The Metropolitan Cathedral of Kalamata is known by the name Ypapanti tou Sotiros, or Presentation of the Savior. It is one of the largest Cathedrals of Messinia and was built in 1839 and consecrated in 1873. The layout is a traditional Byzantine style and it houses within the ancient and miraculous icon of the Panagia. It celebrates annually on February 2, which is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord into the Temple. It also celebrates on the Apodosis of Pascha, which is a moveable feast day celebrated the day prior to the Holy Ascension. It was on the Apodosis of Pascha that the wonderworking icon was discovered. The Panagia Ypapanti is the Protectress of the City of Kalamata.
The icon of the Theotokos, dated to 672 AD, was found in a stable of an Ottoman during the Turkish occupation, after a stable-man had a vision. Even though the back of the icon board was entirely burned, the front was perfectly intact. It bore the name "Ypapanti", and probably belonged to a Church of the Presentation of the Savior which had been in Kalamata centuries before the Turkish occupation. The church must have burned down, which is why the icon was burned in the back. The front must have been preserved by the protection of the Holy Virgin. On the land in which the icon was discovered, a small church was initially built to honor the Presentation of the Lord and to house this icon. It was figured also that the stable had been the church that had once burned, which is why they chose the same spot to rebuild the church. The Metropolitan Cathedral was not built until Greece became free of Ottoman domination, and on 19 August 1873 it was consecrated.
The icon of Panagia Ypapanti is not only venerated by the residents of Kalamata, but extends throughout all of Greece, and thousands flock to this Cathedral for its feast day and receive miraculous intervention through the Theotokos and her wonderworking icon. One example of its miraculous powers dates to 1841 when the entire population of Kalamata was saved from certain annihilation. In the initial months of Autumn that year, a mysterious illness befell what seemed the entire population of Kalamata. Even the doctors sent to treat the ill caught the disease. Death became such a regular vision in the city that the bells of the churches were ringing hourly informing everyone of the death of another victim. Daily there were burials as well, and sadness permeated throughout Kalamata. When all hope was lost, the people placed their hope in the Panagia and decided to hold a litany throughout the city lead by the Panagia Ypapanti icon. It was hoped that the Panagia would lift this plague from the people and save them from certain death. Those who oversaw the governance of the city then ordered all the residents to undertake a three-day fast, after which they were to attend a Paraklisi (Supplication) Service to the Panagia as well as the litany which was to follow. To the glory of God and the Holy Virgin, during the litany itself the plague began to lift from Kalamata and the city was saved from certain annihilation.
During the earthquakes of 1886 and 1986 the center dome of the church was destroyed, but reconstructed according to the original plans.
Pilgrims can visit the church during the day any day. Also, every evening the bells of the Cathedral ring calling everyone to the local cemetery to light the oil-lamps over the graves of their loved ones, leaving the cemetery bright throughout the night.
The Greek Synaxarion
Information On Various Litanies of the Icon in the 20th Century
The Visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Cathedral in Kalamata in 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Kalamata is known by the name Ypapanti tou Sotiros, or Presentation of the Savior. It is one of the largest Cathedrals of Messinia and was built in 1839 and consecrated in 1873. The layout is a traditional Byzantine style and it houses within the ancient and miraculous icon of the Panagia. It celebrates annually on February 2, which is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord into the Temple. It also celebrates on the Apodosis of Pascha, which is a moveable feast day celebrated the day prior to the Holy Ascension. It was on the Apodosis of Pascha that the wonderworking icon was discovered. The Panagia Ypapanti is the Protectress of the City of Kalamata.
Ancient Icons Bricked-Up By Soviets Discovered on Moscow Kremlin Towers
May 11, 2010
Ancient gate icons that were bricked-up in the Soviet era and considered lost, have been discovered on two of the towers of the Moscow Kremlin, the initiator of a campaign to unveil the icons said on Tuesday.
Historical documents and structural markings, which can be seen from the outside of the Spasskaya, Nikolskaya, Kutafia and Konstantino-Yeleninskaya towers, and from the inside of the Spaskaya, Troitskaya and Borovitskaya towers, prove the icons were once placed above the gates of the towers.
The campaign to unveil the icons, which was initiated by the St. Andrew the Apostle Fund and supported by then Russian president Vladimir Putin and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, began in 2007.
Head of Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin, who heads the fund's board of trustees, said on Tuesday the icons had been discovered on the walls of the Spasskaya and the Nikolskaya towers.
"The main objective of our work is to ensure that the historic image of the Kremlin is restored and the pieces of the spiritual heritage of our people return to the Kremlin towers and to our lives," Yakunin said.
He said the work to unveil the icons had been carried out on the Spasskaya and the Nikolskaya towers first because experts believed it most likely the icons there would be preserved under a layer of plaster. He said there were no documents to suggest that the icons have been destroyed.
Yakunin said work to unveil the icons would begin later in May and expressed hope that it would be concluded by late August.
Historical documents say that a fresco that is expected to be uncovered on the wall of the Nikolskaya tower dates back to the late 15th to early 16th century.
Director of the Kremlin museums Yelena Gagarina said the icons could have been bricked-up in 1937, during celebrations dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Soviet state.
The Soviet authorities waged a fierce war against the practice of religion, destroying churches across the country and harshly repressing believers.
Walled-In Icons Discovered On the Kremlin Towers
Moscow, 12 May 2010, Interfax - Ancient icons were discovered on the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya Towers of the Kremlin. They were walled in during Soviet times and have been deemed lost for a long time now.
"The fact is that the icons were discovered at least on two towers (of the Kremlin - IF). This is an epoch-making event as far as cultural discoveries are concerned," head of the Council of Trustees of the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation Vladimir Yakunin said at a press conference held by Interfax.
He stated that the Foundation had initiated the reinstallation of icons over the gates of the Moscow Kremlin towers as far back as in 2007. The project received the government support and the blessing of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia. In April 2010, experts of the Interregional Scientific and Restoration Office made probes of the icon-cases of the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya Towers. The research has confirmed the hypothesis that the icons were preserved under the layer of plaster.
According to him, the Fund's project "is not limited to these two towers only; the thing is that historians had more reasons to suggest that the icons of the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya Towers were preserved."
Head of the Kremlin supervisory service, deputy director of the Federal Guard Service Sergey Khlebnikov believes that the discovery of the icons on the Kremlin towers is "the event of overwhelming ethical impact."
According to him, the Kremlin commandant's office has received many proposals to restore the icons over the gates, but the Foundation's initiative "had a clear distinction of being specific."
According to the existing historical materials, the Spasskaya Tower houses the icon of the Savior depicted with St. Sergius and St. Varlaam falling down at His feet. The icon was painted to commemorate the rescue from the siege of Moscow by the army of Magmet Girey in 1521. The mural on the Nikolskaya Tower dates back to the late 15th - early 16th centuries. During the civil fights in October 1917, the icon of St. Nikolas of Mozhaysk was riddled with shots, but his face escaped unharmed which the Moscow believers considered a miracle.
Icons On the Kremlin Towers Concealed in USSR For Years Probably Saved Soviet Leaders From Numerous Misfortunes, a Priest Believes
Moscow, 12 May 2010, Interfax –The Russian Orthodox Church official believes it a true miracle that ancient icons were discovered on the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya Towers of the Kremlin by efforts of St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation.
"I admire heroism of people who managed to save these icons. The thing they did is a true man-made miracle," head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told Interfax-Religion.
According to him, "holy icons walled-in from human eyes were present in Red Square" for decades of the Soviet rule, "Soviet leaders passed beneath them, parades and demonstrations took place in their presence."
"Who knows, perhaps only thanks to this, the Kremlin and Red Square workers were saved from numerous misfortunes and, above all, from madness ideology of that time could have easily led to," the priest said.
The most important work of St. Epiphanios is his Panarion. It treats 80 religious sects, either organized groups or philosophies, from the time of Adam to the latter part of the fourth century, detailing their histories, and rebutting their beliefs.
