St. Meletius the Archbishop of Antioch; St. Kristo the Gardener of Albania

1. Saint Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch, was Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia (ca. 357), and afterwards he was summoned to Antioch by the emperor Constantius to help combat the Arian heresy, and was appointed to that See.

Saint Meletius struggled zealously against the Arian error, but through the intrigues of the heretics he was thrice deposed from his cathedra. Constantius had become surrounded by the Arians and had accepted their position. In all this Saint Meletius was distinguished by an extraordinary gentleness, and he constantly led his flock by the example of his own virtue and kindly disposition, supposing that the seeds of the true teaching sprout more readily on such soil.

Saint Meletius was the one who ordained the future hierarch Saint Basil the Great as deacon. Saint Meletius also baptized and encouraged another of the greatest luminaries of Orthodoxy, Saint John Chrysostom, who later eulogized his former archpastor.

After Constantius, the throne was occupied by Julian the Apostate, and the saint again was expelled, having to hide himself in secret places for his safety. Returning under the emperor Jovian in the year 363, Saint Meletius wrote his theological treatise, “Exposition of the Faith,” which facilitated the conversion of many of the Arians to Orthodoxy.

In the year 381, under the emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395), the Second Ecumenical Council was convened. In the year 380 the saint had set off on his way to the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople, and came to preside over it.

Before the start of the Council, Saint Meletius raised his hand displaying three fingers, and then withdrawing two fingers and leaving one extended he blessed the people, proclaiming: “We understand three hypostases, and we speak about a single nature.” With this declaration, a fire surrounded the saint like lightning. During the Council Saint Meletius fell asleep in the Lord. Saint Gregory of Nyssa honored the memory of the deceased with a eulogy.

Saint Meletius has left treatises on the consubstantiality of the Son of God with the Father, and a letter to the emperor Jovian concerning the Holy Trinity. The relics of Saint Meletius were transferred from Constantinople to Antioch.

2. The holy New Martyr Kristo was an Albanian who worked in a vegetable garden. At the age of forty, he decided to go to Constantinople to seek better business opportunities.

One day he was negotiating with a Turk who wished to purchase his entire stock of apples, but they were unable to agree on a price. The Turk became angry and accused Kristo of expressing a desire to become a Moslem. Kristo was brought before the authorities, and false witnesses were found to testify that he had indeed stated his intention to convert.

Kristo declared that he never said that he wished to become a Moslem. His testimony was discounted, however, because he was a Christian, and Moslem witnesses had contradicted him.

The saint was beaten and tortured the next day, but remained steadfast in his confession of Christ. Kaisarios Dapontes, a well known monk and author, visited Saint Kristo and got him freed from the place where he was chained. He brought food for him, but he refused to eat. “Why should I eat?” he asked. “I do not expect to live, so I may as well die hungering and thirsting for Christ.”

Since he refused to abandon the Orthodox Faith, Saint Kristo was sentenced to be beheaded. Before they led him away, Kristo gave Dapontes a metal file and told him to sell it and use the money to have memorial services offered for him.

On February 12, 1748 Saint Kristo the Gardener was beheaded, thereby receiving an imperishable crown of glory from Christ.

Tr by oca.org

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