The Iversk Icon of the Mother of God

Wednesday October 27, 2021 / October 14, 2021

19th Week after Pentecost. Tone one.
Fast. Food with Oil

 Nazarius, Gervase, Protase, and Celsus of Milan (1st c.). Venerable Parasceva (Petka) of Epibatima, Thrace, whose relics are in Iasi, Romania (11th c.). New Hieromartyr Michael priest (1921). St. Ambrose, bishop of Kamenets-Podolsk (1932). New Hieromartyr Peter priest (1937). New Hieromartyr Maximilian (1938). Venerable Nikola Sviatosha, prince of Chernigov and wonderworker of the Kiev Caves (1143). Hieromartyr Silvanus of Gaza (311). “Yakhrom” (15th c.) Icon of the Mother of Go

The Scripture Readings

Philippians 1:12-20
Luke 8:22-25

The Iversk Icon of the Mother of God

      The Iversk Icon of the Mother of God (which at present is preserved on Athos) was in the IX Century situated with a certain pious widow, living near Nicea. During the time of the emperor Theophilos (82-842), the Iconoclasts in their attempts to abolish the veneration of holy icons, came to the house of this Christian, and one of the soldiers struck the image of the Mother of God with a spear. Where it was struck, there immediately flowed out blood. The widow, fearing its destruction, promised the imperial soldiers money and implored them not to touch the icon until morning. When the soldiers departed, the woman together with her son (later to be an Athos monk), sent the holy icon away upon the sea to preserve it. The icon, standing upon the water, floated off to Athos. The Athos monks, having for several days seen a fiery pillar rising up to the heavens upon the sea, came down to the shore and found there the holy image, standing upon the waters. After a molieben of thanksgiving for the monastery having been granted the holy image that thus had appeared, a pious monk of the Iveria monastery – Saint Gabriel the Gruzian (Georgian, Comm. 12 July) – had a sleep vision in which the Mother of God appeared to him and gave him orders, and so he went to the water and taking up the holy icon he placed it in the church. On the following day, however, the icon was found not within the church, but on the gates of the monastery. This was repeated several times, until the Most Holy Mother of God revealed to Saint Gabriel Her will, saying, that She did not want the icon as something protected by the monks, but rather She intended to be their Protectress. After this, the image was installed atop the monastery gates. And therefore this icon came to be called “Portal–Keeper” or “Gate-Keeper” (An account about this icon is located also under 13 October).

The Holy Martyrs Nazarius, Gervasius, Protasius and Celsius

Commemorated on October 14

Troparion — Tone 4
Let us praise the fourfold company of martyrs: / Nazarius, Protase, Gervase and Celsus. / For they preached the Trinity to all / And by their contest dispelled the worship of idols. / Through their prayers, O Christ God, have mercy on us all.

      The Holy Martyrs Nazarius, Gervasius, Protasius and Celsius suffered during the reign of the emperor Nero (54-68). Saint Nazarius (son of the Christian Perpetua and the Jew Africanus) was born at Rome and was baptised by Bishop Linus. From his youthful years Nazarius decided to devote his life to preaching the teachings of Christ and to aid wandering Christians. With this intent he left Rome and arrived in Mediolanum (Milan). While visiting Christians at the Mediolanum prison, Nazarius made the acquaintance of the twins Protasius and Gervasius. The twin brothers had been born in the city of Mediolanum into a family of rich Roman citizens – Vitalius and Valeria. But having been left orphans (their parents had been martyred for the Christian faith), the brothers distributed their substance to the poor, emancipated their slaves, and occupied themselves with fasting and prayer. The pagans locked them up in prison for their confession of faith in Christ. Saint Nazarius esteemed the twins, and as much as he was able he relieved their sufferings. But for this the pagans gave him a beating and banished him from Mediolanum. Saint Nazarius proceeded on to Gaul (modern France), and there he successfully preached Christianity and converted many pagans. In the city of Kimel he baptised the son of a certain Christian by name Celsius, and in teaching him, acquired a faithful student and co-worker in their missionary labours. For their confession of faith in Christ, the pagans gave them over for devouring by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch the saints. Afterwards they tried to drown the martyrs in the sea, but they went through the water, as though on dry land. the soldiers, carrying out the orders, were so amazed, that they themselves accepted Christianity and released the holy martyrs.
      Set free, Nazarius and Celsius went to Mediolanum and visited Gervasius and Protasius in prison. For this, they were delivered over to Nero, who ordered that Saints Nazarius and Celsius be beheaded. Soon after this they executed also the holy brothers Gervasius and Protasius.
      Many years later, during the reign of the holy Emperor Theodosius (408-450), Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, through a revelation from above discovered the relics of the holy martyrs. The holy relics, glorified by many an healing, were solemnly transferred to the Mediolanum cathedral.

