Orthodox Calendar

Dec. 15, 2023
Friday of the 28th week after Pentecost

Nativity Fast


  • Hieromartyr Eleutherius of Illyria
  • St Stephen of Surozh
  • Holy Martyr Eleutherius the Cubicularius (4th c.)
  • Holy Martyr Bacchus the New (787)
  • Our Venerable Father Tryphon of Kola, apostle of Laponia (1583), and his disciple the Holy Martyr Jonah (1590)

Scripture Readings (KJV)

Titus 1.15-2.10 (Epistle)

15Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

1But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: 2That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 6Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 7In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. 9Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; 10Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

Mark 9.33-41 (Gospel)

33And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

38And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 39But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40For he that is not against us is on our part. 41For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.


Holy Hieromartyr Eleutherius, Bishop of Illyria, and those with him (126)

His name is a form of the Greek word for “freedom.” He was a native of Rome whose father died at a young age, leaving him to be brought up by his mother Anthia, a Christian who reared him in the fear of God and the love of holiness. His virtue and ability were so evident that he was ordained a priest at the age of seventeen and at twenty was made Bishop of Illyria, a large see roughly comprising modern-day Serbia.

The young bishop’s pastoral and evangelistic work was so successful that many pagans were converted to the Faith through him. His growing reputation drew the attention of the Emperor Hadrian, who sent one of his senior officers named Felix to arrest the holy bishop. But when Felix saw and heard Eleutherius, he was captivated by his teaching, believed in Christ, and was baptized. He and the St Eleutherius returned and presented themselves together before the Emperor, fearlessly confessing their faith.

Eleutherius was subjected to brutal torture, during which the city prefect Coremonus, who had suggested some of the tortures, was enlightened through the Saint’s prayers for his enemies, and proclaimed Christ. He was baptized by Eleutherius and later beheaded. After a time, when it became clear that fire and torture would not move the holy bishop, he was taken to the amphitheater and beheaded. At the moment of his death, his mother Anthia rushed forward and took his body in her arms. There she also was beheaded by the executioners.

Pregnant women call on St Eleutherius that they may have a safe delivery.

Holy Martyr Eleutherius the Cubicularius (4th c.)

He was from a noble family in Constantinople, and rose to the rank of Cubicularius (Chamberlain). He was not only a counselor to, but a close friend of, the Emperor (probably Julian the Apostate). But Eleutherius was increasingly moved by a desire to become a Christian; so, obtaining a leave from the Imperial court, he moved to the countryside in Bithynia, where he was baptized. There he built a house that concealed an underground chapel.

When Eleutherius returned to court, some jealous courtiers denounced him to the Emperor, who visited Eleutherius’ country house and was furious to discover the underground church. When the Saint would not renounce his faith in Christ, the Emperor, ignoring all previous bonds of friendship, had him beheaded.

Holy Martyr Bacchus the New (787)

During the reign of Constantine VI and Irene, restorers of the holy icons, the Holy Land was under the control of the Muslim Arabs. Many Christians there apostatized, putting honors and security in this world above their eternal joy. One of these was the father of this Saint, who brought up seven children as Muslims. His wife however, never renounced her Faith and prayed constantly for the conversion of her husband and children. Upon the death of the father, her third son Dachak declared that he wished to become a Christian. He was baptized in the Monastery of St Sabas near Jerusalem, receiving the name Bacchus, and determined to be a monk. But the abbot, fearing reprisals against the Monastery, sent him back to his home in Jerusalem. His brothers, seeing his joy and boldness in confessing the Faith, decided to receive holy Baptism, except for one, who denounced Bacchus to the authorities. He was arrested and brought before the judge and, when he proved steadfast in his confession of Christ, was beheaded.

Our Venerable Father Tryphon of Kola, apostle of Laponia (1583), and his disciple the Holy Martyr Jonah (1590)

Saint Tryphon was the son of a priest from Novgorod. The Synaxarion records that, at the moment of his birth, the verse Blessed is the life of those who dwell in the desert was being sung in the Matins service. In 1525 he was moved by a divine revelation to flee to the far north of Russia and live as a hermit. He settled near the River Kola, where he devoted his nights to prayer, his days to proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to the native peoples there. The pagans were hostile at first, but his patience and humility won them over, and he baptized many. He built them a church with his own hands on the shores of Lake Ladoga, and later founded a monastery there. Saint Tryphon reposed in 1583. He predicted his own death and the coming destruction of the Monastery by the Swedes, which came to pass in 1590. All the monks were massacred. The first victim, Starets Jonah, worked many miracles at the Monastery after its restoration.