Wednesday, July 29, 2009

St. Kallinikos (Callinicus) the Martyr of Gangra

St. Kallinikos (Callinicus) the Martyr of Gangra, Asia Minor - Commemorated on July 29 (taken from: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=102123)

"The Holy Martyr Callinicus, a native of Cilicia, was raised from childhood in the Christian Faith. Grieving that many misguided people would perish for eternity because they worshiped idols, he went through the cities and villages to proclaim Jesus Christ and His teachings to the pagans, and with the Word of God he converted many to Christianity.

In the Galatian city of Ancyra the holy confessor was arrested and brought to trial before a governor named Sacerdonus, a fierce persecutor of Christians. The governor, threatening tortures and death, ordered the saint to offer sacrifice to the idols. The saint fearlessly declared that he was not afraid of martyrdom, since every believer in Christ receives from Him strength in ordeals, and through death inherits an eternal blessed life.

They cruelly beat the saint with ox thongs and tore at his body with iron hooks, but he endured everything with patience and calm. This aroused still greater fury in Sacerdonus, and he ordered that sandals with sharp nails be placed on the saint's feet, and that they should drive the martyr with whips to the city of Gangra to be burned.
The pathway was arduous, and the soldiers who accompanied the condemned man were weak from thirst. In despair they began to implore the saint to pray the Lord for water. The saint, taking pity on his tormentors, with the help of God caused a miraculous spring of water to gush forth from a stone. The astonished soldiers were filled with sympathy for their rescuer, and they wanted even to set him free. Fear of execution, however, compelled them to bring the martyr farther. In Gangra, St Callinicus joyfully offered thanks to the Lord, Who had vouchsafed him the crown of martyrdom. He went into the blazing fire and gave up his soul to God. His body, remaining unharmed, was reverently buried by believers."
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Apolytikion in the Fourth ToneThy 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.

Kontakion in the Second ToneThou rightly hast now inherited delight on high, for thou didst wax hot with burning love for Christ thy God, O Callinicus, for Whose sake thou didst courageously brave the fire; as thou standest before Him now, cease not interceding with Him for us all.
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Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

St. Paul the Righteous of Xeropotamou

St. Paul the Righteous of Xeropotamou - Commemorated on July 28 (taken from: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=102116)
  
"Saint Paul of Xeropotamou, in the world Procopius, was the son of the Byzanatine Emperor Michael Kuropalatos, who later resigned the imperial office and became a monk in a monastery he built. Having received the finest education, Procopius became one of the most learned men of his time. His "Discourse on the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple," the "Canon to the Forty Martyrs", the "Canon to the Venerable Cross" and other works gained him great renown. But worldly knowledge and honors did not interest him. He exchanged his fine garb for beggar's rags, and he went to the Holy Mountain [Athos], to Xeropotamou. He built a cell there at the ruins of an old monastery founded by the empress Pulcheria in honor of the Forty Martyrs (March 9). From Cosmas, a hermit, he received monastic tonsure with the name Paul.

Out of humility the saint did not reveal his erudition to anyone. The fame of Paul's strict life quickly spread throughout the Holy Mountain. He became called Paul of Xeropotamou, and the monastery where he pursued monasticism, to the present day bears the name Xeropotamou ("dry river").

At that time the emperor Romanus, a relative of Paul, ascended the throne. Through the Protos of the Holy Mountain he requested the saint to come to Constantinople and planned a splendid reception for him. The humble Paul, not betraying his monastic duty, appeared with a cross and in torn robes amid the courtly splendor and magnificence. St Paul confirmed his fame as a chosen one of God, miraculously healing the grievously ill Romanus by placing his hand on him. But the vanity of courtly life, promised by the gratitude of the emperor, did not interest the saint; he returned to the Holy Mountain, having asked one favor of the emperor: to restore the Xeropotamou monastery.
  
Picture of the Holy Monastery of Xeropotamou, Mount Athos (founded by St. Paul) (http://www.mountathos.gr/active.aspx?mode=en{f3511d8b-a217-4c24-8854-f5af83a05b7a}View)
  
In the holy altar in the consecrated cathedral church of the restored monastery, was put a piece of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, given to St Paul by the emperor Romanus.

Christ, St. George the Trophy-bearer, and St. Paul of Xeropotamou (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)
   
Soon the Xeropotamou monastery was filled by a throng of monks, wanting to put themselves under the guidance of the holy ascetic, but St Paul, having entrusted the rule of the monastery to one of the brethren, moved off to the remote wilderness. His quiet was again disturbed by disciples, not wanting to leave their Elder. Then the monk requested of the emperor the means for the building of a new monastery. Thus the saint founded a monastery in the name of the holy Great Martyr and Victory-Bearer St George. The first head of the new monastery was St Paul himself, who also brought a piece of the Venerable Wood of the Cross of the Lord there.
  
Picture of the Holy Monastery of St. Paul (founded by and named after St. Paul of Xeropotamou) (http://www.mountathos.gr/active.aspx?mode=en{bcac0a65-cda3-43ce-a2d0-1db0b95d3faf}View)
  
Having been informed in advance by the Lord of his impending end, the saint summoned the brethren of the Xeropotamou and the new Georgikos monasteries and gave them his final instructions. On the day of his death, St Paul donned the mantle, and read the prayer of St Joannicius, which he said continually: "My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my protection is the Holy Spirit, O Holy Trinity, glory to Thee," and he received the Holy Mysteries of Christ.
  
