Orthodox Holy Objects & Places
Quick Access Links
The Holy Belt of the Theotokos
According to the Sacred Tradition of the Orthodox Church, at the time of her Dormition, the Theotokos was buried by the Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem. Three days later, Thomas the Apostle, who had been delayed and unable to attend the funeral, arrived and asked to have one last look at the Virgin Mary. When he and the other apostles arrived at Mary's Tomb, they found that her body was missing. According to some accounts, the Virgin Mary appeared at that time and gave her belt (cincture) to the Apostle Thomas. There is no scriptural evidence for this event whatsoever, nor is the alleged relic the subject of any pronouncement by the Ecumenical Councils or the Holy Fathers. Its history prior to the reign of Justinian in the sixth century is entirely unknown.
Traditionally, the cincture was made by the Virgin Mary herself, out of camelhair. It was kept at Jerusalem for many years, until it was translated to Constantinople in the 5th century, together with the Robe of the Virgin Mary, and deposited in the Church of St. Mary at Blachernae. This relic was embroidered with gold thread by the Empress Zoe, the wife of Emperor Leo VI, (in gratitude for a miraculous cure) and, divided into three sections, is presently kept in a silver reliquary at the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Vateopedi on Mt. Athos.
The tomb of St. Melania the Younger of Rome in Jerusalem.
St. Juliana of Lazarevo
Commemorated on January 2
Righteous Juliana of Lazarevo and Murom presents an astonishing example of a self-denying Russian Christian woman. She was the daughter of the nobleman Justin Nediurev. From her early years she lived devoutly, kept the fasts strictly and set aside much time for prayer. Early on having become orphaned, she was given over into the care of relatives, who did not take to her and laughed at her. Juliana bore everything with patience and without complaint. Her love for people was expressed by nursing the sick and sewing clothing for the poor.
The pious and virtuous life of the maiden attracted the attention of the Lazarevo village owner, Yurii Osoryin, who soon married her. The husband's parents loved their gentle daughter-in-law and left the running of the household in her hands. Domestic concerns did not disrupt the spiritual efforts of Juliana. She always found time for prayer and she was always prepared to feed the orphaned and clothe the poor. During a harsh famine, she herself remained without food, having given away her last morsel to someone begging. When an epidemic started after the famine, Juliana devoted herself completely to the nursing of the sick.
Righteous Juliana had six sons and a daughter. After the death of two of her sons she decided to withdraw to a monastery, but her husband persuaded her to remain in the world, and to continue to raise their children. On the testimony of Juliana's son, Kallistrat Osoryin, who wrote her Life, at this time she became all the more demanding towards herself: she intensified her fasting and prayer, slept not more than two hours at night, and then laying her head upon a board.
Upon the death of her husband, Juliana distributed to the poor her portion of the inheritance. Living in extreme poverty, she was none the less vivacious, cordial, and in everything she thanked the Lord. The saint was vouchsafed a visitation by St Nicholas the Wonderworker and guidance by the Mother of God in church. When Righteous Juliana fell asleep in the Lord, she was then buried beside her husband at the church of St Lazarus. Here also her daughter, the schemanun Theodosia was buried. In 1614 the relics of Righteous Juliana were uncovered, exuding a fragrant myrrh, from which many received healing.