Nameday Greetings To Our Tatianas!

As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Martyr, Tatiana, of Rome, we greet our Cardiff and Cheltenham parishioners named in her honour, the Tatianas of our cathedral-parish, and all of the Tatianas among our Facebook friends and followers. May God bless them and grant them many years!

Kontakion, Tone IV: Thou didst shine forth radiantly in thy suffering, O passion-bearer, adorned with thy blood, and like a beautiful turtle-dove thou hast soared aloft to the heavens, O Tatiana. Wherefore, pray thou ever for those who honour thee.

Кондак, глас 4: Све́тло во страда́нии твое́м возсия́ла еси́, страстоте́рпице, от крове́й твои́х преиспещре́на, и, я́ко кра́сная голуби́ца, к Небеси́ возлете́ла еси́, Татиа́но, те́мже моли́ при́сно за чту́щия тя.

The Holy Virgin Martyr Tatiana was born into an illustrious Roman family, and her father was elected consul three times. He was secretly a Christian and raised his daughter to be devoted to God and the Church. When she reached the age of maturity, Tatiana decided to remain a virgin, betrothing herself to Christ. Disdaining earthly riches, she sought instead the imperishable wealth of Heaven. She was made a deaconess in one of the Roman churches and served God in fasting and prayer, tending the sick and helping the needy.

When Rome was ruled by the sixteen-year-old Alexander Severus (222-235), all power was concentrated in the hands of the regent Ulpian, an evil enemy and persecutor of Christians. Christian blood flowed like water. Tatiana was also arrested, and they brought her into the temple of Apollo to force her to offer sacrifice to the idol. The saint began praying, and suddenly there was an earthquake. The idol was smashed into pieces, and part of the temple collapsed and fell down on the pagan priests and many pagans. The demon inhabiting the idol fled screeching from that place. Those present saw its shadow flying through the air.

Then they tore holy virgin’s eyes out with hooks, but she bravely endured everything, praying for her tormentors that the Lord would open their spiritual eyes. And the Lord heard the prayer of His servant. The executioners saw four angels encircle the saint and beat her tormentors. A voice was heard from the heavens speaking to the holy virgin. Eight men believed in Christ and fell on their knees before Saint Tatiana, begging them to forgive them their sin against her. For confessing themselves Christians they were tortured and executed, receiving Baptism by blood.

The next day Saint Tatiana was brought before the wicked judge. Seeing her completely healed of all her wounds, they stripped her and beat her, and slashed her body with razors. A wondrous fragrance then filled the air. Then she was stretched out on the ground and beaten for so long that the servants had to be replaced several times. The torturers became exhausted and said that an invisible power was beating them with iron rods. Indeed, the angels warded off the blows directed at her and turned them upon the tormentors, causing nine of them to fall dead. They then threw the saint in prison, where she prayed all night and sang praises to the Lord with the angels.

A new morning began, and they took Saint Tatiana to the tribunal once more. The torturers beheld with astonishment that after such terrible torments she appeared completely healthy and even more radiant and beautiful than before. They began to urge her to offer sacrifice to the goddess Diana. The saint seemed agreeable, and they took her to the heathen temple. Saint Tatiana made the Sign of the Cross and began to pray. Suddenly, there was a crash of deafening thunder, and lightning struck the idol, the sacrificial offerings and the pagan priests.

Once again, the martyr was fiercely tortured. She was hung up and scraped with iron claws, and her breasts were cut off. That night, angels appeared to her in prison and healed her wounds as before. On the following day, they took Saint Tatiana to the circus and loosed a hungry lion on her. The beast did not harm the saint, but meekly licked her feet.

As they were taking the lion back to its cage, it killed one of the torturers. They threw Tatiana into a fire, but the fire did not harm the martyr. The pagans, thinking that she was a sorceress, cut her hair to take away her magical powers, then locked her up in the temple of Zeus.

On the third day, pagan priests came to the temple intending to offer sacrifice to Zeus. They beheld the idol on the floor, shattered to pieces, and the holy martyr Tatiana joyously praising the Lord Jesus Christ. The judge then condemned the valiant sufferer to be beheaded with a sword. Her father was also executed with her, because he had raised her to love Christ.

Source: The Orthodox Church in America

9/22 January: St Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow & All Russia

9/22 January: Our Holy Father Among the Saints, Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow & All Russia, the New Confessor.

Dear brothers and sisters, greetings to you, as we celebrate the feast of the Holy New-Hieromartyr, Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow, a great and inspiring model of Christian life, who put Truth and faithfulness to the Saviour and the Gospel above all earthly comforts, reputation, security and even life itself.

He is not only a model for all true hierarchs, but for all Christian people in new times of uncertainty – when injustice, inequality and tyranny rear their heads, and the prophetic voice of the Church is needed, but little heard.

May he pray for us, and may his example give us the courage to live the Christian life with all of the risks and dangers that professing the Gospel and swimming against the political, sociological and ideological tide pose for us – and may we have the courage to do so heedless of the threats of governments, societies, and even those in the Church who oppose the Gospel with agendas that betray the Orthodox Faith of the Holy Fathers, of the Sacred Councils, and of the Saints, among whom St Philip is glorified, having received his crown and the reward of shedding his blood in the name of Truth, justice and righteousness!

We commend our Bishop, clergy and faithful to the intercessions of St Philip, rejoicing in his radiant memory, and confident in his prayers.

Holy Hieromartyr and Wonderworker Philip, pray to God for us!

 

Saint Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow, in the world Theodore, was descended from the illustrious noble lineage of the Kolichevi, occupying a prominent place in the Boyar duma at the court of the Moscow sovereigns. He was born in the year 1507. His father, Stephen Ivanovich, “a man enlightened and filled with military spirit,” attentively prepared his son for government service.

Theodore’s pious mother Barbara, who ended her days as a nun with the name Barsanouphia, implanted in the soul of her son a sincere faith and deep piety. Young Theodore Kolichev applied himself diligently to the Holy Scripture and to the writings of the holy Fathers. The Moscow Great Prince Basil III, the father of Ivan the Terrible, brought young Theodore into the court, but he was not attracted to court life. Conscious of its vanity and sinfulness, Theodore all the more deeply immersed himself in the reading of books and visiting the churches of God. Life in Moscow repelled the young ascetic. The young Prince Ivan’s sincere devotion to him, promising him a great future in government service, could not deter him from seeking the Heavenly City.

On Sunday, June 5, 1537, in church for Divine Liturgy, Theodore felt intensely in his soul the words of the Savior: “No man can serve two masters” (Mt.6:24), which determined his ultimate destiny. Praying fervently to the Moscow wonderworkers, and without bidding farewell to his relatives, he secretly left Moscow in the attire of a peasant, and for a while he hid himself away from the world in the village of Khizna, near Lake Onega, earning his livelihood as a shepherd.

His thirst for ascetic deeds led him to the renowned Solovki monastery on the White Sea. There he fulfilled very difficult obediences: he chopped firewood, dug the ground, and worked in the mill. After a year and a half of testing, the igumen Alexis tonsured him, giving him the monastic name Philip and entrusting him in obedience to the Elder Jonah Shamina, a converser with Saint Alexander of Svir (August 30).

Under the guidance of experienced elders Philip grew spiritually, and progressed in fasting and prayer. Igumen Alexis sent him to work at the monastery forge, where Saint Philip combined the activity of unceasing prayer with his work with a heavy hammer.

He was always the first one in church for the services, and was the last to leave. He toiled also in the bakery, where the humble ascetic was comforted with a heavenly sign. In the monastery afterwards they displayed the “Bakery” image of the Mother of God, through which the heavenly Mediatrix bestowed Her blessing upon the humble baker Philip. With the blessing of the igumen, Saint Philip spent a certain while in wilderness solitude, attending to himself and to God.

In 1546 at Novgorod the Great, Archbishop Theodosius made Philip igumen of the Solovki monastery. The new igumen strove with all his might to exalt the spiritual significance of the monastery and its founders, Saints Sabbatius and Zosimus of Solovki (September 27, April 17). He searched for the Hodigitria icon of the Mother of God brought to the island by the first head of Solovki, Saint Sabbatius. He located the stone cross which once stood before the saint’s cell. The Psalter belonging to Saint Zosimus (+1478), the first igumen of Solovki, was also found. His robe, in which igumens would vest during the service on the days when Saint Zosimus was commemorated, was also discovered.

The monastery experienced a spiritual revival. A new monastic Rule was adopted to regulate life at the monastery. Saint Philip built majestic temples: a church of the Dormition of the Mother of God, consecrated in the year 1557, and a church of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The igumen himself worked as a simple laborer, helping to build the walls of the Transfiguration church. Beneath the north portico he dug himself a grave beside that of his guide, the Elder Jonah. Spiritual life in these years flourished at the monastery: struggling with the brethren with the disciples of Igumen Philip were Saints John and Longinus of Yarenga (July 3) and Bassian and Jonah of Pertominsk (July 12).

Saint Philip often withdrew to a desolate wilderness spot for quiet prayer, two versts from the monastery, which was later known as the Philippov wilderness.

But the Lord was preparing the saint for other work. In Moscow, Tsar Ivan the Terrible fondly remembered the Solovki hermit from his childhood. The Tsar hoped to find in Saint Philip a true companion, confessor and counsellor, who in his exalted monastic life had nothing in common with the sedition of the nobles. The Metropolitan of Moscow, in Ivan’s opinion, ought to have a certain spiritual meekness to quell the treachery and malice within the Boyar soul. The choice of Saint Philip as archpastor of the Russian Church seemed to him the best possible.

For a long time the saint refused to assume the great burden of the primacy of the Russian Church. He did not sense any spiritual affinity with Ivan. He attempted to get the Tsar to abolish the Oprichniki [secret police]. Ivan the Terrible attempted to argue its civil necessity. Finally, the dread Tsar and the holy Metropolitan came to an agreement: Saint Philip would not meddle in the affairs of the Oprichniki and the running of the government, he would not resign as Metropolitan in case the Tsar could not fulfill his wishes, and that he would be a support and counsellor of the Tsar, just as former Metropolitans supported the Moscow sovereigns. On July 25, 1566 Saint Philip was consecrated for the cathedra of Moscow’s hierarch saints, whose number he was soon to join.

Ivan the Terrible, one of the greatest and most contradictory figures in Russian history, lived an intensely busy life. He was a talented writer and bibliophile , he was involved in compiling the Chronicles (and himself suddenly cut the thread of the Moscow chronicle writing), he examined the intricacies of the monastic Rule, and more than once he thought about abdicating the throne for the monastic life.

Every aspect of governmental service, all the measures undertaken to restructure civil and social life, Ivan the Terrible tried to rationalize as a manifestation of Divine Providence, as God acting in history. His beloved spiritual heroes were Saint Michael of Chernigov (September 20) and Saint Theodore the Black (September 19), military men active with complex contradictory destinies, moving toward their ends through whatever the obstacles before them, and fulfilling their duties to the nation and to the Church.

The more the darkness thickened around Ivan, the more resolutely he demanded cleansing and redemption of his soul. Journeying on pilgrimage to the Saint Cyril of White Lake monastery, he declared his wish to become a monk to the igumen and the brethren. The haughty autocrat fell on his knees before the igumen, who blessed his intent. Ivan wrote, “it seems to me, an accursed sinner, that I am already robed in black.”

Ivan imagined the Oprichnina in the form of a monastic brotherhood, serving God with weapons and military deeds. The Oprichniki were required to dress in monastic garb and attend long and tiring church services, lasting from 4 to 10 o’clock in the morning. “Brethren” not in church at 4 o’clock in the morning, were given a penance by the Tsar. Ivan and his sons fervently wished to pray and sing in the church choir. From church they went to the trapeza, and while the Oprichniki ate, the Tsar stood beside them. The Oprichniki gathered leftover food from the table and distributed it to the poor at the doorway of the trapeza.

Ivan, with tears of repentance and wanting to be an esteemer of the holy ascetics, the teachers of repentance, wanted to wash and burn away his own sins and those of his companions, cherishing the assurance that even his terribly cruel actions would prove to be for the welfare of Russia and the triumph of Orthodoxy. The most clearly spiritual action and monastic sobriety of Ivan the Terrible is revealed in his “Synodikon.” Shortly before his death, he ordered full lists compiled of the people murdered by him and his Oprichniki. These were then distributed to all the Russian monasteries. Ivan acknowledged all his sins against the nation, and besought the holy monks to pray to God for the forgiveness of his tormented soul.

The pseudo-monasticism of Ivan the Terrible, a dark most grievous oppression over Russia, tormented Saint Philip, who considered it impossible to mix the earthly and the heavenly, serving the Cross and serving the sword. Saint Philip saw how much unrepentant malice and envy was concealed beneath the black cowls of the Oprichniki. There were outright murderers among them, hardened in lawless bloodletting, and profiteers seeking gain, rooted in sin and transgressions. By the sufferance of God, history is often made by the hands of the impious, and Ivan the Terrible wanted to whiten his black brotherhood before God. The blood spilled by its thugs and fanatics cried out to Heaven.

Saint Philip decided to oppose Ivan. This was prompted by a new wave of executions in the years 1567-1568. In the autumn of 1567, just as the Tsar was setting out on a campaign against Livonia, he learned about a boyar conspiracy. The plotters intended to seize the Tsar and deliver him to the Polish king, who already was on the move with an army towards Russian territory.

Ivan dealt severely with the conspirators, and again he shed much blood. It was bitter for Saint Philip, and the conscience of the saint compelled him boldly to enter into defense of the executed. The final rift occurred in the spring of 1568. On the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross, March 2, 1568, when the Tsar with his Oprichniki entered the Dormition cathedral in monastic garb, as was their custom, Saint Philip refused to bless him, and began openly to denounce the lawless acts committed by the Oprichniki. The accusations of the hierarch shattered the harmony of the church service. In a rage Ivan retorted, “Would you oppose us? We shall see your firmness! I have been too soft on you.”

The Tsar began to show ever greater cruelty in persecuting all those who opposed him. Executions followed one after the other. The fate of the saintly confessor was sealed. But Ivan wanted to preserve a semblance of canonical propriety. The Boyar Duma obediently carried out his decision to place the Primate of the Russian Church on trial. A cathedral court was set up to try Metropolitan Philip in the presence of a diminished Boyar Duma, and false witnesses were found. To the deep sorrow of the saint, these were monks of the Solovki monastery, his former disciples and novices whom he loved. They accused Saint Philip of a multitude of transgressions, including sorcery.

“Like all my ancestors,” the saint declared, “I came into this world prepared to suffer for truth.” Having refuted all the accusations, the holy sufferer attempted to halt the trial by volunteering to resign his office. His resignation was not accepted, however, and new abuse awaited the martyr.

Even after a sentence of life imprisonment had been handed down, they compelled Saint Philip to serve Liturgy in the Dormition cathedral. This was on November 8, 1568. In the middle of the service, the Oprichniki burst into the temple, they publicly read the council’s sentence of condemnation, and then abused the saint. Tearing his vestments off, they dressed him in rags, dragged him out of the church and drove him off to the Theophany monastery on a simple peasant’s sledge.

For a long while they held the martyr in the cellars of the Moscow monasteries. They placed his feet into stocks, they held him in chains, and put a heavy chain around his neck. Finally, they drove him off to the Tver Otroch monastery. And there a year later, on December 23,1569, the saint was put to death at the hands of Maliuta Skuratov. Only three days before this the saint foresaw the end of his earthly life and received the Holy Mysteries. At first, his relics were committed to earth there at the monastery, beyond the church altar. Later, they were transferred to the Solovki monastery (August 11, 1591) and from there to Moscow (July 3, 1652).

Initially, the memory of Saint Philip was celebrated by the Russian Church on December 23, the day of his martyric death. In 1660, the celebration was transferred to January 9.

Source: The Orthodox Church in America

Canon of the holy hierarch, in Tone VIII.

Ode I, Irmos: That which had been hewn down divided the undivided, * and land unseen was seen by the sun; * water engulfed the cruel enemy, * and Israel traversed the impassable, chanting a hymn: * Let us sing unto the Lord, * for gloriously hath He been glorified!

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

O Lamb and Word of God, through the effulgence of Thy Holy Spirit send down upon my mind a brilliant ray of light, and inspire within me the words to praise him whom Thou hast chosen and taken to Thyself: the sacred passion-bearer Philip.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

O holy one, ask of God divine grace for thy servant, and fill my soul with understanding, that I may praise thy life, O holy hierarch Philip, wherein, by thy struggles, thou didst astonish all, chanting unto the Lord: For gloriously hast Thou been glorified!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Kings marvelled at thy mighty courage and the effulgence of the great virtues which illumined thy works, O venerable one, for thy tongue never ceased to admonish them, and thou didst chant unto the Lord: For gloriously hast Thou been glorified!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The words of the divinely eloquent preachers’ have been fulfilled in thee, O Mother of God; for, lo! thou hast given birth, O Virgin, to a little Babe Who is older than ancient Adam and is co-enthroned with the Father, unto the salvation of the whole world and the abolition of corruption.

Ode III, Irmos: My heart is established in the Lord, * my horn is exalted in my God, * my mouth is enlarged against mine enemies, * and I rejoice in Thy salvation.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Thou didst hasten to ascend the mountain of the virtues, and enter the darkness of vision, O holy hierarch Philip, and didst come to know, as far as it is possible, the nature of the Unapproachable One; and full of light, O father, thou didst receive divine grace.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Seeking the one God of goodness, and desiring to receive His glory alone, O blessed one, thou didst forsake the honour of thine earthly sojourn as something fleeting, and didst shine forth as a favoured  one of Christ, the Master of all.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

With desire for the Spirit, thou didst cause the desire of the flesh to wither away, O blessed one, and within thyself thou didst wed purity as thy bride; and through purity were all the virtues begotten in thee, O ever glorious one, making thee a child of the immaterial Light.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Thou didst slay the noetic serpent who brought death upon Adam in paradise and grief upon Eve, our first mother. And having caused Life to spring forth, O pure Virgin, thou hast freed us from corruption, for God ineffably issued forth from thy womb.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Sessional Hymn of the saint, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “Of the Wisdom …”: As the namesake and emulator of a chosen apostle, O father, thou didst endure tribulation and persecution. And emulating the zeal of the Prophet Elijah and the Baptist, thou didst manfully denounce the iniquitous, and didst govern well the see entrusted to thee, running the good race until the end. And thou hast left thy body behind like a mantle, emitting myrrh redolent of perfumes, and pourest forth the grace of the Spirit like rain, mystically watering the furrows of our hearts. O holy hierarch Philip, entreat Christ God, that He grant forgiveness of sins unto those who with love honour thy holy memory.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Repeat…

Ode IV, Irmos: With noetic eyes the Prophet Habbakuk * foresaw Thy coming, O Lord; * wherefore he cried aloud: * ‘God shall come out of Theman!’ Glory to Thy power! * Glory to Thy condescension!

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Those moved by malice against thee, the innocent lamb, rose up like wild beasts against thee, and, unable to bear being pierced by thy words as with a pike, they were provoked to rage, O divinely wise and holy hierarch.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

The whole world hath thee as its ally and help amid perils, for, as a faithful champion and a speedy intercessor, by thy sacred supplications thou dost rescue from dangers and misfortunes those who have recourse to thy care.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Having carried out the goodly struggles of Him Whom thou didst desire, O divinely wise namesake, thou hast been granted immortality, where, rejoicing, thou hast received the crown of victory, and criest aloud: Glory to Thine advent, O Christ!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Cast down the might of all the enemies who bring grief to those who hymn thee as her who gave birth to the Lord of glory, O Mother of God, and preserve thy flock, unharmed by the assaults of the wicked, that we may bless thee as is meet.

Ode V, Irmos: Disperse, O Word, the darkness from my soul, * O Christ God, the Light-Giver, * Having driven out the primordial darkness of the abyss, * grant unto me the light of Thy commandments, * that early in the morning I may glorify Thee.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Thine intercession hath been shown to be like a ray of the Sun of righteousness, shining with the splendours of the virtues, O holy hierarch Philip, dispelling the cloud of the misfortunes which assail us. Preserve now in peace those who hymn thee, glorify and illumine them with beauty.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Thy tongue was shown to be a two-edged sword, O blessed one, for, armed with the fear of Christ, thou didst wisely denounce rulers, calling upon Christ, the King of all, as witness, and His divine apostles.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou wast shown to be a new man of zeal, like a second Moses, causing us to wonder not by performing awesome signs, but instructing us with the teachings of godly discourses, and leading us forth from the passions of Egypt to the calm haven of the new Israel.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

We call thee the noetic cloud, for from thee did Christ shine forth, O all-immaculate one, and show thee to be more spacious than the heavens: for without knowing a man, O pure one, thou hast given birth to Him Who became incarnate in His indescribable loving-kindness.

Ode VI, Irmos: Thou O Lord, didst place Jonah alone within the sea monster. * Do Thou save me, * who am ensnared in the nets of the enemy, * as thou didst save him from corruption.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Thou didst make thy general concern that those cared for by thee be one in soul and heart, O glorious one, abiding in the one Faith of Christ; thou didst uproot heathen customs, O wise one, and didst teach them to avoid divisions.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Moved by zeal for Christ, thou didst try to turn the rage of the ruler into meekness, and wast in nowise daunted by the threats of the tsar, for, in that thou art a doer of the commandments of Christ, thou didst show thyself to be a mighty and brave warrior, suffering for thy flock even unto death with rejoicing.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

We see thee, O holy hierarch Philip, as a light-bearing ray shining upon those in the darkness of life, and as an inextinguishable lamp burning with the immaterial Light, illumining all the ends of the earth and removing the gloom of ignorance.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

In a godly manner Moses, among the prophets, once prefigured thee, O all-immaculate one, as a tablet of the law, the lampstand of the Light, the tabernacle, the rod which budded forth, the jar containing the Manna, and the ladder whereby we are led up from earth to the heights of heaven.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Kontakion of the holy hierarch, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Today the Virgin …”: Let us praise the most wise Philip, * the instructor of Orthodoxy, * the proclaimer of the Truth, the luminary of Russia, * who noetically feedeth his children with the food of his words; * for with his tongue he sang praise, * and with his lips he chanted hymnody, ** as an initiate of the mysteries of the grace of God.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Ikos: Come, ye who love the martyrs, and, celebrating the memory of the hieromartyr with hymnody and spiritual songs, let us rejoice in a godly manner. The time of our gladness and reward hath arrived, wherein we shall receive the gift of release from sufferings; for the pillar of fire hath appeared, consuming the heads of the iniquitous, but illumining the souls of the faithful with teachings of divine knowledge, and leading us, the New Israel, to the divine city, the heavenly Jerusalem, in that he is a disciple of the grace of God.

Ode VII, Irmos: On the plain of Dura the tyrant once placed a furnace * to torment the God-bearers; * and therein the three youths chanted hymns unto the one God, * and the three together, chanted saying: * O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Thou didst stand before the Lord, adorned with the struggles of virtue and wearing a crown inlaid with drops of thy blood, O holy hierarch Philip. Wherefore, be thou ever mindful of those who celebrate thy radiant memorial, and chant: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Having fled the hordes of the noetic Pharaoh, O blessed one, thou didst easily pass over to the heavens, making thine abode there, receiving the honour of glory in the light of the righteous for thy patience, chanting in joy with the saints: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Those who have recourse to thy shrine praise thee, blessing thee with love, O blessed one, for, kissing thy relics which lie therein, they receive abundant grace: for by thy touch thou hast healed diseases of the eyes and cured pain of the teeth for those who chant: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

From the love of my soul I cry to thee, O Lady: O cloud of the supremely radiant Sun, portal of salvation, gate of heaven, noetic ladder, accept the entreaty of all Christians who bless thee, the hope of our souls, and who cry aloud to thy Son: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Ode VIII, Irmos: O Thou who dost cover Thy chambers on high with the waters, * Thou Who hast set the sands to bound the sea * and Who upholdest all things: * the sun doth sing Thy praises, * the moon giveth Thee glory, * every creature offereth a hymn unto Thee, * as their Fashioner, throughout the ages.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Thou dost freely heal those who call upon thee with faith, as, appearing to the paralytic, thou didst straightway raise him up, didst heal one suffering from a complaint of the liver by the touch of thy hand, and by thine appearance didst move to joy one suffering from despondency, O blessed one, ever doing these things for all, throughout the ages.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

In that thou wast a victor, O all-blessed one, with His life-bearing right hand the Creator hath set upon thy head the crown of suffering, an honour beyond price; and He hath preserved thy body unharmed by earthly wolves, emitting the sweet savour of perfumes. And thus, hath the Judge of the contest glorified thee throughout the ages.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As a true pastor, O blessed one, do thou subdue arrogance and civil strife; drive away the wolves which rage against thy flock with the staff of thy supplications; make mighty the rule of our civil authorities, and put down the uprisings of the heathen, that we may hymn thee as our intercessor throughout the ages.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

With the shield of the Faith do thou preserve thy holy temple, O Virgin Theotokos; vouchsafe thy glory unto those who together glorify thee therein, and deliver us from the assault and retribution of the barbarians; and still thou the raging waves of our mind by thy supplication, O all-hymned one.

