On this day we commemorate the martyrdom of St. George the Alexandrian. His mother was the sister of Armenius, the Governor of Alexandria. His father was a merchant in the City of Alexandria and they had no son. It happened that his father was in the City of Lydd and attended the feast of the consecration of the Church of St. George the martyr. He prayed to God through the intercession of His great saint that he might have a son. God answered his prayers and gave him a son, and he named him George.
His parents died when he was 25 years old. He was merciful and kind to the poor and he loved the church. He stayed with his uncle who had one daughter. One day she went out with some of her friends and as they were walking near a monastery outside the city she heard the monks chanting hymns. She was touched by what she had heard and asked her cousin George to tell her about the monks. He replied that the monks had forsaken the world to worship God and he led her to believe in the Lord Jesus. George also made her aware of what will happen to the sinners after judgement day, i.e. eternal suffering in hell and the reward of the righteous in heaven.
When she returned to her father, she told him that she believed in the Lord Jesus. Her father tried to reason with her, to dissuade her, to lure her with great promises and finally he threatened her. When she would not listen to him, he ordered that her head be cut off and she received the crown of martyrdom.
The Governor knew that George was responsible for her conversion. He seized him and tortured him severely. Then he sent him to Ansena where they tortured him further and finally they cut off his head and he too received the crown of martyrdom. A deacon by the name of Samuel took his body and carried it to the City of Manf in El-Giza.
When the wife of his uncle heard what had happened,
she sent for the body and placed it with the body of her martyred
daughter in Alexandria.
He was told in a vision that he must go to Antioch. While he was thinking how to get there and looking for a ship to embark on, God sent him His angel Michael, who carried him on his wings from Alexandria to Antioch and set him down before Diocletian. There he confessed the Lord Jesus. Diocletian asked him about his name and his country of origin, and when he knew his story he wondered at the way by which he had come. He offered him much money and many prizes to turn him away from his faith, but he refused. Then Diocletian threatened him, but could not frighten him.
The Emperor ordered that Nehrou be tortured. They tortured him once by releasing a lion to attack him, and once by burning him with fire and another by squeezing him between two drums and another by casting him into a pot of boiling water. Finally, they cut off his head and he received the crown of martyrdom.
It happened that St. Julius El-Akfehas was
present at the time of his martyrdom, so he took his body and
sent it with two of his men to St. Nehrou's town with great honour.
Also on this day we commemorate the departure of St. Mina, Bishop of the City of Tamai El-Amdid in Sinbelawain. He was from the City of Samanoud and was the only son of God-fearing parents. They practised the life of the monks in fasting, prayer and piety wearing sackcloth and spending most of their nights in prayer and reading the word of God until their story was known throughout the region.
They pressured their son to marry against his will. Yet he agreed with his wife in keeping their virginity. Mina longed to be a monk and discussed the matter with his wife saying: "It is improper for us to practice the life of the monks while we are in the world".
When she agreed with him, he went to the monastery of Abba Anthony to be far away from his parents who were looking for him. From there he went with Abba Mikhail I, who later became the 46th Patriarch of Alexandria, to the monastery of St. Macarius, where they both became monks. That was during the time of the two bright stars Abraam and Gawergah. Abba Mina became their disciple, he learned from them and followed their way of way. He excelled in his angelic worship until he surpassed many of the fathers.
Satan envied him for his strenuous striving and afflicted him with an ailment in his legs and he lay flat on the ground for two months, but the Lord Jesus healed him.
Then he was called for the rank of Bishopric. When the messengers of the Patriarch came to him he knew the reason for their coming, he wept and was sorrowful to leave the desert. The fathers convinced him that this was the will of God. He obeyed and went to the Patriarch who ordained him Bishop of the City of Tamai. The Lord gave him the gift of healing the sick, the gift of knowing unknown matters, such as what goes on in the minds of people. The Bishops of the surrounding districts used to come to him for counselling. People from everywhere came to listen to his teachings. He was the father of four Patriarchs and laid his hand upon them when they were ordained. They were: Abba Alexandros II, Abba Cosma, Abba Theodore and Abba Mikhail I.
The Lord informed him of the day of his departure. Abba Mina called the people of his diocese and commanded them to be strong in the Orthodox faith and to keep the divine commandments. He then committed them to their true Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, and
departed to Christ. The people wept and mourned
the loss of their shepherd and their father who cared for their
souls. They buried him in a fitting manner and laid him in the
place where he had directed them.
