Saint Stephen of Serbia, “the blind one”

Saint Stephen Brancovich was the son of the Despot George and Queen Irene, and lived in the fifteenth century.

He and his sister Mara lived in the court of Sultan Murat II. Saint Stephen and his brother Gregory were blinded at Jedrene by the Turkish Sultan for some perceived offense. Since he was innocent, he bore his affliction with courage.

Eighteen Sunday after Pentecost

From the Explanation of the Gospel Luke 5:1-11by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid

1-11.And it came to pass, that, as the multitude pressed against Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And He entered into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down, and taught the people out of the boat. Now when He had left speaking, He said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch. And Simon answering said unto Him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing:nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes, and their net broke. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other boat, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, 0 Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of the fishes which they had taken; and so were also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all, and followed Him.

The Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus

The Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus in Syria were appointed to high positions in the army by the emperor Maximian (284-305), who did not know that they were Christians. Envious people informed Maximian that his two trusted counsellors did not honor the pagan gods. This was a crime against the state.

The emperor, wanting to convince himself of the truth of the accusation, ordered Sergius and Bacchus to offer sacrifice to the idols, but they replied that they honored the One God and worshiped only Him.

Holy, Glorious Apostle Thomas

The Holy and Glorious Apostle Thomas was born in the Galilean city of Pansada and was a fisherman. Hearing the good tidings of Jesus Christ, he left all and followed after Him. The Apostle Thomas is included in the number of the holy Twelve Apostles of the Savior.

According to Holy Scripture, the holy Apostle Thomas did not believe the reports of the other disciples about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

On the eighth day after the Resurrection, the Lord appeared to the Apostle Thomas and showed him His wounds. “My Lord and my God,” the Apostle cried out (John 20:28). “Thomas, being once weaker in faith than the other apostles,” says Saint John Chrysostom, “toiled through the grace of God more bravely, more zealously and tirelessly than them all, so that he went preaching over nearly all the earth, not fearing to proclaim the Word of God to savage nations.”

Venerable Cyriacus the Hermit of Palestine

Saint Cyriacus was born at Corinth to the priest John and his wife Eudokia. Bishop Peter of Corinth, who was a relative, seeing that Cyriacus was growing up as a quiet and sensible child, made him a reader in church. Constant reading of the Holy Scriptures awakened in him a love for the Lord and of a yearning for a pure and saintly life.

Once, when the youth was not yet eighteen years old, he was deeply moved during a church service by the words of the Gospel: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Mt.16:24). He believed these words applied to him, so he went right to the harbor without stopping at home, got onto a ship and went to Jerusalem.