Saint Agatha is one of the most beloved saints martyrs in the East and West, venerated especially in Sicily and Catania as their patron saint. She had dedicated herself to the service of the Lord. She kept her promise to the Lord and her faith in Christ despite the great seductions of the world, flattery and brutal torture. For her endurance, she received the gift of miracle-working, and is credited with the salvation of multiple lives in natural disasters.
She was born into a rich and illustrious family in Sicily. Word about her beauty spread across the land, but she had promised to God to live a life of piety, adorning herself only with Christian virtues. She lived during the reign of Emperor Decius, who had unleashed vicious persecution of Christians. At fifteen years of age, someone reported her as a Christian to the authorities.
They took her to court for trial and execution, but the provincial governor Quintinian saw her and was enamoured by her beauty. He offered her his hand in marriage. He used cunning, deception and flattery to tempt her into breaking her oath to God and get her to worship the idols. He housed her in a rich home with a woman with five daughters, who tempted her with fine clothes and amusements. When nothing worked, he subjected her to brutal torture. After a round of particularly cruel torments, he had her thrown into a dungeon to die. But Saint Peter came to her in a vision and healed her wounds. When the tortures continued on the next day, an earthquake broke out partially destroying the Governor's palace. Fearing the wrath of the saint’s God, the people demanded that her torture stop and she be released. Instead, the governor had her thrown back into prison where she peacefully departed to God.
Many people came to her funeral. Her guardian angel placed a marble slab over her grave that said: “A righteous mind, self-determining, honour from God, the deliverance of her fatherland." Her tormentor Quintinian died a day later in an accident. Exactly a year after her death, Mount Etna erupted, and Catania was about to be buried under the Lava. The residents of the city remembered the angel’s description of the slab, picked it up and carried it to the stream of the lava. The lava stopped, and the city of Catania was saved from destruction.
May 23rd (June 5th) is the day when the Orthodox commemorate a very special Belarusian saint, St Euphrosinia of Polotsk. As you may know, the abbess of our Convent bears the saint’s name, which means that it is her name day as well.
On 28 October, the Orthodox Christians of Belarus commemorate 23 saints martyrs of the Minsk Diocese, glorified in 1999 as locally venerated saints. They suffered from 1917 to 1951, sharing the struggles of our Church in the 20th century.
December 19, the memorial day of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra, is a patronal feast in our convent. St. Nicholas (Velimirović) of Serbia has left us an instructive message dedicated to this great saint.
February 7 is the birthday of the Venerable Porphyrios Kavsokalivite, one of the most famous Athonite elders of the twentieth century. He reposed in the Lord on December 2, 1991, and was canonised on December 1, 2013.
In 1923, the future martyr was only 26 years old. Seeing the unfolding persecution of the Church, he was ordained priest with the words, "We need to protect the faith". Priest Valerian Novitsky was arrested and executed in 1930.
The Belarusian Orthodox Church is glorified by the names of many local saints. February 6 is the Feast day of not only the Blessed Xenia of St Petersburg, but also of another prominent saint, almost her contemporary, Blessed Eldress Valentina…
Recently, we had a unique opportunity to talk about the holy martyr Vladimir Pasternatsky with his granddaughters, Nina Fedorovna Chmyreva and Tatiana Romanovna Khmelevskaya. The sister told us about their saintly grandfather and his family
The Optina Monastery is a famous stauropegion of the Russian Orthodox Church, located in the Kaluga region. A stauropegion is a church or monastery exempt from the jurisdiction of the local bishop and directly subject to the highest authority…