Τρίτη, 13 Οκτωβρίου 2009


SAINTS OF THE RUSSIAN CHURCH
April – May

Compilled by Antonios Markou
This text is under constraction

April 8 and 21
St. Niphont, Archbishop of Novgorod (+ 1156)
A native of Kiev, he took the habit in the Kievan Monastery of the Caves (Kievo-Pecherskaya Laura), under the tenure of Abbot Timothy. He was renowned as a sage and devout servant of God for his ascetic life in fast and prayer. In 1131 Bishop Stephen of Novgorod, having served in this capacity for twenty years, retired from the Novgorodian see to live in silence in a monastery. By God's will -- revealed in a unanimous decision of Novgorodians -- St. Niphont was elevated to the See; his consecration as Bishop took place in Kiev.
At first, one of his chief concerns was to stop the internecine feuds and reestablish peace among Russian Princes. In 1135 he succeeded in preventing a seemingly inevitable conflict between Kiev, Chernigov, and Novgorod. Time and again his pontifical words addressed to rival Princes contributed to establishing peace. St. Niphont paid much attention to Church building, helping in decorating old Cathedrals and erecting new ones. Soon after his raising to the Bishop's See, the construction of a new white stone Cathedral in honour of the Most Holy Theotokos was started in the centre of Novgorod. The famous Novgorod's Cathedral of St. Sophia, the Wisdom of God, was decorated with icons and had its roof covered with tin. In 1156 St. Niphont founded the Mirozh Monastery of the Saviour in the flood-lands of the rivers Velikaya and Mirozh, with a Cathedral in honour of the Lord's Transfiguration constructed somewhat earlier.
A strict guardian of Church rules, St. Niphont was not afraid to incur anger of Novgorod's Prince Sviatoslav Olegovich and refused to bless his illegal marriage. When the Prince was nevertheless wedded by Priests independent of Novgorod's Bishop, St. Niphont publicly accused Sviatoslav of law-breaking.
In 1147 the Bishop had another chance to demonstrate his firm commitment to Church rules. After the death of Metropolitan Michael of Kiev, the Metropolitan See was taken over by Clement, who was appointed arbitrarily by Izyaslav Mstislavovich, Grand Duke of Kiev, without the required blessing from the Patriarch of Constantinople. At the Council (Sobor) of Bishops convened by the Grand Duke, in which Bishops Onuphrius of Chernigov, Theodore of Belgorod, Euphymius of Pereyaslavl, Damian of Yuriev, Theodore of Vladimir, Manuel of Smolensk, Joachim of Turov and Cosmas of Polotsk took part, St. Niphont firmly opposed the unlawful conduct of Izyaslav Mstislavovich and reminded the Bishops of the inevitability of God's punishment for breaking the Church rules.
Although the fearless Hierarch succeeded in obtaining support from five of the participants, Metropolitan Clement still took over the Kievan See. The latter, exasperated at St. Niphont's refusal to concelebrate Divine Liturgy, complained about him to Grand Duke Izyaslav, who prohibited Niphont's return to the Novgorod Diocese and ordered to imprison him into the Caves Monastery in Kiev. St. Niphont took this decision with humility, thanking the Lord for giving him the chance to get back to "his silent life with the Saints."
After Prince George Monomakhovich deposed Grand Duke Izyaslav Mstislavovich from the Kievan Throne, St. Niphont got the Novgorod Diocese back under his control. His efforts aimed at defending the Patriarch's rights were rewarded: Nicholas IV, a new Patriarch of Constantinople, sent to St. Niphont a Patriarchal Letter of approval, comparing him with early Fathers of the Church, who were firm advocates of Orthodoxy.
In 1156 the Bishop learnt that a new Metropolitan, Constantine, consecrated and appointed to the Kievan See in Constantinople, would arrive in Kiev. St. Niphont, too, decided to go there in order to greet the duly elected Metropolitan, as well as to pay homage to the Wonderworking Kievo-Pecherskaya Icon of the Mother of God and the Holy Relics of St. Theodosius of the Caves. In the Caves Monastery where he stayed, the Bishop had a miraculous vision three days before falling ill. St Theodosius appeared to him in a dream with a scroll in his hand, which read the following: "Behold, here I am along with the children whom the Lord hath given to me." The vision made St. Niphont think of his illness as God's mercy and endure it with humility and joy. He peacefully reposed in the Lord on Bright Saturday, thirteen days after the illness took him over. He was buried in the Kievan Monastery of the Caves, in St. Theodosius' cave. Later his Holy Relics were translated to the Caves of St. Anthony.
