Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist (Coptic)
On this day the Great Prophet St. John the Baptist, son of Zechariah the Priest, was martyred by the order of King Herod. When the Prophet John rebuked Herod because he had taken Herodias the wife of his brother Phillip, to be his wife saying to him: "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife" (Mark 6:18), Herod cast him in prison, though he feared the Saint.
Then an opportune day came on Herod's birthday when he gave a feast for his nobles, high officers, and the chief men of Galilee. And when Herodias' daughter herself came in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the girl, "Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you". He also swore to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom". So she went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the Baptist!" Immediately she came in with haste to the king and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter". And the king was exceedingly sorry; yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought, and he went and beheaded him in prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother (Mark 6:20-28).
The disciples of St. John came, took his holy body and laid it in a grave until the days of Pope Athanasius, to whom the Lord wanted to reveal it.
The Commemoration of the Renewal of the Temple of the Resurrection of Christ at Jerusalem celebrates the solemnity on the occasion of the consecration of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ, built by the Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine the Great and his mother, Equal-to-the-Apostles, the empress Helen. This feastday is still called among the people by its unique title "having reputation from the Resurrection" [Voskresenie slovuschee] and it means that it reputes to or pertains to the Resurrection, in distinction from the Feast of the Luminous Resurrection of Christ, and refers particularly to the consecration of the Church in honour of the Resurrection of Christ.
The history of the construction of this temple is thus. After the voluntary Passion and Death on the Cross of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the holy place of His suffering was long trampled on by pagans. When the Roman emperor Titus in the year 70 conquered Jerusalem, he razed the city and destroyed the Temple of Solomon on Mount Moriah, leaving there not a stone upon a stone, as even the Saviour had foretold about in conversation with the disciples (Mt 13:1-2). Later on the zealous pagan emperor Adrian (117-138) built on the place of the Jerusalem destroyed by Titus a new city, that was named after his name, Aelia Adriani [Aelia Capitolina], and made it forbidden to call the city by its former name. The Holy Sepulchre of the Lord he gave orders to cover over with ground and stones and on that spot to set up an idol; and on Golgotha where the Saviour was crucified, in 119 he constructed a pagan-temple dedicated to the goddess Venus. In front of the statues they offered sacrifice to demons and performed pagan rites, accompanied by wanton acts. In Bethlehem, at the place the Saviour was born of the AllPure Virgin, the impious emperor set up an idol of Adonis. He did all this intentionally, so that people would forget completely about Christ the Saviour and that they would no more remember the places where He lived, taught, suffered and arose in glory.
When there began the reign of Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine the Great (306-337), the first of the Roman emperors to recognise the Christian religion, he together with his pious mother the empress Helen decided to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and on the place of the suffering and Resurrection of the Lord to erect a new temple, to purify from the foul pagan cults the places connected with memory of the Saviour, and again to consecrate them. The nobleborn empress Helen journeyed to Jerusalem with a large quantity of gold, and Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine the Great wrote a letter to Patriarch Makarios I (313-323), in which he requested him to assist in every possible way for the task of the renewal of the Christian holy places. Having arrived in Jerusalem, the holy empress Helen destroyed all the idolous pagan temples and had the desecrated places re-consecrated. She was ardent with the desire to find the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and she gave orders to dig up the place, where stood the temple of Venus. There they discovered the covered over Sepulchre of the Lord and the place of the Skull, not far from where they found three crosses and nails. In order to determine, upon which of the three crosses lay the Saviour, Patriarch Makarios gave orders to touch alternately against a dead person, whom they happened to be carrying by towards a place of burial. Just as the Cross of Christ touched the dead person, he immediately came alive. With the greatest of joy the nobleborn empress Helen and Patriarch Makarios raised up high the Life-Creating Cross and displayed it to all the people standing about.
