The year and manner of martyrdom of the Holy Martyrs Adrianos, Polyeuctos, Platon, and George are unknown. But we do know the wondrous manner in which the relics of these holy martyrs were found by the grace of God in Megara.
In the year 1754, a cleric named Oikonomos (which could have something to do with being "Oikonomos" of the Patriarch of Jerusalem) wanted to build a house. When the workers of the community were digging and constructing the foundations, one of them claimed that he felt an intense heat at his feet, and indicated that he couldn't keep working. The Oikonomos put his hands in the spot, and paradoxically felt the same heat as the worker. The rest of the workers, however, kept digging until they hit a marble slab with the following inscription on it: "Λείψανα Μαρτύρων. Αδριανός, Πολύευκτος, Πλάτων, Γεώργιος" [The relics of the Martyrs Adrianos, Polyeuctos, Platon, George]. Lifting up the plaque, he found the all-holy relics of the Holy Four Martyrs, and he glorified God for the heavenly blessing and consolation which he granted to them. In the place where the relics were found, further excavations revealed a large Early Christian Basilica which dates from the mid-5th to the 6th century AD, and which was built in honor of the Four Holy Martyrs. This filled the residents of Megara with joy, but also brought temptation, as someone during the night stole the majority of the relics and fled for Peloponessos. However, a few smaller pieces of the relics remained, and the Oikonomos took the marble plaque to Constantinople to show the Patriarch and tell him about these occurences. Further excavations in 1998 uncovered more of their holy relics, which were placed in a beautiful reliquary and are honored joyously by the faithful. Their feast is celebrated on February 1st.
For information on six other newly-revealed Holy Martyrs in Megara honored together with the above four as the Holy Ten Holy Martyrs of Megara, see here.
Apolytikion in the First Tone (For the Ten Martyrs of Megara)
The protectors of Megara, Champions ten in number, with Dorotheos, Saranti, Seraphim, and Iakovos, Demetrios, Basileios, Adrianos, Polyeuctos and George and Platon, faithful helpers of those in dangers, deliver those who cry to you, Glory to Him who glorified you, Glory to Him you magnified you, Glory to Him you grants to us through you, healings for all.
Απολυτίκιο Ήχος γʼ, Θείας πίστεως (For the Four Martyrs of Megara)
Χαίρει λάρνακα θείων λειψάνων,* πόλις έχουσα, η των Μεγάρων, * Γεωργίου, Πολύευκτου και Πλάτωνος * Αδριανού τε ιάματα βρύουσα, * και εκ κινδύνων λυτρούσα τους μέλποντας * Θείοι Μάρτυρες, Χριστώ τω Θεώ πρεσβεύσατε, * δωρήσασθαι ημίν το μέγα έλεος.
Monday, February 1, 2010
The year and manner of martyrdom of the Holy Martyrs Adrianos, Polyeuctos, Platon, and George are unknown. But we do know the wondrous manner in which the relics of these holy martyrs were found by the grace of God in Megara.
by Νίκος Καστρινάκης
Tryphon was a Christian martyr from Asia Minor, honored both by the Orthodox and the Catholic Church. In the Byzantine years the main centres of his cult were Asia Minor and Constantinople. Especially after 1204, when his relics seem to have been transported by the crusaders from Constantinople to Rome, his cult became widespread in Nicaea. The beginnings of the cult of the saint as the patron of cultivation, and particularly viniculture, probably date back to the 10th century.
1. Hagiological Sources of the Life of St. Tryphon
The basic source of the life and activity of Saint Tryphon is the Synaxarion of Constantinople, probably dating to the 11th century. Tryphon came from Lampsacus of Phrygia, lived in the years of Emperor Gordian (first half of 3rd century) and, according to the Synaxarion, earned his living by breeding geese. He seems to have been able to heal all diseases and to cast out demons with the help of the Holy Spirit already from the early years of his life. Among those healed by him was the daughter of Emperor Gordian, who suffered from demons; Tryphon was able to even identify the demon with a black dog, which he showed to the people attending, thus causing a lot of them to turn to Christianity. In the years of Decius (249-251), the emperor who reigned after Philip, the successor of Gordian, Tryphon was taken to the praefectus praetorio per Orientem Acylinus accused of not regularly worshipping the statues of the gods. Thus, he was taken to Nicaea, the seat of the eparch, to defend himself. He confessed his Christian faith there. According to the tradition, Tryphon was tortured in various ways in order to forsake his religion before he was finally beheaded in 250.
2. The Cult of St. Tryphon in Constantinople
According to the Synaxarion of Constantinople, the synaxis of Saint Tryphon was held on the 1st of February at his martyrion, which was inside the Church of St. John the Theologian, near the churches of Hagia Sophia and St. Irene in Constantinople. The establishment of that martyrion was separately celebrated on the 19th of October. The synaxis of St. Tryphon was also celebratedon September 19, the day the martyrs Trophimos and Dorymedon were celebrated, near St. Anna, in the quarter known as Deuteron. However, according to the Synaxarion, in Constantinople there was a church exclusively dedicated to St. Tryphon, whose opening was celebrated on 1 December. Indeed, according to the information provided by the Byzantine written sources, in Constantinople there were at least seven churches dedicated to St. Tryphon. As a result, his cult was particularly popular in Constantinople, at least from the years of Justinian (6th century). It is also known that both Theophanes (early 9th century) and Emperor Leo VI (886-912) wrote encomia honouring the martyr, which shows that the cult was spread in Constantinople in the following centuries as well.
3. Details of the Cult of St. Tryphon
No particular qualities are attributed to St. Tryphon in the encomia of Theophanes and Emperor Leo VI. However, in later texts St.Tryphon is considered ‘Anargyros’, meaning "unmercenary", as well as patron of cultivation, gardens and vineyards. Both these qualities are probably somehow based on the events of the saint’s life, since his synaxarion reports that Tryphon cast out demons (healing abilities) and kept geese (a professional in close contact with nature, particularly with cultivation lands in the near region). A lot of official ecclesiastical works (like Euchologia), as well as various manuscripts with anthologies of ecclesiastical and other texts, include blessings and exorcisms ‘of St. Tryphon’ concerning the success in farming gardens, vineyards and land. As a result, it should be concluded that from some time between the 10th and the 13th century the saint started to be considered patron of a particular part of agricultural production, mainly of the part connected with fruit, vegetables and wine. In particular, the saint was believed to be fighting all insects and small animals that could harm such cultivation.
4. St. Tryphon in Art
The fact that specific qualitites (healer and patron of gardens and vineyards) were attributed to St. Tryphon only from some time on, has also affected the way he is represented in art. Tryphon always appears as a young man, usually beardless, rarely having some grown hairs on his cheeks and chin, while he always has a lot of hair, oftenly unkempt, which stresses his humble origin and the fact that he spent his whole life in the country. He always wears a chiton down to his feet and a long tunic-like garment (ependytes) over it.
There are two main iconographic types of St. Tryphon according to the way he is represented and the symbols he has in his hands.
First iconographic type: In the first phase of his cult, when he was not a patron of cultures yet, Tryphon was represented holding in his right hand, like all martyrs, only a Cross (the symbol of his martyrdom). The other hand was holding and raising the edge of his garment. This seemingly earlier type of representation was preserved even in later periods, when Tryphon was considered patron of cultures.
Second iconographic type: A second and probably later type of representation, clearly showing the known qualities of the saint, depicts Tryphon holding, apart from the Cross in his right hand, a small sickle in his left hand. It was the billhook of the Middle Ages, a basic tool for gardens and vineyards. Along with this iconographical type it seems that there was another one representing the saint holding, instead of a billhook, either a specific kind of lily or a vine branch full of grapes in his left hand. In another version, the saint is also holding, apart from the sickle, a small box with medical tools (as it often happens with unmercenaries,such as the Saints Cosmas and Damianos and St. Panteleimon) indicating his healing abilities. There is also a representation of St.Tryphon in which the Cross is missing and the martyr is holding the sickle in his right hand and the lily in his left hand. All the above representations should be considered versions of the second iconographic type, which, unlike the first one, attributes specific qualities to the martyr (healer and patron of gardens and vineyards).
5. Spread of the Cult of St. Tryphon
Representations of St. Tryphon are often found in wall paintings of several churches and in portable icons from various regions: from all over Greece (from Macedonia to Crete), from Serbia and Asia Minor. It seems that the cult of the saint was particularly popular in the entire Christian world. As mentioned above, the cult was particularly widespread in Constantinople as early as in the 6th century. According to lots of other sources, Constantinople was the most important centre of cults of several saints and celebrations in the Byzantine world.
