Tuesday, June 2, 2009

St. John the New Great Martyr of Suceava

Icon of St. John the New Great Martyr of Suceava - Commemorated on June 2nd (taken from: http://sfantulioancelnou.8k.ro/imagini/imagini.html)
"The Holy Great Martyr John the New of Sochi, lived in the fourteenth century in the city of Trebizond. He was a merchant, devout and firm in his Orthodoxy, and generous to the poor.

Once, he happened to be sailing on a ship while pursuing his trading activities. The captain of the ship was not Orthodox, but got into an argument about the Faith with St John. Having been vanquished by the saint's words, the captain resolved to make trouble for him when they got to Belgrade. During the ship's stay at Belgrade, the captain went to the city ruler, a fire-worshipper, and suggested that on his ship was a studious man who also desired to become a fire-worshipper.

The city ruler invited St John to join the fire-worshippers and renounce his faith in Christ.

Icon of the Martyrdom of St. John the New, from the Church of St. George, Suceava (taken from: http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/orthodoxi-roumania-odoiporiko-18.jpg)
The saint prayed secretly, calling on the help of Him Who said, "When they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what you shall speak, neither do you premeditate; but whatsoever will be given you in that hour, speak that, for it is not you that speaks, but the Holy Spirit" (Mark 13:11). And the Lord gave him the courage and understanding to counter all the claims of the impious and firmly confess himself a Christian. After this, the saint was so fiercely beaten with rods that his entire body was lacerated, and the flesh came off in pieces. The holy martyr thanked God for being found worthy to shed his blood for Him and thereby wash away his sins.

Fresco (from Voronet Monastery, Romania) with scenes from the life of St. John the New Great Martyr of Suceava (taken from: http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/Icons_and_Frescoes/Frescoes/Voronet_Monastery/index.shtml)
Afterwards they put him in chains and dragged him away to prison. In the morning the city ruler ordered the saint brought forth again. The martyr came before him with a bright and cheerful face. The intrepid martyr absolutely refused to deny Christ, denouncing the governor as a tool of Satan. Then they beat him again with rods, so that all his insides were laid bare.
The gathering crowd could not bear this horrible spectacle and they began to shout angrily, denouncing the governor for tormenting a defenseless man. The governor, having the beating stopped, gave orders to tie the Great Martyr to the tail of a wild horse to drag him by the legs through the streets of the city. Residents of the Jewish quarter particularly scoffed at the martyr and threw stones at him. Finally, someone took a sword and cut off his head.
Fresco of the Martyrdom of St. John the New of Suceava, from Voronet Monastery (taken from: http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/Icons_and_Frescoes/Frescoes/Voronet_Monastery/index.shtml)
St John's body with his severed head lay there until evening, and none of the Christians dared to take him away. By night a luminous pillar was seen over him, and a multitude of burning lamps. Three light-bearing men sang Psalms and censed the body of the saint. One of the Jews, thinking that these were Christians coming to take up the remains of the martyr, grabbed a bow and tried to shoot an arrow at them, but he was restrained by the invisible power of God, and became rigid.

In the morning the vision vanished, but the archer continued to stand motionless. Having told the gathering inhabitants of the city about the vision and what was done to him by the command of God, he was freed from his invisible bonds. Having learned about the occurrence, the ruler gave permission to bury the body of the martyr in the local church. This occurred between the years 1330 and 1340. There is some question about the year of the saint's martyrdom. St Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain gives the year as 1642, while others say it was 1492.

The captain who had betrayed St John repented of his deed, and decided secretly to convey the relics to his own country, but the saint appeared in a dream to the priest of the church, and prevented this. After seventy years the relics were transferred to Sochi, the capital of the Moldo-Valachian principality, and placed in the cathedral church." (taken from: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=101582)

Fresco showing the frozen archer who tried to fire at the angels over St. John's martyred body, from Voronet Monastery (taken from: http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/Icons_and_Frescoes/Frescoes/Voronet_Monastery/index.shtml)
Another detail from the life of St. John the New: "The angels of the Lord do not want to be worshipped. When an angel showed St. John the new Paradise in Heaven with all its marvels, St. John fell at the feet of the angel to worship him. But the angel did not allow that, saying: Do it not, for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God (Rev. 22:8-9). Yea, we worship God alone." (taken from: http://www.byzantinesacredart.com/blog/orthodoxy/)

The translation of the Relics of St. John the New (taken from: http://sfantulioancelnou.8k.ro/imagini/imagini.html)
And the appearance of St. John after his martyrdom and his Holy Relics: "An Orthodox priest in the city saw the New Martyr in a dream. John asked him to bring his body to the Church. There the Holy Relics remained for many years until the Ruler (Voievod) of Moldova Alexander the Good (Alexandru cel Bun) at the request of Metropolitan Joseph brought them to his capital city of Suceava on the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Forerunner, June 24 (July 7 – Gregorian Calendar), 1402. We may note the coincidence of the names and the martyr’s heroism of both these great followers of Christ.