The holy empress quickly set about the construction of a large church, which enclosed in its walls the place of the Crucifixion of the Saviour -- Golgotha, and the Sepulchre of the Lord, located a not large distance from each other, and as the holy Apostle and Evangelist John wrote about this: "At that place, where He was crucified, was a garden and in the garden a new tomb, in which still no one had been put; there they did place Jesus because of the Jewish Friday, since that the tomb was nearby" (Jn 19:41-42). The Church of the Resurrection was 10 years in building, and the holy empress Helen did not survive to the completion of construction. Having returned to Constantinople, she reposed in the year 327. After the time of her arrival in Jerusalem the holy empress built churches in Bethlehem, on the Mount of Olives, at Gethsemane and in many other places, connected with the life of the Saviour and events in the New Testament.
The completion of construction of the New Testament temple of the Resurrection of Christ, called "Martyrion," in memory of the sufferings of the Cross of the Saviour, co-incided with the passage of the First Council of Tyre, and with it the thirty year reign of the Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine the Great. Wherefore, at the assemblage of 13 September 335, the consecration of the temple was particularly solemn. At the consecration of the church participated hierarchy of the Christian Churches from many lands: Bythnia, Thrace, Cilicia, Cappadocia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Arabia, Palestine, and Egypt. To the solemnity of the renewal were invited only the fathers that concluded the Tyre Council. On this day was consecrated all the city of Jerusalem. The commemoration of this remarkable event by the fathers of the Church was established as 13 September.
The PriestMartyr Cornelius the Centurion: Soon after the sufferings on the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ and after His Ascension into Heaven, there settled at Caesarea in Palestine a centurion by the name of Cornelius, who earlier had lived in Thracian Italy. Although he was a pagan, he distinguished himself by deep piety and good deeds, as the holy Evangelist Luke testifies about him (Acts 10:1). The Lord did not disdain his virtuous life and led him to the understanding of truth through the enlightening light of faith in Christ.
One time Cornelius was at prayer in his home. An Angel of God appeared to him and said, that his prayer had been heard and accepted by God, and commanded him to send people to Joppa to Simon, called Peter. Cornelius immediately fulfilled the command. While those dispatched were on their way to Joppa, the Apostle Peter was at prayer, during which time he had a vision: thrice were lowered down vessels in visage of great plenitude, filled with meats and fowl. From Heaven he heard a voice, commanding him to eat of everything. At the refusal of the apostle there followed a reply: "What God hath purified, regard not as unclean" (Acts 10:15).
By means of this vision the Lord commanded the Apostle Peter to go at preaching the Word of God to the pagans. When the Apostle Peter in the company of those sent to meet him arrived at the house of Cornelius, he was received with great joy and respect by the host together with his kinsmen and comrades. Cornelius on his knees bowed down to the apostle and requested to be taught the way of salvation. The apostle began to preach about the earthly life of Jesus Christ, about the miracles and signs worked by the Saviour, about His sufferings, the teachings about the Kingdom of Heaven, the death on the Cross, the Resurrection and Ascent into Heaven. By grace under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Cornelius believed in Christ and was baptised together with all his kinsfolk. He was the first pagan to receive Baptism.
