May 2 (old calendar) / May 15 (new)
St. Athanasius the Great, Patriarch of Alexandria (373). Translation of the Relics of the Holy Passionbearers Boris and Gleb (in Baptism Roman and David—1072 and 1115). St. Athanasius of Lubensk, Patriarch of Constantinople (1654). Martyrs Hesperus, Zoë, and their sons, Cyriacus and Theodulus, at Attalia (2nd c.). St. Boris (in Baptism Michael), Prince of Bulgaria (906-907).
The Holy Equal of the Apostles Tsar Boris, in Holy Baptism Michael: His apostolic deeds were foretold by an uncle, Saint Boyan. The first years of the reign of Tsar Boris were marked by misfortune. The Bulgarians were frequently at war with surrounding nations, famine and plague beset the land, and in the year 860 Bulgaria found itself in dire straits. Tsar Boris saw the salvation of his land, which was darkened by paganism, in its enlightenment by the faith in Christ.
During one of the battles of the Bulgarians with the Greeks he captured the illustrious courtier Theodore Kuphares, who had become a monk. He was the first man to plant the seed of the Gospel in the soul of the Bulgarian tsar. In one of the campaigns with the Greeks the young sister of Tsar Boris was taken captive, and was raised in the Orthodox Faith at the court of the Byzantine Emperor.
When the emperor Theophilus died, Tsar Boris decided to take advantage of this circumstance to take revenge upon the Greeks for his former defeats. But the widow of the emperor, Theodora, showed courage and sent a messenger to the Bulgarian tsar saying that she was prepared to defend the Empire and humiliate its opponents. Tsar Boris agreed to a peace alliance, and Theodore Kuphares was exchanged for the Bulgarian princess, who influenced her brother toward Christianity. A while later Saint Methodius was sent into Bulgaria. He and his brother Saint Cyril were enlightening the Slavic peoples with the light of Christ. Saint Methodius baptized Tsar Boris, his family and many of the nobles.
When the pagan Bulgarians learned of this, they wanted to kill Tsar Boris, but their plot was frustrated by the tsar. Deprived of their rebellious leaders, the Bulgarian people voluntarily accepted Baptism. A peace was concluded between Byzantium and Bulgaria, based on their unity in faith, which was not broken until the end of the reign of the noble tsar. The Patriarch Photius (February 6) took great interest in the spiritual growth of the Bulgarian nation. In 867, preachers from Rome were sent into Bulgaria. This led to three years of discord between the Greek and Roman Churches in Bulgaria.
A Council at Constantinople in 869 put an end to the quarrel, and on March 3, 870 Bulgaria was joined to the Eastern Church and Orthodoxy was firmly established there. Bulgaria’s holy ascetics: Saints Gorazd (July 27) and Clement of Ochrid (July 27) were glorified as saints. Tsar Boris adorned the land with churches and furthered the spread of piety. Later, a Patriarchal See was established in Bulgaria. In his declining years, Tsar Boris entered a monastery, leaving the throne to his sons Vladimir and Simeon.
While in the monastery the saint learned that Vladimir, who succeeded him, had renounced Christianity. Distressed by this, Saint Boris again donned his military garb, punished his disobedient son and threw him in prison. After giving the throne to his younger son Simeon, Saint Boris returned to the monastery. He left it once more to repel a Hungarian invasion. Saint Boris, who was named Michael in holy Baptism, reposed on May 2, 907.
Troparion of the saint, tone 6
Full of the fear of God, and enlightened by holy baptism, thou becamest a habitation of the Holy Spirit, O right-believing King Boris; and having established the Orthodox Faith in the land of Bulgaria, and set aside the scepter of kingship, thou madest thine abode in the wilderness, didst flourish in ascetic struggles, and found grace before the Lord. And now, standing before the throne of the Most High, pray thou, that He grant unto us who entreat thee salvation for our souls.
Kontakion of the saint, tone 8
O chosen leader of God Most High, Who by the power of the Cross triumphed over the uprising of darkness and planted piety in thy land, as thou hast boldness before the Lord, by thy supplications preserve thy posterity, that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, O King Boris, equal of the apostles, baptizer of the land of Bulgaria!
Acts 8:18-25 (Epistle)
- And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,
- saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
- But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!
- You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
- Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
- For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”
- Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”
- So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
John 6:35-39 (Gospel)
- And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
- But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.
- All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
- For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
- This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.