Ode IX, Irmos: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, * Who hath exalted the horn of salvation on our behalf * in the house of His child David, * wherein the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, * and guided us on the path of peace.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Thou didst theologize concerning the one essence of the Trinity, and boldly denouncing those who taught vain things, O all-wise one, and exhorting the faithful with thy godly instructions, thou didst wisely strengthen them. O holy hierarch Philip, dweller with the angels, preserve in peace those who celebrate thy memory.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

For youths silence is a relative attainment, yet for fathers is it truly wondrous; wherefore, do thou accept this our thanksgiving, O father, not as truly worthy to serve for thy praise, but as offered unto thee with fervour; for we are unable to praise and magnify thee as is meet.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As one co-enthroned with the apostles, equally enrolled in the choir of the martyrs, and equal in honour with the holy hierarchs, O passion-bearer Philip, by thine intercession preserve those who hymn thee in peace, lift up the horn of our civil authorities, and set at naught the savagery of the barbarians, that, rejoicing, we may hymn and magnify thee.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O receptacle of the Light, divinely joyous Lady, true confirmation of holy hierarchs and boast of all the venerable: save us who hymn thee, the all-hymned one, from misfortunes and evil circumstances, and from the invasion of the heathen.

Troparion, in Tone VIII: O successor of the primates of Russia, pillar of orthodoxy, * champion of the truth, new confessor, holy hierarch Philip, * thou didst lay down thy life for thy flock. * Wherefore, as thou hast boldness before Christ, pray thou for this city, ** and the people who honour thy holy memory as is meet.

The Advent Journey With the Saints: The Holy Venerable-Martyr Eugenia

Thursday 24 December / 6 January: Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ and the Holy Venerable-Martyr Eugenia

The Holy Martyr Eugenia, was a Roman by birth. She lived at Alexandria, where her father Philip was sent by the emperor Commodus (180-192) to be Prefect of Egypt. Eugenia received a fine upbringing and was noted for her beauty and good disposition. Many illustrious youths sought her hand, but she did not wish to marry anyone, for she was determined to preserve her virginity.

Providentially, she became acquainted with the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. She yearned with all her soul to become a Christian, but kept this a secret from her parents. At that time, Christians were banished from Alexandria by the command of the emperor. Wishing to learn more about Christian teachings, she asked permission to visit one of the family estates outside the city, supposedly to enjoy the countryside. She left in the company of her two servants Protus and Hyacinthus, dressed in men’s clothes. She and her companions were baptized at a certain monastery by Bishop Elias (July 14), who learned about her in a vision. He blessed her to pursue asceticism at the monastery disguised as the monk Eugene.

By her ascetic labours, Saint Eugenia acquired the gift of healing. Once, a rich young woman named Melanthia turned to her for help. Seeing “Eugene,” this woman burned with an impure passion, and when she was spurned, she falsely accused the saint of attempted rape. Saint Eugenia came to trial before the Prefect of Egypt (her father), and she was forced to reveal her secret. Her parents and brothers rejoiced to find the one for whom they had long grieved.

After a while they all accepted holy Baptism. But Philip, after being denounced by pagans, was dismissed from his post. The Alexandrian Christians chose him as their bishop. The new Prefect, fearing the wrath of the people, did not dare to execute Philip openly, but sent assassins to kill him. They inflicted wounds upon Saint Philip while he was praying, from which he died three days later.

Saint Claudia went to Rome with her sons, daughter, and her servants. There Saint Eugenia continued with monastic life, and brought many young women to Christ. Claudia built a wanderers’ hostel and aided the poor. After several peaceful years, the emperor Galienus (260-268) intensified the persecution against Christians, and many of them found refuge with Saints Claudia and Eugenia.

Basilla, an orphaned Roman girl of imperial lineage, heard about the Christians and Saint Eugenia. She sent a trusted servant to the saint asking her to write her a letter explaining Christian teachings. Saint Eugenia sent her friends and co-ascetics, Protus and Hyacinthus, who enlightened Basilla, and she accepted holy Baptism.

Basilla’s servant then told her fiancé Pompey that his betrothed had become a Christian. Pompey then complained to the emperor against the Christians for preaching celibacy and denouncing idolatry. Basilla refused to enter into marriage with Pompey, and so they killed her with a sword.

They dragged Saints Protus and Hyacinthus into a temple to make them sacrifice to the idols, but just as they entered, the idol fell down and was shattered. The holy Martyrs Protus and Hyacinthus were beheaded. They also brought Saint Eugenia to the temple of Diana by force, but she had not even entered it, when the pagan temple collapsed with its idol.

They threw the holy martyr into the Tiber with a stone about her neck, but the stone became untied and she remained unharmed. She also remained unscathed in the fire. Then they cast her into a pit, where she remained for ten days. During this time the Savior Himself appeared to her and said that she would enter into the heavenly Kingdom on the day He was born. When this radiant Feast came, the executioner put her to death with a sword. After her death, Saint Eugenia appeared to her mother to tell her beforehand the day of her own death.

Source: The Orthodox Church in America

Canon of the forefeast, the acrostic whereof is the (Greek) alphabet, the composition of Joseph, in Tone II:

Ode 1, Irmos: In the deep of old the infinite Power overwhelmed Pharaoh’s whole army. * But the Incarnate Word annihilated pernicious sin. * Exceedingly glorious is the Lord, * for gloriously hath He been glorified.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Thou wast registered according to the edict of Caesar, desiring to enter mankind into the book of life, O King of all; and in a strange manner Thou didst come unto Thine own summoning to heaven him who had grievously been exiled from paradise.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Receive Christ, O Bethlehem, for He cometh to thee incarnate, opening Eden to me! Prepare thyself, O cave, for thou shalt behold the Infinite One most gloriously contained within thee, having now abased Himself in the richness of His compassion.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Christ cometh to be born, bestowing a strange regeneration upon the descendants of Adam, in that He is God. Be glad, O human nature, thou barren desert, for the Master hath come to make thee bear many children.

Canon of the martyr, the acrostic whereof is: “In songs I eminently hymn the great glory of Eugenia”, the composition of Theophanes, in the same tone:

Irmos: In the deep of old the infinite Power overwhelmed Pharaoh’s whole army. * But the Incarnate Word annihilated pernicious sin. * Exceedingly glorious is the Lord, * for gloriously hath He been glorified.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

O Eugenia, martyr of Christ, joyfully dancing now with the angelic armies, as an immaculate virgin, as a most noetically rich and crowned martyr, pray thou, that He bestow grace upon, those who hymn thee with love.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Hearkening to divine hymnody, O bride of Christ, through thy nobility thou didst soar aloft to the Most High; for like light the theology of hymns of the Spirit shone in thy heart, driving away all ungodliness.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Unmindful of thy feminine nature, thy mind hastened to manly feats, having found courage through grace, being directed toward the providence of God, O martyr Eugenia, namesake of divine nobility.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Illumined with noetic light, O divinely wise one, thou didst cause a great many to partake of effulgence; delivering from sin those who hymn thee, by thine entreaties grant it.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

We the faithful who have been slain by the tree of knowledge, O pure one, have, by Christ God – the Tree of Life, Who sprang forth from thee in a manner past understanding, O Theotokos, been called back to life. Entreat Him with boldness, that our souls be saved.

Ode III, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: The desert of the barren Church of the nations * blossomed like a lily * at Thy coming, O Lord, * therein hath my heart been established.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Delivering me from the bonds of evil, O Lord Who lovest mankind, Thou comest to be wrapped as a babe in swaddling-bands. I worship Thy divine condescension!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The Virgin cometh forth to give birth to Thee Who, though Thou hast shone forth timelessly from the Father, hast come under time, releasing our souls from the ancient passions.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Seeking me who have become lost through disobedience, Thou hast made the cave a dwelling-place, like unto heaven; preparing mansions for me there, O Compassionate and greatly Merciful One!

Canon of the Martyr, Irmos: Thou hast established me on the rock of faith, * and my mouth hath been emboldened against mine enemies. * For my spirit rejoiceth when I sing: * There is none as holy as our God * and none more righteous than Thee, O Lord.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

With most perfect resolve thou didst offer thyself to the Master as an unblemished sacrifice, spurning corrupt wealth, O all-wise one, and crying aloud: Thou art our God, and there is none more holy than Thee, O Lord!

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

O all-pure one, thy purity was recognized, and the might of thy sufferings hath shone forth; for thou didst make thine activity an ascent of vision, crying: Thou art our God, and there is none more holy than Thee, O Lord!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Held fast by desire for chastity, thou didst preserve the boast of purity, and didst become pleasing in wisdom, crying out to Christ: Thou art our God, and there is none more holy than Thee, O Lord!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O ye divinely wise, let us hymn Mary, the pure Theotokos, who hath been revealed to be the mediatress of salvation, and let us cry aloud: There is none as pure as thee, O most pure one, and none more immaculate than thee, O Lady!

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Sessional Hymn of the martyr, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “Of the Wisdom …”: Confining thyself to feats of struggle, thou didst become glorious through the struggles of martyrdom, leading many of the saved to thy Creator; for, having forsaken transitory things with divine love, thou didst accomplish courageous struggles, O glorious one. Wherefore, after thine end thou hast found endless life, abiding ever with thy Bridegroom, O angelic Eugenia. Entreat Christ God, that He grant remission of sins unto those who honour thy most precious memory with love.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sessional Hymn of the forefeast, in Tone VIII: Today the earth hath been shown forth as heaven for me, for therein the Creator is born and laid in a manger, in Bethlehem of Judah. Shepherds chant unceasingly with the angels: “Glory in the highest, and peace on earth!” For they beheld the star which journeyed with the magi, who hastened quickly to bring gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense to the God of all, the eternal King and Creator of all things, Who in His tender compassion is born in a cave.

Ode IV, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: From a Virgin didst Thou come forth, not as an ambassador, * nor as an Angel, * but the very Lord himself incarnate, * and didst save me, the whole man; * wherefore I cry unto Thee: * Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Now creation hath cast off all aging, beholding Thee, the Creator taking on our form and in newness becoming a babe, leading it back to its pristine beauty.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Marvelling at His most glorious nativity, the magi who had been led by the divine star stood and beheld the Sun shining forth from the cloud of the Virgin, and they offered gifts unto Him.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Behold, the Virgin cometh as a heifer, bearing in her womb the fatted Calf Who taketh away the sins of the world, that creation may rejoice, holding festival.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The predictions of the prophets which proclaimed the manifestation of Christ have now received their salvific fulfilment; for He hath come in the flesh to enlighten those who languish in darkness.

Canon of the Martyr, Irmos: From a Virgin didst Thou come forth, not as an ambassador, * nor as an Angel, * but the very Lord himself incarnate, * and didst save me, the whole man; * wherefore I cry unto Thee: * Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Thou hast come, taking flesh from the Virgin, O Most High, betrothing companies of virgins to Thyself, who loved Thee alone as their virginal Bridegroom.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Thou didst shed the raiment of thy fleshly birth, O all-glorious martyr, and by baptism didst splendidly clothe thyself in the incorrupt garment of regeneration.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Luminous radiance shone upon thy heart, with the effulgence of grace dispelling the gloom of delusion which had been poured forth, O Eugenia, martyr of Christ.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou didst illumine thy life with beauty and comeliness, having first caused the carnal passions to wither away through abstinence, and later shone forth most radiantly in suffering, O Eugenia.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Thou didst become more exalted than the angels, giving birth to the Angel of great Counsel, Who became a man in His exceeding loving-kindness, and is the Lover of mankind, O all-hymned one.

Ode V, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: O Christ God Thou art a mediator between God and man; * for by Thee, O Master, * we have been led from the night of ignorance, * to Thy Father, the Source of light.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Let the people who once sat in darkness behold the never-waning Light which hath shone forth, Whom the star announced of old to the Persian kings, the worshippers of fire.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The great King maketh haste to enter the little cave, that the Supremely blessed One might magnify me who have become of little account, and with boundless wealth enrich me who have become poor.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Now is Christ born of Jacob, as Balaam said, and He hath dominion over the nations, and His kingdom, which abideth immutably, is exalted by grace.

Canon of the Martyr, Irmos: O Christ my Saviour, the enlightenment of those lying in the darkness of sin. * I rise early to hymn Thee O King of Peace, * enlighten me with Thy radiance, * for I know no other God than Thee.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Seeing thy journey leading to salvation, the soul-destroying serpent raised up divers temptations against thee, striving to weaken thy might, O passion-bearer; but thou didst trample him underfoot, O divinely wise and pure one.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

To Christ, the Accomplisher of all good things, the Benefactor and Bridegroom of souls, thou didst appear as adorned in ascetic struggles by abstinence and resplendent with the suffering of martyrdom, O goodly virgin Eugenia, martyr of Christ.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

A crown of gifts was set upon thy brow, for thou didst cherish divine wisdom, disdaining the riches and glory of thy father; and with strength followed after thy beloved Bridegroom, O all-honoured one.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The Life Who shone forth from thee upon the world, O Birthgiver of God, by communion calleth those who before were held fast by death to everlasting life, and who cry aloud with faith: We know none other God than Thee!

Ode VI, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Whirled about in the abyss of sin, * I appeal to the unfathomable abyss of Thy compassion: * Raise me up from corruption, O God.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Christ cometh to His own in a strange manner. Let us estrange ourselves from sin and receive Him Who hath made His abode in the souls of the meek.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

In nowise shalt thou be the least among cities, O Bethlehem; for in thee is born the King and Lord, that He might shepherd His rich people.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

How doth a lowly cave receive Thee Whom the whole world cannot contain, O Immutable One? How dost thou behold as an infant the Beginningless One Who shareth the mind of the Father?

Canon of the Martyr, Irmos: Whirled about in the abyss of sin, * I appeal to the unfathomable abyss of Thy compassion: * Raise me up from corruption, O God.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Thou gavest no slumber to thine eyelids until thou didst extinguish all passionate attachments, and made of thyself a pure dwelling-place for thy Creator.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Emulating the morals of the wife of Potiphar, she who was black in deed and name violently slandered thine honourable life, O all-honoured one.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Showing forth steady radiance and enriched with the grace of healings and a wealth of faith, thou didst become the teacher of a company of nuns.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

All the prophets mystically learned of thine ineffable birthgiving, O all-pure one, in the Spirit describing and foretelling to all those things which were to come.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion of the forefeast, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Today the Virgin …”: Today the Virgin cometh to the cave * to ineffably give birth unto the pre-eternal Word. * Having heard this, be glad, O thou ecumene, * and with the angels and shepherds glorify the pre-eternal God, ** Who is to appear as a little babe.

Ikos: The sacred sayings of the prophets have received their fulfillment, for, lo! The Virgin giveth birth to the Supremely perfect One in the city of Bethlehem, within a cave, refashioning all creation. Rejoice and be glad, The Master of all hath come to dwell with His servants, delivering from the dominion of the alien one, us who were cast down by corruption, and He is seen as an infant, wrapped in swaddling-clothes, in the manger, the pre-eternal God, the little babe.

Ode VII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: The godless order of the lawless tyrant * fanned the roaring flame; * but Christ bedewed the God-fearing children with the Spirit, * therefore He is blessed and supremely exalted.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Let the clouds drop down water from on high! He Who doth honourably appoint the clouds for His ascent is borne by a cloud that is the Virgin, and cometh to shine never-waning light upon those who before were darkened and afflicted.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O army of divine angels, prepare yourselves well to hymn the ineffable condescension of the Lord! Come, ye magi! Make haste, ye shepherds! Christ hath come as He should, the Expectation and Deliverance of the nations.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

“What is this strange wonder most great? How can I bear Thee Who bearest up all things by Thy word? Ineffable is Thy nativity, O my beginningless Son!” said the all-pure one, holding Christ in her arms with awe.

Canon of the Martyr, Irmos: The godless order of the lawless tyrant * fanned the roaring flame; * but Christ bedewed the God-fearing children with the Spirit, * therefore He is blessed and supremely exalted.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Thou madest clear to all the truth of the divinely inspired Scriptures, having rendered manly thy feminine nature, and didst most gloriously astonish those whom thou didst lead in splendour to Christ when they had believed on Him, O most noetically rich and honoured one.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

By thy divine teachings thou didst manifestly denounce the madness of idolatry, O all-praised one, by the blood of thy martyrdom betrothing an innumerable and radiant multitude of virgins to Christ Who reigneth over all.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Beholding thy radiant life, the glorious Basilla, moved by divine zeal, betrothed herself to Christ, forsaking all the passionate attachments of the flesh; and she hath now been deemed worthy of the joy of the martyrs.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Having seedlessly given birth to hypostatic Life, O all-immaculate Virgin, pure Birthgiver of God, thou hast healed the pasturage of death. Wherefore, rejoicing, we call thee the well-spring of immortality.

Ode VIII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: In Babylon, the activity of the fire was once divided, * for, by the command of God it consumed the Chaldeans, * but bedewed the faithful, who chant: * Bless ye the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Beholding the height of the truly ineffable mystery which covered the heavens with wisdom, the immaculate one marveled and said: “O my Son, how can I bear

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Thee Who sitteth upon the flaming throne of heaven?” “Thou bearest the likeness of the Father, O my Son. How hast Thou assumed the likeness of a servant, abasing Thyself? How can I lay Thee Who deliverest all from irrationality, in a manger of dumb beasts? I hymn Thy tender compassions!”

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Rejoice, all the earth! Lo! Christ draweth nigh to Bethlehem to be born! Be glad, O sea! Leap up, ye assembly of prophets, beholding today the fulfillment of your words, and rejoice, all ye righteous!

Canon of the Martyr, Irmos: God Who descended into the fiery furnace * with the Hebrew children, * and transformed the flame into dew, * do ye works hymn, * and supremely exalt as Lord throughout all ages.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Thine endurance was tested in the river and the fire; and, transcending nature, thou didst pass through them mightily, crying out: Hymn Christ, ye works, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Christ, Who appeared in strange manner unto thee who wast held in prison, richly nourished thee, and by His own nativity uniteth to the armies on high thee who glorify Him throughout all ages.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Thy Bridegroom doth magnificently adorn thee with twofold crowns, O divinely wise Eugenia, and in that He is righteous, He rightly bestoweth upon thee a splendid bridal-chamber. Him do we supremely exalt throughout all ages!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The grace of God, having radiantly illumined thee, now shineth in the mansions of heaven: Pray thou unceasingly, that by thy supplications those who celebrate thy memory may be filled therewith, O divinely wise one.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

We know thee to be a wellspring of the radiance of immortality, O Theotokos, for thou hast given birth to the Word of the immortal father, Who delivereth from death all who supremely exalt Him throughout all ages.

Ode IX, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: The Son of the Beginningless Father, God and Lord, * hath appeared to us incarnate of a Virgin, * to enlighten those in darkness, * and to gather the dispersed; * therefore the all-hymned Theotokos do we magnify

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Let all the kingdoms of the earth chant, rejoicing, and let the nations of the gentiles be glad. The mountains, valleys and hills, the rivers and the sea, and all creation, magnify the Lord Who is now born.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Thou wast seen in ages past insofar as the prophets were able to behold Thee; and, becoming a man in latter times, Thou hast revealed Thyself to all mankind in Bethlehem, the city of Judah, the star showing Thee forth to the astrologers, O Ineffable One.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

“O my most sweet Child, how can I feed Thee who nourishest all things? How can I hold Thee Who holdest all things in Thy hand? How can I wrap in swaddling-bands Thou Who wrappest the whole word in shadows?” cried the all-pure Lady, whom we magnify unceasingly.

Canon of the Martyr, Irmos: The Son of the Beginningless Father, God and Lord, * hath appeared to us incarnate of a Virgin, * to enlighten those in darkness, * and to gather the dispersed; * therefore the all-hymned Theotokos do we magnify.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Making thine abode in the mansions of heaven, O glorious one, as a martyr most true and an all-immaculate virgin among martyrs, thou hast now manifestly been deemed worthy of the sweetness of paradise with the virgins, O all-blessed Eugenia.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Thou hast obtained the Desire which transcends understanding and thought, standing in splendour before the Ultimate Desire, manifestly shining with the brilliant rays of the Sovereign Trinity, O divinely wise and goodly virgin Eugenia.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Keeping the lamp of virginity ever-burning, thou wast adorned with the crown of martyrdom. Cease thou never in thy prayers for those who with piety and love honour thee that we may be saved by thy supplications, O all-glorious Eugenia.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou hast now departed unto divine coolness, O most comely one, having passed through the unbearable fire of wounds and the surging waters of temptations, O martyr Eugenia. Wherefore, entreat Christ, that He save our souls.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Having conceived in thy womb the Rain of heaven which had descended upon the fleece, O all-immaculate one, thou hast given birth to Him Who granteth immortality, for us who piously hymn Him and magnify thee, the immaculate Theotokos.

Troparion, in Tone 4: Thy lamb Eugenia, O Jesus, calls out to Thee in a loud voice: I love Thee, O my bridegroom, and in seeking Thee, I endure suffering. In Baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in Thee, and died so that I might live with Thee. Accept me as a pure sacrifice, for I have offered myself in love. By her prayers save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

 

The Advent Journey With the Saints: St Nahum of Ochrid

Wednesday 23 December / 5 January: Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ and Commemoration of the Holy Hierarch, Nahum of Ochrid

Saint Nahum of Ochrid, a Bulgarian by descent, was one of the disciples of the holy Equals of the Apostles Cyril and Methodius (May 11), and he accompanied Saint Clement of Ochrid (July 27) when he preached the Gospel in Bulgaria. When Saint Clement set off to the southwestern regions, Saint Nahum remained in the then capital city of Plisk. Afterwards Saint Nahum succeeded Saint Clement in a monastery on the shores of Lake Ochrid, where he laboured for ten years.

Saint Nahum reposed on December 23, 910, and his relics were glorified by numerous miracles, especially healings of spiritual infirmities. The memory of the saint is also celebrated on December 23.

Canon of the forefeast, the acrostic whereof is the (Greek) alphabet, the composition of Joseph, in Tone VI:

Ode I, Irmos: He Who in ancient times * hid the pursuing tyrant beneath the waves of the sea, * is now concealed in a manger * for Herod seeketh to slay Him * But let us sing with the magi; chanting unto the Lord, * for gloriously hath He been glorified.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Judah shall not lack for a prince, for to him was a promise made, as hath been written before: Jesus Christ, the Expectation of the nations, hath come, and is born in a cave in His surpassing goodness.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Be glad with great joy, O Bethlehem; for in thee is Christ the Lord born! Let the whole world leap up, receiving deliverance, and let all creation dance, keeping festival!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Desiring to save the human race, the Supremely good One made His abode in the womb of the Virgin who knew not wedlock; and, lo! He cometh to be born. Let us worship Him, for gloriously hath He been glorified!

Canon of the venerable one, the acrostic whereof is “I, Constantine, archpastor of Bulgaria, do praise Nahum, the latter acquisition of God”, in Tone I:

Irmos: Let us all chant a triumphant hymn unto God * Who wrought wondrous miracles * with His upraised arm, * and saved Israel, * for He hath been glorified.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O Nahum, who art full of the streams of the Holy Spirit, by thine entreaties show me to be a divine river, that I may proclaim thy works, praising thee with hymns.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thou wast a follower of those who taught the Faith of Christ in the land of Bulgaria, O venerable one, sharing from thy youth in the labours and sufferings of Cyril and Methodius.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thy life was angelic, thy life truly beyond that of men, and thy struggle truly like unto that of the martyrs, O venerable one; wherefore we hymn thee.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

As a teacher of perfect doctrines, O Nahum, thou and thy fellow initiates of the mysteries went up to the summit of divine cedars, and covered the mountains of Mresia.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O most pure one, from ages past nature hath recognized thee as the one who in a manner transcending nature alone art Mother and Virgin; for thou hast given birth for us unto the Creator of all.

Canon II of the venerable one, which is connected to the foregoing canon and the acrostic whereof is a continuation of that of the former; in Tone IV:

Irmos: I shall open my mouth, * and be filled with the Spirit, * and utter discourse to the Queen and Mother; * and be seen radiantly keeping festival, * joyfully praising her wonders.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O Christ Who of old dried up the deep for the people who were traveling on foot, dry up the abyss of my transgressions, and let fall a drop of understanding upon me, that with hymns I may praise Thy venerable one.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Desiring to behold the ineffable glory of God, O Nahum, thou didst endure tribulations, imprisonment and cruelties, and every earthly disgrace, and didst struggle for the sake of Christ’s name.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Solitary in spirit, yet burning with zeal for the Faith, thou didst bear the yoke of the grace of Christ and didst clear the souls of thy people of the brush of the demons and didst plant therein the seed of divine understanding.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O blessed one, thou didst consider the whole world to be as dung; thou didst love Christ, and by withdrawing from it thou didst draw nigh unto Him Who draweth nigh unto all for the sake of their faith.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Lady as thou hast given birth unto Life, give life unto me who have become dead through many and varied evils, and cause me to pass over to the life which is on high, that I may ever glorify thee as her who giveth me life.

