15 August 2021 (MIA)
Macedonian Orthodox Church Calendar
Transfer of the Holy Relics of the Protomartyr St. Stephen, Archdeacon
One this day the Church celebrates the transfer of the relics of St. Stephen the Archdeacon and first Christian martyr. This occurred over 300 years after his martyrdom and during the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great who permitted Christian worship in the Roman Empire. St. Stephen appeared several times to a man by the name of Lucianus from the village where the honored body was buried, known as the “Village of Gamaliel” near Jerusalem. He told this man his name and where the body was buried. The man went to the Bishop of Jerusalem and informed him of what he had seen in his sleep. The Bishop rose up, took with him two other bishops and the people of the church and went to the place where the body was and when they dug the ground a mighty earthquake took place. The coffin wherein the holy body was lying was revealed and from it the odor of magnificent spices came out. They heard voices of angels praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth and good will toward men.” This praise was repeated three times and the bishops bowed down before the coffin and carried it away in the midst of songs and hymns with lit candles until they came to Zion. A man called Alexander who was from Constantinople built a church for St. Stephen in Jerusalem and placed the holy body in it. Five years later, Alexander died, and his wife buried him by the side of the coffin of the Saint. Eight years later, Alexander’s wife decided to retire to Constantinople and to take her husband’s relics with her. She came to the church and took the coffin, thinking that it was the coffin of her husband. She carried it away to Ascalon, and there she embarked with it in a ship to Constantinople. In the middle of the sea she heard singing and praises coming from the coffin, and she marveled exceedingly. She rose up and when she examined the coffin she knew that it was that of St. Stephen, and that it was the will of God to transfer the relics of St. Stephen to Constantinople and she gave thanks to the Lord. In Constantinople, she went to the Emperor and informed him about what had happened. The Emperor, the Archbishop, Priests and the people of the city went forth to the ship, and carried the coffin on their shoulders to the Royal Palace. Emperor ordered that a church be built for the Saint in that place and they laid in it the pure gem, the holy body of St. Stephen the Apostle and Martyr.
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Blessed Virgin Mary had been taken up, body and soul, into heaven. This process is called “translation” in the Bible and there are two notable examples in the scripture, Enoch (Hebrews 11:5) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11). At the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451, when bishops from throughout the Mediterranean met in Constantinople, Emperor Marcian asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem to bring the relics of Mary to Constantinople to be enshrined in the capitol. The patriarch explained to the emperor that there were no relics of Mary in Jerusalem, that “Mary had died in the presence of the apostles; but her tomb, when opened later . . . was found empty and so the apostles concluded that the body was taken up into heaven.”