1. The Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite.
He is counted among the seventy lesser apostles. This wonderful man was of a noble, pagan family in Athens. Finishing his education in Athens, he went to Egypt to learn more. One day while he was there, the Lord Christ breathed His last on the Cross, and the sun was darkened and it was dark in Egypt for the space of three hours. Then Dionysius cried out: 'Either God the Creator of the world is suffering, or the world is ending.' Returning to Athens, he married a woman called Damaris and had sons by her. He was a member of the highest court in Greece, the Areopagus, and was always thereafter known as the Areopagite. When the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel in Athens, Dionysius was baptised with his whole household (Acts 17:34). Paul consecrated him bishop of Athens (he having left his wife and children and status from love of Christ), and he travelled widely with Paul, coming to know all the other apostles. He went especially to Jerusalem, to see the most holy Mother of God, and wrote of his meeting with her in one of his works, being at the burial of the Most Pure along with the other apostles. When his teacher, St Paul, suffered martyrdom, Dionysius desired to die such a death himself, so he went off to Gaul to preach the Gospel among the barbarians, accompanied by Rusticus, a priest, and a deacon called Eleutherius. They endured much but met with great success. By their labours, many were turned to the Christian faith and Dionysius built a small chapel in Paris* where he celebrated divine service. When he was ninety years old, he was seized and tortured for Christ, together with Rusticus and Eleutherius, until they were all three beheaded with the sword. The severed head of St Dionysius jumped a long way and fell in front of a Christian woman, Catula, who buried it with his body. He suffered in the time of Domitian, in the year 96. He wrote several famous works: on the names of God, on the heavenly and ecclesiastical hierarchies, on mystical theology and on the most holy Mother of God.
*Author's note: Some historians think that Dionysius of Paris was other than St Dionysius the Areopagite.
2. Our Holy Father John the Chozebite, the Egyptian.
He lived in asceticism in the community of Chozeba in the time of the Emperor Justinian. Whenever he served the Liturgy, he saw a heavenly light in the altar. Ananias, an elder, lived the ascetic life not far from him, and the humility of these two saints was wonderful. A man brought his mad son to Ananias, to be healed by his prayers. Ananias sent him to St John, as being greater than he. John could not disobey the elder, but cried out: 'In the name of Jesus Christ, it is Ananias, not I, who commands you to come out of this boy!' And the boy was healed immediately.
3. Our Holy Father Dionysius of the Kiev Caves.
He was a hieromonk and an anchorite. The following occurred at Easter in 1463: he was going round the graves with Cross and censer, to cense the relics and graves of the saints buried there. With overflowing joy in the Resurrection, he cried out on going into the caves: 'My holy fathers and brethren, Christ is risen!' At that, a voice like thunder rose from the tombs: 'He is risen indeed!'
4. St Hesychius the Chorebite.
He was at first careless for his soul's salvation, but he became seriously ill and died, and came back from the dead and was healed. This wrought a profound change in him. He shut himself in a cell on the Holy Mountain and spoke not a single word to anyone for twelve years. Before his death, the monks opened his cell and begged him to give them some instruction. He only said: 'He who ponders on death cannot sin.' From him descended those knows as the `hesychast', who held silence, pondering on God and mental prayer to be chief works of the true monk. They had a skate, known as the Hesychast or Silent, on the Holy Mountain. It is said of Gregory the Theologian that he was hesychast during the great Fast. St Hesychius lived in the sixth century.