Ode III, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: When creation beheld Thee, * Who founded the whole earth upon the waters, * born in the cave, * it was seized with awe, crying aloud: * None is holy save Thee, O Lord!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Thou didst desire to clothe Thyself in the guise of a servant, that Thou mightiest deliver me from slavery to the evil one. I hymn Thy loving-kindness, O Word Who art co-beginningless and consubstantial with the Father: Glory to Thy dispensation!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The Virgin cometh to give birth to the Lord in the cave! Come forth, O ye magi! Ye shepherds, come forth! Ye angels, cry out hymns from on high: The Deliverance of mankind hath come!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Seeking me who have become lost and by my barren acts have been shown to be a den of thieves O Lover of mankind, Thou hast now arrived at the cave to be born today from the Virgin, O Master. Glory to Thy Nativity, O Word!

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Let my heart be established in Thy will O Christ God, * Who hath established a second heaven over the waters, * and founded the earth upon the waters, * O all-powerful One.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thou didst pass beyond the bounds of nature, O blessed one, and draw nigh unto the mountains of divine knowledge through truly everlasting life; and bringing light to the mountains of ungodliness, thou didst protect the people with the mountains of faith.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Out of the cruel and waterless pit of ignorance didst thou draw the children of darkness, hard of heart, showing them to be habitations of Christ through their teachers and thy compatriots.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

The people of the West, who were in the darkness of ungodliness, didst thou enlighten, O father, and by thy holy and divine teaching thou didst make them temples.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O Virgin, the prophets proclaimed thee to be the mountain, the jar, the table, the golden censer, and ark of holiness; and we hymn thee as the tabernacle which contained God.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: O Theotokos, thou living and plentiful fount, * establish in spiritual
fellowship those who sing hymns to thee, * and in thy divine glory * grant them crowns of glory.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

In latter times the land of Bulgaria became thy portion, O venerable one, and with thy teachers thou didst struggle, and didst strive to share in the ways of the apostles.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

The godly Nahum was the assistant of the holy hierarch Clement: he reached the lands of the West and, having illumined them with the light of preaching, is therefore glorified with him.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

The people of Bulgaria, whom for thy sake, O venerable Nahum, the Lord hath raised up from stones as children of Abraham, as the Forerunner said, now glorify thee, abiding in the knowledge of Him.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The people of Bulgaria, who before sat in the darkness of grievous unbelief, O venerable one, through thee have beheld the light of understanding; wherefore, we honour thy memory with sweet hymns of joy.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Fill me with tranquillity, O Theotokos, for thou art the tranquillity of the souls of all peoples; and still the tempest of the demons which make war on me and in vain seek to thrust me into the abyss and pit of Hades, O Lady.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Kontakion of the forefeast, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Today the Virgin …”: Today the Virgin cometh to the cave * to ineffably give birth unto the pre-eternal Word. * Having heard this, be glad, O thou ecumene, * and with the angels and shepherds glorify the pre-eternal God, ** Who is to appear as a little babe

Ikos: O truly awesome wonder past all telling! He Who giveth existence to all, in His goodness hath entered the womb of the holy Virgin, and cometh to be born in the cave and to be laid in a manger. And His star is a herald from on high to the magi who come to do Him homage with gifts, drawing from afar those who zealously follow the prophecy of Balaam who said: “A star will proclaim beforehand the little babe, the pre-eternal God!”

Sessional Hymn, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “Of the Wisdom …”: As one wise and intelligent, from the time of thy youth thou didst bow thyself beneath the easy yoke of thy Master, O father, and, filled with goodness, thou didst receive the godly Clement as thy fellow husbandman. With him thou didst plough the hearts of unbelievers and didst sow therein the seeds of Orthodoxy. Wherefore, thou hast passed over to the lands which are devoid of pain, ever reaping the reward of thy labours. O most blessed Nahum, entreat Christ God that He grant remission of offenses unto those who celebrate thy holy memory with love.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Sessional Hymn, in Tone IV: Spec. Mel.: “Joseph marvelled …”: O venerable Nahum, emulator of the apostles and rule of hierarchs, adornment of the venerable and fellow struggler with the spiritual athletes of God: thou wast crowned as a martyr though thou didst not shed thy blood, for thou wast buffeted by cruel tribulations, bearing the divine name of Christ and ever preaching with boldness the mystery of the Trinity, to Whom do thou never cease to pray on behalf of those who praise thee.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sessional Hymn of the forefeast, in Tone I: Spec. Mel.: “Thy tomb, O Saviour …”:
Rejoice, O Sion! Adorn thyself, O Bethlehem! For the Sustainer of all, having sent forth a star, hath announced His infinite condescension, before which the hosts of heaven tremble: Truly He Who alone is the Lover of mankind is immutably born from the Virgin!

Ode IV, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Foreseeing Thine advent from the Virgin, * Habbakuk cried out in awe: * Thou hast come from Theman incarnate, O Redeemer * to restoreAdam who had been expelled!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The radiant cloud cometh forth to shine from her maternal womb Christ, the Sun of righteousness, Who illumineth the whole earth with the rays of divinity. God hath revealed Himself to be like unto men: He abaseth Himself by assuming flesh, that He might deify us, and is born in a cave. O ye faithful, let us receive Him with a pure heart.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Behold! Christ is born in the city of Bethlehem, that He might open Eden unto us, which of old was closed through the disobedience initiated by the serpent: Let us celebrate a divine festival!

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Foreseeing in the Spirit O Prophet Habbakuk, * the incarnation of the Word, * thou didst proclaim, crying aloud: * When the years draw nigh, Thou shalt be known; * when the season cometh, Thou shalt be shown forth! * Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Behold! by thy preaching have hard-hearted pagans been called and come to know God, O wise one; for, as Isaiah writeth, all the land is filled with divine understanding; wherefore, we glorify thy memory.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Full of higher wisdom, thou didst teach the all-simple people of Bulgaria to worship the Hypostases of the Triune-God Who is immutably One in nature, united without commingling; and they cry aloud: Glory to Thee, O Lord!

Like a divinely chosen steed thou didst stir up the sea of ungodliness, O wise Nahum, as the prophet saith; and thou didst draw forth as fish the men who were drowning in the depths of unbelief, who cry out: Glory be to thee O Lord!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou wast shown to be a divine palace and a temple truly consecrated unto God, O Virgin Mary. Him do thou entreat on our behalf, that He wash away the defilement of our sins, that we also may become the abode and habitation of the Spirit.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: He who sitteth in glory upon the throne of the Godhead, * Jesus the
true God, * is come in a swift cloud * and with His sinless hands he hath saved those who cry: * Glory to Thy power, O Christ.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thou wast shown to be an unshakable pillar of the Faith, in nowise toppled by the winds of temptations; enduring multifarious wounds, and opposing the enemies of the Holy Spirit.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Speaking of the mighty works of God before kings and nations, with simplicity of speech thou didst shut the mouths of the rhetors who uttered evil fables; and magnify piety and the glory of Christ.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

For piety’s sake, like an apostle and a preacher thou didst endure every tribulation; wherefore, we beseech thee, O venerable one: dispel every sorrow and illness from us who celebrate thy memory.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O pure Mother of God, strengthen the movement of my mind, illumine the senses of my soul, and make me strong against mine enemies, that I may cry out unto thee: Glory to thy birthgiving, O Virgin!

Ode V, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: I seek Thee early in the morning, * Who for our sake didst mercifully empty Thyself * and willingly submit to be baptized by the hand of a servant, * O Word of God, * Grant Thy peace unto me the fallen one, * O Lover of mankind.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Let the hearts of all mortals leap up, and let creation be glad! The Lord is born from the pure Maiden in the cave of Bethlehem, and the magi offer Him fitting gifts.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O ye people, who of old sat in the shadow of death, behold the Light which hath shone forth upon us from the Virgin, and be filled with great sweetness of soul, ever magnifying the Word Who lowered Himself.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Thou comest to be contained in a little cave, O Thou Who art infinite by nature, that, in Thy boundless mercy, Thou mightest magnify me who have made myself insignificant through disobedience.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Shine forth thy radiant and everlasting light * upon us who rise early at dawn, * unto the judgments of Thy commandments, * O Master, Lover of mankind, * Christ our God.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O father, thou wast a new apostle, like unto the seventy; and, following Methodius as if he were Paul, thou wast an initiate of the mysteries of God, proclaiming Him by preaching.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Like the chosen vessel, thou wast truly shown to be a receptacle of grace, O most wise one, like the godly Prophet Nahum of old, whose name and goodly ways thou didst inherit, O Nahum.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thou didst surpassingly love Christ with all thy heart, thy mind and soul, O venerable one, and thou wast accounted worthy to be surpassingly loved by Him,

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Tempest-tossed by violent changes, evil circumstances and long scattering, we flee to thy haven, O Lady, for thou art the hope of the hopeless.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: All creation stands in awe of thy divine glory; * for thou, O Virgin who hast not known wedlock, * didst contain within thy womb the God of all, * and gave birth to the timeless Son, * bestowing peace, upon all who hymn thee.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thou didst sincerely hearken unto the all-wise teachings of the godly Methodius, who brought rebirth to Pannonia through holy baptism and the introduction of the written word, and thou didst emulate his way of life.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thy feet became beautiful through the preaching of the divine Gospel, and they traversed divers lands, leading up to the divine Light those who in darkness had stumbled on the rocks of unbelief.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The apostles went about the whole earth and ploughed it; and thou and the godly Clement sowed doctrines therein, O venerable one, and now take in the fruits of divine knowledge and everlasting hymnody.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Lady, bestow a sword of goodwill upon us, strengthening us with thy compassions, help and aid; for evil circumstances pitilessly surround our lives.

Ode VI, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: The uttermost depths of sin have encompassed me; * and its stormy waves I can endure no more, * wherefore like Jonah I cry out to Thee, O Master: * Lead me up from corruption.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Transcending the laws of the flesh, O Lord, the Virgin cometh to give birth to Thee in the cave and to lay Thee in a manger as a babe in the flesh.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

In His mercy, the Supremely divine One, Who was born of the Maiden who knew not wedlock, showeth me to be a citizen of heaven, though I had become a stranger to God through disobedience.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Ye mountains, hills and valleys, be glad; for the Lord is born in the flesh, restoring creation which had become corrupt through wicked disobedience.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Emulating the Prophet Jonah, I cry aloud: * Free Thou my life from
corruption, O Good One; * and save me who crieth out: * O Saviour of the world, Glory be to Thee!

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O wise one, thou wast added to the four disciples of Cyril and Methodius, the preachers of Christ, the wise initiates of the holy mysteries, the godly fathers of the Bulgarians and Slavs.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O preachers and initiates of the mysteries, ye were driven far away and endured imprisonment and beatings, suffering affliction for the procession of the Holy Spirit.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

With the most wise Cyril thou didst traverse far paths, from the North even unto Rome, sharing in his labours, O wise one; and with Methodius thou didst enlighten the Bulgarians.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Deliver us from the cruel assault of the evil one, from the temptations of the passions and all misfortunes, O most pure one, and quickly rescue us from every harm.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: Prefiguring Thy three-day burial * Prophet Jonah praying in the belly of the sea-monster cried aloud: * Deliver me from corruption * O Jesus Thou King of hosts.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

In thee also was the word of God fulfilled, for thy divine sound went forth into all the land of Bulgaria, and thy words even unto the ends of the earth.  

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

From the ends of the North even unto the ends of the West your paths were in the sea, O blessed ones, and ye entered Rome, proclaiming the New Testament.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As a divine temple and precious divine habitation from thy youth, O God-bearing Nahum, by thy supplications make me a receptacle of the Holy Spirit.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

What will happen to me, who am ever beset on every side? Be thou a protection and refuge for me, O Bride of God, for thou art the invincible helper of the downtrodden.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Today the Virgin …”: Like a great sun doth the all-honoured memorial of thy splendid struggles * shine forth upon all; * it illumineth the faces of those who hymn thee * and driveth away the demons and every illness. ** Wherefore, assembling, we faithfully praise thee with love.

Ikos: Come, ye multitudes of the Slavs, and let us hasten together, rejoicing in our father Nahum, for he hath appeared today as the great intercessor and most splendid luminary; for he hath enlightened us all and dispelled the gloom of deception. He followed after Christ and gave himself up as a right acceptable sacrifice; and he now offereth unto all the faithful his most glorious memorial as a spiritual banquet. Let us all praise it with love!

Ode VII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: In Babylon the Children feared not the fiery furnace; * but cast into the midst of the flames * they were bedewed and sang: * ‘O Lord God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou.’

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

How can the least of caves hold Thee, O Word, Who in Thine exceeding abasement assumed the poverty of Adam, enriching mankind with the wealth of divine grace?

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Hearing strange words, the shepherds hastened to Bethlehem to behold Him Who lieth in a manger of dumb beasts and releaseth all mankind from irrationality.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

With mouth and heart let us hasten to hymn and worship with faith Christ Who cometh to be born in the flesh from the Virgin Maiden, in the cave.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Thy children who were in the furnace O Saviour, * were neither touched
nor troubled by the fire. * Whereupon the three sang, as with a single mouth * Thy praises and blessed Thee, saying: * ‘O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou.’

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Working wonders, God miraculously delivered thee and thy friends from prison and arrest by the ungodly, O Nahum; for the fetters suddenly fell from your hands and feet, and ye were released.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Through the proclamation of divine doctrines thou didst become a teacher for people of evil ways, and by thy divine translations thou didst make them truly knowledgeable in things divine, transforming them from wild beasts into sheep of the meek O Christ.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thou wast shown to be a chariot of God, O Nahum, bearing the name of Christ in writing against many pagan kings, and glorifying His works, and being gloriously glorified by Him.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O most holy and pure one, accept the lowly entreaties of thy servants, and by thy supplications deliver us from the grievous sorrows which afflict us; and cause us to share in thy divine glory.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: O all-hymned Lord God of our fathers, * Who saved the children of
Abraham in the fire * and slew the Chaldeans, * blessed art Thou!

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O father, thou didst mix the sweat of asceticism with the sweat of apostolic labour, and later thou wast shown to be a willing martyr, though thou didst not shed thy blood. And thou didst cry aloud: Blessed art Thou, O God!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou didst manifestly cut off the deadly bonds of wicked thoughts, as Moses freed his feet of old; and thou didst truly understand God and command the people to chant: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

He Who doeth the will of those who fear Him in nowise rejecteth thy prayers on our behalf, O father; wherefore, be thou ever mindful of those who hymn thee with all their heart and all their soul.

Ode VIII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Suffering affliction for the sake of the laws of their fathers, * the blessed Children in Babylon * scorned the foolish decree of the King. * Standing together in the midst of the flames, they remained unharmed, * and sang a song fitting for almighty God: * ‘O ye works of the Lord, praise ye the Lord * and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages.’

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Holding in thine arms, bowing down before, and kissing maternally the one Lord Who had become incarnate in a manner beyond all telling, and was clad in human likeness, O Maiden, thou didst say: “O my most sweet Child, how is it that I hold Thee Who holdest all creation in thy hand, while freeing it from the hand of bondage?”

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Make ready to chant to Him Who hath been born on earth, O divine angels! Guided by the star, bring ye gifts, O magi! Ye shepherds, hasten ye to behold Him sitting as a babe in His Mother’s arms, crying out: Hymn the Lord, ye works, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O cloud of the Light, thou who knewest not wedlock, how canst thou wrap in swaddling-bands Him Who clothes the heavens with clouds by His ineffable will?

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

How canst thou lay in a manger of dumb beasts the Master Who in His boundless mercy doth deliver mankind from irrationality? Him Whom all creation worships with fear, hymning Him throughout all ages.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Him of whom the angels and all the hosts of heaven are in awe * as their Lord and Creator, * ye priests hymn, ye children praise, * ye peoples bless and supremely exalt * throughout all ages.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Let us hymn Nahum, the divinely inspired instrument of the Holy Spirit, O ye faithful, crying out to the Lord in sacred words: By his supplications save those who hymn Thy might!

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

With Clement as thy companion, thou didst traverse all the lands of the Slavs, O most wise one, by thy preaching guiding Ochrid and the people round about it unto the straight path.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Taking thy cross upon thy shoulder, O Nahum, thou didst follow after Christ, the one King, struggling lawfully; and from Him thou hast received a crown of victory, O blessed one of God.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The children who were in nowise burned prefigured thy womb which was in nowise consumed by the divine Fire, O most pure one, but was preserved as a habitation for the one God.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: The Offspring of the Theotokos * saved the holy children in the furnace. * He who was then prefigured hath now been born on earth, * and He gathereth all creation to hymn thee: * all ye works praise ye the Lord * and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Desiring to deliver all peoples from irrationality, the Word of God gave thee a tongue of fire, whereby thou didst lead the people of Bulgaria to a knowledge of the Truth, teaching them to hymn Christ throughout all ages.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

By thine opposition thou didst overcome the savagery of the tyrants, O ever-memorable Nahum, and as a champion of the procession of the Holy Spirit from the divine Source of the uncaused Trinity thou didst endure wounding, beatings and imprisonment.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thou didst in nowise escape all tribulation, pain and groaning, O Nahum; but Christ, accepting thy labours for Him, hath caused thee to dwell in the place of ineffable joy and delight, where the first-formed beings now abide.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Beset with violent tribulations by enemies visible and invisible, contending with sorrows, pain and evil circumstances, with ignorant injustices and bitter banishment, we cry out in pain of heart: Save us, O Compassionate One, through the supplications of the venerable Nahum.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Flight hath utterly failed me, and, as say the Scriptures, they that seek after me have multiplied; but be thou for me protection and strength, a refuge and confirmation, O Lady, a hope and the sure joy of salvation, that I may glorify thee throughout all ages.

Ode IX, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Be not now amazed, O Mother, * beholding as an infant Him Whom the Father begat from within Himself * before the morning star; * for I have manifestly come to restore and glorify with Me * the nature of fallen mankind, * who with faith and love magnifieth thee.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Rejoice, O most pure one, thou receptacle of ineffable joy! For, lo! thou comest to give birth ineffably in the cave to the Master Who truly desires to restore all creation, which of old became corrupt through disobedience. Hymning Him with faith, we magnify thee.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O all ye souls of the righteous, and those beneath the earth, rejoice! For, lo! The Deliverance of all hath appeared, born in the city of Bethlehem! And the star proclaimeth Him to the magi, who seek Him with piety; and, beholding Him in the cave, they are filled with joy.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O Virgin, we hymn thee as another heaven, who in the morning shall shine forth the Sun of righteousness upon us from thy most pure womb, illumining those in the darkness of death and corruption. Wherefore, we magnify thee with praises, as is meet.

Canon I of the Saint Irmos: The light-bearing cloud upon whom * the beginningless Master of all descended from heaven, * like the dew upon the fleece, * and of whom He was incarnate, * becoming a man for our sake, * let us all magnify as the pure Mother of God.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

As is meet, the land of Bulgaria honoureth thy memory, O Nahum; for with the godly Clement, Gorazd the wonder-worker, and Angelarius the wise initiate of the sacred mysteries, thou wast its enlightener. By your supplications do thou save it!

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Rome beheld your apostolic journeys, O godly Cyril, right blessed Methodius and glorious Nahum, and it stood in awe of the wonders of God wrought through you; wherefore, we honour you with annual hymnody.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O blessed Nahum, the choirs of the fathers, the apostles, the venerable, the hierarchs, prophets and martyrs, have now received thee and those who suffered with thee; for thou didst emulate their manner of life. With them remember us all.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

We know thee to be the sacred ark of the covenant which beareth the word of God saving multitudes of the Slavs, and bringing them to the eternal promised land; wherefore, guided toward everlasting life, we venerate the shrine of thy relics.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O most pure Theotokos, free all of us who trust in thee from iniquitous people and the assault of the demons, from the grievous oppression of multifarious passions, and from the cruel affliction of many temptations.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: Let every mortal born on earth, * radiant with light, in spirit leap for joy; * and let the host of the angelic powers * celebrate and honour the holy feast of the Mother of God, * and let them cry aloud: * Rejoice! O Theotokos, thou pure Ever-Virgin.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O ye faithful, let us stand in the house of our God and let us glorify His mighty works and miracles in His courts; for He is wondrous in His saints, who submit to His commands.  With them the venerable Nahum rejoiceth.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

That, holding festival, we may honour thee, O Nahum, by thy supplications deliver us from all assaults and evil circumstances, perils and tribulations, and every other form of wrath, entreating Christ, Who hath revealed thee to be a keeper of His commandments.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

The people whom thou didst nurture with thy labours, whom thou didst water with thy sweat, and whom thou didst root firmly by thy sufferings, O all-blessed one, offer thee annual hymnody as the first-fruits of thy memory; wherefore, pray thou to God for them.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Loose me, O Christ, for Thou knowest mine infirmities, that through them I may find rest before my departure through the supplications of Nahum Thy favoured one, O Master; and let me not become a joy for mine enemies in this age or that which is to come.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

With faith we entreat thee, the true Mother of the Creator Who hath wrought all things by His will: In that thou art good, cause the counsels and pursuit of those who are at enmity with us to be in vain, O all-hymned one, and preserve all thy servants, thy pastors and flock, from the hands of our enemies.

Troparion of the saint, in Tone IV: Thou hast departed this world, cleaving unto Christ. * And having crucified thy flesh, thou livest for the Spirit, * O all-blessed Nahum. Thou didst strive to follow the course of the apostles, * and didst win countless multitudes in Bulgaria for the Faith. * Wherefore, by thy supplications ** deliver us from temptations.

Troparion of the forefeast, in the same tone: Make ready, O Bethlehem! * Be thou opened unto all, O Eden! * Adorn thyself, O Ephratha! * For in the cave the Tree of Life hath sprung forth from the Virgin. * Her womb is shown to be a noetic paradise, * in the midst of which is the divine Tree, * whereof eating, we shall live, and not die as did Adam. * Christ is born, that He might restore His image ** which of old fell!

The Advent Journey With the Saints: The Holy Great-Martyr Anastasia

22 December / 4 January: Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ and Commemoration of the Holy Great-Martyr Anastasia

The Great Martyr Anastasia the Deliverer from Potions, a Roman by birth, suffered for Christ at the time of Diocletian’s persecution of Christians. Her father was a pagan, but her mother was secretly a Christian. Saint Anastasia’s teacher in her youth was an educated and pious Christian named Chrysogonus. After the death of her mother, her father gave Saint Anastasia in marriage to a pagan named Publius, but feigning illness, she preserved her virginity.

Clothing herself in the garb of a beggar, and accompanied by only one servant, she visited the prisons. She fed, doctored and often ransomed captives who were suffering for their faith in Christ. When her servant told Publius about everything, he subjected his wife to a beating and locked her up at home. Saint Anastasia then began to correspond secretly with Chrysogonus, who told the saint to be patient, to cleave to the Cross of Christ, and to accept the Lord’s will. He also foretold the impending death of Publius in the sea. After a certain while Publius did indeed drown, as he was setting out with a delegation to Persia. After the death of her husband, Saint Anastasia began to distribute her property to the poor and suffering.

Diocletian was informed that the Christians who filled the prisons of Rome stoically endured tortures. He gave orders to kill them all in a single night, and for Chrysogonus to be sent to him at Aquileia. Saint Anastasia followed her teacher at a distance.

The emperor interrogated Chrysogonus personally, but could not make him renounce his faith. Therefore, he commanded that he be beheaded and thrown into the sea. The body and severed head of the holy martyr were carried to shore by the waves. There by divine Providence, the relics were found by a presbyter named Zoilus who placed them in a coffer, and concealed them at his home.

Saint Chrysogonus appeared to Zoilus and informed him that martyrdom was at hand for Agape, Chione and Irene (April 16), three sisters who lived nearby. He told him to send Saint Anastasia to them to encourage them. Saint Chrysogonus foretold that Zoilus would also die on the same day. Nine days later, the words of Saint Chrysogonus were fulfilled. Zoilus fell asleep in the Lord, and Saint Anastasia visited the three maidens before their tortures. When these three martyrs gave up their souls to the Lord, she buried them.

Having carried out her teacher’s request, the saint went from city to city ministering to Christian prisoners. Proficient in the medical arts of the time, she zealously cared for captives far and wide, healing their wounds and relieving their suffering. Because of her labors, Saint Anastasia received the name Deliverer from Potions (Pharmakolytria), since by her intercessions she has healed many from the effects of potions, poisons, and other harmful substances.

