Today marks the beginning of the Advent fasting in our Coptic Church. We implore our Lord, Who completed our salvation by coming down to redeem us from the bondage of sin, to help us to do what is pleasing in His sight during this holy fast and through all the days of our lives.
The Monk Alypios the Pillar-Dweller was born in the city of Adrianopolis in Paphlagonia. His mother, a Christian, early on became a widow, and she gave over her son for education to bishop Theodore, while she herself, having distributed her substance to the poor, began to asceticise nearby the church and was deigned worthy of the vocation of deaconess.
Saint Alypios from the time of his early years
wanted to devote his life to God and yearned for the solitary
life, although bishop Theodore would not give him permission to
do so. One time, when Saint Alypios was accompanying his Vladyka
to Constantinople, the holy Martyress Euthymia appeared to him
in a vision, summoning Saint Alypios to return to Adrianopolis
and found a church in her name. On the means offered by believers
in Adrianopolis, Saint Alypios did build a church in the name
of the holy Martyress Euthymia, on the spot of a dilapidated pagan
temple, infested by legions of devils. Alongside the church, and
under the open sky, atop a pagan tomb the saint erected a pillar.
For fifty-three years the Monk Alypios asceticised upon the pillar,
praying to God and teaching the many that came to him. The demons,
which infested the pagan cemetery, by night fell upon the ascetic
and pelted him with stones. Saint Alypios, wanting nothing to
stand in the way of the attacks of the spirits of darkness, then
even destroyed the light lean-to which protected him from the
rain and wind. In face of the conquering steadfastness of the
saint, the demons quit this place forever, which had been sanctified
by his deed of voluntary martyrdom. A mere 14 years before his
death Saint Alypios was no longer able to stand and he was compelled
through the weakness of his legs to lay upon his side, enduring
grievous sufferings with humble thankfulness. Around the pillar
of the monk gradually there arose two monasteries: on the one
side -- a men's monastery, and on the other -- a women's monastery.
The Monk Alypios introduced for both monasteries strict ustavs
[monastic rules] and until his death he directed both monasteries.
The monk died in the year 640, at age 118. The body of the venerable
pillar-dweller was buried in the church founded by him in honor
of the holy Martyress Euthymia. The relics of the saint of God
healed many that came in faith.
Consecration of the Church of the GreatMartyr George at Kiev:
Beginning with Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir (commemorated
15 July), there existed the pious custom among Russian princes
to build a church in honor of their patron saint. Thus, Equal-to-the-Apostles
Vladimir, in Baptism Vasilii [Basil] built at Kiev and also Vyshgorod
temples in the name of Sainted Basil the Great (commemorated 1
and 30 January). Prince Izyaslav I (1054-1068), in Baptism Dimitrii,
built at Kiev a temple and monastery in the name of the holy GreatMartyr
Demetrios (Comm. 26 October). Prince Yaroslav the Wise (1019-1054),
in holy Baptism Georgii, made the beginnings of a church and men's
monastery in honor of his patron saint -- the GreatMartyr George
(commemorated 23 April), and likewise he built a church in the
name of the GreatMartyress Irene (commemorated 5 May), the patron
saint of his wife. The temple in honour of the GreatMartyr George
was consecrated by Saint Ilarion, Metropolitan of Kiev (commemorated
21 October), and there was established a yearly commemoration
in honor of this event.
