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1. St Andrew, Archbishop of Crete.

Born in Damascus of Christian parents, he was dumb until the age of seven. When his parents took him to church for Communion, the power of speech was given to him. Such is the divine power of Communion. He went to Jerusalem at the age of fourteen and was tonsured in the monastery of St Sava the Sanctified. In his understanding and ascesis, he surpassed many of the older monks and was an example to all. The Patriarch took him as his secretary. When the Monothelite heresy, which taught that the Lord had no human will but only a divine one, began to rage, the Sixth Ecumenical Council met in Constantinople in 681, in the reign of Constantine IV. Theodore, Patriarch of Jerusalem, was not able to be present at the Council, and sent Andrew, then a deacon, as his representative. At the Council, Andrew showed his great gifts: his articulateness, his zeal for the Faith and his rare prudence. Being instrumental in confirming the Orthodox faith, Andrew returned to his work in Jerusalem. He was later chosen and enthroned as archbishop of the island of Crete. As archbishop, he was greatly beloved by the people. He was filled with zeal for Orthodoxy and strongly withstood all heresy. He worked miracles through his prayers, driving the Saracens from the island of Crete by means of them. He wrote many learned books, poems and canons, of which the best-known is the Great Canon of Repentance which is read in full on the Thursday of the Fifth Week of the Great Fast. Such was his outward appearance that, 'looking at his face and listening to the words that flowed like honey from his lips, each man was touched and renewed'. Returning from Constantinople on one occasion, he foretold his death before reaching Crete. And so it happened. As the ship approached the island of Mitylene, this light of the Church finished his earthly course and his soul went to the Kingdom of Christ, in about the year 740.

2. St Martha.

She was the mother of St Simeon of the Wonderful Mountain (see May 24th). Utterly consecrated in her soul, she had no thought of marriage. When her parents betrothed her to a young man, she planned to leave their home and retire from the world, but St John the Baptist appeared to her and counselled her to fulfill the desire of her parents and marry, which she did. From this marriage was born the great St Simeon, the ascetic of the Wonderful Mountain. She followed the practice of rising at midnight for prayer; she gave help to the needy with great compassion, visiting the poor and serving the sick. A year before her death, she saw a host of angels with candles in their hands, and learned from them the hour of her death. Learning this, Martha gave herself yet more fervently to prayer and good works. She entered peacefully into rest in 551, and was buried near the pillar of her son Simeon. She appeared a number of times after her death, to teach people and to heal the sick, and appeared in the following way to the superior of Simeon's community: after her funeral, the abbot kept the lamp burning on her grave, intending never to let it go out. But, after a certain time, the monks became lazy and the lamp went out. Then the superior was taken ill, and the saint appeared to him and said: 'Why are you not lighting the lamp on my grave? Know that the light of your candles is not needful to me, because God has made me worthy of His eternal, heavenly light, but it is needful for you. When you burn a light on my grave, you urge me to pray to the Lord for you.' From this it is clear that the goal of our veneration of the saints is to remind them, who are worthier than we, to pray to God for us and for our salvation.

From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK