Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Church of Saint Kyriaki Kontoskaliou in Constantinople


By Nikos Ghinis and Constantinos Stratos

Among the populous Greek neighborhoods of Kontoskali, Vlanga and Hypsomatheia close to the Propontis, the Sea of Marmara, there are about ten church complexes that still have a life of their own.

As we know it today, the Church of Saint Kyriaki in Kumkapi was built in the late 19th century to the design of Pericles Photiades, who was the architect also of the Zographeion School. The earliest reference to the Church of Saint Kyriaki Kontoskaliou was made by the representative of the Russian Czar, who visited it in 1583.

Saint Kyriaki the Great Martyr

St. Kyriaki the Great Martyr (Feast Day - July 7)

Verses

Kyriaki died before beheading
Voluntarily, yet perfected by the sword.
On the seventh, Kyriaki ascended to her Betrothed.

There was a devout Christian couple named Dorotheos and Eusebia, who were wealthy and philanthropic, yet had neither son nor daughter, which was a cause of grief for them. After supplicating God to grant them offspring, Eusebia conceived and gave birth to a daughter on a Sunday, which is the Lord's day, hence her given name at Holy Baptism was Kyriaki (Gr. Lord's day).

From a young age Kyriaki was modest and mature beyond her age, neither participating in the disorderly games of her peers or participating in their gossip, but she greatly revered her parents and attended to them. The more she aged, the more she grew in wisdom, knowledge and beauty, both physically and spiritually. She was not interested in costly clothes, secular music or dancing, preferring to live an ecclesiastical life and listen to the lives of the saints. Though she was attractive, she did not parade her beauty or adorn herself in any way to enhance it. Rather, she arrayed her soul with fasting, discipline, silence, prayer, guarding her eyes and restraining her tongue. And although many handsome young men sought her hand in marriage, Kyriaki desired to preserve her virginity and devote all her life and love to Christ. When her parents tried to persuade her to get married to bequeath to her all they possessed, she answered among other things: "I desire to become a bride of my Christ and God. What would marriage profit? What woman has ever married and not regretted it? Who became a mother and has not grieved? Sorrow and distress, out of necessity, is most felt at the loss of one's child, husband or relative. Yet, virginity has no sorrow, neither many cares... Therefore, my parents, why would you submit me to such cares and anxieties?"

In those days there was a wealthy magistrate who lived in the same city of Anatolia as Kyriaki, who saw her to be young and beautiful, but also wealthy, and because he desired her wealth, he decided to betroth her to his son. With this hidden motive in mind, he came to an agreement with her parents for their children to be brought together. Because, however, Kyriaki had consecrated both soul and body to God, she replied: "I am a pure bride of my Christ and I desire to die a virgin." This very much angered the magistrate.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Holy New Martyr Cyril from Thessaloniki (+ 1566) and the Discovery of His Relics in 1972

St. Cyril the Venerable Martyr of Thessaloniki (Feast Day - July 6)

During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566), an Orthodox Christian from Pelagonia in Asia Minor named Peios moved to Thessaloniki, where he later married a young lady Paraskevi. Both were pious Christians with deep faith. They were soon blessed with a son whom they named Kyriakos in 1544.

At the age of ten, both of Kyriakos' parents died. He was forced to lived with his mother's brothers who were of different faiths: one was an Orthodox Christian while the other was a Muslim. The Muslim uncle handed Kyriakos over to another Muslim craftsman to learn the trade of tanning animal hides.

Meanwhile, the other uncle of Kyriakos, who was a devout Orthodox Christian, convinced him to abandon the trade of tanner and follow certain Athonite monks who were in Thessaloniki at the time. So at the age of fourteen Kyriakos went to the Holy Mountain and was tonsured a monk at Hilandari Monastery, receiving the name Cyril (Kyrillos).

Sts. Lucia the Virgin Martyr, Rexius Vicarius and the 24 Martyrs with them from Campania

Sts. Lucia and Rexius and the 24 Martyrs with them (Feast Day - July 6)

Verses

For Sts. Lucia and Rexius
Lucia saw the cutting of Rexius,
Having shattered the voice of timidity towards cutting.

For the 24 Martyrs
Twenty and four Martyrs was the work of the sword,
Perceiving it as on Your behalf, Christ the glory of Martyrs.

Lucia (Loukia),* the holy virgin, was a Christian from Campania in Italy who in the year 301 was seized by Rexius Vicarius.** He urged her to sacrifice to the idols and to disavow Christ. He not only failed to convince her, but she succeeded in winning him over to the Faith of Christ. For this, he greatly esteemed Lucia and established her in a quiet dwelling-place where she engaged in fasting and prayer.

Saint Sisoes the Great as a Model for our Lives

St. Sisoes the Great (Feast Day - July 6)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Sisoes lived in the fourth century and came from Thebes, Egypt. He belonged to the first generation of great ascetics and was a disciple of Anthony the Great. Shining with spiritual wisdom, humility and brotherly love, he was interested in returning to the fold of Christ even one sinner. For the righteous and unrighteous, rich and poor, rulers and subjects, clergy and laity, and generally for the whole world, he would pray continuously. He showed himself to be a heavenly man and an earthly angel. When Christ came to collect his soul at the moment of his departure, He called him a "vessel of the desert".

"They would say of the venerable Sisoes that, when he was at the end of his long life of labors, as the fathers were gathered about him, his face began to shine as the sun, and he said, 'Behold, Abba Anthony is come;' then, 'Behold, the choir of the Prophets is come;' his face shone yet more bright, and he said, 'Behold, the choir of the Apostles is come.' The light of his countenance increased, and he seemed to be talking with someone. The fathers asked him of this; in his humility, he said he was asking the Angels for time to repent. The fathers told him, 'You have no need of repentance, Abba.' Abba Sisoes responded, 'I tell you the truth, I have not even made a beginning of it.' Thus they learned he was perfect. Again his face became as bright as the sun, so that the fathers were filled with fear. He said, 'Behold, the Lord is come, and He says, "Bring Me the vessel of the desert,"' and as he gave up his soul into the hands of God, there was as it were a flash of lightning, and the whole dwelling was filled with a sweet fragrance."

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