The number of sects covered in the work is based on Song of Songs 6:8-9, "There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and maidens without number. My dove, my undefiled, is but one." Epiphanios interpreted the fourscore (80) concubines as sects, who take the name of Christ without being truly matrimonial; the threescore queens as the generations from Adam to Jesus; the one dove as the true wife, the church; and the numberless virgins as all the philosophies unrelated to Christianity.
The first section of the first of the three books contains an account of 20 heretical sects before the time of Jesus; the remaining portion is occupied with the description of 60 sects of Christianity. However, the total number of sects is actually 77, because three of the first 20 are general names: Hellenism, Samaritanism, and Judaism. In the editions of the Panarion, each heresy is numbered in order; hence it is customary to quote the Panarion as follows: Epiphanius, Haer. N [the number of the heresy].
by Archbishop Irenaios of Crete (Delivered on Pascha 2010)
My beloved brethren, children of the Church, Pascha is today. Pascha is also this year. Our Bright day. The Resurrection. Our Feast Day. “The Pascha of the Greeks.” The true Pascha, the eternal one. The source of light, and splendor during difficult times for all the peoples of the earth and each of us individually as a person.
Today we celebrate the overcoming of evil, of unrighteousness, of hatred, of slavery to death. Today the darkness surrenders its place to the light and splendor of the human person. Today all the people have the capability to be illumined with the splendor of Pascha.
Today’s Paschal feast is an invitation and prompting for us to be illumined: the person, our life, the whole world, everyone, all peoples.
“It is the day of Resurrection, let us be illumined O people, Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha...”
My beloved brethren,
Today our Church, with this hymn we referred to, invites all the nations and all of us to be illumined. We should flee from the darkness and the gloom of our times, and we should go, we should enter into the Light of the Resurrection, the glory and splendor of mankind and the world. The Resurrected Christ our Lord shines and illumines everyone.
We have no other options, no other margins. Today, we do not have another option, another alternative.
How and where can we find today the joy and the splendor of the person, of our life? How can our face be illumined and brightened? Where can we be sustained? Towards where are we to go? There are so many dead ends, dilemmas, and problems of mankind today.
Many say, they propose and prefer to turn to money, wealth, gain, business ventures, the stock market and prosperity. They have undertaken them. This is the status quo today. The capital, money, is running, it is galloping. It goes everywhere with multinational Companies of contemporary “marketing”.
Notwithstanding, today’s world economic crisis affects everyone. It troubles, threatens and frightens everyone, even the wealthy, who live themselves with uncertainty and insecurity. And like the poor and unemployed of the world, who are threatened and suffer even more; they are brought to despair and find themselves in a difficult situation.
Others propose the easy-going life, comforts and fun times. The easy way. The easy life. All of us know that many people today travel along this path. Temporarily and for a period they are themselves content and see themselves as lucky.
However the boredom, the inactivity, the loneliness, the emptiness of life, the monotony, the illnesses, the daily monotony, the routine without creativity and effectiveness for life, it is an unbearable burden and weight; downright unfortunate.
There is also, besides the other things, contemporary technology. An important gift and valuable. Small and great are under the spell of the machine, the electronic medium, everything of a technological and mechanical nature. We have today a deification of machines. Dependence and enslavement are dangerous phenomena, a waste of humanity, and a change and an annulment of personal gifts and talents belonging to mankind.
These contemporary ways of life and trends of people today, they do not seem to be human ways. The are contemporary mediums of our own age, the features and characteristics of it. We revere them, but today’s man cannot expect illumination and personal joy from all these things.
My beloved brethren,
Our Church, which is not against our age and today’s achievements of mankind, invites us to other ways, another life. To the life of the illumination of the Resurrection, of blessed Resurrected life.
The living out of the Resurrection in our daily lives. A life of brilliant quality and humanity. A life without economic crisis', insecurities and uncertainties. A true life, everlasting!
Together with our Church, I personally invite you today to this brilliant, resurrection life of our Resurrected Christ.
The invitation of the Church and my own, is primarily aimed at our children, the smallest and the greatest. To all their families. To our schools, our teachers, to the spiritual people of our Land. To the people of the countryside and the city. To the healthy and strong, as well as to the sick and weak, everyone. Let us be illumined, let us move forward, let us become enlightened with the light and splendor of the Resurrection.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Aleister Crowley, the famous occult magician, compiled a book in 1904 titled The Book of the Law, which was dictated to him by a spirit named Aiwass. This book was meant to usher in the Age of Horus, in which a new ethical code would be followed. The central message of this new ethical code, known as the Law of Thelema (from the Greek word for "will"), was: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law".
Crowley's Law of Thelema is a corruption of Jesus' Law of Thelema:
- "Thy will (Θελημα = thelema) be done.” (Matt. 6:10)
- "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.'" (Gal. 5:14)
Augustine of Hippo perfectly summarizes the Christian Law of Thelema in the statement: "Love, and do what thou wilt." In Latin, it is: "Dilige et quod vis fac." (Sermon on 1 John 7-8)
With love for both God and mankind in our hearts, we are above every law and obtain true freedom of the will.
In 324 the holy Emperor Constantine (May 21) decided that the imperial capital had to be closer to the Eastern provinces, and yet have direct communication with the West. The city of Byzantium fulfilled these requirements, and on November 8, 324 the site of the new capital was consecrated.
Tradition tells us that the Emperor was tracing the boundaries of the city with a spear, when his courtiers became astonished by the magnitude of the new dimensions of the capital. "Lord," they asked, "how long will you keep going?"
Constantine replied, "I shall keep going until the one who walks ahead of me stops."
Then they understood that the emperor was being guided by some divine power. There is an iconographic sketch by Rallis Kopsides showing an angel of the Lord going before St Constantine as he traces the new boundaries of the city.
Construction of the main buildings was begun in 325, and pagan monuments from Rome, Athens, and other cities were used to beautify the new capital. The need for the new city is partially explained by the changing requirements of government, the Germanic invasion of the West, and commercial benefits, but the new city was also to be a Christian capital. For this, a new foundation was required.
In 330, the work had progressed to the point where it was possible for Constantine to dedicate the new capital. The dedication took place on May 11, followed by forty days of joyous celebration. Christian Constantinople was placed under the protection of the Most Holy Theotokos, and overshadowed pagan Byzantium. St Constantine was the first Emperor to submit voluntarily to Christ, and Constantinople became the symbol of a Christian Empire which lasted for a thousand years.
Apolytikion in Tone Four
The city of the Theotokos dedicates its foundation as an offering to the Theotokos. For it has been establish to remain in Her, and it lives and is strengthened through Her, crying out to Her, "Rejoice, the hope of all the ends of the earth."
by Panagiotis Chrestou
The answer to this question is of great importance for a correct assessment of: a) the two brothers' relations with Photius; b) their relations with Rome; and c) the aims of the mission.
According to the primary sources -that is, the Old Slavonic Lives of Cyril and Methodius- the mission originated as follows. The Prince of Moravia, Rastislav, sent a special delegation to Emperor Michael ΙΙΙ to ask him: 'Send us, Lord, ... a bishop and teacher; for in truth the good law is always disseminated by you to all countries.'(1)
The Emperor then called a meeting of the Senate, invited the two brothers to attend, and commissioned them to carry out the task. It was the Emperor, therefore, who took the initiative for the mission. But it would be quite incorrect to cοnclude from this that its purpose, in Byzantine terms, was purely political. In the first place, it was fοr the Emperor to act because it was to him that Rastislav had addressed his request. But in any case, such a matter lay within his province, because it was his duty, as 'the apostle among kings',(2) to send missionaries abroad to spread the Christian faith. Furthermore, a mission of this nature would require both bilateral agreements at a State level and considerable financial outlay.
Αll the same, it is certainly strange that no mention is made of the Church's participation in the undertaking; and this is even more extraordinary if one considers the fact that the mission was dispatched during Photius's term as Patriarch. If the Church was not involved, then Photius the Great had no hand in this unique initiative aimed at bringing the Slavs into the community of civilized Christian peoples.
Various attempts have been made to explain the absence of any reference to the Church's involvement. The first explanation, offered by Western historians, is that the Eastern Church in general, and the Patriarchate of Constantinople in particular, was not greatly interested in missionary work - at least after A.D.400. This is quite clearly not so, since between the years 400 and 640 the Eastern Church's missionary activity brought the Christian faith to a great many countries and peoples, from Nubia in Africa to Southern Arabia and as far afield as India, China, and Georgia. Ιn Europe tοo the majority of the Germanic tribes received Christianity from Constantinople. At οne point, in Venice, Cyril's opponents refused to countenance the use in the Liturgy of any but the three holy languages of the Cross. He refuted their arguments by declaring that in the East all peoples had the Gospel and praised God in their own language: Armenians, Persians, Avasgians, Georgians, Sogdians, Goths, Avars, Turks, Khazars, Arabs, Egyptians, Syrians, and other besides.(3) Most of them had become Christian after Α.D.400. Ιn comparison with this activity, the Western Church had nothing to show but the conversion of Germany and Britain.
The second explanation of Photius's apparent noninvolvement in the mission is that Cyril and Methodius were supposedly οppοnents of Photius and supporters of Ignatius and, by extension, Ρope Nicholas. Some scholars believe that this opposition is indicated by the probability that Polychroniou Monastery, of which Methodius was abbot, supported Ignatius rather than Photius after the schism of 858. Another argument which is used to support the notion of this opposition is that the brothers were welcomed in Rome when they returned from Moravia. The abbot of a Constantinople monastery which was friendly towards Ignatius could not possibly, it is said, have been a supporter of Photius; and two men who were warmly received in Rome must have been against him.
Ιn answer to this explanation, it must be pointed out that the change of patriarch under Michael ΙII and his Prime Minister, Bardas, had deep roots. They replaced the zealous but rigid Ignatius with Photius, a very able man of learning who was to assist, and in part draw up, the State reconstruction programme. How could they have sent into Central Europe two men who were hostile to the ecclesiastical policy of Photius, and therefore of the Church itself? It is clear that Photius, the man whom Michael had chosen as his adviser οn all spiritual and ecclesiastical qιιestions, whom he had charged with important assignments, and whom he had persuaded to accept the position of Patriarch, was not merely the first to be invited to attend the Senate meeting, did not merely approve the men whο were to be sent to Εuroρe, but actιιally selected them himself, as he had done for earlier missions. It is obvious tlιat, far from being his enemies, they must have been his friends. Furthermore, Cyril is known to have been a pupil of Photius,(4) and later his colleague at the University of Constantinople, having been appointed Professor of Philosophy in the reign of Empress Theodora. He was, moreover, a close friend of Photius's, an 'amicus fortissimus' according to the Roman Anastasius the Librarian.(5)
After the death of his patron, Prime Minister Theoctistus, Constantine-Cyril fell into disfavor with the political authorities and lost his professorial chair. He was later reconciled with the Emperor and Bardas, nο doubt through the good offices of Photius. He travelled to the Caliphate with Photius in 856, and was subsequently sent, οn the latter's recommendation, to the Crimea and Khazaria. Οn his return from this mission in 861, 'he had his seat in the Church of the Holy Apostles';(6) that is, he took up a professorial chair in the Patriarchal School, which operated οn that church's premises. It would have been odd for Photius to appoint a personal enemy to this most important institution.
Finally, one should not overlook Constantine-Cyril's title. Αll his life he was known as 'the Philosopher', and his posthumous biography was titled The Life of Constantine the Philosopher. A 'philosopher' could not but belong to the progressive party of Photius, rather than to the zealot faction of Ignatius.
We have no clear evidence about the relations between Methodius and Photius, but we do have certain indications. The fact that he was appointed Abbot of Polychroniou Monastery does not mean that he was friendly towards the deposed Patriarch Ignatius. Indeed, given the fact that his appointment was made during Photius's term as Patriarch, and was obviously sanctioned by him, it seems likely that it was made precisely to mollify the monks who supported Ignatius and to change their sentiments. The appointment followed directly upon the two brothers' return from Khazaria and the Crimea, after Photius had offered Methodius an episcopal see, which he declined. It is clear from what has been said above that Photius cannot have been absent from the deliberations concerning the mission to Central Europe. The question, then, should be phrased differently: why do the sources not specifically mention his participation?
Their silence οn this point is undoubtedly connected with the circumstances under which the brothers' biographies were written.
The Life of Constantine the Philosopher was written in Rome shortly after Cyril's death in 869 by a companion of his and Methodius's, and its purpose was to present clear evidence that the Pope, Hadrian ΙΙ, approved the use of the Slavonic langιιage in the Liturgy and thus forestall the charges being brought against Methodius οn this account. The Life of Methodius was written in Moravia in 885 with the aim of persuading the ruler, Prince Sviatopolk, who was both a Latinophile and a Germanophile, that the mission was the work of the Emperor of Byzantium, and that those who reacted against it were therefore opposing the plans of the Emperor. It would have been impossible, in the Life of Constantine, to make much of Photius's role. Reference to his part in events would have undermined the whole purpose of the work, for Photius was hated in Rome and in the West generally, and had now been deposed in the East. Nor was such a reference possible in the Life of Methodius, because it would have diminished the Emperor's role, which was at the core of the work. It would also have been dangerous because, although Photius was back οn the patriarchal throne by now and had mended his differences with Rome, he still had not done so with the Germans, who were continuing to promote the filioque. It would therefore have been most unwise to present Photius as the person behind the brothers' mission. It is for the same reason that no mention is made of Photius's role in Constantine-Cyril's mission to the Caliphate,(8) although they probably went together, the one being responsible for religious and the other for civil affairs. Ιn this context too, such a reference would have been seen in the West as provocative.
There is therefore no reason to deny that Photius, as the supreme ecclesiastical authority in Byzantium, played a part in Cyril and Methodius's mission. Indeed, we have no choice but to accept that he did.
The question arises, however: why, in 867, did the brothers not travel to Constantinople to give an account of their work, but went to Rome instead? The answer is strange, but unequivocal: they did not go to Rome of their οwn accord; they were forced tο do so. The Life of Constantine (15) tells us: 'And so he remained in Moravia for forty months, and left in order to tonsure his disciples'; while in the Life of Methodius we read: 'Αnd when three years had passed, they returned from Moravia.'
'They returned'. One returns to tlιe point from which one has set out -in this case Constantinople- and the brothers were travelling there in order to tonsιιre their disciples in their place of origin -Constantinople. However, after passing through Pannonia, and staying fοr a while with its ruler, Κocel, in order to instruct disciples there too, they eventually came to Venice. It seems likely that the deteriorating relations between Byzantium and Bulgaria made it preferable to travel to Cοnstantinople by sea. When they arrived in Venice, however, as the Life of Constantine reports,(9) Latin bishops, clerics, and monks gave them a rough reception ('like crows against a hawk') because of their use of the Slavonic language, and brought up the heresy of Trilinguism.
What is significant is that the Life of Constantine goes οn to say that 'when the Pope was informed about him [Cyril], he sent and asked for him';(10) which means that Cyril did not originally intend to go to Rome, but did so at the Pope's invitation. When he reached Rome, however, he was received not by Nicholas, but by his successor, Hadrian II, who was well disposed towards him. Had it not been for the invitation, he would have gone to Constantinople. Indeed, what the two brothers failed to do then, Methodius did alone fifteen years later, when Photius was again Patriarch.
The truth is that Photius's role is not completely ignored, but is referred to obliquely. The Life of Constantine states, for instance, that Photius was Cyril's teacher, a reference which was considered harmless: 'Constantine learned dialectics and all the branches of philosophy under Leo and Photius.(11) The Life of Methodius mentions towards the end that 'the Patriarch also acted in a similar way':(12) that is, he received Methodius in Constantinople, approved his teaching, gave him sumptuous gifts, and sent him οn his way back to his archbishopric. The Patriarch was Photius. During this meeting, not only did Photius and the Archbishop of Moravia see eye to eye οn all matters, but, learning of the teaching of the filioque, the former was also persuaded to enter the lists against it.
It is in this indirect, allusive fashion that the two biographers in fact give Photius all his due, from the start to the finish of the mission. And all this leaves no doubt that Photius did indeed not merely participate in organizing the mission to Moravia and the other Slavonic countries, but played, in effect, the most important part.