She made the acquaintance of the pious young widow Theodota, finding in her a faithful helper. Theodota was taken for questioning when it was learned that she was a Christian. Meanwhile, Saint Anastasia was arrested in Illyricum. This occurred just after all the Christian captives there had been murdered in a single night by order of Diocletian. Saint Anastasia had come to one of the prisons, and finding no one there, she began to weep loudly. The jailers realized that she was a Christian and took her to the prefect of the district, who tried to persuade her to deny Christ by threatening her with torture. After his unsuccessful attempts to persuade Saint Anastasia to offer sacrifice to idols, he handed her over to the pagan priest Ulpian in Rome.

The cunning pagan offered Saint Anastasia the choice between luxury and riches, or grievous sufferings. He set before her gold, precious stones and fine clothing, and also fearsome instruments of torture. The crafty man was put to shame by the bride of Christ. Saint Anastasia refused the riches and chose the tools of torture.

But the Lord prolonged the earthly life of the saint, and Ulpian gave her three days to reconsider. Charmed by Anastasia’s beauty, the pagan priest decided to defile her purity. However, when he tried to touch her he suddenly became blind. His head began to ache so severely that he screamed like a madman. He asked to be taken to a pagan temple to appeal to the idols for help, but on the way he fell down and died.

Saint Anastasia was set free and she and Theodota again devoted themselves to the care of imprisoned Christians. Before long, Saint Theodota and her three sons accepted a martyrdom. Her eldest son, Evodus, stood bravely before the judge and endured beatings without protest. After lengthy torture, they were all thrown into a red-hot oven.

Saint Anastasia was caught again and condemned to death by starvation. She remained in prison without food for sixty days. Saint Theodota appeared to the martyr every night and gave her courage. Seeing that hunger caused Saint Anastasia no harm whatsoever, the judge sentenced her to drowning together with other prisoners. Among them was Eutychianus, who was condemned for his Christian faith.

The prisoners were put into a boat which went out into the open sea. The soldiers bored holes in the boat and got into a galley. Saint Theodota appeared to the captives and steered the ship to shore. When they reached dry land, 120 men believed in Christ and were baptized by Saints Anastasia and Eutychianus. All were captured and received a martyr’s crown. Saint Anastasia was stretched between four pillars and burned alive. A certain pious woman named Apollinaria buried her body, which was unharmed by the fire, in the garden outside her house.

In the fifth century the relics of Saint Anastasia were transferred to Constantinople, where a church was built and dedicated to her. Later the head and a hand of the Great Martyr were transferred to the monastery of Saint Anastasia [Deliverer from Potions], near Mount Athos.

Source: The Orthodox Church in America

 

Ode I, Canon of the forefeast, in Tone VI: Irmos: When Israel walked on foot in the sea as on dry land, * on seeing their pursuer Pharaoh drowned, * they cried: * Let us sing to God * a song of
victory.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Jesus our enlightenment, the great Sun, hath shone forth upon us through the cloud of the Virgin; and we who are in darkness chant unto Him, brightly illumined with His splendours

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The King of peace, the expectation of the gentiles, cometh to slay the enemy. Let us make haste to meet Him Who is born in Bethlehem for our salvation.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The divine sayings of the prophets are fulfilled which foretold the awesome appearance of Christ; for the ewe-lamb draweth nigh to give birth unto the Lamb, the Redeemer and Lord of all.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

With faith we call thee blessed, O blessed of God, pure dove of the Master, honoured and immaculate and most comely among women, in that thou hast given birth to the God of all.

Canon of the Great-Martyr, the acrostic whereof is: “I hymn thee with love, O martyr Anastasia”, the composition of Joseph, in Tone VIII:

Irmos: Let us, O ye people, send up a hymn * unto our wondrous God * Who hath freed Israel from bondage, * chanting a hymn of victory * and crying aloud: * We sing unto Thee, O only Master.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Let us send up hymnody unto God, Who desireth to be born in the flesh of the Virgin in the city of Bethlehem, and to be laid in an infant’s manger as a babe, that He may save the human race.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Seeking the only desirable beauties, those of Christ, O glorious martyr Anastasia, with steadfast character thou didst pass by the beauties of the world and wast deemed worthy to inherit immortality.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Enlightened by the effulgence of the Spirit, thou didst pass intently through the night of the gloom of deception, O honoured one, and hast now made thine abode where the divine splendour of the uncreated Trinity doth shine.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The invisible God hath appeared, born of thee supra-naturally in His great loving-kindness, O Virgin Mother. The Rich One hath beggared Himself, that He might enrich the race of mankind with immortality.

Ode III, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: There is none as holy as Thou, * O Lord my God, * who hast exalted the horn of The faithful O good One, * and strengthened us upon the rock * of Thy confession.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Christ Who stretched out the heavens by His word entereth the cave to recline in a manger of dumb beasts, desiring, in His tender compassion, to deliver us from folly.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The prophet manifestly crieth aloud: “This is our God, and there is none other who can take His place! Uniting Himself to mankind, He hath disclosed every way of knowledge.”
Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The cherubim cannot bear to gaze upon Thee, O Lord Who lovest mankind. How
 then can the manger hold Thee Who art infinite in nature but born for our sake from
the Virgin in Thy great loving-kindness?

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Daniel the prophet once foresaw thee, O Theotokos, all-pure Bride of God, as the mountain from whence the Stone was cut which crushed and destroyed the temples of idolatry.

Canon of the Great-Martyr, Irmos: O Lord, Creator of the vault of Heaven * and Builder of the Church, * do Thou strengthen me in Thy love, O Summit of desire, * O Support of the faithful, * O only Lover of mankind.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

The untouchable Lord desireth to be seen lying in the manger, an infant wrapped in swaddling-bands. Leap up, O ye mountains, and, filled with light, array yourselves in divine joy, O ye hills!

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Enriched by the Saviour’s words, with the boldness of piety thou didst blunt the darts of the persecutors’ burning words, O Anastasia, governing the movements of thy soul with divine love.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou didst simply cry out, O martyr: “I seek the Lord to Whose love alone I have bound my soul! With most desired simplicity, I go to be richly illumined by His all-pure splendours.”

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Maiden who knewest not wedlock, thou didst bear within thy womb incarnate, Him Who holdeth all creation in His hand, the pre-eternal Babe Who, when He is born, Thou wilt lay in a manger.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Kontakion of the forefeast, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Today the Virgin …”: Today the Virgin cometh to the cave * to ineffably give birth unto the pre-eternal Word. * Having heard this, be glad, O thou ecumene, * and with the angels and shepherds glorify the pre-eternal God, ** Who is to appear as a little babe.

Ikos: O wonder truly awesome and beyond all telling! He Who hath given existence unto all things hath, in His goodness, entered into the womb of the holy Virgin, and cometh to be born in a cave, and to be laid in a manger. From above the star heralds Him to the Magi who come to render Him homage with gifts, drawn from afar, following with care the prophecy of Balaam, who said: A star will announce beforehand the young Child, the pre-eternal God.

Sessional Hymn of the Great-Martyr, in Tone I: Spec. Mel.: “Thy tomb, O Saviour …”: We praise thee as a bride of Christ, O virgin, and we honour thee like the honoured Thecla, as is meet. Wherefore, rivers of healings pour forth by the power of the Spirit on the day of thy commemoration; for thou hast received grace, in that thou didst keep the commandments of the Lord.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sessional Hymn of the forefeast, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “That which was mystically commanded …”: Celebrating the days of the forefeast of the nativity of Christ, let us hold festival, O ye faithful; and bearing the virtues as the magi did gifts, let us all worthily go forth to chant the greeting and new hymn of the angels to our God Who hath been born in Bethlehem from the divine Maiden and Virgin without seed. Him do all things glorify.

Ode IV, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Christ is my power, * my God and my Lord, * the holy Church divinely singeth, * crying with a pure mind, * keeping festival in the Lord.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Behold! the star which wast proclaimed of old by Jacob, hath shone forth from afar. The infinite God, becoming a man, is seen wrapped in swaddling-bands.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The Lord, the deliverance of all, is seen as a Babe, sitting in the bosom of the Virgin: He Who, as the Son, resteth in the bosom of the Father.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Open wide, O Eden, which once wast closed to me because of the theft of the fruit! For now, in Bethlehem, He is born Who hath clad Himself in me and hath set me apart to share in thy painless delights.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The prophet Habbakuk foresaw thee in the Spirit, O Virgin, as the mountain overshadowed with the virtues, from whence He Who illumineth our souls hath appeared unto us.

Canon of the Great-Martyr, Irmos: O Lord, I have heard the mystery of Thy dispensation; * I have beheld Thy works, * and I have glorified Thy Divinity.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Already fulfilled are the sayings of those who prophesied in the divine Spirit; for the Virgin cometh to give birth in the cave to the all-perfect One.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Seeking after the glory of martyrdom with love, thou didst receive it, suffering steadfastly, with a fearless will, O thou who art patient of soul.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

When thy body was stripped, O all-praised spiritual athlete and martyr, thou wast truly vested in a robe of grace woven from on high.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O most pure one, the King of heaven cometh forth from thy light-bearing womb as a mortal, laying in a manger as though on a royal throne.

Ode V, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Illumine with Thy divine light, I pray, O Good One, * the souls of those who with love rise early to pray to Thee, * that they may know Thee, O Word of God, * as the true God, * Who recalleth us from the darkness of sin.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O Bethlehem, thou house of Ephratha, the Prince shall issue forth from thee unto Israel, summoning the rejected gentiles, as Micah foretold, illumined by the Spirit.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Jesus alone is born of the Virgin, to shepherd His flock with strength. Unto the end of the earth is He magnified, thus proclaimed the divinely eloquent prophet of old.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The spirit of wisdom, the spirit of God, the spirit of strength and counsel, of knowledge and understanding, the spirit of the fear of God filled the Son Who was incarnate from thy womb, O Virgin.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Of a truth, O most pure, all-immaculate one, thou didst cause all the weaponry of the enemy to utterly fail; for thou hast given birth unto the God of all, Who with a spear hath brought low his savagery.

Canon of the Great-Martyr, Irmos: Rising early we cry to Thee, O Lord; * save us, for Thou art our God, * and we know none other besides Thee.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

The star of Judah hath shone forth from the land of Chaldea, moving the magi to worship, as it was written.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Lawfully didst thou contend, vanquishing the iniquitous with the power of the Spirit, O all-glorious martyr.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As is thy name, so didst thou show forth the resurrection of God, cursing the invisible foe, O all-praised one.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Christ cometh to be born of the Virgin in a subterranean cave, that all things maybe glad.

Ode VI, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Beholding the sea of life surging with the tempest of temptations, * I run to Thy calm haven, and cry to Thee: * Raise up my life from corruption, * O Most Merciful One.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Behold! Christ cometh to His own. We are made His by grace and godly virtues, O faithful; and, illumined in soul and heart, we receive Him.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The root of Jesse hath sprouted forth, and our God hath come forth from thence, the hope of the nations, their peace and honour, as Isaiah, divinely illumined, foretold of old.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Incarnate, O my Jesus, Thou didst make Thyself poor, enriching me who have become grievously impoverished through evil, and loosing the bonds of my many sins by Thy being wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The winter of adverse thoughts doth beset my lowly heart with assaults of evil spirits, O right beloved Lady, tame it by thy mediations.

Canon of the Great-Martyr, Irmos: I will pour out my prayer unto the Lord, * and to Him will I proclaim my grief; * for my soul is filled with evils, * and my life unto Hades hath drawn nigh, * and like Jonah I pray unto Thee: * Raise me up from corruption, O God.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

The Compassionate One, Who doth form babes in their mothers’ wombs, took human nature from us and is seen as a babe; and wrapped in swaddling bands, He is laid in the manger, loosing the intricate bonds of my passions by grace.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Patiently following the struggles of the holy martyrs for Christ’s sake, ministering to their needs, and cleansing their sores, O venerable one, thou wast most splendidly enriched, illumining them with glory.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou pourest forth drops of healing with showers of divine gifts, and dost hold in check the rivers of the passions, helping those who are in cruel misfortune, O all-glorious martyr of Christ, thou namesake of the divine resurrection.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Healing human nature which had become corrupt through the ancient transgression, a new Babe is born without corruption; and He sitteth in thy womb, as upon a throne, O unwedded one, without leaving the throne that He shares with the Father in His divinity.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion, in Tone II: Spec. Mel.: “Seeking the highest …”: When those who have recourse to thy temple, * find themselves in temptations and sorrows, * they receive precious gifts through the divine grace which dwelleth within thee, * O Anastasia. ** For thou ever pourest forth healings upon the world.

Ikos: As thou art the namesake of the resurrection of Christ, O martyr, by thy supplications, raise me up who have now fallen, letting the drops of thy miracles fall upon my soul, quenching the burning of grievous sin; for thou dost ever save the world from a multitude of sins, of which I am also tempted, for pouring forth healings upon the world, thou dost grant them abundantly to all.

Ode VII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: An Angel made the furnace bedew the holy Children. * But the command of God consumed the Chaldeans * and prevailed upon the tyrant to cry: * O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The most Perfect One is born as a babe, and wrapped in swaddling bands; and the Unoriginate One receiveth a beginning in time from the Virgin, seeking to deify that which He had taken upon Himself. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Clad in the flesh as in a robe of royal purple, The King of peace cometh forth from thy womb, O Maiden, destroying His enemies, in that He is almighty, and bringing peace to our stormy life.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

God Who is with us is revealed to be incarnate! Understand, O ye hostile nations, and submit, withdrawing from our life! lo! our Restoration desireth to lay in the manger of Bethlehem as a babe!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The King Who made His abode within thy womb chose thee out of all generations to be His undefiled palace, O Maiden. To Him we now piously chant: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Canon of the Great-Martyr, Irmos: The Hebrew children in the furnace * boldly trampled upon the flames, * changing the fire into dew, they cried aloud: * ‘Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, throughout the ages’.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

The choirs of the incorporeal ones give glory on high, and we on earth render homage, beholding Thee Who hast made Thyself like unto us mortals and liest in a manger, O Christ, Thou God of all.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Thou didst reduce the fire of deception to ashes, partaking of the flame as did the children. And thou didst show forth thy fervent love, O divinely wise one, which thou didst have for thy Master and Bridegroom.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou pourest forth showers of healings, assuaging the fever of illness, ever causing the people to chant: Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, throughout the ages!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

A wonder which amazeth the mind hath been wrought in thee, O Virgin Mother: thou shalt give birth to God and lay in a manger Him Who is unapproachable even to the cherubim and is infinite in His being.

Ode VIII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Thou didst make flame bedew the holy children, * and didst burn the sacrifice of a righteous man with water. * For Thou alone, O Christ, dost do all as Thou willest, * Thee do we supremely exalt throughout all ages.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The sayings of the divinely eloquent prophets are now fulfilled: the Virgin draweth nigh to give birth to the Lord. Let all the earth joining chorus, be glad, and let it rejoice throughout all ages!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Shining with beams of divine grace and abolishing the shadow of the law, Christ the Bestower of light hath shone forth. O ye who are in darkness, behold the great Light!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O Lord Who wast born in the cave, show me to be a temple of Thee and of the Father and Thy divine Spirit, even though I have become a lair of brigands, that I may glorify Thee throughout all ages.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

A heavenly Star hath shone forth from thy womb; and the astrologers have been moved to look upon it, illumined by the Spirit through the knowledge thereof, O most pure Virgin who art ever blessed.

Canon of the Great-Martyr, Irmos: Treading down the fiery flame in the furnace, * the divinely eloquent children sang: * ‘Bless the Lord, ye works of the Lord’.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

The cave holdeth the New-born, before Whom thousands and myriads of angels stand on high. O ye works Hymn Him unceasingly as Lord!  

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Thou wast shown to be a temple of the Trinity when in the temples of God thou didst exercise thyself in fasting and supplication, O Anastasia, crying aloud: Bless the Lord, ye works of the Lord!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Strengthening Chrysogonus with thy fortifying words, O passion-bearer, thou didst trample upon the feeble cruelty of the idols, suffering valiantly.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Maiden who held God within thyself: thou hast given birth unto the Babe Who created time, the immutable Lord Who, in His ineffable mercy, is born in the city of Bethlehem.

Ode IX, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: It is impossible for mankind to see God * upon Whom the orders of Angels dare not gaze; * but through thee, O all-pure one, * did the Word Incarnate become a man * and with the Heavenly Hosts * Him we magnify and thee we call blessed.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Behold! Christ, the restoration, cleansing, salvation and power of all, is come! The priceless Treasure is hidden within the cave! And the magi, enriched thereby, offer Him gold, as to a king.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Keep watch, O shepherds of Christ, and come ye noetically to the city of Bethlehem; and cry out to God in the highest: Glory and majesty be unto Him Whose good pleasure it hath been to reveal Himself as a babe for our sake, in His goodness!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Wrapped in swaddling clothes in the flesh, O Thou Who dost shroud the earth in darkness and settest bounds for the sea with sand, thou hast broken the bonds of mine evil deeds and with righteousness hast girded those who have become weak through the assaults of the enemy.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O chamber and throne of the Ruler, mountain of God, chosen city, garden of paradise, most radiant cloud of the Sun: illumine my soul, dispelling the cloud of my manifold iniquities, O divinely joyous one.

Canon of the Great-Martyr, Irmos: Saved by thee, O pure Virgin, * we confess thee to be truly the Theotokos, * and together with the choirs of the bodiless hosts * thee do we magnify.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Leap up in gladness, ye mountains, and gird yourselves about with joy, O ye hills! The Virgin now draweth nigh to give birth unto the Lord.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Today, creation offereth thee gladness, O Anastasia, glorifying the memory of the Word Whom thou didst glorify with thy blood.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Illumined now with a most pure light, O right noble martyr, by thy supplications ask that we all receive illumination from on high.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Let all creation now rejoice in splendour! The Theotokos cometh to give birth to God the Word Who hath become a man through the will of God.

Troparion of the Great-martyr, in Tone IV: Thy ewe-lamb Anastasia O Jesus, crieth out with a loud voice: * “Thee do I love, O my Bridegroom, * and, seeking Thee, I endure suffering. * in Thy baptism I am crucified and buried with Thee. * I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; * I die for Thee, that I may live with Thee. * Accept me, who with love sacrifice myself for Thee, * as an unblemished offering!” ** By her supplications save Thou our souls, O most merciful One.

Troparion of the forefeast, in the same tone: Make ready, O Bethlehem! * Be thou opened unto all, O Eden! * Adorn thyself, O Ephratha! * For in the cave the Tree of Life hath sprung forth from the Virgin. * Her womb is shown to be a noetic paradise, * in the midst of which is the divine Tree, * whereof eating, we shall live, and not die as did Adam. * Christ is born, that He might restore His image ** which of old fell!

Troparion of the Great-martyr, in Tone IV: Thy ewe-lamb Anastasia O Jesus, crieth out with a loud voice: * “Thee do I love, O my Bridegroom, * and, seeking Thee, I endure suffering. * in Thy baptism I am crucified and buried with Thee. * I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; * I die for Thee, that I may live with Thee. * Accept me, who with love sacrifice myself for Thee, * as an unblemished offering!” ** By her supplications save Thou our souls, O most merciful One.

Troparion of the forefeast, in the same tone: Make ready, O Bethlehem! * Be thou opened unto all, O Eden! * Adorn thyself, O Ephratha! * For in the cave the Tree of Life hath sprung forth from the Virgin. * Her womb is shown to be a noetic paradise, * in the midst of which is the divine Tree, * whereof eating, we shall live, and not die as did Adam. * Christ is born, that He might restore His image ** which of old fell!

The Advent Journey With the Saints: St Peter, Metropolitan of Kiev

Monday, December 21 /January 3: Forefeast of the Nativity and the Commemoration of Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Kiev

Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Kiev, was born in Volhynia of pious parents, Theodore and Eupraxia. Even before the birth of her son, the Lord revealed to Eupraxia the preordained blessedness of her son. At the age of twelve, young Peter entered a monastery. He successfully studied the book sciences of those times and eagerly fulfilled his monastic obediences. The future saint devoted much time to an attentive study of the Holy Scriptures, and he also learned iconography. The icons painted by Saint Peter were distributed to the brethren and to Christians who visited the monastery.

Because of his virtuous and ascetic life, the igumen of the monastery had Saint Peter ordained as a hieromonk. After years of ascetic labours at the monastery, the hieromonk Peter, with the blessing of the igumen, left the monastery in search of a solitary place.

He built a cell at the Rata River and began to pursue asceticism in silence. Afterwards, at the place of his ascetic exploits, a monastery was formed, called the Novodvorsk. A church dedicated to the Savior was built for the monks who came to him. Chosen as igumen, Saint Peter guided his spiritual children, and never became angry with a guilty monk. Instead, he instructed the brethren by word and by example. The virtuous igumen and ascetic became known far beyond the vicinity of the monastery. Prince Yuri of Galicia frequently visited the monastery in order to receive spiritual instruction from the holy ascetic.

Once, in his travels through the Russian land, Metropolitan Maximus of Kiev and Vladimir (December 6) visited the monastery with words of instruction and edification. Having received the blessing of Saint Maximus, Saint Peter presented him with an icon of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, which he had painted. Saint Maximus prayed before the icon for the salvation of the Russian land entrusted to him by God until the end of his days.

When Metropolitan Maximus died, the See of Vladimir remained for a certain time unoccupied. An abbot named Gerontius, aspiring to become the primate of Russia, went to Constantinople with Saint Peter’s vestments, archpastoral staff, and the icon he had painted. The Great Prince of Vladimir, Saint Michael of Tver (November 22), sent him to the Patriarch of Constantinople with a petition that he be appointed as Metropolitan of Russia.

On the suggestion of Prince Yuri of Galicia, Igumen Peter reluctantly went to the Patriarch of Constantinople with a petition that he be consecrated as Metropolitan. God chose Saint Peter to nourish the Russian Church. The Mother of God appeared to Gerontius during a storm on the Black Sea and said, “You labour in vain, for you will never be bishop. The one who painted this icon, the Rata igumen Peter, shall be elevated to the throne of Kiev.”

The words of the Mother of God were fulfilled. Patriarch Athanasius of Constantinople (1289-1293) elevated Saint Peter as Metropolitan of Russia, bestowing upon him the hierarchal vestments, staff and icon, brought by Gerontius. Upon his return to Russia in 1308, Metropolitan Peter arrived at Kiev after a year, and then proceeded on to Vladimir.

The chief hierarch was tested by many trials during his first years of guiding the Russian metropolitanate. Suffering beneath the Tatar (Mongol) Yoke the Russian land was in turmoil, and Saint Peter was often obliged to change the place of his residence. During this period the saint’s labours and concerns to affirm the true Faith and morality in the realm were particularly important. On his journeys throughout the diocese, he incessantly instructed the people and clergy on preserving Christian piety. He also brought quarrelsome princes to peace and unity.

In the year 1312 the saint made a journey to the Horde, where he received a decree from Khan Uzbek, safeguarding the rights of the Russian clergy.

In 1325 Metropolitan Peter, at the request of Great Prince John Kalita (1328-1340), transferred the metropolitan See from Vladimir to Moscow. This event had very great significance for all the Russian land. Saint Peter prophetically predicted deliverance from the Tatar Yoke and that Moscow would become the foremost city in Russia.

With his blessing, the foundation of the cathedral of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos in the Moscow Kremlin was laid in August 1326 (According to Tradition, the foundations of stone churches are normally laid in the spring). This was a profoundly symbolic blessing by Saint Peter.

Saint Peter fell asleep in the Lord on December 21, 1326. The holy relics of the saint were buried in the Dormition cathedral in a stone crypt, which he himself had prepared. Many miracles were accomplished through the saint’s prayers. Many healings were even done secretly, which testifies to his profound humility even after death.

The veneration of the first hierarch of the Russian Church was affirmed and spread throughout the Russian land. In 1339, under Saint Theognostus (March 14), Saint Peter was numbered among the saints. Princes kissed the cross on the saint’s tomb as a sign of their fidelity to the Great Prince of Moscow.

As a particularly venerated protector of Moscow, Saint Peter was called on to witness the drawing up of government treaties. The people of Novgorod once had the right of nominating their own bishop in the cathedral of Saint Sophia. After their annexation to Moscow under Ivan III, they swore an oath that henceforth they would only consecrate their archbishops at the grave of Saint Peter the Wonderworker. And it was at the grave of the saint that the first hierarchs of Russia were named and chosen.

The Russian Chronicles mention him frequently, and no significant state undertaking was initiated without prayers at the grave of Saint Peter. The relics of Saint Peter were transferred in 1472 and 1479. In memory of these events, feast days were established for October 5 and August 24.

