October 9, 2019

Synaxarion of our Venerable Father Andronikos and his Venerable Wife Athanasia

Sts. Andronikos and Athanasia (Feast Day - October 9)


Andronikos and Athanasia are co-dwellers,
In the world in asceticism as well as in the heavens.

Venerable Andronikos was from the great Antioch, in the year 540, and was a money-dealer by trade, very pious, full of good works, and wealthy as to physical goods. He took in marriage a woman named Athanasia, who was also modest and one who loved God. She agreed with him, as something that is good and God-pleasing, to distribute their wealth in three parts. One part was to be abundantly given to the poor. The other part was given as a loan without difference or pay to those who were in debt. The third part was invested in their money-dealing workshop, to provide for the needs of life. They also had two children, one male and one female. When they were born, the couple no longer approached each other, but the two spent their lives in chastity and prayer, occupying themselves with showing mercy to the poor and visiting the sick.

After twelve years of living together, and the children had reached an age of gladdening their parents, both of them died on the same day. The blessed Andronikos showed no unmanly emotions over the death of his children, instead the renowned one cried out with the voice of Job: "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." His wife Athanasia had inconsolable sadness. Thus when the children were buried in the Martyrion, namely the Temple of the Holy Martyr Julian, she did not want to depart from there, but said: "Here I want to die as well! Here I want to be buried together with my children!"

The Patriarch had Andronikos come to the Patriarchate to comfort him, but Athanasia could not suffer to leave the Temple of the Holy Martyr Julian. Rather she remained there lamenting and mournfully weeping. At around midnight, the Martyr appeared to her in the form of a monk while she was still awake, and he said to her: "Why do you weep, O woman? Who do you not leave to rest the two who are here?" She replied: "Be not grave with me your servant, my master, for I have much pain and affliction. I only had two children, and both of them I buried today." The Martyr replied: "Do not weep for them. For I tell you, O woman, just as it is in the nature of people to seek food, and it is impossible for them to not give themselves something to eat, so also do children seek a debt from God in order for Him to give on that day the future good things. They say: 'Lord the Righteous Judge, instead of the earthly goods which You have deprived us, do not deprive us of Your heavenly goods.'" When Athanasia heard this, she was pricked at the heart, and her sadness changed to joy, saying: "So, my children live in the Heavens. Why then should I weep?" Then she turned to find the monk who told her these things. Having gone around the entire church she could not find him, so she asked the gatekeeper saying: "Where is the monk that just entered here?" The gatekeeper replied: "As you can see, all of the doors are locked, yet you ask where is the monk?" The gatekeeper understood that she had seen a vision. Athanasia became afraid, and she returned to her house, and told her husband all that she had seen. Then she asked him to have her placed in a monastery.

Andronikos received her words with joy (for he had also desired it), so they distributed most of the portions of their properties to the poor, they set free their servants which they had purchased, and the rest of his belongings he left with his father-in-law, giving him orders to build a hospital, as well as a hospice for monks. Taking with them some spending money for the road, at night he and his wife alone left the city of Antioch. When Athanasia saw her house from afar, she lifted her eyes towards heaven and said: "My Lord and God, You who told Abraham and Sarah, 'Leave your land and your relatives, and go to the land I will show you.' Do now lead us in Your fear. For behold we left our home open in Your name and departed, therefore do not close to us the gates of Your Kingdom." The two then wept, and departed their homeland.

Arriving in Jerusalem, they venerated the Holy Land. There they met many Venerable Fathers. Leaving there, they both went to Egypt, namely Misri, to the famous Abba Daniel. Having revealed to him their purpose, and asking him to guide them along the path of salvation, the Venerable one sent Athanasia to the female Monastery of Tabennisi, while he kept Andronikos with himself, and dressed him in the angelic schema of the monks. He remained subordinate to him for twelve entire years. When twelve years had passed, Andronikos asked Abba Daniel to give him permission to go again to Jerusalem, to venerate the Holy Land for a second time. Abba Daniel gave him his blessing and released him. As Venerable Andronikos walked the Misri road, he sat under a tree, to cool off from the burning heat. And behold by the economy of God, his wife Athanasia also came there, as she also was going to Jerusalem in the form of a male monk, having changed her name to Athanasios. And as they greeted each other, Athanasia recognized Andronikos, but Andronikos did not recognize Athanasia, for her beauty had withered away due to her much asceticism, and she appeared as a black person.