Sainted Gregory Thaumatourgos [Wonderworker], Bishop of Neocaesarea, was born in the city of Neocaesarea (northern Asia Minor) into a pagan family. Having received a fine education, from his youth he strived for Truth, but the thinkers of antiquity were not able to quench his thirst for knowledge. Truth was revealed to him only in the Holy Gospel, and the youth became a Christian.
For the continuation of his studies Saint Gregory set off to Alexandria, known then as a center for pagan and Christian learning. The youth, eager for knowledge, went to the Alexandrian Catechetical School, where the presbyter Origen taught. Origen was a famous teacher, possessing a great strength of mind and profound knowledge. Saint Gregory became a student of the presbyter Origen. Afterwards, the saint wrote thus about his mentor: "This man received from God a sublime gift -- to be an interpreter of the Word of God for people, to apprehend the Word of God, as God Himself did use it, and to explain it to people, insofar as they were able to understand it." Saint Gregory studied for eight years with the presbyter Origen and received Baptism from him.
The ascetic life of Saint Gregory, his continence, purity and lack of covetousness aroused envy among his conceited and sin-loving peers -- pagans that they were, and they decided to slander Saint Gregory. One time, when he was conversing with students on the city-square, a seductress notorious throughout the city came up to him and demanded payment, for alleged sinful services rendered. At first Saint Gregory gently took exception with her, that she was mistaken and assumed that he was someone else. But the profligate woman would not be quieted. He then asked a friend to give her the money. Just as the profligate woman took in hand the unjust recompense, she immediately fell to the ground in a demonic fit, and the fraud became evident. Saint Gregory said a prayer over her, and the devil left her.
Having returned to Neocaesarea, the saint renounced the worldly affairs into which influential townsmen persistently sought to push him. He fled into the wilderness, where by fasting and prayer he attained to high spiritual accomplishment and grace-bearing gifts of perspicacity and prophecy. Saint Gregory loved life in the wilderness and wanted to remain in solitude until the end of his days, but the Lord willed otherwise.
The bishop of the Cappadocian city of Amasea, Thedimos, having learned about the ascetic life of Saint Gregory, decided to have him made bishop of Neocaesarea. But having foreseen in spirit the intent of Vladyka Thedimos, the saint hid himself from the messengers of the bishop who were entrusted to find him. Then Bishop Thedimos ordained the out of sight saint as bishop of Neocaesarea, beseeching the Lord, that He Himself would sanctify the unusual ordination. Sainted Gregory perceived the extraordinary event as a manifestation of the will of God and he did not dare to protest. This episode in the life of Saint Gregory was recorded by Sainted Gregory of Nyssa (commemorated 10 January). He relates, that Saint Gregory of Neocaesarea received the highest priestly dignity only after the performing over him of all the sacerdotal requirements by Bishop Thedimos of Amasea.
Before ordination, when it was necessary for him to pronounce the Confession of the Faith, Saint Gregory prayed fervently and diligently imploring God and the Mother of God to reveal to him the true form of worship of the MostHoly Trinity. At the time of prayer the All-Pure Virgin Mary appeared to him, radiant like unto the sun, and together with Her was the Apostle John the Theologian dressed in archbishopal vestments. At the bidding of the Mother of God, the Apostle John taught the saint how to correctly and properly confess the Mystery of the MostHoly Trinity. Saint Gregory wrote down everything that the Apostle John the Theologian revealed to him. The Mystery of the Symbol-Creed of the Faith, written down by Sainted Gregory of Neocaesarea -- is a great Divine Revelation in the history of the Church. On it is based the teaching about the Holy Trinity in Orthodox Theology. Subsequently it was made use of by the holy Fathers of the Church -- Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and Gregory of Nyssa. The Credal-Symbol of Saint Gregory of Neocaesarea was later examined and affirmed in the year 325 by the First OEcumenical Council, showing his enduring significance for Orthodoxy.
Having become a bishop, Saint Gregory set off to Neocaesarea. Along the way from Amasea he expelled devils from a pagan-temple, the priest of which he converted to Christ. The convert was witness to still another miracle of the saint -- through his word a large heap of stone shifted from its place. The preaching of the saint was direct, lively and fruitful. He taught and worked miracles in the Name of Christ: he healed the sick, he helped the needy, he settled quarrels and complaints. Two brothers in sharing an inheritance were not able to agree over a lake property of their dead father. Each of the brothers gathered round himself like-minded friends. They were ready to come to blows. Saint Gregory persuaded them to delay the finish of their dispute until the following day, and he himself prayed all night long at the shore of the lake causing the quarrel. When dawn broke, everyone saw that the cause of the dispute was no more -- the lake had gone underground. Through the intense prayer of the saint there now flowed but a stream, and the course of its flow defining the boundary line. Another time, during the construction of a church, he gave command in the Name of Christ for an hill to move and make room at the place of the foundation.
