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The Shepherd's Guild

Saints of May

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


St. Theodosius, Abbot of the Kiev Far Caves Monastery and Founder of Coenobitic Monasticism in Russia

Commemorated on May 3

      He was born about 1008 in Vasilev, near Kiev. He spent his boyhood in Kursk and lived in great piety, often giving away his new clothes to the poor---much to his parents' vexation! After his father died, his mother was alarmed at his monastic temperament and tried to discourage him from this way. He left her at age twenty-four to search for a holy guide for his life, He found an ascetic, Anthony, who lived in a cave, and attached himself to him with devotion, sharing his hard life. He refused to leave the caves in which he lived with the ascetic Anthony, even though his mother, who came looking for him, burst into tears and begged him to return to her. Theodosius was eventually ordained to the priesthood and at length he became the abbot there. The community expanded under his leadership and Theodosius moved his monks to a lager physical facility in 1062. The monastery adopted the rule of the Studium monastery of Constantinople and also served the poor. Theodosius himself was an example to his monks---he was always the first to enter the church and the last to leave. He performed the most menial tasks even though he was abbot, such as cleaning out the stables and carrying water. When his monks went astray, he wept over them as a loving father. Some thought him too lax in discipline but he continued walking in the way of love. One day Theodosius was away from his monastery, visiting the prince. The prince arranged a coach to return him to his monastery. The coachman, not knowing who he was and thinking him but a poor beggar monk, roughly told him to drive while he rested. This Theodosius did without a work of rebuke. They changed places before arriving at the monastery. There the coachman was aghast to learn that his "beggar" was the great Theodosius, abbot of the monastery favored by the prince. Theodosius never told anyone of his rough treatment but instead gave orders that the coachman be given a good meal. Such was his humility. The saint died in peace in 1074, a great light for the Russian people.
Source: "A Daily Calendar of Saints" by Rev. Lawrence R. Farley


St John-Vladimir the Prince of Bulgaria, the Greatmartyr and Miracle-worker

Commemorated on May 22

The Holy Martyr John-Vladimir, a Serbian prince, was born in the tenth century. From his childhood he was raised in piety, and at maturity he wisely governed his holdings Illyria and Dalmatia, preserving the holy Faith in purity.

The noble prince was married to Kosara, a daughter of the Bulgarian Tsar Samuel. Summoned for talks with the Bulgarian Tsar John-Vladislav, he was treacherously murdered by the Tsar on May 22, 1015, at the entrance to a church. Kosara, the pious spouse of the holy prince, entered a women's monastery that she built, and where also she died, not leaving the church until the very end of her life. The relics of the holy prince are located near Elbosan. (Source: OCA)


Virginmartyr Theodosia the Nun of Constantinople

Commemorated on May 29

The Virgin Martyr Theodosia of Constantinople lived during the eighth century. She was born in answer to the fervent prayers of her parents. After their death, she was raised at the women's monastery of the holy Martyr Anastasia in Constantinople. St Theodosia became a nun after she distributed to the poor of what remained of her parental inheritance. She used part of the money to commission gold and silver icons of the Savior, the Theotokos, and St Anastasia.

When Leo the Isaurian (717-741) ascended the imperial throne, he issued an edict to destroy holy icons everywhere. Above the Bronze Gates at Constantinople was a bronze icon of the Savior, which had been there for more than 400 years. In 730, the iconoclast Patriarch Anastasius ordered the icon removed.

The Virgin Martyr Theodosia and other women rushed to protect the icon and toppled the ladder with the soldier who was carrying out the command. Then they stoned the impious Patriarch Anastasius, and Emperor Leo ordered soldiers to behead the women. St Theodosia, an ardent defender of icons, was locked up in prison. For a week they gave her a hundred lashes each day. On the eighth day, they led her about the city, fiercely beating her along the way. One of the soldiers stabbed the nun in the throat with a ram's horn, and she received the crown of martyrdom.

