Born in Granitsa, in the Agrapha area of Greece, of the pious and God-fearing parents Demetrios and Statera, Michael was brought up in the Orthodox Christian tradition. His parents were regular church attendants, and from an early age Michael took his religion very seriously. When his father died, Michael was quite young, so he was brought up by his mother. Later when he came of age, she arranged an Orthodox Christian marriage for him.
Some time later Michael moved to the city of Thessalonike where he worked as a breadseller. In Thessaloniki he became well-known not only for his genuine piety but also for his many kind acts and works of charity. In addition he rarely if ever missed any church services and listened attentively to the Scripture readings. In fact he had a great desire to become a monk, but he was reminded it was not right to abandon his wife.
On the feast of Mid-Lent (Third Sunday of Great Lent), Michael did not remain in church after the end of service, as was his custom, to hear the spiritual readings that were read, but went straight to the shop and sat for a time. Soon a Muslim boy known to Michael came to his shop to buy bread. Michael began to engage him in conversation , something he had done before. This time he asked the boy what he believed and whether or not he understood what his teachers told him about his Muslim faith.
By chance the boy's Muslim teacher appeared and the boy told him of Michael's questions and conversation. The teacher then said to Michael: "What is this you are saying to the boy, you infidel? You curse our faith which is glorious and honored, and our dress is glorious and priceless."
To this Michael replied: "With the grace of my Christ, the true God, I am faithful and truly pious, and I know what I say and what I believe, so much that I am ready to die for my faith. But you miserable men neither know what you say nor what you do. Truly you are mistaken and move in darkness. You have a religion full of myths and creatures."
This exchange attracted other Muslims who stood nearby and after hearing some of what was said, they took hold of Michael and brought him before the kadi, charging him with having insulted the Muslim faith and the prophet Muhammad.
When Michael was brought before the kadi, he was questioned about his Orthodox faith. To this questioning, Michael gave intelligent and brave responses which angered the kadi,* especially when he denied that Muhammad was a legitimate prophet. For this, Michael was sentenced to burned at the stake, to which Michael replied in a loud voice: "I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who is true god and my Creator and Maker. I am ready, if necessary, to suffer tortures for his love. So from whatever money I have, take it and buy wood to burn me, for I do not wish to be offered as a sacrifice to God with your wood."
As soon as he said that he spit on the kadi and the papers he was holding. The kadi responded by having Michael put on the floor and flogged severely. Then he was put in jail.
Orthodox Christians who knew the jailer visited Michael whom they found chained, but calm and unafraid. In fact he related to them the following visitation he had:
Last night when I prayed my Lord appeared and strengthened my weakness and gave my soul courage, telling me: "Michael, my athlete, rejoice. Just as I put forward my soul and suffered death by crucifixion for your sake and for all humanity, in the same way it is necessary for you to die for my love so you might live and reign with me. See to it then that you are not afraid of the fire, for the fear is only in its appearance, and its taste is to be scorned. You will with all this be strengthened by my unconquerable power."
"Saying this," Michael added, "the Lord blessed me and left and I was enveloped by such incredible love and joy that I can't hold myself back. I can only wait for that blessed day to come that will separate me from this world and allow me to join my Christ."
A few days later a high-ranking kadi came and questioned Michael further, to which Michael replied with great boldness. Seeing his resolve, the kadi, although moved by Michael's testimony, nevertheless sentenced him to death. The official sentence read as follows:
Michael, of Orthodox Christian parents, moved by his own accord, came before me and many notables who happened to be in my court, and openly confessed Christ, that the prophets prophesied about him, and that the Virgin Mary who gave birth to Jesus Christ is primarily and truly the birthgiver of God. And he added this also, there were prophets up to the time of Christ, but those who followed are liars and deceivers, and openly called our prophet Muhammad a liar and a deceiver and degraded him with other insults, and therefore, being unwilling to repent over what he said, the law has decided to deliver him to the fire on the twenty-first of March, the fifth day of the week, at the ninth hour.
To frighten Michael at the place of execution, which was the courtyard of the Church of the Presentation of Christ, they placed his hands in the fire, then they took off most of his clothes and covered his body with sulfur. They then placed him in the fire and he ignited, singing hymns until the very end.