However, at the same time, there are several reasons why Asia Minor must have been another important centre of St. Tryphon’s cult. First of all, the martyr was born, lived and was martyred there: as a result, it seems reasonable that his cult appeared there. It is known that in Lampsakos, his birthplace, there was a sanctuary dedicated to him. Then his cult arrived (possibly in the 5th century, during the reign of some Asia Minor emperor) in Constantinople, before it spread over the wider Byzantine territory. Second, the earliest representations of St. Tryphon preserved so far are in Asia Minor. It is not by chance that several Cappadocian churches(from the 10th century onward) include a representation of the saint, often holding a prominent position. Third, Asia Minor was always known in the Byzantine world as the ‘cradle of saints’. The cult of several saints had began as a local cult from there: St.Polycarp in Smyrna, St. John the Theologian in Ephesus, St. Nicholas in Myra, Archangel Michael in Chonai, St. Phokas in Sinope, St. Eugenios in Trebizond, St. Hyakinthos in Amastris, St. Theodore in Euchaita, the Forty Martyrs in Sebasteia, St.Merkourios and St. Mamas in Caesarea. The cult of St. George was also particularly spread in Paphlagonia. In this framework, it is not strange that the cult of St. Tryphon was particularly popular in Nicaea, the city Tryphon had been martyred.
6. The Cult of St. Tryphon in Nicaea
The cult of St. Tryphon in Nicaea must have spread more widely after 1204. It seems that, after Constantinople was captured by the crusaders, the relics of the martyr – as it happened in other cases as well – were taken to West Europe. In particular, they were deposited at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Rome (the Catholic Church celebrates the saint on November 10). This must have been a heavy blow to the cult of the saint in Constantinople. The Empire of Nicaea, the most powerful of the states created by the Byzantine aristocracy after 1204 in the regions the crusaders could not control, was formed a little later. It is possible that the rulers of the state of Nicaea, in their attempt to stand against the then Latin Empire of Constantinople, encouraged the cult of Tryphon, a local saint particularly known and familiar to all Orthodox, whose relics had just been stolen by their rivals.
There are two main points advocating this view. The first is that the emperor of Nicaea Theodore II Laskaris (1255-1259), in his work Encomium to the City of Nicaea, says that Tryphon was particularly dear to the Nicaeans and that his memory was greatly celebrated every year, at the same time citing an encomium he had written honoring the martyr. According to a Byzantine chronicle of an unknown writer of that time, Theodore II considered Tryphon his patron saint and said that the saint often visited him in his dreams encouraging and advising him. According to other sources, Theodore said that he had seen the saint leading his fighting troops. Thus, Theodore II decided that St. Tryphon should be represented beside his figure on the coins he minted. The coins represented lilies as well, one of Tryphon’s symbols within the framework of the special cult of the saint in Nicaea at the time.
[On February 1 every year, at the morning service, while hymns were being sung in the saint's honor, a vast crowd witnessed the following miracle: dried lily bulbs put in the martyr's lamp suddenly bloomed out of season amid the frosts of winter. Theodore II Laskaris described the miracle, the accompanying festival, and the great crowds of people who came to receive the blessings of the saint and experience his power to drive away demons and cure ills. Tryphon was the patron saint of the empire in exile, and his image and lily appeared on its coins. His miracle was the great attraction of its capital, Nicaea.]
7. The Church of St. Tryphon in Nicaea
The second and probably the most important point is that, according to the same anonymous chronicle, immediately after his difficult victory against the ruler of Bulgaria Michael in Northern Macedonia in 1254, Theodore returned to Nicaea and the first thing he did was to build a magnificent church dedicated to St. Tryphon, to whom he credited his victory. According to information, the church was built on the site of an earlier small plinth-build church dedicated to the saint, which had been built on the site of his martyrdom and was in a very bad condition. In his encomium to the saint, Theodore II also refers to the annual miracle of the saint, who made the lily ‘beside his lamp’ blossom on his name day, in midwinter (one year after it was cut). As a result, it should be supposed that the Church of St. Tryphon was a real ‘martyrion’, where, perhaps because of the absence of his relics, the martyr Tryphon made clear his presence and his favour with the city and the emperor, by means of an annually repeated miracle of great political importance. In addition, together with the church he built and in collaboration with the then Patriarch Arsenios, Theodore II also founded a school where grammar and rhetoric were taught.
Thus, it is very possible that Theodore II, for specific reasons of internal and external policy, encouraged again the cult of St.Tryphon, which must have been declined even in the city where the saint had been martyred. This information is also verified by archaeological evidence, as the remains of a quite imposing church (22.5 x 19.5 m) were excavated in Nicaea in 1947. The church was built circa 1255 and was of the well-known cross-in-square type. The church – the so-called ‘C’ by excavators – must have been decorated with brilliant mosaics and an opus sectile floor shortly after it was built. Perhaps the church was on purpose built in the northern part of the city, on the main street leading from Nicaea to Constantinople.
8. St. Tryphon and St. Mamas
There is at least one case, in a church of Attiki (13th century), when St. Tryphon is represented holding a small animal in his left hand and a staff in his right hand. It is most certainly St. Tryphon because the painter, as it usually happens, wrote the name of the saint beside his head. However, this is the first time the saint has been depicted in this way. Perhaps there are more similar representations. It should be assumed that in cases like that St. Tryphon is confused with St. Mamas, the patron of flocks and herds. The latter is often represented standing and holding a small animal in his right hand and a staff in his left hand.
There are lots of similarities between the two saints. Both Tryphon and Mamas were from Asia Minor, where the latter lived and was martyred shortly after the former, towards the late 3rd century. The place where St. Mamas was martyred, which was also a centre of his cult, was Caesarea of Cappadocia. The cult seems to have spread from Caesarea to Constantinople, as it happened with the cult of St. Tryphon, possibly in the 5th century. However, the most interesting thing is the fact that their ‘specialties’ are almost supplementary. Tryphon was the patron of cultivations and Mamas was the patron of herds, while both saints actually protected life in a society where agriculture and stock breeding were the most important means of livelihood.
1. Delehaye, H., Synaxarium Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, Propylaeum ad Acta Sanctorum Novembris (Bruxelles 1902), l. 437. On the proximity to the Church of St Irene, ‘the old and the new’, as above l. 818 and 840. The synaxes of the martyrs Golinduc the Persian and Christina of Tyre were also celebrated on 12 and 24 July respectively along with the martyrdom of St Tryphon (as above, l. 818 and l. 840).
2. Delehaye, H., Synaxarium Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, Propylaeum ad Acta Sanctorum Novembris (Bruxelles 1902), l. 150.
3. Delehaye, H., Synaxarium Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, Propylaeum ad Acta Sanctorum Novembris (Bruxelles 1902), l. 90.
4. Delehaye, H., Synaxarium Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, Propylaeum ad Acta Sanctorum Novembris (Bruxelles 1902), l. 271.
5. Janin, R., La géographie ecclésiastique de l’Empire Byzantin. Première Partie: Le siège de Constantinople et le Patriarcat Oecuménique. TomeIII: Les églises et les moinastères (Paris 1969), pp. 488-490 with a review of the sources. The Monastery of St Tryphon, whose abbot participated in the Council of Constantinople in 536, was not dedicated to the martyr Tryphon but to the namesake archimandrite.
6. Vryonis, Sp., Jr., Η παρακμή του μεσαιωνικού ελληνισμού στη Μικρά Ασία και η διαδικασία εξισλαμισμού (11ος-15ος αιώνας) 2, ΜΙΕΤ (Athens2000), p. 36. On the cult of the saints in Asia Mionor, see also Delehaye, H., Les origines du culte des martyrs (Bruxelles 1933), pp. 145-180.
7. On the cult of St Tryphon in Nicaea and on his encomium, see Foss, C. – Tulchin, J., Nicaea: A Byzantine Capital and Its Praises (Brookline, Mass.1990), pp. 104-108.
8. On church C, see Foss, C. – Tulchin, J., Nicaea: A Byzantine Capital and Its Praises (Brookline, Mass. 1990), pp. 108-110.
9. Semavi Eyice brought up the question of identifying the Church of St Tryphon with another, recently excavated, church (church C), which is also of the cross-in-square type. See Eyice, S., ‘Die byzantinische Kirche in der Nähe des Yenisehir-Tores zu Iznik (=Nicaea)’, Materialia Turcica 7-8 (1981-1982), pp. 152-167.