St. Niphont composed the vitae of several Kievan cave-dwellers; he is also said to succeed Sylvester as author of Nestor's Chronicle, covering the period from 1116 till 1157.

April 11
Sts. Euthymius (+ 1465) and Chariton (+ 1509) of Syanzhema
Little is known about the life of these Holy Ascetics. St. Euthymius was a native of Vologda. He made his profession not far from his native town, in Kamensky Monastery of the Savior on Lake Kubenskoye. From the 12th c. onward this ancient monastery served as a center of Orthodoxy in the North. In the course of centuries it had formed numerous missionaries and people who later founded monasteries themselves.
Monk Euthymius had been engaged in various monastic obediences for quite a long time. Seeking eremitical life, he left his monastery and went to the eastern shore of Lake Kubenskoye to settle in a small desert near the mouth of the Kushta River. Having built a small makeshift cell there, he lived in absolute solitude, protected by impassible marshes and dense forests. In a while his fellow monk Alexander, who had also left the Monastery in pursuit of a solitary life on the Syanzhema River, visited the ascetic. Alexander liked this secluded place and offered Euthymius to exchange cells. Although Euthymius was reluctant to leave the habitable place, he perceived the request as God's Will and agreed. Euthymius left his cross as a blessing to monk Alexander, who later became famous for his spiritual exploits (+ 1439, comm.June 9).
Having settled on Syanzhema (120 miles away from Vologda) in Alexander's cell, Euthymius continued his ascetic labor of unceasing prayer and fasting. Soon his solitude was disturbed. Inhabitants of neighboring villages, who needed his paternal advice, rushed to the hermit. Not being upset about breaking his silence and relying upon God's Providence, St. Euthymius received each and every visitor who needed spiritual advice.
Once monk Chariton - who later succeeded St. Euthymius -- visited him. The young man had been looking for a spiritual director. Euthymius liked him with all his heart and offered Chariton to join him for ascetic labor on Syanzhema. Soon they decided to build a Church and to set up a monastery nearby. To get this initiative blessed, Euthymius went to Rostov, where he was supposedly ordained Priest and at the same time appointed Abbot of the new monastery. The newly built Church was consecrated in honor of the Ascension of the Lord. As an Abbot, St. Euthymius performed the hardest monastic chores thus setting an example for the brethren.
Together with his faithful disciple, St. Chariton, who tried to imitate his spiritual father in every way, Euthymius worked in the kitchen garden, chopped firewood, dug earth, carried water; he gladly took up assignments that others didn't want to. While working for obedience's sake, the Saint unceasingly praised the Lord and recited psalms of King David. Even the food he ate was considered unacceptable by the brethren. The Saint gained the gift of prayer through his great patience and humility.
The exact date of St. Euthymius' death is unknown. He probably reposed in late 15th c., but not later than 1465. Feeling the end of his earthly life, St. Euthymius turned over the monastery to St. Chariton, who was a worthy successor of his spiritual director and friend. The latter had served as an abbot of the Ascension Monastery on Syanzhema for more than 40 years and passed away being very old on April 11, 1509.
After the closure of the Ascension Monastery in 1764, the main Cathedral was set to serve a local parish. It is where the Relics of the Saints are kept in an enclosed shrine. The author of a sermon on the day the Relics were uncovered was Ioasaph, Bishop of Vologda.
The Icon-Painting Original depicts the Saints' appearance in the following terms: "Sts. Euthymius and Chariton, Abbots of Syaizhena (Syanzhema), the Wonderworkers of Vologda. Euthymius is gray-haired, with the beard like that of Vlasius, split at the end; clothes are that of a monk, with the schema over the shoulders. Chariton is also gray-haired, with streaks of black; the beard is wider and longer than that of Sergius; clothes are that of a monk, with the schema over the shoulders."