St Paul had instructed in his will to bury his body on the peninsula of Pongosa (opposite the Holy Mountain). But by the will of God the ship was driven to the shores of Constantinople, where the Emperor and Patriarch with the pious took the body of the saint and solemnly placed it in the Great Church (Hagia Sophia). After the sacking of Constantinople by the Crusaders, the relics of St Paul were transferred to Venice."
(taken from: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=102116)

See the following links for more information on Xeropotamou (http://www.mountathos.gr/active.aspx?mode=en{a294783f-9f4e-4f1a-a035-a4e26f7214e0}View) and St. Paul's (http://www.mountathos.gr/active.aspx?mode=en{1f47a326-e443-4719-8746-cfce887cc15f}View) Monasteries of Mount Athos.


  
Apolytikion of St. Paul of Xeropotamou in the Fourth Tone
The angel incarnate and the ascetics' pedestal, the first to build the monastery on the torrent, Paul the glorious above together summons the array of the angel, below he brings together the throng of his disciples to celebrate in song his holy memory.
St. Paul of Xeropotamou, fresco by Panselinos, Protaton, Mount Athos (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s1630/s1630001.jpg)

 Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Irene the Righteous Abbess of the Monastery of Chrysovalantou

St. Irene the Righteous, the Abbess of the Monastery of Chrysovalantou - Commemorated on July 28 (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)

"Saint Irene was the daughter of a wealthy family from Cappadocia, and was born in the ninth century.

After the death of her husband Theophilus, the empress Theodora ruled the Byzantine Empire as regent for her young son Michael. St Theodora (February 11) helped to defeat the iconoclast heresy, and to restore the holy icons. We commemorate this Triumph of Orthodoxy on the first Sunday of Great Lent.

When Michael was twelve years of age, St Theodora sent messengers throughout the Empire to find a suitably virtuous and refined girl to be his wife. St Irene was chosen, and she agreed to the marriage. While passing Mt. Olympus in Asia Minor, Irene asked to stop so she could receive the blessing of St Joannicius (November 4), who lived on the mountain. The saint, who showed himself only to the most worthy pilgrims, foresaw the arrival of St Irene, and also her future life.

The holy ascetic welcomed her and told her to proceed to Constantinople, where the women's monastery of Chrysovalantou had need of her. Amazed at his clairvoyance, Irene fell to the ground and asked St Joannicius for his blessing. After blessing her and giving her spiritual counsel, he sent her on her way.

Icon depicting Sts. Nicandrus and Joannicius the Great who are celebrated on November 4th (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_4_nov_nicandrus_joanicius_the_great.htm)

When the party arrived in Constantinople, Irene's relatives met her with great ceremony. Since "the steps of a man are rightly ordered by the Lord" (Ps. 36/37:23), God arranged for Michael to marry another girl a few days before, so that Irene might be free to become a bride of Christ. Far from being disappointed, Irene rejoiced at this turn of events.

Remembering the words of St Joannicius, Irene visited the Monastery of Chrysovalantou. She was so impressed by the nuns and their way of life that she freed her slaves and distributed her wealth to the poor. She exchanged her fine clothing for the simple garb of a nun, and served the sisters with great humility and obedience. The abbess was impressed with the way that Irene performed the most menial and disagreeable tasks without complaint.
St Irene often read the Lives of the Saints in her cell, imitating their virtues to the best of her ability. She often stood in prayer all night with her hands raised like Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 17:11-13). St Irene spent the next few years in spiritual struggles defeating the assaults of the demons, and bringing forth the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

When the abbess sensed the approach of death, she told the other nuns that they should not accept anyone but Irene as the new abbess. Irene was not told of the abbess's instructions, and when she died the community sent representatives to go and seek the advice of the patriarch, St Methodius (June 14). He asked them whom they wanted as their superior. They replied that they believed he would be guided by the Holy Spirit. Without knowing of the late abbess's instructions to the nuns, he asked if there was a humble nun by the name of Irene in their monastery. If so, he said, they should choose her. The nuns rejoiced and gave thanks to God. St Methodius elevated Irene to the rank of abbess and advised her how to guide those in her charge.


Icon depicting the Holy Prophet Elissaius and St. Methodius Patriarch of Constantinople, celebrated on June 14th (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_14_june_elissaius_prophet_methodius_of_constantinople.htm)

Returning to the monastery, Irene prayed that God would help her to care for those under her, and redoubled her own spiritual efforts. She displayed great wisdom in leading the nuns, and received many revelations from God to assist her in carrying out her duties. She also asked for the gift of clairvoyance so that she would know what trials awaited her nuns. Thus, she was in a better position to give them the proper advice. She never used this knowledge to embarrass others, but only to correct their confessions in a way which let them know that she possessed certain spiritual gifts.
 
[Irene would pray from the evening until the time of the service of Orthros. After the service she would sleep until the sun rose. She would then go into the church and call the sisters one by one to confession and if one of them did not tell of all sins committed, St Irene would advise as the angel would instruct. All the nuns came to respect her as a saint. Word spread quickly about the holiness of the abbess of Chrysovalantou.  Inhabitants of the city came to see this honourable and venerable person by the hundreds. The nobility, political leaders, women, virgins, young, and old. Irene taught with such wisdom and compunction and the name of the holy abbess of Chrysovalantou became ever so popular.

