January 4, 2011

Saint Euthymios and the Twelve Holy Martyrs of Vatopaidi With Him

Saint Euthymios and the Twelve Holy Martyrs of Vatopaidi With Him (Feast Day - January 4)

Euthymios, the venerable martyr, and those holy fathers with him, flourished in 1280 when the Latin-minded Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1259-1282) and Patriarch John XI Bekkos (1275-1282) dispatched troops and surrounded the Holy Mountain of Athos. The purpose of their mission was to enjoin the monks to follow them on their erroneous path of union with the papacy.

Since the holy Athonite fathers refused such a union many were made to suffer hardships and atrocities which lead to their martyric deaths. When the soldiers came to Vatopaidi, one of the larger monasteries atop a green slope built above a small inlet on the northeast side of the peninsula, the fathers rejected union with Rome. Some resisted, but many fled for refuge elsewhere. Those who were captured included the abbot Euthymios and twelve other monks. After the tyrants subjected them to diverse torments, the Unionists sought vengeance agaist the monks who defied them, by hanging them. Euthymios was drowned in the sea. They could not be persuaded to embrace strange and unorthodox doctrines, which were unacceptable to the Orthodox Church.

When the Latinizers began their hostilities at the Lavra, some of the monks, terrified at being condemned to death, accepted the Unionists. They handed over to them many holy vessels, including chalices, Gospels, censers, and other such sacred articles of the monastery. Thus the monastery was looted, and those monks agreed to commune with the Latin-minded. At their repose, their miserable bodies remained as solid as wood and blackened all over, emitting a foul smell, so that they could not be buried in the cemetery of the brethren, but instead were placed in an underground cave, which needed to be fenced off. Thus they died as foreigners and strangers of the holy Orthodox Church and her right-believing doctrines.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Your holy martyrs, O Lord, through their sufferings have received an incorruptible crown from You, our God. For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries, and shattered the powerless boldness of demons. Through their intercessions, save our souls!

From The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church (January), translated by Holy Apostles Convent, pp. 135-136.