Source: The Orthodox Church in America

Canon of the forefeast, with the alphabet acrostic, by Joseph, in Tone IV:

Ode 1, Irmos: O Thou who wast born of the Virgin, * drown I implore Thee, in the depth of dispassion * the triune nature of my soul, * as Thou didst the mighty strongholds of the warriors, * that in the mortality of my flesh * as on a timbrel * I may chant a hymn of victory.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Rejoice, O heaven, and be glad, O earth! For our God, having taken on flesh, is born of the Virgin Maiden and is wrapped in swaddling bands, breaking the bonds of our transgressions, in that He is compassionate.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The pure Queen giveth birth in a manner past understanding to the King of all Who openeth the kingdom on high to the faithful and utterly removeth the sin which ever accursedly reigneth within us.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The writings of the prophets have attained their end; for, lo! Christ Whom they proclaimed beforehand is revealed, incarnate, in the city of Bethlehem. Let us now hasten today to celebrate the forefeast of His nativity with uprightness of mind.

Canon I of the Saint, in Tone VIII: Irmos: Having passed through the water as upon dry land, * and having escaped the malice of the Egyptians, * the Israelites cried aloud: * Unto our God and Redeemer let us sing.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

O divinely wise father, holy hierarch Peter, open thou mine unworthy lips, that I may hymn thee; and accept as incense of sweet savour that which, unworthy though I am, I offer unto thee out of my poverty.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Let us all hymn Peter, the great hierarch. Let us honour the helper and confirmation of the land of Russia, whom the Lord hath given to the city of Moscow as a vigilant guardian.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou didst follow the saving commandments of Christ, O most wise and holy hierarch Peter, and wast an intercessor for widows and orphans, and the great defence of the Russian land.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O most pure Theotokos, who hast given birth unto the Creator and Saviour of all who hymn thee, from misfortunes save thy city, unceasingly praying to thy Son and our God for us.

Canon II of the Saint, in Tone I: Irmos: Christ is born, render ye glory. * Christ cometh from heaven, meet ye Him. * Christ is on earth, be ye exalted. * O all the earth, sing unto the Lord, * and sing praises in gladness, O ye people, * for He hath been glorified.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Taking the grace of the Spirit into thy heart, O father, holy hierarch of Christ, illumine the tongue and enlighten the heart of those who hymn thee, that with splendour we may hymn thy memory, O venerable Peter.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

The great Peter, the mighty pastor of the Church, summoneth shepherds and the flock, and the whole Church, to his memorial. Wherefore, having assembled let us with splendour keep the festival of our common father.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Even though thy corrections are beyond our words and thoughts, O father Peter, yet do thou accept with love the spiritual offering which we make unto thee according to our strength, O right wondrous one; for none of us are able to fashion fitting hymns for thee.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The radiant Sun cometh, appearing from the gates which were shut; for His appearance hath abolished the night, and the day draweth nigh. Wherefore, O our corrupt nature, receive from the Virgin the Master Who is become man for thy sake.

Ode III, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Likened to a barren woman * the Church from among the nations hath given birth, * and the assembly abundant in children, hath grown weak. * Let us cry out to our wondrous God: * Holy art Thou, O Lord!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Daniel beheld Thee, O Word, as the Stone cut from the mountain of the Virgin, which broke the temples of the idols in pieces by Thy might. Wherefore, we glorify Thee with fear.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Guided to Thee by the star, O Christ, Thou King of all, the magi from the East bring gifts; myrrh, gold and frankincense – marvelling at Thy condescension.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The unploughed field beareth the life-bearing Grain; Mary cometh to give birth in the city of Bethlehem to Him Who feedeth the souls of all who cry: Holy art Thou, O Lord!

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: O Lord, Creator of the vault of Heaven * and Builder of the Church, * do Thou strengthen me in Thy love, O Summit of desire, * O Support of the faithful, * O only Lover of mankind.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

By thy prayers to our Creator and God crush the Moslems and all our godless adversaries, O venerable Peter, show forth their power, which warreth against us, as impotent; and put down their wicked savagery.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

O Master, in a generation gone by Thou didst show forth a wonder-worker, the holy hierarch Peter, the confirmation of the Russian land, the upright rule of Thy Church, the leader of the priestly rank.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

The man who touched thee while thou wast in thy coffin was counted worthy to receive healing, O holy one; for by the grace of God thou didst grant that he be able to stretch forth his arms, which were bent in upon his breast.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Be thou for me a refuge and haven, an unassailable rampart and helper, O most pure Virgin who hast given birth in the flesh unto God, the most compassionate Redeemer and Saviour of those who hymn thee, O Bride of God.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: To the Son who was begotten of the Father * without change before all ages, * and in the last times, without seed, was made flesh of the Virgin, * to Christ our God let us cry aloud: * Thou hast raised up our horn, holy art Thou, O Lord.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

God, Who knoweth all things, knew thee in the womb before thou wast conceived, O God-bearer. And when thou wast born, He sanctified thee and made thee a great shepherd of His sheep; for He entrusted His sheep to thee, as He did to the Apostle Peter.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Parting the sea of the passions with the staff of abstinence, O blessed one, like Moses thou didst ascend the mountain of dispassion, and, having received noetic tablets, thou didst teach thy flock the law of God.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou wast shown to be humble, meek and gentle, O Peter; wherefore, the grace of the Spirit, abundantly poured forth upon thee, revealed thee to be a great man who shineth over our land with rays of miracles.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

God, Who is strong and mighty, hath now revealed Himself to those who are in the darkness of the shadow of death. O ye faithful, behold the great Light, Christ-in the cave, Who is to be born of the Virgin in an awesome manner. Let us hymn her with faith.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Kontakion of the forefeast, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Today the Virgin …”: Today the Virgin cometh to the cave * to ineffably give birth unto the pre-eternal Word. * Having heard this, be glad, O thou ecumene, * and with the angels and shepherds glorify the pre-eternal God, ** Who is to appear as a little babe.

Ikos: O truly awesome wonder past all telling! He Who giveth existence to all, in His goodness hath entered the womb of the holy Virgin, and cometh to be born in the cave, and to be laid in a manger. And His star is herald from on high to the magi who come to do Him homage with gifts, drawing from afar those who zealously follow the prophecy of Balaam, who said: “A star will proclaim beforehand the little babe, the pre-eternal God!”

Sessional Hymn of the saint, in Tone IV: Spec. Mel.: “Go thou quickly before …”: Thou hast been revealed to the world to be a resplendent beacon, illumining the thoughts of the faithful with the brilliance of thy discourses, O holy hierarch Peter our father; wherefore, with joy we all celebrate thy sacred and divine memory today.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sessional Hymn of the forefeast, in the same melody: O virgin, begin ye beforehand the joy of virgins; ye mothers, praise the coming forth of the Mother of Christ our God; rejoice, O magi, with the angels, and ye shepherds with us! For the Virgin cometh to give birth in the city of Bethlehem to a Son, the pre-eternal God, Who saveth the world from corruption.

Ode IV, Canon of the Forefeast Irmos: He who sitteth in glory upon the throne of the Godhead, * Jesus the true God, * is come in a swift cloud * and with His sinless hands he hath saved those who cry: * Glory to Thy power, O Christ.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The holy phial of precious sanctity cometh to pour forth in the city of Bethlehem Him Who imparteth sanctity unto all of us who cry: Glory to Thy power, O Christ!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O divinely eloquent Isaiah, beholding the fulfilment of thine honoured prophesies, rejoice and be glad! For without seed the Virgin hath given birth in the flesh to the Uncontainable One in the cave of Bethlehem.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Jesus is born in the flesh; the Timeless One is seen as an infant in time, and by His ineffable abasement deifieth me who, have become poor through corrupting disobedience.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: O Lord, I have heard the mystery of Thy dispensation; * I have beheld Thy works, * and I have glorified Thy Divinity.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

With the grace of the Spirit thou wast anointed a high priest, O most excellent Peter; for thou didst put on Christ because of thy pure life. Wherefore, thou didst teach all to glorify the one God in Trinity.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Deliver thy flock from the storm of sin, from tribulations and sorrows, O venerable hierarch Peter, leading us to the calm harbour of the divine will of Christ.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou wast shown to be a favoured one of Christ, O most sacred father Peter; wherefore, cease thou never to pray to the Lord, that He deliver thy flock from perils, misfortunes and sorrows, and from violent trials.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The assemblies of hierarchs and the choirs of the venerable glorify thee in a sacred manner; for thou didst bear in thine arms, as an infant, the Creator of all, the Son and Word of God.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: Rod of the root of Jesse, * and flower that blossomed from his stem, * O Christ, Thou hast sprung from the Virgin. * From the Mountain overshadowed by the forest * Thou hast come, made flesh from her that knew not wedlock, * O God who art not formed from matter. * Glory to Thy power, O Lord.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Bowing to the laws of the Spirit from earliest childhood, O venerable one, thou didst pass over the laws of the flesh, which by mighty asceticism thou didst mortify in thy life. Wherefore, thou hast been given to the faithful as a great wonder-worker, O blessed Peter.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou gavest neither sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids, until the Creator of all found thy heart to be a tranquil place. And, having fittingly purified it, the eternal King and God showed it to be His habitation of glory.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Slay thou the incurable sensual knowledge of my flesh, O most wise one, and as thou art mighty and powerful, guide me to the divine ways. Make me subject to good laws, O blessed one, and show me, who art enslaved to cruel passions, to be a servant of Christ.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

As it is written, the Lord hath now sent deliverance unto peoples, tribes and nations; for He maketh all peoples for Himself, that they may worship the one incarnation of the Son and confess thee to be the Theotokos.

Ode V, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: The wicked will not behold Thy glory, O Christ, * but we who rise early to hymn Thee shall behold Thee, * the Only-Begotten effulgence of Thy Father’s divinity, * O Lover of mankind.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

God-Emmanuel is born from the Virgin, and laid in a manger; of His own will He worketh our restoration. Wherefore, we piously celebrate the forefeast of His nativity.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O Thou Who art the Unoriginate Word, equal in essence with the Father, having been laid in a manger of dumb beasts thou hast released from irrationality us who piously celebrate the forefeast of Thy nativity.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Blessed was the root of Jesse which produced the pure one who beareth the divine Flower, Christ the Lord. And, rejoicing, we celebrate the forefeast of His nativity.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: O Light never-waning, * why hast Thou turned Thy face from me * and why hath the alien darkness surrounded me, * wretched though I be? * But do Thou guide my steps I implore Thee * and turn me back towards the light of Thy commandments.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Standing round about thy shrine, O venerable hierarch Peter, we have thee as a mediator before God, a help and an unshakable confirmation for the land of Russia.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

As thou wast merciful to the poor, O all-praised one, ask now the mercy of the Spirit; for in exercising almsgiving, O holy father Peter, thou didst set up a radiant lamp.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou wast truly the habitation of the Holy Spirit, O blessed Peter, and wast well enriched by the divine gifts revealed in Him.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O most pure one, we call thee the myrrh, in that thou hast given birth in the flesh unto God, the gracious Myrrh poured forth upon all who have recourse to thy protection.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: As Thou art the God of peace and Father of compassions, * Thou hast sent unto us Thine Angel of great counsel, * granting us peace. * Wherefore guided towards the light of the knowledge of God, * and watching by night, we glorify Thee, * O Lover of mankind.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

The great wealth of thy compassions hath been shown forth in our land as an infinite outpouring of thy mercy, O servant of Christ; for thou dost answer those who petition thee, and dost strive to fulfill their requests, O blessed one.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou wast shown to be meek and humble in deed and word, and thereby drew all to thee. With love and good works thou didst subdue all, and by thy miracles thou didst gladden the hearts of those strengthened by thee.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Christ, the great Shepherd of all, showed thee forth as the shepherd and teacher of His reason-endowed sheep, O blessed one. As a compassionate shepherd, seek me out now, who am thy sheep lost in the mountains of perdition.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

In the abyss of His ineffable compassions, the great Shepherd of mankind and High Priest came forth as a man from the Virgin. Prepare thyself, O Bethlehem! Ye shepherds, raise a hymn proclaiming unto the ends of the earth our common exaltation!

Ode VI, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: I have reached the depths of the sea * and the tempest of my many sins hath engulfed me; * but do Thou raise up my life from the abyss * O Greatly merciful One.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Having been born for us as a little babe on earth, O Thou Who shone forth ineffably from the Father before all ages, free all from the ancient disobedience, in that Thou art compassionate.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Strange and most glorious things were heard in the city of Bethlehem when Thou wast born, O Unoriginate Word; for with the angels, shepherds offered up hymnody to Thee as Master.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The star of righteousness ineffably proclaimeth to the magi the Sun Who hath been born, and, rejoicing, we now celebrate the forefeast of His honoured nativity.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Cleanse me, O Saviour, * for many are mine iniquities; * lead me up from the abyss of evils I pray Thee, * for unto Thee have I cried, * and Thou hast hearkened unto me, * O God of my salvation.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou didst make thy life chaste, O thou who art manifest in sanctity, adorning thyself with righteousness and uniting to thyself the virtues by manliness of mind, O most blessed and holy hierarch Peter.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Preserve thy city from the predations of the ungodly infidels and from civil strife, O most blessed hierarch Peter, unceasingly entreating Christ the Master to grant peace to thy flock.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Glorified even after thy death as one living, thou workest miracles for the infirm and by the grace of God givest healing unto those who are crippled; for the Lord saith: I will glorify him who glorifieth Me.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou wast more exalted than the heavenly hosts, having conceived the ineffable Word of God, Who hath accomplished all things by His word, and Who was begotten of the Father before all ages. Him do thou never cease to entreat, O pure one.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: The sea monster spat forth Jonah as it had received him, * like a babe from the womb: * while the Word, having dwelt in the Virgin and taken flesh, * came forth from her yet kept her incorrupt. * For being Himself not subject to decay. * He preserved His Mother free from all harm.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou wast truly a father to orphans and a helper of widows, O glorious one, the sweet consolation of the grieving and those in sorrow, the healer of sufferings of soul and body; wherefore, we call upon thee to be our intercessor amid our adverse circumstances.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Joyfully celebrating thy memorial with the people today, sacred peoples keep festival, O father, and together with them true hermits and simple folk hymn thee in common as their intercessor and teacher.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

I alone am become a wicked child through vile passions, O glorious father, and for this cause am unworthy to participate in thy goodly and beautiful celebration; yet, having washed away the defilement of my soul and body, O venerable one, show me forth as worthy of thy festival.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O true wonder! Wonder surpassing all telling and all understanding! The Virgin is acknowledged to be both Virgin and Mother, and Him Who was born of her to be both God and man. Celebrating the forefeast of His radiant nativity, we sing hymns of joy.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion of the saint, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “To thee, the champion leader …”: Unto thee, the chosen and wondrous wonderworker of our land, * do we flee today with love, weaving hymns, O God-bearer, * as thou hast boldness before the Lord, * deliver us from multifarious evil circumstances that we may cry to thee: ** Rejoice, O confirmation of our city!

Ikos: Thou hast been revealed to be a new wonder-worker, imparting healings unto all who fervently approach thee in humility of heart. And, invisibly visiting the Christian people, O God-bearer, thou dost enlighten our land, that together we may cry out to thee thus: Rejoice, abode of the light of dispassion; Rejoice, dispeller of dark passions! Rejoice, thou who hast set at naught the wiles of the demons; Rejoice, thou who hast gladdened the ranks of the angels! Rejoice, summit of the pure vision of God; Rejoice, depths of humility, washing sicknesses away! Rejoice, for thou didst behold invisible things; Rejoice, for thou hast joined the choir of holy hierarchs! Rejoice, pastor and teacher of the Russian land; Rejoice, excellent boast of bishops! Rejoice, thou for whose sake God hath shown forth great miracles; Rejoice, thou in whom God is glorified! Rejoice, thou confirmation of our city.

Ode VII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: The three youths in Babylon, * regarded the tyrant’s command as foolishness, * and cried aloud in the midst of the flame: * Blessed art Thou, O Lord God of our fathers!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

How can a cave contain Thee, the Uncontainable One, Who cometh to be born for our sake? How can the Virgin give suck to Thee, Who art the Nourisher of all, O compassionate Jesus?

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Following the words of the magus Balaam, the magi hastened to pay homage to Christ with gifts, perceiving that He is the One Who reigneth over all creatures.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O human nature, barren of any of the virtues, rejoice and dance! For Christ cometh to be born in the flesh of the Virgin, that He might show thee to be right fruitful in good works.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: The Children of Judaea, * who of old came to dwell in Babylon, * trampled underfoot the flame of the furnace * through their faith in the Trinity, * as they sang: ‘O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.’

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Open unto me the gates of repentance, O most blessed hierarch Peter, that I may wash away the defilement of my wretched soul and body, directing all my senses and my conscience to chant unto God: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

We, thy servants, have thee as a fervent helper and the unassailable rampart and confirmation of thy city of Moscow; and we fear not the adverse foe, but vanquishing them by the power of Christ, we chant: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou didst confirm the rules of the fathers, and with the magnificence of the priesthood didst build an all-beauteous church for the most holy Mother of God; and by thy teachings instructed the people to chant: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Having thee now as a haven of salvation, O Virgin Theotokos, we flee the misfortunes and storms of life; and, escaping to the harbour of thy tranquillity, we cry out to thy Son: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: Scorning the impious decree of the godless one, * the Children brought up together in godliness * feared not the threat of fire, * but standing in the midst of the flames, they sang: * O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Together our land and other countries proclaim thy wonders, O father, teaching all to chant unto Christ most joyously: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

The Bridegroom Who surpasseth all the sons of mankind in beauty, as it is written, showed thee forth to His bride, the Church, as a most comely bridegroom who bore the likeness of His image.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Having adorned thy life with almsgiving, meekness and true love, thou wast shown to be an excellent emulator of the good Shepherd, having chosen well His virtues.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The Master cometh to be born in the cave as a man. Let us go forth to greet the pure Virgin, O ye faithful, chanting unto her with joy: Rejoice, joy of the world! Rejoice, O Virgin Mother of Christ!

Ode VIII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: O almighty Redeemer of all, * having descended and bedewed the children * in the midst of the flame, * Thou didst teach them to sing: * All ye works bless and hymn the Lord.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

In Thine ineffable loving-kindness, to save me who through my great disobedience have become a den of thieves, O Christ, it was Thy will to be born in a cave of the pure Virgin.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Signing a writ of complete remission for me, Thou, the Author of creation, didst register Thyself with servants in accordance with the edict of Caesar. O Master, I hymn the unfathomable abyss of Thy loving-kindness!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O radiant palace of the Master, how is it that thou hast entered the least of caves to give birth to the Lord and King Who became incarnate for our sake, O all-holy Virgin Bride of God?

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Glorified in the holy mountain, * the Lord revealed the mystery of the Ever-Virgin unto Moses * in the flames of the burning bush: * praise ye and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Though I have been overcome by the enemy through many transgressions due to the tumults of life, like Manasseh I approach Thee with faith, O Christ, and cry out to Thee in repentance: Hymn the Lord, O ye works, and supremely exalt Him throughout the ages!

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

O most blessed one, earnestly make supplications and entreaties unto God for thy servants, for, having thee as helper and ally amid griefs, we are saved from misfortunes, hymning the Lord and supremely exalting Him throughout the ages.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

The children of Hagar are arming themselves against thy humble people, O all-honoured hierarch, father Peter. Crush them with the invisible power of thy prayers to the Master on behalf of us, thy faithful servants, who hymn the Lord and supremely exalt Him throughout the ages.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O most pure and most glorious Virgin Lady, with the holy hierarch Peter earnestly entreat thy Son and King, that from all need and tribulation He deliver thy loyal city of Moscow, which blesseth thee with faith, O Sovereign Lady, and doth hymn and supremely exalt thee throughout the ages.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: The furnace moist with dew * was an image and prefiguring of a wonder past nature, * burning not the Children whom it had received, * so the fire of the Godhead consumed not the Virgin’s womb * into which it had descended. * Therefore in song let us sing: * Let the whole creation bless the Lord * and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

By thy supplication nurture this thy flock which is great in number; by thy prayers still thou the storm of contrary winds, both physical and spiritual; deliver us from all temptations and troubles, and preserve us utterly unharmed.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

The descendants of Hagar, who rise up against us and desire to vex thine inheritance, have fallen, vanquished by thy supplications, and are become a mockery and a byword, bewailing their fall; but we joyously hymn thy sacred memory.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Ineffable is thy love for thy children, surpassing paternal love, O father; wherefore, thou dost ever invisibly visit us, by thy constant supplications asking salvation for us, and giving us joy and tranquillity, O Peter.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Not disdaining that which He created in His own image – me who am wholly fallen and have perished, O pure Virgin Theotokos, God hath wholly restored me through thee. Wherefore, all creation continually hymneth thee, the cause of our salvation, saying: Blessed art thou among women, O all-immaculate Lady.

Ode IX, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Eve dwelt under the curse of sin * because of the infirmity of disobedience; * but thou, O Virgin Theotokos, * hast through the Offspring of thy pregnancy * blossomed forth blessing upon the world. * Wherefore, we all magnify thee.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O ye faithful, let us dance, leap up and cry aloud together: The Salvation of all cometh! The Lord draweth nigh to be born, that He might save those who with godly wisdom celebrate His nativity!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Take up thy psaltery and harp, O holy David, and chant in hymnody: O house of Ephratha, be glad! For He Whom the Father begat from within Himself is most radiantly born in thee, incarnate of the Virgin!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Like a downpour, like a mighty rainfall hath the Master descended into thy womb, O Virgin Mother and Birthgiver of God, and He hath watered lands hardened by dark ungodliness, drying up the seas of falsehood.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Heaven was stricken with awe, * and the ends of the earth were filled with amazement, * for God hath appeared in the flesh, * and thy womb was rendered more spacious than the heavens. * Wherefore, the ranks of men and of angels * magnify thee as the Theotokos.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Like the harlot, the thief and the publican I cry unto Thee from the depths of my heart: I have sinned! Forgive me my many offenses, O Master, and deliver me from all Thine anger through the prayers of the holy hierarch Peter, that I may unceasingly magnify Thee.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Come, all ye people of Moscow! And, gathering at the tomb of the blessed hierarch Peter, cry out unto God with tears, saying: O Lord, deliver Thy people from misfortunes, that we may magnify Thee forever!

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thine own city of Moscow greatly rejoiceth in thee, O all-honoured father, holy hierarch Peter, having thee as an ally and helper. Depart not now in spirit from us, O master, making supplication for us to God, that He deliver us from the violence of the ungodly Moslems, our enemies, that we may ever magnify thee.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O all-pure Mary, Sovereign Lady, by thine entreaties cleanse my defiled heart and soul, and make me an heir to life everlasting; and, remembering not my countless evils, beseech thy Son and God for me, wretch that I am, and preserve those who hymn thee, O most holy one.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: A strange and most wondrous mystery do I see: * the cave is heaven; * the Virgin the throne of the cherubim; * the manger a room, in which Christ God, * whom nothing can contain, is laid. * Whom we praise and magnify.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

It is not possible to hymn thy glory as is meet; for thou grantest a multitude of miracles and abundant healings unto those who with ardent faith approach thee, O holy hierarch Peter, thou boast of our land.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Christ hath set thee as the foundation of His Church and a mighty tower forever unshakable, protecting and making steadfast thy city, that it might remain utterly unshaken and unassailed by its enemies.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Let all of us; bishops, priests and monks, and all the people, men and women, the old and the young, of every age and every dignity, splendidly celebrate the memory of our holy hierarch.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Let us hasten to behold the greatest of wonders! For the Virgin cometh, bearing in her womb the Babe Who giveth life to babes. Angels join in common hymnody with shepherds, proclaiming the salvation made manifest in the cave.

Troparion of the saint, in Tone IV: Be glad now, O earth that before wast barren! * For, lo! Christ hath shown forth within thee a luminary * who shineth forth clearly in the world * healing our infirmities and ailments. * Wherefore, join chorus and rejoice with boldness; * for it is the high priest of the Most High ** who doeth these things.

Troparion of the forefeast, in the same tone: Make ready, O Bethlehem! * Be thou opened unto all, O Eden! * Adorn thyself, O Ephratha! * For in the cave the Tree of Life hath sprung forth from the Virgin. * Her womb is shown to be a noetic paradise, * in the midst of which is the divine Tree, * whereof eating, we shall live, and not die as did Adam. * Christ is born, that He might restore His image ** which of old fell!

The Advent Journey With the Saints: the Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer

Sunday, December 20 /January 2: Forefeast of the Nativity and the Commemoration of the Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer

The Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer, was a disciple of the holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, as was also St Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna (February 23). St Ignatius was the second bishop of Antioch, and successor to Bishop Euodius, Apostle of the Seventy (September 7).

