Feast Days in August - Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada)
Our holy Orthodox Church commemorates and celebrates a number of great feasts and saints in August, most prominently the Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary (August 15th).
When the Jews slew St. Stephen by stoning, they left his body for the dogs to consume. However, God’s providence intended otherwise. The martyr’s body lay in an open place at the foothill of the city for one night and two days. The second night Gamaliel, Paul’s teacher and secretly a disciple of Christ, came and removed the body, taking it to Caphargamala, and buried it there in a cave on his own land. Gamaliel later buried his friend Nicodemus, who died weeping over the grave of Stephen, in the same cave. Gamaliel also buried his godson Abibus there; and, according to his own will, he himself was buried there also.
There was a great persecution of Christians during the reign of Decius. The emperor himself went to Ephesus, and there arranged a boisterous and noisy celebration in honor of the lifeless idols – as well as a terrible slaughter of Christians. Seven young men, soldiers, refrained from the impure offering of sacrifices. They earnestly prayed to the one God to save the Christian people. They were the sons of the most influential elders of Ephesus. Their names were Maximilian, Jamblicus, Martinian, John, Dionysius, Exacustodianus and Antonius. When they were accused before the emperor, they retreated to a hill outside of Ephesus called Celion, and there they hid in a cave.
In the third year of His preaching, the Lord Jesus often spoke to His disciples of His approaching passion, and also of His glory following His suffering on the Cross. So that His impending passion would not totally weaken His disciples, and so that no one would fall away from Him, He, the All-wise, wanted to show them a portion of His divine glory before His passion. For that reason, He took Peter, James and John with Him and went by night to Mount Tabor, and was there transfigured before them: His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light (Matthew 17:2).
The Lord Who, on Mount Sinai, gave the Fifth Commandment,Honor thy father and thy mother, showed by His own example how one should respect one’s parents. Hanging on the Cross in agony, He remembered His Mother, and indicating the Apostle John He said to her: Woman, behold thy son. After that, He said to John: Behold thy mother. And so, providing for His Mother, He breathed His last. John had a home on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, in which the Theotokos then lived. She dwelt there to the end of her days on earth. By her prayers, kind guidance, meekness and patience, she greatly assisted her Son’s apostles.
Andrew was an officer, a tribune, in the Roman army during the reign of Emperor Maximian. He was a Syrian by birth, and served in Syria. When the Persians menaced the Roman Empire with their military, Andrew was entrusted to command the imperial army in defense against the enemy. Therefore, Andrew was promoted to the rank of general – “Stratelates.” Secretly a Christian, even though he was not baptized, Andrew trusted in the Living God and chose only the best of the many soldiers to enter into battle. Before the battle, he told his soldiers that if they would call upon the help on the one, true God – Christ the Lord – their enemies would scatter as dust before them.
Saint Kosmas the Aitolian, or Patrokosmas, as he is called, is a figure in both church and national history who in the 18th century cast his light upon the path which the Greeks would follow a little before the outbreak of the Struggle for Liberation. He was the son of devout parents who brought him up accordingly, and he came from the village of Mega Dendron in Aetolia. His aptitude for learning took him to the school run by the Vatopedi Monastery on the Holy Mountain, where he studied under teachers famed for their learning. When the Athonite Academy fell into decay, the young Kostas (his name in the world) went to the Philotheou Monastery.
On this day we commemorate the translation of the relics of St. Bartholomew, although his main feast is celebrated on June 11. When this great apostle was crucified in Albanopolis in Armenia, Christians removed his body and buried it in a lead sarcophagus. When numerous miracles – especially healings of the sick – occurred over the grave of the apostle, the number of Christians visiting the grave increased, so the pagans took the coffin containing the relics of Bartholomew and threw it into the sea. They also threw four more coffins into the sea. These contained the relics of four martyrs: Papian, Lucian, Gregory and Acacius.
Titus was one of the Seventy. He was born in Crete and was educated in Greek philosophy and poetry. Following a vision in a dream, he began reading the Prophet Isaiah and lost his faith in Hellenic philosophy. Hearing of Christ the Lord, Titus traveled to Jerusalem with other Cretans, and there he heard the Savior speak and witnessed His mighty acts. He gave his young heart completely to Christ. Later he was baptized by the Apostle Paul, whom he served, like a son to a father, in the work of evangelization. Paul loved Titus so much that he referred to him at times as his son (cf. Titus 1:4) and at times as his brother (cf. II Corinthian 12:18).
Poemen was an Egyptian by birth and a great ascetic of Egypt. As a boy he visited the most renewed spiritual men. He gathered tangible knowledge from them, as a bee gathers honey from flowers. Poemen once begged the elder Paul to take him to St. Paisius. Seeing Poemen, Paisius said to Paul: “This child will save many; the hand of God is on him.” In time Poemen was tonsured a monk, and attracted two of his brothers to the monastic life as well. Once his mother came to see her sons.
Who this saint was and when he lived is not known. He is greatly venerated on Rhodes and Crete. In the year 1500, St. Phanourios appeared to people on the island of Rhodes, where he manifested miracles of healing. There, an old icon of him was found, in which Phanourios is portrayed as a young soldier, holding a cross in his right hand, and a lighted taper in his left. St. Phanourios is greatly venerated in Egypt. In Egypt, there exists a tradition that his mother was a grievous sinner whom even he, her son, was unable to correct. Even so, his filial love for his mother was extraordinarily great.
Herod Antipas (son of the Herod who slew the children of Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth) was ruler of Galilee when John the Baptist was preaching. He was married to the daughter of Aretas, an Arabian prince. But Herod, an evil sprout of an evil root, put away his lawful wife and unlawfully took Herodias as his concubine. Herodias was the wife of his brother Philip, who was still alive. John the Baptist stood up against the lawlessness and strongly denounced Herod. Herod then cast John into prison. During a banquet in his court at Sebastia in Galilee, Salome – Herodias and Philip’s daughter – danced before the guests.
Cyprian was born of unbelieving parents, and was himself educated in polytheism. He became famous in Carthage as a teacher of philosophy and rhetoric. He was married, but when he became a Christian he ceased to live with his wife, dedicating himself to the constant study of Holy Scripture and to spiritual perfection. Because of his unusual virtues, he was chosen as a presbyter and soon after that as a bishop. He was as merciful toward Christians as he was firm toward heretics. Guided by the Holy Spirit, he wrote many works of instruction. He wrote against idolatry, Judaism and the Novatian heresy with especial vehemence.