Category Archives: Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day

100,000 Martyrs of Tbilisi by the Mongols

100,000 Martyrs

Commemorated on October 31

In 1227 Sultan Jalal al-Din of Khwarazm and his army of Turkmen attacked Georgia. On the first day of the battle the Georgian army valorously warded off the invaders as they were approaching Tbilisi. That night, however, a group of Persians who were living in Tbilisi secretly opened the gates and summoned the enemy army into the city.

According to one manuscript in which this most terrible day in Georgian history was described: “Words are powerless to convey the destruction that the enemy wrought: tearing infants from their mothers’ breasts, they beat their heads against the bridge, watching as their eyes dropped from their skulls….”

A river of blood flowed through the city. The Turkmen castrated young children, raped women, and stabbed mothers to death over their children’s lifeless bodies. The whole city shuddered at the sound of wailing and lamentation. The river and streets of the city were filled with death.

The sultan ordered that the cupola of Sioni Cathedral be taken down and replaced by his vile throne. And at his command the icons of the Theotokos and our Savior were carried out of Sioni Cathedral and placed at the center of the bridge across the Mtkvari River. The invaders goaded the people to the bridge, ordering them to cross it and spit on the holy icons. Those who betrayed the Christian Faith and mocked the icons were spared their lives, while the Orthodox confessors were beheaded.

One hundred thousand Georgians sacrificed their lives to venerate the holy icons. One hundred thousand severed heads and headless bodies were carried by the bloody current down the Mtkvari River.


Mark the Evangelist, October 30

apostle Mark

Commemorated on October 30





St. Mark’s name was John in Hebrew, but he is remembered by the Roman name of Mark, a name given to him after his acceptance of Christianity. His socially prominent family was among the first to recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and although there is no mention of his father in Scripture, the fact remains that his mother, Mary, was deeply devoted to Jesus and turned her more than adequate house into a headquarters for the New Faith movement. As such the house of Mary was transformed into a church since the services that were held there, although not the elaborate liturgies that were to come later, were held for the express purpose of worshiping Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

St. Mark knew the great joy of worshiping the living Jesus and of sharing the responsibility of introducing Him to a spiritually darkened world, acting in concert with the most venerated men in Christianity–the disciples and Apostles of the Master.

St. Mark’s mother opened her doors to all comers and it is generally accepted that hers was the house to which the disciples went, the ‘upper room,’ where they gathered after the Ascension. It was in this house that the disciples received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1) and it was to this now sanctified dwelling that Peter turned after being released from Herod’s prison by an angel of the lord. This holy corner of Jerusalem, “Where many were gathered together in prayer” (Acts 12:12), was the scene of the Last Supper of the Savior and after the Ascension and Pentecost the holiest house in the world.

St. Mark preached the word of Christ in many areas, notably in Egypt, Lybia and Pentapolis where his commanding oratory won converts in such great numbers that he was later to become the first Bishop of Alexandria, a city where Christianity took hold despite all manner of pagan resistance. During the reign of Tiberius, St. Mark’s fiery preaching won him not only respect but the envious wrath of pagan dissenters who harassed him at every turn without once diminishing his enthusiasm or shortening his stride for Jesus Christ.

It was during this crusading period in Alexandria that St. Mark found time to compose the Gospel which is part of the New Testament and which reflects his firm resolve and quiet courage. He is also the composer of a Divine Liturgy still used by the Orthodox Church on special feast days and upon which are based the liturgies of St. James, St. Basil, and St. John Chrysostom.

His incessant preaching brought him equally incessant harassment which finally erupted into hostility that made good the threats on his life by the pagan rabble. St. Mark was en route to his Cathedral of Alexandria when he was set upon by a frenzied mob of idol worshippers who pelted the holy man with rocks and dragged him through the streets to be cast into a cell. On April 25 he died for Christ of his wounds.

~ (from Orthodox Saints, volume 2 by George Poulos)



Holy Protection of our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos

protectionCommemorated on October 28
The Holy Protection of our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary, that is, her sacred veil (skepi) kept in the treasury of the sacred temple of Blachernae; and we also remember how the righteous Andrew, the Fool for Christ’s sake, beheld it spread out above and covering all the pious.


The Church has always glorified the most holy Mother of God as the Protectress and Defender of the Christian people, entreating, by her intercessions, God’s loving-kindness towards us sinners. Two events are celebrated on this day: the first in tenth-century Constantinople, the second in twentieth-century Greece. On October 1, 911, while Slavic armies threatened the Queen of Cities, the Blachernae Church of the Theotokos held a crowded all-night vigil. Before daybreak, the most holy Mother of God appeared above the people with a veil spread over her outstretched hands, as though to protect them with this covering. Seeing this vision, St. Andrew, the Fool-for-Christ, gestured towards it and asked his disciple, Epiphanios: “Do you see how the Queen and Lady of all is praying for the whole world?” Epiphanios replied: “Yes, Father; I see it and stand in dread.” The Slavic armies stayed away. Ironically, in the twelfth century, the Orthodox Church of Russia began to celebrate the Protection on October 1, even though its ancestors—who had not yet embraced Orthodoxy—were looming near Constantinople.

Before daybreak on October 28, 1940, the Italian ambassador to Greece, representing Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, went to Greek general Ioannis Metaxas with an ultimatum. Italy wanted full control of Greece to occupy “strategic locations”; otherwise it would brutalize the country. General Metaxas shouted “Okhi!” meaning “No!” Thus, Greece was plunged into the Second World War, as Italy burst through, and then Nazi Germany eventually, wreaking havoc and horrors on the Greek people. In 1952, the Orthodox Church of Greece transferred its celebration of the Protection to October 28 in conjunction with “Okhi Day” as a testament to the rejection of European aggression and as a day of national remembrance. The Orthodox Church of Antioch can utilizes this transfer in order to more fully celebrate its sons, Ananias of the Seventy and Romanos the Melodist, on October 1.


Both dates recognize the Ever-virgin’s constant defense whenever we prayerfully seek her protection and shelter in distress and strife. While the Orthodox Church marks one date or the other for the commemoration of the Protection, we must ask the Theotokos to extend her protection and intercession every day of our life.

By the intercessions of the Most Holy Theotokos, O Christ God, have mercy on us. Amen.