Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Holy Youths Ananias, Azarias and Misael
Their wonderful story is told in the Book of Daniel, in which the coming of Christ is prophesied and prefigured in several places. Large portions of the book are missing from the protestant Bible: make every effort to obtain and read the full version. The Prayer and Song of the Three Youths in the Furnace have become the Seventh and Eighth of the Old Testament Odes of the Matins Canon; the Odes are sung in full only in monasteries during Lent. The Three Youths’ sojourn in the fiery furnace is prominent in Orthodox hymns and devotions, for their passage through the flames unharmed is a type of the holy Virgin’s incorrupt birth-giving: receiving the divine Fire within her womb, she was not consumed but remained ever-virgin.
According to the Synaxarion, Daniel reposed in peace at the age of eighty, two years after the return of the Hebrew people from their captivity in Babylon. The Three Youths also reposed in peace. But St Cyril of Alexandria writes that all of them met a martyr’s end, by beheading.
According to tradition these four were among the righteous dead who rose at Christ’s Crucifixion and were seen by many (Matthew ch. 27).
The Three Holy Youths were named, in Hebrew, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael; the names given above are Greek renderings of the Hebrew names. Their captors also gave them Babylonian names, by which they are also called: Shadrach, Abed-nego, and Meshak, respectively. Daniel was given the Babylonian name Belteshazzar.
Our Holy Father Dionysius the New of Zakinthos (1624)
He was born to pious and wealthy parents on the island of Zakinthos. Early in life he renounced his wealth and worldly honors to enter monastic life. His virtue became so well known that he was appointed Archbishop of Aegina, where he served for many years. In time, in order to retire to a life of solitude and struggle, he resigned and returned to his homeland where he entered a monastery in the mountains. Here he received the grace of performing miracles, and worked many healing and saving wonders among the people of Zakinthos.
A story from the Synaxarion reveals his character as one truly united to Christ: “He excelled above all in love of neighbour and in meekness. One day the murderer of the Saint’s own brother, fleeing the law and the members of his victim’s family, arrived at the monastery and begged Dionysius for asylum, little knowing to whom he was speaking. On gathering the reason for his flight and that his own brother was the victim, the man of God resisted with all his strength his natural grief and the temptation to avenge the crime. Imitating Christ, who pardoned his enemies and prayed for his persecutors, he received the fugitive with compassion, comforted him, exhorted him to repent and hid him in an out-of-the-way cell. When his pursuing kinsmen reached the monastery with the dreadful news, the Saint did not reveal that he knew it already, but did his best with words of peace to allay the wrath of his relatives and their desire for vengeance. As soon as they moved off, he let out the murderer (who was amazed and terror-struck before such superhuman goodness) and having provided him with victuals and money for his journey, he sent him away to work freely at the salvation of his soul.”
The holy bishop reposed in 1622 after a long and painful illness. He has continued to work signs and miracles and to appear from time to time to the people of Zakinthos, who venerate him as their protector and patron.