Commemorated on Tuesday of the Bright Week, October 13, March 31, February 12

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.



“The Lord desires a pure heart”:
Thus says the Gospel.
A pure virgin you remained,
And you gave your pure heart to God–
O most wonderful saint,
Saint Parasceva, our ideal!

The Lord seeks a most pure mind,
Without fancy and without falsehood;
And you presented Him your most pure mind,
Like that of an angel, of the same kind. 
O most wonderful saint,
O Saint Parasceva, hearken to our petitions!

The Lord seeks a pure soul,
As a heavenly shrine;
You perfected such a soul,
And now shine in heaven.
O most wonderful saint,
Parasceva, help us!

By your prayers, help us
In the misfortunes of life.
Through the clouds of earthly sorrow
Bring us light, like a rainbow–
O chaste virgin, most wonderful,
Holy Mother Parasceva!


Examples of how the saints themselves reveal their hidden relics to men justify the honor rendered to the relics of the saints–not to mention the miraculous action of these relics, which doubly justifies them. For a long, long time, no one could locate the grave of St. Parasceva. Then it happened that a sailor died, and his body was carelessly laid in the proximity of the saint’s grave. When the body turned into carrion and began to emit an unbearable stench, a monk who lived nearby summoned the peasants to help him bury the corpse. It happened that they buried him in St. Parasceva’s own grave. That night, St. Parasceva appeared in a dream to one of those peasants (George by name) who had buried the corpse. She appeared as a beautiful and exquisitely-adorned queen, surrounded by many glorious soldiers. She said: “George, exhume my relics at once, and lay them in another place; for I can no longer endure the stench from that corpse.” Then she told him who she was, and where she was from. The same night a local peasant woman named Euphemia had the same dream. The next day, the peasants began to dig and in fact found the relics of St. Parasceva. They were extraordinarily fragrant, and soon proved to be miracle-working.

Concerning the relics of St. Gervasius and St. Protasius, St. Ambrose relates how their relics were discovered in a similar manner. One night, two handsome youths and an old man appeared to Ambrose, who was awake. He thought that the old man was the Apostle Paul. While the young men remained silent, the old man spoke to Ambrose concerning them, saying that they were Christ’s martyrs, and that their relics lay in the very place where Ambrose was praying to God at that time. He went on to say that everything else concerning them would be revealed in a book that Ambrose would find in their grave. The following day, Ambrose recounted his vision and began to dig, and found the relics of both men. From the book that he found he learned that their names were Gervasius and Protasius. In the presence of St. Ambrose, a certain blind man named Severus touched these holy relics and immediately received his sight.


Contemplate the wondrous healings worked by the holy apostles (Acts 5):

1. How many signs and miracles were performed through the hands of the apostles;

2. How many of the sick were healed just by the shadow of the Apostle Peter.


on how the angels do battle for the righteous

The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him and delivers them (Psalm 34:7).

The angel of the Lord will do battle for those who fear God. This has been clearly shown many times, as has been recorded; and it has occurred numberless times that have not been recorded. The Archangel Michael took up arms for Joshua, the Son of Nun. An angel did battle for the righteous King Hezekiah and, in one night, destroyed the army of the Chaldeans. How many times have angels visited the Christian apostles and martyrs in prison, strengthened them, and caused them to rejoice? The consolation of the righteous one comes from knowing that God is All-seeing, and sees his misfortune; that God is Omnipotent, and has power to save him from misfortune; that God is All-merciful, and will save him from misfortune. God will send His radiant angel to the aid of the righteous. The righteous one will not have to struggle against his tyrant, for the angel of God will do battle in his place. When God’s angel takes up arms, what army dares confront him? What empire will wage war against him? In an earlier Psalm, the Prophet David says: No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety (Psalm 33:16-17). 

Hence, it does not help at all if the unjust, the worldly, are allies. When God’s angel takes up arms–all will burst as a bubble of water. Even when he was king, David remembered how, as a mere shepherd boy, he killed Goliath, a giant who was armed to the teeth, with a slingshot. On many occasions, David sensed the assistance of God’s angel. That is why he could with confidence console the oppressed but righteous ones with these words of comfort and strength: the angel of the Lord encamps around all who fear the Lord, and who serve Him, and an angel of God will deliver them.

O my brethren, let us not doubt these words, but carefully consider, on a daily basis, how the angel of God leaves us in sorrow when we sin, and how he hastens to our assistance with joy and unspeakable power when we repent and implore God’s mercy.

O Lord God, our Creator, the King of myriads of angels: forgive us, and save us, and protect us by Thy holy angels.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.