December 24 (old calendar) / January 6 (new)
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December 24 (old calendar) / January 6 (new)

Strict Fast

Sunday before the Nativity of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, Holy Father
The Eve of the Nativity of Christ.
Nun-martyr Eugenia of Rome, and with her Martyrs Philip her father, Protus, Hyacinth (Jacinth), Basilla, and Claudia (262).

SAINT EUGENIA

24 décembre

The Holy Martyr Eugenia, was a Roman by birth. She lived at Alexandria, where her father Philip was sent by the emperor Commodus (180-192) to be Prefect of Egypt. Eugenia received a fine upbringing and was noted for her beauty and good disposition. Many illustrious youths sought her hand, but she did not wish to marry anyone, for she was determined to preserve her virginity.

Providentially, she became acquainted with the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. She yearned with all her soul to become a Christian, but kept this a secret from her parents. At that time, Christians were banished from Alexandria by the command of the emperor. Wishing to learn more about Christian teachings, she asked permission to visit one of the family estates outside the city, supposedly to enjoy the countryside. She left in the company of her two servants Protus and Hyacinthus, dressed in men’s clothes. She and her companions were baptized at a certain monastery by Bishop Elias (July 14), who learned about her in a vision. He blessed her to pursue asceticism at the monastery disguised as the monk Eugene.

By her ascetic labors, Saint Eugenia acquired the gift of healing. Once, a rich young woman named Melanthia turned to her for help. Seeing “Eugene,” this woman burned with an impure passion, and when she was spurned, she falsely accused the saint of attempted rape. Saint Eugenia came to trial before the Prefect of Egypt (her father), and she was forced to reveal her secret. Her parents and brothers rejoiced to find the one for whom they had long grieved.

After a while they all accepted holy Baptism. But Philip, after being denounced by pagans, was dismissed from his post. The Alexandrian Christians chose him as their bishop. The new Prefect, fearing the wrath of the people, did not dare to execute Philip openly, but sent assassins to kill him. They inflicted wounds upon Saint Philip while he was praying, from which he died three days later.

Saint Claudia went to Rome with her sons, daughter, and her servants. There Saint Eugenia continued with monastic life, and brought many young women to Christ. Claudia built a wanderers’ hostel and aided the poor. After several peaceful years, the emperor Galienus (260-268) intensified the persecution against Christians, and many of them found refuge with Saints Claudia and Eugenia.

Basilla, an orphaned Roman girl of imperial lineage, heard about the Christians and Saint Eugenia. She sent a trusted servant to the saint asking her to write her a letter explaining Christian teachings. Saint Eugenia sent her friends and co-ascetics, Protus and Hyacinthus, who enlightened Basilla, and she accepted holy Baptism.

Basilla’s servant then told her fiancé Pompey that his betrothed had become a Christian. Pompey then complained to the emperor against the Christians for preaching celibacy and denouncing idolatry. Basilla refused to enter into marriage with Pompey, and so they killed her with a sword.

They dragged Saints Protus and Hyacinthus into a temple to make them sacrifice to the idols, but just as they entered, the idol fell down and was shattered. The holy Martyrs Protus and Hyacinthus were beheaded. They also brought Saint Eugenia to the temple of Diana by force, but she had not even entered it, when the pagan temple collapsed with its idol.

They threw the holy martyr into the Tiber with a stone about her neck, but the stone became untied and she remained unharmed. She also remained unscathed in the fire. Then they cast her into a pit, where she remained for ten days. During this time the Savior Himself appeared to her and said that she would enter into the heavenly Kingdom on the day He was born. When this radiant Feast came, the executioner put her to death with a sword. After her death, Saint Eugenia appeared to her mother to tell her beforehand the day of her own death.

Troparion of the Sunday, Tone 7
By Thy Cross, Thou didst destroy death! To the thief, Thou didst open Paradise! For the myrrhbearers, Thou didst change weeping into joy! And Thou didst command Thy disciples, O Christ God, to proclaim that Thou art risen, granting the world great mercy!

Troparion of the Eve of the Nativity, tone 4

Mary was of David’s seed, so she went with Joseph to register in Bethlehem. She bore in her womb the Fruit not sown by man. The time for the birth was at hand. Since there was no room at the inn, the cave became a beautiful palace for the Queen. Christ is born, raising up the image that fell of old.

Kontakion of the Eve of the Nativity, tone 3

Today the Virgin comes to the cave to give birth to the Eternal Word. Hear the glad tidings and rejoice, O universe! Glorify with the angels and the shepherds the Eternal God, who is willing to appear as a little child!

Kontakion of the Sunday, Tone 7
The dominion of death can no longer hold men captive, for Christ descended, shattering and destroying its powers! Hell is bound, while the prophets rejoice and cry:”The Savior has come to those in faith! Enter, you faithful, into the Resurrection!

Hebrews 11:9-10, 17-23, 32-40 (Epistle, Sunday Before)

9

By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;

10

for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

17

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

18

of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,”

19

concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

20

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

21

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.

22

By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.

23

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.

32

And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:

33

who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

34

quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

35

Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.

36

Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.

37

They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented-

38

of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

39

And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,

40

God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

Matthew 1:1-25 (Gospel, Sunday Before)

1

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

2

Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.

3

Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram.

4

Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon.

5

Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse,

6

and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.

7

Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa.

8

Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah.

9

Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah.

10

Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah.

11

Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

12

And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel.

13

Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor.

14

Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud.

15

Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob.

16

And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

17

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.

18

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.

19

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

20

But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

21

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.

22

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:

23

Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, “God with us.”

24

Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,

25

and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

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About the Author

Emma Cazabonne

Emma Cazabonne

Emma Cazabonne was born and raised in France. She taught English before entering the Cistercian Order. She translated and published articles relevant to her interest in Cistercian spirituality, the Middle Ages, and Orthodoxy. She moved to the United States in 2001, converted to Orthodoxy in 2008, and married. Her husband is an Orthodox priest. She continued to publish articles, a Cistercian texts anthology, then finally launched her career in literary translation, while teaching French. If you are interested in having your book translated into French, she can be contacted here https://wordsandpeace.com/contact-me/

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