People serve God in different ways. The
Heavenly Father bestows talents in needed measure and accepts the efforts of
each in His Glory. The Church glorifies God’s workers in different ranks.
Prophets — are persons who receive the
gift of foresight from God, relating to the world the paths of His Providence.
Among the most revered prophets are: Elijah (remembered August 2), John the Baptist
(July 7, September 11). Among well-known women-prophets there is, for example,
the Righteous Anna (February 16).
Apostles — disciples
of Christ, accompanying Him in His public service, and later spreading faith
throughout the world. The Apostles Peter and Paul (July 12) are considered the
Heads of the Apostles.
Equal-to-the-Apostles — are saints who,
like the Apostles, labored to turn countries and peoples to Christ. Such are
the baptizer of Rus Prince Vladimir (July 28) and the Princess Olga (July 24);
the Emperors Constantine and Elena (remembered together on October 18).
Hierarchal Saints —
patriarchs, metropolitans, archbishops and bishops, attaining sainthood by
tireless care of their flock, guarding Orthodoxy from heresy and schisms.
Among their great number the Russian people particularly revere the following:
Nicholas (December 19 and May 22), Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and
John the Chrysostom (remembered together on February 12); the Moscow Hierarchs
Peter, Aleksey, Jonah, Philip, Job, Ermogen and Tikhon (remembered together
Venerable (coming to resemble the Lord) —
saints, attaining glory in monastic toil. Through fasting, prayer, labors they
formed in their souls great virtues — humility, chastity, meekness. Probably
every monastery is glorified before God with a holy saint. In Russia, St.
Sergius of Radonezh (July 18 and October 8) and St. Seraphim of Sarov (January
15 and August 1) are particularly loved. Among the venerable women the most
well-known is St. Mary of Egypt (April 14).
Martyrs, who among saints constitute the
majority, went through suffering and death in Christ’s name, for the true
faith, for refusing to serve idols. Those who suffered particularly harsh
punishments are called great martyrs. Among them are: the healer Panteleimon
(August 9), George the Victory-Clad, Saints Barbara (December 17) and Catherine
(December 7). Hiero-martyrs are those who suffered death as priests, and
venerable martyrs are those who were killed in monastic orders.
Confessors the Church calls those, who
suffered much for Christ, but did not suffer a martyr’s death.
The good and true tsars and princes used
the greatness and riches God gave them for works of mercy, enlightenment,
protection of public holy relics. Among them are Alexander Nevsky (September 12
and December 6) and Dmitry Donskoi (June 1)
Unmercenaries had the gift of healing and
used it without compensation. Such doctors were the Saints Cosmos and Damian
Fools-for-Christ, taking on the appearance
of madness and suffering defamation from those around them, exposed human
vices, brought those in power to their senses, comforted the suffering. One of
these is Xenia of St. Petersburg (February 6)
Passion-bearers in Russia
are honored separately, those who died at the hands of murderers and bandits.
The first Russian saints were the princes/passion-bearers Boris and Gleb
Angels — are incorporeal spirits, servants
of God, messengers of His will. The highest among the
angels is the Archangel Michael (November 21).
Saints which do not fit in any of these
categories are honored as righteous. The Church thus calls the Saints Joachim
and Anna (September 22), Zacharius and Elisabeth (July 8), John of Kronstadt
Return to the first page