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The Shepherd's Guild

Saints of December

A listing of a few saints commemorated in the month of December:


Saint Barbara

Commemorated on December 4

Saint Barbara was from Heliopolis of Phoenicia and lived during the reign of Maximian.

She was the daughter of a certain idolater named Dioscorus. When Barbara came of age, she was enlightened in her pure heart and secretly believed in the Holy Trinity. About this time Dioscorus began building a bath-house; before it was finished he was required to go away to attend to certain matters, and in his absence Barbara directed the workmen to build a third window in addition to the two her Father had commanded. She also inscribed the sign of the Cross with her finger upon the marble of the bath-house, leaving the saving sign cut as deeply into the marble as if it had been done with an iron too. (When the Synaxarion of Saint Barbara was written, the marble of the bath-house and the cross inscribed by Saint Barbara were still preserved, and many healings were worked there.) When Dioscorus returned, he asked why the third window had been added; Barbara began to declare to him the mystery of the Trinity. Because she refused to renounce her faith, Dioscorus tortured Barbara inhumanely, and after subjecting her to many sufferings he beheaded her with his own hands, in the year 290.

icon: www.comeandseeicons.com

St. Spyridon the Wonder-worker, Bishop of Tremithus

December 12
    Spyridon (Spiridon) was born in about 348 in Cyprus. He was an uneducated and unsophistticated shepherd with a wife and children. When he was chosen bishop of Tremithus for his great piety, he kept his living as a shepherd. One day, it is said, a robber came to steal a sheep from his fold. Spyridon found him there, as it were, in the act. "So that you won't have had trouble for nothing" he said, "take a ram and go. But I wish you would've asked first."
    He as a simple, but wise man. One day Spyridon was listening to the sermon of a famous preaher of Cypus. In quoting the gospels, the preacher substituted the more luxurious word "couch" for the original "bed." "What!" Spyridon said in response, "Are you better than the Lord who used the word 'bed' that you are ashamed to use His words?"
    Another time a traveler came to him, much worn by his journey. He had no food to set before him except some salted pork. It was Great Lent and the traveler did not want to break the fast. Spyridon replied, "You have good reason to eat. As St. Paul says 'to the pure, all things are pure." Spyridon himself began to eat the pork.
    He traveled to the First Ecumenical Council in Nicea in 325. He had no educated philosophical sublety, but he had the shrewdness of spiritual wisdom. When he heard two men arguing philosophically, he interrupted and silenced them by saying, "Christ and His apostles left us not a system of logic, but a naked truth to be guarded by faith and good works." After the council, he returned to his native Cyprus and died in peace in about 348. His relics were afterwards translated to Constantinople.
Source: "A Daily Calendar of Saints" by Rev. Lawrence R. Farley


St. Anastasia the Great Martyr

December 22
She was born in Rome to a wealthy and prominent family. Her father was pagan, Roman senator and her mother was a Christian. She chose to follow Christ, but was forced by her father to marry a wealthy pagan, Publius. She refused physical relations with her husband under a guise of feminine weakness. This and the fact that she was secretly using his wealth to minister to Christians in prison engaged Publius, so that he imprisoned her and tortured her. Publius was sent by the emperor to Persia and drowned on the voyage. Anastasia then used her great inheritance to openly minister to the Christians who were suffering. Emperor Diocletian went to Aquileia and summoned Chrysogonus (the holy man who had discipled Anastasia as a girl) and beheaded him. He also killed 3 sisters, Agapia, Chionia and Irene. Anastasia had followed her teacher to the town and witnessed these martyrdoms. She took their bodies, wrapped them in white linen and aromatic spices and buried them. She went to Macedonia and continued ministering to those who were suffering for Christ. She was arrested and repeatedly interrogated. Ulphian, a pagan priest, reached out in lust toward Anastasia and was suddenly blinded, then fell dead. They tried to starve her for thirty days in prison. Then they put her in a boat with other Christians to drown her, but she survived. Finally they put her to four wheels over a fire. She endured martyrdom in the year 304.
Source: www.comeandseeicons.com


