March 31 (old calendar) / April 13 (new) 
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March 31 (old calendar) / April 13 (new) 

Great Lent.
Fifth Saturday of Lent — Saturday of the Akathist to the Most-Holy Theotokos.
Wine and oil allowed.
Repose of St. Innocent, Metropolitan of Moscow, Enlightener of the Aleuts and Apostle to the Americas (1879). St. Hypatius the Wonderworker, Bishop of Gangra (ca. 336). Repose of St. Jonah, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia (1461). Ven. Hypatius the Healer, of the Kiev Caves (Far Caves—14th c.). Ven. Apollonius, Ascetic, of Egypt (4th c.). Hieromartyr Abdas, Bishop of Persia, and Martyr Benjamin the Deacon (418-424). Ven. Hypatius, Abbot of Rufinus in Chalcedon (ca. 446). Appearance of the “IVERON” (IBERIAN) Icon of the Most-holy Theotokos.

Saint Innocent of Moscow

Saint Innocent of Moscow

St. Innocent was born on 26 August 1797 at the remote village of Anginskoye, Irkutsk Province, to the poor family of the local church’s sexton. He was named Ioann at baptism. His modest origin and inconspicuous place of birth did not betoken the high social position and fame he was to be granted later by Lord for his ascetic life. He lost his father at the age of six to experience the bitter life of an orphan. In 1806 nine year-old Ioann was assigned to the seminary in Irkutsk. Significantly, not long before he came to Irkutsk in 1806, there were found, in the city’s Monastery of the Ascension, the relics of St. Innocent of Irkutsk whose name and apostolic ministry he was to inherit as the enlightener of America and Siberia. During his eleven years at the seminary in Irkutsk, young Ioann showed brilliant abilities in assimilating the basics of theology, rhetoric, philology, which allowed him later to achieve a truly outstanding success in his educational work. In this seminary the future great enlightener was given the same fundamental academic training as his glorious predecessors in missionary work, such as St. Cyril Equal to the Apostles, the enlightener of the Slaves (+869), St. Stephen of Perm (+1369). He trained in the traditions of classical Greek education in St. Gregory’s Monastery in Rostov, St. Innocent of Irkutsk (+1731) who graduated from the Theological Academy in Kiev and worked as prefect of the Slavonic-Greek-Latin Academy in Moscow. During his life in the seminary, the future luminary showed such Christian virtues as humbleness, natural kindness and exceptional industry. His extraordinary achievements and exemplary behaviour compelled the rector of the seminary in 1814 to give him the family name of Veniaminov after the late Bishop Veniamin (Bagriansiky) of Irkutsk who was much loved by the faithful.

In 1817 Ioann Veniaminov graduated from the seminary and was ordained deacon. In May 1821, he was ordained presbyter at the Church of the Annunciation in Irkutsk where he spent the first years of his pastoral service. Since the first years of his priesthood, Father Ioann enjoyed general favour and love for his “pastorship unprecedented in Irkutsk”, which included Sunday talks with children on the interpretation of the Holy Gospel. The Irkutsk period set an indelible stamp on the saint’s memory. Later, performing his pastoral ministry, he never forgot about the church service he carried out in his native land. Later he dedicated the first church, in the Unalashka Islands, to the Ascension of the Lord and in memory of St. Innocent’s Monastery of the Ascension in Irkutsk. He also renamed the Ust-Zeiskaya Cossack village on the Amur as the town of Blagoveschensk (Annunciation) after the Church of the Annunciation in Irkutsk in which he was ordained.

Yet, it was in such remote lands as the Russian America that God’s selected-one had to carry out his educational ministry in the apostolic field. Monks from several northern Russian monasteries began this work in 1794 in the Kodyak Island of the Aleutian Archipelago. In 1822, the Holy Governing Synod decided to send the missionary priest to the Aleutian Islands. Motivated by the apostolic zeal, Father Ioann Veniaminov approached the Right Reverend Mikhail (Burdukov), Bishop of Irkutsk, and declared his willingness to assume this service. Already in May 1823, the 26 year-old missionary together with his family set off for a very hard and dangerous journey. In June of the following year, the travellers arrived in Unalashka, the main island of the Aleutian Archipelago.

Father Ioan’s primary concern was to learn the language of the local people and to build a church dedicated to the Holy Ascension. He built it with his own hands together with islanders, while teaching them various skills. The church was consecrated in July 1826 and became the center of Christian education for the Aleutians in Unalashka and the surrounding islands. Exposed to various dangers and deprivations, the pastor went in wretched boats from island to island, preaching the Word of God to local people. The zealous missionary managed to learn quickly six local tribal dialects and composed a Cyrillic alphabet for the prevailing Aleutian language and translated the Gospel from St. Matthew into it, as well as the catechises and the most popular prayers and church hymns. Using a simple and accessible language, he wrote an Aleutian brief course of Orthodox dogmatics and morality entitled “A Guideline to the Kingdom of God”. Considered one of the best catechetical courses and educational aids for children and youth, this course has been reprinted many times since. Father Ioann Veniaminov organized schools in which some 600 boys were taught to read and write, built a hospital and an orphanage, fought with hard drinking and polygamy widely practiced by local people and managed to overcome these vices almost completely.

Please come this way to read more about his life.

Troparion of the Akathist, tone 8

When the archangel understood the mysterious command, / he came to the house of Joseph with haste and proclaimed to the unwedded Lady: / The One Who bowed the heavens by His condescension / is contained wholly and without change in you! / As I behold Him in your womb, taking the form of a servant, I am frightened, but cry: / Rejoice, unwedded Bride!

Kontakion of the Akathist, tone 8

Victorious leader of triumphant hosts, / we your servants, delivered from evil, sing our grateful thanks to you, Theotokos! / As you possess invincible might set us free from every calamity, / so that we may sing: Rejoice, unwedded Bride!

Hebrews 9:24-28 (Epistle)

For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another –
He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Hebrews 9:1-7 (Epistle, Theotokos)

Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary.
For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary;
and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All,
which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;
and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services.
But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance;

Mark 8:27-31 (Gospel)

Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?”
So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”
Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.
And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28 (Gospel, Theotokos)

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.
And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.
But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.
But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!”
But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

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About the Author

Emma Cazabonne

Emma Cazabonne

Beside an anthology on Cistercian texts, Emma Cazabonne has translated and published articles on Cistercian spirituality, the Middle Ages, and Orthodoxy. She converted to Orthodoxy in 2008. Her husband is an Orthodox priest. If you are interested in having your book translated into French, she can be contacted here Newsletter

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