O Lord Jesus Christ,
"The Jesus Prayer"
now united, O new David;
For thou didst kill the
carnal passions like Goliath
On the twenty-sixth,
David passed through the gates of life.
St. David of Thessalonica
Reposed in the Lord C. 540
KONTAKION, TONE I
An ever-blossoming garden, bearing fruits of virtues, thou didst appear on a garden tree like a sweet-singing bird; but all the more didst thou take into thy heart paradise, the Lord's tree of life, and having cultivated it, O divinely-wise one, by it thou dost nourish us with grace: ever pray for us, O David all-blessed.
DAVID, OUR FATHER of great renown, the earthly angel and heavenly man, was born and reared in the illustrious and great city of Thessalonica. Renouncing the world and worldly things, he abandoned friends and relatives, temporal honor and glory, money, possessions, and every other passing joy and even his own life, according to the evangelical exhortation. Following the Master, he took up the Cross from his youth; for his heart was deeply pierced with divine love.
He was tonsured and remained in the Monastery of the Holy Martyrs Theodore and Mercurius, which was known as Koukouliaton, and there he struggled in sacred silence in the a manner surpassing the limits of human nature. He observed every virtue most diligently; above all, he kept the virtues of temperance and humility, knowing well that satiety of the stomach drives away spiritual vigilance and chastity, and that vainglory totally obliterates every virtue. Because of this, like a wise man, he was diligent to acquire humility.
Reading the Sacred Scriptures by day and by night, the righteous one marvelled at the virtues of the Saints, both those who were before the Law and those who were after the Law. He observed how God glorified them because they obeyed His commandments and were pleasing to Him as was meet. He made Abel wondrous by his sacrifices, Abraham by his faith, Joseph by his chastity, Job by his patience, He showed from Moses as Lawgiver, and preserved Daniel and the Three Youths unharmed from the fire and lions. Reflection upon the examples of these men, and marvellous David was diligent to emulate them with his whole heart and strength, so that, together with them, he might become co-heir of the Heavenly Kingdom.
While reading the lives of the righteous ones who struggled after the saving Incarnation of the Saviour and who accomplished such marvellous struggles, he marvelled-especially at the life of Simeon of the Wondrous Mountain, and of the other Simeon, and of Daniel and Patapius the Stylites, who spent their lives living in the open, without shelter, tormented by the winds, rains, and snows. As he read the lives of these men, he wept and came to such compunction that he decided to undergo a similar life of affliction for as long as he, the ever-memorable one, could, so that he might find rest with the Saints after death.
One day, therefore, he became so fervent with zeal and his heart so filled with compunction, that he climbed up an almond tree that was by the left side of the church. He remained there upon a branch of the tree where he made a small bench as well as he could, and there he struggled in ascetic labors with wondrous patience, tormented by the winds, the rains and the snows, burned by the searing heat of the sun in summer, and suffering many other afflictions. O the fortitude of this much-suffering martyr, that the ever-memorable one should undergo such hardship! The other stylites had some security, for their pillars were constructed and stood fast, and what is more, when they slept or had some other need, the pillars were immobile. But this abamantine man swayed always in the branches of the tree, and never had any repose, but was tormented by the rains and the winds and suffered greatly from the snows.
In enduring all these things, the stout-hearted one did not let up in his discipline, neither did he become faint-hearted in any way, neither was he overcome by tedium, nor did his angelic face become transfored or changed, but remained as comely as a rose. Indeed, in this thrice-blessed one was there fulfilled that prophetic saying: The righteous man shall blossom like a palm tree, and like a cedar in Lebanon shall he be multiplied. For in his deeds he too blossomed forth like a palm tree, and rendered unto God an acceptable fruit sweeter and more beneficial than the almond or the date palm. For the tree gives forth corruptible blossoms and fruit for man's delight and enjoyment; but the righteous one gladdened our good God with the fruits of divine vision and a holy life, and he praised and glorified Him unceasingly.
The righteous one had some disciples where exceedingly pious and Christ-loving, and they labored and toiled together with him in the monastic discipline. Many times they begged and entreated him to come down from the tree so that they could build him a cell (a place the monastics call a room) he like, in some quiet place, so that he could guide them and tend them as his sheep and bring them into the pastures of salvation. But he answered saying, "My brethren and children, I am a sinner and an unworthy man; but Christ the Master, the Good Shepherd Who laid down His lfie for His sheep, will protect you from the plots of the devil, and as He is supremely good, He will account you worthy of His Eternal Kingdom. But as for me, as the Lord my God Jesus Christ, the Son of God liveth. I will not come down from this tree until three years are accomplished, and even then I will come down only by His comman; for if it is not His will, I will never come down from here." When they say that his mind could not be changed, they did not trouble him any longer in this matter.
