On this day we celebrate the commemoration of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God the Eternal Word, Who was the salvation of Adam and his descendants.

On this day also we commemorate the departure of the Great Prophet Joel, the son of Pethuel, from the tribe of Reuben. He prophesied in the days of Abya the son of Jeroboam the son of King Solomon. He taught the people and admonished them. He prophesied concerning the dwelling of God in Zion, His passion, the Descendant of the Holy Spirit the Comforter upon the holy Apostles on the day of Pentecost. He also forecasted that they and their sons and daughters will prophesy, their old men will dream dreams and their young men will see visions.

This Prophet prophesied also about the spread of the Gospel from Zion when he said: "A fountain shall flow from the house of the Lord and water the Valley of Acacias" (Joel 3 :18). And he made known that after the coming of the Lord Jesus, war will break out on the earth. He spoke also about the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, more than a thousand years before the coming of the Lord Jesus. He said: "The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness" (Joel 3:15). He pleased God and departed in peace.

On this day also in the year 1405 A.D. (the Coptic year 1121) St. Freig known as Abba Roweiss, departed. This saint was from a village called Miniet-Yamin, of the Province of Gharbia, Egypt. His father's name was Isaac and his mother's was Sarah. When he was born they called him Freig. He worked with his father in farming and he had a small camel on which he carried salt and sold it.

He called the camel Roweiss (i.e. small head). The camel used to put his head against his cheek as if it was kissing him. Because of his humility, he called himself after his camel, Roweiss.

Persecutions befell the Christians, so he came to Cairo and having no house nor shelter he went from one place to another. He spent most of his nights in prayers and wailing. He did not own a coat or any clothes, not even a cover for his head. He was naked except for that which covered his body. He looked like the hermits of the desert, his eyes were red as the result of much weeping and he never cut the hair of his head. He was a man of few words. Once an evil man smote him severely but he did not open his mouth. St. Marcus El-Antoni was present when it happened and he rebuked the evil man.

During the later part of his life, he used to say: "O Virgin, take me because my burden has become heavy". He meant the burden of carrying the sins of the people, he often rebuked them though they did not listen to him.

He lived in the days of the holy Pope Mattheos I, the 87th Patriarch and St. Marcus El-Antoni, at the time of Sultan El-Zaher Barkuk.

Among the strange things he did, is that he shut himself up in a small storeroom at one of his disciple's place named Michael the Builder in Meniet Syreg. He stayed in that place for nine years until his departure on the twenty-first of Babah of the Coptic year 1121. He was buried in the Church of the Virgin, Deir El-Khandaq. He performed many wonders such as healing the sick, prophesying and relieving many from their troubles.

Saints Cosmas and Damian were natives of Asia Minor. Their father, a pagan, died while they were still quite small children. Their mother, Theodotia, raised the brothers in Christian piety. The example of their mother and the reading of holy books preserved them in chasteness of life in accord with the command of the Lord, and Cosmas and Damian grew up into righteous and virtuous men.

Trained and having become skilled as physicians, they acquired a graced gift of the Holy Spirit -- to heal by the power of prayer people's illnesses both of body and soul, and they treated even animals. With fervent love for both God and neighbour, the brothers went forth into social service. For the maladies which the brothers treated they never took payment, and they strictly observed the command of our Lord Jesus Christ: "Freely have ye received, freely in turn give" (Mt 10:8). The fame of Saints Cosmas and Damian spread throughout all the surrounding region, and people called them -- unmercenaries.

One time the saints were summoned to a grievously ill woman -- whom all the doctors had refused to treat because of her seemingly hopeless condition. Through faith Palladia (thus was her name) and through the fervent prayer of the holy brothers, the Lord healed the deadly disease and she got up from her bed perfectly healthy and giving praise to God. In gratitude for being healed and wanting them to accept a small gift from her, Palladia went quietly to Damian. She presented him with three eggs and said: "Take this small gift in the Name of the Holy LifeCreating Trinity -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Hearing the Name of the Holy Trinity, the unmercenary one did not dare to refuse.

