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    These two Great Apostles of Our Lord Jesus Christ are depicted here in a brotherly embrace.  Both were transformed from ordinary men to servants of the Most High God, and became living icons of the Lord they worshiped and loved exceedingly.  They are both considered chief among the Apostles, and have a major fasting period that precedes their dual commemoration on June 29th each year.  They are great miracle-workers.

    Simon bar-Jonah was a fisherman who was transformed by Christ when He called him from his earthly fisher’s nets to Heavenly ones, later called Peter for the rock of his confession of Christ as the living Son of God, given to him by revelation.  He led the early Church and preached at Pentecost, converting thousands.  Saul was a Pharisee who led the persecution by the Jews of the early Church.  He was converted by a vision of Christ on the road to Damascus, which blinded him to earthly sight, but gave him Divine wisdom.  He was  healed through St. Ananias’ prayers, who baptized him.  In a.d. 64, the Emperor Nero in Rome condemned St. Peter to death by crucifixion, and St. Paul by beheading.

    Approximately 6" x 8"

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    3' x 2 1/2'
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    Christ’s first public miracle was at this wedding in Cana at which His Disciples and His Mother were present.  Christ blessed water to become wine at the request of the Virgin Mary, who told Him that the wine had run out before the wedding guests had left.  When the master of the feast tasted it, not knowing that the wine was miraculously turned by Christ from water, he remarked that the good wine had been left until last.  As always, whatever Christ touches becomes the best within its nature, even something as mundane as wine needed at a wedding feast.

    Tradition tells us that this was the wedding of one of His Disciples, Simon the Zealot, and that Simon left right from his own wedding to follow Him after seeing this miracle.    It is the sign of most of the Apostles that when they were called, they left everything and followed.  May we learn to do the same in our own life. Here at His first miracle we see the close relationship of Christ and His Mother for she says wise words to all who would follow Him, “Whatever He says, do it.”  Amen, Amen, Amen.  This 14th century icon is a fresco from the Decani Monastery in Serbia.

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    2 Icon Kiot

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    In Rome in the time of the Emperor Hadrian (from 117-138 a.d.), there lived a virtuous Christian widow named Sophia (Wisdom), with her three daughters: Pistis (Faith), Elpis (Hope), and Agape (Love).  This God-pleasing mother instructed her children in Christian virtue from their birth.  When the children were twelve, ten, and nine respectively, the whole family was brought before the Emperor for refusing to sacrifice to the Roman idols.  Although tender in years, the three sisters remained steadfast in their confession of Christ, and suffered beatings, stabbings, and burning, but remained unharmed until they were at last beheaded.

    These blessed daughters of the Heavenly Father awaited their martyrdom as if it were their wedding and they were going to meet their Bridegroom Christ and to live with Him forever.  St. Sophia took her daughters’ bodies and buried them outside of Rome, and after three days of mourning at their grave, joined them in the Heavenly Kingdom.  This contemporary icon, of the young martyrs who gave up the glories of this life to receive a hundredfold in Heaven and their most-wise mother, is from Greece.

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    Holy Trinity (Rublev)