…………………………………………………………………………………………...................................................
May 12
St. Dionysius of Radonezh (+ 1633)
In the world David Zobninovsky, he was born around 1570 in the town of Rzhev. Originally a novice and later the Abbot of Staritsky Monastery of the Dormition, he was the nearest help of Hierarch Hermogenes, Patriarch of Moscow, during the Time of Troubles.
In 1610 St. Dionysius became the Archimandrite of the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra. Houses and hospitals were opened on the Monastery's estates under his supervision for people who were wounded, rendered homeless or otherwise affected by the Polish-Lithuanian invasion. In times of hunger he suggested that the Lavra brethren subsist on oat bread and water alone to save wheat and rye bread for the sick. In 1611-1612 he wrote encyclicals together with monk Abramius Palitsyn (d. 1625), cellarer of the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, asking to send warriors and funds to liberate Moscow from the Poles. He also wrote to Prince Demetrius Pozharsky and to all warriors in order to speed up the military campaign.
Monastic skills helped St. Dionysius to preserve intact the inner light of Christ's commandments within his soul in the most difficult circumstances of that period of turmoil. The high degree of spiritual life, attained by the Saint as a result of unceasing prayer, brought along the power to work wonders. Nevertheless, he thoroughly kept secrets of spiritual life from people who could misuse this kind of knowledge. "Do not ask a monk about his life," St. Dionysius said, "because it is a terrible misfortune for monks to reveal our secrets to laity. It is written not to let your left hand know what your right one does. We should hide ourselves to keep our deeds unknown in order to prevent devil from leading us into negligence and acedia."
One can only judge about his inner ordeals and the mysteries of God revealed to him from the deeds that were evident when a situation obliged St. Dionysius to act.
The correction of ecclesiastical books was one of these important events. Since 1616 St. Dionysius led the efforts to correct the printed copy of The Book of Needs by checking ancient Slavic manuscripts against various books published in Greek. In the meantime, the correctors found serious discrepancies in other books as well, that were published in the period of Patriarchal interregnum (1612-1619). At the Sobor of 1618, however, those responsible for the above omissions accused St. Dionysius of falling into heresy. He was forbidden to officiate and excommunicated. His foes imprisoned him into Novospassky Monastery, where he was supposed to die of starvation.
St. Dionysius was discharged and released in 1619 thanks to the help of Theophan IV (1608-1644), Patriarch of the Holy Land, and of Patriarch Philaret (1619-1633), who had just returned from Polish captivity.
St. Dionysius strictly obeyed the Monastery's statute; he participated on a par with the brethren in monastic chores, as well as in the reconstruction of the Laura after its siege by the Poles. The hagiography and the canon to the Saint were composed by Simon Azaryin, cellarer of the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, and supplemented by Priest John Nasedka, who collaborated with St. Dionysius in correcting ecclesiastical books. St. Dionysius reposed on May 12, 1633, and was entombed in the Laura.

May 19
St. Ignatius of Vologda (+ 1523)
St. Ignatius (in the world right-believing Prince John of Uglich) was born in the town of Velikie Luki in 1478 into the family of Prince Andrew, the third son of Grand Duke Basil II (nicknamed Basil the Dark), and Princess Helen. Prince Andrew ruled the appanage principality of Uglich.
The reign of Basil the Dark and John III was marked by a growing number of intestine wars, with Princes trying to weaken the centralized power of the Moscow sovereign. Chronicles tell nothing about Prince Andrew taking part in plot against John III; however, the latter, feeling doubts about his younger brother's loyalty, ordered to cast him into prison. Andrew's children, John, 13, and Demetrius, 12, fell victims of the Grand Duke's cruelty as well; they were put into chains and sent to Pereyaslavl in September 1490. Later they were transferred to Beloozero, and in 1493 to Vologda.
While still living a happy life in his parents' house, young Prince John was notable for his unusual meekness and placidity. According to his biographer, monk Longin of Prilutskii Monastery, "he had meek temper and humble heart; he displayed prudent reticence, with neither anger nor inclination for royal games and amusements."