When a persecution against Christians began under the emperor Decius (249-251), Saint Gregory led his flock to a faraway mountain. A certain pagan, knowing about the place of the Christians, told this to the persecutors. Soldiers surrounded the mountain. The saint went out into an open place, raised up his hands to heaven and, having given orders to his deacon on what to do, he began to pray. The soldiers searched the whole mountain, and they went several times right past those praying, but not seeing them, they gave up and went. In the city they reported that on the mountain there was nowhere to hide: no one was there, and only two trees stood alongside each other. The informer was struck with amazement, he repented his ways and became a fervent Christian.
Saint Gregory returned to Neocaesarea after the end of the persecution. By his blessing church feastdays were established in honour of the martyrs that had suffered for Christ. During these times there began to spread about the false-teachings of the heretic Paul of Samosata (Samosata was a city in Syria). This heretic confused together the Essence of the UnDivided Trinity with the Essence of One God the Father, confounding the minds of many Christians by his talks and writings. The heretic Paul of Samosata was condemned at the first Antioch Council, assembled in the year 264. Saint Gregory occupied a prominent place at this Council.
By his saintly life, his effective preaching,
working of miracles and graced guiding of his flock, the saint
steadily increased the number of converts to Christ. Before his
death (c.266-270) there remained in the city only 17 pagans. But
when Sainted Gregory Thaumatourgos, Bishop of Neocaesaea, first
entered onto the cathedra, there were in the city only 17 Christians.
The Monk Nikon, Hegumen of Radonezh, a close student and successor of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh (+1392, commemorated 25 September and 5 July), was born at Yur'ev-Pol'sk. Having heard of the angelic life of the Radonezh Wonderworker, the lad came to the Monk Sergei and requested to take vows into the angelic form. The Monk Sergei discerned the purity and prudence of the lad and gave him a testing -- he sent him to his disciple Athanasii the Eminent (+post 1401, commemorated 12 September). But the Monk Athanasii would not accept him right away. Only after seeing the persistence of the lad did he vow him into the monastic form. The Monk Nikon in living with him worked at prayer, studied Holy Scripture and persevered in virtue and purity. When he reached the age of maturity, he was ordained to the dignity of priest. After a certain while the Monk Athanasii gave him blessing to go see the Monk Sergei. The Monk Sergei, joyfully catching sight of him, said: "It is fine that thou art come, my child Nikon" and happily received him. He gave orders for the Monk Nikon to serve the brethren. The disciple passed whole days at monastic matters, and nights -- in prayerful talks with God. The Monk Sergei was comforted by his life. Having received a special insight concerning him, the Monk Sergei bid his disciple to dwell with him in his own cell, so that he might share in spiritual attainment. He fondly instructed him and explained much about the essence of spiritual life. The Monk Sergei at first assigned the Monk Nikon to the duty of assisting the monastery head, but six months before his repose, when he had committed himself to silence, he appointed the disciple as his successor.
After the death of the Monk Sergei (+25 September 1392), he attentively attended to everything that was directed him by the founder of the monastery. He had the habit to make the rounds of all the monastic services, and never did he forsake common tasks, working on a equal footing with all the brethren. But the burden of monastic head weighed down upon the Monk Nikon. Recalling his quiet life in the Serpukhov Visotsk monastery with the Monk Athanasii, and later with the Monk Sergei, he gave up the governance and retired into his own cell. For six years the monastery was guided by the Monk Savva of Storozhevsk (+1407, commemorated 3 December). In the year 1400 the Monk Savva founded his own monastery near Zvenigorod, and the brethren entreated the Monk Nikon to again take over the governance. He consented, but assigned himself a certain time each day for silence, so as to stand alone before God.
