St Cyril, archbishop of Jerusalem (386)
He was born in Jerusalem in 315, ordained to the priesthood in 346, and succeeded Maximus as Archbishop of Jerusalem in 350. He was exiled three times by the Arian Emperors Constantius and Valens for his unwavering defense of the Faith. Restored by the Emperor Theodosius, he did not return to the throne, but lived for eight years in peace before reposing in 386.
He was known to all his people as a tireless defender of the poor, and as a great ascetic. He was gentle and humble in his bearing, pale and gaunt from fasting. He struggled throughout his time against the Arian heresy, which had become very strong, claiming the allegiance even of the Emperors. In addition, he lived through the reign of Julian the Apostate, who tried by many means to weaken and undermine the Church and the Christian Faith.
Of St Cyril’s many writings, the best-known are his Catecheses, considered the oldest systematic summary of Christian teaching.
St Ananias (Aninus) the Wonderworker (?)
“Born in Chalcedon, he was little of stature, like Zaccheus, but great in spirit and faith. He denied himself to the world at the age of fifteen and settled near the River Euphrates in a little hut, where he atoned for his sins, and prayed to God, at first with his teacher Mayum and then, after Mayum’s death, alone. By the power of his prayers he filled an empty well with water, healed the sick of various pains and tamed wild beasts. There was a tamed lion with him as his servant. He had insight into distant happenings. When robbers attacked a stylite, Pionius, at some distance from him, and beat him up to such an extent that he decided to come down from his pillar and go to complain to the judges, St Aninus saw his intention in his soul and sent him a letter by means of his lion, telling him to set aside his intention, to forgive his assaulters and to continue in his asceticism. He was inexpressibly generous. The bishop of Neo-Caesarea made a gift to him of a donkey, to ease his carrying of water from the river, but he gave this donkey to some poor man who had complained to him of his poverty. The bishop gave him a second donkey, but he gave that away. Then the bishop gave him a third donkey, not for his own but only to serve as a water-carrier, to be kept and returned. At the time of his death, he saw Moses, Aaron and Or coming to him and calling: ‘Aninus, the Lord is calling you. Get up and come with us.’ This he revealed to his disciples, and gave his spirit to the Lord whom he had served so faithfully. He was 110 years old when he finished his earthly course.” (Prologue)
Saint Nikolai (Velimirovic), Bishop of Ochrid and Zica, Serbia (1956)(March 5 OC)
He has been called ‘The New Chrysostom’ for his many grace-filled sermons and writings.
He was born in 1880 in the Serbian village of Lelich. After attending the Seminary of St Sava in Belgrade, he obtained doctoral degrees from both the University of Berne and Oxford University. In 1919, Archimandrite Nikolai was made Bishop of Zica.
In 1941 Bishop Nikolai was arrested by the Nazis and, after three years’ imprisonment in Ljubostir Vojlovici Monastery, was sent to the infamous Dachau concentration camp along with the Serbian Patriarch Gavrilo. He both witnessed and personally underwent many tortures there until the camp was liberated by the US army in 1945.
After the war he fled Communist-controlled Yugoslavia and emigrated to the United States, where he taught at St Sava’s Seminary, St Vladimir Seminary and St Tikhon seminary. It was at St Tikhon Seminary that he reposed in 1956. His relics rested for awhile at St Sava’s Seminary in Libertyville IL, then were returned to Serbia, where they now reside.
Throughout his adult life, the holy monk and bishop poured forth a steady stream of beautiful homilies and theological and spiritual writings. He is the author of the Prologue from Ochrid, a Slavic Synaxarion. The luminous homilies included therein, one for each day of the year, give a good sample of his inspired writing.
His feast is kept on this day (March 5 OC, March 18 NC) by Orthodox Christians on both the Old and New Calendars.
Note: With the blessing of Bishop Jovan of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Mitrophan Chin is engaged in a project to translate St Nikolai’s Prologue into Chinese. To learn more about this worthy project, see his web site: http://chineseorthodox.n3.net