June 24, 2019

Righteous Youths John and Jacob of Meniugi (+ 1560's)

Sts. John and Jacob of Meniugi (Feast Day - June 24)

John and Jacob were brothers by birth, children of the pious couple Isidore and Barbara. They lived in the village of Meniugi, which is in Novgorod. The eldest of the brothers was John and he was five years old, while Jacob was the youngest and he was three.

One autumn day Isidore and Barbara were out in the field working, then Isidore went and killed a ram to be prepared for a meal. Meanwhile the two brothers were left unsupervised, and when they saw their father slaughter the ram, they decided to play a game and imitate him. The elder brother therefore took a stick and struck his younger brother in the head, not foreseeing any bad consequence, as they were doing it all in fun. With this blow Jacob fell to the ground and died.

Seeing his deceased brother, John was very frightened and, not knowing what to do in such a case, he hid in a furnace behind firewood, which had previously been placed in it for drying, on the occasion of a rainy autumn day. When the parents returned home from working, they found young Jacob dead in a pool of blood, and they wept bitterly. Looking for young John, they called out for him, but he did not respond, and this made them even more worried and frightened. Neighbors and relatives gathered in their house, who upon hearing of their unfortunate reality, were shocked and they grieved with the parents. After some calmness came over everyone, the mother, as was her custom, lit the wood in the furnace, not knowing that her son was hiding in the furnace. When the wood in the furnace burned out, and Barbara peeked into it, she saw there her son who was already dead, but completely whole and unharmed from the fire, having not been consumed by it at all. This horrified everyone, causing the parents especially great pain and sorrow.

Despite this awful tragedy, the Lord decided to glorify these children, perhaps because the younger one was killed in his innocence, while the other received a martyric end by fire. All were astonished by the fact that John was whole and unharmed and reckoned it to be a miracle. Having grieved, at last, their children, Isidore and Barbara clothed them in funerary clothes, laid them in coffins and, according to Christian rites, laid their bodies under the earth of the churchyard at their parish church of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker in Medvedsky.

A few days after the burial of the youths John and Jacob, their coffins were floating on a small lake, two versts from a monastery, discovered by two hunters who were lost in the forest. Convinced after a careful examination that these were the very coffins in which John and Jacob were buried so recently, the hunters began to beg the holy youths to indicate their path out of the forest, and suddenly their eyes presented a small path that led them out of the forest.

Upon arriving home, the hunters immediately announced to their neighbors everything that had happened to them. The priests of the surrounding area gathered and, accompanied by a multitude of people, went to the lake indicated by the hunters. It turned out that the coffins familiar to them really floated on it, so it was decided to take them and carry them again to the Church of Saint Nicholas, where they were reburied. The hunters however showed that the holy youths, who now appeared to them in their dreams, did not want to be buried in the churchyard at this church, but in an empty place in Meniugi, where a monastery used to be. The coffins with their relics were brought to that place where they were laid near a small stream, where a chapel was soon built over their coffins. Soon after this many people who came to their grave were suddenly being healed of their ailments and diseases. In time their shrine became a place of pilgrimage, having been glorified by God.

Among the many miracles ascribed to the intercessions of the Righteous Youths, is the following:

One monk, named Macarius, who passed from the city of Pskov to Novgorod, past the place where the relics of the holy youths John and Jacob rested, suddenly caught a ruthless disease, the deliverance from which there was no hope. In such a difficult and bitter situation, he somehow went to the relics of the Saints, prayed before them with all diligence and faith, and immediately received healing. Being filled with the deepest gratitude to the holy youths for the mercy received from them, this monk decided to stay with their relics with the intention to use all his efforts to find means for the renewal of the former Trinity Monastery. To this end he, announcing to all the worshipers at the shrine about the healing he received from their relics of his illness, begged them to build a church, which, by the grace of God and through the prayers of His Saints and donations of the pious, was accomplished. This monk subsequently revived the Trinity Monastery from 1668 to 1684.

Under Metropolitan Cornelius of Novgorod (1674-1695) the relics of the holy youths were uncovered and found to be incorrupt, and they were subsequently canonized. The Trinity Monastery burned down in 1780, then a wooden Holy Trinity Church was built in its place, in which, by the beginning of the 19th century, there was a chapel named after the brothers Jacob and John. The wooden church in the years 1837-1841 was replaced by a stone one. In this temple, over the tomb of the Saints, in 1859, a silver plated copper tomb was set up with the image of the Tale.