Tradition suggests that when St Ignatius was a little boy, the Saviour hugged him and said: “Unless you turn and become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt. 18:3). The saint was called “God-Bearer” (Theophoros), because he bore God in his heart and prayed unceasingly to Him. He also had this name because he was held in the arms of Christ, the incarnate Son of God.

St Ignatius was a disciple of the Apostle John the Theologian, together with St Polycarp of Smyrna. As Bishop of Antioch, St Ignatius was zealous and spared no effort to build up the church of Christ. To him is attributed the practice of antiphonal singing (by two choirs) during church services. He had seen a vision of the angels in heaven alternately singing praises to God, and divided his church choir to follow this example. In the time of persecution he was a source of strength to the souls of his flock, and was eager to suffer for Christ.

In the year 106 the emperor Trajan (98-117), after his victory over the Scythians, ordered everyone to give thanks to the pagan gods, and to put to death any Christians who refused to worship the idols. In the year 107, Trajan happened to pass through Antioch. Here they told him that Bishop Ignatius openly confessed Christ, and taught people to scorn riches, to lead a virtuous life, and preserve their virginity.

St Ignatius came voluntarily before the emperor, so as to avert persecution of the Christians in Antioch. St Ignatius rejected the persistent requests of the emperor Trajan to sacrifice to the idols. The emperor then decided to send him to Rome to be thrown to the wild beasts. St Ignatius joyfully accepted the sentence imposed upon him. His readiness for martyrdom was attested to by eyewitnesses, who accompanied St Ignatius from Antioch to Rome.

On the way to Rome, the ship sailed from Seleucia stopped at Smyrna, where St Ignatius met with his friend Bishop Polycarp. Clergy and believers from other cities and towns thronged to see St Ignatius. He exhorted everyone not to fear death and not to grieve for him.

In his Epistle to the Roman Christians, he asked them to assist him with their prayers, and to pray that God would strengthen him in his impending martyrdom for Christ: “I seek Him Who died for us; I desire Him Who rose for our salvation… In me, desire has been nailed to the cross, and no flame of material longing is left. Only the living water speaks within me, saying, ‘Hasten to the Father.’”

From Smyrna, St Ignatius went to Troas. Here he heard the happy news of the end of the persecution against Christians in Antioch. From Troas, St Ignatius sailed to Neapolis (in Macedonia) and then to Philippi.

On the way to Rome St Ignatius visited several churches, teaching and guiding the Christians there. He also wrote seven epistles: to the churches of Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna. He also addressed a letter to St Polycarp, who mentions a collection of the letters of St Ignatius in his letter to the Philippians (Ch. 13). St Irenaeus of Lyons quotes from St Ignatius’s letter to the Romans (AGAINST HERESIES 5:28:4). All these letters have survived to the present day.

The Roman Christians met St Ignatius with great joy and profound sorrow. Some of them hoped to prevent his execution, but St Ignatius implored them not to do this. Kneeling down, he prayed together with the believers for the Church, for love between the brethren, and for an end to the persecution against Christians.

On December 20, the day of a pagan festival, they led St Ignatius into the arena, and he turned to the people: “Men of Rome, you know that I am sentenced to death, not because of any crime, but because of my love for God, by Whose love I am embraced. I long to be with Him, and offer myself to him as a pure loaf, made of fine wheat ground fine by the teeth of wild beasts.”

After this the lions were released and tore him to pieces, leaving only his heart and a few bones. Tradition says that on his way to execution, St Ignatius unceasingly repeated the name of Jesus Christ. When they asked him why he was doing this, St Ignatius answered that this Name was written in his heart, and that he confessed with his lips Him Whom he always carried within. When the saint was devoured by the lions, his heart was not touched. When they cut open the heart, the pagans saw an inscription in gold letters: “Jesus Christ.” After his execution St Ignatius appeared to many of the faithful in their sleep to comfort them, and some saw him at prayer for the city of Rome.

Hearing of the saint’s great courage, Trajan thought well of him and stopped the persecution against the Christians. The relics of St Ignatius were transferred to Antioch (January 29), and on February 1, 637 were returned to Rome and placed in the church of San Clemente.

Source: The Orthodox Church in America


Canon of the forefeast, the acrostic whereof is: “Chanted are these hymns of the forefeast”, the composition of Joseph, in Tone I:

Ode 1, Irmos: Let us all chant a triumphant hymn unto God * Who wrought wondrous miracles * with His upraised arm, * and saved Israel, * for He hath been glorified.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Let us begin today to celebrate the forefeast of the nativity of Christ Who was born in the flesh from the Virgin Mother in the cave of Bethlehem in His surpassing loving-kindness.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The pre-eternal God, Who is seen as a babe, is wrapped in swaddling bands and laid in a manger, releasing me from the bonds of sin. Glory be to His might!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

 Eden is opened to Thee Who in the flesh wast born in Bethlehem from the divine Virgin Maiden, O Master; we hymn Thine awesome dispensation.

Canon of the hieromartyr, the composition of Andrew of Crete, in the same tone.

Same Irmos: Let us all chant a triumphant hymn unto God …,

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Celebrating with splendour, let us form ourselves into ranks; in a sacred manner the martyr Ignatius doth summon the Church of Christ to his much-hymned suffering.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

O Ignatius, as the most radiant luminary of the Church thou hast enlightened all the ends of the earth, and having arrived from the East, thou hast shone upon the lands of the West.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Emulating the tribulations of Paul in the cities and towns while thou wast a prisoner, O Ignatius, thou wast in nowise troubled, making steadfast the Churches of Christ by thy frequent epistles.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

O all-blessed Ignatius, we all hymn thy glorious memory, and with hymns we honour Him Who crowned thy most precious head, O thou who art blessed of God.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

“Let my flesh be lacerated, let my blood flow forth! In my desire I make haste, ready for the wild beasts, adorned for crushing, for the fire, for the sword, for being devoured!” the martyr cried aloud.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Adorn thyself, O Eden, for Ephratha hath been made ready for the Creator, Who is to be born from the Virgin Mother in the cave of Bethlehem, in His surpassing loving-kindness.

Ode III, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: The stone which the builders have rejected, * the same hath become the cornerstone: * this is the rock upon which Christ hath established the Church, * which He hath redeemed from among the nations.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Let all creation chant the hymns of the forefeast unto Him Who was begotten of the Father before the morning-star, and hath now shone forth ineffably from the Virgin, and is born in the flesh in Bethlehem, in His surpassing loving-kindness.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

A star hath shone forth from the tribe of Judah, which the kings have recognized. They make a journey from the lands of the East, and hasten to arrive, that they might gaze upon Christ Who is born in the flesh in Bethlehem.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Perceiving the incarnation of Christ, Isaiah manifestly prophesieth in the Holy Spirit, saying: “The Lord is born from a Virgin as a babe, for our regeneration! His government is upon His shoulders!”

Canon of the Hieromartyr, Irmos: The stone which the builders have rejected …,

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

O father, thou hast been shown forth as a model of sacred suffering, a tower of endurance, a rule of courage, a pillar of the Church, the confirmation of the Faith, a sign of virtue: having been crowned with honoured sufferings in Christ.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Truly wast thou called the God-bearer, O father, for held in the arms of the Lord while yet a babe, thou wast set forth by Him Who saith to us: “Be ye for Me like unto this child!”

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

“I am the pure wheat of God,” thou didst cry, O father; “and I hasten to be ground by the wild beasts, that my body may be crushed, that my members may be devoured, that I may become food for the beasts, that I may be shown to be pure bread for God!”

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Thou didst complete the strange contest of martyrdom with endurance, and didst show forth wondrous courage surpassing all who suffered before thee, consumed with love of unremitting zeal which, like fire, set thy soul aflame.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Ever burning in spirit, the hieromartyr cried out with love in the midst of his afflictions: “I press on toward Christ, rejoicing! I am crucified with Christ! I no longer live myself, but Christ alone liveth within me!” said he.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Come forth, O Isaiah, and cry aloud: “Behold! a Virgin will conceive in her womb the Redeemer of the world, and will give birth in a cave! And the name of Him Who will be born is Jesus, God is with us, Emmanuel, Sabaoth!”

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Kontakion of the forefeast, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Today the Virgin …”: Today the Virgin cometh to ineffably give birth * to the pre-eternal Word in the cave. * Having heard this dance O world, * and with the angels and shepherds glorify the pre-eternal God, ** Who is to appear as a little babe.

Ikos: O truly awesome wonder past all telling! He Who giveth existence to all, in His goodness hath entered the womb of the holy Virgin, and cometh to be born in the cave, and to be laid in a manger. And His star is a herald from on high to the magi who come to do Him homage with gifts, drawing from afar those who zealously follow the prophecy of Balaam, who said: “A star will proclaim beforehand the little babe, the pre-eternal God!”

Sessional Hymn of the hieromartyr, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Awed by the beauty of thy virginity …”: Guided by Christ God, thou didst make bright thy sacred vesture, having truly received witness, O God-bearer; for thou didst provoke the wild beasts to separate thee from the world, emulating the wondrous Apostle Paul. Wherefore, in Rome, O father, thou didst finish thy martyrdom as is meet.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Another Sessional Hymn of the hieromartyr, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “Of the Wisdom …”: Shining forth like a star from the East, thou didst illumine the world, resplendent in the rays of thy discourses; thou didst drive away the darkness, and like Paul didst valiantly finish the race, enduring tribulations among the nations and in the cities. Wherefore, like wheat thou wast ground by the teeth of wild beasts, as an offering for thy Lord, O blessed God-bearer Ignatius. Entreat Christ God, that He grant remission of sins to those who honour thy holy memory with love.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sessional Hymn of the forefeast, in the same tone & melody: The Word of God, Who shone forth without commingling from the bosom of the Father before time began, and within time came forth seedlessly from thy womb, O most pure one, lifting up him who of old had grievously stumbled, raising him up to his primal beauty. The armies of the incorporeal beings come forth for His nativity
and mystically send forth hymns of victory to mortals, crying: Glory to God Who hath given us peace, breaking down the middle wall of enmity, as is His good pleasure!

Ode IV, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Foreseeing in the Spirit O Prophet Habbakuk, * the incarnation of the Word, * thou didst proclaim, crying aloud: * When the years draw nigh, Thou shalt be known; * when the season cometh, Thou shalt be shown forth! * Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O ye mountains and hills, ye groves of woods, ye rivers and seas, and every living creature, leap up in gladness! For Jesus our salvation cometh to be born of the Virgin in the city of Bethlehem!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Take up thy psaltery, O Prophet David, and chant openly, inspired by the Holy Spirit; for Christ God, the Lord of glory, Who without commingling shone forth from the bosom of the Father before the morning-star, is to be born from the Virgin!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

How can the least of caves, exceedingly poor, receive Thee Who art born in the flesh, O Word? How art Thou wrapped in swaddling-bands, Who clothest the sky in clouds? How dost Thou lie in a manger of dumb beasts as a babe.

Canon of the Hieromartyr, Irmos: Foreseeing in the Spirit …,

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

As a prisoner thou dost illumine the earth with the effulgence of thy sufferings, O sacred Ignatius; for making thy transit like the sun, shedding rays of martyrdom, thou didst enlighten the whole evening, shining forth from the East.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Bound like Paul between irrational beasts, thou didst hasten to Rome, O wise Ignatius; yet even though thou wast chained thou didst not cease to make the Church steadfast, sending epistles to all the cities, that all the hierarchs of Christ be of good cheer.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

“I hasten to become Christ’s! I desire Christ alone, for I am wholly Christ’s!”, thou didst cry out, O spiritual athlete. “I press onward toward Him; I strive, that I might reach Him! Wherefore, I endure fire, the sword and wild beasts, that I may receive life!”

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

“Sweet to me is affliction, and lovely are the chains I bear for Him Whom I desire!”, thou didst cry, O spiritual athlete; “Persecutions are sweeter to me than my homeland, as is my being broken sweeter than any gladness; my pangs are dearer to me than all the health of my body.”

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

“Let the mouths of the wild beasts be my death and their bellies my tomb!”, thou didst cry, O spiritual athlete; “Let no one hinder, let no one break my might; for I hasten to be ground like wheat, that God may find me to be pure bread!”

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

As God, O Good One, Thou wast well-pleased to be born for our sake in a cave of the earth, abasing Thyself in embracing our low estate in Thy lovingkindness, issuing forth, incarnate, from the Virgin, yet remaining the only Son of the Father and Thy Mother.

Ode V, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Grant us Thy peace, O Son of God, * for we know no other God than Thee, * and we call upon Thy Name, * for Thou art the God of the living and the dead.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Rejoicing let the clouds drop forth sweetness; for the Lord draweth nigh already to be born as a babe of the pure Virgin in an earthen cave.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O ye divine prophets of God, leap up! For Christ the Truth cometh to fulfil your divine words, being born as a babe.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O Eden which wast locked against me of old, open thyself from henceforth, beholding Christ Who is become a babe in the flesh, for He hath been well-pleased to be born in the city of Bethlehem from the Virgin Maiden.

Canon of the Hieromartyr, Irmos: Grant us Thy peace, O Son of God …,

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

“Such a hierarch hath become for us; wise, venerable, faithful, undefiled and innocent,” cried Paul, describing beforehand the hallowed image of thy sacred character.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Bound and led forth as a hierarch and prisoner of Christ, O Ignatius, thou didst write to the Churches and cities, confirming all in confession.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Piously emulating the corrections of Paul, thou didst endure all tribulations, O right wondrous hieromartyr, thou radiance of the East and star of the evening.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Moved to contend by the desire of Paul, with chains on thy hands thou didst travel the world, O hieromartyr, that by thy sacred sufferings thou mightest be right manifest to all.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

We hymn thy struggles, we honour thy fetters with censing and psalms, we venerate the dust of thy relics as rendered redolent of myrrh by thy sacred sufferings.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Becoming like unto mankind through thee, God is born as a babe for our sake, O Bride of God, yet remaineth wholly immutable. God, having become man, is seen in the flesh.

Ode VI, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Emulating the Prophet Jonah, I cry aloud: * Free Thou my life from corruption, O Good One; * and save me who crieth out: * O Saviour of the world, Glory be to Thee!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

To the astrologers doth heaven now shine forth on earth in the city Of David: the King of heaven, Who is born for our sake.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Manifestly doth the prophet speak forth with eloquence, crying out: “O Bethlehem, thou house of Ephratha, wherein God appeareth from the Virgin, leap up and dance!”

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

In the cave of Bethlehem the Virgin manifestly giveth birth to the Lord and Creator of all, and, having wrapped Him as babe in swaddling bands, she now layeth Him in the manger.

Canon of the Hieromartyr, Irmos: Emulating the Prophet Jonah …,

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Truly loving Him Whom thou didst unwaveringly desire, and having noetically kindled a fire for Him, O Ignatius, thou didst have in thee the water which liveth and speaketh.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Fulfilling the testimony of thy conscience, thou wast not dissuaded at the sight of the wild beasts, nor wast thou affrighted, for thou didst desire to be ground like wheat by their jaws.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

O hieromartyr, thy long torments and unbroken bonds, thy rending asunder in Rome, and the fire of the torturers, which thou didst endure for thy Creator, thou didst reckon as naught.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Burning greatly with the love of Christ, O spiritual athlete, thou didst tread upon the fire of thy trials as upon the morning dew, that thou mightest attain Him Who loveth thee thereby.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Even though, thirsting, thou didst drain the cup of Christ, yet didst thou ever prefer to suffer rather than to live; and thou didst cry out: “These things are to me nothing more than the means whereby I may attain life!”

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Adorn thyself, O Bethlehem! Prepare thyself, O Ephratha! For He who was begotten of the Father without mother is carried in the womb by a Mother without father, and is born thereby saving us.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Today the Virgin …”: The luminous day of thy radiant struggles proclaimeth to all beforehand * Him Who hath been born in the cave; * for thirsting to delight in His love, * thou didst hasten to be devoured by the wild beasts. ** Wherefore, thou hast been called the God-bearer, O all-wise Ignatius.

Ikos: Once Abraham sacrificed his son, prefiguring the slaying of Him Who sustaineth all things; and thou, O divinely wise one, hast offered thy whole self to Him as a sacrifice, becoming food for the wild beasts, and showing thyself to be pure wheat for thy Creator, truly abiding forever in the granaries of heaven, delighting Him by thy zeal. Having forsaken the whole world for His sake, thou hast been called the God-bearer, O all-wise Ignatius.

Ode VII, Canon of the Forefeast ,Irmos: Thy children who were in the furnace O Saviour, * were neither touched nor troubled by the fire. * Whereupon the three sang, as with a single mouth * Thy praises and blessed Thee, saying: * ‘O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou.’

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Showing forth the advent of Christ in the flesh, Jeremiah cried aloud: “God hath appeared on earth, incarnate; and He hath found every path of knowledge, being born of His Mother in Bethlehem.”
Lo! from the root of Jesse a rod hath sprung forth producing Christ as its flower.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

On Him Who is now born thereon in the cave doth the Spirit of understanding, counsel and divine vision rest.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Let us listen to the sacred words: the Lord is born as a babe for our sake. His government is upon His shoulders, and He is called the Angel of the great Counsel of the great Father, Christ, the Prince of peace!

Canon of the Hieromartyr, Irmos: Thy children who were in the furnace O Saviour …,

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Thou didst have within thee none of the fire which loveth fuel, O Ignatius, but rather the living water which speaketh, the water which crieth aloud: “Come thou to the Father!”, the water which runneth from life to the life which transcendeth us.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

“Let the fangs of the wild beasts be for me a sword, weapons and slaughter; let the bellies of the lions be for me a tomb; and let the fire devour me before corruption devoureth my remains!” said Ignatius.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

“To me death is sweet,” he said; “to me all the pangs of my labours are sweet: the wild beasts are delightful, and this fire is like dew unto me, if it doth not withhold Life from me. Wherefore, I hasten to die, that I may live with Christ!”

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

“I prefer not to live in the body, for I desire to live in spirit. A thing of divine love is it for me to live for Christ. To Him do I go; Him. do I love, and Him do I hope to receive!”, he said.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

He Who was foretold by the prophet of old approacheth me as a babe born from the Virgin; Adam rejoiceth, and Eve, our first mother, is released from her pangs. And David, the father of her who giveth birth, danceth with her.

Ode VIII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Him of whom the angels and all the hosts of heaven are in awe * as their Lord and Creator, * ye priests hymn, ye children praise, * ye peoples bless and supremely exalt * throughout all ages.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The Lord manifestly cometh to His own by a strange birth, let us receive Him, that, being born in the cave, He may again make His own those who were exiled from the sweetness of paradise.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Lo! our Restoration cometh! With zeal let us give voice to hymns of joy and let us chant the songs of the forefeast, unto Him Who is to be contained by the least of caves.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

That which the Lord hath promised, He hath already fulfilled, having given us His Virgin Mother from the seed of David. From her hath a Babe been born in the flesh in the city of Bethlehem, in a manner past all telling.

Canon of the Hieromartyr, Irmos: Him of Whom the angels …,

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Hymned be Ignatius, the godly hierarch, twice crowned, as martyr and pastor; for, having suffered for the love of God, desiring to be desired, he was not dissuaded from suffering.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

With journeys of faith, like the sun from the heavens thou didst valiantly pass over the ends of the earth; and having passed without waning, from the earth to Christ, thou illuminest the world with the light of incorruption.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Thirsting for the cup of the suffering of Christ, thou didst hasten, bound, O wise Ignatius; and having reached the arena, thou didst not pause, crying aloud: “I thirst for Christ with an eternal thirst!”

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

O the love and ardour of divine zeal! He is crucified to the desires that he might live for Him Who loveth. He thirsteth for Him Who thirsted and loveth Him Who loveth, preferring to die, that He might live forever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Putting aside the flesh, he immaterially furnished wings to his mind; to soar aloft to Him Who Is, desiring Him Who loveth; for He is truly eternal Desire, Wisdom, the Life of those who have existed.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Christ, the Star, hath shone forth out of Jacob, and the magi hasten to the city of Bethlehem, to hymn, worship and honour Him Who was born from the womb of the pure Theotokos.

Ode IX, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: The ever-flowing wellspring of life, * light-bearing candlestick of grace, * the animate temple, and most pure cloud, * wider than the heavens and the
earth, * the Theotokos do we the faithful magnify.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

With the patriarchs and all the righteous, and with the holy prophets let us leap up. The Lord Jesus, our Deliverance, Enlightenment, Life and Salvation, is now born from the Virgin in the city of David!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Already the outer gates of the incarnation of the divine Word have manifestly been opened unto all! Rejoice, O ye heavens! Ye angels, leap up! Let the earth be glad in the Spirit with the shepherd and magi!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

As a noetic phial the Virgin holdeth Christ as though He were ointment which hath not been poured forth; and He cometh forth to be manifestly poured out by the Spirit in the cave, that He might fill our souls with His sweet fragrance.

Canon of the Hieromartyr, Irmos: The ever-flowing wellspring of life …,

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Ignatius, the seer of things afar off, the minister of the highest mysteries, performing the immaculate service, as a priest hath made himself a sacrifice through martyrdom, and prepareth himself for the wild beasts and the fire.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

Desiring to clothe thyself in the image of God, thou didst remove the ancient image. Wherefore, receiving the pristine beauty of man’s primal appearance through that which is new, not that which is old, thou dwellest together with Christ.

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

By thy sufferings thou didst make thy sacred vesture yet more sacred, O most sacred one; wherefore, having received a twofold crown, with the martyrs and pastors thou dost hymn Christ our God, O Hieromartyr.  

Holy hieromartyr, Ignatius, pray to God for us.

“I am the pure wheat of God,” thou didst say; “and I am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that in sanctity I may be made into pure bread for God Who loveth mankind; and, loving Him, I do not refuse to die.”

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Illumined with light unapproachable, and dwelling in the mansions on high, O sacred Ignatius, praying continually to God thy Creator on behalf of thy flock, cease thou never in thy supplications.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Rejoice, O pure one, thou animate city of God, wherein God was well-pleased to make His abode! For, without leaving the highest, He descended within thee, like rain upon the earth, O Birthgiver of God, and is born as a babe in the city of Bethlehem.

Troparion of the forefeast, in Tone IV: Make ready, O Bethlehem! * Open unto all, O Eden! * Adorn thyself, O Ephratha! * For the Tree of life hath blossomed forth from the Virgin in the cave. * Her womb is shown to be a noetic paradise, * wherein lieth a divine garden, * eating from whence we live, not dying like Adam. * Christ is born to raise up His image ** which before was fallen.

Troparion of the hieromartyr, in Tone IV: As thou didst share in the ways of the apostles * and didst occupy their throne, * thou didst find thine activity to be a passage to divine vision, * O divinely inspired one. * Wherefore, ordering the word of truth, * thou didst suffer for the Faith even to the shedding of thy blood, ** O hieromartyr Ignatius, entreat Christ God, that our souls be saved.

The Advent Journey With the Saints: the Holy Martyr Boniface

Saturday, December 19 / January 1: the Holy Martyr Boniface at Tarsus, in Cilicia.

The Holy Martyr Boniface was the slave of a rich young Roman woman named Aglaida and he dwelt with her in an iniquitous cohabitation. But they both felt the sting of conscience and they wanted somehow to be cleansed of their sin. And the Lord granted them the possibility to wash away their sin with their blood and to finish their life in repentance.

Aglaida learned that whoever keeps relics of the holy martyrs in the home and venerates them receives great help in gaining salvation. Under their influence, sin is diminished and virtue prevails. She arranged for Boniface to go to the East, where there was a fierce persecution against Christians, and she asked him to bring back the relics of some martyr, who would become a guide and protector for them.

As he was leaving, Boniface laughed and asked, “My lady, if I do not find any relics, and if I myself suffer for Christ, will you accept my body with reverence?” Aglaida scolded him, saying that he was setting off on a sacred mission, but he was not taking it seriously. Boniface pondered her words, and during the whole journey he thought that he was unworthy of touching the bodies of the martyrs.

Arriving at Tarsus in Cilicia, Boniface left his companions at the inn and proceeded to the city square, where they were torturing Christians. Struck by the beastly horrible torments, and seeing the faces of the holy martyrs radiant with the grace of the Lord, Boniface marvelled at their courage. He embraced them and kissed their feet, asking them to pray that he might be found worthy to suffer with them.

The judge asked Boniface who he was. He replied, “I am a Christian,” and then refused to offer sacrifice to idols. They stripped him and hung him upside down, beating him so hard that the flesh fell from his body, exposing the bone. They stuck needles under his nails, and finally they poured molten tin down his throat, but by the power of the Lord he remained unharmed. The people who witnessed this miracle shouted, “Great is the God of the Christians!” Then they began to throw stones at the judge, and then they headed for the pagan temple, in order to cast down the idols.

