St. John the Baptist Parish, A Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church, Canberra, Australia

12 / 25 December

St Herman, Wonderworker of Alaska

Icon of St. Herman At an early age entered the Holy Trinity Sergius Hermitage near the Gulf of Finland, where he was miraculously healed of a dangerous carbuncle by the Mother of God. He later moved to Valaam Monastery, which he greatly loved all his life. He was one of the ten monks selected by Abbot Nazarius for missionary travel to the far reaches of Russia - that part which is now Alaska. A church and school were founded and many adults and children baptised. Over the years the mission was reduced to St. Herman alone. He then chose Spruce Island as the place for his seclusion and monastic labour, naming it 'New Valaam'. He travelled at times to speak to others of Christ's boundless love for man and how one should love God. Before his repose in 1836, he attained such a degree of holiness that he was granted the gifts of miracle working and prophecy. He is a great benefactor to all those who thirst for their eternal heavenly homeland.

St Spiridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tremithus

The island of Cyprus was both the birthplace of this famous saint, and the place in which he spent his life in the service of the Church. He was of simple farming stock, and remained simple and humble to the end of his days. He married young and had children, but, when his wife died, he devoted himself entirely to the service of God. He was chosen for his devotion as Bishop of Tremithus, and even as a bishop did not change his simple style of life, taking charge of his cattle himself and tilling his own land. He consumed very little of his own produce, giving the greater part to the poor. He performed great wonders by God's power, making rain fall in a drought, stopping the course of a river, raising several of the dead, healing the Emperor Constans of a grave sickness, seeing and hearing angels, foreseeing future events and penetrating the secrets of the human heart. He turned many to the true Faith, and did much else. He was present at the first Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325, and, by his simple and clear expositions of the Faith, as well as by convincing miracles, brought back many heretics to Orthodoxy. He dressed so simply that once, when he was invited by the Emperor to the imperial court, a soldier took him for a beggar and struck him a blow. The meek and guileless Spiridon turned him the other cheek. He glorified God with many miracles, and was of great aid both to individuals and to the whole Church of God. He entered into rest in the Lord in 348, and his wonderworking relics now lie on the island of Corfu and continue to glorify God with many wonders.

St. Finnian of Clonard, founder of Skelling Michael, Ireland (549)

Born c.470 at Myshall, County Carlow, Ireland A pious youth, he founded three churches in Ireland while still a layman. Studied in Wales under Saint Cadoc and Saint Gildas. Monk. Great admirer of Saint Patrick. Considered one of the great founders of Irish monasticism. Founded the monastery at Clonard, Meath, Ireland c.520 which lasted a thousand years, and was a training centre for great Irish saints. Spiritual teacher of Saint Columba of Iona, Saint Columba of Terryglass, Saint Ciaran of Clommacnois, Saint Brendan the Voyager, Saint Nathy, Saint Nennius and others. Maintained close relations with the British Church. Often referred to as a bishop, there is no evidence he was ever so consecrated. Many miracles are attributed to him. Birds would gather around him because of his gentle holiness. Reported to have cleared parasitic insects, worms and vermin from the island of Flathlom and the regions of Nantcarfan. One report says that he fended off a party of Saxon raiders by causing an earthquake to swallow their camp. Died c.549-552 at Clonard, Meath, Ireland of plague.

Troparion (tone 8): Truly thou art the "Tutor of the Saints of Ireland",/ O Founder of Clonard, great Father Finnian./ As thou didst tirelessly teach the faith in thy native land,/ so teach us to follow thy example that many may come to know Christ/ and be led into the Way of Salvation.

St. Colman of Glendalough, Ireland (659)

Troparion (tone 8): Giving thy life to Christ in monastic poverty,/ thou didst teach us a God- pleasing set of values, O Father Colman./ Wherefore intercede with Christ our God that He will instill in us constancy of faith, patience in trials and freedom from worldliness/ that we may be found worthy of His great mercy. St. Columba of Leinster whose Tropar in Tone 8 is: O pious Columba, as a disciple of our Father Finnian and a renowned struggler,/ thou didst shine forth in the ascetic life./ O Ireland's treasure, cease not to pray for those who labour,/ weeping and repenting, for the salvation of their souls.

On the same day: relics originally enshrined in Clonard, but were destroyed in the 9th century; Synaxis of the first martyrs of the American land: Hieromartyr Juvenal, Peter the Aleut, and Russian New Martyrs Anatole (Kamensky) of Irkutsk and Seraphim (Samoilovich) of Uglich and priest John (Kochurov) of Chicago and Alexander (Khotovitsky) of New York; The Hieromartyr Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem; The Holy Martyr Synesius

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