December 23, 2016

Synaxarion of Saint Nahum the Wonderworker and Enlightener of Bulgaria

On this day (23rd of December) we commemorate our Holy and God-bearing Father Nahum the Wonderworker, the Enlightener and Preacher of Bulgaria.

By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite


With your words you brightened and worked wonders Nahum,
The entire land of Bulgaria all-blessed one.

Our Holy Father Nahum (Naum) lived during the reign of the Roman Emperor Michael (842-867), the son of Theophilos the Iconoclast, when Saints Cyril and Methodios and Clement occupied themselves in the areas of Bulgaria, struggling to enlighten with the faith of Christ and Orthodoxy the mislead nation of Bulgaria. They were the first enlighteners of Bulgaria, and the divine Nahum followed them in all ways, wandering with them throughout all the cities of Bulgaria, preaching the word of piety, where he was beaten, reviled, oppressed, persecuted and flogged, enduring these things from unbelievers and enemies of Christ. Because the above-mentioned fathers, namely Cyril and Methodios and Clement the Equal to the Apostles, wanted to translate the Old and New Testament writings from the Greek language into the Bulgarian (Slavic), they developed an alphabet and words to be grasped by the Bulgarians. For this reason they considered it blessed to refer their work to the then Pope Hadrian of Rome (867-872), to receive from him authority and certainty to do so.

Therefore the marvelous Nahum went with them to Rome. The aforementioned Pope received them with great honor and kindliness. Through these above-mentioned servants, God showed forth many miracles there in Rome. By these miracles, and other revelations, the Pope recognized that the work of translation which they undertook was from God. Furthermore he compared the Greek text of the Scriptures with the Bulgarian, and found them harmonious in all things. Thus he certified this translation and gave it authority, and selected it to be given to the Bulgarians for learning, that they may grasp piety even more.

Saint Nahum, being younger than the above-mentioned Saints, and more fervent in his zeal, struggled more eagerly to serve what was assigned to them. As they were about to withdraw from Rome, God worked many miracles through them. As many as were sick that hastened to them, they cured in a wondrous manner. For just by the Saints looking with their eyes at them, the sick were immediately liberated from the illnesses they had. So great was the grace of these Saints, that healing power came from their eyes. The divine Cyril, who led the translation of the Scriptures, remained in Rome, and attaining extreme old age, he departed to the Lord. The sacred Methodios therefore took his disciples, one of whom was the divine Nahum, and decided to return to Bulgaria. Returning there he went to the land of the Alamanoi, namely the Germans, where many heresies had spread, even that of Apollinarius, and they blasphemed against the Holy Spirit.* Because the divine Methodios together with Nahum struggled to bring them to Orthodoxy, for this reason those barbarians punished these Saints with beatings and floggings and other torments, and afterwards they were put into prison.

Therefore, while the Saints were praying in prison, - O the wonder! - a great earthquake took place, so that the entire area shook, and many of the buildings belonging to the impious were demolished. They were freed from their bonds, and the doors of the prison opened. Having come outside, the Saints walked along the road rejoicing, just as the divine Apostles once did, for they were found worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Holy Spirit.

Going to Bulgaria, they were received by Michael the ruler of the Bulgarians,** who allotted to them the surrounding regions to preach the name of Christ, and the Bulgarian interpretation of the divine Scriptures. Then the divine Clement took Saint Nahum, and they wandered through the various regions of Bulgaria. They also preached the word of piety to those in Diavia, Moesia and Pannonia (Hungary). The divine Nahum never separated from his company until his last breath, being his helper like Aaron was with Moses. Saint Nahum therefore went to Diavia, and there he lived for some time in a venerable and God-pleasing manner, and he departed to the Lord, leaving behind his sacred relic as an unfailing treasury of miracles for those who hasten to it with faith.


* Here blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is used to describe the heresy of the filioque, as taught by the Latins, in which they say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Frankish missionaries had interpolated the filioque into the Creed in Bulgaria, which caused a rift between the Romans (Greeks) and the Franks (Latins). This eventually led to the Eighth Ecumenical Synod in 879-880 in Constantinople presided over by Patriarch Photios, which condemned this interpolation.

** Boris Michael was baptized in 864, which marks the year of the conversion of Bulgaria to Orthodox Christianity.