The Holy Great-martyr Barbara and Martyr Juliana, at Heliopolis in Syria

This glorious follower of Christ was betrothed to Christ from early childhood. Her father Dioscorus was a pagan and was renowned for his position and wealth in the city of Heliopolis in Egypt. Dioscorus locked up his only daughter Barbara, brilliant in mind and of beautiful countenance, in a high tower. He surrounded her with every comfort, gave her female servants, erected idols for worship, and built her a bathing room with two windows. Looking through the window at the earth below and the starry heavens above, Barbara’s mind was opened by the grace of God. She recognized the One True God, the Creator, despite the fact that she did not have a human teacher to bring her to this knowledge. Once, while her father was away from the city, she came down from the tower and, according to God’s providence, met some Christian women who revealed the true Faith of Christ to her. Barbara’s heart became inflamed with love for Christ the Lord. She ordered that a third window be cut open in the bath so that the three windows would represent the Holy Trinity. On one wall she traced a Cross with her finger, and the Cross etched itself deep in the stone as if cut by a chisel. A pool of water sprang forth from her footprints on the floor of the bath, which later gave healing of dis-eases to many. Learning of his daughter’s faith, Dioscorus beat her severely and drove her from the tower. He pursued her in order to kill her, but a cliff opened up and hid Barbara from her brutal father. When she appeared again, her father brought her to Martianus, the magistrate, who handed her over for torture. They stripped the innocent Barbara and flogged her until her entire body was covered with blood and wounds, but the Lord Himself appeared to her in prison with His angels and healed her. A certain woman, Juliana, upon seeing this, desired martyrdom for herself. Both women were severely tortured and with mockery were led through the city. Their breasts were cut off and much blood flowed from them. They were finally led to the place of execution, where Dioscorus himself slaughtered his daughter, and Juliana was slain by the soldiers. That same day, lightning struck the house of Dioscorus, killing him and Martianus. St. Barbara suffered in the year 306. Her miracle-working relics rest in Kiev. Glorified in the Kingdom of Christ, she has appeared many times even in our own day, sometimes alone and sometimes in the company of the Most-holy Theotokos.

The Holy Prophet Zephaniah (Sophonias)

(December 16 / December 3)

Zephaniah was a native of Mount Sarabatha, from the tribe of Simeon. He lived and prophesied in the seventh century before Christ, at the time of Josiah the pious king of Judah. Zephaniah was a contemporary of the Prophet Jeremiah. Having great humility and a pure mind raised to God, he was found worthy of discerning the future. He prophesied the day of the wrath of God and the punishment of Gaza, Ashkalon, Ashdod, Ekron, Nineveh, Jerusalem, and Egypt. He saw Jerusalem as a filthy and polluted, … oppressing city…. Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; … her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the Law (Zephaniah 3:1-4).

Foreseeing the advent of the Messiah, he enthusiastically exclaimed: Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all thy heart, O daughter of Jerusalem (Zephaniah 3:14). This seer of mysteries entered into rest at his birthplace to await the General Resurrection and his reward from God.

The Holy Martyr James the Persian

 

(December 10, / November 27)

James was born of Christian parents in the Persian city of Elapa (or Vilat), brought up in the Christian Faith and married to a Christian woman. The Persian King Yezdegeherd took a liking to James for his talents and skillfulness and made him a noble at his court. Flattered by the king, James was deluded and began offering sacrifices to the idols that the king worshiped. His mother and wife learned of this, and wrote him a letter of reproach in which they grieved over him as an apostate and one who was spiritually dead. Yet, at the end of the letter, they begged him to repent and return to Christ. Moved by this letter, James repented bitterly, and courageously confessed his faith in Christ the Lord to the king. Angered, the king condemned him to death by special torture: his entire body was to be cut up, piece by piece, until he breathed his last. The executioners fulfilled this command of the wicked king to the letter, and cut off James’s fingers, then his toes, his legs and arms, his shoulders, and finally his head. During every cutting, the repentant martyr gave thanks to God. A sweet-smelling fragrance, as of a cypress, emanated from the wounds. Thus, this wonderful man repented of his sin and presented his soul to Christ his God in the Kingdom of Heaven. James suffered in about the year 400. His head is to be found in Rome and a part of his relics in Portugal, where he is commemorated on May 22.

 

 

The Venerable Alypius the Stylite, of Adrianople

 (December 9, / November 26)O          

Alypius was born in Hadrianopolis, a city in Paphlagonia. From child- hood, he was dedicated to the service of God. He served as a deacon with Bishop Theodore in the church in that city. But, desirous of a life of solitude, prayer and meditation, Alypius withdrew to a Greek cemetery outside the city. This was a cemetery from which people fled in terror, because of frequent demonic visions seen there. Alypius set up a cross in the cemetery and built a church in honor of St. Euphemia, who had appeared to him in a dream. Beside the church, he built a tall pillar, climbed on top of it, and spent fifty-three years there in fasting and prayer. Neither the mockery of men nor the evil of the demons was able to drive him away or cause him to waver in his intention. Alypius especially endured countless assaults from demons. Not only did the demons try to terrorize him with apparitions, but stoned him as well, and gave him no peace, day or night, for a long time. The courageous Alypius protected himself from the power of the demons by the sign of the Cross and the name of Jesus. Finally the demons were defeated and fled from him. Men began to revere him and come to him for prayer, consolation, instruction and healing. Two monasteries were built beside his pillar, one on one side for men and one on the other for women. His mother and sister lived in the women’s monastery. St. Alypius guided the monks and nuns from his pillar, by example and words. He shone like the sun in the heavens for everyone, showing them the way to salvation. This God-pleas- er had so much grace that he was often illuminated in heavenly light, and a pillar of this light extended to the heavens above him. St. Alypius was a wonderful and mighty miracle-worker in life, and also after his repose. He lived for one hundred years and entered into rest in the year 640, during the reign of Emperor Heraclius. His head is preserved in the Monastery of Koutloumousiou on the Holy Mountain.

The Hieromartyr Clement, Pope of Rome

(December 8, / November 25)

Clement was born in Rome of royal lineage and was a contemporary of the holy apostles. His mother and two brothers, traveling on the sea, were carried by a storm to different places. His father then went to find his wife and two sons and he, too, became lost. Clement, being twenty-four years old, then set out for the east to seek his parents and brothers. In Alexandria, he made the acquaintance of the Apostle Barnabas and, afterward, joined the Apostle Peter whom his two brothers, Faustinus and Faustinian, were already following. By God’s providence, the Apostle Peter came upon Clement’s mother as an aged beggar woman, and then found his father as well. Thus, the whole family was united, and all returned to Rome as Christians. Clement did not separate himself from the great apostle, who appointed him as bishop before his death. After Peter’s martyrdom, Linus was Bishop of Rome, then Cletus—both of them for a short time— and then Clement. Clement governed the Church of God with flaming zeal, and from day to day brought a great number of un- believers to the Christian Faith. In addition, he ordered seven scribes to write the lives of the Christian martyrs who were suffering at that time for their Lord. The Emperor Trajan banished him to Cherson, where Clement found about two thousand exiled Christians. All were occupied with the difficult job of hewing stones in a waterless land. The Christians received Clement with great joy and he was a living source of comfort to them. By his prayer, he brought forth water from the ground and converted so many of the unbelieving natives to Christianity that, in one year, seventy-five churches were built there. To prevent his spreading the Christian Faith even more, the authorities condemned Clement to death, and drowned him in the sea with a stone around his neck in the year 101. His miracle-working relics were removed from the sea only in the time of Saints Cyril and Methodius.