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2008 Calendar Featuring Antiochian Iconographers Now Available from Conciliar

image imageConciliar Media Ministries, a department of the Antiochian Archdiocese, has released their 2008 Icon Calendar, featuring the work of four contemporary Antiochian iconographers from North America: Diane Plaskon Koory, Heather Sommer, Erin Kimmett, and Fr. Paul Albert.

To learn more about these four gifted icon writers, and to order the calendar, visit Conciliar online: 2008 Icon Calendar.

AGAIN Audio Journal: Orthodox Christian Leadership in a Brave New World

audio_journal_180pConciliar Media Ministries has released the November edition of the AGAIN Audio Journal, a podcast of the best of AGAIN Magazine brought to you by the team at the newly-joined ministries of Conciliar Press and Ancient Faith Radio. Lively and thought-provoking, AGAIN: The Ancient Christian Faith Today is a quarterly magazine ideal for both Orthodox believers desiring a deeper relationship with God, and seekers and fellow traditional Christians interested in encountering the enduring wisdom of the Orthodox Church.

St. Helen of Serbia

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Commemorated on October 30 (and February 8)

St. Helen, a pious mother to her sons Stephen Milutin and Dragutin, devoted her life to good deeds after the death of her husband. She built a shelter for the poor, and The Reschesk Monastery for those who wished to live in purity and virginity.

Before her death, St. Helen received monastic tonsure and departed to the Lord on February 8, 1306.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Zenaida of Tarsus

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Commemorated on October 11

The Martyrs Zenaida and Philonilla lived in Tarsus in Cilicia during the first century, and were related to Apostle Paul. They were pious Christian women, and both of them shared a love of learning. By whatever means were available to them at that time, they acquired medical knowledge.

The two sisters left home and settled in a cave near the city of Demetriada where they lived in constant prayer and work. The citizens of Demetriada soon learned that there were two women doctors who gladly treated everyone who turned to them for help, yet did not require payment for their services. They also healed people's souls by converting them to Christ.

Late one night, pagans came to their cave and stoned them. Sts. Zenaida and Philonilla suffered martyrdom for Christ, thereby receiving incorruptible crowns of glory from the Lord.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Domnina of Anazarbus

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Commemorated on October 12

The Martyr Domnina of Anazarbus lived in the region of Cilicia, and suffered for confessing Christianity.

She was repeatedly beaten by order of Governor Licius, and was also burned with fire. Completely tormented, St. Domnina was thrown into prison, where she died in 286.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Chryse (Zlata) of Bulgaria

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Commemorated on October 13

This “golden vessel of virginity and undefiled bride of Christ” was born in the village of Slatena on the border of Bulgaria and Serbia, while Bulgaria was under the rule of the Turks.

From her youth, Zlata displayed an unusually strong character, a firm faith in Christ, and was chaste and beautiful. A Turk was obsessed with her, and seized her one day as she was gathering wood. He carried her off to his house, repeatedly trying to seduce her, and forcing her to accept Islam. Since persuasion did not work, he began to threaten her with torture.

The glorious martyr was not frightened by these threats, but said she would never deny Christ no matter what was done to her. For six months the impious Hagarenes tried to make Zlata accept Islam, but she remained steadfast. They then ordered the saint’s parents and sisters to convince her to become a Muslim. Otherwise, they would kill Zlata and torture them.

The parents and sisters of the saint wept and urged her to deny Christ “just for the sake of appearances” so that they all might be spared torture and death. St. Zlata was unmoved by their pleas, and replied, “You who incite me to deny Christ are no longer my parents and sisters. Instead, I have the Lord Jesus Christ as my father, the Theotokos as my mother, and the saints as my brothers and sisters!”

St. Chryse (Zlata) of Bulgaria

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Commemorated on October 13

This “golden vessel of virginity and undefiled bride of Christ” was born in the village of Slatena on the border of Bulgaria and Serbia, while Bulgaria was under the rule of the Turks.

From her youth, Zlata displayed an unusually strong character, a firm faith in Christ, and was chaste and beautiful. A Turk was obsessed with her, and seized her one day as she was gathering wood. He carried her off to his house, repeatedly trying to seduce her, and forcing her to accept Islam. Since persuasion did not work, he began to threaten her with torture.

The glorious martyr was not frightened by these threats, but said she would never deny Christ no matter what was done to her. For six months the impious Hagarenes tried to make Zlata accept Islam, but she remained steadfast. They then ordered the saint’s parents and sisters to convince her to become a Muslim. Otherwise, they would kill Zlata and torture them.