The body of the holy virgin martyr was reverently buried by Christians in the monastery of St Euphemia in Constantinople, near a place called Dexiokratis. The tomb of St Theodosia was glorified by numerous healings of the sick.
Source: OCA


Sts. Timothy & Maura
Commemorated on May 3
Saints Timothy and Maura suffered for the faith during the persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). St Timothy came from the village of Perapa (Egyptian Thebaid), and was the son of a priest. He was made a reader among the church clergy, and also a keeper and copyist of divine service books. St Timothy was denounced as a keeper of Christian books, which the emperor ordered to be confiscated and burned. They brought St Timothy before the governor Arian, who demanded that he hand over the sacred books. They subjected the saint to horrible tortures for his refusal to obey the command. They shoved two red-hot iron rods into his ears, from which the sufferer lost his eyesight and became blind. St Timothy bravely endured the pain and he gave thanks to God, for granting him to suffer for Him. The torturers hung the saint head downwards, putting a piece of wood in his mouth, and they tied a heavy stone to his neck. St Timothy's suffering was so extreme, that even those who tortured him implored the governor to ease up on the torture.
About this time they informed Arian that Timothy had a young wife named Maura, whom he had married only twenty days before. Arian ordered Maura to be brought, hoping that with her present, they could break St Timothy's will. St Timothy urged his wife not to fear the tortures, but to follow his path. St Maura answered, "I am prepared to die with you," and she boldly confessed herself a Christian. Arian commanded that the hair be torn from her head, and to cut the fingers off her hands. St Maura underwent the torment with joy and even thanked the governor for the torture, which she endured so that her sins might be forgiven. Then Arian gave orders to throw St Maura into a boiling cauldron, but she did not feel any pain, and she remained unharmed. Suspecting that the servants had filled the cauldron with cold water out of sympathy for the martyr, Arian went up and ordered the saint to splash him on the hand with water from the cauldron. When the martyr did this, Arian screamed with pain and drew back his scalded hand. Then, momentarily admitting the power of the miracle, Arian confessed God in Whom Maura believed as the True God, and he ordered her to be released. But the devil still held great power over the governor, and soon he again began to urge St Maura to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Having gotten nowhere, Arian was overcome all the more by a satanic rage and he came up with new tortures. Then the people began to murmur and demand a stop to the abuse of this innocent woman. But St Maura, turning to the people, said, "Let no one defend me. I have one Defender, God, in Whom I trust." Finally, after torturing them for a long time, Arian ordered the martyrs to be crucified. For ten days they hung on crosses facing each other. On the tenth day of martyrdom the saints offered up their souls to the Lord. This occurred in the year 286. Later, a solemn celebration of the holy martyrs Timothy and Maura was instituted at Constantinople, and a church was built in their honor.
source: OCA


Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Equals-to-the-Apostles and Teachers of the Slavs

Commemorated on May 11
    Constantine and Methodius were wealthy brothers. They were natives of Thessalonica, a border city where Greeks and Slavs mixed together. Constantine had a career in the imperial court, but forsook it to live as a monk. His older brother Methodius had a career in the army which he also forsook for monastic discipline. The two retired to a monastery in Mount Olympus in 850. In 858, the Khazars of southern Russia asked the emperor to send some missionaries to them and he sent Constantine and Methodius. They worked among the Khazars for about ten years and then went to Constantinople. In 862, the Slavs of Moravia asked the emperor for missionaries and the brothers were again sent. The people of Moravia had already been sent western missionaries, but these missionaries insisted on using Latin and the Moravians wanted to worship in the their own language. Constantine and Methodius therefore translated the Scriptures and the liturgy for the people into their own language. They had to invent an alphabet to do this (the so-called "Cyrillic" alphabet). The western missionaries there were quite hostile to Constantine and Methodius' efforts and accused  them interfering with their work. They were sent to Rome in 868 to explain why they interfered and why they the vernacular in their work instead of Latin. The pope of Rome agreed with Constantine and Methodius and blessed them to continue using the Slavic vernacular in their mission in Moravia. While in Rome, Constantine died. He was formally tonsured a monk before his death and given the name Cyril. Methodius returned to his mission field, having been ordained by the pope as archbishop of Pannonia and Moravia. This added authority did not help him with his Latin opposition there---the western bishops had him arrested and imprisoned. He was tried and banished to a prison in faraway Swabia. There he remained until a later pope learned of it in 873 and had him released. He was continually harassed and accused by the western bishops even though he had the support of Rome. In 881, he was invited to the capital in Constantinople and was received with honor there. The combined support of Constantinople and Rome at last overcame the opposition of the western bishops, and he was left by them in peace to do his missionary work. He died in peace in 885. The work of Cyril and Methodius stands as a testimony to the desire of the Church to have all the nations to the earth hear the Gospel and worship God in their own vernacular language.
Source: "A Daily Calendar of Saints" by Rev. Lawrence R. Farley