Sainted Innokentii, Bishop of Irkutsk, in the world Ioann [John], was descended from the Kul'chitsky line of court nobility. His parents in the mid-XVII Century resettled from Volynia to the Chernigov region. The saint was born in about the year 1680, and educated at the Kiev Spiritual Academy. He accepted monastic tonsure in 1710 and was appointed an instructor at the Slavonic-Greek-Latin Academy as prefect and professor of theology. In 1719 Saint Innokentii transferred to the Sankt-Peterburg Alexandro-Nevsky Lavra with the appointment of arch-priestmonk of the Fleet. In 1720 he bore the obedience of vice-regent of the Alexandro-Nevsky Lavra. On 14 February 1721, PriestMonk Innokentii was ordained to the dignity of Bishop of Pereyaslavl' and appointed to the Peking Spiritual Mission in China. But the Chinese government on the visa gave refusal "for a spiritual personage, a great lord," as the Senate Commission on External Affairs had indiscretely characterised him. The saint was compelled to spend three years at Selingin on the Chinese border, undergoing much deprivation because of the uncertainty of his position, and grief from the disarray of civil governance in Siberia. Diplomatic blunders of the Russian Mission in China by Graf Raguzinsky, and intrigues by the Irkutsk archimandrite Antonii Platkovsky led to this -- that in China was appointed archimandrite Antonii, and by decree of the MostHoly Synod Saint Innokentii was named in 1727 to be Bishop of Irkutsk and Nerchinsk. And so he entered into the governance of the newly-formed dioceses.
The proximity of the Chinese border, the expanse and sparsely-settled dioceses, the great number of diverse nationalities (Buryat, Mongol, and others), mostly unenlightened by the Christian faith, the lack of roads and the poverty -- all this made Saint Innokentii's pastoral work burdensome and his life full of deprivation. Through a strange oversight of the Senate, he did not receive money up until the time of his very death and he endured extreme insufficiency of means. In these difficult condition of scant funds the Irkutsk Ascension monastery still maintained two schools opened under him -- one Mongol and the other Russian. The constant concern of the saint was directed towards their functioning -- the selection of worthy teachers, and providing for students the necessary books, clothing and other provisions.
The saint toiled tirelessly at the organising of the diocese, strengthening its spiritual life, to which witness his many sermons, pastoral letters and directives. In his work and deprivations Saint Innokentii found spiritual strength, humility, and perspicacity.
In the Spring of 1728 the Baikal region began to suffer a drought. Famine from poor grain-harvest had threatened the diocese already back in 1727. With the blessing of the sainted-hierarch, in May within the churches of Irkutsk and the Irkutsk region for each Liturgy they began to include a molieben for the cessation of the drought; on Saturdays they sang an akathist to the Mother of God, and on Sundays they served a collective molieben. "The supplications," -- said the saint -- "should finish on the day of Saint Elias." And indeed on that very day appointed, 20 July, at Irkutsk there raged a storm with such strong rains, that in the streets of the city water stood up to their knees -- and thus ended the drought.
Through the efforts of Saint Innokentii, construction was started on a stone church to replace the wooden one at the Ascension monastery, and the boundaries of the diocese were expanded to include not only Selingin, but also the Yakutsk and Ilimsk surroundings.
The saint, never noted for robust health, and under the influence of the severe climate and his afflictions, rather young expired to the Lord. He reposed on the morning of 27 November 1731.
In the year 1764 the body of the saint was
discovered incorrupt during a time of restoration work on the
monastery's Tikhvinsk church. Many miracles occurred not only
at Irkutsk, but also in remote places of Siberia -- for those
recoursing with prayer to the saint. This impelled the MostHoly
Synod to display the relics and glorify the saint in the year
1800. And in the year 1804 there was established a feastday in
his memory throughout all Russia on 26 November, since on the
actual day of his repose is made celebration of the Znamenie-Sign
Icon of the Mother of God. A second day in memory of Saint Innokentii
is 9 February.
Monk James the Hermit asceticised on a mountain, not far
from the city of Cyr in Syria. He suffered grievous ills, but
he always wore chains, ate food only in the evening and prayed
constantly. By such efforts he attained to an high spiritual perfection,
having received from the Lord power over demons, the gift of healing
and even of resuscitating the dead. In his declining years the
Monk James peacefully expired to the Lord.
The Monk Athanasii [Afanasii], nicknamed "the Iron Staff", and the Monk Theodosii [Feodosii] of Cherepovetsk -- were disciples of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh. They settled in the Novgorod extremities at the Cherepovetsk border, where the Rivulet Yagorba flows into the River Sheksna, and here they asceticised at monastic works. They built there a church in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity and founded the Cherepovetsk Resurrection monastery. The saints died in about the year 1388 and were buried in the cathedral church of the monastery. Their memory is celebrated likewise on 25 September.