Orthodox Calendar

Dec. 29, 2023
Friday of the 30th week after Pentecost

No Fast


  • Holy Innocents Slain by Herod
  • Our Venerable Father Marcellus, Abbot of the Monastery of the Unsleeping Ones (485)

Scripture Readings (KJV)

Hebrews 11.8, 11-16 (Epistle)

8By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 11Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. 13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Mark 12.1-12 (Gospel)

1And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. 2And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. 3And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. 4And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. 5And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. 6Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. 7But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. 8And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 9What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. 10And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: 11This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 12And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.


The Holy Infants Killed for Christ's Sake in Bethlehem

See Matthew ch. 2. Their number is sometimes put at fourteen thousand.

In our own day, the icon of “Rachel weeping for her children” (Matthew 2:18) has come to commemorate also the tens of millions of children who have died through abortion.

Our Venerable Father Marcellus, Abbot of the Monastery of the Unsleeping Ones (485)

He was born to a wealthy family in Syria at the beginning of the fifth century. Early in life he saw the futility of worldly things, gave away all of his wealth, and went to Ephesus, where he earned his living as a scribe. There he was schooled in the virtues by his fellow-worker Promotus, a slave who distributed most of his earnings to the poor; after the day’s work was done, Promotus would take Marcellus to pray all night in the churches and monasteries.

Marcellus heard of the Saint Alexander the Unsleeping (February 25), who had settled near Constantinople with about thirty disciples, who made it their discipline to send up prayer and praise to God at every hour of the day and night. The monastery aroused the resentment of some more worldly monasteries, and the brethren were forced to flee to Bithynia. It was there that Marcellus joined them and took the monastic habit.

After the death of St Alexander and his successor, Marcellus was elected Abbot of the monastery against his will. Under his direction the Monastery of the Unsleeping Ones became a beacon of sanctity, with monks flocking to it from every corner of the Empire. The practice of never-ceasing service to God spread throughout the Empire, in both the West and the East. The monks were divided into three companies according to the language they spoke: Greek, Latin, or Syriac; each company took its turn celebrating the services in its particular language, and thus every hour of the day was given over to God’s glory. The monastery not only grew but give birth to others: The famed Studion Monastery in Constantinople was founded by monks from Marcellus’ monastery.

Saint Marcellus took part in the Council of Chalcedon, defending Orthodoxy against the Monophysite heresy both at the Council and in the years that followed. His generosity and contempt for worldly wealth were known to all: anyone who came to the monastery in need received alms, but God always replenished the funds so that more could be given. When Marcellus inherited his family’s fortune upon his brother’s death, he kept none of it either for himself or even for his monastery, but distributed it to poorer communities and to the needy.

Saint Marcellus reposed in peace around 484, having lived the ascetical life for some sixty years.