St. Nicholas, Wonderworker and Archbishop of Myra

Commemorated on December 6
    He was born at the turn of the fourth century in Asia Minor, possibly in the town of Patara in Lycia. Some say that his uncle was bishop of his city and that he served for a while as a monk in a monastery there. It is likely that he suffered during the persecution of the Church prior to the peace of Constantine. He was elected bishop of Myra and served there as a faithful pastor and possibly even attended the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325. He vigorously opposed Arianism---so much so that story is told how he punched Arius at the Nicene Council! As bishop of the busy seaport town of Myra, devoted much of his energy to charitable work. The story is told of how he anonymously gave three bags of gold to a needy family with three daughters who otherwise would have had to send the girls out to earn a dishonorable living on the streets. He was a kindly  and compassionate pastor to his flock and a model for hierarchs---so much so, that in the weekly calendar of the church, where each day is given a special liturgical theme, he shares every Thursday with the apostles. He died in peace in the fourth century, one of the most beloved of the Church's saints.
Source: "A Daily Calendar of Saints" by Rev. Lawrence R. Farley


St. Hilarion the Hieromartyr and Archbishop of Vereiya
A 20th-Century Saint

Commemorated on December 15

The holy New Martyr Archbishop Hilarion (Vladimir Alexeevich Troitsky in the world), an outstanding theologian, an eloquent preacher, and a fearless defender of Christ's holy Church, was born around 1885.

Vladika Hilarion wrote many books and articles on various topics, including "The Unity of the Church." His Master's thesis, "An Outline of the History of the Church's Dogma," was over five hundred pages long, and was a well-documented analysis of the subject.
During the Council of 1917 he delivered a brilliant address calling for the restoration of the Moscow Patriarchate, which had been dissolved byTsar Peter I in the eighteenth century. When St Tikhon (April 7) was chosen as Patriarch, St Hilarion became his fervent supporter.

St Hilarion was consecrated as bishop on May 20, 1920, and so the great luminary was placed upon the lampstand (Luke 11:33). From that time, he was to know less than two years of freedom. He spent only six months working with Patriarch Tikhon.

Vladika was arrested and exiled in Archangelsk for a year, then he spent six years (1923-1929) in a labor camp seven versts from Solovki. There at the Filomonov Wharf he and at least two other bishops were employed in catching fish and mending nets. Paraphrasing the hymns of Pentecost, Archbishop Hilarion remarked, "Formerly, the fishermen became theologians. Now the theologians have become fishermen."

Archbishop Hilarion was one of the most popular inmates of the labor camp. He is remembered as tall, robust, and with brownish hair. Personal possessions meant nothing to him, so he always gave his things away to anyone who asked for them. He never showed annoyance when people disturbed him or insulted him, but remained cheerful.

In the summer of 1925, Vladika was taken from the camp and placed in the Yaroslav prison. There he was treated more leniently, and received certain privileges. For example, he was allowed to receive religious books, and he had pleasant conversations with the warden in his office. St Hilarion regarded his time at the Yaroslav Isolated Detention Center as the best part of his imprisonment. The following spring he was back at Solovki.

In 1929 the Communists decided to exile Archbishop Hilarion to Alma-Atu in central Asia. During his trip southward from the far north, St Hilarion was robbed and endured many privations. When he arrived in Petrograd, he was ill with typhus, infested with parasites and dressed in rags. When informed that he would have to be shaved, he replied, "You may now do with me whatever you wish." He wrote from the prison hospital, "My fate will be decided on Saturday, December 15. I doubt I will survive."

St Hilarion died at the age of forty-four in the hospital of a Petrograd prison on December 15, 1929. His body was placed in a coffin hastily made from some boards, and then was released to his family. The once tall and robust Archbishop Hilarion had been transformed by his sufferings into a pitiful white-haired old man. One female relative fainted when she saw the body.

Metropolitan Seraphim (Chichagov) provided a set of white vestments for the late Archbishop. He was also placed in a better coffin.

Metropolitan Seraphim presided at the funeral of St Hilarion, assisted by six bishops and several priests. The saint was buried at Novo-Divichy Monastery.
Source: OCA


St. Themistocles
December 21

Today the Church commemorates St. Themistocles, who came from Myra in Lycia and lived in the reign of Emperor Decius. He was a shepherd in the profession. the time Asclepius, the ruler of Lycia, began persecution of Christians and the goal was to capture the Holy witness Dioscorides. Dioscorides but fled to the condition where Themistocles herding sheep. The people of the prince and they moved to the mountain where he met Themistocles. When asked about his faith did not hesitate a moment to confess the one and only God. The soldiers hear the confession of his faith he was arrested and led to the governor Asclepius. Although the threats received by the St remained steadfast in his faith. This angered the Asclepius and ordered the torture. St. Themistocles gave his spirit up to martyrdom.