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Saints and Feasts of September 17

Monday, September 16, 2019

Church of Saint Euphemia at the Hippodrome in Constantinople

The Church of Saint Euphemia in the Hippodrome (also known as lying in "ta Antiochou", i.e. "the quarters/palaces of Antiochos") was established in the hexagonal hall of the Palace of Antiochos next to the Hippodrome probably sometime in the early seventh century (615 or 626), when the original church at Chalcedon was destroyed during the Sassanid Persian invasions, and the relics moved for safety to Constantinople.

During Iconoclasm, the building was secularized and allegedly converted into a store of arms and manure, while the relics of the Saint were ordered thrown into the sea by Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (717–741) or by his son, Constantine V (741–775). They were however saved by two pious brothers and brought to the island of Lemnos, from where they were brought back in 796, after the end of the first Iconoclasm period, by Empress Irene (797–802).

Holy Hieromartyr Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (+ 258)

St. Cyprian of Carthage (Feast Day - September 16)

The Hieromartyr Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage,* was born in about the year 200 in the city of Carthage (Northern Africa), where all his life and work took place. Thascius Cyprianus was the son of a rich pagan senator, and received a fine secular education becoming a splendid orator, and a teacher of rhetoric and philosophy in the school of Carthage. He often appeared in the courts to defend his fellow citizens.

Cyprian afterwards recalled that for a long time “he remained in a deep dark mist.., far from the light of Truth.” His fortune, received from his parents and from his work, was spent on sumptuous banquets, but they were not able to quench in him the thirst for truth. He became acquainted with the writings of the Apologist Tertullian, and became convinced of the truth of Christianity. The holy bishop later wrote that he thought it was impossible for him to attain to the regeneration promised by the Savior, because of his habits.

Holy Martyrs Isaac and Joseph of Georgia (+ 808)

The Holy New Martyrs Isaac and Joseph the Georgians were born into a Muslim family, but their Georgian mother, a Christian, secretly raised them and an older unknown brother according to the Christian tradition.

The brothers were so firmly dedicated to the Christian faith that they sent a letter to Byzantium to request that Emperor Nikephoros I Phokas (802-811) permit them to settle in his capital. The pious ruler extended a warm welcome to the brothers, who were already well known and respected by the nobility of Theodosiopolis, or Karnu (now Erzerum).

Holy Martyr Ludmilla, Princess of the Czechs and Grandmother of Saint Wenceslaus (+ 921)

St. Ludmilla of Bohemia (Feast Day - September 16)

The Holy Martyr Ludmilla, a Czech (Bohemian) princess, was married to the Czech prince Borivoy. Both spouses received holy Baptism from Saint Methodios, the Enlightener of the Slavs (May 11).

As Christians, they showed concern for the enlightening of their subjects with the light of the Christian faith. They built churches and invited priests to celebrate the divine services. Their efforts to convert Bohemia to Christianity were initially not well received, and they were driven from their country for a time by the pagans. Eventually the couple returned, and ruled for several years before retiring to Techin, near Beroun.

Saint Cyprian, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia (+ 1406)

St. Cyprian the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia (Feast Day - September 16)

Saint Cyprian was a Serbian born around 1330 in the city of Tarnovo, the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. The year of Cyprian's tonsure is unknown. It is believed that he began his monastic path at the Kilifarevo Monastery. Apparently, Cyprian left Bulgaria quite early and went first to Constantinople, and then to Mount Athos, where he worked in one of the Athos monasteries.

In line with its unification policy, Emperor John Kantakouzenos and Patriarch Philotheos of Constantinople sought to preserve a single Russian metropolis. The main danger threatening the unity of the metropolis was the rivalry of two Russian states, Lithuania and Moscow, for the right to unite under their supremacy all the Russian lands, some of which also belonged to Poland, Hungary, and Moldova. This confrontation was directly reflected in the state of the vast Kiev metropolis, which turned out to be practically divided along the border of these states. The situation was aggravated by the fact that Metropolitan Alexis of All Russia was essentially the head of the Moscow state. As a result, he lost the opportunity to visit his western dioceses, and the Grand Duke of Lithuania Olgerd demanded the placement of Alexis in the titular city of the Metropolitanate of Kiev, which was under the control of Olgerd. Another option acceptable to Lithuania was the creation of a separate Lithuanian metropolis. In Moscow, they also thought about “their” metropolis. Constantinople initially consistently pursued pro-Moscow politics, but this led to the discontent of Olgerd, who wrote complaints about the Metropolitan and threatened to transfer to the Latin Church under the Pope of Rome. This idea was supported by the allies of Olgerd, the Tver princes. On this path, it was very difficult to maintain the unity of the Russian metropolis and the entire Russian Orthodox world. A correction of the pro-Moscow politics was required. And to begin with, Patriarch Philotheos sent to Lithuania a trusted person who could reconcile Olgerd and Metropolitan Alexis. Cyprian became that person, and was appointed the patriarchal ambassador.

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