He retired from the world and went preaching the Gospel together with the Apostle Peter, who made him a bishop. When the Apostle Peter, together with his helpers Saints Timothy and Cornelius, was in the city of Ephesus, he learned of a particularly vigorous idol-worship in the city of Skepsis. Lots were drawn as to whom that would go there, falling upon Saint Cornelius. In the city lived a prince by the name of Demetrios, learned in the ancient Greek philosophy, hating Christianity and venerating the pagan gods, in particular Apollo and Theos/Deus (Zeus). Learning about the arrival of Saint Cornelius in the city, he immediately summoned him and asked him the reason for his coming. Saint Cornelius answered that he came to free him from the darkness of ignorance and lead him to knowledge of the True Light. The prince, not comprehending the meaning of what was said, became angry and demanded him to answer each of his questions. When Saint Cornelius explained, that he serves the Lord and that the reason for his coming consists in an announcement of the Truth, the prince became enraged and demanded from Cornelius an offering of sacrifice to the idols. The saint asked to be shewn the gods. When he entered the pagan temple, Cornelius turned towards the East and bending down on his knees, he uttered a prayer to the Lord. There began an earthquake, and the temple of Zeus and the idols situated in it were destroyed. All the populace, seeing what had happened, were terrified. The prince was even more vexed and began to take counsel together with those approaching him, about how to destroy Cornelius. They bound the saint and took him to prison for the night. At this point one of his servants informed the prince the grievous news that his wife and child had perished beneath the rubble of the destroyed temple. But a certain while later one of the pagan-priests, by the name of Barbates, reported that he heard the voice of the wife and son somewhere in the ruins and that they were praising the God of the Christians. The pagan-priest asked to free the imprisoned one, as gratitude for the miracle worked by Saint Cornelius, in that the wife and son of the prince remained alive. The joyous prince in the company of those about him hastened to the prison, declaring that he believed in Christ and asking him to lead out his wife and son from somewhere in the ruins of the temple. Saint Cornelius set off to the destroyed idol-temple, and through prayer the suffering were freed. After this the prince Demetrios, and all his kinsmen and comrades accepted holy Baptism. Saint Cornelius lived for a long time in this city, converted to Christ all the pagan inhabitants, and made Eunomios a presbyter for service to the Lord. Saint Cornelius died in old age and was buried not far from the pagan temple destroyed by him.
Martyrdom of St. Daysa the Soldier
On this day also we commemorate the martyrdom of Daysa the soldier, a native of the City of Tanda. Arianus, the Governor of Ansena, tortured him because of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and finally cut off his head. He received the crown of martyrdom.
The Holy Martyrs Seleukos, Stratonikes, Kronides, Leontios and Serapion suffered for the Christian faith in the III Century. Saint Seleukos came from Galatia, Stratonikes from Bythinian Nikomedia, while Kronides, Leontios and Serapion were from Egypt. After fierce torments for their confession of faith in Christ, holy martyrs were beastly killed. Saints Kronides, Leontios and Serapion they bound hand and foot and cast into the sea. Their bodies were carried by the waves to shore, where Christians gave them burial.
Saint Stratonikes after torture by order of the Bythinan governor was bound to two drawn tree trunks. His body was split into two parts. (His memory is celebrated also on 9 September).
The Holy Martyrs Gordian, Macrobius, Elias, Zotikos, Lucian and Valerian suffered at the beginning of the IV Century at Paphlagonia (Asia Minor) under the emperor Licinius (307-324). Saint Gordian was a native of Cappadocia, and Macrobius of Paphlagonia. They were handsome youths serving under the imperial court and they enjoyed the particular favor of the emperor. For their firm confession of faith in Christ they were sent to Skythia, where they met Zotikos, Lucian and Elias, likewise courageous confessors of the Name of Christ. First suffered Saints Gordian and Macrobius. After this in the city of Tomak in Skythia were tortured and then beheaded Saints Elias, Zotikos, Lucian and Valerian.
The Monk Peter from Atroe was from childhood dedicated to God and spent his whole life in exploits of fasting and unceasing prayer. He pursued asceticism in the city of Atroe, near Asian Olympos. A distinctive feature of the holy ascetic was his extreme temperance. While still during his lifetime the saint worked many miracles and peacefully reposed during the time or rule of the Patriarch of Constantinople Tarasios (784-806).
The Holy GreatMartyr Ketvana was descended from the imperial Bagration lineage and was a great-grandchild of the emperor Constantine of Kartalin (1469-1505). Having become the spouse of David, successor to the emperor Alexander II of Khaketin (1577-1605), she herself governed the empire. The deep piety of the empress was manifest in a particular attention to the needs of the Gruzian (Georgian) Church -- in the building of churches, shelters, and vagrants homes. After the death of her husband Saint Ketvana settled into solitude.
The brother of her husband, Constantine (called Okayan), accepted Mahometanism and on the instructions of the shah Abbas I sent assassins to his dying father, the emperor Alexander II, and his brother George. Having committed the crime, Constantine gave orders to place the bodies of the murdered on camels and take them to the empress Ketvana. Horrified at the wicked deed, the empress bewailed the innocent sufferers and buried them at the Alaverdsk cathedral. The impious one, however, enroached upon her honorable widowhood and demanded her hand, threatening force in case of refusal.
