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

22 April / 5 May

Our Holy Father Theodore the Sykeote

His birthplace was the village of Sykeon in Galatia, because of which he was named 'the Sykeote'. While still a ten-year- old boy, Theodore gave himself to strict fasting and night-long vigils under the eye of an elder, Stephen, who lived in his house. His mother, Maria, was a rich widow and intended her son to devote himself to a soldier's calling. But St George appeared to her in her sleep and told her that Theodore was destined for the service, not of an earthly king, but of the King of heaven. St George also appeared to Theodore many times, either to instruct him or to save him from some danger in which the evil demons had placed him. He also had several visions of the most holy Mother of God. Theodore's asceticism exceeded in its severity the asceticism of all the other ascetics of his time. He tormented his body in hunger and thirst and iron girdles and standing all night in prayer. All this—only to link his soul in love to God and to achieve total mastery over his body. The merciful Lord's love responded to Theodore's love. He gave him great power over evil spirits and over all the ills and pains of men. He became known on all sides as a miraculous healer. For his great purity and devotion, he was chosen against his wishes as Bishop of Anastasioupolis. He spent eleven years in episcopal service, and then begged God to release him from this service in order to devote himself again to his beloved asceticism. After that, he returned to his monastery, where, in old age, he gave his soul to the Lord for whose sake he had undergone so much voluntary suffering. He died at the beginning of the reign of the Emperor Heraclius, in about 613. The Holy Martyr Leonidas.

Our Holy Father, the Monk Vitalis

During the time of the Alexandrian Patriarch John the Merciful, a young monk appeared who, as soon as he arrived, complied a list of all the prostitutes in Alexandria. The mortification (asceticism) of this young monk was exceptional and unique. During the day he would offer himself for hire to do the most difficult jobs and at night, he would enter the houses of ill repute, gave the earned amount of money to some prostitute and close himself in the room with her the entire night. As soon as they were locked up, Vitalis would beg the woman to lie down and sleep and he would spend the entire night in a corner of the room in prayer to God for that sinner. Thus, he would save the woman from sinning at least one night. The second night, he would go to a second, the third night to a third and so on until he had visited them all, and then, he again returned to the one with whom he started. By his counselling, many of the sinners abandoned their sullied trade. Some of them married, others entered convents and still others turned to a respectable work and income. Vitalis forbid all of these women to reveal the reason why he was visiting them. Because of this, Vitalis became a scandal for all of Alexandria. The men began to scold him, spit upon him and to openly beat him on the streets. He bore all patiently, making known his good works to God and concealing them from men. When he died, everything about him became known. Many miracles of healing occurred over his grave. People from different places began to bring their sick to his grave. Spat upon by men, he was and remained glorified by the Omniscient God.

Return to the index or the advanced search page.