The next Sunday of Preparation, Meatfare Sunday, is the last day on which meat is permitted to be consumed until Holy Pascha.
St Bucolus, Bishop of Smyrna
He was a disciple of St John the Theologian, who consecrated him bishop of the city of Smyrna. There were few baptised Christians in Smyrna, and St Bucolus shone like a lamp in the pagan darkness. He was adorned with all the virtues, especially gentleness and meekness. Before his death, Bucolus named the famous Polycarp as his successor in the episcopate, then he peacefully departed this life and went to the Lord.
The Holy Martyr Fausta
Suffering for Christ in the reign of the Emperor Maximian (between 305 and 311), she made her torturers marvel by her heroism and brought them to the Christian faith. These were the eighty-year-old pagan priest Evilasius and Maximus the Eparch. When the judge threatened Fausta with even harsher tortures, she asked him to have a picture of her made, showing her enduring all the tortures with which he was threatening her. When it was ready and shown to her, holy Fausta said: "As this picture feels no torture, so my body does not feel the torture of your punishments, for my soul is established in the Lord." The judge cast her into a cauldron of boiling water, where this thirteen-year-old girl departed this life with prayer on her lips, and went to Paradise.
The Holy Martyr Dorothea
An eminent and beautiful maiden from Caesarea in Cappadocia. The administrator of the district, Sapricius, gave Dorothea into the care of two pagan sisters, Christina and Kallista, to turn her from Christ. But it happened the other way about: Dorothea succeeded in bringing both sisters to the Christian faith. Sapricius in fury ordered that the sisters be tied together back to back, cast into a vat of pitch and then set alight. He then condemned Dorothea to death. She listened to the sentence with joy and cried out: "I thank Thee, O Christ, Thou Lover of souls, that Thou callest me to Thy Paradise and leadest me to Thy most holy court!" A nobleman, Theophilus, who was present laughed at these words and called out to Dorothea: "Here, you bride of Christ; send me apples and wild roses from your bridegroom"s paradise!" "Yes; I"ll do that!", the martyr replied. When Dorothea was at the place of execution, a handsome youth suddenly appeared with three marvellous apples and three red wild roses. This was an angel from God, and it was winter-time. At Dorothea"s bidding, the angel took them to Theophilus and said: "Here is what you asked for." When Theophilus received the message and saw the gift, he was very much afraid. Everything within him turned topsy-turvy, and he rejected paganism and became a Christian. He was tortured and killed for Christ, and his soul quickly followed Dorothea"s to the Lord"s Paradise.
St Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople
A great light in the Church, he was a kinsman of the Emperor and grandson of the famous Patriarch Tarasius. He was a forceful protector of the Church from the power-seeking of the Pope and other Roman perverters of the Faith. He passed through all the ranks from layman to patriarch in six days, being made Patriarch at Christmas, 858. He departed this life in the Lord in about 895.
Our Holy Fathers Barsanuphius and John
Great ascetics from Gaza, gifted with insight and wonder-working power, they left us a well-known book of answers to various questions on the spiritual life. They lived in the sixth century.
The Holy Martyrs Martha and Mary and their brother Lycarion
All three were crucified for Christ, then stabbed to death with a lance.
Martyr Julian of Emesa
The Holy Martyr Julian was a native of the Phoenician city of Emesa, and he suffered in the year 312 under the emperor Maximian. He was a skilled physician, and healed illnesses not only of the body but also of the soul, and he converted many people to faith in Christ the Savior. When they led away the holy Martyrs Bishop Silvanus, Deacon Luke and the Reader Mocius (February 29) to be eaten by wild beasts, Julian encouraged them and urged them not to fear death for the Lord. He was also arrested and put to death. His head, hands and feet were pierced with long nails.
Martyrs Faustus, Basil and Silvanus of Darion in Constantinople
Virginmartyr Christina with her sister Callista, at Caesarea, in Cappadocia
Saints Christina and Callista were sisters who once were Christians, but fearing torture, they renounced Christ and began to lead impious lives. The governor ordered them to persuade St Dorothy to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, but just the reverse happened. St Dorothy convinced them that the mercy of God is granted to all who repent, so they corrected themselves and returned to Christ. The tormentors tied them back to back and burned them in a vat of tar. Sts Christina and Callista atoned for their sin of apostasy through martyrdom, receiving not only forgiveness, but crowns of victory from God.
Martyr Theophilus at Caesarea, in Cappadocia
The Holy Martyr Dorothy, the Martyrs Christina, Callista and the Martyr Theophilus lived in Caesarea of Cappadocia and suffered under the emperor Diocletian in either the year 288 or 300. As St Dorothy was being led to execution, Theophilus, one of the governor’s counselors, laughed and said to her, “Bride of Christ, send me an apple and some roses from the Paradise of your Bridegroom.” The martyr nodded and said, “I shall do that.” At the place of execution, the saint requested a little time to pray. When she finished the prayer, an angel appeared before her in the form of a handsome child presenting her three apples and three roses on a pure linen cloth. The saint requested that these be given to Theophilus, after which she was beheaded by the sword. Having received the gracious gift, the recent mocker of Christians was shaken, and he confessed Christ as the true God. His friends were astonished, and wondered whether he were joking, or perhaps mad. He assured them he was not joking. Then they asked the reason for this sudden change. He asked what month it was. “February,” they replied. “In the winter, Cappadocia is covered with ice and frost, and the trees are bare of leaves. What do you think? From where do these apples and flowers come?” After being subjected to cruel tortures, St Theophilus was beheaded with a sword.
Venerable John of Thebes, monk
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