WHEN THE TRHEE YEARS had passed, a holy angel appeared unto him saying, "David, the Lord has heard your supplication and grants unto you this favor for which you have asked many times, that is, that you be humble-minded and modest, and that you fear Him and worship Him with proper reverence. Come down, therefore, from the tree and live in sacred silence in your cell, blessing God until you accomplish one other act of love; then shall you find comfort of soul and rest from bodily travail." During the whole time that the Angel spoke with him, the righreous one listened with fear and trembling. When he that appeared disappeared, the righteous one gave thanks unto God, saying, "Blessed is God who has had mercy on me."
Then calling together his disciples, he revealed the vision and told them to prepare the cell, as the Master had commanded. Straightway they did as they were ordered and they informed the most holy Metropolitan Dorotheus also. The Metroplolitan rejoiced to hear these tidings and took the more pious clerics with him. Going up to the righteous one, he kissed him and they brought him down from the tree with great reverance. After the Divine Liturgy, they placed him in his cell and celebrated this great feast. Thus they returned rejoicing and the righteous one remained in his cell struggling in sacred silence. Even as before, he perpetually and ceaselessly blessed the Lord Who had granted him such grace, that he put demons to flight, gave sight to the blind and healed every incurable disease by calling upon the name of Christ. Out of many signs which he did we mention ly two or three as proof of the others; for the lion is known from his claws and the cloth from its hem.
A certain youth had a demon, and one day he came to the cell of the righteous one. Standing, therefore, outside the door, he cried out saying Release me, O David, thou servant of the eternal God, for fire comes froth from our cell and burns me." Then the righteous one stretched forth his hand from a small window and held the youth and said, "Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, commands you to go forth from His creature, O unclean spirit!" Saying this, he sealed the youth with the sign of the Precious Cross and immdediately the demon went form from the youth and he became well. On seeing such a marvel, all who were present glorified God Who glorifies those who glorify Him with God-pleasing works.
Whoever had a any illness would come unto him, and no sooner would the Saint lay his right hand upon the sick man when straightway malady would depart and be dispersed, even as darkness is dispersed and by the light. Having performed innumerable miracels, he was glorified by men and was revered by all.
AFTER MANY YEARS, Dorotheus, the Metropolitan of Thessalonica, reposed, and one other Aristides by name - a man equally virtuous - took his place. At that time, great loss and much confusion was caused by the barbarians in the whole of Thessaly. Hence, the eparch of Illyricum wrote to the Metropolitan, asking him to intercede with the Emperor, or to send him to elect an eparch for Thessalonica, because of the confusion caused by the barbarians; for at the time, there was no eparch in Thessalonica, but only a locum tenens who was under the eparch of Sirmium. When the most holy Aristides, the Metropolitan of Thessalonica, had read the letter of the eparch in the presence of the clergy and the nobility of the city, he told them to choose a capable and erudite man to send to the Emperor for this matter.
When all, therefore, had gathered in the church, they cried out with one accord that the righteous David should be sent, for the most pious Emperor would reverence him as a virtuous and holy man, and thus would carry out their request. This was done by the dispensation of Divine Providence, that the prophecy of the angel might be fulfilled; for the angel told the righteous one to come down from the tree that he might perform one other act of love also, and then he would depart for the Lord.
The bishop, then, took the most pious clergy and the people and went to the righteous one and told him of the matter and entreated him to go to the Emperor with the aforementioned request. At first, the righteous one excused himself, saying that he could not go because of old age. Afterwards, seeing that all constrained him to go, he agreed so that he might not appear disobedient to the bishop and to the Christ-loving people who were urging him.
The righreous one then remembered the prophecy of the angel, and he said these words to the Metropolitan: "May the Lord's will be done, holy master. Yet, be it known unto you that, through your prayers and with God as my helper, the Emperor will grant me whatever I request of him; but as for David, you will not see him alive again to speak with him. For on my return to you from the palace, when I am yet one-hundred and twenty-six stadia from my poor cell, I shall depart for my Master."
Taking that the righteous one was saying this as an excuse, so that they would not force him to go, the Metropolitan admonished him saying: "Then imitate our Shepherd and Master Who gave Himself over unto death as a man and died for us, give your life for your people that you may receive thanksgiving from men and glory and boundless praise from Christ the Master, as an emulator of His Passion."
Then the thrice-blessed one went forth from his cell and all worshipped him; for his countenance was a marvellous sight; the locks of his hair fell down to his belt and his beard down to his feet; his venerable face was handsome and comely, just like Abraham's and everyone who saw him marvelled. He took with him two of his disciples, Theodore and Demetrios; these men were pious and virtuous, and were like David, not only in the comeliness of the soul, but also in that of the body.