Janin R., Les églises et les monastères des Grands Centres Byzantins. Bithynie, Hellespont, Latros,Galésios, Trébizonde, Athènes, Thessalonique, Paris 1975
Foss C., Tulchin J., Nicaea: A Byzantine Capital and Its Praises, Brookline, Mass. 1996
Delehaye H., Synaxarium Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae. Propylaeum ad Acta Sanctorum Novembris, Bruxelles 1902
Janin R., La géographie ecclésiastique de l’empire byzantin Ι. Le Siège de Constantinople et lePatriarcat Oecuménique 3: les églises et les monastères, 2, Paris 1969
Μαραβά-Χατζηνικολάου Ά., Ο άγιος Μάμας, Κέντρο Μικρασιατικών Σπουδών, Αθήνα 1995Τσιρπανλής Ζ., "Τρύφων", Θρησκευτική και Ηθική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια 11, 1967, 873-874
Κατσελάκη Α., "Εικονογραφία του αγίου Τρύφωνος, προστάτη της αμπέλου: μια ιδιαίτερη περίπτωση σε βυζαντινό ναό της Κρήτης", Μυλοποταμιτάκη, Αικ., Πρακτικά του διεθνούς επιστημονικού συμποσίου «Οίνος παλαιός ηδύποτος. Το κρητικό κρασί από τα προϊστορικά ως τα νεότερα χρόνια» (Κουνάβοι Ηρακλείου Κρήτης, 24-26 Απριλίου 1998), Ηράκλειο 2002, 207-216
Παπαδόπουλος Ι., "Ο εν Νικαία της Βιθυνίας ναός του Αγίου Τρύφωνος", Επετηρίς Εταιρείας Βυζαντινών Σπουδών, 22, 1952, 110-113
Eyice S., "Iznik’de bir Bizans kilisesi", Belleten, 13, 1949, 37-51
Encomium of St Tryphon by Theodore II Laskaris
‘Οὕτως ἠγωνίσατο ὁ γενναῖος καὶ τοιαύτας τὰς ἀμοιβὰς ἔλαβε, τὰς ἐπουρανίους καὶ ἐπιγείους, ἐκείνας περὶ αὐτόν, ταύτας διὰ τοὺς προσκαλουμένους αὐτόν. ἀνθεῖ γὰρ καθ’ ἑκάστην τὰ θαύματα, ῥαίνει τὰς δωρεάς, πλημμυρεῖ τάς εὐεργεσίας. Δράμετε ἄνθρωποι οἱ νοσοῦντες πρὸς τὸν ἰατρόν, οἱ αἰτοῦντες πρὸς τὸν χορηγὸν τῶν καλῶν αἰτημάτων, οἱ πάντες πρὸς τὸν πάντα μεσιτεύειν δυνάμενον εἰς Θεόν. καὶ μηδεὶς στραφήτω κενός, τὴν προαίρεσιν φέροντες καὶ τὰς εὐεργεσίας ἀντιλαμβάνοντες. οὐ γὰρ ἐστι τοῦτο δεόμενον ἐξετάσεως. ὁ κόσμος βοᾷ, καὶ τὰ ἔργα κηρύσσει διαπρυσίως καὶ γνησίως ὡς καλοῦ προμάχου καὶ ἀσφαλοῦς ἡ πόλις τῶν Νικαέων. ἐν ταύτῃ γὰρ τὸν ἀγῶνα τοῦ μαρτυρίου διήνυσε καὶ τανῦν ἐν ταύτῃ τέλει τὰς μεγαλουργίας, κρίνων ἀνθήσεις παραδόξους καὶ ἐκβλαστήσεις ἐνιαυσιαίους καρποφορεῖ εὐλογίας, ὢ τοῦ θαύματος, ἐν παγετῷ καὶ χιόνι τε καὶ χειμῶνι ἀνθεῖ τὸ κρίνον τῇ τοῦ μάρτυρος λυχνίᾳ ἐγκείμενον. Μετὰ γὰρ τὴν ἐκκοπὴν τούτου συντελουμένου ἐνιαυτοῦ, καθ’ ἣν ὥραν τὸ ἑωθινὸν τελεῖται ὑμνώδημα καὶ τοῦ ἀθλοφόρου καλλιεπῶς ἐξᾴδονται τὰ ἐγκώμια, τὸ ξηρὸν ἐκ τοῦ πάραυτα ἀχρόνως βλαστάνει τὴν αἴσθησιν διαφεῦγον κατὰ βραχύ. Καὶ ὁρᾶ τότε τὸ πλῆθος τὰ τοῦ Τρύφωνος θαύματα. τοῦτο βασιλεῖς ἐθεάσαντο πατριάρχαι τε ἑωράκασι. τοῦτο σέβεται ὁ λαὸς πᾶς, πιστὸς μᾶλλον ἐκ τούτου στηρίζεται. δαίμονες δραπετεύουσι τῇ θαυματουργίᾳ, νοσήματα φυγαδεύονται, αἰτήσεις πιστῶν πληροῦνται, μία πανήγυρις τότε πάνδημος, ὅτε δὴ τελεῖται αὐτό, βρεφῶν, νηπίων, μειρακίων, ἀνδρῶν, γερόντων, πρεσβυτῶν, γηραλέων, γυναικῶν, κοσμίων, στρατευομένων, ὑποτελετῶν, ἱερέων, μοναχῶν ὁρῶσα καὶ σκιρτώσα αὐτῷ πᾶν γένος καὶ ἡλικία πᾶσα. οὐ γὰρ ἐστι τὸ γιγνόμενον ὡς ἐν γωνίᾳ καὶ ὑποσκίῳ τόπῳ τινι γινόμενον, ἀλλ’ ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεοῦ. Διὰ τοῦτο δεῖ πάντας τὸν μέγαθλον Τρύφωνα διὰ θαύματος ἐγκωμιάζειν ὅτι πολλοῦ. Ἐμὲ δὲ καὶ μάλιστα καὶ ὅσον κατ’ οἶκτον ὃν ἔλαβον παρ’ αὐτοῦ ἀξιοπρεπῶς ἀμελεῖ καὶ ἐπιτέρπεσθαι ταῖς τούτου μεγαλουργίαις καὶ ἐπιγάννυσθαι καὶ ἐνθουσιᾶν, ὡς ὁ θεοπάτωρ Δαυΐδ ἐπὶ τῇ καταπαύσει τῆς κιβωτοῦ, ἵνα θαυμαζομένου τοῦ δούλου, ἡ τιμὴ διαβαίνῃ πρὸς τὸν δεσπότην’.
Published in Foss, C., Nicaea, A Byzantine Capital and its Praises (Brookline, Mass. 1990), pp. 105‑6.
List of Churches Dedicated to St Tryphon in Constantinople
According to Janin, R., La géographie ecclésiastique de l’Empire Byzantin. Première Partie: Le siège de Constantinople et le Patriarcat Oecuménique. Tome III: Les églises et les monastères 2 (Paris 1969), pp. 488‑490.
1) St Tryphon ta Vasiliskou: Built in the years of Justinian or, according to others, Justin II; it was a great, fabulous and richly endowed church; also a very wealthy one. The quarter ‘ta Vasiliskou’ was to the northeast of Julian’s harbour (or ‘Sophia’s’, named after the wife of Justin II).
2) St Tryphon ta Euboulou: Built in the years of Justinian or, according to others, by Isidoros, the brother of a certain Euboulos, who refitted his house as a church of the saint in the first half of the 6th century. The area ‘ta Euboulou’ was to the northeast of Hagia Sophia. Probably the church is identified with the one the Synaxarion locates near St Irene, which was in the same area.
3) St Tryphon near St. John in Diippio: It seems that this was the church reported by the Synaxarion as the official sanctuary of the saint. The Church of St John probably was built by Herakleios and, as a result, the chapel of St Tryphon was built later. St John was to the right of the entrance to the Hippodrome.
4) St Tryphon near St Irene: This church is reported by the saint's Synaxarion . The Church of St Eirene was to the north of Hagia Sophia.
5) St Tryphon in Kastoreo: The Life of St Michael the Synkellos mentions a metochion belonging to the monastery of Chora named after St Tryphon, which was outside Constantinople, in the unidentified area 'Kastoreon'.
6) St Tryphon of Pelargou: According to Prokopios, the church was built by Justinian. The church, also known as 'Pelargos', was near the area 'Strategion'.
7) St Tryphon next to Chamoundou: According to a tradition earlier than the 10th century, the procession of the Sunday before Easter (Palm Sunday) was gathered there and started from this point before it was directed to the Church of St Romanos 'en tis Elebichou', where the religious service was held. The area 'ta Chamoundou', not reported in other sources, was in the central or the western part of Constantinople.
Vibia Perpetua was from a patrician family, and lived in Carthage. She came to believe in Christ, and was baptized after her arrest as a Christian. A few days later, the twenty-two-year-old woman was taken to prison with her infant son. Arrested with her were her brother Saturus, the servants Felicitas, Revocatus, Saturninus and Secundulus, who were also catechumens.
Despite the exhortations of her father, who persistently appealed to her maternal feelings, the widowed St Perpetua refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods.
