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September 24th, 2023
Proto-martyr Thekla, equal-to-the-Apostles;
Venerable Silouan of Athos
On September 24 in the Holy Orthodox Church, we commemorate the holy Great-Martyr Thekla, equal-to-the-Apostles.
Himself that rent the rock saveth thee, O Thekla,
At Whose Passion once the rocks were rent asunder.
On the twenty-fourth the rock welcomed Thekla.
She was born in Iconium of eminent but pagan parents. At age 18, she was betrothed to a young man named Thamyris at the same time that the Apostle Paul arrived in Iconium with Barnabas to preach the Gospel. Hearing Paul’s testimony for three days and nights, Thekla converted to the Christian Faith, and vowed to live in virginity. Her mother, seeing that she was now ignoring her betrothal, tried to dissuade her, and then beat her and tortured her by starvation. Finally, this wicked mother turned Thekla over to the judge and demanded that Thekla be burned. The judge threw her into the fire, but God preserved her unharmed by pouring rain on the fire. Once in an arena and sentenced to death, Thekla saw a vat of water that contained carnivorous seals. Thekla jumped into the vat and baptized herself. Lightning killed all of the seals before they could eat her. Another time, a lioness protected her from other wild beasts. Once, as a group of arrogant young men were about to catch Thekla, a large rock opened up and hid this holy virgin. This rock in Maaloula, Syria was her refuge and her tomb, and the site of the monastery which she founded, the oldest Christian convent in the world. Thousands of pilgrims flock to it yearly for healing of ailments.
On this day, we also commemorate the Venerable Silouan of Athos, born in 1866 as Simeon Ivanovich Antonov of devout parents of Sovsk, Tambov, Russia. At age 27, he received the prayers of St. John of Kronstadt and went to Mt. Athos where he became a monk at the Russian monastery of St. Panteleimon. He received from the Holy Theotokos the gift of unceasing prayer, and had a vision of our Lord Jesus Christ in glory in the church of the holy Prophet Elias adjoining the mill of the monastery. After the withdrawal of that first grace, he was oppressed by profound grief and great temptations for fifteen years, after which he received from Christ the teaching, “Keep thy mind in hell, and despair not.” He reposed on September 24, 1938. He left behind his writings which were edited by his disciple and pupil, St. Sophrony of Essex.
By the intercessions of Thy saints, O Christ God, have mercy upon us. Amen.
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