May 4: Orthodox saints

Pelagia, Maiden of Tarsis (+c.290)

Monks Nikita, Kirill, Nikiphor, Kliment and Isaakii, the Alphanov (Sokol'nitsk) Brethren, of Novgorod (XIV-XV)

PriestMartyrs Erasmus, Bishop of Formium (+303)

Albian, Bishop of Aneium, and his Disciples (+304)

Saint Sylvanus

Nicephoros, teacher of Saint Gregory Palamas (XIV)

Saint Pelagia lived inTarsus of Cilicia during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. When she heard about Christianity, she sought to learn more about what kind of faith this was. She had a dream in which she saw the local Christian Bishop performing baptisms. Taking leave of her mother on the pretext that she was going to visit a nurse, Pelagia went instead to the bishop. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the bishop welcomed her hospitably and subsequently baptized her. However, Pelagia's fiancé, the emperor's son, heard of her conversion, and driven to despondency he killed himself.

Emperor Diocletian summoned the maiden Pelagia and attempted to dissuade her from faith in Christ. When he proved unable to change her mind, the emperor had her put to death.

The Monastic Brethren Nikita, Kirill, Nikiphor, Kliment, Isaakii -- Alphanovi (Sokol'nitskie) -- lived during the XIV Century at Novgorod. They led a righteous life and founded the Sokol'nitsk monastery. As the chronicles relate: "On the Sokol' hill was erected a wooden church of Saint Nichola and a monastery organised" in 1389. The righteous Alphanoviwere kinsmen according to the information of the chronicler Yakov Anphalov [or Alphanov], who fled to the Dvina, saving himself from pursuit for dealings with Moscow, and the righteous ones were subject to misfortune because of their ties of kinship with Yakov, and by the grievous agony of innocent suffering cleansed themselves for eternal blessedness. In the "Tale" about the brothers is recorded a miracle, arising from their relics after death. The celebration of their memory is placed under 4 May and 17 June. As the result of a fire which destroyed the Sokol'nitsk monastery, the relics of the monastic brethren were transferred to the Antoniev monastery on 4 May 1775.

Saint Erasmus zealously served the Lord from the time of his youth. And in his mature years he was elevated to the dignity of bishop of the city of Formium (Italy). During the time of a persecution against Christians under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian Hercules (284-305), Saint Erasmus left his diocese and withdrew onto Mount Libanus, where he hid for seven years. One time however an Angel appeared to him and said: "Erasmus! No one vanquishes enemies, if he is asleep. Go into your own city, pursue it bravely and thou shalt vanquish thine enemies". Heeding the voice of the Angel, Saint Erasmus left his seclusion. The first ones who asked him about his faith were soldiers, having encountered him along the way. Saint Erasmus confessed himself a Christian. They took him to trial at Antioch to the emperor Diocletian, before whom the saint fearlessly confessed his faith in Christ and audaciously denounced the emperor for his impiety. Saint Erasmus was subjected to fearsome tortures, but remained unbending. After the tortures the saint was bound in iron chains and thrown into prison, whither in miraculous form there appeared an Angel, saying: "Follow after me -- I lead thee to Italy. There thou shalt bring many people to salvation". In the city of Lycia Saint Erasmus preached boldly to the people about Christ and raised up the son of a certain illustrious citizen. After this miracle at Lycia 10,000 men were baptised. The emperor of the Western half of the Roman empire -- Maximian Hercules, gave orders to seize the saint and bring him to trial. And in front of this emperor Saint Erasmus also bravely confessed his faith. They beat him and threatened him with crucifixion if he did not recant from Christ. They then forced him to go to an idolatrous temple, but along the going of the saint all the idols situated there fell and were destroyed, and from the temple there came fire which fell upon many of the pagans. Having been set free, Saint Erasmus baptised many pagans, and afterwards went to the city of Sirmium, where he was again seized and subjected to torture. They seated him in a red-hot oven, but he remained alive and unharmed. This miracle so shook up those were presiding, that the emperor, fearing civil unrest, retired into his own chambers. The Angel freed Saint Erasmus from his fetters and took him to the city of Formium, i.e. to his own diocese, where the saint baptised many people. The saint died there in the year 303. Christians buried the remains of the holy priestmartyr with honour.

Saint Albian was bishop of the city of Aneium in the Aseian district, and suffered for Christ in about the year 304 in a persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian and his co-ruler Maximian. Saint Albian was ordered to offer sacrifice to idols under the threat of death, but the saint with firmness confessed his faith in Christ and refused to serve idols. They tortured him with red-hot iron and beat him mercilessly, but he remained unyielding. They tortured also together with him his student, who likewise remained faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ. Both of the holy martyrs were sentenced to death and thrown into a red-hot oven, in which they died, having won the crowns of martyrdom.

Saint Sylvanus came from the vicinity of the city of Gaza. In the world Sylvanus was a soldier. Wishing to serve the Heavenly King, he became a priest, and was ordained bishop of Gaza. Saint Sylvanus converted many pagans to faith in Christ. During the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian he was taken for trial to the city of Caesarea, he underwent torture and bravely endured it, and was then sentenced to harsh labour in the copper mines. At this work the holy bishop reached the edge of exhaustion, but always cheerful of spirit, he incessantly preached Christ to all those around him. This occurrence angered the pagans, who beheaded him. Such death there also accepted together with him 40 holy martyrs, who through the words of the bishop believed in Christ. Their death followed in the year 311.

The Monk Nicephoros -- was the teacher of Saint Gregory Palamas (commemorated 14 November). Saint Nicephoros pursued asceticism on Athos in the XIV Century and left after him the profound spiritual work "The Wise Method of the Jesus Prayer".