According to the account given by St Perpetua herself, she writes:
"When I was in the hands of the persecutors, my father in his tender solicitude tried hard to pervert me from the faith.
'My father,' I said, 'you see this pitcher. Can we call it by any other name than what it is?'
'No,' he said.
'Nor can I', I said, 'call myself by any other name than that of Christian.'
So he went away, but, on the rumor that we were to be tried, wasted away with anxiety.
'Daughter,' he said, 'have pity on my gray hairs; have pity on thy father. Do not give me over to disgrace. Behold thy brothers, thy mother, and thy aunt: behold thy child who cannot live without thee. Do not destroy us all.'
Thus spake my father, kissing my hands, and throwing himself at my feet. And I wept because of my father, for he alone of all my family would not rejoice in my martyrdom. So I comforted him, saying:
'In this trial what God determines will take place. We are not in our own keeping, but in God's.' So he left me - weeping bitterly."
Before their execution, Sts Perpetua and Saturus had visions from God, which strengthened their souls. St Felicitas, who was eight months pregnant, gave birth to a baby girl while in prison. She rejoiced because now she would be permitted to die with her companions. There was a law forbidding the execution of pregnant women.
The martyrs were led from the prison into the amphitheatre. Saturninus and Revocatus had to face a leopard and a bear. Sts Perpetua and Felicitas were brought to the arena in nets, and they were pitted against a wild heifer. After being tossed to the ground by the heifer, the two women were led out of the arena. Saturus was bitten by a leopard, but did not die. The martyrs were then led to a certain spot to be killed by the sword. The young gladiator who was to execute St Perpetua was inexperienced and did not kill her with the first blow. She herself took his hand and guided it to her throat, and so she received the crown of martyrdom. This occurred in about the year 203.
The amphitheatre where these saints perished is located a few miles from the city of Tunis. In 1881, a room was discovered opposite the modern entrance into the arena. Some say this was a cell where the victims waited to be brought into the arena.
Apolytikon in Tone 4
Your lambs, Perpetua and Felicitas, cry out to you, O Jesus, with great love: "O our Bridegroom, we long for you in great pain, we are crucified with you, and in baptism we are buried with you. We suffer for your sake in order to reign with you. We die for you in order to live in you. Accept us as immaculate victims, since we are slain for your sake." Through their intercessions, O Merciful One, save our souls!
For the complete account of the Martyrdom of Sts. Perpetua, Felicitas and those with them, see here.
Even as a child, she was known for her compassion for the poor. She would give away food, clothing, and even her father's possessions to the poor. One day he took Brigid to the king's court, leaving her outside to wait for him. He asked the king to buy his daughter from him, since her excessive generosity made her too expensive for him to keep. The king asked to see the girl, so Dubthach led him outside. They were just in time to see her give away her father's sword to a beggar. This sword had been presented to Dubthach by the king, who said, "I cannot buy a girl who holds us so cheap."
St Brigid received monastic tonsure at the hands of St Mael of Ardagh (February 6). Some miles from Dublin she was granted by the King of Leinster possession of a plain called the Curragh, where she built herself a cell under a large oak tree, thence called Kill-dara, or Cell of the oak. Seven other girls soon placed themselves under her direction establishing the monastery of Kill-dara, which gave its name to the later cathedral city of Kildare. The community grew rapidly thanks to the renown of the holy Abbess, and became a double monastery, with the Abbess ranking above the Abbot, and branched out into several others all over Ireland. This was the beginning of women's cenobitic monasticism in Ireland.
The miracles performed by St Brigid are too numerous to relate here, but perhaps one story will suffice. One evening the holy abbess was sitting with the blind nun Dara. From sunset to sunrise they spoke of the joys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and of the love of Christ, losing all track of time. St Brigid was struck by the beauty of the earth and sky in the morning light. Realizing that Sister Dara was unable to appreciate this beauty, she became very sad. Then she prayed and made the Sign of the Cross over Dara's eyes. All at once, the blind nun's eyes were opened and she saw the sun in the east, and the trees and flowers sparkling with dew. She looked for a while, then turned to St Brigid and said, "Close my eyes again, dear Mother, for when the world is visible to the eyes, then God is seen less clearly by the soul." St Brigid prayed again, and Dara became blind once more.
St Brigid fell asleep in the Lord in the year 523 on February 1 after receiving Holy Communion from St Ninnidh of Inismacsaint (January 18). She was buried at Kildare, but her relics were transferred to Downpatrick during the Viking invasions. It is believed that she was buried in the same grave with St Patrick (March 17) and St Columba of Iona (June 9).
Late in the thirteenth century, her head was brought to Portugal by three Irish knights on their way to fight in the Holy Land. They left this holy relic in the parish church of Lumiar, about three miles from Lisbon. Portions of the relic were brought back to Ireland in 1929 and placed in a new church of St Brigid in Dublin.
The relics of St Brigid in Ireland were destroyed in the sixteenth century by Lord Grey during the reign of Henry VIII.
The tradition of making St Brigid's crosses from rushes and hanging them in the home is still followed in Ireland, where devotion to her is still strong. She is also venerated in northern Italy, France, and Wales.
The Book of Armaugh, an ancient Irish chronicle, calls Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid "the pillars of the Irish" and says that through them both, "Christ performed many miracles."
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Having learned of things divine by the words of Patrick, thou hast proclaimed in the West the good tidings of Christ. Wherefore, we venerate thee, O Brigid, and entreat thee to intercede with God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
At the Church of the Oak, thou didst establish thy sacred monasteries for those that took up the Tree of life, even the Precious Cross, upon their shoulders. And by thy grace-filled life and love of learning, thou didst bear fruit a hundredfold and didst thereby nourish the faithful. O righteous Mother Brigid, intercede with Christ, the True Vine, that He save our souls.
For more, see here.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Not long after, he was moved to repentance and travelled to Mount Athos. There he found a spiritual father and confessed with many tears his apostasy and once again acknowledged Orthodoxy; he was also chrismated and received the Body and Blood of Christ. Elias eventually became a monk on Mount Athos, where he led a virtuous life for eight years. However, as he could not attain peace of conscience, he received the blessing of his spiritual father to offer himself for martyrdom.
Elias returned to Kalamata, and made his presence known by walking around the bazaars of the Turks. When he was called Moustafa and questioned why he was gone for so long, he responded he was no longer Moustafa but an Orthodox Christian. He was then presented before the judge and confessed Christ in like manner. After two sessions of questioning, he was condemned to be burned to death in a slow fire. On his way to the flames a Turk slashed his back with the sword, but he gained greater courage for the trial and proceeded along joyfully singing the Psalms of David. But when he was thrown into the pile of green wood, he was suffocated almost immediately and his hair, beard and monastic rason were left miraculously untouched by the flames. This occured on January 31, 1686. That night a heavenly light appeared over his body, and for which it was said by the Christians that since the earthly fire could not burn him that God sent His heavenly light to do the job.
The local Christians buried his body with great devotion, and as they were in procession the entire area was filled with a beautiful aroma coming from his relics. A church was later built over his tomb. His holy skull is in the Holy Monastery of Voulkanou in Messinia and is processed on the Sunday of the Holy Myrrhbearers, which is the day of his feast (February 2 is also a major feast in Kalamata because of the Cathedral of the Presentation of Christ). He was also martyred next to the Church of the Holy Forty Martyrs, which after the Turkish occupation was named in honor of St. Elias.
Regarding the meaning of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, St. Gregory Palamas interprets the parable hesychastically. St. Luke the Evangelist presents Christ's parable, in which we read: "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living" (Lk. 15, 13). St. Gregory does not analyze the parable in terms of morals, but theologically. He sets forth its true dimensions. Having the mind of Christ, experiencing the mystery of the spirit, he grasps its true meaning. Belonging organically, as he does, to the Orthodox Tradition, he realizes that the Fall of man, the so-called Ancestral Sin, is in reality a darkening, obscuring and deadening of the nous, whereas the resurrection of man is the vitalization of the dead nous. It is in this light that he also interprets the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
The nous is man's real wealth. "Above all else the nous is our innate essence and wealth". As long as we remain on the ways of salvation "we have our nous gathered in itself and in the first and highest nous, God". Our salvation is that we have our nous in God. But when we open a door to the passions, then our nous "is immediately scattered, wandering all the time around things that are carnal and worldly, around the manifold pleasures and passionate thoughts about them". Then a man's nous becomes prodigal, and in general he is called prodigal. The wealth of the nous is prudence, and it distinguishes good from evil as long as we continue to keep Christ's commandments. But when the nous withdraws from God, then prudence too is scattered into prostitution and imprudence.