When he was six, he lost his beloved mother. At that time John found consolation in a fervent prayer to God. As he was taught to read in his early child-hood, he diligently read spiritual books and tried not to miss Church services. Young Prince enjoyed talking to pious and sage people and praying at night. His clothes were plain, his food scarce, and his heart always open to the needy.
While in prison and far from home, both brothers found consolation in praying to the Lord and His Most Holy Mother (they kept Her icon "The Joy of All Who Sorrow"). Prince John, being much too wise for his age, comforted his younger brother and encouraged him to trust in Divine Providence, which arranges the entire life of a man with wisdom and care. Having spent nights and days in praying, right-believing prince attained spiritual perfection and true humility. Shedding tears unceasingly because of a tender feeling, he thanked God for sending them sufferings and allowing them to become martyrs for Christ's sake.
At last, after 32 years of languishing in an enclosed cell, the suffering Prince, feeling his death coming, decided to take the monastic vows. He hadn't done that before because of his brotherly love, as his brother Demetrius, who didn't want to become a monk and had never been professed, even at death's door, would otherwise have to stay in prison alone. Upon request of the prisoner, Abbot of Spaso-Prilutskii Monastery Michael professed him under the name of Ignatius. The sufferer received communion, crossed himself and reposed in God saying, "Into Thy hands I commend my spirit." He passed away on May 19, 1523 at the age of 45, with his face shining and a subtle odor filling the air.
The burial of the holy monk was attended by many people, except for his brother Demetrius, who had to stay in prison for 20 years more. With the bells of nearby Churches ringing, the funeral procession headed for the Cathedral of the Resurrection. St. Ignatius was entombed in Spaso-Prilutskii Monastery near the burial place of St. Demetrius Prilutskii (+ 1392, comm. February 11).
The Lord glorified His servant when his Relics were still being carried to the place of eternal rest. A disabled woman named Alexandra was healed as soon as she touched the coffin of the Saint. Another miracle happened while the coffin was being put into the grave. Michael, a villager of Prilutskoe who had been desperately ill, became aware of the burial of St. Ignatius. He asked people to take him to the coffin, touched it just before it was put into the grave and recovered. After the burial, Solomonia, a woman from Prilutskoe who was deaf and blind in one eye, was healed over the grave of St. Ignatius. A certain Boris Solovtsev brought his friend Herodion, who was parcel blind, to the grave; after a moleben Herodion, shedding tears and having deep confidence in the intercession of the saint, touched the shrine and instantly recovered his sight.
In 1538 a woman named Daria, her arm paralyzed from the birth, asked Abbot of Spaso-Prilutskii Monastery Athanasius to celebrate a moleben over the shrine of St. Ignatius. At the following night, while she was asleep, Daria had a vision of the Saint telling her to get up. She woke up in fear to find nobody in the room, and suddenly found herself completely cured. Monk Longin, the contemporary and biographer of St. Ignatius, recounts these events and concludes that it is only a small portion of the miracles that took place over the shrine, which is an inexhaustible source of grace for all who resort to the Saint's help with faith and hope for God's mercy.
Service to the Saint, as well as his biography, was composed in the 16th c.
The manuscript service to St. Ignatius was included into a service collection of the 17th c., which is kept in the Trinity-St. Sergius Laura Library; the author's name can be found in a troparion: "God have mercy to Elias."

May 20
St. Dovmont - Timothy of Pskov (+ 1299)
St. Dovmont, Lithuanian-born Prince of Nalypinaisk (Nalshansk), was a zealous supporter of paganism at first. In 1265, seeking refuge from the intestine wars, the Prince together with 300 Lithuanian families fled from Lithuania to Pskov. The town indeed became a second home for them. The Prince was baptized under the name of Timothy, his men followed the suit. At that moment, as the chronicle says, "he felt the grace of God breathe onto him," and the Lord richly endowed him with spiritual gifts.
In just a year the inhabitants of Pskov, recognizing Dovmont's courage and virtues of a true Christian, made him Prince of the town. Having been in charge of the town for 33 years, Dovmont was the only Prince able to live in peace and accord with the veche (local council) for such a long time. As a just ruler, he made sure that others are treated in an equitable manner; he gave generous alms for beggars and pilgrims, honored Church feasts, patronized Monasteries and Churches, and founded a Monastery himself, dedicating it to the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos.