The empress Ketvana gathered the people of Kakhetin and marched against Constantine, defeating the impious apostate. He met an inglorious death together with many in the Persian army. Under the wise rule of the empress Ketvana, peace and justice were re-established in Kakhetia. Shah Abbas I returned her son Teimuraz, who although he had lived several years in court in the guise of an hostage, preserved his Orthodox faith in purity. Afterwards the shah Abbas, threatening Gruzia with destruction, coerced the Kakhetin feudal authorities into handing over illustrious hostages. In that number voluntarily was the empress Ketvana. Wanting to avert disaster for the Gruzian nation and Holy Church, she arrived in Ispahan. Shah Abbas urged the nobleborn empress to accept Mahometanism, but he received decisive refusal. Thereupon the empress Ketvana was thrown into prison, where she spent ten years, filled with the sufferings of martyrdom. Neither vileness from Persian courtiers, nor cunning offers by the shah to elevate her to empress of the Persian realm, nor offers to her of great treasure, nor the implorings and entreaties of the courtiers and Persian nobles -- nothing was able to budge her, not even to uttering a single blasphemous word against Christ, nothing was able to move the sufferer for Christ. They tortured her with red-hot tongs hung cross-wise in wood. On the head of the holy martyress they touched a red-hot iron kettle. The dense smoke from her burning hair and head rose upwards, and the blessed martyress gave up her soul to God on 13 September 1624.
Three bright pillars, having come down upon the body of Saint Ketvana, signified her spiritual victory. The relics of the holy empress were taken to Rome, to the cathedral of the holy Apostle Peter, by monks of the Augustinian order who had been witnesses to her deed of confessor. Part of the relics (the venerable head and right hand of the martyress) was given by the Augustinian monks to emperor Teimuraz I and placed beneathe the altar-table [prestol'] of the Alaverdi cathedral of the holy GreatMartyr George in Kakhetia. The Catholikos-Patriarch Zakharia (1613-1630) enumerated the great-martyress to the rank of the saints and established her memory on 13 September.
The Monk Hierotheos was born in 1686 in Greece. Desiring to comprehend Divine wisdom as it is in the sciences and likewise as it is in monastic life, the pious youth, displaying great ability and diligence, studied Latin and Greek philosophy. After the death of his parents, and wanting to continue his education, Saint Hierotheos first of all visited Holy Mount Athos, which was famous for its many male teachers. At first he was the student of a certain hermit near the cell of Saint Artemias (commemorated 20 October), and then he joined the brethren of the Iveria monastery, where he took monastic vows. On matters of the monastery Saint Hierotheos soon journeyed to Constantinople, and from there to Valachia, where the Lord directed him to continue his interrupted education. Having been instructed by a certain Cypriot monk, Saint Hierotheos by his good manners merited the favour of the Sofia metropolitan Avksentii and was ordained deacon. Having completed his education in Venice, Saint Hierotheos returned to the Holy Mountain. He settled near the Iveria monastery in the Khaga wilderness. On the testimony of his contemporaries, he led a very strict hermit's life; with the constant Jesus Prayer the monk discovered deep love for neighbour and joy-creating weeping. On the intercession of the hegumen of the Iversk monastery Saint Hierotheos was vouchsafed the priestly dignity by the metropolitan of Neocaesarea James, living there in retirement.
At the request of the inhabitants of Skopelo, having been bereft of priest-server, the self-denying ascetic forsook his solitude. During the course of 8 years together with his Athos disciples, the priestmonk Meletios and the monks Joasaph and Simeon, he made Divine-services and preached much. Foreseeing his own impending end, the Monk Hierotheos with three disciples withdrew to the island of Yura, where usually were sent those banished for life. There after a short illness he expired to the Lord in the year 1745. His disciples buried him on that island, and after three years his venerable head was transferred to the Iveria monastery. By prayers to the saint were healed many sick and those contending with bodily suffering.