Man's soul has not only a rational aspect but also appetitive and incensive aspects. In its natural condition man's nous "directs desire towards the one and truly existing God, the only Good One, the only Judge, the only one who provides pleasure unmixed with any pain." But when the nous is in the unnatural state, when it departs from God and is darkened, then desire is dispersed into many self-indulgent appetites: "Drawn on the one hand towards a desire for foods that are not needed, secondly towards the desire for unnecessary things, and thirdly towards the desire for vain and inglorious glory". This comes about through desire. But when the nous is being deadened, the incensive power too is similarly taken captive. When the nous is in its natural state, when, that is to say, it is united with God, then it rouses the incensive power only against the devil and utilises the soul's courage against the devil and the passions. But when it disregards the divine commandments, then "one fights against one's neighbour, rages against those of the same race, is infuriated with those who do not assent to one's irrational appetites, and alas, one becomes a homicidal man...".
From the book titled St. Gregory Palamas as a Hagiorite, Ch. 3.
The Sunday of the Prodigal Son is the second Sunday of a three-week period prior to the commencement of Great Lent. On the previous Sunday, the services of the Church began to include hymns from the Triodion, a liturgical book that contains the services from the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the tenth before Pascha (Easter), through Great and Holy Saturday. As with the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the theme of this Sunday is repentance, and the focus on the parable of the Prodigal Son leads Orthodox Christians to contemplate the necessity of repentance in our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Kontakion in Tone Three
When I disobeyed in ignorance Thy fatherly glory, I wasted in iniquities the riches that Thou gavest me. Wherefore, I cry to Thee with the voice of the prodigal son, saying, 'I have sinned before Thee, O compassionate Father, receive me repentant, and make me as one of Thy hired servants'.
Doxastikon in Tone Six
Loving Father, I have gone far from you, but do not forsake me, nor declare me unfitted for your Kingdom. The all-evil enemy has stripped me naked and taken all my wealth. I have squandered like the Profligate the graces given to my soul. But now I have arisen and returned, and I cry aloud to you, ‘Make me as one of your hired servants, You who for my sake stretched out Your spotless hands on the Cross, to snatch me from the fearsome beast and to clothe me once again in the first robe, for You alone art full of mercy'.
See also this article titled "The Brother of the Prodigal Son".
I HEAR one of the holy prophets trying to win unto repentance those who are far from God, and saying, "Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God: for you have become weak in your iniquity. Take with you words, and return to the Lord our God." What sort of words then did he, under the influence of the Spirit, command them to take with them? Or were they not such as become those who wish to repent; such namely, as would appease God, Who is gentle, and loves mercy. For He even said by one of the holy prophets, "Return you returning children, and I will heal your breaches." And yet again by the voice of Ezekiel, "Return you altogether from your wickednesses, O house of Israel. Cast away from you all your iniquities which you have committed, that they be not to you for a punishment of iniquity. For I have no pleasure in the death of the sinner, as that he should turn from his evil way and live." And the same truth Christ here also teaches us, by this most beautifully composed parable, which I will now to the best of my ability endeavour to discuss, briefly gathering up its broad statements, and explaining and defending the ideas which it contains.
It is the opinion then of some, that by the two sons are signified the holy angels, and we the dwellers upon earth: and that the elder one, who lived soberly, represents the company of the holy angels, while the younger and profligate son is the human race. And there are some among us who give it a different explanation, arguing that by the elder and well conducted son is signified Israel after the flesh: while by the other, whose choice it was to live in the lust of pleasures, and who removed far from his father, is depicted the company of the Gentiles. With these explanations I do not agree: but I would have him who loves instruction, search after that which is true and unobjectionable. What then I say is as follows, "giving occasions to the wise, and to the just offering knowledge," as Scripture commands: for they will examine for a fitting meaning the explanations proposed to them. If then we refer the upright son to the person of the holy angels, we do not find him speaking such words as become them, nor sharing their feelings towards repentant sinners, who turn from an impure life to that conduct which is worthy of admiration. For the Saviour of all and Lord says, that "there is joy in heaven before the holy angels over one sinner that repents." But the son, who is described to us in the present parable as being acceptable unto his father, and leading a blameless life, is represented as being angry, and as even having proceeded so far in his unloving sentiments as to find fault with his father for his natural affection for him who was saved. "For he would not, it says, go into the house," being vexed at the reception of the penitent almost before he had come to his senses, and because there had even been slain the calf in his honour, and his father had made for him a feast. But this, as I said, is at variance with the feelings of the holy angels: for they rejoice and praise God when they see the inhabitants of the earth being saved. For so when the Son submitted to be born in the flesh of a woman at Bethlehem, they carried the joyful news to the shepherds, saying, "Fear you not: for behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people, that there is born to you today in the city of David a Saviour Who is Christ the Lord." And crowning with lauds and praises Him Who was born, they said, "Glory to God in the highest, and upon earth peace, and among men good will."
But if any one say, that Israel according to the flesh is meant by the virtuous and sober son, we are again prevented from assenting to this opinion by the fact, that in no way whatsoever is it fitting to say of Israel that he chose a blameless life. For throughout the whole of the inspired Scripture, so to say, we may see them accused of being rebels and disobedient. For they were told by the voice of Jeremiah, "What fault have your fathers found in Me, that they have wandered far from Me, and have gone after vanities, and become vain?" And in similar terms God somewhere spoke by the voice of Isaiah, "This people draws near unto Me; with their lips they honour Me, but their heart is very far from Me: but in vain do they fear Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." And how then can any one apply to those who are thus blamed the words used in the parable of the virtuous and sober son? For he said, "Lo! all these years do I serve you, and never have I transgressed your commandment." But they would not have been blamed for their mode of life, had it not been that transgressing the divine commandments, they betook themselves to a careless and polluted mode of life.
And yet again,for I think it right to mention this also,some would refer to the person of our Saviour that fatted calf which the father killed when his son was called unto conversion. But how then could the virtuous son, who is described as wise and prudent, and constant in his duty, and whom some even refer to the person of the holy angels, treat it as a reason for anger and vexation that the calf was slain? For one can find no proof of the powers above being grieved when Christ endured death in the flesh, and, so to speak, was slain in our behalf. Rather they rejoiced, as I said, in seeing the world saved by His holy blood. And what reason too had the virtuous son for saying "you never gave me a kid." For what blessing is wanting to the holy angels, inasmuch as the Lord of all has bestowed upon them with bounteous hand a plentiful supply of spiritual gifts? Or of what sacrifice stood they in need as regards their own state? For there was no necessity for the Emmanuel to suffer also in their behalf. But if any one imagine, as I have already said before, that the carnal Israel is meant by the virtuous and sober son, how can he say with truth "you never gave me a kid?" For whether we call it calf or kid, Christ is to be understood as the sacrifice offered for sin. But He was sacrificed, not for the Gentiles only, but that He might also redeem Israel, who by reason of his frequent transgression of the law had brought upon himself great blame. And the wise Paul bears witness to this, saying, "For this reason Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people by His blood, suffered outside the gate."
What then is the object of the parable? Let us examine the occasion which led to it; for so we shall learn the truth. The blessed Luke therefore had himself said a little before of Christ the Saviour of us all, "And all the publicans and sinners drew near unto Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and Scribes murmured saying, This man receives sinners and eats " with them." As therefore the Pharisees and Scribes made this outcry at His gentleness and love to man, and wickedly and impiously blamed Him for receiving and teaching men whose lives were impure, Christ very necessarily set before them the present parable, to show them clearly this very thing, that the God of all requires even him who is thoroughly steadfast, and firm, and who knows how to live holily, and has attained to the highest praise for sobriety of conduct, to be earnest in following His will, so that when any are called unto repentance, even if they be men highly blameable, he must rejoice rather, and not give way to an unloving vexation on their account.
For we also sometimes experience something of this sort. For some there are who live a perfectly honourable and consistent life, practising every kind of virtuous action, and abstaining from every thing disapproved by the law of God, and crowning themselves with perfect praises in the sight of God and of men: while another is perhaps weak and trodden down, and humbled unto every kind of wickedness, guilty of base deeds, loving impurity, given to covetousness, and stained with all evil. And yet such a one often in old age turns unto God, and asks the forgiveness of his former offences: he prays for mercy, and putting away from him his readiness to fall into sin, sets his affection on virtuous deeds. Or even perhaps when about to close his mortal life, he is admitted to divine baptism, and puts away his offences, God being merciful unto him. And perhaps sometimes persons are indignant at this, and even say, 'This man, who has been guilty of such and such actions, and has spoken such and such words, has not paid unto the judge the retribution of his conduct, but has been counted worthy of a grace thus noble and admirable: he has been inscribed among the sons of God, and honoured with the glory of the saints.' Such complaints men sometimes give utterance too from an empty narrowness of mind, not conforming to the purpose of the universal Father. For He greatly rejoices when He sees those who were lost obtaining salvation, and raises them up again to that which they were in the beginning, giving them the dress of freedom, and adorning them with the chief robe, and putting a ring upon their hand, even the orderly behaviour which is pleasing to God and suitable to the free.
