May 12 (old calendar) / May 25 (new)
St. Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus (403). St. Germanus (Herman), Patriarch of Constantinople (740). Glorification of Hieromartyr Germogén (Hermogenes), Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (1913). Ven. Dionisii, Archimandrite of St. Sergius’ Monastery (1633). St. Sabinus, Archbishop of Cyprus, and St. Polybius, Bishop in Cyprus (5th c.). Martyr John of Vlachia (Romania—1662).
Saint Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus, “a last relic of ancient piety,” as Saint Jerome calls him, lived during the fourth century in Phoenicia. The Roman empress Honoria was his sister. He was of Jewish descent, and in his youth he received a fine education. He was converted to Christianity after seeing how a certain monk named Lucian gave away his clothing to a poor person. Struck by the monk’s compassion, Epiphanius asked to be instructed in Christianity.
He was baptized and became a disciple of Saint Hilarion the Great (October 21). Entering the monastery, he progressed in the monastic life under the guidance of the experienced Elder Hilarion, and he occupied himself with copying Greek books.
Because of his ascetic struggles and virtues, Saint Epiphanius was granted the gift of wonderworking. In order to avoid human glory, he left the monastery and went into the Spanidrion desert. Robbers caught him there and held him captive for three months. By speaking of repentance, the saint brought one of the robbers to faith in the true God. When they released the holy ascetic, the robber also went with him. Saint Epiphanius took him to his monastery and baptized him with the name John. From that time, he became a faithful disciple of Saint Epiphanius, and he carefully documented the life and miracles of his instructor.
Reports of the righteous life of Saint Epiphanius spread far beyond the monastery. The saint went a second time into the desert with his disciple John. Even in the wilderness disciples started to come to him, so he established a new monastery for them.
After a certain time, Saint Epiphanius made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to venerate its holy shrines, and then returned to the Spanidrion monastery. The people of Lycia sent the monk Polybios to Saint Epiphanius asking him to take the place of their dead archpastor. When he learned of this intention, the clairvoyant ascetic secretly went into the Pathysian desert to the great ascetic Saint Hilarion (October 21), under whose guidance he had learned asceticism in his youth.
The saints spent two months in prayer, and then Hilarion sent Saint Epiphanius to Salamis. Bishops were gathered there to choose a new archpastor to replace one who recently died. The Lord revealed to the eldest of them, Bishop Papius, that Saint Epiphanius should be chosen bishop. When Epiphanius arrived, Saint Papius led him into the church, where in obedience to the will of the participants of the Council, Epiphanius agreed to be their bishop. Saint Epiphanius was consecrated as Bishop of Salamis in 367.
Saint Epiphanius won renown because of his great zeal for the Faith, his love and charity toward the poor, and his simplicity of character. He suffered much from the slander and enmity of some of his clergy. Because of the purity of his life, Saint Epiphanius was permitted to see the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Gifts at Divine Liturgy. Once, when the saint was celebrating the Mystery, he did not see this vision. He then became suspicious of one of the clergy and quietly said to him, “Depart, my son, for you are unworthy to participate in the celebration of the Mystery today.”
At this point, the writings of his disciple John break off, because he became sick and died. The further record of the life of Saint Epiphanius was continued by another of his disciples, Polybios (afterwards bishop of city of Rinocyreia).
Through the intrigues of the empress Eudoxia and the Patriarch Theophilos of Alexandria, towards the end of his life Saint Epiphanius was summoned to Constantinople to participate in the Synod of the Oak, which was convened to judge the great saint, John Chrysostom (September 14 and November 13). Once he realized that he was being manipulated by Chrysostom’s enemies, Saint Epiphanius left Constantinople, unwilling to take part in an unlawful council.
As he was sailing home on a ship, the saint sensed the approach of death, and he gave his disciples final instructions: to keep the commandments of God, and to preserve the mind from impure thoughts. He died two days later. The people of Salamis met the body of their archpastor with carriages, and on May 12, 403 they buried him in a new church which he himself had built.
The Seventh Ecumenical Council named Saint Epiphanius as a Father and Teacher of the Church. In the writings of Saint Epiphanius, the PANARIUM and the ANCHORATUS are refutations of Arianism and other heresies. In his other works are found valuable church traditions, and directives for the Greek translation of the Bible.
In his zeal to preserve the purity of the Orthodox Faith, Saint Epiphanius could sometimes be rash and tactless. In spite of any impetuous mistakes he may have made, we must admire Saint Epiphanius for his dedication in defending Orthodoxy against false teachings. After all, one of the bishop’s primary responsibilities is to protect his flock from those who might lead them astray.
We also honor Saint Epiphanius for his deep spirituality, and for his almsgiving. No one surpassed him in his tenderness and charity to the poor, and he gave vast sums of money to those in need.
Troparion for Midfeast of Pentecost, tone 8
In the middle of the Feast, O Savior, / Fill my thirsting soul with the waters of godliness, as You did cry to all: / If anyone thirst let him come to me and drink! / O Christ God, Fountain of our life, glory to You!
Troparion of the saint, tone 4
O God of our Fathers, / always act with kindness towards us; / take not Your mercy from us, / but guide our lives in peace / through the prayers of the hierarchs Epiphanius and Germanus.
Kontakion of the saint, tone 4
With faith, let us praise the pair of wonderful hierarchs, / the divine Epiphanius and Germanus, / for they subdued the godless pagans / by proclaiming the wisest teachings to all, / ever chanting the great mystery of piety in an Orthodox manner.
Kontakion for Midfeast of Pentecost, tone 4
Christ God, the Creator and Master of all / Cried to all in the midst of the Feast of the law: / Come and draw the water of immortality! / We fall before You and faithfully cry: / Grant us Your bounties, for You are the Fountain of our life!
Acts 12:1-11 (Epistle)
- Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church.
- Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
- And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
- So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
- Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.
- And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison.
- Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands.
- Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.”
- So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
- When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.
- And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”