The parents and sisters of the saint wept and urged her to deny Christ “just for the sake of appearances” so that they all might be spared torture and death. St. Zlata was unmoved by their pleas, and replied, “You who incite me to deny Christ are no longer my parents and sisters. Instead, I have the Lord Jesus Christ as my father, the Theotokos as my mother, and the saints as my brothers and sisters!”

St. Paraskeva (Petka) of Serbia

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Commemorated on October 14

St. Paraskeva was born into a pious family during the eleventh century in the village of Epivato, between Silistra and Constantinople. Her older brother, Euthymius, became a monk and later was consecrated as Bishop of Matidia. While attending Divine Liturgy one day, the words of the Lord pierced Paraskeva’s heart like an arrow, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself.” From that time, she began to distribute her clothing to the needy which caused much grief to her family.

Upon the death of her parents, Paraskeva was tonsured into monasticism at the age of fifteen. She withdrew to the Jordanian desert where she lived the ascetic life until she was twenty-five years old. An angel of the Lord ordered her to return to her homeland, so she lived in Epivato for two years.

St. Paraskeva departed to the Lord at the age of twenty-seven and was buried near the sea. Because of the many miracles which took place at her grave, her relics were uncovered and found to be incorrupt. They were placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles at Epivato, where they remained for about 175 years.

St. Sarbelus of Edessa

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Commemorated on October 15 (also January 29)

The Holy Martyr Bebaia of Edessa was the sister of St. Sarbelus, and suffered in the second century under Emperor Trajan for confessing Christianity. St. Sarbelus was a priest of the idols at Edessa, but was converted to Christ by a certain bishop, and he and his sister were baptized. Pagans tortured the saints and then beheaded them.

They are also commemorated on January 29.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Cleopatra with her son, John

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Commemorated on October 19

St. Cleopatra and her son John came from the village of Edra near Mount Tabor in Palestine. She was a contemporary of the holy Martyr Varus and witnessed his voluntary suffering. After his execution, St. Cleopatra brought the body of the holy martyr to Palestine and buried him with reverence. Previously, Cleopatra’s son, John, had attained the honorable rank of officer. To the great sorrow of his mother, John suddenly died. With tears of grief, St. Cleopatra turned to the relics of the holy Martyr Varus, begging him for the return of her son.

Varus and John appeared to Cleopatra in a dream, radiant in bright attire with crowns upon their heads. She realized that the Lord had received her son into the heavenly Kingdom. After this vision, Cleopatra lived near the church that she had built over the relics of the holy martyr Varus and her son John and performed many good deeds. She distributed her property to the poor and spent her time in prayer and fasting. Seven years after her son’s death, she fell asleep in the Lord.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Matrona of Chios

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Commemorated on October 20 (and July 15)

Saint Matrona was born in the village of Volissos on Chios of wealthy and pious parents sometime in the fourteenth century. From her youth, she showed an interest in monasticism. She left her parents and went to live in an unpopulated area, where she founded a small monastery for women. Soon other nuns joined her in her ascetical struggles.

St. Matrona worked many miracles both during her life and after her death, and was revered throughout Chios for her virtuous life and holiness. She showed charity to the poor, and was able to heal the sick.

The service to St. Matrona was composed by Metropolitan Niketas of Rhodes. It was found in a book from 1455, which indicated that she died sometime before this date.

St. Matrona is also commemorated on July 15.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Anna at Adrianopolis

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Commemorated on October 22

Saint Anna was killed at Adrianopolis during the third century, along with the martyrs Alexander the Bishop, Heraclius the Soldier, Theodota, Elizabeth, and Glyceria for their confession of Christ. Their martyrdom occurred during the period when Christianity was spreading among the pagans. Despite the persecutions against the Christians, Bishop Alexander fearlessly converted and baptized many pagans into the Faith.

The governor of the region ordered his soldiers to use torture to force Bishop Alexander to deny Christ. The saint patiently endured terrible tortures. Struck by this, the soldier Heraclius announced that he had come to believe in Christ and received a martyr’s crown. After him, the Women Martyrs Anna, Elizabeth, Theodota and Glyceria confessed that they were Christians.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Syncletica with her two daughters

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Commemorated on October 24

The Martyr Syncletica and her two daughters suffered under the Arabian king Dunaan. St. Syncletica was a descendant of an illustrious family. Left widowed while still young, she devoted herself to the Christian upbringing of her daughters, and she herself led a virtuous and chaste life.

King Dunaan began to persecute the Christians, intended to eliminate them. He summoned St. Syncletica and her daughters before him, and in urging her to forsake her “folly,” promised to take her into the household of his wife. But Syncletica replied, “How can you not be afraid, O King, to speak evil of Him Who has given you both royal crown and life?”

Dunaan gave orders to lead St. Syncletica and her daughters through the city as though they were criminals. Looking at the disgrace of the saint, women started crying, but she told them that this “shame” for her was dearer than any earthly honor.