On the following morning, when things had quieted down somewhat, the judge directed that the holy martyr be thrown into a cauldron of boiling tar, but this also caused the sufferer no harm. An angel come down from Heaven and bedewed him as he stepped into the cauldron. The tar overflowed the cauldron, splattering and burning the torturers themselves. Saint Boniface was then sentenced to beheading by the sword. Blood and a milky fluid flowed from his wounds. Beholding such a miracle, about 550 men believed in Christ.

Saint Boniface’s companions, waiting for two days at the inn for him in vain, began searching for him, thinking that he had gotten drunk somewhere. At first their search was without success, but finally they came across a man who had been an eyewitness to the martyr’s death. The man also led them to the place where the decapitated body lay. Saint Boniface’s companions tearfully begged his forgiveness for their unseemly thoughts about him. After they ransomed the martyr’s remains, they brought them back to Rome.

On the eve of their arrival an angel appeared to Aglaida in her sleep and told her to prepare herself to receive her former slave, now the brother and fellow-servant of the angels. Aglaida summoned the clergy, and she received the holy relics with great reverence. Then she built a church on the site of his grave and dedicated it to the holy martyr. There she enshrined his relics, glorified by numerous miracles. After distributing all her wealth to the poor, she withdrew to a monastery, where she spent fifteen years in repentance, then fell asleep in the Lord. She was buried beside Saint Boniface. The sins of the one were washed away by his blood, the other was purified by her tears and asceticism. Both were found worthy to appear unsullied before our Lord Jesus Christ, Who desires not the death of a sinner, but that he should turn from his wickedness and live (Ezek. 33:11).

The canon of the martyr, with 4 Troparia, the acrostic whereof is: “With faith I hymn thee, O most radiant martyr”, the composition of Joseph, in Tone IV:

Ode I, Irmos: O Thou who wast born of the Virgin, * drown I implore Thee, in the depth of dispassion * the triune nature of my soul, * as Thou didst the mighty strongholds of the warriors, * that in the mortality of my flesh * as on a timbrel * I may chant a hymn of victory.

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Emulating the feats of the valiant spiritual athletes with zealous intent, thou didst suffer mightily; and didst slay the serpent with thy life-bearing sufferings, O spiritual athlete Boniface, converser with the angels.

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Beholding the delusion of the enemy cruelly poured forth on the earth, O valiant passion-bearer, and, having enkindled thy soul with divine desire, thou didst enter the arena with fearless resolve, O thrice-blessed one.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Illumined with divine wisdom, O blessed one, thou didst make foolish the unwise foe, proclaiming Christ, Who made Himself like us in the coarseness of the flesh, whereby He desired to become manifest, O much-suffering martyr Boniface.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

All of us, the faithful, hymn the pure Mary with oneness of mind: the mountain of God, which Daniel foresaw, the noetic tabernacle, the sanctuary of glory, the table which held the divine Bread.

Ode III, Irmos: Likened to a barren woman * the Church from among the nations hath given birth, * and the assembly abundant in children, hath grown weak. * Let us cry out to our wondrous God: * Holy art Thou, O Lord!

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

As thou didst desire the freedom on high, O glorious one, thou wast delivered from the yoke of slavery, having emulating the honoured sufferings of Him Who in His tender compassion became a servant.

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Shown to be above carnal understandings by divine favour, O martyr Boniface, rejoicing, thou didst suddenly endure every assault of evils.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou didst deny thyself, and didst go forth to struggles and contests against the enemy, armed with the Cross as a weapon; and having become a victor, thou hast been glorified, O martyr Boniface.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The transcendent God poured Himself forth into thy womb without leaving the bosom of the Father, O all-immaculate one, and became thy Son, saving mankind.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Sessional Hymn, in Tone IV: Spec. Mel.: “Having been lifted up …”: Sent to the company of martyrs, thou didst become a true martyr, suffering most mightily for Christ, O all-praised one; and thou didst give thyself to her who sent thee forth with faith, O blessed Boniface, earnestly pray that we all may receive perfect forgiveness.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion, in Tone IV: As one who loveth sin, I beseech thee who hast given birth to the sinless God Who taketh away the sins of the world: O most pure one, have compassion on my greatly sinful soul and cleanse me of my many sins; for thou art the cleansing, salvation and aid of the faithful.

Ode IV, Irmos: For the sake of love for Thine image, * O compassionate One, * Thou didst ascend the cross * and the nations melted away. * For Thou, O Lover of mankind, * art my strength and my praise.

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Blessing the endurance of those who suffer, O most noetically rich and divinely wise martyr, thou didst liken thyself to them, emulating their honoured sufferings.

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Going forth with faith to the divine company of the martyrs, O blessed one, thou didst give thyself to her who desired a right wondrous burden, O divinely wise one.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Purified like gold in the crucible of wounds, O martyr, thou wast revealed to be most pure, bearing the image of the sufferings of the Creator.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Realizing that thy virginity was sealed in thy birthgiving, O Maiden, with faith thou didst magnify the Word Who was ineffably born from thy womb.

Ode V, Irmos: Do Thou O Lord send down upon us * Thine enlightenment, and free us * from the gloom of transgression, O Good One, * granting us Thy peace.

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Like a radiant star thou didst rise above the western lands and didst set in the endurance of sufferings, O martyr; and thou didst straightway shine upon the lands of the West, illumining the ends thereof.

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

As a martyr thou didst suffer the rending away of thy fingernails, and beatings with sharp reeds, O martyr, thereby breaking the sting of the evil one by faith and grace.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou didst weaken the machinations of the enemy directed against thee, O divinely wise one, for, constantly directing thy gaze toward God, thou didst endure the wounding of thy flesh as though one incorporeal.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

I cry to thee: Wash my soul clean of all defilement, O pure Virgin who hast given birth on earth to God, our true Saviour.

Ode VI, Irmos: Prefiguring Thy three-day burial * the Prophet Jonah praying in the belly of the sea-monster cried aloud: * Deliver me from corruption * O Jesus Thou King of hosts.

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Beaten, thou didst inflict fleshly wounds upon the ungodly who were incurably afflicted with ignorance, and hast been revealed to be a physician of the sick, O spiritual athlete Boniface.

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Exalted unto God by thy contest of struggles, O blessed passion-bearer, thou didst cut down the invisible foe and become an ally of the down-trodden.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Dragged across the ground, O spiritual athlete, like a precious stone thou didst cast down the foundation of falsehood, and with faith hast made yet more steadfast the hearts of the faithful.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Of old, the bush, which burned yet was not consumed, prefigured thee, O all-immaculate Virgin; for, like it, thou wast not consumed when thou didst surrender thy flesh to God.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion, in Tone IV: Spec. Mel.: “Thou hast appeared …”: Of thine own will thou didst bring thyself * as an unblemished sacred offering to Him * Who was born of the Virgin for thy sake, * O most wise Boniface, ** holy crown-bearer.

Ode VII, Irmos: Of old the Children of Abraham in Babylon * trampled down the flame of the furnace, * crying aloud with hymns: * O God of our Fathers, blessed art Thou.

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Refusing to bend thy knee before graven images, thou wast truly cast into a furnace for an even greater trial; and bedewed therein; thou dost give thanks to Christ throughout the ages.

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Seeking to destroy the might of thy confession, the deluded one pitilessly caused molten lead to be poured into thy bowels; yet was he was manifestly put to shame.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

In earnestly enduring the severing of thy precious head, thou didst cut off the most wily head of the deceitful enemy with the sword of thy courage, O divinely wise martyr of Christ.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Let me hymn thee with fitting melodies, O Maiden. By thy supplications deliver me from sufferings, misfortunes and tribulations, and from evil men who seek to oppress me.

Ode VIII, Irmos: O almighty Redeemer of all, * having descended and bedewed the children * in the midst of the flame, * Thou didst teach them to sing: * All ye works bless and hymn the Lord.

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Devising profitable salvation for thee who sought the relics of the right-victorious martyrs, O Boniface, Christ strengthened thee, that thou thyself might become a martyr through faith.

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Thou wast given as a blessed treasure to thy blessed mistress, O blessed one; and having been enriched thereby, she chanted with gladness of heart: All ye works bless and hymn the Lord!

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Having erected a most sacred temple with zeal, the glorious woman enshrined thee therein, who art the temple of the divine Trinity, O Boniface, passion-bearer of Christ.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Having died for love of the Creator Who slayeth the corrupting passions, by thy supplication clearly bestow life upon those who cry: All ye works bless and hymn the Lord!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The supremely divine One, descending upon thee, the pure one, became incarnate, as He alone knew how O Virgin, delivering mankind who chanteth unto thee: All ye works bless and hymn the Lord!

Ode IX, Irmos: Eve dwelt under the curse of sin * because of the infirmity of disobedience; * but thou, O Virgin Theotokos, * hast through the Offspring of thy pregnancy * blossomed forth blessing upon the world. * Wherefore, we all magnify thee.

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Beholding thee as a sacred burden, the ever-memorable handmaid rejoiced, crying: “I sent thee forth, O blessed one, but I accept thee as my true master, delivering me from slavery to evils by thy right acceptable entreaties!”

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Thou hast blossomed like a lily in the noetic valleys of the martyrs, O Boniface; like a palm tree hast thou grown tall; like a cedar thou hast been recognized as sweetly fragrant; and thou hast been shown to be like a choice cypress, perfuming our souls.

Holy martyr, Boniface, pray God for us.

Today the day of thy commemoration hath shone forth like the sun with the radiance of divine gifts, O passion-bearer, illumining the souls of those who hymn thee and dispelling the gloom of the passions, O divinely wise and all-blessed martyr.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou didst shine forth from the West like the sun, and didst attain unto a city of the East, where, having suffered and set in death, thou didst hasten to life and reach splendid Rome, which thou dost now protect by thy prayers.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

With thy light illumine me who am stuck fast in the darkness of sin, O Theotokos; and grant that I may walk in the daylight of the divine precepts, O Bride of God, that I may hymn thee, the all-hymned one.

The Advent Journey With the Saints: the Holy Martyr Sebastian and His Company

Friday 18/31 December: Commemoration of the Holy Martyr Sebastian and His Company

The Holy Martyr Sebastian was born in the city of Narbonum in Gaul (modern France), and he received his education at Mediolanum (now Milan). Under the co-reigning emperors Diocletian and Maximian (284-305) he occupied the position of head of the imperial guards. Saint Sebastian was respected for his authority, and was loved by the soldiers and those at court. He was a brave man filled with wisdom, his word was honest, his judgment just, insightful in advice, faithful in his service and in everything entrusted to him. He was a secret Christian, not out of fear, but so that he could provide help to the brethren in a time of persecution.

The noble Christian brothers Marcellinus and Mark had been locked up in prison, and at first they firmly confessed the true Faith. But under the influence of the tearful entreaties of their pagan parents (Tranquillinus and Marcia), and also their own wives and children, they began to waver in their intent to suffer for Christ. Saint Sebastian went to the imperial treasurer, at whose house Marcellinus and Mark were held in confinement, and addressed the brothers who were on the verge of yielding to the entreaties of their family.

“O valiant warriors of Christ! Do not cast away your everlasting crowns of victory because of the tears of your relatives. Do not remove your feet from the necks of your enemies who lie prostrate before you, lest they regain their strength and attack you more fiercely than before. Raise your banner high over every earthly attachment. If those whom you see weeping knew that there is another life where there is neither sickness nor death, where there is unceasing gladness and everything is beautiful, then assuredly they would wish to enter it with you. Anyone who fears to exchange this brief earthly life for the unending joys of the heavenly Kingdom is foolish indeed. For he who rejects eternity wastes the brief time of his existence, and will be delivered to everlasting torment in Hades.”

Then Saint Sebastian said that if necessary, he would be willing to endure torment and death in order to show them how to give their lives for Christ.

So Saint Sebastian persuaded the brothers to go through with their act of martyrdom, and his speech stirred everyone present. They saw how his face shone like that of an angel, and they saw how seven angels clothed him in a radiant garment, and heard a fair Youth say, “You shall be with Me always.”

Zoe, the wife of the jailer Nicostratus, had lost her ability to speak six years previously, and she fell down at the feet of Saint Sebastian, by her gestures imploring him to heal her. The saint made the Sign of the Cross over the woman, and she immediately began to speak and she glorified the Lord Jesus Christ. She said that she had seen an angel holding an open book in which everything Saint Sebastian said was written. Then all who saw the miracle also came to believe in the Savior of the world. Nicostratus removed the chains from Marcellinus and Mark and offered to hide them, but the brothers refused.

Mark said, “Let them tear the flesh from our bodies with cruel torments. They can kill the body, but they cannot conquer the soul which contends for the Faith.” Nicostratus and his wife asked for Baptism, and Saint Sebastian advised Nicostratus to serve Christ rather than the Eparch. He also told him to assemble the prisoners so that those who believed in Christ could be baptized. Nicostratus then requested his clerk Claudius to send all the prisoners to his house. Sebastian spoke to them of Christ, and became convinced that they were all inclined to be baptized. He summoned the priest Polycarp, who prepared them for the Mystery, instructing them to fast in preparation for Baptism that evening.

Then Claudius informed Nicostratus that the Roman eparch Arestius Chromatus wanted to know why the prisoners were gathered at his house. Nicostratus told Claudius about the healing of his wife, and Claudius brought his own sick sons, Symphorian and Felix to Saint Sebastian. In the evening the priest Polycarp baptized Tranquillinus with his relatives and friends, and Nicostratus and all his family, Claudius and his sons, and also sixteen condemned prisoners. The newly-baptized numbered 64 in all.

Appearing before the eparch Chromatus, Nicostratus told him how Saint Sebastian had converted them to Christianity and healed many from sickness. The words of Nicostratus persuaded the eparch. He summoned Saint Sebastian and the presbyter Polycarp, and was enlightened by them, and became a believer in Christ. Nicostratus and Chromatus, his son Tiburtius and all his household accepted holy Baptism. The number of the newly-enlightened increased to 1400. Upon becoming a Christian, Chromatus resigned his office of eparch.

During this time the Bishop of Rome was Saint Gaius (August 11). He blessed Chromatus to go to his estates in southern Italy with the priest Polycarp. Christians unable to endure martyrdom also went with them. Father Polycarp went to strengthen the newly-converted in the Faith.

Tiburtius, the son of Chromatus, desired to accept martyrdom and he remained in Rome with Saint Sebastian. Of those remaining, Saint Gaius ordained Tranquillinus as a presbyter, and his sons Marcellinus and Mark were ordained deacons. Nicostratus, his wife Zoe and brother Castorius, and Claudius, his son Symphorian and brother Victorinus also remained in Rome. They gathered for divine services at the court of the emperor together with a secret Christian named Castulus, but soon the time came for them to suffer for the Faith.

The pagans arrested Saint Zoe first, praying at the grave of the Apostle Peter. At the trial she bravely confessed her faith in Christ. She died, hung by her hair over the foul smoke from a great fire of dung. Her body then was thrown into the River Tiber. Appearing in a vision to Saint Sebastian, she told him about her death.

The priest Tranquillinus was the next to suffer: pagans pelted him with stones at the grave of the holy Apostle Peter, and his body was also thrown into the Tiber.

Sts Nicostratus, Castorius, Claudius, Victorinus, and Symphorian were seized at the riverbank, when they were searching for the bodies of the martyrs. They were led to the eparch, and the saints refused his command to offer sacrifice to idols. They tied stones to the necks of the martyrs and then drowned them in the sea.

The false Christian Torquatus betrayed Saint Tiburtius. When the saint refused to sacrifice to the idols, the judge ordered Tiburtius to walk barefoot on red-hot coals, but the Lord preserved him. Tiburtius walked through the burning coals without feeling the heat. The torturers then beheaded Saint Tiburtius, and his body was buried by unknown Christians.

Torquatus also betrayed the holy Deacons Marcellinus and Mark, and Saint Castulus (March 26). After torture, they threw Castulus into a pit and buried him alive, but Marcellinus and Mark had their feet nailed to the same tree stump. They stood all night in prayer, and in the morning they were stabbed with spears.

Saint Sebastian was the last one to be tortured. The emperor Diocletian personally interrogated him, and seeing the determination of the holy martyr, he ordered him taken out of the city, tied to a tree and shot with arrows. Irene, the wife of Saint Castulus, went at night in order to bury Saint Sebastian, but found him alive and took him to her home.

Saint Sebastian soon recovered from his wounds. Christians urged him to leave Rome, but he refused. Coming near a pagan temple, the saint saw the emperors approaching and he publicly denounced them for their impiety. Diocletian ordered the holy martyr to be taken to the Circus Maximus to be executed. They clubbed Saint Sebastian to death, and cast his body into the sewer. The holy martyr appeared to a pious woman named Lucina in a vision, and told her to take his body and bury it in the catacombs. This she did with the help of her slaves. Today his basilica stands on the site of his tomb.

The canon of the martyrs, with 4 Troparia, the acrostic whereof is: “I wisely render divine honour to thee, O martyr,” the composition of Joseph, in Tone I:

Ode I, Irmos: Thy victorious right arm, * in a manner befitting God, * hath been glorified in strength, O Immortal One; * for in its infinite strength it shattered the enemy, * fashioning anew a path for the Israelites through the deep.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Illumined by the divine rays of the adored Trinity, O ever-memorable one, do thou by thy supplications, show forth as partakers of the light those who with faith honour thy luminous and sacred feast.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Possessed of a mind radiant and, replete with honourable effulgence, as one sensible and wise, O martyred spiritual athlete, thine only desire was He Who Is, and through faith thou didst receive Him.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

With divine beads of sweat thou didst truly blot out the reasoning of thy flesh, and with the blood of thy suffering thou didst dry up the turgid streams of polytheism, O most noetically rich and divinely wise martyr.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

By thy divine teachings thou didst lead to the master a regiment of spiritual athletes, casting down all the impiety of the tyrants by the grace of the Holy Spirit; and with them thou prayest that we be saved.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Thou hast given birth to a little Babe – Him Who hath been with the Father from before the beginning of time; and thou hast renewed the laws of nature, O pure, most pure Virgin Mother, by thy supra-natural, honoured and divine
birthgiving.

Ode III, Irmos: Thou alone knowest the weakness of human nature * and in compassion hast assumed its form; * do Thou gird me with power from on high, * that I may cry unto Thee: * Holy is the animate temple of Thine ineffable glory, O Lover of mankind!

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

O invincible martyr, who led forth an honourable army, arrayed in the divine armor of the Faith, ye have cast down the legions of the foe and all the wiles of the tyrants by the power of the Spirit.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Having established the ascents of thy heart upon the noetic rock with pious wisdom, O much-suffering martyr, thou didst not fall prey to the wiles of the deceitful serpent; but hast been a foundation of piety for all in spirit.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Bound and suspended on a tree, thou didst endure the cruel piercing of your members, O martyr; yet by the divine power of God thou wast straightway shown to be whole and unharmed, O glorious one, putting the wiles of the enemy to shame.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O all-immaculate one, thou hast been revealed to be the noetic sanctuary and pure abode of Him Who sanctifieth all things; for from thee hath God appeared incarnate, known to the world in two natures, but in a single Hypostasis, O Bride of God.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Sessional Hymn, in Tone IV: Spec. Mel.: “Having been lifted up …”: With the staining of thy blood thou didst dye a robe of martyrdom, and thou didst array thyself therein as with a costly robe of purple, O Sebastian. Wherefore, thou hast made thine abode with Christ in the endless kingdom on high, and with those who suffered with thee hast received a cross. Joining chorus with them, O wise one, be thou ever mindful of us.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion: He that sitteth upon the throne of the cherubim * and abideth in the bosom of the Father * sat in thy womb as upon a throne, O Lady; * for, being truly God incarnate, * He reigneth over all nations, * and with understanding we now chant to Him. *
Him do thou also entreat, ** that thy servants be saved.

Stavrotheotokion: She who in the latter days * gave birth in the flesh unto Thee O Christ, * Who wast begotten of the beginningless Father, * upon seeing Thee hanging upon the Cross, cried aloud: * “Woe is me, O Jesus, most beloved Christ! * How is it that Thou Who art glorified as God by the angels * dost now consent to be crucified by iniquitous men O my Son? ** I hymn Thee, O Thou Long-suffering One!”

ODE IV, Irmos: Perceiving thee with prophetic eyes * as the mountain overshadowed by the grace of God, * Habbakuk proclaimed that the Holy One of Israel * would come forth from thee, * for our salvation and restoration.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

O Tiburtius, the Lord gave thee power to vanquish the enemy in thy weak flesh; for when the fire was kindled, thou didst enter therein like the youths, O most mighty martyr, and didst receive the dew of heaven.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Thou hast joined the heavenly ministers, O Tiburtius, for, serving Christ, thou didst offer up pure sacrifices in spirit, O sacred minister, thou glory and boast of the martyrs; wherefore, we joyfully honour thee.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Suspended upright, lacerated with sharp blades, pierced with the grievous wounds of arrows, and buried in a pit, wherein he received his divine end, Castulus of valiant mind rejoiced.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Performing healings by the Holy Spirit, O blessed Sebastian, thou didst magnificently proclaim salvation to the people who piously looked for enlightenment, and didst finish the race of martyrdom.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The transcendent God chose thee alone from among all generations, O all-immaculate Lady, Birthgiver of God, and, becoming a man, the Creator of human nature assumed the essence of mankind.

Ode V, Irmos: O Hou hast shone upon us with the radiance * of Thy coming O Christ, * and illumined the ends of the world with Thy Cross, * enlighten with the light of thine understanding * the hearts of those who with right worship hymn Thee.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Thy paths and ways, which lead to the Lord alone, tripped the aimless steps of the enemy and were for many a straight and firm path, O most honoured martyr of Christ.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Before the tribunal the most wise Marcellinus and Mark spake with eloquence of the saving advent of Christ, and, bound together, they were pierced with sharp blades, receiving the adornment of martyrdom.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Marcellinus and Mark, mightily emulating the suffering of Him Who slew our passions, were pierced with spears, and, crowned, have joined the choirs of passion-bearers.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O all-immaculate one, thou most radiant cloud of the Sun, by thy supplications dispel the clouds from my soul and illumine my mind, which hath become darkened by negligence, that I may hymn thee, O all-hymned one.

Ode VI, Irmos: The deepest abyss hath surrounded us, * and there is none to deliver us, * yea we have been counted as sheep for the slaughter; * save Thy people O our God, * for thou art the strength and restoration of the weak.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

By steadfastness of mind thou wast most honourably shown to be tireless when thou wast pitilessly beaten with staves and pierced by many arrows. Wherefore O martyr, thou hast passed, rejoicing, over to the never-waning light.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Christ imparted life to thee, who struggled and fought the demons, sustained grievous wounds, and looked to Him with the eyes of thy heart, O invincible martyr Sebastian.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

With the hard staves of thy most wise words thou didst smash delusion, demolish the sanctuaries of the enemy, destroy their idolatrous temples and raise thyself up as a temple of the divine Spirit.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Thou hast restored our nature, which had become corrupt through disobedience, having given birth to Him Who reneweth all things by His divine will, O divine joyous one, who alone among women art blessed.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion, in Tone 4: Excelling in godly zeal, / thou didst gather a band of martyrs from which thou didst shine as a star. / The arrows that wounded thy body, O Sebastian, / pierced the hearts of the enemy. / Therefore, Christ has glorified thee!

Ode VII, Irmos: We the faithful perceive thee, O Theotokos, * to be a noetic furnace; * for as He, the supremely exalted One, * saved the three children, * so hath He wholly refashioned fallen humanity, in thy womb, * O Thou praised and supremely glorified God of our fathers.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Strengthened by Thy mighty power, O Christ, Thy passion-bearers vanquished the foe, trampling delusion underfoot, and giving their bodies over to wounding, as they chanted: Praised and supremely glorious is the God of our fathers!

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Having struggled well, Marcellinus and the glorious Mark, Tiburtius and the allwise Castulus, the divinely radiant passion-bearers and martyrs, have passed over to heaven, hymning our praised and supremely glorious God.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

As a youth thou didst noetically tread upon the flame, O spiritual athlete Tiburtius, like the children of old, receiving the dew of the Spirit from on high, and chanting earnestly: Praised and supremely glorious is the God of our fathers!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Suspended aloft like a lamb, O glorious martyr Zoe, thou didst choke the enemy with the cords of thy patiently-endured pangs, and thou livest even after death, O all-praised one, chanting: Praised and supremely glorious is the God of our fathers!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O pure one, we call thee the golden jar, the all-holy table of the divine Bread of life, the place of sanctity, the throne most high, whereon God hath rested: the praised and supremely glorious God of our fathers.

