Venerable Maximus, The Confessor
Maximus was a Constantinopolian by birth and, at first, a high-ranking courtier at the court of Emperor Heraclius and, after that, a monk and abbot of a monastery not too far from the capitol. He was the greatest defender of Orthodoxy against the so-called Monothelite heresy which proceeded from the heresy of Eutyches. That is to say: As Eutyches claimed that there is only one nature in Christ [Monophysitism], so the Monothelites claimed that there is only one will in Christ [Monothelitism]. Maximus opposed that claim and found himself as an opponent of the emperor and the patriarch. Maximus did not frighten easily but endured to the end in proving that there were two wills as well as two natures in Christ. Because of his efforts, a council was held in Carthage and another in Rome. Both councils anathematized the teachings of the Monothelites. The suffering of Maximus for Orthodoxy cannot be described: he was tortured by princes, deceived by prelates, spat upon by the masses of the people, beaten by soldiers, exiled, imprisoned, until finally, with a severed tongue and hand, he was condemned to exile for life in the land of Skhemaris [near Batum on the Black Sea] where he spent three years in prison and gave up his soul to God in the year 666 A.D.
Blessed Maximus, The Greek
Maximus was born in Greece and from there was invited to the court of Russian Tsar Basil [Vasilii] Ivanovitch to act as the Tsar"s librarian and translator. He labored much, but he also suffered much for the truth. He spent a long time in prison where he wrote the well-known Canon to the Holy Spirit which is still used today in the Church. He died in the Lord in the year 1556 A.D.
The Holy Priest-Martyr Neophytus
Neophytus was born in Nicaea. While he was still a child and with God"s Grace, he worked great miracles. Neophytus brought forth water from a rock and raised his dead mother. He was led by a white dove to Mount Olympus where he drove a lion from its cave and there, took up residence. At age fifteen, he was tortured for Christ in Nicaea during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. By no means would he deny Christ. After beatings and imprisonment, Neophytus was thrown into the fire, but God preserved his life. Then, they placed him before a hungry lion, but the lion ingratiated himself to Neophytus. The saint recognizing this lion as the same one in whose cave he practiced asceticism, began to pet him and ordered the lion to return to the cave. Then Neophytus was pierced with a lance and his soul took up habitation in the mansion of the Lord.
The Holy Female Martyr Agnes
As a thirteen year old girl, Agnes was thrown into the fire for the Faith of Christ and was then beheaded. She showed great miracle-working power during life and after death. Agnes suffered during the reign of Diocletian in the year 305 A.D.
Martyrs Aquila, Eugene, Candidus and Valerian
The Holy Martyrs Aquila, Eugene, Candidus and Valerian suffered for their faith in Christ during the reign of Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311), under the regimental commander Lycius. Valerian, Candidus and Aquila had hidden themselves in the hills near Trebizond, preferring life among the wild beasts to living with the pagans. They were soon found, however, and brought to Trebizond. For their bold and steadfast confession of faith in Christ the holy martyrs were whipped with ox thongs, scraped with iron claws, then were burned with fire. Several days later St Eugene was also arrested, and subjected to the same tortures. Later, they poured vinegar laced with salt into his wounds. After these torments, they threw the four martyrs into a red-hot oven. When they emerged from it unharmed, they were beheaded, receiving their incorruptible crowns from God.
The Holy Four Martyrs of Tyre
By the sword
Martyr Anastasius the Disciple of the Venerable Maximus the Confessor
The Holy Martyr Anastasius was a disciple of St Maximus the Confessor, and with him suffered persecution under the Monothelites. St Maximus and two of his disciples were subjected to the cruelest torments. Each one’s tongue was cut out, and his right hand was cut off. Then they were exiled to Skemarum in Scythia, enduring many sufferings and difficulties on the journey. St Anastasius wrote the Life of his teacher, and died in the year 662.
Synaxis of All the Martyred Saints
From Protomartyr Stephen up to the present
Venerable Neophytus of Vatopedi, Mt Athos
Saint Neophytus of Vatopedi was a church warden at the Vatopedi monastery at Athos. He was sent to the monastery’s metochion (representation church) in Euboea to serve. Falling grievously ill, he turned with intense prayer to the Most Holy Theotokos, asking to be allowed to die in his own monastery. He heard a voice from the icon of the Mother of God saying, “Go to your monastery, Neophytus. You will be ready in a year.” The miraculously healed Neophytus intensified his spiritual efforts in preparation for his departure from this life. A year later, after he had received the Holy Mysteries of Christ, he again heard the voice from the icon of the Mother of God saying that it was time for him to depart. He returned to his cell and fell ill. After asking forgiveness from the brethren, he surrendered his soul to the Lord.
Saint Zosimas, Bishop of Syracuse (662)
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