Irene continued to pray hard and long. One night as she was praying with her hands lifted up towards heaven, the demons came into her cell and began to scream in a terrifying voice. They spoke in an unfit manner and tried to distract our holy mother from prayer. They, however, were unable to faze the Saint. Nevertheless, the demons continued to taunt Irene and mimicked her by saying,

"Wooden Irene, wooden feet hold you up. For how long will you torture our race, how long will you burn us with your prayers and how long will you hurt and make us sad?" Our venerable mother remained unfazed. This audacious demon then lit a candle from the votive lamp and continued to light the mantle and veil of the saint herself on fire. The flames reached down to the ground and burned not only the saint's clothing, but deep into the skin on her shoulders, chest, and back. Her entire body would have surely burned had it not been for one of the sisters who rushed it to put the fire out after smelling it from her own cell down the hall. Unbelievably, the saint continued to stand unfazed by the whole event. Irene stood tall, hands still in the air and praying to our Lord above. "My child", Irene said to the frightened nun, "why did you do such a bad thing and interrupt the good that was taking place? We shouldn't think about the human things, but rather about the divine. An angel was standing in front of me weaving a wreath of various marvellous and fragrant flowers and as he stretched out his hand to place this wreath on my head, you came in. You thought that you were committing a praiseworthy act but instead committed a most unpraiseworthy act.  The angel saw you and left. You brought to me sorrow and I lost a great opportunity."


St. Irene Chrysovalantou with arms uplifted in prayer, despite being set on fire by the demons (source)
   
The sister began to cry as she began to gather up the fragments of our venerable mother's habit. They were partly burned and stuck to her flesh. A glorious fragrance then came forth from her. This fragrance was sweeter smelling and more powerful than all the costly perfumes that could be purchased. This aroma filled the monastery for many days and the nuns glorified thy God for this was a true miracle. St. Irene did not own a second garment and so her cell-attendant brought her a new one. In just days wounds that would have killed most people were miraculously healed by the Physician of our souls and bodies and she was granted the grace of prophecy. (source)]
   
Although St Irene performed many miracles during her life, let us mention only one. On great Feasts it was her habit to keep vigil in the monastery courtyard under the starry skies. Once, a nun who was unable to sleep left her cell and went into the courtyard. There she saw Abbess Irene levitating a few feet above the ground, completely absorbed in prayer. The astonished nun also noticed that two cypress trees had bowed their heads to the ground, as if in homage. When she finished praying, Irene blessed the trees and they returned to their upright position.

Icon showing St. Irene Chrysovalantou visited by an angel, holding the apples from Paradise, and standing before the tree that bowed (taken from: http://www.stirene.org/st_irene/stirene_icongallery.html)

Afraid that this might be a temptation from the demons, the nun returned the next night to see if she had been mistaken. Again she saw Irene levitating as she prayed, and the cypress trees bowing down. The nun tied handkerchiefs to the tops of the two trees before they went back to their places. When the other sisters saw the handkerchiefs atop the trees, they began to wonder who had put them there. Then the nun who had witnessed these strange events revealed to the others what she had seen. When St Irene learned that the nun had witnessed the miracle and told the others, she was very upset. She warned them not to speak of it to anyone until after her death.

St. Basil the Great, who also was from Cappadocia (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)

St Irene observed the Feast of St Basil (January 1) with great devotion, since he also came from Cappadocia. One year, after celebrating the feast, St Irene heard a voice during the night telling her to welcome the sailor who would come to the door the next day. She was told to rejoice and eat the fruit which the sailor would bring her. During Matins, a sailor did come to the door and remained in church until after Liturgy. He told her that he had come from Patmos, where he boarded a ship. As the ship set sail, he noticed an old man on the shore calling for them to stop. In spite of a good wind, the ship came to a sudden halt. Then the old man walked across the water and entered the ship. He gave the sailor three apples which God was sending to the patriarch "from His beloved disciple John." Then the old man gave the sailor three more apples for the abbess of Chrysovalantou. He told the sailor that if Irene ate the apples, all that her soul desired would be granted, "for this gift comes from John in Paradise."


St. John the Theologian, who sent St. Irene apples from Paradise (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)

St Irene fasted for a week, giving thanks to God for this wonderful gift. For forty days, she ate small pieces of the first apple every day. During this time she had nothing else to eat or drink. On Holy Thursday, she told the nuns to receive the Holy Mysteries, then gave each one a piece of the second apple. They noticed an unusual sweetness, and felt as if their very souls were being nourished.

An angel informed St Irene that she would be called to the Lord on the day after St Panteleimon's feast. The monastery's feast day fell on July 26, so St Irene prepared by fasting for a week beforehand. She took only a little water and small pieces of the third apple sent to her by St John. The whole monastery was filled with a heavenly fragrance, and all discord disappeared.

St. Irene Chrysovalantou, holding the Precious Cross and sacred apples from Paradise (taken from: http://www.stirene.org/st_irene/stirene_icongallery.html)

On July 28, St Irene called the nuns together in order to bid them farewell. She also told them to select Sister Mary as her successor, for she would keep them on the narrow way which leads to life (Matthew 7:14). After entreating God to protect her flock from the power of the devil, she smiled when she saw the angels who had been sent to receive her soul. Then she closed her eyes and surrendered her soul to God.