Then Athanasia said to Andronikos: "Where are you going, my master Abba?" Andronikos replied: "To the Holy Land." She said to him: "I am also going there." He said to her: "Do you want the both of us to walk together?" Athanasia said: "Yes, as you wish. Except let us walk along the road in silence as if I was not with you." Then Andronikos said: "Let us go in silence, as you wish." Athanasia then asked him: "Are you not a disciple of Abba Daniel?" Andronikos responded: "Yes." She said to him: "Are you not named Andronikos?" He replied: "Yes." Athanasia said: "May the prayers of the elder travel with us on our path." Andronikos said: "May it be so! Amen."

In this way therefore they both went to Jerusalem in silence. Having venerated the Holy Land, again they returned together in silence to Alexandria. Then Athanasia asked Andronikos: "Do you want to live together in one cell?" Andronikos replied: "As you wish, let us live together, but I first want to go to my elder, to ask for his permission and his blessing." She said: "Go and I will wait for you in the place called Oktokaidekaton. And if you suffer to live with me in silence, just as when we walked going to Jerusalem, and as we did when we returned here, come. But if you do not suffer to be in silence, do not come." Andronikos went to his elder Abba Daniel, and revealed to him his intentions. The elder recognized from the words of Andronikos, that Athanasios was in great progress of virtue. He therefore gave him permission, saying: "Go, love silence, and live with the brother, because he is a true monk, and is as a monk should be." Andronikos returned, and lived together with Athanasia for twelve years, without recognizing that she was his wife.

Many times Abba Daniel visited him. Conversing with them he advised them for the benefit of their souls. One time it happened that Abba Daniel went to meet them. When he said that which was suitable, he bid them farewell and returned to his cell. Andronikos ran behind him, and when he reached him he said: "Abba Athanasios is ill and is about to go to the Lord." The elder went back, and found Athanasios was suffering from a fever. Seeing the elder, she began to cry. The elder told her: "Instead of rejoicing that you are going to delight in the Lord, you are crying?" He said: "I am not crying for myself, but for Abba Andronikos. I ask you, do me a favor out of love. When you bury me, examine well near my head, and you will find a writing tablet with something written on it. Read it, and give it also to Abba Andronikos."

The three prayed, and blessed Athanasia received the immaculate Mysteries, then she reposed in the Lord. Abba Daniel then found the writing tablet and read it. By this he realized it was the wife of Andronikos, the renowned Athanasia. Being informed of this, when they buried her, they found not a man, but a woman. News of this spread to the entire Lavra. Abba Daniel notified the brothers, and all the Fathers who dwelled in the inner desert, and all the lavras and monasteries of Alexandria, and the entire city and all of Scetis gathered together for her burial. Those from Scetis all wore white garments, for it was the habit of those who lived in Scetis to wear white when they buried one of the brethren, as conquerors of the three enemies: the flesh, the world and he who has dominion over the world, namely the devil. With palms and branches they brought out the honorable relic of blessed Athanasia, and buried her with much reverence, glorifying God, who gave to His Saint such great patience. Abba Daniel stayed there to do the seventh memorial of the Venerable one. Afterwards he wanted to take with him Abba Andronikos. Andronikos did not want to, saying: "I also want to die here with my lady Athanasia." Hence the elder bid him farewell, and departed. After this a certain brother caught up with the elder and said to him: "Abba Andronikos is sick with a fever." Immediately Abba Daniel sent a message to the brethren of Scetis, saying: "Abba Andronikos is following Abba Athanasios, therefore gather together." They gathered together, and arrived while he was still alive. When all the Fathers asked for his blessing, he gave it to them, then the renowned one reposed in the Lord. There was strife and resistance as to who would take the relic of Andronikos, either those who lived in Oktokaidekaton or those from Scetis. When Abba Daniel was forced to cease this strife, he said: "He must be buried in Oktokaidekaton with his fellow struggler, Venerable Athanasia." Thus he was buried there, and everyone glorified God. Amen.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone
Ye adorned your divinely-wrought robe of chastity with the sublime varied colours of sacred virtues in God, when with one accord ye strove in the ascetic life. Wherefore, your silence on the earth was received equally with the thrice-holy hymn in heaven; O wise Andronikos, pray God, with Athanasia, that we all be saved.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Let us the faithful crown with laurels of befitting hymns the wise Andronikos, who lived in blameless righteousness, with the godly Athanasia, his spouse in Christ God; who have shown the type of lawful wedlock to the world and became divine examples of monastic life. Let us cry to them: Rejoice, O yoke-mates in holiness.