Veneration of the Precious Chains of the Apostle Peter
Today we commemorate the chains with Which Peter was shackled by the lawless Herod and which, when an angel appeared to him in prison, fell from him (Acts 12:7). The faithful kept these chains, both in memory of the great Apostle and also because of their healing power, for many of the sick were healed by touching them (as with the towel of the Apostle Paul: Acts 19:12). The Patriarch of Jerusalem, St Juvenal, made a gift of these chains to the Empress Eudocia, the exiled wife of the Emperor Theodosius the Younger. She divided them in half, sending one half to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople and the other to her daughter, the Empress Eudoxia, wife of Valentian of Rome. This Eudoxia built the Church of St Peter and placed these chains in it, together with those in which Peter was shackled before his death under the Emperor Nero.
The Holy Martyrs Speusippus, Eleusippus, Meleusippus and their grandmother Leonilla
They suffered for Christ in France in the reign of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161 - 180). The three brothers were triplets. At first only Leonilla was a Christian, while her grandsons were pagans. After much exortation on the part of the pious Leonilla and a local priest, the three brothers were baptised. Being baptised, they began with youthful fervour to witness to their faith, and in their zeal went out and smashed all the idols in the area. Accused and brought before the judge, they acknowledged their action and openly confessed their faith in Christ. The judge threw them into prison, then summoned their grandmother and directed her to go to the prison and counsel her grandsons to deny Christ and worship idols. Leonilla went off without a word to the prison, but instead of advising her grandsons to deny the true Faith, she set about encouraging them not to give up, but to persevere to the end in all their sufferings and die for Christ. When the judge examined them again and saw their yet stronger steadfastness in the Faith, he condemned them to death. All three were first hanged on one tree, where they hung "like the strings of a lute", and after that flogged and then finally burned. A woman, Jovilia, stirred by the courage of these martyrs, cried out: "I too am a Christian!" They immediately seized her and beheaded her with a sword, together with the aged Leonilla.
Our Holy Father, the Martyr Damascene of Gabrovo
He lived in asceticism at Hilandar, where he became abbot. When he sought a debt due to the monastery from some Turks, they persuaded a Moslem woman to go into the house where Damascene lived. The Turks then came and found the woman, and dragged Damascene off before the judge. He was given the alternative: hanging or conversion to Islam, to which he replied decisively: "It would be foolishness were I for temporal life to buy eternal peril." He was hanged in 1771 in Svishtov. So Damascene sacrificed his life to save his soul. But his murderers immediately met God"s punishment. They got into a boat to cross the Danube, but suddenly a storm capsized them and they drowned.
Our Holy Father Romil
Born in Vidin, he was a disciple of St Gregory the Sinaite, and lived the ascetic life in several monasteries. St Romil entered into rest at Ravanica in Serbia in about 1375.
Martyr Danax the Reader, in Macedonia
The Holy Martyr Danax lived during the second century and served as reader at a church in Auleneia in Macedonia. During an invasion by pagans, the saint took the church vessels and intended to hide them, but he was seized by soldiers. Refusing to worship their loathsome idols, he was stabbed with a sword.
New Martyr Nicholas of Mitylene (1777)
Blessed Maximus the Fool-for-Christ of Totma, Vologda
Blessed Maximus, Priest of Totma, was for a certain time, a priest in the city of Totma in the Vologda diocese. For forty years he undertook the difficult exploit of foolishness for Christ, constantly in fasting and in prayer. St Maximus died in great old age on January 16, 1650 and was buried at the Resurrection church in which he served. The local veneration of the saint began in 1715, because of the numerous miracles occurring at his grave.
Martyrs Neon, Turbo, and the woman Jonilla (Jovilla), in Cappadocia
Saint Neon was put to death with the holy martyrs Speusippus, Eleusippus, Meleusippus, and their grandmother Leonilla, and also with Turbo and Jonilla. They suffered in Gaul (by another account, in Cappadocia) in the second century, during the persecution under Marcus Aurelius (161-180). St Neon witnessed the exploits of the holy brothers, and wrote an account of their sufferings. He gave his manuscript to Turbo, and openly confessed himself a Christian, for which he was fiercely beaten and died from his beating. St Turbo, after he copied out the exploits of the passion-bearers, also ended his life by martyrdom. These martyrs are particularly revered in Spain, where many churches are dedicated to them. The relics of the holy martyrs were given by the Byzantine emperor Zeno to a French nobleman from the city of Langres, where they now rest. St Jonilla saw the steadfast faith of the holy martyrs and said that she too was a Christian. The torturers hung her up by the hair, lacerated her body, then beheaded her. She left behind her husband and young son.
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