When reports began to spread about an invasion
of the Russian land by khan Edigei (1408), the Monk Nikon zealously
prayed to God for the sparing of the monastery. In the nuance
of a dream there appeared to him the Moscow Sainted-hierarchs
Peter (+1326, commemorated 21 December) and Alexei (+1378, commemorated
12 February) together with the Monk Sergei and said, that he should
not grieve over the destruction of the monastery, since it would
not become desolate, but rather grow all the more. The monks left
the monastery, taking with them relics and cell-items, and when
they returned they saw that their beloved place had been reduced
to ashes. But the Monk Nikon did not despair, and the task of
the brethren was renewed work. First of all was built a wooden
church in the Name of the MostHoly LifeCreating Trinity and it
was consecrated in the year 1411 on the day of repose of the Monk
Sergei, 25 September. The monastery was restored, and the Monk
Nikon undertook construction of a stone church over the grave
of his spiritual father, the Monk Sergei. The work-crew digging
at the time for the foundations uncovered on 5 July 1422 the undecayed
relics of the Monk Sergei. Amidst universal rejoicing they placed
the relics in a new reliquary and at the transferred-to new site
a wooden church was built (now at this place is the church in
honour of the Descent of the Holy Spirit). The Monk Nikon later
erected a new stone church in the Name of the glorious God in
Trinity, and in memory and praise to his spiritual father, he
transferred the holy relics into this newly built church. For
the embellishment of the temple the Monk Nikon brought in the
finest iconographers, the Monks Saint Andrei (Rublev) and Daniel
(Cherny). Then also the Monk Andrei wrote the Icon of the LifeCreating
and MostHoly Trinity, embodying in it what was revealed to the
Monk Sergei. The Monk Nikon was occupied with the construction
of the Trinity church until the end of his life. The place of
his future repose together with the Monk Sergei was revealed to
him in a vision before his death. He summoned the brethren and
gave them directives. Having communed the All-Pure Body of Christ
and His Precious Blood, the Monk Nikon gave the brethren a last
blessing and said: "Let us go thither, my soul, whence it
is prepared for thee to dwell; let us proceed with joy: for Christ
doth summon thee." Having made the sign of the cross, the
Monk Nikon died on 27 November 1426. He was buried near the reliquary
of the Monk Sergei. Under Sainted-hierarch Jona (1448-1461), the
priestmonk Pakhomii the Logothete wrote down the service and Life
of the Monk Nikon, and in the year 1547 there was established
a generally observed celebration to him. In the year 1548 a church
in his name was built over the grave of the Monk Nikon, and in
1623 a new one was constructed in its place, in which the relics
of the Monk Nikon rest under a crypt. In 1976 at the Trinity-Sergeev
Lavra, the 500 year anniversary of the repose of the Monk Nikon
was solemnly observed.
Holy Monk Lazaros the Iconographer lived in Constantinople.
He was a priest, led a strict ascetic life and wrote holy icons.
Under the Iconoclast emperor Theophilos (829-842), they arrested
him and after cruel tortures they threw him in prison. He was
saved from an inevitable execution by the intervention of the
empress Theodora. The Monk Lazaros died in the year 857 while
returning from Rome, where he had been sent in a delegation on
church matters to Pope Benedict III (855-858). His remains were
taken to Constantinople and buried in the church of Saint Euandros.
The Martyr Gobrones, in Holy Baptism Michael, and with him 133 Soldiers -- were Gruzian [Georgian] Martyrs of the X Century. The Martyr Michael, descended from an illustrious princely line, was distinguished from the time of his youth by his bravery and lack of fear, and for this he was called "Gorbones" (which means in the Arab language "valiant, brave").
In the year 914 the Arab military commander Abdul-Kasim, having laid waste to Armenia, occupied Tbilisi and besieged the fortress of Kvelo, defended by Saint Gorbones and his soldiers. After a 28 day siege, while treacherously breaking a sealed truce, the Arabs burst into the fortress and captured its stoic defenders headed by Gorbones.
The Gruzian emperor Adarnas II (881-923) ransomed many of the captives, but the Arabs would not consent to the ransom of Saint Gorbones. The emir tried to persuade him to accept Islam, promising him freedom and riches, but received a firm refusal. Then before the eyes of Saint Gorbones they murdered 133 of his soldiers, those who likewise had refused to renounce their faith in Christ. Saint Gorbones, having dipped his fingers in the blood of the martyrs, traced a cross on his forehead and, having given thanks to the Lord for the martyr's crown, he calmly and composedly accepted death by beheading on 17 November 914. The author of the work, the "Martyrdom of Michael (Gorbon)" (914-918), the Tbetsk bishop Stephen relates, that the body of Saint Gorbones was buried together with the bodies of his 133 warriors together in a common pit. "Almost every night a marvelous light illumined the grave of the holy martyrs; and a multitude of the sick in approaching the grave of the saints did received healing". The Gruzian Church enumerated the Martyr Gorbones and his Soldiers into the rank of the saints and established their memory on the day of their martyrdom -- 17 November.