Commemorations for Tout 17

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* The Feast of the Consecration of the Church of the Honorable Cross.
* The Departure of St. Theognosta.

On this day the church celebrates the appearance of the Honorable Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was revealed by the lover of God, Queen Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, from under the pile of Golgotha, after she ordered its removal. As to the reason for how this great pile of dirt came into being, it was thus: the Jewish leaders when they saw all the signs and wonders which were made manifest from the sepulchre of the Savior, such as raising the dead and healing the sick, became angry, and they sent forth throughout Judea and Jerusalem ordering all the people to cast the sweepings of their houses and the dirts over the sepulchre of Jesus of Nazareth. They continued to do so for more than 200 years, until it became a very great heap.

When St. Helena came to Jerusalem, and asked the Jews about the whereabouts of the Cross, they did not inform her. Finally, some of them told her about an old Jew called Judas who knew the place. She called him, and he denied it at first, but when she urged him, he told her about that pile. She ordered its removal and the Holy Cross was found. She built a church for it, consecrated it and celebrated for the Honorable Cross on the seventeenth day of the month of Tute. Christians make pilgrimages to that place every year as they do on the feast of the Resurrection.

A certain Samaritan called Isaac, as he was travelling with his family among the people going to Jerusalem, reproved the people for taking such trouble in going to Jerusalem to worship a piece of wood. Among the people was a priest whose name was Okhidus. While travelling along the road, they became thirsty. They found no water and they came to a well where the water was foul and bitter. The people became dismayed. Isaac the Samaritan started mocking them, saying, "If I witness a power by the name of the Cross, I will become a believer of Christ." The priest Okhidus was moved with divine zeal and prayed over that foul water and made the sign of the Cross on it, and it became sweet. All the people and their animals drank, but when Isaac drank, the water was bitter and wormy. He regretted and cried and came to the saint, Father Okhidus, bowed down at his feet and believed in the Lord Christ. Then he drank from the water, and he found it sweet. The water of that well possessed the power of becoming sweet for the believers and bitter for the others. A cross of light appeared in the well and a church was built there. When Isaac the Samaritan arrived in Jerusalem, he went to its bishop who baptized him and his family.

Because the feast of the appearance of the Honorable Cross, which is on the tenth of Baramhat, always comes during fasting, it was substituted by the fathers for the Seventeenth of Tute which is the day of consecration of its church.

Glory and worship be to Jesus Christ our Lord forever and ever. Amen.

2. The Departure of St. Theognosta.

On this day also, the blessed Theognosta, departed. She was contemporary of the righteous Emperors Honorius and Arcadius.

One day an envoy came with gifts from the King of India to the two emperors. On their way back, they found this Virgin Theognosta holding in her hand a book that she was reading. They seized her and took her back with them to their country. She became the head of the King's attendants and his wives.

One day, the son of the King fell sick with a grievous sickness. She held him in her arms and made over him the sign of the Cross, and he recovered immediately. This report spread throughout that land, and since that day she was set free.

Once the King went to war, there came upon him thick clouds and fog. Knowing of the sign of the Cross that St. Theognosta used to make, the King made the sign of the Cross over the fog and it cleared up. With the sign of the Cross he also vanquished his enemies.

When the King returned from war, he bowed down at the feet of the Saint, and asked her for the holy baptism for him and for the people of his city. She told them that it was not for her to baptize. They sent to Emperor Honorius to inform him of their acceptance of the faith and asked him to send a priest to baptize them. He sent to them a priest who was a saintly anchorite, and he baptized them all and he gave them the Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Christ. The virgin rejoiced for his coming and they blessed each other. She built a convent for herself and for the many virgins who desired the monastic life.

When the priest returned to the Emperor and related to him how the people of the city entered into the faith of our Lord Christ, he rejoiced exceedingly. The Emperor agreed with the Archbishop to ordain the priest a bishop and to send him back to them, and they rejoiced greatly. There they built a big church and they needed pillars. There was a large temple for idols which had pillars so they took them to build this church. The rest of the people of this city joined the faith of the Lord Christ.

The virgin St. Theognosta rejoiced for all that had happened. Later on she departed in that convent and was surrounded by the virgins.

Her prayers be with us, and Glory be to our God, forever. Amen.




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