St Irene was more than 101 years old when she died, yet her face appeared young and beautiful. A great crowd of people came for her funeral, and many miracles took place at her tomb.

In some parishes it is customary to bless apples on the feast of St Irene Chrysovalantou."
(taken from: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=102119)



   

St. Irene Chrysovalantou (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)
  
For a fuller account of St. Irene Chrysovalantou's life, and more information in general, see: http://www.stirene.org/st_irene/stirene_index.html, http://orthodoxwiki.org/Irene_Chrysovalantou, http://fr-d-serfes.org/lives/stirene.htm


For a miracle of Sts. Basil and Anastasia and the Theotokos in the life of St. Irene, see: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/12/miracle-of-sts-anastasia-and-basil-and.html.

The miraculous, weeping icon of St. Irene Chrysovalantou, from the Monastery dedicated to her in Astoria, New York (taken from: http://www.stirene.org/st_irene/stirene_icongallery.html; see: http://www.stirene.org/st_irene/stirene_miraculousicon.html for more information)

The Sacred Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou in Astoria, New York (http://www.stirene.org/) serves as a grace-filled pilgrimage of this great Saint. Many travel from around the United States and beyond to venerate the holy relics of St. Irene, along with the weeping icon of the Saint (see the following page for more details: http://www.stirene.org/st_irene/stirene_miraculousicon.html) Many miracles throughout the world have occurred through the intercessions of St. Irene Chrysovalantou, including countless healings of soul and body, and especially aid to those with trouble conceiving.

At this monastery, along with many other churches and monasteries, the Priests pray for the Lord to bless apples in honor of St. Irene of Chrysovalantou. Through these blessed apples, many have found healing and deliverance from their afflictions or troubles. For a translation of this blessing, see here.

May St. Irene Chrysovalantou intercede for all of us and help us! Amen!

St. Irene the Righteous of Chrysovalantou (Icon courtesy of http://www.eikonografos.com/ used with permission)

Apolytikion of St. Irene Chrysovalantou - Plagal of the First Tone
Not a temporal kingdom on earth didst thou obtain, but Christ, thy most comely Bridegroom, vouchsafed thee heavenly crowns, and thou reignest as a queen with Him eternally; for thou didst dedicate thyself unto Him with all thy soul, O Irene, our righteous Mother, thou boast of Chrysovalantou, and mighty help of all the Orthodox.

Kontakion - Third Tone
Leaving all the world behind with its impermanent glory, thou wast wedded unto Christ, the King immortal and holy, bringing Him as precious dowry thy maiden beauty and thy trophies won through abstinence over demons. O Irene, our righteous Mother, entreat thy Bridegroom to show His mercy to us.
(hymns taken from: http://www.stirene.org/st_irene/stirene_hymnology.html)


Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr and Unmercenary, and those with him

Icon of St. Panteleimon the Great-Martyr and Unmercenary - Commemorated on July 27 (with scenes from his life) - St. Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai - 13th Century (source)
   
"The Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon was born in the city of Nicomedia into the family of the illustrious pagan Eustorgius, and he was named Pantoleon. His mother St Euboula (March 30) was a Christian. She wanted to raise her son in the Christian Faith, but she died when the future martyr was just a young child. His father sent Pantoleon to a pagan school, after which the young man studied medicine at Nicomedia under the renowned physician Euphrosynus. Pantoleon came to the attention of the emperor Maximian (284-305), who wished to appoint him as royal physician when he finished his schooling.

The nativity of St. Panteleimon to St. Euvoule (source)
   
Icon depicting Sts. Euboule (the mother of St. Panteleimon - March 30th), Panteleimon and Hermolaos (source)
   
The hieromartyrs Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates, survivors of the massacre of 20,000 Christians in 303 (December 28), were living secretly in Nicomedia at that time. St Hermolaus saw Pantoleon time and again when he came to the house where they were hiding. Once, the priest invited the youth to the house and spoke about the Christian Faith. After this Pantoleon visited St Hermolaus every day.

Sts. Panteleimon and Hermolaos (source)
 
St. Panteleimon and his teacher, St. Hermolaos (source)
   
Icon of St. Hermolaos, the Hieromartyr and Unmercenary (source)
   
One day the saint found a dead child on the street. He had been bitten by a great snake, which was still beside the child's body. Pantoleon began to pray to the Lord Jesus Christ to revive the dead child and to destroy the venomous reptile. He firmly resolved that if his prayer were fulfilled, he would become a follower of Christ and receive Baptism. The child rose up alive, and the snake died before Pantoleon's eyes.

St. Panteleimon praying, and resurrecting the child bitten by the snake (source)
   
After this miracle, Pantoleon was baptized by St Hermolaus with the name Panteleimon (meaning "all-merciful"). Speaking with Eustorgius, St Panteleimon prepared him to accept Christianity.

Christ blessing Sts. Panteleimon and Hermolaos, along with Archangels Michael and Gabriel, Sts. Kosmas and Damian, and Sts. Cyrus and John (http://ia600102.us.archive.org/13/items/Icoane/07260727SfMcErmolaeSiPantelimon.jpg)
   
[On one occasion, when he restored the sight of a certain blind man by calling on the Divine Name, he enlightened also the eyes of this man's soul to the knowledge of the truth. This also became the cause for the martyrdom of him who had been blind, since when he was asked by whom and in what manner his eyes had been opened, in imitation of that blind man of the Gospel he confessed with boldness both who the physician was and the manner of his healing. For this he was put to death immediately. [This blind man, who was healed by St. Panteleimon and who confessed Christ and accepted martyrdom, is also commemorated on July 27th] (taken from: http://goarch.org/chapel/saints_view?contentid=143)]

When the father saw how his son healed a blind man by invoking Jesus Christ, he then believed in Christ and was baptized by St Hermolaus together with the man whose sight was restored.

St. Panteleimon healing the blind man (source)
 
After the death of his father, St Panteleimon dedicated his life to the suffering, the sick, the unfortunate and the needy. He treated all those who turned to him without charge, healing them in the name of Jesus Christ. He visited those held captive in prison. These were usually Christians, and he healed them of their wounds. In a short time, reports of the charitable physician spread throughout the city. Forsaking the other doctors, the inhabitants began to turn only to St Panteleimon.

St. Panteleimon, with scenes from his life (source)
 
The envious doctors told the emperor that St Panteleimon was healing Christian prisoners. Maximian urged the saint to refute the charge by offering sacrifice to idols. St Panteleimon confessed himself a Christian, and suggested that a sick person, for whom the doctors held out no hope, should be brought before the emperor. Then the doctors could invoke their gods, and Panteleimon would pray to his God to heal the man. A man paralyzed for many years was brought in, and pagan priests who knew the art of medicine invoked their gods without success. Then, before the very eyes of the emperor, the saint healed the paralytic by calling on the name of Jesus Christ. The ferocious Maximian executed the healed man, and gave St Panteleimon over to fierce torture.

St. Panteleimon being tortured, and Christ appearing to strengthen him, in the form of his teacher, St. Hermolaos (source)

The Lord appeared to the saint and strengthened him before his sufferings. They suspended the Great Martyr Panteleimon from a tree and scraped him with iron hooks, burned him with fire and then stretched him on the rack, threw him into a cauldron of boiling tar, and cast him into the sea with a stone around his neck. Throughout these tortures the martyr remained unhurt, and denounced the emperor.

Icon of St. Panteleimon with scenes from his life (source)
 
At this time the priests Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates were brought before the court of the pagans. All three confessed their faith in the Savior and were beheaded (July 26).

By order of the emperor they brought the Great Martyr Panteleimon to the circus to be devoured by wild beasts. The animals, however, came up to him and licked his feet. The spectators began to shout, "Great is the God of the Christians!" The enraged Maximian ordered the soldiers to stab with the sword anyone who glorified Christ, and to cut off the head of the Great Martyr Panteleimon.

They led the saint to the place of execution and tied him to an olive tree. While the martyr prayed, one of the soldiers struck him with a sword, but the sword became soft like wax and inflicted no wound. The saint completed his prayer, and a Voice was heard from Heaven, calling the passion-bearer by his new name and summoning him to the heavenly Kingdom.

Miraculous icon of St. Panteleimon with scenes from his life, from his Monastery on Mount Athos (source)
   
[Another account: "As the soldier raised his sword to behead the Saint, the sword melted as if it were made of wax. The soldiers fell to their knees and admitted their beliefs in Christ. The Saint prayed for them and forgave them for their sins. A voice came from heaven, saying to Pantoleonta that all he had asked for had been granted and that from this time on he would he known not as Pantoleonta, but as Panteleimon (All-merciful)." (source)]

Hearing the Voice, the soldiers fell down on their knees before the holy martyr and begged forgiveness. They refused to continue with the execution, but St Panteleimon told them to fulfill the emperor's command, because otherwise they would have no share with him in the future life. The soldiers tearfully took their leave of the saint with a kiss.

Icon of Sts. George and Panteleimon the Great-martyrs, holding their sacred heads as symbols of their martyrdom for Christ. (The one scroll roughly reads: "Behold our heads cut off for You", while the other, "I see you O Martyrs, and bestow on you crowns.") "Saint Panteleimon is one of the Holy Unmercenaries, and is held in special honor among them, even as Saint George is among the Martyrs." (source) (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)
   
When the saint was beheaded, the olive tree to which the saint was tied became covered with fruit. Many who were present at the execution believed in Christ. The saint's body was thrown into a fire, but remained unharmed, and was buried by Christians . St Panteleimon's servants Laurence, Bassos and Probus witnessed his execution and heard the Voice from Heaven. They recorded the life, the sufferings and death of the saint.

The Dormition of St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr (source)
   
Portions of the holy relics of the Great Martyr Panteleimon were distributed throughout all the Christian world [including the Shrine of St. Paraskevi Greenlawn, NY, the Chapel of St. Panteleimon in St. Anthony's Monastery, Arizona, Vatopedi and Philotheou Monastery, St. Panteleimon's Skete, Mount Athos, Putna Monastery and Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Romania, and many other places]. His venerable head is now located at the Russian monastery of St Panteleimon on Mt. Athos [while another portion is in Panachrantos Monastery on Andros].


Icon of St. Panteleimon the Great-Martyr, and a portion of his sacred Skull, treasured in Panachrantos Monastery, Andros, Greece (source)
 
Close-up of the miraculous, myrrh-streaming portion of the Holy Skull of St. Panteleimon, treasured by Panachrantou Monastery, Athos (source)

The veneration of the holy martyr in the Russian Orthodox Church was already known in the twelfth century. Prince Izyaslav ( in Baptism Panteleimon), the son of St Mstislav the Great, had an image of St Panteleimon on his helmet. Through the intercession of the saint he remained alive during a battle in the year 1151. On the Feast of the Great Martyr Panteleimon, Russian forces won two naval victories over the Swedes (in 1714 near Hanhauze and in 1720 near Grenham).

St Panteleimon is venerated in the Orthodox Church as a mighty saint, and the protector of soldiers. This aspect of his veneration is derived from his first name Pantoleon, which means "a lion in everything". His second name, Panteleimon, given him at Baptism, which means "all-merciful", is manifest in the veneration of the martyr as a healer. The connection between these two aspects of the saint is readily apparent in that soldiers, receiving wounds more frequently than others, are more in need of a physician-healer. Christians waging spiritual warfare also have recourse to this saint, asking him to heal their spiritual wounds.

The holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon is invoked in the Mystery of Anointing the Sick, at the Blessing of Water, and in the Prayers for the Sick.

Picture of the Holy Monastery of St. Panteleimon, Mount Athos (source)
   
The Feast of the holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon is the patronal Feast of the Russian monastery on Athos. The forefeast starts eight days before the Feast. Each day after Vespers, Moliebens are sung with Canons in each of the eight tones. Thus, each day has its own particular Canon. The second day of the Feast is the monastery feastday. On this day a general Panikhida is served after Vespers in memory of the founders and benefactors of the monastery, and kollyva (kutia: wheat or rice boiled with honey) is blessed and distributed.

The verses of the Ninth Ode of the Canon of the Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon from the manuscript of the Athonite service are reprinted in the "Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate" (1975, No.3, pp. 45-47)." (source)
 
Miraculous icon of St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr from the Skete of the Saint (Koutloumousiou, Mount Athos); after the Saint appeared to Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, the Elder related that he looked very similar to his appearance in this icon (source)
 
St. Panteleimon continues to work many miracles and grant many blessings on many throughout the world. He was especially dear to many of the Saints of our Church. See the following pages which discuss appearances and healings of St. Panteleimon to St. Nicholas Planas, Elder Joseph of Vatopedi, Elder Paisios and a Monk Daniel of the Kalyve of St. John Chrysostom of Koutloumousiou.
 
The icon of St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr and Unmercenary, decorated for his feast, in the monastery of the same name, Penteli (http://www.panoramio.com/photo/41734354, http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1P08OXb2-w4/TjAM_s3T8gI/AAAAAAAAADw/ei9Q7k4dpVM/s1600/DSC08609.JPG)
  
See the following link for the history of St. Panteleimon Monastery, Mount Athoshttp://www.mountathos.gr/active.aspx?mode=en{dd72195d-e217-46b5-b9dd-9b47d366b2dc}View.

At the following link is a recording (in Greek) of Fr. Evdokimos, the Abbot of Panachrantou Monastery, Andros which treasures part of the Skull of St. Panteleimon. He discusses various spiritual topics, as well as miracles that have occurred through St. Panteleimon: http://apantaortodoxias.blogspot.com/2009/11/blog-post_8436.html. It is interesting to note that at first Fr. Evdokimos was uneasy hearing that the Skull of St. Panteleimon was on Andros as he had previously venerated it on Mount Athos. However, the Saint appeared to him and reassuringly showed him the part of his Skull which was on Mount Athos, and the other part, including some of his teeth, which was at Panachrantou Monastery of Andros. Fr. Evdokimos sought permission to open the Saint's reliquary, and confirmed that it was the same portion that the Saint had revealed to him in a dream.

May St. Panteleimon the Great-martyr and Unmercenary help us all, intercede for us, and grant us healing of soul and body!


Icon of St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr and Unmercenary (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s1660/s1660004.jpg)

Apolytikion of St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr - Third Tone
Holy Laurel-bearer and Physician Panteleimon, make intercession to our merciful God, that He grant our souls remission of offenses.


Angel holding a scroll with the above Apolytikion of St. Panteleimon (source)

Kontakion. Mode pl. 1.
Imitator you were of the merciful God. You received as a grace from Him the art of medicine. O Medallist and Martyr of Christ our God, by your prayers you can cure the diseases of our souls. Drive the scandals of age-old enemy away from those who cry unceasingly, ʺSave us, O Lord.ʺ

Oikos
O Christ-loving people, let us piously extol the memory of the Unmercenary, the contest of the Valliant one, the cures of the Faithful one, so that we may receive mercy, and especially those of us who, like me, have defiled our temples, for he provides remedies for body and soul. Therefore, brethren, let us earnestly endeavor to hold him fast in our hearts, for he delivers from error those who cry unceasingly,
ʺSave us, O Lord.ʺ
 
   
Excerpt from the Akathist to St. Panteleimon

Kontakion 1
Chosen passion-bearer of Christ and gracious healer, who freely grantest healing to the sick, we praise thee in songs as our protector. As thou hast boldness with the Lord, free us from all harm and sickness who cry with love to thee: Rejoice, Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon!

Most Holy Saint and Martyr Panteleimon-the-Healer, intercede to the Most Merciful God for [Name(s)] for the healing of his (or her, their) soul(s) and body (bodies).


Ekos 1
We know thee, glorious Panteleimon, as an earthly angel and a heavenly man. For adorned with angelic purity and martyrdom thou hast passed from earth to Heaven, where with angels and all the saints standing before the throne of the Lord of Glory, thou prayest for all of us on earth who venerate thee with these invocations:

Rejoice, torch of piety!
Rejoice, most glorious lamp of the Church!
Rejoice, adornment of venerable martyrs!
Rejoice, support of the faithful in unflinching endurance!
Rejoice, outstanding boast of youth!
Rejoice, warrior of Christ of invincible courage!
Rejoice, thou who having grown up in the world wast not of the world!
Rejoice, angel in the flesh, surpassing mortals!
Rejoice, all-blessed dweller in Heaven!
Rejoice, vessel of divine knowledge!
Rejoice, thou by whom faith has been exalted!
Rejoice, thou by whom delusion has been dethroned!
Rejoice, Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon!
(taken from: http://stbarnabasonline.org/index.php/+-Akahist-to-Great-Healer-Panteleimon/Akathist-to-Great-Martyr-Healer-Panteleimon.html)

See the following link for a subsequent post with the full akathist to St. Panteleimon: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2012/02/akathist-to-st-panteleimon-great-martyr.html.
  
Icon of St. Panteleimon (Source: www.eikonografos.com)

Prayer to St Panteleimon the Great Martyr and Unmercenary (July 27 / Aug 9)
Holy Great-Martyr and Healer Panteleimon, thou imitator of God's mercy! Look down in thy loving kindness and hearken unto us, sinners, who offer heartfelt prayers before thy holy icon. Ask for us from the Lord God, before Whom the Angels stand in heaven, remission of our sins and transgressions. Heal the ills of body and soul of the servants of God whom we here commemorate, who are here present, and of all Orthodox Christians who seek thy help. For behold, we, who because of our sins are possessed by bitter ills and have no help or consolation, yet flee to thee for refuge, since thou hast been given Grace to pray for us and to heal every ill and every disease. Grant, therefore, to all of us, by thy holy prayers, health and strength of soul and body, a good growth in the Faith and in devotion, and all that is needful unto this temporal life and unto our salvation: So that, having been granted great and rich mercy through thee, we may glorify thee and Him that bestoweth all good things, our God Who is wondrous in His Saints, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
(From "Polny Sbornik Molitv", pp. 214-215: Prayer 3.St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney (Dallas area) Texas An Orthodox Christian Trebnic; (taken from: http://www.orthodox.net/trebnic/to-panteleimon.html))

St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr and Unmercenary, with scenes from his life (http://fdathanasiou.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/pant.jpg)


Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Paraskevi the Great Martyr of Rome

St. Paraskevi the Great Righteous Virgin Martyr of Rome - Commemorated on July 26 (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_iTncioBQZNk/R_OAVnG_uxI/AAAAAAAABKM/pL99kpTe_YQ/s1600-h/100_7505.jpg)
  
"Holy Virgin Martyr Paraskeva of Rome was the only daughter of Christian parents, Agathon and Politia, and from her early years she dedicated herself to God. She spent much of her time in prayer and the study of the Holy Scriptures. After the death of her parents St Paraskeva distributed all of her inheritance to the poor, and consecrated her virginity to Christ. Emulating the holy Apostles, she began to preach to the pagans about Christ, converting many to Christianity.
  
Icon of St. Paraskevi before the emperor (taken from: http://www.matia.gr/7/72/7203/7203_1_9.html)
  
She was arrested during the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-161) because she refused to worship the idols. She was brought to trial and fearlessly confessed herself a Christian. Neither enticements of honors and material possessions, nor threats of torture and death shook the firmness of the saint nor turned her from Christ. She was given over to beastly tortures. They put a red-hot helmet on her head and threw her in a cauldron filled with boiling oil and pitch. By the power of God the holy martyr remained unharmed. When the emperor peered into the cauldron, St Paraskeva threw a drop of the hot liquid in his face, and he was burned. The emperor began to ask her for help, and the holy martyr healed him. After this the emperor set her free.
  
Icon of St. Paraskevi unharmed in the boiling cauldron (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)
  
Engraving depicting the Martyrdom of St. Paraskevi, from the Monastery of the same name, Texas (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_iTncioBQZNk/R_N_hnG_usI/AAAAAAAABJk/7w3_guJZ4zo/s1600-h/100_7509.jpg)
  
Traveling from one place to another to preach the Gospel, St Paraskeva arrived in a city where the governor was named Asclepius. Here again they tried the saint and sentenced her to death. They took her to an immense serpent living in a cave, so that it would devour her. But St Paraskeva made the Sign of the Cross over the snake and it died. Asclepius and the citizens witnessed this miracle and believed in Christ. She was set free, and continued her preaching. In a city where the governor was a certain Tarasius, St Paraskeva endured fierce tortures and was beheaded in the year 140.


Many miracles took place at the saint's tomb: the blind received sight, the lame walked, and barren women gave birth to children. It is not only in the past that the saint performed her miracles, but even today she helps those who call on her in faith."
(taken from: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=102096)
  
Icon of St. Paraskevi, holding a pair of eyes, as she is a great protector and healer of the eyes (Icon courtesy of http://www.eikonografos.com/ used with permission)
   
For accounts of St. Paraskevi by St. Kosmas Aitolos and St. Nikolai Velimirović, see: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/07/saint-paraskeve-virgin-martyr-according.html.
  
St. Paraskevi's miracle-working relics are present in many places for the healing and support of the faithful. Petraki Monastery of the Bodiless Powers ("Moni Petraki": http://www.monipetraki.gr/index.html) in the center of Athens treasures part of the miraculous, myrrh-flowing skull of St. Paraskevi (along with relics of Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene). Every Friday evening after Vespers, they serve Paraklesis to St. Paraskevi, and her relics are available for veneration. Also, Koutloumousiou Monastery of Mount Athos preserves a portion of her holy skull. Dionysiou Monastery of Mount Athos and the Monastery of Prophet Elias on Thira also have relics of St. Paraskevi.


Portion of the miraculous, myrrh-streaming Holy Skull of St. Paraskevi the Great Martyr, Monastery of the Bodiless Powers ("Moni Petraki"), Athens (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-YoFchgAU7wo/TifqlWrM_TI/AAAAAAAAABU/QiPZfI5rKos/s1600/%25CE%25A0%25CE%25B1%25CF%2581%25CE%25B1%25CF%2583%25CE%25BA%25CE%25B5%25CF%2585%25CE%25AE2.jpg)
   
Finally, for those in the United States, the Shrine of St. Paraskevi in Greenlawn, New York, treasures relics of St. Paraskevi (along with those of St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr), along with a miraculous, healing spring of holy water from which many people have been healed. For more information, see: http://stparaskevi.org/shrine_stparaskevi.html.

May St. Paraskevi the Great Righteous Martyr intercede for us all and help us!
  
Icon of St. Paraskevi the Great Martyr. "Since she was born on a Friday (in Greek, Paraskevi), she was given this name, which means "preparation" or "preparedness" (compare Matt. 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, and John 19:31, where 'Friday' is called "the day of the preparation") (http://goarch.org/chapel/saints_view?contentid=496&type=saints)" The icon she holds is a representation of Christ and His passion, which occured on Friday, and which St. Paraskevi imitated in her life and martyrdom (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)
  
Apolytikion of St. Paraskevi the Great Martyr - 1st Tone
Your diligence corresponded to your name, Paraskevi, which denotes preparedness. Through faith you inherited the promised dwelling that was prepared for you, O prize-winning Martyr. Therefore you pour out cures and healings, and you intercede on behalf of our souls.
  
Kontakion - 4th Tone. You appeared today.
We have found your sacred shrine to be a clinic of the soul, O holy one, and all we faithful now accord honor to you with our voices strong, devout Martyr Paraskevi extolled by all.

  
Oikos
The voice of the Bridegroom called you as a bride, and gave you an incorruptible crown, O godly-minded and all glorious Paraskevi; and He enrolled you, as one worthy, together with the august martyrs and prizewinners. As you rejoice with them, remember us who observe your holy feast and who assemble in your church. For as we stand in it now, we soulfully offer up hymns to you, devout Martyr Paraskevi extolled by all.

Prosomoia of the Praises - 1st Tone. For the celestial orders.
Dancing in chorus in heaven and in the courts of the Lord * with those renowned wise virgins, O devout holy Martyr, * most wise Paraskevi, you were given the grace * from the Lord to cure illnesses, * and to expel the unclean spirits and to heal * those who come to you for this with faith.

You dashed the might of the godless impious kings to the ground, * and unto God, O Virgin, * you directed your footsteps. * Therefore you were not frightened by the lead * hammers pounding you, nor the fire, * nor by the scraping of your body, nor by the heat * of the cauldron, nor the death by sword.

Firstly you wore out your body with your ascetic feats, * fair Virgin, then you hardened * your resolve in the contest. * Thus, O holy glorious Martyr of Christ, * you became like a holy sword * wrought in the heavens, like gold smelted and refined * by the tortures you endured for God.
(hymns taken from: http://sgpm.goarch.org/ematins/bilingual/Jul26.pdf)
  






Excerpt from the Akathist to St. Paraskevi the Great Martyr of Rome (amateur translation from the Greek available here: 





Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
As the Lord’s grace-flowing nun, and His fervent apostle and Martyr, we praise you with triumphant hymns, and we praise your memory most tunefully, sprinkling flowers and crying: 
Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

Hymns I offer to you the beauty of virgins, O chaste Paraskevi, martyr of Christ (3). For you struggled boldly, and you enlighten and shine with the rays of wonders on those who hymn you, and we offer you hymns with fervor:
Hail, child of pious faithful,
Hail, dear throne of God.
Hail, beautiful-voiced trumpet of love,
Hail, pure servant of the Virgin.
Hail, for from above you cover the Orthodox from blows,
Hail, you who cease the tears and groans from mortals.
Hail, for you are the protection of eyes,
Hail, for you rejoiced in the monastic path.
Hail, for you deposed the boasting of the enemy,
Hail, you who were victorious through Christ’s power.
Hail, divine adornment of Rome,
Hail, speedy healer of wounds.
Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin. 

For the full akathist to St. Paraskevi in English (amateur translation), see: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2012/01/akathist-to-st-paraskevi-great-martyr.html.
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!