Cosmas, however, when he learned of what had happened, became very sad. He thought that his brother had broken their strict vow. And soon approached the time when Saint Cosmas was to expire to the Lord. Dying, he gave last instructions that his brother should not be buried alongside him. After a short while Saint Damian also died. All were greatly perplexed where Saint Damian's grave should be. But through the will of God a miracle occurred: there came to the people a camel, which the saints had treated for its wildness, and it spoke with an human voice saying -- that they should not doubt to put Damian alongside Cosmas -- because it was not for the reward that Damian accepted the gift from the woman, but on account of the Name of God. The venerable remains of the holy brothers were buried together at Theremanea (Mesopotamia).

Many miracles were worked upon the death of the holy unmercenaries. There lived at Theremanea, nearby the church of Cosmas and Damian, a certain man by the name of Malchos. One day in setting off on a distant journey, and leaving behind his wife all alone for what would be a long time -- he prayerfully entrusted her to the heavenly protection of the holy brothers. But the enemy of the race of mankind, having taken hold over one of Malchos' friends, planned to destroy the woman. A certain while went by, and this man went to her at home and said that Malchos had sent him -- to take her to him. The woman believed him and went along. He led her to a solitary place and wanted to molest and kill her. The woman -- seeing that disaster threatened her -- called upon God with deep faith. Two fiercesome men then appeared, and the cunning man let go of the woman, and took to flight: he fell off a cliff! The men led the woman home. At her own home, bowing to them deeply she asked: "What name do they call you? --my rescuers, to whom I shalt be grateful to the end of my days!" "We are the servants of Christ, Cosmas and Damian" -- they answered and became invisible. The woman with trembling and with joy told everyone about what had happened with her, and glorifying God she went up with tears to the icon of the holy brothers and offered up prayers of thanks for her deliverance. And from that time the holy brothers were venerated as protectors of the holiness and inviolability of Christian marriage, and as givers of harmony to conjugal life. And from ancient times their veneration spread also to Russia.

The Holy Martyrs Kyriena from Tarsus and Juliania from Rosa were arrested for confessing the Christian faith under the governor of Cilicia, Marcian, during the reign of the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). They led Saint Kyriena, stripped and with shorn head, around Tarsus for ridicule, and then together with Saint Juliania they went to the city of Rosa, where they gave them over to burning.

The Holy Martyr Hermingeld, Prince of the Goths (+586), abandoned the Arian heresy and was converted to Orthodoxy. His father, the emperor Luvingild, was an Arian, and neither by endearing nor by threats was able to sway his son to return to the former faith, and finally gave orders to execute him. The firmness of the prince in his faith and his valour before death compelled the emperor to repent of his deed. Not himself deciding to accept Orthodoxy, he nonetheless permitted the holy Bishop Leander to convert his successor Rekhardt to the true faith. Having become emperor, Rekhardt affirmed Orthodoxy in his domain.

The Holy MonkMartyr James took monastic vows on Athos at the Dokhiar monastery. Transferring to the neglected Iverian skete-monastery of the Venerable ForeRunner [John the Baptist], the monk restored it, under the supervision of the monastic-elder Ignatios. Having passed through obedience in various exploits of self-denial, blessed James scaled the heights to suchlike purity, that he was vouchsafed heavenly revelations: just as for the Apostle Paul, so also there appeared to the monk the mansions of paradise and the straits of hades. By a gift from above, the Monk James perceived the heart's mysteries and the secret thoughts of each of those coming to him. The monk also was found worthy of the gift of wonderworking. Visiting with disciples in Aetolia, the monk worked many miracles, healing the sick and instructing all. Many people flocked to the monk. The Turkish authorities, having fabricated false denunciations against the monk that allegedly he intended to foment rebellion, attempted to force the saint into a renunciation of Orthodoxy. But Saint James and both his disciples, the Monk-deacon James and the Monk Dionysios, endured the fiercest of torments over the span of many days. They accepted a martyr's death on 1 November 1520. The relics of the monk-martyrs, glorified by miraculous healings, were placed in the monastery of Saint Catherine the Alleviatrix from Bondage in the small town of Galatista, near Soluneia [Thessalonika]. The fame of the holy relics attracted to the monastery in a short while about 100 brethren, under the head of the Monk Theon (commemorated 5 April), who himself was a disciple of the Monk James.