Life & Faith

The Icon of the Savior "Not Made by Hands"

The Icon of the Savior, Image Not-Made-By-Hands, also Acheiropoieta (Byzantine Greek: αχειροποίητα, "made without hand") is one of the earliest icons witnessed to by the Church. The Feast of this icon is celebrated on August 16, during the afterfeast period of the feast of the Dormition, and is called the Third Feast-of-the-Savior in August.

According to Tradition

During the time of the earthly ministry of the Savior, Abgar, ruler in the Syrian city of Edessa, was afflicted with leprosy. Reports of the great miracles performed by the Lord extended throughout Syria (Matt. 4:24) and as far as Arabia at this time. Although not having seen the Lord, Abgar believed in him and wrote a letter requesting Christ to come and heal him. Abgar sent his court painter, Ananias, with this letter to Palestine telling him to paint an image of the Divine Teacher. Ananias was not able go to near Christ because of the great many people listening to his preaching. He attempted to produce an image of the Lord Jesus Christ from afar, but could not. The Lord called Ananias and promised to send his disciple in order to heal Abgar from the leprosy and instruct him in salvation. Then the Lord called for water and a towel. He wiped His face with the towel, and on it was His Divine Image.

Dormition of the Theotokos

The feast of the Dormition or Falling-asleep of the Theotokos is celebrated on the fifteenth of August, preceded by a two-week fast. This feast, which is also sometimes called the Assumption, commemorates the death, resurrection and glorification of Christ’s mother. It proclaims that Mary has been “assumed” by God into the heavenly kingdom of Christ in the fullness of her spiritual and bodily existence.

As with the nativity of the Virgin and the feast of her entrance to the temple, there are no biblical or historical sources for this feast. The Tradition of the Church is that Mary died as all people die, not “voluntarily” as her Son, but by the necessity of her mortal human nature which is indivisibly bound up with the corruption of this world.

7 Holy Maccabee Martyrs

The seven holy Maccabee martyrs Abim, Antonius, Gurias, Eleazar, Eusebonus, Alimus and Marcellus, their mother Solomonia and their teacher Eleazar suffered in the year 166 before Christ under the impious Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanes. This foolish ruler loved pagan and Hellenistic customs, and held Jewish customs in contempt. He did everything possible to turn people from the Law of Moses and from their covenant with God. He desecrated the Temple of the Lord, placed a statue of the pagan god Zeus there, and forced the Jews to worship it. Many people abandoned the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but there were also those who continued to believe that the Savior would come.

A ninety-year-old elder, the scribe and teacher Eleazar, was brought to trial for his faithfulness to the Mosaic Law. He suffered tortures and died at Jerusalem.

On the feast of the Procession of Honorable Wood of the Honorable and Life-Giving Cross of the Lord

On this day two feasts are celebrated: 1) the Procession, that is, bringing out of the Honorable Wood of the Honorable and Life-Giving Cross of the Lord, and 2) the celebration of the All-Merciful Savior Christ God and His Mother the Most Holy Theotokos, Mary. This is a minor feast. In Constantinople, during the time of the Greek emperors, on August 1 the Life-Giving Cross was carried out of the palace to the Church of the Hagia Sophia, and there was a blessing of the waters. This custom came to Russia from Greece. On this day after the Liturgy a small blessing of the waters in performed to bless the rivers, ponds, and lakes, and people process to these places from the church. The lesser blessing of the waters differs from the great, Theophany blessing of the waters in that hymns are chanted during the procession, and in that the prayers for the water blessing are shorter. Also, during the immersion of the cross into the water, "Save O Lord Thy people..." is sung, rather than "When Thou O Lord wast baptized in the Jordan."

Greatmartyr and Healer Panteleimon

The Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon was born in the city of Nicomedia into the family of the illustrious pagan Eustorgius, and he was named Pantoleon. His mother Saint Euboula (March 30) was a Christian. She wanted to raise her son in the Christian Faith, but she died when the future martyr was just a young child. His father sent Pantoleon to a pagan school, after which the young man studied medicine at Nicomedia under the renowned physician Euphrosynus. Pantoleon came to the attention of the emperor Maximian (284-305), who wished to appoint him as royal physician when he finished his schooling.

The hieromartyrs Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates, survivors of the massacre of 20,000 Christians in 303 (December 28), were living secretly in Nicomedia at that time. Saint Hermolaus saw Pantoleon time and again when he came to the house where they were hiding. Once, the priest invited the youth to the house and spoke about the Christian Faith. After this Pantoleon visited Saint Hermolaus every day.