When they reached Byzantium, the report of the righteous one was heard throughout the whole city. At that time, the Emperor was the pious Justinian. Since the Emperor was absent when the Saint arrived, the Empress Theodora sent chamberlains and escorts to welcome him and she received him with much honor and reverence. On beholding his radiant and angelic face and his venerable white beard, she marvelled and worshipped him with much humility, and asked for his prayers and his blessing. The Saint, therefore, prayed for the Emperor, the imperial city and every city. The pious Empress received him with such gladness and with such friendly hospitality that I am not able to describe fully the reverence which the ever-memorable one showed him; for she thought that she had received an angel of the Lord and not a man. When the Emperor returned, the august Empress told him of the righteous one, saying, "The supremely-good God has taken compassion on us, Master, and has sent His angel unto your majesty on this day from the city of Thessalonica; and in truth, it seemed to me that I saw Abraham."
On the following day, when the whole Senate had gathered, the Emperor gave orders for the righteous one to be brought in. When the Saint entered, he placed live coal and incense in his hands and, together with his disciples, he censed the Emperor and the whole Senate without his hands being burned at all from the fire, even though he took more than an hour censing, until he had censed all the people. All were astonished as they beheld this wonder. Rising from his throne, the Emperor received him gladly and with much reverence, and he, in turn, received the gifts of the Metropolitan of Thessalonica from the hands of the Saint. The pious and Christ-loving Emperor listened to the Saint's request and voted that the seat of the eparch be changed from Sirmium to Thessalonica. Not only did he fulfill the written requests of the Thessalonians, but with great willingness, he carried out the righteous one's other requests as well, and, in accordance with the custom, signed them in vermillion. With his own hand, he gave them to the righteous one and told him, "Pray for me, venerable Father." Afterwards, he dismissed him and sent him on his way with a great escort, even as it was meet.
AS SOON as the righteous one had fulfilled his mission, he set sail to Thessalonica. But even as he had prophesied, he did not reach the city. When they were passing near a Lighthouse he said these words to his disciples: "My children, the time of my end has come. See that you bury my remains in the Monastery where I dwelt. Take care for your souls, that your find eternal rest." Saying these and other edifying words, they arrived at the promontory which is called Emvolos, from where his monastery could be seen. He looked towards it and prayed, and after he had kissed his disciples, the thrice-blessed one surrendered his soul to God.
When the righteous one reposed a strong wind was blowing; and though they had been sailing most swiftly, at that very moment, the boat stopped for a long time in spite of the wind (O the wonder!) and did not move at all. Futhermore, there came forth a wonderous fragrance as of indiscribable incense, and voices were heard in the air melodiously chanting praises to the Lord. After a long time the voices stopped. Immediately the boat began to sail again, but it did not go to the harbor as usual; but rather it sped to the west side of the city, at the place where the impious had cast the holy relics of St. Theodoulus and St. Agathopodus.
When they people heard of the righteous one's repose and arrival, the whole city came forth with the Metropolitan. Carrying his holy relics with much reverence, they came to the Monastery, and they made him a coffin of wood in which they placed him and buried him with honor. Afterwards, in accordance with the imperial decree, they changed the seat of the eparch from Sirmium to Thessalonica. As for the righteous one, his memory was celebrated by all the people each year in the afrormentioned Monastery.
After 150 years had passed, the abbot of the Monastery was a certain virtuous man, Demetrios by name. He had much reverence for the righreous one. Moved by a desire to take a portion of the Saint's holy relics in order to have them for santification, he took men and had them begin digging at the grave. Immediately the slab broke into four pieces. Seeing that the Saint did not wish them to go on, the abbot abandoned his plan. A disciple of this abbot, a man named Sergius who likewise became abbot, and through his virtues, later Metropolitan of Thessalonica, revered the Saint greatly. Many times he besought him in pryaer to allow him to take a small portion of his Holy Relics. When he was informed by God that the Saint agreet to it, he opened the tomb and there came forth a wondrous fragrance. Seeing that the Saints's relics were entire and unharmed he did not dare to take any part except for a few strands of hair from his head and beard. These were kept with care and are kissed on the Saint's feast by the Christ-loving peoples. The feast is celebrated annually on the 26th of June with much joy, in praise of the righteous one, and to the glory of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
(SOURCE: "The Orthodox Word"., St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood., Etna, Ca., 1970 Vol. 6, No. 3(32)., May-June., pp. 121-127)
Pray Unto God,