He married Grand Duke Demetrius' daughter, who was a granddaughter of right-believing Prince St. Alexander Nevsky (comm. November 23 and August 30), and thus became a member of the Grand Duke's family. Prince Dovmont, like St. Alexander Nevsky, was the celebrated defender of Russian lands. As a statesman and military leader, he was praised first and foremost for having protected the north-western borders of the Russian State from enemy attacks for many years.
In 1268 Dovmont took part in a historic battle near Racovor, in which the Russian army defeated Danish and German forces. Preparing himself for each battle, the Saint usually went to Church, laid down his sword by the Altar and came to be blessed by his confessor, who then helped Dovmont to tie up his sheath. The Prince made the fortress of Pskov impenetrable for enemies. To commemorate his glorious deeds, the defense wall built by St. Dovmont near the Krom (the town's citadel) in late 13th c. was named Dovmontova; the territory inside the wall is still referred as Dovmontov Gorod.
The holy defender of "the House of the Holy Trinity" (common metaphor for Russia) had another pious habit: to express gratitude to the Lord, Who had made him invincible, Dovmont used to build a Church near the Krom in honor of the Saint, in whose day victory was gained. Other citizens of Pskov also built Churches there to keep their special vows, and one could see Church buildings all over the small territory of Dovmontov Gorod (first Church dedicated to St. Dovmont-Timothy was erected there in 1574).
On March 5, 1299 the holy prince and warrior won his last battle, which took place on the banks of the Velikaya river. Knights belonging to Livonian Order suddenly attacked Pskov's surroundings, seizing and burning down Snetogorsky and Mirozhsky Monasteries. The dwellers shared the plight of their Monasteries: St. Ioasaph, the founder of Snetogorsky Monastery, along with 17 monks and St. Basil, Abbot of Mirozh (comm. March 4) were slaughtered. Lacking enough time to mobilize a big Pskov army, St. Dovmont attacked the evil-doers with his own squad and expelled them from Russian lands.
In a few months the Holy and right-believing Prince Dovmont-Timothy reposed. He was entombed in the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Pskov. According to the chronicle, "men, women and children alike felt deep sorrow at the death of their beloved lord, right-believing Prince Timothy." The inhabitants of Pskov recalled how the Prince cared for them in peaceful times and especially in times of war; they recalled the words he had said leading them into combat: "People of Pskov! Those of you who are old are my fathers; those who are young are my brothers. Let us stand for the Holy Trinity!"
The veneration of the Prince as a great patron of Russia guarding our land against foes and calamities of all kinds, started soon after his repose. St. Dovmont came to the rescue several times even after his death. When over a 100.000 Germans besieged the town in 1480, one of the citizens had a vision of the Saint saying, "Don't be scared. People should take the cover off my shrine and circle the town three times carrying it along with the crosses." The residents followed his instruction and the Germans retreated. After this miraculous salvation, a Church service to praise Prince Dovmont was composed.
Dovmont's battle sword -- once kept next to his Relics in the Holy Trinity Cathedral, now on display in the Historical and Architectural Museum of Pskov -- was handed over to the Princes of Pskov in the Cathedral at the ceremonies of raising them to the throne.
Holy and right-believing Prince Dovmont-Timothy and his wife, who took the veil under the name of Martha (+ 1300, comm. November 8), were revered so much that they were depicted on the Wonderworking Icon of Our Lady of Mirozh (feast day is September 24).

May 24
Monk Martyr Nikitas Stylites (+ 1186)
He was born and received his education in the city of Pereyaslavl-Zalesski .When the Rostov-Suzdal land passed into the possession of Grand Duke George (Yuri) Dolgorukiy, one of the sons of Vladimir Monomakh, the light of Christianity began to shine with an extraordinary vigor in that country. The prime and chief concern of the Grand Duke was the building of God's cities and churches.
