Theology

Life of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra

This glorious saint, celebrated even today throughout the entire world, was the only son of his eminent and wealthy parents, Theophanes and Nona, citizens of the city of Patara in Lycia. Since he was the only son bestowed on them by God, the parents returned the gift to God by dedicating their son to Him.

St. Nicholas learned of the spiritual life from his uncle Nicholas, Bishop of Patara, and was tonsured a monk in the Monastery of New Zion founded by his uncle. Following the death of his parents, Nicholas distributed all his inherited goods to the poor, not keeping anything for himself. As a priest in Patara, he was known for his charity, even though he carefully concealed his charitable works, fulfilling the words of the Lord: Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth (Matthew 6:3).When he gave himself over to solitude and silence, thinking to live that way until his death, a voice from on high came to him: ``Nicholas, for your ascetic labor, work among the people, if thou desirest to be crowned by Me.'' Immediately after that, by God's wondrous providence, he was chosen archbishop of the city of Myra in Lycia. Merciful, wise and fearless, Nicholas was a true shepherd to his flock.

Venerable Nectarius of Bitola

Saint Nectarius was born in Bitola. He led the ascetic struggle in the Monastery of the Holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian near Bitola, together with his own father Pachomius who had also become a monk. Then he left for Karyes on Mount Athos where he continued his struggle under the spiritual direction of the Elders Philotheus and Dionysius at the Lavra of the Holy Archangels.

Having conquered the envy of men, assaults of demons and painful illnesses, he inhabited Christ’s Kingdom on 5/18 December 1500. His miracle working relics, incorrupt and fragrant, rest at the same Lavra.

Martyr John of Damascus

Saint John of Damascus was born about the year 680 at Damascus, Syria into a Christian family. His father, Sergius Mansur, was a treasurer at the court of the Caliph. John had also a foster brother, the orphaned child Cosmas (October 14), whom Sergius had taken into his own home. When the children were growing up, Sergius saw that they received a good education. At the Damascus slave market he ransomed the learned monk Cosmas of Calabria from captivity and entrusted to him the teaching of his children. The boys displayed uncommon ability and readily mastered their courses of the secular and spiritual sciences. After the death of his father, John occupied ministerial posts at court and became the city prefect.

Saint Joannicius of Devic (+ 1430)

Commemorated on December 2 / December 15

Joannicius was a Serb from Zeta. As a young man he was overhelmed with love for Christ. He left his home and family and withdrew to the region of Ibar at the mouth of the Black River into a narrow cave in which, according to tradition, before him, St. Peter of Korish lived a life of ascetism. When his fame began to spread among the people, he fled to Drenica and hid in the thick forest of Devich. Here St. Joannicius spent years of solitude, in silence and in prayer. According to tradition, the Serbian Prince George Brankovich brought his mentally ill daughter to him whom the Saint healed. Out of gratitude, George built a monastery on this spot, known today by the name of Devic. The holy and wonder-working relics of Joannicius repose in this monastery. In this monastery, more recently, the nun Euphemia, the famous and God-pleasing hermitess lived a life of ascetism in Devic. The nun Euphemia is better known in the area of Kosovo by the name: The Blessed Stojna. She died in the Lord in the year 1895 A.D.

Venerable Alypius the Stylite of Adrianopolis

Saint Alypius the Stylite was born in the city of Adrianopolis in Paphlagonia. His mother, a Christian, was widowed early, and she sent her son to be educated by Bishop Theodore. She distributed her substance to the poor, then began to live an ascetic life near the church as a deaconess.

Saint Alypius, from his early years, wanted to devote his life to God and yearned for the solitary life, although Bishop Theodore would not give him permission to do so. Once, when Saint Alypius was accompanying his bishop to Constantinople, the holy Martyr Euphemia (September 16) appeared to him in a vision, summoning Saint Alypius to return to Adrianopolis and found a church in her name.

With contributions offered by believers in Adrianopolis, Saint Alypius did build a church in the name of the holy Martyr Euphemia, on the site of a dilapidated pagan temple infested by legions of devils. Beside the church, under the open sky, the saint erected a pillar over a pagan tomb. For fifty-three years Saint Alypius struggled upon the pillar, praying to God and teaching those who came to him.

The demons which infested the pagan cemetery fell upon the ascetic by night and pelted him with stones. Saint Alypius, wanted nothing to stand in the way of the attacks of the spirits of darkness, then even took down the boards that served him as a roof, protecting him from the rain and wind. In the face of the saint’s conquering steadfastness, the demons fled the place forever, which had been sanctified by his deed of voluntary martyrdom.

Fourteen years before his death, Saint Alypius was no longer able to stand. He was compelled to lie on his side because of the weakness of his legs, and endured grievous sufferings with humble gratitude. Around the saint’s pillar two monasteries sprang up: a men’s monastery on the one side, and a women’s monastery on the other. Saint Alypius introduced strict monastic rules for both monasteries and he directed both monasteries until his death. Saint Alypius reposed in the year 640, at age 118. The body of the venerable stylite was buried in the church he founded in honor of the holy Martyr Euphemia. The relics of the saint of God healed many of those who came in faith.

Source: OCA

Holy, All-Praised Apostle Philip

The Holy and All-praised Apostle Philip was a native of the city of Bethsaida in Galilee. He had a profound depth of knowledge of the Holy Scripture, and rightly discerning the meaning of the Old Testament prophecies, he awaited the coming of the Messiah. Through the call of the Savior (John 1:43), Philip followed Him. The Apostle Philip is spoken about several times in the Holy Gospel: he brought to Christ the Apostle Nathaniel (i.e. Bartholomew, April 22, June 30, and August 25. See John. 1:46). The Lord asks him where to buy bread for five thousand men (John. 6: 5-7). He brought certain of the Hellenized Jews wanting to see Jesus (John. 12:21-22); and finally, at the Last Supper he asked Christ to show them the Father (John. 14:8).

Venerable Nilus the Faster of Sinai

Saint Nilus the Faster of Sinai, a native of Constantinople. He lived during the fifth century and was a disciple of Saint John Chrysostom. Having received a fine education, the saint was appointed to the important post of prefect of the capital while still a young man. During this period, Nilus was married and had children, but the pomp of courtly life bothered the couple. Saint John Chrysostom exerted a tremendous influence upon their lives and their strivings. The spouses decided to separate and devote themselves to the monastic life.

The wife and daughter of Nilus went to one of the women’s monasteries in Egypt, and Saint Nilus and his son Theodulus went to Sinai, where they settled in a cave dug out by their own hands. For forty years this cave served as the dwelling of Saint Nilus. By fasting, prayer and works, the monk attained a high degree of spiritual perfection. People began to come to him from every occupation and social rank from the emperor down to the farmer, and each found counsel and comfort from the saint.