Ode VIII, Irmos: In the furnace as in a fiery smelter * the Israelite children shone more brightly than gold * with the beauty of godliness, * as they exclaimed: Bless the Lord all ye works of the Lord, * hymn and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Desiring to die to the world and all things in the world, O all-honoured one, thou wast deemed worthy of life, crying out most earnestly: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord; hymn and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

The iniquitous ones cruelly placed thee in an exceedingly deep pit, and, filling it in, slew thee, O ever-memorable Castulus, who chanted fervently: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord; hymn and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As the namesake of life, O Zoe, thou hast obtained blessed life; for thou didst leave this life of corruption by violent strangulation, chanting: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord; hymn and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

In giving birth to the comely God and Master Who adorneth the human race with divine beauties, O pure one, thou thyself wast adorned. To Him do we chant: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord; hymn and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Ode IX, Irmos: The Bush, which burnt without being consumed, * prefigured thy pure birthgiving, O Theotokos. * Wherefore we now entreat Thee: * quench the raging furnace of temptations that beset us, * that we may unceasingly magnify Thee.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

That thou mightest be counted worthy of divine splendour, everlasting glory and beauty, O all-blessed Sebastian, thou didst manfully endure torment, pain and death; wherefore, we all magnify thee.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Thou wast revealed to be like the sun amid stars, with those who suffered with thee, O martyr; and now, through your sacred sufferings, ye illumine with pure splendours the divine foundation of the Church, dispelling all the boastfulness of the demons.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Tiburtius, Marcellinus and Mark, Zoe and Castulus, loving Christ, and suffering together with the divinely wise Sebastian, their instructor, they equally received crowns of victory, ever interceding on our behalf.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The divine choir of the martyrs, having been taken up and granted to dwell in the radiant mansions, go about the heavens rejoicing, ever entreating Him Who is the Lover of mankind, on behalf of us who bless them forever.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The noetic armies are filled with awe, beholding the divine Effulgence of the Father ineffably held in thine arms and assuming our form, that He might deify mortals, O all-immaculate Virgin Mother.

Troparion, in Tone IV: In their sufferings, Thy martyrs O Lord, * received imperishable crowns from Thee, our God; * for, possessed of Thy might, * they set at naught the tyrants and crushed the feeble audacity of the demons. ** By their supplications save Thou our souls.

The Advent Journey With the Saints: the Prophet Daniel and the Three Holy Youths

Thursday December 17/30: the Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Holy Youths – Ananias, Azarias and Misael.

Among those who foretold the Birth of the promised Messiah was the holy Prophet Daniel. He was of royal lineage from the tribe of Judah. As a youth he was taken captive by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (607-562 BC). And as he was handsome and of a good family, he was chosen together with several others to be trained for service in the palace. They were taught the Chaldean language as well as various sciences. The king ensured that they were well provided for and given food from his own table.

Among the chosen youths Daniel had three friends: Ananias, Azarias and Misail. All four steadfastly preserved their faith in the one true God and together refused to eat the king’s food for fear breaking one of Moses’ laws. They asked their overseer to give them only bread and vegetables, but the overseer was afraid that they would become thin and he would be made to suffer the king’s wrath. Daniel persuaded him to make a test and allow them to observe this regimen for ten days. At the end of this period all could see that not only had Daniel and his friends not lost weight—they had grown still healthier and more handsome than before. And so they were permitted to eat as they pleased. The Lord God rewarded them for their faithfulness, granting them various talents and success in their studies. And to Daniel was given the special gift of interpreting dreams and visions.

Now in the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar saw an unusual dream which troubled his spirit; when he awoke, however, he couldn’t recall the content of the dream. He summoned together all the wise men, astrologers, magicians and soothsayers of the land, and demanded an explanation of his dream. But they were astonished at such a task. Who, they asked, could begin to interpret a dream which the king himself could not remember! Nebuchadnezzar grew angry and ordered all these sages to be put to death. Daniel heard of their dilemma and requested some time to think it over. That night he prayed fervently to God, and in his sleep the Lord revealed to him the king’s dream and its significance. All this Daniel explained to the king—how he had been thinking of the future and beheld in a dream a terrible statue whose head was of fine gold, “his breast and his arms were of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron and part of clay. Then from a mountain a stone was cut out without hands and struck the image, breaking it to pieces; and the stone became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”

 In explaining this dream Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that as a king of kings to whom God had given a kingdom, power, strength and glory, he was this head of gold, and after him would arise another kingdom, less powerful, and then a third; and finally these would all be consumed by an everlasting, kingdom of the God of heaven, which kingdom would spread over the entire earth unto the ages of ages.

Nebuchadnezzar arose and, bowing down before Daniel, said: “Truly, your God is the God of gods and King of kings!” In reward for his interpretation Daniel was given authority over all the wise men of Babylon, and his three friends—Ananias, Azarius and Misail—were made rulers of the land.

Nebuchadnezzar, however, did not remain steadfast in confessing the God of Daniel to be God of gods and King of kings. In the 18th year of the Babylonian captivity, Nebuehadnezzar had an enormous golden idol erected in a field. All the wise men and the learned members of Babylon gathered to witness its unveiling. It was announced that at the sound of the trumpets and the musical instruments everyone was to bow down before the idol. Anyone who failed to observe the king’s decree would be thrown into the furnace.

At the given moment, all bowed down–with the exception of Ananias, Azarias and Misail. Hearing of their refusal, the king flew into a rage and commanded that the flames be increased seven-fold and that the three obstinate young Israelites be bound and thrown into the furnace. It was made so hot that the soldiers who threw the victims into the fire themselves fell dead, and even those Chaldeans standing nearby were scorched. The three godly youths, however, remained unharmed. The Lord had sent His angel to guard them from the flames, and they stood in the midst of the furnace singing praises to God, Nebuchadnezzar, who was seated on a high throne facing the furnace, turned to his counselors: “Were there not three youths bound and thrown into the furnace? How is it that I see four, freely walking, unharmed, amidst the flames; and the fourth has the appearance of the Son of God.” Approaching the furnace, Nebuchadnezzar called the youths out. When they came forth it could be seen that the flames had not touched them: neither their clothing nor their hair was even singed. Seeing this Nebuchadnezzar said: Blessed is your God Who sent His angel and preserved Ills servants who trusted in Him. And he forbade his subjects, on penalty of death, to mock the God of the Israelites.

After Nebuchadnezzar’ s death, the throne passed through his son and his son-in-law to his grandson Belshezzar, And all these years Daniel continued to interpret dream s and himself to have dreams which were significant in foreshadowing future events. He foretold to Belshezzar that because he had forgotten the example of his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar and had scorned the true God, he would be killed and his kingdom would be divided. That very night the prophecy was fulfilled and the Babylonian empire was taken over by the Medes and Persians.

The Median king Darius looked with favor upon Daniel and raised him up to be one of the three kings under his sovereignty. Daniel’s popularity roused the envy of the Chaldean wise men who plotted to have him killed. They knew that three times a day Daniel prayed before a window opened towards Jerusalem. They proposed the king make a decree that for 30 days no one petition any god or man, save the king, for any reason whatsoever. Breaking this decree would cause the offended to be thrown to the lions. King Darius agreed.

The holy prophet Daniel continued as before to pray to God and ask His mercy. When his enemies denounced Daniel, the king realized it was all a ruse, but he could not annul his decree and was forced to have Daniel thrown into the lions’ den.

Early the next morning, Darius hurried to the den, “Daniel, servant of the living God,” he shouted, “has your God been able to save you from the lions?” …. “King,” answered Daniel, “my God sent His angel to close the jaws of the lions, for I have been found pure in His sight, and before you, O king, I have not transgressed.”

The king was overjoyed and ordered Daniel released from the lions’ den and his accusers to take his place. These men had scarcely entered the den when they were attacked by the lions and torn to pieces.

Then Darius wrote the following to be spread abroad: “I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God… and His dominion shall be even unto the end.”

And so the Prophet Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Among his prophecies, he foretold the year of Christ’s Birth, and that the Messiah would be given over to death; this would be followed by the destruction of the temple and all Jerusalem, and the Old Testament sacrifices would cease. And so it came to pass.

The Holy Youth Ananias (“God is gracious”) was a companion of the Holy Prophet Daniel. He was chosen to serve in the king’s palace with Daniel, Azarias, and Mishael (Daniel 1:6), who were all from the tribe of Judah. They gave Ananias the Chaldean name Shadrach (“royal”). They were thrown into a fiery furnace when they refused to worship the golden idol set up by King Nebuchadnezzar, but the angel of the Lord preserved them (Daniel 3:25).

The Holy Youth Azarias (“whom God helps”) was a companion of the Holy Prophet Daniel. He was chosen to serve in the king’s palace with Daniel, Ananias, and Mishael (Daniel 1:6), who were all from the tribe of Judah. They gave Azarias the Chaldean name Abednego (“servant of Nego”). They were thrown into a fiery furnace when they refused to worship the golden idol set up by King Nebuchadnezzar, but the angel of the Lord preserved them (Daniel 3:25).

The Holy Youth Misael (“Who is what God is?”) was a companion of the Holy Prophet Daniel. He was chosen to serve in the king’s palace with Daniel, Azarias, and Ananias (Daniel 1:6), who were all from the tribe of Judah. They gave Misael the Chaldean name Meshach (“guest”). They were thrown into a fiery furnace when they refused to worship the golden idol set up by King Nebuchadnezzar, but the angel of the Lord preserved them (Daniel 3:25).

Canon of the prophet, the acrostic whereof is: “With hymns I will crown the wise Daniel”, the composition of Theophanes, in Tone VIII:

Irmos: Let us, O ye people, send up a hymn * unto our wondrous God * Who hath freed Israel from bondage, * chanting a hymn of victory * and crying aloud: * We sing unto Thee, O only Master.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

O Saviour and Benefactor, Cause of every good thing, Who lovest mankind: with thy radiant effulgence illumine my mind, that I may praise the glorious memory of Thy prophet.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Thou didst shine forth in chastity like the dawn and didst save the chaste Susanna who was in danger; for God, Who knoweth all secrets, raised thee up to condemn the cruel elders.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

The descendants of Abraham, strengthened by the fear of God, valiantly spurned the most iniquitous food; and, nurtured by desire for piety, have been taken up into the greatest glory.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O most sacred Daniel, thou didst perceive the only Ever-virgin, the most pure Maiden, as the noetic mountain from whence was cut the Chief Cornerstone Who hath crushed all delusion.

Canon of the three holy youths, the acrostic whereof is: “I hymn the three youths and the great Daniel”, the composition of Theophanes, in Tone VIII:

Irmos: Having passed through the water as upon dry land, * and having escaped the malice of the Egyptians, * the Israelites cried aloud: * Unto our God and Redeemer let us sing.

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

Let us glorify the beginningless Word Who was divinely begotten of the Father before time began, and Whose likeness was seen by the youths in the furnace.

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

Firmly reviling the words of the impious tyrant, the noble youths did not wish to defile themselves with vile foods like the all-iniquitous Chaldeans.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Ye fed yourselves spiritually with the word of God and bodily with foods ye grew yourselves, and showed yourselves to the king as more comely of appearance than those who ate gross foods.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Maiden who sprang forth from David and hast given birth to the Redeemer, thou healest the venom which the serpent poured bitterly into the ears of Eve.

Ode III, Canon of the Prophet, Irmos: O Lord, thou art the confirmation of those who flee to Thee, * Thou art the Light of those in darkness, * and my spirit doth hymn Thee.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Receiving understanding and wisdom from God, thou didst interpret obscure dreams for the kings.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Receiving understanding and wisdom from God, thou didst interpret obscure dreams for the kings.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Scattering the food-offerings, O glorious one, thou didst slay the material serpent; for thou didst first vanquish the immaterial demons.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Illumined with radiance, O glorious one, thou didst behold the mountain manifestly blessed by God, the adornment of mankind.

Canon of the Youths, Irmos: O Lord, thou art the confirmation of those who flee to Thee, * Thou art Light of those in darkness, * and my spirit doth hymn Thee.

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

The youths of David, having acquired an understanding taught by God, O Master, kept the laws of their fathers with godly wisdom.

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

Fire did not consume the most pure bodies of the pious ones, for they had already been consumed by the fasting which nourisheth the soul.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Wondrously bedewed in the midst of the furnace, the three youths sing universal and most laudable praise.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

That thou mightest show forth Thy birthgiving from the body of the Virgin, O Master, Thou didst save the bodies of the virginal youths in the furnace.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. 

Kontakion of the prophet, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Today the Virgin …”: Enlightened by the Spirit, * thy pure heart became the receptacle of the most splendid prophecy: * for beholding far-off things as though they were present, * and, cast into the pit, thou didst tame the lions. ** Wherefore, we honour thee, O blessed and glorious Prophet Daniel.

Ikos: Jesus Christ, our true God, Whose divine advent thou didst manifestly proclaim, do thou entreat without ceasing for those who with gladness celebrate this thy divine memorial and honour thee with love, that we be saved from all temptations, sins and evil circumstances, for thou hast boldness before Him, O divinely wise one; and grant that I may open my lips to hymn thine excellent discourse.

Sessional Hymn of the youths, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “Of the Wisdom …”: In the flame the youths prophetically inscribed the image of the Trinity with the pen of faith in immaterial ink; and they mystically beheld the Word’s extreme descent to the earth proclaiming it to all. Wherefore, having received the dew of the Spirit from heaven, they pour forth gifts upon the faithful who cry out to Thee together: O Christ God, as Thou art compassionate grant remission of transgressions unto those who with love celebrate their holy memory!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Sessional Hymn of the prophet, in Tone VIII &same melody: Enriched by the grace of prophecy, thou didst describe the birth giving of the Virgin in shadowy images, but didst clearly interpret the dreams of the king. And, cast into the pit as a martyr, thou didst most gloriously teach the lions to fast, O blessed one. Wherefore, thou hast destroyed the worship of the ungodly, O right wondrous Daniel. Entreat Christ God, that He grant remission of sins unto those who with love celebrate thy holy memory.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion in Tone VIII: Rejoice, O fiery throne of God! Rejoice, O Maiden, thou royal seat and bower all-adorned with divers colours, thou bridal-chamber hung with gold and purple, cloak of scarlet hue, decorated temple, sword of lightning, lamp of great radiance! Rejoice, O Theotokos, thou twelve-walled city, gate of beaten gold, tabernacle adorned by God! Rejoice, O glorious Bride who hast let the Sun fall like rain! Rejoice, thou only goodly wonder of my soul!

Ode IV, Canon of the Prophet, Irmos: From the overshadowed mountain, * from the only Theotokos, * the Prophet in divine vision * foresaw Thy coming in the flesh, O Word, * and with fear he glorified Thy power.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Preserving the law in piety, O prophet, thou didst truly come to know the Bestower of wisdom Who teacheth men profound mysteries, illumining them in darkness.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Living a sacred life, O thou who wast revealed by God, thou wast called a man of divine desires; for, having manfully trampled the passions underfoot, thou hast been translated to the life which ageth not.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

The grace of the Comforter which dwelt within thee, O Daniel, showed thee to be the radiant victor over tyrants and kings, and the abode of wisdom.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The Prophet Daniel beheld Thee, O Word, as the Stone cut, not by human hands, from the mountain of the Virgin Theotokos; and he cried out and hymned Thy divinity.

Canon of the Youths, Irmos: O Lord, I have heard the mystery of Thy dispensation; * I have considered Thy works, * and I have glorified Thy Divinity.

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

By divine grace the most wise Daniel, divinely illumined in mind, interpreted the dreams of the kings.

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

The suffering of the youths in the furnace shone with miracles; for they prevailed upon the tyrant to acknowledge Thee, O Almighty One.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The melodies of the instruments and the harmonious playing of music did not lead the valiant ones astray, and they did not worship the golden image.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

With hymns the children in Babylon honoured thy supremely divine Son, Whom they recognized in the furnace, O all-hymned one.

Ode V, Canon of the Prophet, Irmos: Thou hast enlightened * with the knowledge of God * the ends of the universe * that lay in the night of ignorance, * do Thou also, O Lord, illumine me * with the dawning of Thy love for mankind.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Illumining thy struggles of suffering with the proclamation of prophecy, thou art resplendent in both, full of divine inspiration.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Illumining thy struggles of suffering with the proclamation of prophecy, thou art resplendent in both, full of divine inspiration.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

By splendours of wisdom which pass understanding thou hast been shown to be most wise, O blessed and divinely eloquent Daniel who art most great, enlightening all things.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O pure one, the glorious Prophet Daniel with images described the mystery of the ineffable incarnation of the Most High Who came forth from thee.

Canon of the Youths, Irmos: O Light never-waning, * why hast Thou turned Thy face from me * and why hath the alien darkness surrounded me, * wretched though I be? * But do Thou guide my steps I implore Thee * and turn me back towards the light of Thy commandments.

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

Having studied the law, O Saviour, Thy favoured ones, the great Daniel and the three godly-minded youths, did not deny Thee; but, receiving strength from Thee, our Benefactor, they manfully vanquished the tyrant.

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

Daniel studied Thy mysteries noetically, O Lover of mankind; for in purity of mind he beheld Thee as the Son of man coming upon a cloud, as the Judge and King of all the nations.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Shining like a golden beam, O children, your company shone with splendour greater than that of a sapphire; and set afire with zeal for piety, ye entered the furnace joyfully and formed yourselves into a universal chorus.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Virgin, the divine Daniel clearly prefigured thee as a mountain; and the three youths, beholding the flame bearing dew, with hymns praise thy divine birth giving as that of the Saviour, Creator and Lord.

Ode VI, Canon of the Prophet, Irmos: As Thou didst deliver the prophet from the depths * of the abyss, O Christ God, * so deliver me also from my sins, * O Lover of mankind, * and guide my life, I pray Thee.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Beholding the angelic choirs in most radiant light, thou hast become their most excellent emulator, delighting in the splendours of the King of all.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Beholding the angelic choirs in most radiant light, thou hast become their most excellent emulator, delighting in the splendours of the King of all.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Proclaiming the salvific coming of the Word, thou didst also foretell the destruction of the temple, the fulfilment of the law, and gifts of grace which pass all understanding.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Behold! the Virgin whose image the glorious Daniel beheld, shall manifestly conceive Christ God within her womb, illumined by the Spirit.

Canon of the Youths, Irmos: The abyss of my sins and the storm of my transgressions * disquieten me and thrust me down * into the depths of despondency; * but do Thou stretch forth Thy mighty arm, * unto me as Thou didst to Peter, * and save me, O my Guide.

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

Having gained control over natural passions through the power of the Word, ye became rulers of the land of the Chaldean peoples, O ye wise descendants of David; for virtue knoweth how to render honour to those who have acquired her.

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

Having gained control over natural passions through the power of the Word, ye became rulers of the land of the Chaldean peoples, O ye wise descendants of David; for virtue knoweth how to render honour to those who have acquired her.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Daniel, having arrayed himself of old in life-bearing mortality, and with food slew the evil serpent which the Chaldeans impiously considered to be a god; and he wisely slew the ungodly priests.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Virgin Mother and Theotokos, by thy supplications entreat the merciful Judge, thy Son, that He deliver me from cruel punishment on the day of judgment; for in thee alone do I set my hope.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion of the youths, in Tone VI: O thrice-blessed ones, who did not honour an image wrought by hands, * but were defended by the indescribable Essence, * ye were glorified in your ordeal by fire; * and standing in the midst of unbearable flame, ye called upon God, saying: * Speed Thou and make haste to our aid, O Compassionate One, ** in that Thou art merciful; for what Thou willest, Thou canst do!

Ikos: Stretch forth Thy hand whereby of old the warring Egyptians and the embattled Hebrews were tested. Forsake us not, that death, which thirsteth after us, not swallow us up; and spare our souls, as Thou once didst spare Thy three children in Babylon, who glorified Thee unceasingly and were cast for Thy sake into a furnace, from whence they cried out to Thee: Speed Thou and make haste to our aid, O Compassionate One, in that Thou art merciful; for what Thou willest, Thou canst do!

Ode VII, Canon of the Prophet, Irmos: The Hebrew children in the furnace * boldly trampled upon the flames, * changing the fire into dew, they cried aloud: * ‘Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, throughout the ages’.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Protected by the law, O prophet, thou didst not allow thyself to be iniquitously defiled, and, divinely illumined with understanding, thou didst cry aloud: Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, throughout the ages!

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Thy miracle filled all with awe; for, caught up, the Prophet Habbakuk appeared before thee, a prophet, bearing food to thee and crying aloud: Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, throughout the ages!

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Imprisoned in a pit and offered as food to the lions, O blessed one, thou wast saved, God protecting thee, and didst cry aloud: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou pourest forth in abundance a stream of healings, O Virgin Mother of God; for Daniel clearly perceived thee as the mountain from whence the Saviour shone forth, the God of our fathers.

Canon of the Youths, Irmos: In Babylon, the pious youths did not worship the golden image, * but,
bedewed in the midst of the fiery furnace, * they chanted a hymn, saying: * O supremely exalted God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

God-loving voices sang to the Almighty out of the midst of the fire; for, forming a divine choir, Azarias chanted a hymn, saying: Blessed is the God of our fathers!

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

The harp of the youths theologized concerning the Almighty, the God of all Who manifestly appeared to them in the furnace as they chanted a hymn, saying: Blessed is the God of our fathers!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Having watched as the three youths were cast into the furnace, the king beheld a fourth appear, Whom He called the Son of God; and he cried out to all: Blessed is the God of our fathers!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Possessed of a mind illumined with divine radiance, O Daniel blessed of God, thou didst manifestly foresee the birth giving of the Virgin prefigured in mystical images, and didst cry aloud: Blessed is the God of our fathers!

Ode VIII, Canon of the Prophet, Irmos: Treading down the fiery flame in the furnace, * the divinely eloquent children sang: * ‘Bless the Lord, ye works of the Lord’.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Through active vision thou wast shown to be clearly sacred, O prophet, and didst chant with the incorporeal ones: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Through active vision thou wast shown to be clearly sacred, O prophet, and didst chant with the incorporeal ones: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

We all praise thee, O all-blessed one, and rejoicing on thine honoured festival, we cry aloud: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O divinely eloquent one, perceiving the most wondrous Maiden in symbolic images, thou didst cry aloud: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

Canon of the Youths, Irmos: In his wrath the Chaldean Tyrant made the furnace blaze, * with heat fanned sevenfold for the servants of God; * but when he perceived that they had been saved by a greater power * he cried aloud to the Creator and Redeemer; * ‘ye children bless, ye priests praise, * ye people, supremely exalt Him throughout all ages’.

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

Striving to preserve the nobility of Abraham, O venerable ones, ye acquired his own foundational faith and hope, his patience and endurance of temptations, crying aloud: Ye priests bless ye the Master! Ye people supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

Shining forth like beacons and making the earth like heaven, rendered luminous by the enlightenment of piety, and having formed a universal choir, the youths chant to the Master Who saved them from perils: Ye children bless; ye priests hymn; ye people supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The descendants of Abraham, extinguishing the burning furnace and binding the jaws of the lions in their youth, rejoicing, hymn Thee now, the King and Benefactor of all: Ye children bless; ye priests hymn; ye people supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The most wise Daniel teacheth the mysteries, and the three divinely wise youths prefigure thy birthgiving, O most pure one, beholding in images Him Who ineffably issued forth from thy womb, Whom the children bless, the priests hymn and the people supremely exalt throughout all ages.

Ode IX, Canon of the Prophet, Irmos: Saved by thee, O pure Virgin, * we confess thee to be truly the Theotokos, * and together with the choirs of the bodiless hosts * thee do we magnify.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Thou didst reap the harvest of thy pangs, ever dancing in the heavens with the prophets about the most exalted throne of the Almighty.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

Thou didst reap the harvest of thy pangs, ever dancing in the heavens with the prophets about the most exalted throne of the Almighty.

Holy prophet Daniel, pray to God for us.

In the light of the threefold Sun thou dost now stand, crowned, before thine ultimate Desire, rejoicing with the incorporeal choirs.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Beautiful is the glory which thou dost now delight in! For thou, O honoured prophet, hast been deemed worthy to proclaim unto all, in images, the all-hymned Maiden.

Canon of the Youths, Irmos: Saved by thee, O pure Virgin, * we confess thee to be truly the Theotokos, * and together with the choirs of the bodiless hosts * thee do we magnify.

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

Ye have attained your desired end and stand before your ultimate Desire in the mansions of heaven, O ye most noetically rich youths.

Holy Ananias, Azarias and Misael, pray to God for us.

Having produced the grain of incorruption with tears, rejoicing, ye have received the sheaves of your goodly labour.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Splendour hath now shone forth upon you as is meet, and gladness of heart hath blossomed forth; for grief hath fled away from whence ye have made your abode.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Thou hast departed from the fields of death, O Virgin, having given birth to the Lord, the Bestower of life, Who Bestoweth life upon those who magnify thee with faith.

Troparion, in Tone II: Great are the accomplishments of faith! * In the fountain of flame, as in refreshing water, * the three holy children rejoiced; * and the Prophet Daniel was shown to be a shepherd of lions, as of sheep. ** By their prayers, O Christ God, save Thou our souls.