
Let us therefore, leave the foolishness and the false-teaching of the crowd, and turn back to the word which was delivered
to us in the beginning.
Let us, then, continue unceasingly in our hope and in the Pledge of our justification, that
is, in Christ Jesus, who bore our sins in His own body on the tree, who did no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth; yet,
for our sakes, that we might live in Him, He endured everything".
Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD) of Roman fiercely persecuted Christians. The pagan population
demanded that the judge search for St Polycarp, who was then an old man, "the father of all the Christians", and "the seducer
of all Asia". During this time, St Polycarp, at the persistent urging of his flock, stayed in a small village not far from
On the day of his death, when his pursuers found St Polycarp, the Saint commanded that his
captures be given something to eat and drink. He then asked them to give him an hour to pray; he stood and prayed, full of
grace, for two hours in which he remembered everyone he met. Seeing his devotion and love, his captors repented that they
had come against so venerable a man. St Polycarp was brought by the Proconsul of Smyrna into the stadium and was commanded,
"Swear by the fortune of Caesar; repent, and say, 'Away with the atheists'". By atheists, the Proconsul meant the Christians.
However, St Polycarp, gazing at the heathen in the stadium, waved his hand towards them and said, "Away with the atheists".
St Polycarp was condemned to be burnt alive, and was seated on a donkey and led into the city
(presumably Rome), where he was asked to slander Christ. St Polycarp replied, "Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He
has never done me wrong. How, then, should I be able to blaspheme my King who has saved me?" This indicates that, even if
he was baptised as a child, he must have been born around 69 AD.
The executioners wanted to nail him to a post, but he declared that God would give him the
strength to endure the flames, so they could merely tie him with ropes. The flames encircled the saint but did not touch him,
coming together over his head in the shape of a vault. Seeing that the fire did him no harm, the pagans stabbed him with a
dagger. So much blood flowed from this wound that it extinguished the flames. The body of the Hieromartyr Polycarp was then
Christians later collected and hid his bones. It is traditionally accepted that he was martyred
on Saturday 23 February 155 AD.
Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia