30 June 2020

Righteous Peter, Jonon of the Golden Horde

Saint Peter of the Horde

An interesting entry in Orthodox hagiography involves the righteous Jonon Peter, whose feast we celebrate today. Russia retains, as it has done for centuries and will do for awhile yet, a rather ambiguous attitude toward the Tatars and Mongols who ruled it for centuries. The Mongols indisputably visited monstrous brutalities against the Russian people, just as they did to the Iranians and to the Han Chinese. And yet, Russia, China and even Kazakhstan treat their conqueror Sh‎yńǵys Han and his descendants with a certain degree of awe and respect. The hagiography of this Mongol who converted to Orthodox Christianity bears witness to even the Church’s double attitude toward the Tatar yoke.

Peter, we are told, was a jonon [jinong 濟農], a Mongol title derived either from the Chinese Jin Wang 晉王 ‘King of Jin’ or qinwang 親王 ‘prince’, that translates into Russian as tsarevich. We do not know his birth name, only his baptismal one. He was the nephew of Berke Han [Mongol. Бэрх хаан, Tatar Бәркә Хан, Ch. Bie’erge Han 別兒歌汗] – the first truly independent ruler of the Golden Horde – and therefore the grandson of Joshy Han. Berke Han attacked Poland-Lithuania, the Volga Bulghar polity and even the Byzantine Empire during his expansions of the Horde, and by the time he became ruler the principality of Vladimir-Suzdal – the ancestral polity at the core of what would become the Russian Empire – had already submitted as a vassal state to the Horde.

During this time, Bishop Saint Kirill of Rostov was twice compelled to visit Berke Han’s camp in Sarai Batu. The first time, Saint Kirill met with Berke Han for several reasons. Firstly, he desired the khaghan to lower the tax rate on his Russian subjects; and secondly, he asked for financial aid to support the struggling Orthodox Church in Vladimir-Suzdal. To all appearances, Berke Han had asked Saint Kirill why he should care about the Russian Church. Saint Kirill then told the khaghan about the social benefits the Church conveyed upon the Russian people, including alms and medical services. He told Berke Han about the miraculous healing properties of the relics of Saint Leontii of Rostov. Berke Han was interested, but apparently somewhat sceptical; he dismissed Saint Kirill back to Rostov without giving him a definite answer. But after Kirill left, Berke Han’s young son fell ill, and none of the doctors he called could cure him. Berke Han then summoned the bishop of Rostov to him again, but before Kirill got underway, he prayed a moleben at the shrine of Saint Leontii, and took some holy water in a flask with him from the shrine. When he arrived again in Sarai Batu, he went in to Berke Han’s son and sprinkled him with the holy water. In this way the khaghan’s son was cured.

The khaghan’s nephew, the jonon, was a witness to all of this. He had heard Saint Kirill’s discourse in defence of his Church, he had listened to his description of Saint Leontii’s works and the power of his relics, and he had seen with his own eyes his cousin’s wondrous restoration to health. Berke Han was grateful enough to Saint Kirill for this miraculous healing, that he granted all of the tax monies collected from Rostov and Yaroslavl to the Assumption Cathedral of Rostov. However, the impression left on Berke Han’s nephew was a good deal more profound. He began to wonder at the healing power that Christ gave to his servant Kirill, and wonder why indeed the Mongols continued to worship the sun and the moon, the wind and the stars. This young Mongol jonon rode after Saint Kirill after he left Sarai Batu the second time, caught up to him on horseback, and knelt before him, asking if he might return with him to Rostov.

He would not baptise the jonon, but neither could he disallow the young Mongol nobleman from riding with him back to Rostov. Once there, the nephew of Berke Han at once went into the Cathedral to hear the Divine Liturgy. From the times of the knyaz Konstantin Vsevolodovich ‘the Wise’, the Divine Liturgies in Rostov had featured antiphonal choral singing in both Greek and Church Slavonic. The beauty of the singing made a further profound impression upon the young Mongol, who desired with all his heart to approach Christ in His Church. Bishop Saint Kirill, unfortunately, understood what it would mean if the kinsman of Berke Han, now a Muslim, were to convert to Orthodox Christianity at his hands. The collective reprisals for apostasy, even among the Turks and the Mongols who adopted Islâm, could be harsh. Thus, he would have to wait until the death of his uncle and the rise of his kinsman Meńgu Temir Han, to receive Holy Baptism – by which time Saint Kirill too had also reposed in the Lord. He would be given the name Peter in baptism by Saint Kirill’s successor Saint Ignatii; the Russians called him ‘Peter Ordynskii’.

The jonon Peter was fond of hunting and hawking, and one of his favourite hunting spots was on Lake Nero in Yaroslavl. One day as he was out-of-doors, Peter fell asleep on the lakeshore. As he was sleeping, he was visited by two men – much taller than ordinary men, and shining with a bright light. They awoke him, saying: ‘Peter: your prayers have been heard; and your plea has gone up before God.’ Peter was frightened by these strange men, glowing with a light which he could not tell where it came from, but they told him: ‘Fear not, Peter. We have been sent to you by God. Take from us these two bags: one has silver; the other, gold. In the morning, go into town and buy three icons: of the Most Holy Theotokos, of the Præ-Æternal Infant Christ, and of the holy Saints.

Who are you?’ asked the jonon.

Peter and Paul, Apostles of Christ,’ they answered him. And once they had told him this, they vanished.

The still-dazed Peter stared out after them where they had been, and then a voice reached his ears that he could not tell where it came from. It said: ‘Go to the bishop. When you see him, tell him this: “The Apostles Peter and Paul have sent me to you, to build a church in their honour at the place where I fell asleep.”

That very same night, the Holy and All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles appeared also to Bishop Ignatii and related to him the same thing they had related to the Mongol Peter, asking that a church be built in Rostov in their honour, with the funds that Peter was to bring him. When the bishop awoke in alarm, he at once summoned the jonon of the Horde to him. But Peter was already in the courtyard of the cathedral, and he had in his hands the three icons that the Apostles had told him to buy, and these too were shining with an otherworldly light. Bishop Saint Ignatii went to Peter, exclaiming that it was not simply a dream. ‘It is true, Vladyka,’ Peter answered him.

Peter then took the bishop, and showed him the place on the shore of Lake Nevo where he’d slept the day before. Bishop Ignatii served a moleben to the Holy Apostles, and then he and the Mongol lord went and marked off an oval area of ground on the lakeshore large enough to house a church, and this was duly consecrated to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. This church would become Petrovskii Monastery in Rostov.

Saint Peter of the Horde would go on to marry a Tatar woman who lived in Rostov with her parents, and together they had many progeny. After his wife died, Saint Peter did not remarry, but instead entered the same monastery of Saints Peter and Paul which he had founded in Rostov, and there became a brother-monk and lived out the rest of his days in meek quietude and holy striving. He reposed in the Lord on the thirtieth of June in the year 1290.

It is worthy of note that Saint Peter of the Horde is commemorated together in the Synaxis of All Saints of Rostov on the twenty-third of May – alongside Bishop Leontii whose blessing healed his sickly cousin in Sarai Batu, Bishop Kirill who preached Christ to him and Bishop Ignatii who baptised him and co-founded the Petrovskii Monastery with him. Saint Peter of the Horde is also commemorated in the Synaxis of All New Russian Wonderworkers on the sixteenth of July – alongside his fellow North Asian nobleman who forsook the world, Saint Pafnutii of Borovsk, and the man responsible for the Russian rapprochement with the Golden Horde, Saint Aleksandr Nevskii. The North Asian saints like Saint Peter have been, and remain, important witnesses to the world and the truly universal nature of the Orthodox faith, through the Russian Orthodox Church. Holy and righteous jonon Peter, noble hunter of truth who was taken captive by Truth, pray unto Christ our God that our souls may be saved!
Apolytikion to Saint Peter of the Horde, Tone 8:

Retiring from thy fatherland, O Holy Peter,
And renouncing the godless faith,
You emerged from the darkness into light
And dwelt in the glorious city of many nations, Rostov.
Having lived a chaste and honest life by Christ’s grace,
You founded a Church in the names of Apostles Peter and Paul
And adorned it like a bride with marvellous icons!
Saint and prince, by your life you astonished all the people,
And after your death the same Christ enriched you with the gift of wonders,
Remember us who honour your blessed memory, O Righteous Father Peter,
And pray Christ our God that He might save our souls!

Отечества своего, блаженне Петре, удалився,
и богомерзкую веру отнюд возненавидев,
от тьмы во свет пришел еси
и вселился еси во славный и многонародный град Ростов,
в немже житие честно пожив,
церковь во имя святых апостол Петра и Павла воздвигл еси Христовою благодатию,
и сию чудными иконами, яко невесту, украсив,
святителя же, и князя, и вся люди житием своим удивил еси,
темже и по смерти твоей Христос даром чудес обогати тя.
Поминай нас, чтущих пресветлую память твою, преподобне отче Петре,
и моли Христа Бога спастися душам нашим.

Petrovskii Monastery, Rostov, Russia

29 June 2020

Holy, Glorious and All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles Peter and Paul

Saints Peter and Paul

The twenty-ninth of June is a very important feast-day in the Orthodox Church: the feast of the two apostles of Christ who with justice can be considered the founders of the Christian faith, Saints Peter and Paul. These deeply-flawed, deeply-human men were both, in spite of their flaws, quite literally embraced by the Divine in the flesh, and were moved to bear the cosmos-upending message of the Incarnation, the Passion and the Resurrection of Christ all the way from the cradle of Christ’s life in Roman-occupied Palestine to the chilliest and most remote nether regions of the globe. These two luminaries and bearers of this personal truth to humankind embrace and yoke together in faith regions as diverse as Britain and Syria. The holy images of the Leaders of the Apostles justly occupy a central pride of place in the Synaxis icons of both Great Britain and Antioch. It is therefore with particular regard to their indelible traces upon both sites of witness that I offer this, I am sure, wholly-inadequate hagiographical treatment for today’s feast.

Saint Peter was among the four closest Apostles to Christ our Lord. He was born Šim‘ôn bar Yônâh, and made his living as a fisherman at Bethsaida in al-Jawlân alongside his brother Andrew. The two brothers had some differences, however. They were raised in what seems to have been a Hellenised or a multicultural household, as witnessed by the fact that Šim‘ôn’s given name is clearly Semitic while Andrew’s is Greek. Also, although Saint Andrew was not married, while Saint Peter, by the account of the Synoptic Gospels, was: he had married a woman of Capernaum, where he moved after his wedding. Saint Andrew was among the disciples of John the Forerunner and was drawn to Saint John’s preaching of repentance and renunciation. When Jesus Christ went to the Sea of Galilee, he performed a miracle whereby the two fishermen caught a huge number of fish, and then called to Andrew and Peter on the shore, saying: ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ (Matthew 4:19) John’s account (John 1:35-42) has it that he was introduced to Christ later by his brother Andrew.

Saint Peter’s personality shines through lucidly in all of the Gospel accounts, and the picture they paint of him is not always flattering. On the one hand, Saint Peter is among the closest of Jesus’s disciples, implicitly trusted: indeed, the very cognomen ‘Peter’, from the Greek kēphas κηφᾶς, means ‘stone’. He is consistently shown to be in Christ’s ‘inner circle’ of disciples, along with James and John the sons of Zebedee. He is mentioned first among the apostles in the lists given in the New Testament. Saint Peter was also present at important moments in the life and ministry of Christ: the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor, for instance (Mark 9:2-8); also the raising of Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:40-56); and the prayer in the garden at Gethsemane (Matt 26:36-56). He is even shown to have walked on water (briefly) at Christ’s command (Matt 14:22-31).

On the other hand, Saint Peter is shown to have some human and relatable flaws. He was exuberant, impulsive, brash and even hot-headed. Though this cannot be definitively proven, he may have been a member of the Sicarii, as possibly indicated by his wielding a knife as a weapon as he was doing on the night Jesus was arrested (John 18:10-11). Peter is quick to leap to conclusions (Matt 16), eager to take the initiative (Luke 5) and fiercely jealous and desiring of Christ’s love (John 13). But he also has a tendency to lose heart, as he did when walking across the water to Jesus, and even to abandon and deny Christ after his arrest (Matt 26:69-75).

In the wake of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ our God, Peter – true to his brash and impulsive character – ran to Christ’s empty tomb and was the first to enter it (John 20:1-9), although the Myrrhbearing Women had seen it before him. The risen Christ showed Himself in person first to Peter (1 Cor 15:5), and afterwards to the Twelve. When Christ asked Peter if he loved Him, and each time Peter said yes, Christ bade him to ‘feed my sheep’ (John 21:15-17): that is to say, to care for the physical and spiritual wellbeing of His disciples. At Holy Pentacost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, it was Saint Peter who addressed the ‘men of Judæa’ in defence of the followers of Christ (Acts 2:14).

Saint Peter was one of the foremost leaders of the early Church. He was twice arraigned by the Sanhedrin for preaching the risen Christ (Acts 5:17-31 and Acts 12:3-19), was cast into prison and both times escaped with the help of an angel of God. His eloquence was a matter of some wonderment to the religious authorities, because he was considered ‘unlearned and ignorant’ (Acts 4:13). Saint Peter had to share the limelight in the early Church community with the more popular Saint James the Brother of the Lord, who was chosen as the first Bishop of the Church in Jerusalem. Saint James was apparently a fairly ‘conservative’ figure in the early Church, who believed in the necessity of following the entirety of the Jewish law, including the purity codes. Saint Peter, on the other hand, was much readier to speak to and deliver the good news to Gentiles: Luke describes his encounter with Cornelius, which is the first described baptism of a Gentile (Acts 10:1-35).

Saint Peter travelled to many places to deliver the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection to the peoples of the world. He was the first Bishop of Antioch, a title which he held for seven years before he left it in the hands of Saint Euōdias. He spent some time in the rather licentious and fractious city of Korinthos as well. He preached together with Saint Paul in Antioch, and later joined the other great Leader of the Apostles on his voyages.

The holy Apostle Peter ended up together with the holy Apostle Paul in the capital city of Rome itself. They founded in the heart of the cruel Empire that had put our Saviour to death, a Church that would overcome that Empire in the radical spirit of that same Saviour’s love. According to Church tradition, they were both martyred in Rome in the year 67.

Peter and Paul in Antioch

Saint Paul, the other great leader of the Apostles, had a very different journey from Saint Peter. They originally despised each other, then distrusted each other, and finally ended their journey together as companions and friends, comrades and co-martyrs. Saint Paul began his life as Saul (Heb. Šā’ūl שאול, the same as the name of the first Old Testament King). He was born into the Tribe of Benjamin, and belonged to the faction of the Perušim in the Second Temple religion. Saint Luke describes him as a tent-maker (Acts 18:3), and gives his place of origin as Tarsus in Asia Minor (Acts 9:11). He was well-educated and of high status, being a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37-38).

At first he was implacably and mortally hostile to the followers of Christ. He was present at the stoning of Saint Stephen the Protomartyr, as described in Acts 7:58. Still breathing threats and slaughter against the followers of the Way, he undertook a journey to Damascus in order to confer with other leaders of the Perušim on how to arrest followers of Christ and bring them to Jerusalem. On the way to Damascus, Saint Paul beheld a ‘light from heaven’ and heard a voice calling to him: ‘Saul, Saul – why persecutest thou me?’ He fell upon his face, asked whom it was who spoke to him, and then asked what he must do: and Jesus revealed Himself to Saul, and told him to proceed into Damascus. The men who were with him heard the voice but saw nothing, but when they took Saul up from the ground they were all amazed to find him stricken blind.

Saul was healed by a certain of Christ at Antioch, Saint Ananias. Ananias was at first sceptical about healing such a bloody and avowed foe of the Church, but what God had bidden him to do, he did. In the name of Christ he fed Saul and restored sight to his eyes. After this, Saul was baptised (Acts 9:18). Later in the Book of Acts, in the thirteenth chapter, Saul is renamed as Paúlos, which comes from the Latin word for ‘little’ or ‘humble’. Though Acts does not specify that he was renamed at his baptism, this seems a likely conclusion. The renaming does come out of a long Old Testament tradition of God giving uncomplimentary second names to His chosen people – for example, from Abram [Heb. ’Avrām אברם, ‘big father’] to Abraham [Heb. ’Avrāhām אברהם, ‘father of the runt’] or from Sarai [Heb. Sāray שרי‎, ‘my princes’] to Sarah [Heb. Sārāh שרה, ‘princess’ – pejorative in the sense of being an unwed woman without children].

Saint Paul, upon converting to Christianity, took to it with force and indefatigable drive. He was much more eager than Saint Peter – and certainly much more so than Saint James the Lord’s brother – to begin spreading the word of truth and the good news of the risen Christ among the Gentiles. Paul took the radical view that Hellenes and other non-Jews were capable of receiving the life and light promised by Christ without necessarily taking on the whole of the Jewish Law – particularly circumcision. This was the cause, it seems, of a bit of friction between Saints Peter and Paul when they met at Antioch, and the issue was resolved at the Council of Jerusalem, largely in Saint Paul’s favour. Thus, from Antioch, Saints Peter and Paul embarked on a truly universal mission to spread the word of Christ to all, and to make disciples of all nations.

Saint Paul then embarked on three long journeys that took him throughout the Eastern Mediterranean basin – and he was accompanied on these travels for the most part by Holy Apostle Barnabas, and later by Saint Peter as well. The legacy of these voyages may be attested in the numerous Epistles that the Holy Apostle wrote to the churches he founded in many of the places he visited: Ephesos, Korinthos, Philippoi, Thessaloniki, Galatia, Kolossai, Jerusalem and of course Rome (which he had not yet visited when he wrote his letter to them), as well as to individual people within the Church such as Apostle Timotheos of Macedonia, Apostle Titos of Crete and Apostle Philēmōn.

It was promised to Saint Paul by God, shortly after his conversion, that he would undergo great suffering on His account. This was indeed true. Not only numerous imprisonments, acts of physical torment and at least one chronic illness are recounted in his Epistles, but also – much more importantly – a passion of compassion, a suffering in camaraderie with a suffering mankind. The writing style of his Epistles reveal an author of deep learning in Jewish law and wisdom literature, and a letter-writer versed in the structural customs of contemporary Greco-Roman correspondence among the literate élite. However, he has a tendency to get ahead of himself in his enthusiasm, and his mode of expression is therefore often elliptical. The epistles also, more importantly, reveal a man sincerely and personally invested in the lives and spiritual existential welfare of the people in each of the churches he founded: well aware of their shortcomings and yet loving them all the same.

Saint Paul eventually went to Rome together with Saint Peter, and the two of them were killed in Rome in the year 67 – again, according to Church tradition – in the wave of anti-Christian persecutions in that city ordered by Emperor Nero. Before that time they may have journeyed to many other places within the Roman Empire. Although the church there dates only back to 604 AD, there is a pious tradition that Saint Paul ventured from Roman Spain through Armorica into Britain, and preached at Ludgate Hill where Saint Paul’s Cathedral now stands. And a tenth century legend dating to the works of the mediæval Greek hagiographer Simeōn Metaphrastēs (who borrows the cachet of Eusebius and his Ecclesiastical History) intimates that Saint Peter also spent some time in Britain, and made prophecies about the Roman church from the site of the abbey subsequently named for him, in Westminster.

Now, these tales of the visits of the holy leaders of the Apostles to the shores of Britain may or may not be embellishments of the high-mediæval sort, that were spun out over existing history and known scholarship in order to lend an air of antiquity and continuity to a poor outlying church on the barbarous fringes of Roman rule. But one thing is indeed certain: the universal ecclesiastical vision of these two great saints absolutely left room enough and more for the mission and conversion of this island to the sublime and transfiguring Truth of the Christian faith. The holy leaders of the Apostles Peter and Paul are a bridge which connects the great Gate of Saint Thomas in Antioch, where the two apostles met and disputed for the first time, with Ludgate Hill in Roman London where they were said to have been shortly before their martyrdom at Nero’s hands. This being so the Apostles Peter and Paul represent the fullness of the catholicity, the sobornost’, of the Orthodox Christian faith. Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, ministers of Christ and stewards of God’s Holy Mysteries, pray unto Christ our God for the salvation of us sinners!
Apolytikion for Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Tone 4:

First-enthroned of the Apostles,
Teachers of the universe:
Entreat the Master of all
To grant peace to the world,
And to our souls great mercy!

27 June 2020

Venerable Serapion, Abbot of Kozheozersk Monastery

Saint Serapion of Kozheozersk

The twenty-seventh of June is the Orthodox feast-day of Saint Serapion, a sixteenth-century Tatar convert from Islâm, holy man and abbot who co-founded the Kozheozersk Monastery in Arkhangelsk Oblast in the very far north of Russia. The Kozheozersk Monastery was for many years a place of political exile on the Russian frontier, but it was also home to the reforming Patriarch Nikon, who served as abbot there early in his career.

Saint Serapion was born to the name Tursas. Like Saints Peter and Stephen, he was born in the Khanate of Kazan. His parents were of the Tatar nobility of that Khanate, and he himself was raised to hunt and fight. He was still a very young man in 1552, when he took part in the defence of his native city of Kazan from the Russians. Tursas was captured when Kazan fell that year. He was placed under the protection of the new governor of Kazan, a boyar named Zaharii Ivanovich Pleshcheev-Ochin, who married a Tatar woman of Astrakhan named El’yakşe and who was subsequently baptised Iuliana. Like many of his fellow Tatars under Russian rule, including Princes Utemysh-Girei (baptised Alexander) and Yadegar Mohammad (who took the baptismal name of Simeon), Tursas began to inquire into Orthodoxy. Under the patronage of ZI Pleshcheev’s Tatar wife Iuliana, who was his kinswoman and who had been Orthodox for some time, Tursas was baptised into the Orthodox Church with the name of Sergei.

The newly-illumined Sergei went to the Orthodox Church during the time when Metropolitan Saint Makarii shepherded the Russian Church, and when Saint Basil of Moscow prayed in the Dormition Cathedral. It is likely that Sergei attended the Divine Liturgy where Saint Makarii and Saint Basil were, and was inspired by their devotion to a newfound zeal for the True Faith. So sincerely, so deeply and so purely did he grow to love Christ our God, that he decided to quit the world in order to observe the highest rules of his new faith. This course of life was not unknown for converts to the Orthodox faith from Islâm: Saint Nikolai of Optina, who had once been a paşa in the Turkish government but who secretly converted to Orthodoxy during the war between Turkey and Russia, would later become a schemamonk at the Optina Pustyn’.

The Trinity Lavra of Saint Sergius, the same which had been established by Saint Sergei of Radonezh in 1337, was at that time patronised by the Tsars and boyars of Russia, and it is entirely likely that young Sergei frequented it for prayers together with his patron Zaharii Ivanovich. It is also entirely likely that Sergei was named in the faith for Saint Sergei of Radonezh. In any event, having made the acquaintance and discoursed with some of the monks in Trinity Lavra, it was here that Sergei made up his mind to become a monk, to follow that Christ whom he dearly loved, and to partake in the ascetic labours.

However, he was not too eager to become a monk in a place as well-known and as often-visited as the Trinity Lavra of Saint Sergius. No – like the Desert Fathers and the Fathers of the Northern Thebaïd, Sergei went out from Moscow and journeyed into the far north of the country, into those places which were sparsely inhabited, in search of a spiritual father who could guide him in the battle against the passions. As he was visiting the Oshevensky Monastery in Kargopol in Arkhangelsk, he began to hear of a hermit named Nifont who lived alone on an island in Lake Kozhe, which was at that time hidden among uncharted forests and trackless swamps. At length he came upon Lake Kozhe in Arkhangelsk, just three degrees south of the Arctic Circle, and met the hermit Nifont.

After spending some time with Nifont, the latter agreed to become Sergei’s spiritual father and teacher, and Sergei carried out all of Nifont’s instructions, seeking to perfect himself in holy obedience. The two of them lived together, eating nothing but roots and berries for their sustenance. At length and after ascetic trials which proved to him Sergei’s humility and obedience, Nifont agreed to tonsure Sergei, and he gave Sergei the monastic name of Serapion.

But,’ says the hagiography, ‘they did not stay long in solitude; others the same as themselves came unto them, seeking salvation and asking to be received. Love did not allow them to refuse.’ Indeed, the word of Saints Nifont and Serapion and the life they lived began to attract more young men unto them, who desired the same sort of fasting and purification that Saint Serapion had. At length, their numbers grew so many that Saint Nifont was obliged to travel to Moscow to ask the Tsar for a grant of land on which to build a monastery. The trip was taxing upon the elderly ascetic, and Saint Nifont reposed in the Lord in Moscow in 1575. His request had been granted, but he was not to see in this life the work begun.

While Nifont was in Moscow, the brethren around Saint Serapion began to feel the want of food. The way of life sufficient to two ascetics, foraging for roots and berries, was insufficient to support a large community of brothers. There were also as yet no pilgrims or other benefactors that the brethren might rely on for their daily bread. A hard season in 1575 therefore meant famine for them. Saint Serapion was compelled to visit the nearby village of Priluki and other settlements in the vicinity of Onega to beg alms for the brothers. It is true that, on account of the elderly Tatar monk’s kind and gentle ways and his speech, that the villagers in Priluki grew to love him, and they gave him grain. Yet even so there was nothing on Lake Kozhe with which to grind it into meal to make bread. Having learned of this, the villagers of Priluki gave Serapion a pair of millstones and a large sack of grain, as well as moss and brushwood with which to start an oven. In an extraordinary feat of endurance, Saint Serapion went alone, on foot, through the forests and the swamps lugging the millstones and the grain, the moss and the brushwood, all the way from Priluki back to Lake Kozhe. This would have been impossible even for a healthy man – for an ascetic, how much more unthinkable! And yet God preserved both him and his brethren, and he made it safely back to his monastery with all the gifts from Priluki in tow.

The millstones from Priluki were used to construct the first mill at Lake Kozhe. Additional gifts from the villagers included a cow and two calves, on Theophany of 1577, so that the monks could have milk and butter on feast days. It was some time after this that Saint Serapion learned of his spiritual father’s decease in Moscow, as well as of the agreement that would found Kozheozersk Monastery. It was at the late Nifont’s behest that Saint Serapion undertook a walking pilgrimage to Moscow, and he came unto the city. Tsar Fyodor I, in a letter dated 30 September 1584, granted to Saint Serapion a gift of land in a radius of four versts (about 4.4 km) in every direction from the lake, as well as the remainder of the nearby Lopsky Peninsula. At the time, all of that land was forest and swamp. Upon his return to Kozhe, Saint Serapion along with his monastic brothers began the long work of clearing the forests and using the lumber to construct an oratory and a refectory and an enclosure for themselves. The first temple they built, in 1589, was dedicated to the Lord’s Theophany. Two years later they built a warm (winter) church dedicated to Saint Nicholas. They also cleared ground to till and sow grain.

By this time the monastery had grown in importance and pilgrims often made contributions to its upkeep. A monastic wayhouse was opened in the town of Turchasov, and the monastery also built a saltworks for their own needs. Even so, the means were not sufficient, and moreover the monastery had to pay duties to the Tsar, as well as perform military tasks. The monastery had to provide logistical and probably financial support to the campaign against the Swedes in 1592, for example. There is another letter addressed to Tsar Fyodor from Saint Serapion, dated to 1595, in which the holy abbot asks that his monastery be released from the obligations of supporting exiled people and prisoners, because they did not have enough food to feed them all. However, this letter went unanswered, and Tsar Fyodor’s successor Boris Godunov sent several political prisoners and exiles to Kozheozersk Monastery during the Time of Troubles.

Saint Serapion, who had spent much of his own early life in captivity, took pity upon the prisoners and exiles who came under his care, looked after them, saw to their needs, listened to their stories and counselled them with wisdom. One of these was Prince Ioann Sitskii, who was deeply touched by Saint Serapion’s advice to him, and himself became a monk much beloved by the brethren of Kozheozersk.

Saint Serapion, together with his disciple Abraham, travelled to Moscow to visit the tsar Boris Godunov. They received from him a grant of land in four villages surrounding Onega. Also, Saint Iov the Patriarch of Moscow ordained the monk Abraham as a priest, and also gifted Kozheozersk Monastery with an altar-cloth (antimension) on which the Divine Liturgy could be served. Saint Iov also gave Saint Serapion the title of Builder in his monastery, although the meek and humble Serapion would, though already doing the work, give the honours to his successor-abbots. Under Serapion’s wise stewardship, the monastery lands expanded, and he bought using two hundred rubles certain lands in the villages of Kernesha, Kleshchevo, Kandopelse and Piyala near Onega, and also some land on the White Sea for use in the saltworks. The brethren cultivated rye and turnips, and also built a fishery – the last of which became the main source of the monastery’s income. In this way the monastic community of Kozheozersk became self-sustaining.

Saint Serapion was much beloved among the monks as well as among the exilic community that arose at Kozheozersk, but he was not without his detractors. Several of the monks, jealous of Saint Serapion’s successes and desirous of glory for themselves, ended up driving their elder out of the monastery for a time and causing him to seek refuge in Moscow; but where they threw curses, he blessed them in return. He came back to the monastery in 1605, and handed the abbatial rule over Kozheozersk to his disciple Fr Abraham in 1608. He lived out the rest of his life at Kozheozersk as a simple porter, and he reposed in the Lord on the twenty-seventh of June, 1611. He had pursued the monastic life for forty-six years, and at the end of his life there were forty brethren living at the monastery. There were several saints following Serapion who were associated with the Kozheozersk Monastery: Fr Abraham who was his disciple later became the schemamonk Saint Antony of Kozheozersk; Saint Longin of Kozheozersk; Saint Leonid of Ustnedumsk; Saint Kornilius of Kozheozersk; Saints Herman and Bogolep of Kozheozersk and Saint Nikodemos of Khuziug. Holy father Serapion, gentle hermit and anchorite of the northern wilderness, pray unto Christ our God for the salvation of our souls!
Apolytikion for Saint Serapion, Tone 5:

The way to salvation in Christ was indicated by you,
Who rejected the Hagarene ungodliness of his birth,
With all your heart you loved Christ God!
Putting aside all your noble honours,
You sought the struggles of the secluded life.
With the desert-dwelling Nifont you served the Lord
And with prayer and labour in the wastelands praised the Holy Trinity.
Through your diligence you put forth good roots
And rich harvests brought unto the Lord.
To Him, O Father Serapion,
Pray without cease on behalf of us all.

25 June 2020

Holy Virgin-Martyr Febrōnia of Nisibis

Saint Febrōnia of Nisibis
القديسة فيفرونيا النصيبيني

The twenty-fifth of June in the Holy Orthodox Church is the feast-day of Saint Febrōnia, an early fourth-century virgin-martyr and great-martyr of Sēvapte in Assyria who suffered during the reign of Diocletian, and who is associated with Nisibis (that is, modern-day Nusaybin on the Turkish-Syrian border). She is one of the most revered and cherished Antiochian virgin-martyrs and is commemorated even in Rome.

Saint Febrōnia [Gk. Φεβρωυíα, L. Febronia, Ar. Fîfrûniyyah فيفرونيا] was born in 284. She was raised in an Assyrian monastery led by the Abbess Bryenē, who was also her aunt. Because Mother Bryenē was concerned for her niece’s salvation, she subjected Febrōnia to a stricter rule of life than she did the other nuns. According to the rule of the monastery, the nuns were not to do any work on Fridays, and instead listen to the Holy Scriptures on that day. The abbess often appointed the young Febrōnia to do the readings on Fridays. The word of Febrōnia’s piety quickly spread through the city, and she began to receive visits from people who sought her prayers. One of these was a wealthy pagan widow of Sēvapte whose name was Ieria. Through the guidance and prayers of the young Febrōnia, Ieria began to believe in Christ and sought holy baptism. In this way Ieria brought her whole family, including her parents, into the Church.

The pagan emperor Diocletian sent a detachment of soldiers into Assyria in order to destroy the Christian faith there. The leaders of this detachment were Lysimachos, Selēnos and Primos. Selēnos was known in particular for his ferocious attitude toward the Christian people; however, his nephew Lysimachos was of a rather different mind, and his mother had inculcated in him a sympathy for the Christian faith – she having accepted the Faith before her own repose. Lysimachos had discussed with his kinsman Primos how best to save the Christians from the hands of the torturer.

As the detachment of soldiers approached the monastery, the nuns hid – all of them except three. These three were the Abbess Bryenē, her helper Thōmaïs… and Saint Febrōnia, who at that time was taken with an illness and could not hide herself. The two elderly nuns were afraid that the soldiers, when they saw Febrōnia, would defile her, and they prayed fervently to the Lord that He might preserve her and strengthen her in faith to face whatever might come. Selēnos handed down orders to search the cloister and bring all the nuns before him. Primos led his detachment of soldiers and dutifully searched, and found only the three nuns who had stayed. He regretted that they had not hidden themselves, and offered them a chance to escape while his men were busy elsewhere; however, the nuns all answered him that they would not quit the place of their labours and that they would trust in the Lord.

Primos sought out Lysimachos with a plan to preserve Febrōnia, at least. He told Lysimachos of Febrōnia’s great beauty, and suggested to him that he could preserve her from the torturer if he would marry her. Lysimachos, however, answered that he would not seduce a virgin who had been consecrated to God, and he asked Primos to take the other nuns into hiding to escape the notice of Selēnos. But one of the soldiers overheard this conversation and reported it to their uncle. The soldiers found Bryenē first and drew their swords, but Febrōnia put her body between them and her aunt. The soldiers then shackled her hands, placed a heavy iron collar on her neck and led her before Selēnos before a great multitude of townsfolk. The pagan general offered Febrōnia rich rewards and high status if she would recant her faith in Christ and marry Lysimachos. But Febrōnia answered him roundly that she would not exchange the Æternal Bridegroom for any such worldly honour. And so Selēnos delivered her over to the executioners to be tortured. The saint of God cried out then: ‘My Saviour, do not abandon me in this terrible hour!

Saint Febrōnia was stripped naked and mocked by the soldiers, and then beaten repeatedly until the blood flowed from her wounds and around her wrists where she was still shackled. They then built a fire underneath her, burning her flesh. The townsfolk of Sēvapte were moved to pity the innocent girl, and seeing the cruelty of her tortures they began to shout out for Selēnos to have mercy and release her. However, the tyrannical commander’s heart was hardened against them, and he told the soldiers to lash her to a post, beat and scourge Febrōnia until the flesh was shorn from her bones, and to continue the burnings to her limbs. Saint Febrōnia grew faint from these tortures and fell silent. Selēnos ordered her tongue to be cut out, but when the executioner was unable to do this, he ordered that her mouth be battered and her teeth broken, and at last to sever her hands and feet. The executioner was clumsy in this and it took him three attempts with the axe to cut off one of her feet. At that, the people in the crowd began to openly curse Diocletian and his gods, and they left the amphitheatre in disgust.

Among the crowd were Ieria, who was Febrōnia’s student and had been baptised, and also the nun Thōmaïs, who would later commit the sufferings of the martyr to writing in detail. Ieria stood forth from the crowd and scolded Selēnos for his inhumanity. Selēnos gave orders for the soldiery to arrest Ieria, but upon learning that she was a woman of wealth and political standing in Sēvapte and whom he could not easily torture without endangering his own position, instead he told her: ‘Then you, by your speech, have brought on Febrōnia even greater torment.’ And he gave the signal for the executioner to behead Febrōnia. Thus the martyr gained her laurels and went at once to the Lord for whom she had endured to the end.

Lysimachos, having seen his uncle’s brutality, left the place of execution and went into his quarters and wept. Selēnos left the place of execution to eat food, but found himself unable to swallow. Upon looking up he fell into a fit of derangement, and in his fit he bashed his head against a marble column and died. Hearing this, Lysimachos said: ‘Great is the God of the Christians, who has avenged Febrōnia’s blood, so unrighteously shed!’ He then prepared a coffin for the martyr, laid her remains in it as decently as he could, and bore it back to the monastery.

Upon seeing her niece’s remains, Abbess Bryenē fainted. But when she had regained her strength she ordered that the monastery gates be opened that all might come inside and venerate the holy martyr of God, who had given her such endurance in her sufferings for Christ’s sake. Lysimachos and Primos both renounced their uncle’s paganism, accepted baptism and took monastic vows. Ieria came into the monastery, placed all her worldly goods at the nuns’ disposal, and asked Bryenē to take Febrōnia’s place among the nuns there. Soon after her death, Mâr Ya‘qûb an-Nusaybîni built a church in Nisibis, and translated a portion of her relics within. This was apparently at the same time he was serving there as a malfâna and opening a public school for the children of Nisibis; the hagiographic tale and example of Saint Febrōnia was no doubt of great edification to his students. At the monastery itself, her feast-day was kept as a solemn occasion, and Febrōnia herself appeared to the nuns each year at the all-night vigil in her honour. Many wonders were wrought by her relics among those who sought her out in faith. In the year 363, these relics were translated to Constantinople. Holy and great virgin-martyr Febrōnia, who endured great sufferings and torment from the lawless legal authorities of pagan Rome, intercede for us today with Christ your Bridegroom that our souls may be saved!
Apolytikion of Holy Martyr Febrōnia, Tone 3:

Like a fragrant rose in the ascetic life,
You breathed forth the myrrh of Christ.
Therefore He has glorified you as a righteous martyr, O Febrōnia.
Now intercede with Him for those who cry:
‘Rejoice, O noble and blessed martyr!’

24 June 2020

Holy New Greatmartyr Ioan of Suceava

Saint Ioan of Suceava

The twenty-fourth of June is the feast day of another of the great (relatively) recent Orthodox witnesses among the Muslims, Saint Ioan the New of Suceava. The fate of this Black Sea martyr was tied up, intriguingly, with both Venetian greed and Islâmic pride during an age after the Crusades had wound down and the Black Death was nearly on Europe’s doorstep. He is primarily venerated in Romania and Moldova.

Saint Ioan [Gk. Ἰωάννης, Eng. John] was born around the year 1300 in the city of Trebizond in the Pontus, on the northern coast of Anatolia; however, his hagiography also states that his ancestral hometown (‘родного города’) was Belgorod-on-the-Dneister, also called by its Gagauz name of Akerman and its Romanian name of Cetatea Albă, which was at that time a part of the Principality of Moldavia. It seems reasonable, then, to assume that his parentage was what we would now call Romanian. Trebizond was, naturally, a shipping city, and Ioan’s father made his living trading on the sea. He taught his son in his mercantile profession, in which Ioan soon joined him. Ioan was, however, firm in his Orthodox faith and merciful to the poor.

At one time, when he was on business, he had to sail on a ship bound from Cetatea Albă, which was at that time under the control of the Muslim Tatars. During his voyage, Saint Ioan became involved in discussions with the captain, a Venetian merchant named Reiz, and these discussions sometimes ranged into matters of faith. Saint Ioan’s religious learning was profound and motivated by deep love, and he often came off the better in these discussions with Reiz. As a result, the Venetian’s heart grew poisoned by jealousy, and he harboured a grudge against Ioan, deciding at last to take his revenge on him.

Upon landing in Cetatea Albă on the return voyage, the Venetian announced to the Tatar burgomaster of the city that Ioan intended to renounce the Orthodox faith. The burgomaster, who was excited by this news, invited Ioan to a lavish feast, at which the burgomaster and his attendants began to blaspheme and encourage Ioan to do the same. But, as our Saviour said in the Gospel of Saint Mark: But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. And so, Saint Ioan, remembering this verse, prayed in the depths of his heart, calling upon the Lord’s name for help. And thus he found the divinely-given courage and understanding to reject the claims of the wicked men, and firmly confess himself to be a Christian.

Outraged, the burgomaster ordered Ioan to be beaten. His tormentors took rods and beat him so severely that the flesh was torn from his bones all over his body, and even his bones were shattered. The holy martyr of God did not cry out or curse, but instead thanked God for finding him worthy to shed blood for Him and to wash away his sins. The Tatars then bound Saint Ioan in heavy iron chains and dragged him off to prison, where the burgomaster called him the next day. Saint Ioan, despite his wounds, had a bright and cheerful expression upon his face. Again he was told to renounce faith in Christ, and again Saint Ioan fearlessly refused, and denounced the burgomaster as an instrument of the Evil One. Saint Ioan was again beaten with rods and sharp canes, such that his wounds were opened afresh and even his internal organs could be seen.

The people who were assembled there could not bear to see this torture visited upon the martyr, and they began to raise their voices indignantly against the burgomaster’s inhumanity in so viciously tormenting a defenceless prisoner. But the burgomaster’s heart was hardened. He ordered the beatings to cease, but then he had the martyr lashed by his ankles to the tail of a wild horse, who was then set loose to drag him through the streets of Cetatea Albă. The horse dragged him through the Jewish quarter, where the residents mocked him and jeered at him and threw stones at him. Finally one of the people there grabbed a knife, overtook the horse when it had paused, and severed the head of the saint.

The body and the head of the greatmartyr lay in the street for the rest of the day, and none of the city’s Christians dared to come and claim his remains. But when night fell, a pillar of light shone brightly over his body, and a great multitude of burning lamps were seen to hang over him. Three men robed in light were seen singing the Psalter and burning a censer over the saint’s body. One of the Jews, believing that the Christians had come to claim their own, took a bow and aimed an arrow at the three men, but he was rendered motionless by the unseen power of the Almighty.

With the coming of dawn, the apparition of the three men disappeared, but the shooter continued to stand affixed where he was. The people came and questioned him about what had happened; and he told them about the vision he had seen and God’s punishment upon him, and so he was freed from his invisible bonds. Only after this did the burgomaster give his permission to the Christians to bury the greatmartyr’s remains, which was at a local church. This happened around the year 1330.

As for the captain Reiz, he repented of his sins and went to the martyr’s tomb to ask his forgiveness and to take his body back with him to Venice where he might be venerated by fellow-Christians. However, Saint Ioan appeared to the priest of the church where he was buried, and thus the plan to remove him was prevented – but he was translated into the altar, from which the relics worked many great life-saving wonders. Seventy years later, Metropolitan Joseph of Moldavia, learning of the wonderworking relics of the saint, asked of the Prince Alexandru ‘cel Bun’ Mușat that they be transferred to Suceava, which was at that time the capital of the Principality of Moldavia. Alexandru sent an embassy of noblemen, clergy and soldiers to Cetatea Albă to claim the relics and take them back to Suceava. As the relics approached the city in their procession, the overjoyed populace of the city all turned out to greet the holy martyr, who was laid with great honour in the Mirăuți Basilica of Saint George. This happened on the second of June of 1402, which is also kept as a commemoration of the great saint. The wondrous healings continued at the saint’s tomb, and he has since been considered the patron saint of the Moldovan people.

In 1589, the relics of Saint Ioan were transferred to the new Metropolitan Cathedral on the orders of Bogdan ‘cel Orb’, the son of Saint Ştefan. The people prayed to Saint Ioan during an invasion of Moldavia by the Tatars following the Magnate Disputes in 1622, when the city of Suceava was under threat. The Metropolitan Anastasius of Crimea held an all-night vigil and urged the faithful to pray for God’s mercy upon their city. He led the relics in procession around the Church three times, and were on their way to hide them in the castle, but the oxen leading the cart with the saint’s relics refused to budge. However, when morning came, a torrential downpour began, flooding the Suceava River and rendering it impassible to the invading Tatars, who retreated in confusion. The saint’s intercessions spared the city.

In 1686, the Polish Army under John III Sobieski, during one of its expeditions against the Ottomans, invaded Moldavia in an attempt to gain a Black Sea port. They plundered Suceava in the process, robbing the churches of many of their holy objects including the relics of Saint Ioan and Metropolitan Saint Dosoftei of Suceava. These were brought back to Sobieski’s capital at Zhovkva, where they stayed for ninety-seven years. There they continued to work wonders, both for the Orthodox and for the Catholics who prayed for the saint’s intercession.

They were restored, with great joy among the saint’s native people, to Moldavia on the thirteenth of September, 1783, thanks to the tireless labours of Bishop Dosoftei of Rădăuți. Upon their return, the relics were taken all over Moldavia for nearly three months, during which time many people came out to greet their saint in a spirit of love. At last the relics were translated again to Suceava and interred at the Metropolitan Cathedral. Among the many and inexhaustible miracles ascribed to Saint Ioan, one in particular stands out: in 1898 a certain noblewoman stole a particle from the saint’s finger to carry back with her; however, her carriage would not budge until she had repented her theft and returned the relic to its rightful place. The holy saint continues to work wonders for the people of Moldova, showing particular favour to the blind, to the deaf and to the paralysed. There were accounts of wondrous healings attributed to him as late as the 1960s, related to us in the Paterikon of Archimandrite Joannicius (Belan). The feast-day of Saint Ioan is kept on the second of June among the Greeks, and on the twenty-fourth of June among the Romanians and Moldovans. Holy new martyr Ioan, fearless confessor of the true faith, pray unto Christ our God for us that our souls may be saved!
Apolytikion of Saint Ioan of Suceava, Tone 4:

Your life on earth was well-governed, O sufferer,
With almsgiving and with tears and prayers unceasing,
And again embarking upon travails worthy of man,
You rebuked the unbelief of the Tatars.
In this way you give strength to Christ’s Church
And all Christians praise you,
O Ioan, the everlastingly-remembered!

Mirăuți Basilica of Saint George, Suceava, Romania

21 June 2020

A calendar of the Pre-Schismatic Saints of Britain

Our Lady of Walsingham ☩ (15 Oct)

Apostle Peter (29 Jun)
Apostle Paul (29 Jun)

Holy and All-Laudable First-Called Apostle Andrew (30 Nov)
Holy Hierarch Dewi of Mynyw, Bishop of Wales (1 Mar)
Holy Hierarch Padrig of Armagh, Enlightener of Ireland (17 Mar)
Greatmartyr, Victory-Bearer and Wonderworker George of Lydda (23 Apr)

Holy Apostle Aristobulus of the Seventy, Bishop of Britain (16 Mar)
Alban, Protomartyr of Britain (22 Jun)
Holy Priestmartyr Amphibalus of Verulamium (25 Jun)
Martyrs Aaron and Julius of Caerleon (1 Jul)
Righteous Joseph of Arimathæa (31 Jul)

Dryhthelm of Melrose (1 Sep)
Heiu of Tadcaster (2 Sep)
Ealhmund of Hexham (7 Sep)
Wulfþrýð of Wilton (9 Sep)
Wulfhild of Barking (9 Sep)
Ciarán ‘the Younger’ of Clonmacnoise (9 Sep)
Deiniol of Bangor (11 Sep)
Ailbe of Emly (12 Sep)
Éanswíþ of Folkestone (12 Sep)
Éadgýð of Wilton (16 Sep)
Theodore of Tarsos (19 Sep)
Adamnán of Iona (23 Sep)
Ceolfrið of Jarrow (25 Sep)
Barrwg of Ynys Barri (27 Sep)
Leoba of Schornsheim (28 Sep)
Tetta of Wimbourne (28 Sep)
Sadwrn ‘the Knight’ of Llansadwrn (29 Sep)
Honorius of Canterbury (30 Sep)
Máel Dub of Malmesbury (2 Oct)
Fragan of Armorica (3 Oct)
Ósg‎ýð of Chich (7 Oct)
Cynog of Powys (7 Oct)
Tanwg of Harlech (10 Oct)
Iestyn of Anglesey (10 Oct)
Paulinus of York (10 Oct)
James the Deacon (11 Oct)
Æþelburg of Barking (11 Oct)
Éadwine of Northumbria (12 Oct)
Wilfrið of Ripon (12 Oct)
Harold of England (14 Oct)
Nóðhelm of Canterbury (17 Oct)
Gwen of Talgarth (18 Oct)
Friðuswíþ of Oxford (19 Oct)
Acca of Hexham (20 Oct)
Mellon of Rouen (22 Oct)
Maelor of Sark (24 Oct)
Gwynnog of Llanwonno (26 Oct)
Eata of Hexham (26 Oct)
Ælfrǽd ‘the Great’ of Wessex (26 Oct)
Éadsige of Canterbury (28 Oct)
Sigeberht of East Anglia (29 Oct)
Æþelnóð of Canterbury (30 Oct)
Cadfan of Bardsey (1 Nov)
Erc of Slane (2 Nov)
Gwyddfarch of Meifod (3 Nov)
Gwenffrewi of Gwytherin (3 Nov)
Byrnstán of Winchester (4 Nov)
Kea of Devon and Cornwall (5 Nov)
Fili of Cornwall (5 Nov)
Illtud ‘the Knight’ of Llanilltud Fawr (6 Nov)
Cyngar of Congresbury (7 Nov)
Gwyddnog of Padstow (7 Nov)
Cybi ‘the Tawny’ of Caer Gybi (8 Nov)
Tysilio of Brittany (8 Nov)
Pabo the ‘Pillar of Britain’ (9 Nov)
Justus of Canterbury (10 Nov)
Elaeth of Anglesey (11 Nov)
Lebuin of Deventer (12 Nov)
Dyfrig of Wales (14 Nov)
Malo of Aleth (15 Nov)
Hild of Whitby (17 Nov)
Juðwara of Dorset (18 Nov)
Maodez of Brittany (18 Nov)
Æbbe of Minster (19 Nov)
Bernward of Hildesheim (20 Nov)
Éadmund of East Anglia (20 Nov)
Columbán of Luxeuil (21 Nov)
Éanflæd of Whitby (24 Nov)
Cyngar of Congresbury (27 Nov)
Ælfríc of Abingdon (28 Nov)
Tudwal of Tréguier (30 Nov)
Berin of Dorchester (3 Dec)
Stinan of Ramsey Island (5 Dec)
Beuzeg of Dol (8 Dec)
Éadburg of Thanet (12 Dec)
Fionnán of Clonard (12 Dec)
Corentin of Quimper (12 Dec)
Hygebald of Hibaldstow (14 Dec)
Drostan of Deer (15 Dec)
Judicaël of Brittany (17 Dec)
Sturm of Fulda (17 Dec)
Wynnebald of Heidenheim (18 Dec)
Hildalíþ of Barking (22 Dec)
Ecgwine of Worcester (30 Dec)
Mael Rhys of Bardsey (1 Jan)
Tyfrydog of Anglesey (1 Jan)
Peter of Canterbury (6 Jan)
Cedd of Lastingham (7 Jan)
Cwyllog of Anglesey (7 Jan)
Hadrian of Canterbury (9 Jan)
Beorhtwald of Canterbury (9 Jan)
Sǽþrýð of Faremoutiers (10 Jan)
Benedict Biscop of Wearmouth (12 Jan)
Eilian of Cornwall (13 Jan)
Cyndeyrn ‘Mungo’ of Glasgow (14 Jan)
Íte of Killeedy (15 Jan)
Ceolwulf of Lindisfarne (15 Jan)
Fursa of Burgh (16 Jan)
Mildgýð of Minster (17 Jan)
Theodosius ‘the Great’ of Rome (17 Jan)
Ninnidh ‘the One-Eyed’ of Inishmacsaint (18 Jan)
Cadog ‘the Wise’ of Llancarfan (24 Jan)
Dwynwen of Llanddwyn (25 Jan)
Torhtgýð of Barking (26 Jan)
Gildas ‘the Historian’ of Rhuys (29 Jan)
Bealdhild of Ascania (30 Jan)
Brigid of Kildare (1 Feb)
Seiriol ‘the Fair’ of Penmon (1 Feb)
Euny of Lelant (2 Feb)
Ia of St Ives (3 Feb)
Laurence of Canterbury (3 Feb)
Wærburg of Ely (3 Feb)
Ansgar of Bremen (3 Feb)
Rimbert of Bremen (4 Feb)
Eborius of York (6 Feb)
Restitutus of London (6 Feb)
Adelphius the Bishop (6 Feb)
Richard of Wessex (7 Feb)
Iago of Saint-Jacut (8 Feb)
Ælfflæd of Whitby (8 Feb)
Teilo of Llandeilo Fawr and Llandaff (9 Feb)
Cædmon of Whitby (11 Feb)
Æþelwold of Lindisfarne (12 Feb)
Eormenhild of Ely (13 Feb)
Æþelgár of Canterbury (13 Feb)
Sigefrið of Växjö (15 Feb)
Finan of Lindisfarne (17 Feb)
Colmán of Lindisfarne (18 Feb)
Mildburg of Much Wenlock (23 Feb)
Boisil of Melrose (23 Feb)
Æþelberht of Kent (24 Feb)
Wealdburg of Heidenheim (25 Feb)
Ósweald of Worcester (28 Feb)
Swiðberht of Kaiserswerth (1 Mar)
Ceadda of Lichfield (2 Mar)
Non of Dirinon (2 Mar)
Gwenolau of Landévennec (3 Mar)
Piran of Perranzabuloe (5 Mar)
Billfrið of Lindisfarne (6 Mar)
Balthere of Lindisfarne (6 Mar)
Cyneburg of Peterborough (6 Mar)
Cyneswíþ of Peterborough (6 Mar)
Tibba of Peterborough (6 Mar)
Eosterwine of Wearmouth (7 Mar)
Felix of Dunwich (8 Mar)
Bosa of York (9 Mar)
Custennin of Cornwall (9 Mar)
Óswine of Deira (11 Mar)
Custennin of Strathclyde (11 Mar)
Óengus ‘the Culdee’ of Tallaght (11 Mar)
Gregory ‘the Dialogist’, Pope of Rome (12 Mar)
Peulin ‘the Old’ of Léon (12 Mar)
Ælfhéah ‘the Bald’ of Winchester (12 Mar)
Benedict of Nursia (14 Mar)
Éadweard of England (18 Mar)
Cuðberht of Lindisfarne (20 Mar)
Hereberht of Derwentwater (20 Mar)
Liudgar of Billerbeck (26 Mar)
Hǽlcelde of Middleham (28 Mar)
Gwynllyw of Newport (29 Mar)
Gwladys of Newport (29 Mar)
Æþelburg of Lyminge (5 Apr)
Brychan Brycheiniog (6 Apr)
Ælfstán of Abingdon (6 Apr)
Brynach of Nevern (7 Apr)
Madryn of Boscastle (9 Apr)
Beocca of Chertsey (10 Apr)
Eðor of Chertsey (10 Apr)
Gúðlác of Crowland (11 Apr)
Padern of Vannes (15 Apr)
Donnán of Eigg (17 Apr)
Ælfhéah of Canterbury (19 Apr)
Cædwalla of Wessex (20 Apr)
Beuno of Clynnog (21 Apr)
Máel Ruba of Applecross (21 Apr)
Mellitus of Canterbury (24 Apr)
Endelyn of Trentinney (29 Apr)
Eorcenwald of London (30 Apr)
Berhte of Kent (1 May)
Asaph of Llanelwy (1 May)
Brieg of Saint-Brieuc (1 May)
Æþelræd of Bardney (4 May)
Ósþrýð of Bardney (4 May)
Éadberht of Lindisfarne (6 May)
John of Beverley (7 May)
Comgall of Bangor (10 May)
Æþelheard of Canterbury (12 May)
Damhnait of Geel (15 May)
Breandán ‘the Navigator’ of Clonfert (16 May)
Dúnstán of Canterbury (19 May)
Helena of Constantinople (21 May)
Elen ‘of the Hosts’ of Caernarfon (22 May)
Aldhelm of Sherborne (25 May)
Augustine of Canterbury (26 May)
Bede of Jarrow (27 May)
Melangell of Llangynog (27 May)
Walstan of Bawburgh (30 May)
Lul of Hersfeld (1 Jun)
Oda of Canterbury (2 Jun)
Cóemgen of Glendalough (3 Jun)
Éadfrið of Lindisfarne (4 Jun)
Pedrog of Padstow (4 Jun)
Boniface of Crediton (5 Jun)
Branwaladr of Milton Abbas (6 Jun)
Willibald of Eichstätt (7 Jun)
Willibrord of Frisia (7 Jun)
Colum Cille of Iona (9 Jun)
Iþamar of Rochester (10 Jun)
Eskil of Tuna (11 Jun)
Ternan of Culross (12 Jun)
Eleri of Gwytherin (13 Jun)
Éadburg of Winchester (15 Jun)
Botwulf of Icanho (17 Jun)
Nectan of Hartland (17 Jun)
Hildegrim of Châlons (19 Jun)
Mewan of Brittany (21 Jun)
Æþelþrýð of Ely (23 Jun)
Twrog of Maentwrog (26 Jun)
Austell of Brittany (28 Jun)
Euddogwy of Llandaff (2 Jul)
Cenydd of Gower (5 Jul)
Seaxburg of Ely (6 Jul)
Erfyl of Llanerfyl (6 Jul)
Modwen of Burton (6 Jul)
Palladius of Ireland and Scotland (6 Jul)
Hædde of Winchester (7 Jul)
Æþelburg of Faremoutiers (7 Jul)
Éadgár of England (8 Jul)
Sunngifu of Selja (8 Jul)
Iwerydd of Chittlehampton (8 Jul)
Mwynen of Morwenstow (8 Jul)
Wihtburg of Dereham (8 Jul)
Eoforhild of Everingham (9 Jul)
Mildþrýð of Thanet (13 Jul)
Willehad of Bremen (13 Jul)
Deusdedit of Canterbury (14 Jul)
Swíþhún of Winchester (15 Jul)
Helier of Jersey (16 Jul)
Cynehelm of Winchcombe (17 Jul)
Gwen ‘the Three-Breasted’ of Dorset (18 Jul)
Frideric of Utrecht (18 Jul)
Teneu of Glasgow (18 Jul)
Samson of Dol (28 Jul)
Óláfr of Norway (29 Jul)
Germain of Auxerre (31 Jul)
Neot of Cornwall (31 Jul)
Sidwell of Exeter (1 Aug)
Óswald of Northumbria (5 Aug)
Beorhthelm of Ilam (10 Aug)
Athracht of Lough Gara (11 Aug)
Jænberht of Canterbury (12 Aug)
Wihtberht of Fritzlar (13 Aug)
Tydfil of Penydarren (23 Aug)
Æbbe ‘the Elder’ of Coldingham (25 Aug)
Gregory of Utrecht (25 Aug)
Bregowine of Canterbury (26 Aug)
Ninian of Whithorn (26 Aug)
Degymen of Watchet (27 Aug)
Aidan of Lindisfarne (31 Aug)