She was again brought before Dunaan who said, “If you wish to remain alive, you must renounce Christ.” “If I do, then who will deliver me from eternal death?,” she asked. In a rage, King Dunaan ordered that St. Syncletica’s daughters be killed first, and then for St. Syncletica to be beheaded with a sword.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Tabitha the Widow, Raised from the Dead by the Apostle Peter

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Commemorated on October 25

St. Tabitha was a virtuous and kindly woman who belonged to the Christian community in Joppa. She was known for her good deeds and almsgiving. Having become grievously ill, she suddenly died. At that time, the Apostle Peter was preaching at Lydda, not far from Joppa. Messengers were sent to him with an urgent request for help. When the Apostle arrived at Joppa, Tabitha was already dead. On bended knee, St. Peter made a fervent prayer to the Lord. Then he went to the bed and called out, “Tabitha, get up!” She arose, completely healed (Acts 9:36).

St. Tabitha is considered the patron saint of tailors and seamstresses, since she was known for sewing coats and other garments (Acts 9:39).

Troparion (Tone 1) –

With the flow of the many–streamed river of almsgiving,

You watered the dry earth of the needy.

Showering alms on the widows and the poor,

You shone with the light of your works

And were radiant with grace, O Tabitha.

Glory to Christ who loves you!

Glory to Christ who has blessed you!

Glory to Christ whom you followed as a true disciple and a spotless lamb!

Kontakion (Tone 2) –

You served the Savior in holiness

By your God-fearing deeds,

And were a model of love as his disciple.

O Tabitha, we praise your memory!

St. Neonilla with her husband and children

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Commemorated on October 28

St. Neonilla was the wife of St. Terence. They suffered martyrdom with their children Sarbelus, Photius, Theodulus, Hierax, Nita, Vele and Eunice during the persecution of Christians under Emperor Decius (249-250).

They zealously confessed Christ and denounced idolatry. For this, the pagans subjected the entire family to terrible tortures, but failed to get them to renounce the true Faith. The holy martyrs were beheaded, and received crowns of martyrdom.

Troparion (Tone 3) –

Bound together by natural bonds

And clothed with the might of faith,

You walked the path of martyrdom with your seven children.

O holy Martyrs Terrence and Neonilla,

Pray that those who honor your contest may receive forgiveness of their sins.

Kontakion (Tone 4) –

Today the memory of the martyrs

Is bringing gladness to all the faithful.

Let us fervently ask them for healing,

For they received this grace from the Spirit

To heal the infirmities and sickness of our souls.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Anastasia the Roman

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Commemorated on October 29

The Martyr Anastasia the Roman lost her parents in infancy, and was reared by the abbess of a women’s monastery named Sophia. She raised Anastasia in the fear of God and obedience.

At this same time, the persecution of Christians by Emperor Decius (249-251) was taking place. The city administrator, Probus, on the orders of the emperor, commanded that Anastasia be brought to him. Blessed by her abbess to suffer for Christ, the young martyr Anastasia humbly came out to meet the armed soldiers. Seeing her youth and beauty, Probus first attempted flattery to make her deny Christ – “Why waste your youth, deprived of pleasure? What is there to gain by enduring tortures and death for the Crucified? Worship our gods, marry a handsome husband, and live in glory and honor.” Anastasia steadfastly replied, “My spouse, my riches, my life and my happiness are my Lord Jesus Christ, and you will not turn me away from Him by your deceit!”

Probus subjected Anastasia to fierce tortures. The holy martyr bravely endured them, glorifying and praising the Lord. In anger the torturers cut out her tongue. The people, seeing the inhuman treatment of the saint, became angry, and Probus was compelled to end the tortures by beheading the martyr. Thus, St. Anastasia received the crown of martyrdom.

St. Anna of Constantinople

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Commemorated on October 29

St. Anna and her son, St. John, lived in the ninth century. She was the daughter of a deacon of the Blachernae Church in Constantinople. After the death of her husband, she dressed in men’s clothing and called herself Euthymianus. She and her son lived the aesthetic life in a monastery near Olympus. She died in Constantinople in 826.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Eutropia of Alexandria

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Commemorated on October 30

The Martyr Eutropia suffered for Christ in Alexandria in about the year 250. She regularly visited Christians who were detained in prison and encouraged them to endure suffering with patience. For this, the saint was arrested.

At her trial, St. Eutropia firmly confessed her faith in Christ. As she was being burned with candles, a man appeared beside her and soothed her sufferings. He covered her with dew so that she would not feel the heat of the flames.

