St Mark the Confessor, Bishop of Arethusa in Syria
St Gregory the Theologian and Blessed Theodoretus have given us an account of his sufferings. According to these accounts, Mark destroyed some pagan temples and brought many to the Christian faith during the reign of the Emperor Constantine. But when the Emperor Julian came to the throne and quickly became an apostate from the Faith, some of the inhabitants of Arethusa renounced Christ and lapsed into paganism. They rose up against Mark because he had demolished the temple and demanded that he either rebuild it or pay them a very large sum of money. As Mark refused to do either the one or the other, he was flogged and flayed and dragged through the streets. They then cut off his ears with strong, fine threads, stripped him naked, smeared him with honey and left him bound to a tree in the summer heat for the wasps, mosquitoes and hornets to eat. The martyr of Christ endured all this without complaint. He was quite old, and his face shone like an angel of the Lord. The pagans lowered the price of their temple again and again, finally demanding a quite insignificant amount which Mark could easily have given. But he refused to give even a single coin for that purpose. His endurance made a great impression on the citizens, and they began to admire him for it and to feel sorry for him, and gradually reduced the price of their temple to nothing just to allow him to remain alive. Finally, they let him go free and, one by one, all came to him to receive instruction and become Christians again. A deacon, Cyril, also suffered at this time for a similar cause in Heliopolis at the foot of mount Lebanon. He had broken some idols at the time of the liberation of Christianity and was cruelly tortured under Julian for this. The pagans were so enraged with him that, after they had killed him, they tore out his teeth and ripped open his stomach. Many others suffered on the same day as St Cyril. The evil pagans cut their bodies into small pieces, coated them with barley and fed them to the pigs. But retribution came swiftly upon them; all their teeth fell out and their mouths emitted an unbearable stench.
Our Holy Father John the Hermit
He was the son of Juliana, a Christian woman of Armenia. While still a child, he left his mother and ran off to the desert. He was utterly aflame with love for Christ the Lord. In the beginning he entrusted himself to the guidance of a spiritual father, Pharmutius, who was so pleasing to God that an angel brought him bread every day. John later left him and withdrew into solitude. He let himself down into a dry well and lived there for a full ten years in fasting, prayer and vigils. St Pharmutius used to bring him some of the angel's bread, for the angel of God did not wish to bring bread to the young John in person, lest he grow proud through this, so sent it through Pharmutius his spiritual father. After ten years of arduous asceticism in his well, St John went to the Lord and his relics revealed wonderworking power. He lived and was glorified by God and men in the 4th century.
St. Eustathius (Eustace) the Confessor(9thc.)
Sainted Eustathios the Confessor, Bishop of Bithynia, was already at the start of his efforts a fervent monk, meek and wise, filled with great faith and love for neighbour. For his virtuous life he was made bishop of the city of Bithynia (a Roman province in north-west Asia Minor) and for many years he guided his flock, giving them example of virtuous life and perfection...
Venerables Jonah (1480) and Mark of the Pskov Caves
The Monastics Mark, Jona and Vassa are venerated as among the originating fathers of the Pskovo-Pechersk monastery. It is unknown precisely, when the first hermit monks settled by the Kamenets stream in the natural caves of the hill, which the local inhabitants called "the holy hill". The monastery chronicle presents an account of eye-witnesses, hunter-trappers from Izborsk by the nickname of Selishi: "Once by chance we came with our father to the outlying hill, where now is the church of the Mother of God, and heard what seemed church singing; they sang harmoniously and reverently, but the singers could not be seen, and the air was filled with the fragrance of incense"...
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