It is our duty, therefore, to conform ourselves to that which God wills: for He heals those who are sick; He raises those who are fallen; He gives a helping hand to those who have stumbled; He brings back him who has wandered; He forms anew unto a praiseworthy and blameless life those who were wallowing in the mire of sin; He seeks those who were lost; He raises as from the dead those who had suffered the spiritual death. Let us also rejoice: let us, in company with the holy angels, praise Him as being good, and loving unto men; as gentle, and not remembering evil. For if such is our state of mind, Christ will receive us, by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen.
- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke, Sermon CVII.
Saint Cyrus was a noted physician in the city of Alexandria, where he had been born and raised. He was a Christian and he treated the sick without charge, not only curing their bodily afflictions, but also healing their spiritual infirmities. He would say, "Whoever wishes to avoid being ill should refrain from sin, for sin is often the cause of bodily illness." Preaching the Gospel, the holy physician converted many pagans to Christ. During the persecution by Diocletian (284-305), St Cyrus withdrew into Arabia, where he became a monk. He continued to heal people by his prayer, having received from God the gift to heal every sickness.
In the city of Edessa at this time lived the soldier John, a pious Christian. When the persecution started, he went to Jerusalem and there he heard about St Cyrus. He began to search for him, going first to Alexandria and then to Arabia. When St John finally found St Cyrus, he remained with him and became his faithful follower.
They learned of the arrest of the Christian woman Athanasia and her three young daughters. Theoctiste was fifteen; Theodota, was thirteen; and Eudoxia, was eleven. Sts Cyrus and John hastened to the prison to help them. They were concerned that faced with torture, the women might renounce Christ.
Sts Cyrus and John gave them courage to endure what lay before them. Learning of this, the ruler of the city arrested Sts Cyrus and John, and seeing their steadfast and fearless confession of faith in Christ, he brought Athanasia and her daughters to witness their torture. The tyrant did not refrain from any form of torture against the holy martyrs. The women were not frightened by the sufferings of Sts Cyrus and John, but courageously continued to confess Christ. They were flogged and then beheaded, receiving their crowns of martyrdom.
Christians buried their bodies in the church of the holy Evangelist Mark in Alexandria. Their tomb became a renowned shrine in Egypt, and a place of universal pilgrimage. It was found in the area of the modern day resort near Alexandria named Abu Kyr.
In the fifth century the relics of Sts Cyrus and John were transferred from Canopis to Manuphin or Menuthis (Aboukir) by St. Cyril of Alexandria (June 9) in order to displace the idolatrous cult of Isis there. Miracles and healings multiplied and the sanctuary became one of the greatest places of pilgrimage in Christendom. Later on their relics were transferred to Rome, and from there to Munchen or Munich (the transfer of their relics is celebrated on June 28).
In the seventh century, St. Sophronius of Jerusalem (Mar. 11) was healed of an eye complaint by an apparition of the two Saints: Cyrus healed one of his eyes with the sign of the Cross and shortly afterwards John restored his sight completely by kissing the other eye. To show his gratitude, St. Sophronius wrote a detailed account of their miracles.
Sts Cyrus and John are especially invoked by those who have difficulty in sleeping.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Since Thou hast given us the miracles of Thy holy Martyrs as an invincible battlement, by their entreaties scatter the counsels of the heathen, O Christ our God, and strenghten the faith of Orthodox Christians, since Thou alone art good and the Friend of man.
About the miracles of Sts. Cyrus and John
by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Although the Holy Fathers praised monasticism as the angelic state, and although many of the greatest saints lived their lives and attained perfection in the deaf and lifeless desert, nevertheless, the Orthodox Church does not recommend tonsuring to all the faithful. "Neither all those in the desert were saved nor all those in the world were lost," said one saint. To a city dweller who, with no inclination for monasticism, desired to enter the monastery, St. Niphon said: "My child, a place neither saves nor destroys a man, but deeds save or destroy. For him who does not fulfill all the commandments of the Lord, there is no benefit from a sacred place or from a sacred rank. King Saul lived in the midst of royal luxury and he perished. King David lived in the same kind of luxury and he received a wreath. Lot lived among the lawless Sodomites and he was saved. Judas was numbered among the apostles and he went to Hades. Whoever says that it is impossible to be saved with a wife and children deceives himself. Abraham had a wife and children, three-hundred-eighteen servants and handmaidens, much gold and silver but, nevertheless, he was called the Friend of God. Oh, how many servants of the Church and lovers of the desert have been saved! How many aristocrats and soldiers! How many artesians and field-workers! Be pious and be a lover of men and you will be saved!"
Saint Arsenius was born on January 31, 1800 in Ioannina, Epirus of pious Orthodox parents. In holy Baptism he was given the name Athanasius. His parents died when he was quite young. He was only nine years old when he made his way to Kydoniai, Asia Minor, where he was received by Hieromonk Gregory Saraphis and enrolled in his school. His humility and piety endeared him to Fr Gregory and also to the other teachers. The boy remained at the school for five years, surpassing the other students in learning and in virtue.
One day the renowned Spiritual Father Daniel of Zagora, Thessaly came to the school to hear confessions. Athanasius became Daniel's disciple, remaining with him until the latter's death.
Not long after this, Fr Daniel decided to go to the Holy Mountain for quiet and spiritual struggles. Athanasius begged his Elder not to leave him, but to take him with him. He expressed the desire to travel to Mt. Athos, the Garden of the All-Holy Virgin, and to become a monk.
Fr Daniel instructed Athanasius in the monastic life, which is called "the art of arts, and the science of sciences." The holy Elder was a perfect teacher who was accomplished in the spiritual life, and Athanasius was an attentive student. After a time Fr Daniel tonsured his pupil, and told him he had to learn three important lessions. First, he must cut off his own will. Secondly, he must acquire humility. Finally, he must learn obedience. "If you cut off your will, if you become humble, and if you practice perfect obedience, you will also make progress in the other virtues, and God will glorify you."
After a further period of testing, Fr Daniel tonsured Athanasius into the Great Schema and gave him the name Arsenios. The saint remained on Mt. Athos with his Elder for six years. Then they had to leave the Holy Mountain because of the agitation against the so-called "Kollyvades," who called for a strict adherence to Holy Tradition. The name comes from the kollyva (boiled wheat) used in the memorial service. Part of the controversy involved the debate on whether it was proper to serve memorial services for the dead on Sunday. The Kollyvades believed that these services were inappropriate for the Day of Resurrection, but should be served on Saturday. The Kollyvades advocated frequent Communion, rather than the practice of receiving the Holy Mysteries only a few times during the year. When Fr Daniel and St Arsenius left Athos, it was probably due to the animosity of those who opposed the Kollyvades.
Early in 1821, before the Greek War of Independence, they went to the Monastery of Pendeli near Athens. Their stay was a brief one, for Fr Daniel forsaw the destruction of the monastery by the Turks.
The two made their way to the Cyclades Islands in the southern Aegean Sea. First they stopped at Paros, perhaps because some of the Kollyvades had settled there. Eventually, they decided to live on the island of Pholegandros. Since there were no teachers for the children, the inhabitants entreated Fr Daniel to allow St Arsenius to instruct their children. The Elder agreed, and had Arsenius ordained as a deacon. Then he was appointed to the teaching post by the government.
The saint remained there as a teacher from 1829-1840. He taught the required subjects in school, but he also helped his students to form a good character, and to live as pious Christians.
Elder Daniel had passed away in 1837. Before his repose, he asked his disciple to take his remains to Mt. Athos after two years. St Arsenius left Plolegandros in obedience to Fr Daniel's request, planning to stop on Paros then continue to the Holy Mountain. On Paros the abbot of St George's Monastery, Fr Elias Georgiadis, told St Arsenius that it was God's will for him to remain on Paros. This was providential, because Mt. Athos was undergoing great difficulty after the Greek War of Independence. 3,000 Turkish soldiers occupied Athos, resulting in the departure of 5,000 of the 6,000 monks. In 1840 St Arsenius entered the Monastery of St George on the island of Paros.
St Arsenius joined the community at St George's Monastery on the northern end of Paros. There he found spiritual strivers of true wisdom and excellent conduct, who were worthy models for him to follow.
When he was ordained to the holy priesthood at the age of forty-seven, St Arsenius intensified his spiritual efforts. Every day he studied the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers, and became adept at the unceasing prayer of the heart. He also began to show forth the gift of tears. In this, he resembled his patron St Arsenius the Great (May 8), who continuously wept tears of contrition.