Shortly thereafter, she received a martyr’s crown as a result of her tortures.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Helen of Serbia

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Commemorated on October 30 (and February 8)

St. Helen, a pious mother to her sons Stephen Milutin and Dragutin, devoted her life to good deeds after the death of her husband. She built a shelter for the poor, and The Reschesk Monastery for those who wished to live in purity and virginity.

Before her death, St. Helen received monastic tonsure and departed to the Lord on February 8, 1306.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Zenobia of Aegae, and her brother Heiromartyr Zenobius

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Commemorated on October 30

The Hieromartyr Zenobius, Bishop of Aegea, and his sister, Zenobia, suffered martyrs’ deaths in the year 285 in Cilicia. From childhood, they were raised in a Christian Faith by their parents, and they led pious and chaste lives. In adulthood, shunning the love of money, they distributed their inherited wealth to the poor. For his beneficence and holy life, the Lord rewarded Zenobius with the gift of healing various maladies. He was also chosen bishop of a Christian community in Cilicia.

As bishop, St. Zenobius zealously spread the Christian Faith among the pagans. When Emperor Diocletian (284-305) began a persecution against the Christians, Bishop Zenobius was the first one arrested and brought to trial before Governor Licius. “I shall only speak briefly with you,” said Licius to the saint, “for I propose to grant you life if you worship our gods, or death, if you do not.” Zenobius answered, “This present life without Christ is death. It is better that I prepare to endure the present torment for my Creator, and then with Him live eternally, than to renounce Him for the sake of the present life, and then be tormented eternally in Hades.”

By order of Licius, they nailed him to a cross and tortured him. St. Zenobia, his sister, saw his suffering, and bravely confessed her own faith in Christ before the governor. She was also tortured.

St. Maura of Constantinople

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Commemorated on October 31

St. Maura pursued asceticism at Constantinople, where she founded a monastery, where she died in the fifth century.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Maria, the Niece of Abramius, the Recluse of Mesopotamia

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Commemorated on October 29

St. Abramius the Hermit and Blessed Maria, his niece, lived the ascetic life in the village of Chidan, near the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia. They were contemporaries and fellow countrymen of St. Ephraim the Syrian, who afterwards wrote about their life.

St. Abramius began the solitary life in the prime of youth. He left his parents’ home and settled in the wilderness and spending his days in unceasing prayer. After the deaths of his parents, the saint refused his inheritance and requested his relatives to give it away to the poor. By his strict ascetic life, fasting, and love for mankind, Abramius attracted many seeking spiritual enlightenment, prayers and blessings.

Soon his faith was put to a serious test, as he was appointed presbyter in one of the pagan villages of Mesopotamia. For three years, the saint worked to enlighten the pagans. He had a pagan temple destroyed and built a church in its place. Humbly enduring mockery and beatings from idol-worshippers, he entreated the Lord, “Look down, O Master, upon Your servant, hear my prayer. Strengthen me and set Your servants free from diabolical snares, and grant them to know You, the one true God.” He was granted the happiness to see the culmination of his righteous efforts: the pagans eventually came to believe in Jesus Christ, and St. Abramius baptized each of them himself.

St. Anastasia of Tessalonica

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Commemorated on October 30

St. Anastasia lived in the second half of the third century during the persecutions of Emperors Decius, Gallus, Valerian, and Diocletian.

She was executed in Rome between 256-259 after enduring many tortures.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Nana, Empress of Georgia, and Equal of the Apostles

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Commemorated on October 1

In the early fourth century, King Mirian ruled Kartli. Following in the footsteps of his ancestors, he worshiped the idol Armazi, but in the depth of his heart he was drawn to the Faith that was being preached by the holy virgin Nino. She had earlier settled in the outskirts of Mtskheta, in the bramble bushes of the king’s garden. St. Nino inquired as to the whereabouts of our Lord’s Robe, but no one could remember where it had been preserved.

King Mirian’s wife, Queen Nana, was the daughter of a famous military leader of Pontus. The king had therefore received some prior knowledge of those who worshiped Christ. Queen Nana fell deeply ill, and only through the prayers of St. Nino was she spared from death. After this miraculous healing, King Mirian became intrigued by the Faith that St. Nino was preaching, and he began asking the newly enlightened Abiatar about the Holy Scriptures.

However, while hunting on Mt. Tkhoti near Mtskheta, King Mirian was gripped by an evil spirit, and he burned with a desire to destroy the Christian people of his land and – above all others – the virgin Nino. But suddenly the sun was eclipsed, and the king was surrounded by darkness. The frightened king prayed to the pagan gods to save him, but his prayers went unanswered. In utter despair, he began to pray to our Savior Jesus Christ, and the darkness scattered and the sun shone as before. Raising his hands to the east, Mirian cried out, “Truly Thou art the God preached by Nino, God of gods and King of kings!”

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