The Grand Duke, having visited the settlers at the Klestchina Lake , found in one of the hills there a coenobitic Skete and a borough nearby encircled with an earthen rampart. He conceived an earnest desire to build it up, and laid the foundation of a stone Church for the glory of God's Transfiguration. Later, as the time went by, George Vladimirovich, either for economic reasons or some other consideration, gave an order to transfer both the borough and the Church foundation to the banks of the river Trubezh .
"The same year (1152), the chronicle reads, Yuri Vladimirovich erected stone Churches in multitude, … and, behold, removed the Church foundation from the Klestchina Lake to the city of Pereyaslavl and there commenced the raising of a Church in the name of the All-Merciful Savior".
The sudden death of that Prince halted both the setting-up of the city and the completion of the white-stoned Transfiguration Cathedral. Only under his son, Grand Duke Andrey Georgievich of Vladimir, was the Church finally built and decorated "in Pereyaslavl the New ".
All that was no easy burden to the citizens of Pereyaslavl. A heavy tax collection was required to cover the Prince's expenditures. Nicetas, a native of Pereyaslavl, noted for his savage cruelty from his early years, was in charge of the tax collection. He robbed the city residents mercilessly and did the folks a lot of harm, grabbing and keeping great amounts of money for himself. He yielded to none in shrewdness and ability to be on good terms with the high and mighty of the city, not fearing, therefore, any denunciation of his ill-doings or punishment for his telling lies. Luxurious feasts given by Nicetas to please the rulers of the city and precious gifts presented to them, gave Nicetas a perfect opportunity to spend his time merrily and carefree, turning his back on the many people who cried bitter tears because of his greed, avarice and oppressions. And the friends he had were a perfect match for him.
That was the situation which lasted for many years. But the All-Merciful God, wishing to save all sinners, called Nicetas to penance as well. God says: "Wash yourselves, and ye shall be clean, cause your souls to forsake evil … Learn to do good … spare he who is hurt, protect an orphan, and justify a widow" (Is. 1, 16-17). And there he stood as if thunderstruck by the words piercing him to the heart.
Nicetas didn't sleep the entire night. The next day, he went, as was his habit, to see his friends, cheered up by the cozy gathering, and asked them to have dinner with him at his house. While at a savory table served with delicious beverages, enjoying their free-and-easy company, Nicetas thought he would finally forget the words of the Prophet he had heard in the Church that made his heart beat so fast, and suppress his gloomy thoughts totally. But the long-suffering and merciful God once more desired to bring the erring sinner to reason and the realization of his total depravity. When his wife started to cook dinner so as to treat the guests, she suddenly saw blood foaming over, and human heads, a hand or a foot, any which way, floating to the surface of the boiling cauldron. Seized with horror, she called her husband, and Nicetas saw the same. Suddenly, he felt pangs of conscience awakening in him, and it became perfectly clear to him that his committing extortions were like acts of murder. Awestruck, he left his wife, his children, and his sinfully gained wealth behind, and abandoned his house.
Three miles away from Pereyaslavl, there stood a small Skete erected in honor of Holy Great-Martyr Nicetas, and that was where Nikitas headed after the shockingly dreadful vision. Bathed in tears, he bowed down at the feet of the Skete's Abbot, crying out: "Save this perishing soul!" Then the Abbot decided to try the sincerity of his repentance, and gave him the first obedience: to stand for three days at the Skete's gate confessing his sins to all the comers.
With deep humility and sincere repentance did Nicetas perform his first obedience. Three days passed, the abbot remembered him and sent a monk to see what he was doing at the Skete's gate, but the monk did not find Nicetas in his original place, but rather discovered him lying in a nearby swamp. He was covered all over with mosquitoes and gnats, and his body was covered with blood. And, behold, the Abbot with the brethren approached the voluntary martyr and asked: "My son! What are you doing to yourself?" "Father! Save this perishing soul!" The Abbot dressed him in a hair-shirt and himself ushered him into the Skete, and received him as a monastic.