The Church of St. George at the Monastery of St. John the New, Suceava, Romania (http://www.romanianmonasteries.org/bucovina/st-john-the-new)
In 1685 the Relics of St. John were taken by the Polish King Jan Sobieski to Stryy in Ukraine. They were later transferred to the Basilian Monastery in Zhovkva, also in Halychyna. The Austrian Emperor Joseph II returned them to Suceava in 1783. The Monastery that bears his name was the site of huge pilgrimages on the day of commemorating his martyrdom. Many people came from Bukovyna.
There are many Orthodox parishes founded by Bukovynians which bear his name. Among them is the Parish of St. John Suchavsky here in Lachine which is currently in the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which is the mother Parish of our own Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. George in Lachine. There is also the Cathedral of St. John Suchavsky in Winnipeg, which was part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in North America. Since 1995 it has been one of the distinguished parishes of our own Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada which established communion with the Patriarchate in 1990. The Ukrainian Women’s Association of the Parish has as its patron the renowned Ukrainian writer from Bukovyna, Ol’ha Kobylians’ka, who participated in the pilgrimages to Suceava.
Picture of the Reliquary of St. John the New, in the Church of St. George, Suceava (taken from: http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/orthodoxi-roumania-odoiporiko-19.jpg)
It was the martyrdom of St. John rather than his eloquence or his status as merchant that kept him alive in the memory of his brothers and sisters in the Church. This was no tragedy but a heroic and victorious event in which John of Trabzon and later Suceava offered his life as an example of faithfulness and love to the One Who offered His life for all. Glory to Him! " (taken from: http://www.ukrainian-orthodoxy.org/saints/beauty/stjohnofsuchava.htm)
For the Akathist and Paraklesis of St. John the New (in Romanian), along with his life and numerous icons of him, see: http://sfantulioancelnou.8k.ro/index.html.
Icon of St. John the New Great Martyr of Suceava (taken from: http://www.christopherklitou.com/icon_2_june_john_new_greatmartyr_of_russia.htm)
Apolytikion for a Martyr in Fourth Tone
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
The following is the Kontakion and Oikos 1 (taken from: http://sfantulioancelnou.8k.ro/acatistul.html) from the Akathist of St. John the New. The text is in Romanian, so if anyone is able to translate it, please do so:

Condacul 1:
Aparatorul si sprijinitorul crestinatatii, impotrivitorului si surpatorului paganatatii, mucenicului celui de curand aratat, ostasului lui Hristos celui adevarat, care ca un soare Bisericii rasaritului a stralucit si pe credinciosi de veselie i-a umplut, toti acum din suflet cantari de multumire si de lauda sa-i aducem, si cu dorire sa-i cantam: Bucura-te Sfinte Ioane, mare mucenice a lui Hristos!

St. John the New Martyr of Suceava (source)
Icosul 1:
Ingerilor iubita si placuta a fost si mai inainte de patimire, vietuirea ta, purtatorule de chinuri al lui Hristos, Ioane. Caci cu trup material imbracat fiind, viata ingereasca pe pamant ai vietuit, cu milostenii si cu neincetate rugaciuni, apoi si cu chinuri. entru aceasta noi, dupa vrednicie, aceste laude aducem tie:
Bucura-te, ca prin postirile si rugaciunile tale cele necontenite, ingerilor te-ai asemanat;
Bucura-te, ca prin milosteniile si lacrimile tale pe demoni i-ai infricosat;
Bucura-te, ca pe cei intristati i-ai mangaiat;
Bucura-te, ca pe cei bolnavi i-ai ajutat;
Bucura-te, ca in trup muritor te-ai aratat inger pamantesc;
Bucura-te, caci cu mintea ai fost om ceresc;
Bucura-te, ca din parinti binecredinciosi ai rasarit;
Bucura-te, ca dreapta credinta pana la sfarsit ai pazit;
Bucura-te, ca din cetatea vestita Trapezunda ai iesit;
Bucura-te, ca prin toate faptele bune desavarsit te-ai impodobit;
Bucura-te, ca pe mare, negutator iscusit ai fost;
Bucura-te, ca negutatoria sufletului bine ai chibzuit;
Bucura-te Sfinte Ioane, mare mucenice al lui Hristos!
St. John the New, the Great Martyr of Suceava (http://www.brooklyn-church.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Ioann_soch.jpg)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

1 comment:

James said...

St. John the New of Suceava has nothing to do with Sochi in Russia (Suceava was the capital of the principality of Moldova prior to Iasi and is in southern Bucovina) and nor was he martyred in Belgrade, but Cetatea Alba, which is now the town of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi in the Ukraine. I'm sure these were genuine translation errors on the part of whoever wrote this English version of the saint's life but they could do with being corrected.