Scripture Readings (KJV)
Isaiah 43.9-14 (Vespers)
9Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth.
10Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
11I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.
12I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.
13Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?
14Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships.
Wisdom of Solomon 3.1-9 (Vespers)
1But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them.
2In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is taken for misery,
3And their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace.
4For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality.
5And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God proved them, and found them worthy for himself.
6As gold in the furnace hath he tried them, and received them as a burnt offering.
7And in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble.
8They shall judge the nations, and have dominion over the people, and their Lord shall reign for ever.
9They that put their trust in him shall understand the truth: and such as be faithful in love shall abide with him: for grace and mercy is to his saints, and he hath care for his elect.
Wisdom of Solomon 5.15-6.3 (Vespers)
15But the righteous live for evermore; their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the most High.
16Therefore shall they receive a glorious kingdom, and a beautiful crown from the Lord’s hand: for with his right hand shall he cover them, and with his arm shall he protect them.
17He shall take to him his jealousy for complete armour, and make the creature his weapon for the revenge of his enemies.
18He shall put on righteousness as a breastplate, and true judgment instead of an helmet.
19He shall take holiness for an invincible shield.
20His severe wrath shall he sharpen for a sword, and the world shall fight with him against the unwise.
21Then shall the right aiming thunderbolts go abroad; and from the clouds, as from a well drawn bow, shall they fly to the mark.
22And hailstones full of wrath shall be cast as out of a stone bow, and the water of the sea shall rage against them, and the floods shall cruelly drown them.
23Yea, a mighty wind shall stand up against them, and like a storm shall blow them away: thus iniquity shall lay waste the whole earth, and ill dealing shall overthrow the thrones of the mighty.
1Hear therefore, O ye kings, and understand; learn, ye that be judges of the ends of the earth.
2Give ear, ye that rule the people, and glory in the multitude of nations.
3For power is given you of the Lord, and sovereignty from the Highest, who shall try your works, and search out your counsels.
(1st Matins Gospel)
16Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Hebrews 11.33-12.2 (Epistle)
33Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
1Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Matthew 10.32-33, 37-38, 19.27-30 (Gospel)
32Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
37He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
27Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
28And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
30But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
Virgin-martyr Theodosia of Tyre (308)
During the persecutions of the Emperor Maximian, the virgin Theodosia came to comfort a group of Christians who were standing before the governor of Caesarea in Palestine. When she encouraged them not to shun martyrdom, she too was brought before the judge, who ordered that a stone be tied around her neck and that she be thrown into the sea; but angels carried her to shore unharmed. The judge then ordered that she be beheaded. The night that the sentence was carried out, Theodosia appeared to her parents, surrounded by heavenly light and accompanied by other virgin martyrs, and said, ‘Do you see how great is the glory and grace of my Christ, of which you wished to deprive me?’ (Her parents, wishing to preserve her from martyrdom, had tried to prevent her from confessing Christ).
Commemoration of the First Ecumenical Council (325)
The council was called by the Emperor Constantine the Great and held in Nicea in 325. The teaching of the Alexandrian priest Arius — that Christ is not co-eternal with the Father, but is His divine creation — was attracting many followers throughout the empire, and the Emperor wished for a statement of correct doctrine from the Church. Present at the council were 318 holy hierarchs, including St Nicholas of Myra, St Athanasius the great, and St Spyridon. The council clearly condemned the Arian heresy, formulated the first version of the Symbol of Faith (often called the Nicene Creed), and propounded twenty canons. The Fathers of the Council are commemorated on the Sunday after Ascension.
The Fall of Constantinople (1453); "Blessed Constantine XII, last of the Byzantine emperors, martyred by the Turks (1453)"
On this date in 1453, Constantinople, the capital city of the Christian world, was sacked by the forces of Sultan Mehmet (Mohammed) II, bringing it under Turkish rule, where it remains to this day.
Constantine XII, the last Byzantine Emperor, died defending the city. Sources are sharply divided as to whether he is to be counted as a Christian Martyr. The designation “Blessed Constantine”, above, is from the St Herman Calendar, whose compilers cite Russian martyrologies which list him as a saint. However, the Prologue cites the fall of Constantinople while pointedly omitting any praise of Constantine. He accepted (and never publicly renounced) the false “union” of Florence, and so is counted by some as a heretic. Many Orthodox Christians, including many of the people of Constantinople, saw the city’s fall as divine retribution for the Empire’s acceptance of the union.
Before his death the Emperor donned soldier’s armor and helped to man the ramparts of the City; his body was never found. Though various legends abound, the most likely explanation is that he died with many other defenders and was cast with them into a common grave.