Having taken the monastic vows wholeheartedly, St. Nicetas gave himself up to performing deeds of penance. In order to expose the gravity of the unlawful doings in his earlier life, he placed upon himself, with the Abbot's blessing, heavy chains and a stone cap and spent sleepless days and nights, praying and fasting. At that time, his mischief-making enemy started to inspire fear in him, plunging him into nightmarish visions, but Nicetas guarded himself from the visions by making the sign of the cross and calling on Holy Great-Martyr Nicetas for help, and he told nobody of these sensations.
At the places of his monastic exploits St. Nicetas dug two deep wells; yet, willing to perform still more significant deeds of repentance he set up a pillar for himself. That was a pillar-like round-shaped pit or just a cave, therefore St. Niketa's pillaring was, in essence, a reclusion. And on mounting the pillar, so as to mortify the earthly passions and desires in his flesh and to raise his spirit to God, he fought the good fight, not being seen by anybody.
And God accepted from Nicetas his sincere repentance for all the sins he had committed, his incessant fasting and ardent prayers, and corporal exploits as a sacrifice clean and fragrant, and had the kindness to glorify him still here on the earth, by endowing him with the gift of healing. Once, behold, Nicetas cured young Prince Michael of Chernigov by sending his staff to meet the latter on his way. The ailing Prince leaned against the staff and was healed. At that instant, Nicetas by invoking the Almighty God's name tied up the demon, and the evil one stood for three hours bound to the pillar, promising not to do harm to people.
The rumor about the glorious deeds of Nicetas and the grace which God bestowed upon him spread swiftly, not merely around Pereyaslavl, but also its environs.
People of different rank and standing, age and gender started to throng into the Skete to see St. Nicetas and the marvelous pillar he raised. Among the comers were the sick and the healthy, and the rich and the poor; some of them received healing from their illnesses, others - consolation in their grief and sorrows, and others - his precepts and reasonings. The great ascetic gave them all what they begged for, and no one left him without some form of benefaction.
Soon, the time came for Nicetas to depart from this life for life eternal, and God's Truth prepared yet another purification for the righteous one. Having laid hands unjustly on other people's property earlier in his life, he was murdered by hands greedy for lucre.
One night, some of Nicetas' relations came to his place asking him to pray for them, and seeing him wear heavy chains which had become clean and shiny, as they rubbed up against his body, thought they were made of silver. Deranged by the devil's incitement, they intended to kill the Saint. And on the night of May 24, 1186 they disassembled the covering of the pillar, killed the ascetic, removed his crosses and chains, wrapped him in a cloth and ran away.
Before the morning service, the sexton who came to St. Nicetas to ask for his blessing discovered the dismantled roof, and informed the Abbot of the ghastly happening. The Abbot and the brethren hurried up to the pillar and saw the slain Saint whose body was issuing fragrance. Solemnly and awesomely, with dirge singing and carrying candles was the ascetic's venerable body entombed at the Church of Holy Great-Martyr Nicetas, to the right of the altar. At that moment, all those infirm who chanced to be there received miraculous healing of their ailments.
Meanwhile, the murderers, having halted at the bank of the Volga, decided to divide the loot; but much to their surprise, they saw it was not silver but iron, and they threw the chains into the river.
God had glorified the visible signs of the deeds and exploits of the Saint as well. The same night, Simon, a pious old monk at the Apostles Peter and Paul Skete in the city of Yaroslavl, saw three rays of bright light over the Volga. He commu-nicated to the Skete's Abbot and the city's elder of what he observed.
The Priests' Council and numerous city-dwellers who had gathered on the river banks saw the three crosses and the chains "like wood floating in the Volga waters". With veneration and prayers, the crosses and the chains were carried to the Skete of Holy Great-Martyr Nicetas and placed on the top of St. Nicetas' coffin. Some healings took place at that very instant.
In approximately 1420-1425, consecrator Fothius, Metropolitan of Moscow, gave his blessing to open St. Nicetas' Relics. The Abbot of the Skete and the brethren conducted the service and then opened the birch rinds in which the Saint's incorrupt body was wrapped up, but suddenly the grave closed up with the soil, and the Relics remained hidden.
In 1511-1522, a side-altar was erected in honor of St. Nicetas, and in the 19th c. Archpriest A. Svirelin composed an Akathist to the Saint.

Δεν υπάρχουν σχόλια:

Δημοσίευση σχολίου