Byzantium was faced with a request from Rastislav, who had probably been encouraged to make it by people from Constantinople who had been working in Moravia for some time. The Prince asked for a bishop and teacher, whο would be able to teach them the true Christian faith in their οwn language and bring them the 'good law'. The Emperor granted the request at once by sending two teachers, one of whom was to become Archbishop of Moravia. Now, how could he have done this if the preconditions had not existed?
What was actually needed, apart from a teacher with a knowledge of the language, was an alphabet adapted to the specific phonetic features of Slavonic, the creation of theological and ecclesiastica1 terminology in Slavonic, and translations of the basic books of worship and instruction. This was a difficult task in respect of an unwritten and unformed language, which lacked words and expressions to convey notions that simply did not exist for a culturally underdeveloped people.
The missionaries took all this to Moravia; and it was, beyond doubt, the product of many years of preparation. This preparation could have been carried out only under the aegis of the Church and at some special center for Slavonic studies, which was probably located in the School of the Holy Apostles. And the motivating force behind it all was the Patriarch, Photius.
Ιn conclusion, therefore, we may say that: a) the two brothers were sent into Europe by the Patriarch and the Emperor together, Photius providing what was required from the theological and religious point of view, and Michael ΙΙΙ granting political and material protection; and b) that their mission had both religious and cultural aims.
1. Life of Constantine 14.
2. Apolytikion of the Feast of St Constantine (21 May).
3. Life of Constantine 16.
4. Life of Constantine 4.
5. Letter to Pope Hadrian, Μοnumentα Germaniae Historica, Epist. VII, p. 407.
6. Life of Constantine 4.
7. Life of Methodius 5.
8. Life of Constantine 6.
9. Life of Constantine 16.
10. Life of Constantine 17.
11. Life of Constantine 4.
12. Life of Methodius 13.
St. Simon is said to have traveled to many places from Britain to the Black Sea, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. There are various accounts of how and where St. Simon was martyred, though all are unanimous that he was martyred. One of the oldest traditions was that St. Simon was martyred in Georgia. Moses of Chorene writes that he was martyred at Weriosphora in Iberia (Abkhazia, Georgia); many locations claim to have relics including Toulouse, France, and Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy. Georgian tradition holds that he preached in Western Georgia and was buried near Sokhumi, in the village of Anakopia where New Athos Monastery is located and St. Simon is especially venerated and celebrated on his feast day where thousands come for pilgrimage.
Saint Simon the Canaanite Church
Simon the Canaanite – one of Jesus Christ's Apostles – came with the first Christian missions to Georgia in the first century AD. According to the tradition the angry local residents killed the righteous man with stones where New Athos Monastery is located today. Long before the monks came there from Mount Athos a temple was built on the site of Simon's burial. This temple is one of the oldest active ones in New Athos. It stands on the left bank of the Psyrtskhi River. The temple over the tomb of the Apostle was constructed during the period from the 11th to 13th centuries. The last reconstruction was completed in 1882. Later it became the Tskhum Cathedral.
The church building also served the place of burial for clergymen of the Tskhum diocese. One of the stones in the altar wall has the inscription in Greek about the burial procedure related to the Greek period of Anakopia. The church was richly decorated by wall paintings. Today you can see the fragments of the restored ancient frescoes. Every year thousands of pilgrims gather in the church to honor the memory of St. Simon the Canaanite on May 23rd (May 10th New Calendar).
Saint Simon the Canaanite Cave
Next to St. Simon the Canaanite Church there is a cave where he lived and prayed during his last years. The cave is a natural recession in the rock (Psyrtskhi Gorge). The cave walls are decorated with ancient mosaics, crosses, inscriptions, icons, lamps. In 1884 the cave was sanctified. Since then the icons of St. Andrew the First-Called and St. Simon the Canaanite have been kept there. The believers leave notes there with requests for health and peace of souls.
The cave is located not far from the St. Simon's place of martyrdom. One of the stones there bears his footprint.
The Site of St. Simon's Martyrdom and the Red Stones
On the site of St. Simon's martyrdom, which is on the Psirju River, many of the stones and rocks have red spots on them. Local tradition says that this exists because it is the site where St. Simon was stoned to death. For this reason many faithful consider this river a second Jordan and dip themselves under for both bodily and spiritual healing. The faithful take these stones for a blessing. This miracle reminds many of the sheatfish which are in the Jordan.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
O Holy Apostle Simon, intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
With praise let us all bless Simon, the herald of God, who established securely in the souls of the pious the doctrines of wisdom; for now he standeth before the throne of glory, and exulting with the bodiless hosts, he intercedeth unceasingly for us all.
Greece Moves To Adopt Cremation Law
May 11, 2010
Athens, Greece - Breaking with a centuries-old Orthodox religious tradition, Greece took the final steps on Tuesday toward permitting and creating facilities so that people who choose so can be cremated.
Demand for the option of cremation has risen in recent years due to Greece's overcrowded cemeteries, which force relatives to exhume their loves ones after three years to make way for the next burial.
In a joint decision by the Health, Environment and Interior Ministeries, the final framework that allows for the creation of crematoriums has been approved.
The legislation calls for such facilities to be built next to cemeteries, while municipalities will be responsible for operating them.
Although cremation has been allowed for more than a century in many European countries - since 1884 in the United Kingdom and since 1887 in France - Greece only approved legislation in 2006 allowing for the cremation of the dead.
The previous law banned cremation for other faiths, making matters particularly difficult for the large influx of non-Orthodox immigrants from Asia and other Balkan countries living in Greece who had to send their dead abroad to be cremated.
For decades the Greek Orthodox Church had strongly opposed cremation, saying the body is God's creation and cannot be burned.
The law still forbids cremation for Orthodox Christians. The Church of Greece opposes the practice for believers, arguing that Orthodox traditions only allow for burial.
Last Cremation Obstacle Goes
Burial or Burning? An Orthodox Evaluation of Cremation
Moldovans Seek Religion
11 May 2010
CHISINAU, Moldova — About 15,000 people rallied in Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, on Saturday to demand that schools add religion to the curriculum.
“We want to bring religion back to school after it was excluded by the totalitarian Soviet regime,” Metropolitan Vladimir, head of the Moldovan Orthodox Church, told supporters.
In Moldova, more than 95 percent of believers are Eastern Orthodox. The Moldovan Orthodox Church, an autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate, is the country’s main church with around 1,300 parishes.
Among the names of Istanbul, the most notable are Byzantium, Constantinople and Stamboul, although the city has been known through the ages under various other names. Each of them is associated with different phases of its history and with different languages.
Names In Historical Sequence
Byzantion (Βυζάντιον), Latinized as Byzantium, was the first known name of the city. It was founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and, according to legend, named after their king Byzas, originally *Βύζαντς, probably Thracian name.:352ff
Much later, the name Byzantium became common in the West to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire, the "Byzantine" Empire, whose capital the city had been. This usage was introduced only in 1555 by the German historian Hieronymus Wolf, a century after the empire had ceased to exist. During the time of the empire itself, the term Byzantium was restricted to the city itself, rather than the empire that it ruled.
Augusta Antonina was a name given to the city during a brief period in the 3rd century AD. It was conferred to it by the Roman emperor Septimius Severus (193-211) in honour of his son Antoninus, the later emperor Caracalla.
Before the Roman emperor Constantine the Great made the city the new eastern capital of the Roman Empire on May 11, 330, he undertook a major construction project, essentially rebuilding the city on a monumental scale, partly modelled after Rome. Names of this period included ἡ Νέα, δευτέρα Ῥώμη 'the New, second Rome', Alma Roma Ἄλμα Ῥώμα, Βυζαντιάς Ῥώμη, ἑῴα Ῥώμη 'Eastern Rome', Roma Constantinopolitana.:354
The term "New Rome" lent itself to East-Western polemics, especially in the context of the Great Schism, when it was used by Greek writers to stress the rivalry with (the original) Rome. New Rome is also still part of the official title of the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Constantinople ("City of Constantine") was the name by which the city became soon more widely known, in honour of Constantine the Great. The Greek form is Kōnstantinoupolis (Κωνσταντινούπολις); the Latin form is Constantinopolis. It is first attested in official use under emperor Theodosius II (408-450). It remained the principal official name of the city throughout the Byzantine period, and the most common name used for it in the West until the early 20th century. It was also used (including its Kostantiniyye variant) by the Ottoman Empire until the advent of the Republic of Turkey.
Some Byzantine writers would vary the use of the names Byzantium and Constantinople depending on religious historical context; Byzantium was associated with the city's pagan roots, while Constantinople was associated with Christianity.
Other Byzantine Names
Besides Constantinople, the Byzantines referred to the city with a large range of honorary appellations, such as the "Queen of Cities" (Βασιλὶς τῶν πόλεων). In popular speech, however, the most common way of referring to it came to be simply The City (Greek: hē Polis, ἡ Πόλις, Modern Greek: i Poli, η Πόλη). This usage, still current today in colloquial Greek and Armenian (Պոլիս, pronounced "Bolis" in the Western Armenian dialect prevalent in the city), also became the source of the later Turkish name, Istanbul (see below).
Kostantiniyye (Arabic القسطنطينية, al-Qusṭanṭiniyah, Ottoman Turkish قسطنطينيه Kostantiniyye) is the name by which the city came to be known in the Islamic world. It is an Arabic calqued form of Constantinople, with an Arabic ending meaning 'place of' instead of the Greek element -polis. After the Ottoman conquest of 1453, it was used as the most formal official name in Ottoman Turkish, and remained in use throughout most of the time up to the fall of the empire in 1923. However, during some periods Ottoman authorities favoured other names (see below).
The modern Turkish name İstanbul (pronounced [isˈtanbul]) is attested (in a range of variants) since the 10th century, at first in Azerbaijani and Arabic and then in Turkish sources. It derives from the Greek phrase "εις την Πόλιν" or "στην Πόλη" [(i)stimboli(n)], both meaning "in the city" or "to the city"; a similar case is Stimboli, Crete. It is thus based on the common Greek usage of referring to Constantinople simply as The City (see above). The incorporation of parts of articles and other particles into Greek placenames was common even before the Ottoman period, Navarino for earlier Avarino, Satines for Athines, etc. Similar examples of modern Turkish placenames derived from Greek in this fashion are İzmit, earlier İznikmit, from Greek Nicomedia, İznik from Greek Nicaea ([iz nikea]), Samsun (s'Amison = "se + Amisos"), and İstanköy for the Greek island Kos (from is tin Ko). The occurrence of the initial i- in these names may partly reflect the old Greek form with is-, or it may partly be an effect of secondary epenthesis, resulting from the phonotactic structure of Turkish.
İstanbul was the common name for the city in normal speech in Turkish even since before the conquest of 1453, but in official use by the Ottoman authorities, other names such as Kostantiniyye were preferred in certain contexts. Thus, Kostantiniyye was used on coinage up to the late 17th and then again in the 19th century. The Ottoman chancelery and courts used Kostantiniyye as part of intricate formulae in expressing the place of origin of formal documents, such as be-Makam-ı Darü's-Saltanat-ı Kostantiniyyetü'l-Mahrusâtü'l-Mahmiyye In 19th century Turkish bookprinting it was also used in the impressum of books, in contrast to the foreign use of Constantinople. At the same time, however, İstanbul too was part of the official language, for instance in the titles of the highest Ottoman military commander (İstanbul ağası) and the highest civil magistrate (İstanbul efendisi) of the city. İstanbul and several other variant forms of the same name were also widely used in Ottoman literature and poetry.
After the creation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, the various alternative names besides İstanbul became obsolete in the Turkish language. With the Turkish Postal Service Law of March 28, 1930, the Turkish authorities officially requested foreigners to cease referring to the city with their traditional non-Turkish names (such as Constantinople, Tsarigrad, etc.) and to adopt Istanbul as the sole name also in their own languages. Letters or packages sent to "Constantinople" instead of "Istanbul" were no longer delivered by Turkey's PTT, which contributed to the eventual worldwide adoption of the new name.
In English the name is usually written "Istanbul". In modern Turkish the name is written "İstanbul" because in the Turkish alphabet dotted i (capital İ) is a different letter from dotless ı (capital I).
Stamboul or Stambul is a variant form of İstanbul. Like Istanbul itself, forms without the initial i- are attested from early on in the Middle Ages, first in Arabic sources of the 10th century and Armenian ones of the 12th. Some early sources also attest to an even shorter form Bulin, based on the Greek word Poli(n) alone without the preceding article. (This latter form lives on in modern Armenian.)
Stamboul was used in Western languages as an equivalent of İstanbul, until the time it was replaced by the official new usage of the Turkish form in the 20th century. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, English-speaking sources often used Constantinople to refer to the metropolis as a whole, but Stamboul to refer to the central parts located on the historic peninsula between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara.
Islambol (lots of Islam) or Islambul (find Islam) were folk-etymological adaptations of Istanbul created after the Ottoman conquest of 1453 to express the city's new role as the capital of the Islamic Ottoman empire. It is first attested shortly after the conquest, and its invention was ascribed by some contemporary writers to Sultan Mehmed II himself. Some Ottoman sources of the 17th century, most notably Evliya Çelebi, describe it as the common Turkish name of the time. Between the late 17th and late 18th centuries, it was also in official use. The first use of the word "Islambol" on coinage took place in 1703 (1115AH) during the reign of Sultan Ahmed III. The term Kostantiniyye still appeared, however, into the twentieth century.
Other Ottoman Names
Like the Byzantines, the Ottomans used to refer to the city by a range of other honorary appellations. Among them are Dersaadet (در سعادت 'Gate of Felicity'), Derâliye (در عاليه) or Bâb-ı Âlî باب عالی 'The Sublime Porte', or Pâyitaht (پایتخت, 'The Seat of the Throne'), Asitane ('The Doorstep' of the Sultan/Government). The 'Gate of Felicity' and the 'Sublime Porte' were literally places within the Ottoman Sultans' Topkapı Palace, and were used metonymically to refer to the authorities located there, and hence for the Ottoman government as a whole. This usage is mirrored in the use of Sublime Porte or simple The Porte in Western diplomacy before the 20th century.
Historical Names In Other Languages
Many peoples neighboring on the Byzantine Empire used names expressing concepts like "The Great City", "City of the Emperors", "Capital of the Romans" or similar. During the 10th to 12th century Constantinople was one of the largest two cities in the world, the other being Baghdad.
The medieval Vikings, who had contacts with the Byzantine empire through their expansion through eastern Europe (Varangians) used the Old Norse name Miklagarðr (from mikill 'big' and garðr 'city'), later Miklagard/Miklagård. This name lives on in the modern Icelandic name Mikligarður and Faroese Miklagarður.
East and South Slavic languages referred to the city as Tsarigrad or Carigrad, 'City of the Caesar (Emperor)', from the Slavonic words tsar ('Caesar') and grad ('city'). Cyrillic:Цариград. This was presumably a calque on a Greek phrase such as Βασιλέως Πόλις (Vasileos Polis), 'the city of the emperor [king]'. The term is still occasionally used in Bulgarian, whereas it has become archaic in Serbian, Russian, Croatian, and Macedonian. In Slovene, Carigrad is a living alternative name for the modern city. In Czech language (West Slavic) this Slavic name is used in the form Cařihrad (used in 19th century, now only occasionally). It was also borrowed from the Slavic languages into Romanian in the form Ţarigrad.
Persian, Urdu, and Arabic
Besides Kustantiniyyah, Persian, Urdu, Arabic and other languages of the Islamic world used names based on the title Cesar ('Emperor'), as in Persian and Urdu Kayser-i Zemin, or on the ethnic name Rum ('Romans'), as in Arabic Rūmiyyat al-kubra ('Great City of the Romans') or Persian/Urdu Takht-e Rum ('Throne of the Romans').
In Hebrew, the city was sometimes referred to as "Kushtandina" קושטנדינה, and sometimes "Kushtandina Rabati" קושטנדינה רבתי, literally, Great Kushtandina, or shortened to "Kushta" קושטא, an alteration of Kostantiniyye. This usage was common among Jews until the early 20th Century; however, in present-day Israel it has virtually disappeared, replaced by the Hebrew trasliteration of the Turkish "Istanbul" (איסטנבול).
Most modern Western languages have adopted the name Istanbul for the modern city during the 20th century, following the current usage in the Turkish Republic. However, many languages also preserve other, traditional names. Greeks continue to call the city Constantinople (Κωνσταντινούπολη Konstantinupoli in Modern Greek) or simply "The City" (η Πόλη i Poli). Languages that use forms based on Stamboul include Russian, Polish, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Albanian. The Spanish form is Estambul. Armenian uses Bolis, based on the Greek Poli(s) 'City'. Icelandic preserves the old Norse name Miklagarður.
1. Georgacas, Demetrius John (1947). "The Names of Constantinople". Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 78: 347–367. doi:10.2307/283503.
2. Necdet Sakaoğlu (1993/94a): "İstanbul'un adları" ["The names of Istanbul"]. In: 'Dünden bugüne İstanbul ansiklopedisi', ed. Türkiye Kültür Bakanlığı, Istanbul.
3. According to the Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, vol. 164 (Stuttgart 2005), column 442, there is no evidence for the tradition that Constantine officially dubbed the city "New Rome" (Nova Roma or Nea Rhome). Commemorative coins that were issued during the 330s already refer to the city as Constantinopolis (see e.g. Michael Grant, The climax of Rome (London 1968), p. 133). It is possible that the emperor called the city "Second Rome" (Deutera Rhome) by official decree, as reported by the 5th-century church historian Socrates of Constantinople.
4. BARTHOLOMEW, ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE, NEW ROME AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH
5. Finkel, Caroline, Osman's Dream, (Basic Books, 2005), 57; "Istanbul was only adopted as the city's official name in 1930..".
6. An alternative derivation, directly from Constantinople, was entertained as an hypothesis by some researchers in the 19th century but is today regarded as obsolete; see Sakaoğlu (1993/94a: 254) for references.
7. Detailed history at Pylos#The Name of Navarino
8. Bourne, Edward G. (1887). "The Derivation of Stamboul". American Journal of Philology 8 (1): 78–82. doi:10.2307/287478.
9. Necdet Sakaoğlu (1993/94b): "Kostantiniyye". In: 'Dünden bugüne İstanbul ansiklopedisi', ed. Türkiye Kültür Bakanlığı, Istanbul.
10. A.C. Barbier de Meynard (1881): Dictionnaire Turc-Français. Paris: Ernest Leroux.
11. Stanford and Ezel Shaw (1977): History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Vol II, p. 386; Robinson (1965), The First Turkish Republic, p. 298
12. "Istanbul", in Encyclopedia of Islam.
13. H. G. Dwight (1915): Constantinople Old and New. New York: Scribner's.
By the 3rd or 4th Century, Rome had expanded to a vast empire, which was beset by enemies around it. The early Roman emperors were not like modern British kings and queens, inheriting the throne from their fathers; they were generals who had the command of the armies and as a result could protect Rome from its enemies. The emperor's first and foremost task was to protect the Empire and keep the peace, either by commanding his generals or by leading the army himself.
There was no requirement that the emperor should be from the city of Rome itself. The Emperor Diocletian was from Illyrica, which is now Croatia; having served much of his working life as a soldier at the frontiers of the Empire, he had no great ties to Rome. When he became emperor, he decided to move to Nicomedia, which is now Izmit in Turkey1. The Senate and all the rest of the trappings of government remained in Rome. This was just a temporary move, in that Diocletian was the only emperor who ruled from Nicomedia, but it set the scene for the move to Constantinople.
The Rise of Constantine to Emperor
Diocletian wanted nothing more than to retire to his estate and grow cabbages, so he devised a bureaucratic system of appointing emperors which treated the position of ruler of the known world like any other job. He divided the Empire into two, East and West, and gave the rule of the West to his friend Maximian. Then he came up with a system of appointing successors. Unfortunately, he reckoned without the ambition of others, and forgot that people would fight to be Emperor.
Constantine was born in about 274 AD in Naissos (now Nis) in Serbia. His father was Constantius, a general in the army; his mother was Helena. When Diocletian split the Empire, Constantius was appointed Caesar (Junior Emperor), which meant that he would inherit the title of Emperor of the West when Maximian died or stepped down.
In 305, Diocletian and Maximian abdicated, and the squabbling started - Galerius and Constantius became Emperors of the East and West respectively, but there were arguments about who should succeed them. Constantius died soon afterwards in 306, and by the time of Galerius's death in 311, there was all-out civil war.
Battling for control of the West were Constantine (son of Constantius and son-in-law of Maximian) and Maxentius (son of Maximian and son-in-law of Galerius). Constantine controlled Gaul and England, while Maxentius held Italy. Constantine's armies advanced through Italy and finally met up with Maxentius's army at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge just outside Rome. Constantine was victorious and Maxentius's army sought to retreat across the narrow bridge across the Tiber. Many were killed in the crush, including Maxentius himself. Constantine was now sole ruler of the West. Meanwhile in the East, a general called Licinius had emerged as victor and Emperor of the East.
This should have settled things, but Constantine was more ambitious than that. He wanted to rule the entire Empire. He attacked Licinius in 314 but failed to make any progress. Nine years of peace followed, then he attacked again in 323. This time, he was successful and became sole ruler of the Empire.
Christianity: The Vision
Legend has it that during his war against Maxentius, just before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, Constantine had a dream - he saw a giant cross in the sky inscribed with the words 'Hoc Vince' ('in this sign, conquer'). Recognising the cross as the symbol of Christianity, he ordered all this troops to paint a cross onto their shields. They won the battle, and Constantine was converted to being a Christian.
There are some problems with the traditional dream story. It's not clear what symbol was drawn on the shields - in some versions, it is the Christian 'chi-rho' symbol rather than a cross. This is made from the first two letters in Greek of Christ's name, and looks to us like a P and an X superimposed. In either case, such an action would surely have been recorded by historians at the time, but there is no mention of it. It sounds suspiciously like a miracle invented after the event.
In any case, Constantine declared Christianity to be the official state religion of the Western Roman Empire, and later when he conquered the East, it became the official religion there too. While people were free to worship any gods they liked, the state now favoured the Christians, provided churches for them, and modified many laws to fit in with the new religion. Christianity remained the religion of the people for the entire history of Byzantium, although one later emperor, Julian, tried unsuccessfully to re-instate the old pagan gods.
The Council of Nicaea and the Nicene Creed
Having settled the issue of a state religion, Constantine was determined that there should be one version of this religion, and that everybody should follow one set of rules. He organised the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea (now Iznik, Turkey), calling eminent Christians from all over the Empire. These debated the theological matters (in Greek, which Constantine could not understand) and eventually came up with the 'Nicene Creed', a statement of belief which defined Christianity. This Creed is still recited by Christians all over the world, virtually unchanged, to affirm their beliefs.
The New City
Constantine decided to move the capital of the Empire lock, stock and barrel to a new city. This was not so much to abandon Rome but more to secure the East. Without a guard on the Bosphorus (the narrow strait which separates Europe from Asia), barbarians could sail down from the Black Sea and invade all parts of the Eastern Empire. There was also a threat from Persia. With the Bosphorus secured, the whole of the Eastern Empire was stabilised.
The East was also the richest part of the Empire - Egypt at the time produced most of the food for the Empire, and trade with Persia brought in many exotic and expensive goods such as silks and spices. Building a new city from scratch gave him the opportunity to set it all up the way he wanted it, rather than inheriting archaic traditions that came with the existing city of Rome.
Rather than returning to Nicomedia, Constantine chose the city of Byzantium. This was a small Greek city, on a hill overlooking the Bosphorus, which could be easily defended. Byzantium had been founded in the 7th Century BC as a Greek colony by the people of Megara near Athens, and had been reasonably successful until it was subsumed into the Roman Empire.
The original Byzantium was located on the present site of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. It is worth describing the position of the seas around here, as they can be confusing:
There is a strip of land about 35km wide between the Black Sea to the north and the Sea of Marmara to the south. Byzantium was on the south side of this land, on the Sea of Marmara. Joining the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara is a narrow strait called the Bosphorus or Bosporus. It runs roughly southwest to northeast and forms the border between Europe and Asia. It is only 700m wide at its narrowest point. On the west side of the Bosphorus is an inlet about seven kilometres long called the Golden Horn. The name is supposedly derived from the fact it is in the shape of an ox's horn and the water turns gold at sunset. The Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn are known as the 'Three Seas'.
To the south of the Golden Horn, at the tip of the triangular peninsula between it and the Sea of Marmara, stood the city of Byzantium. It was surrounded on three sides by water, with the Golden Horn to the north, the Bosphorus to the east and the Sea of Marmara to the south. To the west of the city was the farmland where the residents grew their crops.
Constantine chose this area for his new city. Leaving the old city more or less alone, he marked a spot just to the west as the centre of the New City. A monument called the Milion was built on this spot, and it marked the point from which all distances in the Empire were to be measured.
The Walls of Constantine
The new city was founded on Monday, 11 May, 330 AD. Legend has it that Constantine marched west from the Milion through the fields, eventually stopping when he reckoned he had marked out enough space for his city. This marked the west end of the new city; a set of defensive walls were built here, running north/south and joining the Golden Horn to the Sea of Marmara. The walls were known as the Walls of Constantine. These walls didn't last long - only a few hundred years. The city very quickly overflowed them and much bigger walls had to be built further out - the second set of walls, known as the Walls of Theodosius, are still standing. The original walls of Constantine were then removed.
The entire sea coast around the new city was then fortified with sea walls, so that the whole city was easily defended.
Within the space marked out by the walls, Constantine ordered the building of a palace (just to the south of the Milion), a Senate House, a new Forum (a meeting square), many churches, the most important ones being Hagia Sophia - the Church of Holy Wisdom (the original, not the present building) - and the Church of the Holy Apostles, which is no longer in existence - its site is now occupied by the Fatih Mosque. There were also giant cisterns built to hold drinking water which was brought by aqueducts from the hills to the west. For the amusement of the people there were theatres, public baths, and the existing horse-racing track, the Hippodrome, was refurbished.
The Forum of Constantine
The Forum of Constantine still stands in Istanbul, where it is now known as Çemberlitas. It was originally elliptical in shape, with a triumphal arch at each end, lines of pillars down each side, and statues of gods and goddesses standing between the pillars. It may seem odd that a Christian emperor should erect statues of gods, but there was a good reason. The statues were plundered from pagan temples around the Empire. This meant they could no longer be adored in their temples, but provided a cheap method of quickly adding a bit of class to the new city.
In the centre of the Forum he built a giant column - this was 120 feet high in total, with 100 feet of cylindrical column, 10 feet in diameter, standing on a square base 20 feet high. On top was a bronze statue of Apollo pilfered from one of the Greek temples, carrying a sceptre in one hand and the world in the other hand. The head of Apollo was removed and replaced with a head of Constantine himself, ruling the (known) world. The column is still standing, now known as the 'burnt column', although the statue is gone. At some point in its history, bands of metal were added to strengthen it, making it look very ugly, but originally it would have been an elegant structure.
Byzantium already had a small horse-racing circuit known as the Hippodrome ('hippo' in Greek means 'horse'). Constantine had this completely rebuilt, making an impressive building which became the cultural centre of the city. It was in the shape of a long narrow rectangle with one end rounded. All around the outside of the race-track were tiered seats, which could hold about 100,000 people. Down the centre of the track was a raised 'spine'. On this Constantine placed statues and monuments which he brought to the city from various places around the Empire. One such was the Tripod of Plataea, a strange bronze monument with three snakes twisted to make a single pillar. This was supposedly made from the shields of the defeated Persians at the Battle of Plataea, and offered to the Oracle at Delphi. It was brought to Constantinople and put on display to show that Constantine was greater than the old pagan gods.
The Hippodrome was connected directly to the Great Palace, so that the emperor could easily attend the games, and leave when he wanted to.
The Hippodrome itself is no longer in existence, but the site was never built upon and this long narrow space is now known as Sultanahmet Square. Later emperors added to the monuments in the centre of the Hippodrome - Theodosius brought a huge obelisk from Luxor, Egypt, and Constantine Porphyrogenitus matched it with another obelisk at the other end. These obelisks can still be seen in the square. Part of the Tripod of Plataea, now known as the Serpentine Column, is still visible as well, although the ground level has risen in the intervening 17 centuries, so it is down in a hole. The snake heads were broken off it about 300 years ago by a drunken Polish officer; one of them is still visible in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.
The Filling Up of the City
The new city was intended to take over all the administrative functions that had previously been carried out in Rome. There was a new Senate and a new Emperor's palace. Many Romans took up the offer of better jobs and bigger estates around the new city. But Rome was not left empty. The old Roman Senate continued to operate, and the really rich Roman families would have stayed behind in their city, gradually becoming forgotten about.
Constantine's mother, Helena, was a humble woman - the daughter of an inn-keeper, she married a man who became Emperor. He had later deserted her to marry a better match, but her son Constantine never abandoned her. When he himself became Emperor, he summoned her to the court and declared her as Empress. It is said that after Constantine's God-inspired defeat of Maxentius, Helena was converted and became a devout Christian.
When she was about 80, she became the first Christian pilgrim and made a trip to Palestine to see the places where Christ had lived and died. Her trip was a resounding success. She brought back to Constantinople a whole series of objects which everyone agreed were genuine holy relics - the most important of these was the 'True Cross' - the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. One legend is that Constantine later incorporated the nails from this cross, the nails with which Jesus had been killed, in the statue of himself on the column in the Forum of Constantine, thereby providing divine protection for the entire city. According to another story, one of the nails was used for Constantine's horse's bridle, another for Constantine's helmet and two more were thrown into the Adriatic Sea to bring divine protection.
The Death of Constantine
Throughout his life, Constantine supported Christianity, yet he never officially became a Christian himself, until his final moments. On his death-bed, he was baptised into the faith and finally became the first Christian Emperor.
Constantine died on 22 May, 337, and at his command his body was placed in a sarcophagus in the Church of the Holy Apostles, with 12 other sarcophaguses, representing the 12 Apostles, around him. He obviously considered himself to be the 13th Apostle. He left behind him a strong Empire with a spanking new capital city and a brand new religion. He is known in the history books as Constantine the Great.
1 This town is right on the North Anatolian Fault, and suffered a catastrophic earthquake of magnitude 7.4 in 1999, killing more than 17,000 people.
In the encampment of the Saracens they asked St. Cyril the Equal to the Apostles: "How could Christians wage war and at the same time keep the commandment of Christ about praying to God for their enemies?"
To that, St. Cyril replied: "If two commandments were written in one law and given to men for fulfilling, which man will be a better follower of the law: the one who fulfills one commandment or the one who fulfills both?"
To that, the Saracens replied: "Undoubtedly, he who fulfills both commandments."
St. Cyril continued: "Christ our God commands us to pray to God for those who persecute us and even to do good to them; but, He also said to us: greater love cannot be shown in this world than if one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).
That is why we bear the insults which our enemies do to us individually and we pray to God for them; and, as a society, we defend one another and give up our lives, that you would not somehow enslave our brethren, would not enslave their souls with their bodies and would not kill them in body and soul.
- St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue
by Alice C. Linsley
A convert to Orthodoxy from being an Episcopalian priestess, Ms. Linsley renounced her priestly order in March 2004. She left the Episcopal ministry on the Sunday that Gene Robinson was consecrated and has not entered an Episcopal church since. After years of studying the question of women priests she is persuaded that this innovation is the root cause of the schism within Anglicanism. She is also the author of the excellent blog: Just Genesis.
The Messianic priesthood of Jesus Christ is the true and single Form of the Priesthood. Every priest, either living before Christ or after Christ’s appearing, stands as a sign to this one priesthood. The priesthood is unique (not to be confused with the office of shaman) and it is impossible to change it in any essential way.
All attempts to change the priesthood, such as developed out of Protestant theology or the ordination of women, corrupt the sign so that it no longer points to Messiah. The Church itself has no authority to change the ontological pattern since the Priesthood existed before the Church and was not established by the Apostles.
The first priest mentioned in the Bible is Melchizedek who lived during the time of Abraham. The author of Hebrews tells us that Melchizedek is a type pointing to Jesus as the true Form/Priest:
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:13-20).
Melchizedek represents the Messianic priesthood, but he doesn’t represent the beginning of the priesthood. Cain and Abel acted as priests when they offered sacrifices in Genesis 4. This means that the priesthood was not established by the Apostles, it existed long before them. According to Saint John Chrysostom, a Church Father, the priesthood “is ranked among heavenly ordinances. And this is only right, for no man, no angel, no archangel, no other created power, but the Paraclete himself ordained this succession…”.
If the Apostles are not the source of the Christian priesthood, what is the source? It can only be the eternal Christ, who is the eternal Form/Priest. Through Jesus Christ the eternal truth signified by the Priesthood comes into focus. He alone is Priest, fulfilling atonement through His own shed blood. The Priesthood therefore, is necessarily tied to the Blood of Jesus Christ. Where people deny the saving nature of Jesus’ Blood there can be no true Priesthood. A priest who denies the necessity of repentance and trust in Jesus’ Blood as the means of forgiveness, is a false priest.
What can we say about the Priesthood?
First, we can say that the priesthood is verifiably one of the oldest religious offices in the world, traced back to at least 7000 B.C. It emerges out of the Afro-Asiatic civilization which, at its peak, extended from the Atlantic coast of modern Nigeria to the Indus River Valley. The Brahmanas (Hindu Priest Manuals)  express the richness of this institution. The “priest” offered sacrifice at fire altars which they constructed according to geometry and at the proper seasons which they determined through astronomy. The Vedas also reveal the danger of a priestly order that becomes too powerful and self-serving, as happened also with the priests of Jesus’ time. When the True Priest appeared among them, they were unable to recognize Him because their understanding of the office of the Priest had become corrupted.
The priest emerges out of primeval perceptions of blood as the substance of life, purity and righteousness. We are able to verify that this conception is very old because it has a wide linguistic dispersion. The Hebrew root “thr” = to be pure, corresponds to the Hausa/Hahm (West Africa) “toro” = clean, and to the Tamil (India) “tiru” = holy. All are related to the proto-Dravidian (Pakistan) “tor” = blood. These cognates point to an ancient priesthood for which purity, holiness and blood are related concepts.
From the dawn of time humans recognized that life is in the blood. They saw offspring born of water and the blood. They knew that the loss of blood could bring death. Killing animals in the hunt also meant life for the community. They sought ways to ensure that their dead entered life beyond the grave, especially their rulers who could intercede for them before the Deity.
This is why peoples around the world covered their dead rulers in red ochre dust as early as 80,000 years ago. This red dust is a sign pointing to the Pleromic Blood of Jesus.
God planted eternity in our hearts so we innately know that Christ’s Blood is not only redemptive, but also the source of our life. This is what St. Paul calls “the mystery of Christ”. As his second missionary journey, Paul preached that, “in Him [Jesus Christ] we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
He also wrote:
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth” (Ephesians 1:7-10).
These words follow Paul’s explanation of the saving work of Jesus Christ in Ephesians:
"But now in Christ Jesus, you that used to be so far apart from us have been brought very close, by the blood of Christ. For He is peace between us, and has made the two into one and broken down the barrier which used to keep them apart, actually destroying in His own person the hostility caused by the rules and decrees of the Law. This was to create one single man in Himself out of the two of them and by restoring peace through the Cross, to unite them both in a single body and reconcile them with God. In His own person He killed the hostility… Through Him, both of us have in one Spirit our way to come to the Father" (Eph. 2:13-14).
Second, we know that the priest functions to mitigate blood guilt. Anthropologists have noted that there is considerable anxiety about shed blood among primitive peoples. Among the Afro-Asiatics, the priesthood served to relieve blood guilt and anxiety and to perform rites of purity. The priest addresses impurities by seeking purification through blood sacrifice. He also addresses anxiety about shed blood through blood sacrifice.
Third, we know that no woman served as a priest in any official capacity. Women didn’t enter the area of the altar where blood was offered in animal sacrifice. We know this because the Afro-Asiatics, from whom we received the priestly office, believed that the blood shed by men and women were never to mix or even be in the same place. Sacred law prohibited the blood shed in killing (male) and the blood shed in giving life (female) to share the same space.
This binary worldview supports clear distinction between life and death.
The same distinction of life-taking and life-giving is behind the law that forbids boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk (Deut. 14:21).
The only Christian denomination to have women priests is the Episcopal Church. Not surprisingly, the Episcopal Church also has a Seminary President, Katharine Ragsdale, who recently stated in a sermon:
"Let me hear you say it:
Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.
Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.
Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done."
Women Leaders in the Church are Never Priests
In this essay we have discussed the origins and nature of the priesthood. Holy Tradition and Scripture reveal numerous women in positions of leadership; Deborah and Huldah among them. Daughters of priests are remembered as great women also, Asenath and Zipporah among them. However not a single women can be identified as a priest in Holy Tradition or the Bible. It is clear then that women have never been priests and that the nature of the priesthood from the beginning has been such that it pertains only to men.
So called “priestesses” of ancient Greece were not priests at all. They were seers who pronounced oracles in a trace state, like shamans. Likewise, Shinto “priests” are also shamans as they deal with the spirits. Use of the term “priest” in both cases reveals ignorance about the different worldviews of priests and shamans , an ignorance (or bias?) that pervades 20th century academia.
God has not changed the office of the priesthood. It survives in Christian communities that preserve catholic Holy Tradition.  When the priesthood is held high and priests live above contamination, the world is drawn to Jesus Christ. This happens because there is only one Priesthood: the Messianic Priesthood. There is only one Priest: Jesus Christ, and there is only one Blood, Christ’s pleromic blood which is the life of the world. St. Paul expresses it this way:
“There is one Body, one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your calling by God. There is one Lord, one Faith, one baptism, and one God and father of all, over all, through all and within all” (Eph. 4:4-5).
As C.S. Lewis has written:
“With the Church, we are farther in: for there we are dealing with male and female not merely as facts of nature but as the live and awful shadows of realities utterly beyond our control and largely beyond our direct knowledge. Or rather, we are not dealing with them but (as we shall soon learn if we meddle) they are dealing with us.” (From C.S. Lewis’ “Priestesses in the Church?”)
1. Plato taught that there is but one true Form of all observable entities and this Form exists in eternity (outside of time and space). Species of natural objects observed in the world are merely reflections of their true Forms. We know what trees are because one Form/Tree exists, which our souls intuitively recognize.
2. St. John Chrysostom, On the Priesthood, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press (1977), p. 70.
3. The Brahamas are Vedic texts that provide instruction for Hindu priests. These texts give detailed instructions about sacrifices offered at altars of fire. They also make it evident that the Priest is a close associate of the King and the King relies heavily upon the Priests’ services. This is evident in the Priest-King relationship that we find n the Old Testament. For more on this, see Bujor Avari’s book India: The Ancient Past, pp. 77-79.
4. Anthropologists have discovered that the wider the dispersion of a culture trait the older the trait.
5. Sophisticated mining operations in the Lebombo Mountains of southern Africa reveal that thousands of workers were extracting red ochre which was ground into powder and used in the burial of nobles in places as distant as Wales, Czechoslovakia and Australia. Anthropologists agree that this red powder symbolized blood and its use in burial represented hope for the renewal of life.
6. “Pleroma” means the fullness or totality of all things. Blood symbolizes life. Since the Blood of Jesus works to bring life both in time and in eternity, the Blood of Jesus is perceived to be the original source of life and the means of eternal life.
7. This has been discussed in many of the great monographs: Benedict’s Patterns of Culture, Lévi-Strauss’ The Raw and the Cooked, and Turnbull’s The Forest People.
8. Read the full report on President Ragsdale here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=10231
9. To read about the difference between the worldview of the Priest and the Shaman, go here: http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2007/08/shamanic-practice-and-priesthood.html
10. To read more about Holy Tradition surrounding the Messianic Priesthood, go here.