Gradually, the inhabitants of Paros came to recognize him as an outstanding Father Confessor and spiritual guide. Whenever he stood before the holy altar, he felt that he was standing before God. He served with great compunction, and his face often became radiant like the face of an angel.
As his virtues became known to people, they flocked to him from near and far. He received all with paternal affection, treating each one with the proper spiritual medicine which would restore their souls to health.
A certain girl from Syros came to the Convent of the Transfiguration to visit her sister, who was a nun. The nun had previously been informed that her sister had fallen into a serious sin. When she learned that the girl was outside the doors of the convent, the nun screamed at her, "Go far away from here. Since you are defiled, you will defile the convent and the nuns." Instead of feeling pity for her sister, and trying to lead her to repentance, the nun and some of the other nuns struck the poor girl and told her to go away.
The wretched girl cried, "I have made a mistake. Forgive me!"
The nun shrieked, "Go away, or I will kill you to wash away the shame you have brought to our family."
"Have you no pity, my sister, don't you share my pain?"
"No," the nun shouted, "you are not my sister, you are a foul harlot."
"Where shall I go?" she sobbed.
"Go and drown yourself," was the heartless reply.
The poor girl fled from the convent, bleeding and wounded, intending to kill herself. At that very moment, St Arsenius was on his way to visit the convent. Seeing the girl in such a state, he asked her what was wrong. She explained that she had been led astray by corrupt men and women. Realizing her sin, she went to the convent to ask her sister for help
"See what they have done to me, Elder. What do you advise me to do? Shall I drown myself, or leap off a cliff?"
"I do not advise you to do either, my child. If you wish, I shall take you with me and heal the wounds of your soul and body," he said gently.
"Where will you take me?" the miserable girl asked.
"To the convent, my child."
"I beg you not to take me there, Elder. My sister and the other nuns said they would kill me if I came back."
The saint replied, "Do not be afraid. They will not kill you, because I shall entrust you to Christ, and no one will be able to harm you."
"Very well," she said, "If you entrust me to Christ I will not be afraid of them, for Christ is more powerful than they."
St Arsenius led her to the convent, consoling her and encouraging her to repentance and confession. After hearing her confession, he made her a nun. Then he called all the nuns into the church and severely rebuked those who wounded the girl. He reminded them of the parable of the Prodigal Son, and of how Christ had come to save sinners. He often associated with sinners, showing them great love and mercy.
"You, however, have done the opposite. Though you knew that her soul had been wounded by the devil, you did not feel sorry for her. You did not embrace her and try to save her from further sin, but you attacked her and beat her. Then you urged her to kill herself. Now I, your Spiritual Father, tell you that you are not nuns, you are not Christians, you are not even human beings. You are devoid of compassion, affection, and sympathy. You are murderesses! Therefore, I forbid you to receive Holy Communion for three years, unless you recognize your sin. Repent and confess, weep and ask forgiveness from God and from me, your Spiritual Father, and from the other nuns who did not participate in your sinful behavior."
The nuns began to weep bitterly and they repented. Thus, he lessened their penance and forgave them. He gave the girl's sister the penance of not receiving Holy Communion for a whole year. Because the other nuns had shared in this sin, he would not permit them to receive Communion for six months.
St Arsenius foresaw his death a month before it occurred. At the Liturgy for the Feast of St Basil, he announced that he would soon depart from them. With great effort, he was able to serve for the Feast of the Theophany. After the service, he told some nuns that this had been his last Liturgy.
News of the saint's illness and approaching death spread quickly to all the villages of Paros. People wept because they were about to lose their Spiritual Father, and they hastened to bid him farewell and to receive his blessing.
On the eve of his repose, he called the nuns of the convent to come to him. He told them that the next day he would leave this temporary life and enter into eternal life.
On January 31, 1877 St Arsenius received Holy Communion for the last time and fell asleep in the Lord. For three days, people came to kiss his body, then they followed the funeral procession to the burial site which he himself had selected.
St Arsenius of Paros was glorified by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1967. He is also commemorated on August 18 (the uncovering of his relics).
Counsels of St Arsenios the New
- "Practice self-observation. And if you want to benefit yourself and your fellow men, look at your own faults and not those of others. The Lord tells us: "Judge not, that ye be not judged," condemn not that ye be not condemned. And the Apostle Paul says: "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant?"
- "If you want Christ to bless you and what you have, when you meet some poor individual, who is hungry and asks you for food, give him. Also, when you know that some poor man, or a widow, or an orphan are hungry, do not wait for them to ask you for food, but give them. Give with pleasure, and be not afraid that your will become indigent. Have faith that Christ invisibly blesses your few possessions, and you shall never starve, nor will you be in want till the end of your life."
Apolytikion in the First Tone
The glory of Epiros and the boast of Paros, the protector of Dasous Monastery, we honor you O Arsenios. You were seen as an angel on earth and through asceticism received heavenly virtues, because of this you were glorified by God granting us miracles, O Father. Glory to Christ Who glorified you, Glory to Him Who showed you wondrous, Glory to Him Who granted to us an unsleeping intercessor.
See also: Saint Arsenios of Paros and the Restoration of the Fallen Woman
by Fr.Seraphim Rose
This weekend, at the Sunday Vigil of the Prodigal Son, we will sing Psalm 135.
"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion".
In these words of the Lenten Psalm, we Orthodox Christians, the New Israel, remember that we are in exile. For Orthodox Russians, banished from Holy Russia, the Psalm has a special meaning; but all Orthodox Christians, too, live in exile in this world, longing to return to our true home, Heaven.
For us the Great Fast is a session of exile ordained for us by our Mother, the Church, to keep fresh in us the memory of Zion from which we have wandered so far. We have deserved our exile and we have great need of it because of our great sinfulness. Only through the chastisement of exile, which we remember in the fasting, prayer and repentance of this season.
Do we remain mindful of our Zion?
"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem..."
Weak and forgetful, even in the midst of the Great Fast we live as though Jerusalem did not exist for us. We fall in love with the world, our Babylon; we are seduced by the frivolous pastimes of this "strange land" and neglect the services and discipline of the Church which remind us of our true home. Worse yet, we love our very captors - for our sins hold us captive more surely than any human master - and in their service we pass in idleness the precious days of Lent when we should be preparing to meet the Rising Sun of the New Jerusalem, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is still time; we must remember our true home and weep over the sins which have exiled us from it. Let us take to heart the words of St. John of the Ladder: "Exile is separation from everything in order to keep the mind inseparable from God. An exile loves and produces continual weeping." Exiled from Paradise, we must become exiled from the world if we hope to return.
This we may do by spending these days in fasting, prayer, separation from the world, attendance at the services of the Church, in tears of repentance, in preparation for the joyful Feast that is to end this time of exile; and by bearing witness to all in this "strange land" of our remembrance of that even greater Feast that shall be when our Lord returns to take His people to the New Jerusalem, from which there shall be no more exile, for it is eternal.
 “By the Waters of Babylon” is the entire Psalm 136, sung to a plaintive melody, after the Polyelos Psalm during Matins. It is only sung in church the three Sundays that precede Great Lent: Sunday of the Prodigal Son, The Last Judgment (Meatfare) and Forgivensss (Cheesefare) It is significant that this same hymn is chanted at the beginning of the service of monastic tonsure.
 This homily was written in 1965, when the church in Russia was still under captivity to the Communist regime.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
I typically don't endorse films about the life of Jesus, but this one played a major role in my conversion and it is probably the most dignified. One of my favorite scenes from the film Jesus of Nazareth is the tremendous performance of Robert Powell, who plays Jesus, when he dramatically narrates the Parable of the Prodigal Son. I offer it as a reflection for the Sunday of the Prodigal Son.
[Having done my Master's thesis on the Bogomil heretics, I offer the following information regarding a little known controversy of the status of the Three Hierarchs between the Bogomils and the Orthodox during the time when the more well-known controversy was occurring in Constantinople that lead to the feast we celebrate on January 30th. - J.S.]
During the reign of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1081 – 1118) there arose in Constantinople a great dispute over these three hierarchs. Some regarded Basil the Great (c. 330-379) higher than the other three because he was an exalted orator, he surpassed all in his time in both word and deed, he was angelic, steadfast in temperament, and alien to all that is worldly. Others regarded John Chrysostom (c. 347-407) for being most loving and merciful, understanding the weaknesses of human nature, and as an eloquent orator who guided all to repentance through his discourses. Others, finally, stood behind Gregory the Theologian (329-389) maintaining that in the cogency of his speech, his skillful interpretation of the Scriptures and in the elegance of the construction of his discourses he surpassed all the renowned proponents of Hellenic wisdom, both those who lived in times past and those who were his contemporaries. Thus, while others would exalt the glory of one Church Father, others would demean their significance. Some went so far as to refer to themselves as Basilians, Johnites and Gregorians.
After a short time these three Saints appeared in a vision to Metropolitan John Mauropous of Euchaita (died c. 1075-1081), who recorded the details of this controversy (PG 120). He was told in this vision by the three hierarchs themselves that all three of them were equal before God and commanded that those indulging in the disputes to cease their disagreements and unite by commemorating the three together on a single day and ordered that Bishop John write the hymns for the feast. Since all three were commemorated in January, he decided to proclaim the Feast of the Three Hierarchs on January 30th, and this ended the dispute. (See The Lives of the Three Great Hierarchs: Basil the great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom. Dormition Skete Publications, 1985, pp. 188-191.)
The Bogomils and the Three Hierarchs
It was not only among the Orthodox that a controversy at this time existed regarding the Three Hierarchs. It seems that it was a short time after the institution of this feast that Basil, the ascetical leader of the Bogomil heretics, entered Constantinople with his twelve disciples seeking to convert the Orthodox to their heresy. The Alexiad of Anna Komnena describes the meeting between Basil and her father, Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, who tried through argument and intimidation to bring Basil to Orthodoxy. Basil's defiant belief that God would deliver him even if he were thrown in a pit of fire prompted the emperor to test this claim by having him burnt in the Hippodrome.
While Basil was in prison, the emperor sent a renowned dogmatician and apologist, the monk Euthymios Zygabenos, to interview him about his beliefs and expose his gross heresies. Zygabenos recorded all this in his masterpiece titled The Dogmatic Panoply (PG 130). Among his many errors, Basil revealed his abhorrence for the Three Hierarchs, especially St. John Chrysostom whom the Bogomils called "John the Swollen Mouth". The Bogomils considered Chrysostom as a corrupter of the original New Testament by heading a conspiracy to remove important passages from the Gospels that in reality were interpolated by the Bogomils.
In his chapter "On the Bogomils", Zygabenos also offers a commentary on how the Bogomils interpreted specific passages from the Gospel of Matthew along with his own critique. Regarding Matthew 7:15 which reads "Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves", Zygabenos informs us of the following way in which the Bogomils interpreted this passage:
"They say that a false prophet - how absurd - means Basil, who was great in teaching, and Gregory the star of theology, and John Chrysostom, because they taught the revealed doctrine. I leave out the other absurdities of the sect, which they utter against these Saints more than the rest, and which deserve thunder and a chasm and punishment of every sort."
Both controversies were occurring at the same time and it appears the Bogomils possibly wanted their own opinion heard by not honoring any of the Three Hierarchs and demeaning their memory altogether. Or it merely shows how highly the Orthodox regarded the Three Hierarchs at this time, considering therefore that a war against the Three Hierarchs was a war against Orthodoxy. It is possible that the controversy among the Orthodox may have begun by Bogomils, since Cosmas the Bulgarian says a century earlier that the Bogomils of Bulgaria blamed John Chrysostom for introducing the corrupted doctrine of the Eucharist through his Liturgy.
When Basil the Bogomil was burned to death in the Hippodrome, it was not long thereafter that the influence of Bogomilism was eradicated from Constantinople, thanks to the efforts of Emperor Alexios I.
Moscow Patriarchate urges Orthodox Believers to Identify Themselves as Majority Church
Moscow, 29 January 2010, Interfax – A Renowned Priest urged Orthodox Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussia and Moldavians not to be afraid of feeling themselves a majority in their countries and follow Orthodox norms of life in all its sphere.
“You shouldn’t be afraid of making it your mission: if we make a majority in our own countries – representatives of Belorussia, Ukraine, Moldova are present here – then we have full authority to make our moral principles, our vision of the present and the future determinative in the spheres of society and state we work in,” head of the Synodal Department for Church-Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said.
Speaking at the Christmas Readings in Moscow, he urged “to change our identity so that Orthodox Christians, first of all, lay people should find their place in the spheres of state and social life they work in, they should not be people who are Christians just on Sundays and feasts, and on all other days, all other time people living in compliance with other laws, laws of this world, but they should become a live and acting community of people behaving like Orthodox Christians in an Orthodox country.”
According to the priest, this division, partly dictated by the Soviet period and partly by new apologists of secularism, is “very strange for a Christian,” as “if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand,” Fr. Vsevolod said.
“A person can’t divide himself or herself as a church being and a social being. A society, no matter if it is a local community or people of the country, can’t divide its spiritual and the so-called secular life,” Fr. Vsevolod went on to say.
He believes “Orthodox Christians have a conciliar, joint social mission, which they can carry out working in various fields, but coordinating, uniting their efforts as Orthodox Christians, positively influencing on different spheres of social and state life.”
Science Chief John Beddington Calls for Honesty on Climate Change
January 27, 2010
The impact of global warming has been exaggerated by some scientists and there is an urgent need for more honest disclosure of the uncertainty of predictions about the rate of climate change, according to the Government’s chief scientific adviser.
John Beddington was speaking to The Times in the wake of an admission by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that it grossly overstated the rate at which Himalayan glaciers were receding.
Professor Beddington said that climate scientists should be less hostile to sceptics who questioned man-made global warming. He condemned scientists who refused to publish the data underpinning their reports.
He said that public confidence in climate science would be improved if there were more openness about its uncertainties, even if that meant admitting that sceptics had been right on some hotly-disputed issues.
He said: “I don’t think it’s healthy to dismiss proper scepticism. Science grows and improves in the light of criticism. There is a fundamental uncertainty about climate change prediction that can’t be changed.”
He said that the false claim in the IPCC’s 2007 report that the glaciers would disappear by 2035 had exposed a wider problem with the way that some evidence was presented.
“Certain unqualified statements have been unfortunate. We have a problem in communicating uncertainty. There’s definitely an issue there. If there wasn’t, there wouldn’t be the level of scepticism. All of these predictions have to be caveated by saying, ‘There’s a level of uncertainty about that’.”
Professor Beddington said that particular caution was needed when communicating predictions about climate change made with the help of computer models.
“It’s unchallengeable that CO2 traps heat and warms the Earth and that burning fossil fuels shoves billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. But where you can get challenges is on the speed of change.
“When you get into large-scale climate modelling there are quite substantial uncertainties. On the rate of change and the local effects, there are uncertainties both in terms of empirical evidence and the climate models themselves.”
He said that it was wrong for scientists to refuse to disclose their data to their critics: “I think, wherever possible, we should try to ensure there is openness and that source material is available for the whole scientific community.”
He added: “There is a danger that people can manipulate the data, but the benefits from being open far outweigh that danger.”
Phil Jones, the director of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and a contributor to the IPCC’s reports, has been forced to stand down while an investigation takes place into leaked e-mails allegedly showing that he attempted to conceal data.
In response to one request for data Professor Jones wrote: “We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”
Professor Beddington said that uncertainty about some aspects of climate science should not be used as an excuse for inaction: “Some people ask why we should act when scientists say they are only 90 per cent certain about the problem. But would you get on a plane that had a 10 per cent chance of landing?”
Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia, said: “Climate scientists get kudos from working on an issue in the public eye but with that kudos comes responsibility. Being open with data is part of that responsibility.”
He criticised Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, for his dismissive response last November to research suggesting that the UN body had overstated the threat to the glaciers. Mr Pachauri described it as “voodoo science”.
Professor Hulme said: “Pachauri’s choice of words has not been good. The question of whether he is the right person to lead the IPCC is for the 193 countries who make up its governing body. It’s a political decision.”
Blowing Hot and Cold
The IPCC says its statement on melting glaciers was based on a report it misquoted by WWF, a lobby group, which took its information from a report in New Scientist based on an interview with a glaciologist who claims he was misquoted. Most glaciologists say that the Himalayan glaciers are so thick that they would take hundreds of years to melt
The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research says sea levels could rise by 6ft by 2100, a prediction based on the 7in rise in sea levels from 1881-2001, which it attributed to a 0.7C rise in temperatures. It assumed a rise of 6.4C by 2100 would melt the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets.
UK Climate Projections, published last year by the Government, predicted a rise of one to two feet by 2095
Arctic sea ice
Cambridge University’s Polar Ocean Physics Group has claimed that sea ice will have disappeared from the North Pole in summer by 2020. However, in the past two summers the total area of sea ice in the Arctic has grown substantially
The Met Office predicts that this year is “more likely than not” to be the world’s warmest year on record. It claims the El Niño effect will join forces with the warming effect of manmade greenhouse gases.
Some scientists say that there is a warming bias in Met Office long-range forecasts which has resulted in it regularly overstating the warming trend