Thus Michael the Breadseller of Granitsa died for the love of Jesus Christ in Thessaloniki on March 21, in the year 1547 (some sources say 1544).
* This exchange can be read in Nomikos Michael Vaporis' book Witnesses For Christ, pp. 69-75, from which the above account was abridged.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Born in Granitsa, in the Agrapha area of Greece, of the pious and God-fearing parents Demetrios and Statera, Michael was brought up in the Orthodox Christian tradition. His parents were regular church attendants, and from an early age Michael took his religion very seriously. When his father died, Michael was quite young, so he was brought up by his mother. Later when he came of age, she arranged an Orthodox Christian marriage for him.
April 18, 2012
With Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church facing a wave of criticism from what it has called supporters of “radical liberal values,” a Christian publisher presented on Wednesday a book on the religious beliefs of stars of show business and film.
“The Church has always been persecuted,” actor and presenter Boris Korchevnikov, just one of the 35 celebrities featured in the “The Stars On Heaven” book, told a downtown Moscow news conference. “And today we are seeing more persecution – just in a different form.”
Celebrities interviewed in the book, released by the Moscow-based Nikeya publishers, include Oscar-winning film director Nikita Mikhalkov, actor Yevgeny Mironov, and rock star Leonid Fyodorov. Famed Serbian film director – and Orthodox Christian – Emir Kusturica is also featured.
The presentation comes ahead of an April 22 “defense of the faith” nationwide prayer called by the Orthodox Church to protect it from attacks by “"anti-Russian forces.”
The Church’s Supreme Council said in a statement earlier this month that it had been targeted by “those pushing through radical liberal values” over its opposition to same-sex marriages and consumerism.
But while Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida denied the book was designed to shore up support for Russia’s Christian establishment, he also admitted the timing of its release was fortuitous.
“There is no such thing as a coincidence for God,” he said. “But this is not our answer to bloggers.”
Orthodox Church head Patriarch Kirill was condemned by opposition figures for his public backing of Vladimir Putin in the run-up to the ex-KGB spy’s landslide victory at March 4 presidential polls. The patriarch called the 12 years of Putin's rule a "miracle of God" in a televised meeting, triggering a high-profile protest by all-female punk group Pussy Riot at Moscow’s largest cathedral.
Top Church officials have also been criticized by bloggers and by opposition media for their “lavish” lifestyles. The anti-Putin Novaya Gazeta newspaper also alleged in February a pre-patriarch-era Kirill profited from Church tobacco and alcohol sales in the early 1990s.
Patriarch Kirill was also at the center of a scandal this month regarding a $30,000 Breguget watch, which was airbrushed – although its reflection remained intact – out of an official Church photo following public indignation over his possession of the luxury timepiece. The patriarch had admitted owning the watch in an interview prior to the row, but said he never wore it. Famous blogger and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny - an Orthodox believer - called the incident “shameful.”
Patriarch Kirill was first spotted wearing the watch in 2009, while he was preaching austerity as a way out of an economic crisis.
But a spokesperson for Nikeya publishers stressed on Wednesday that the book contained no explicit expressions of support for the beleaguered patriarch.
A number of celebrities featured in the book express however the conviction that only religious belief can save Russia and Russians.
“Without belief, Russians transform into beasts,” says director Mikhalkov, who won an Oscar for the 1994 film "Burnt by the Sun."
“Russians are afraid of very little. That’s why they need the fear of God the most,” says television presenter Yury Vyazemsky. “Morals alone will not save them.”
“The first steps to the Church are very easy, as if God himself is leading you by the hand,” says actor Andrei Merzlikin, star of the popular gangster film "Boomer."
The release of the book coincided with a scandal involving pop star Filipp Kirkorov, who was photographed speaking at the altar of Moscow’s Ilya Proprok church during the April 8 christening of his daughter. Church officials said Kirkorov, the former husband of Russian pop icon Alla Pugachyova, may face excommunication.
Pussy Riot accused police of hypocrisy for not detaining Kirkorov. Three members of the all-female punk group face up to seven years behind bars after being detained in March over their performance of an anti-Putin song at the altar of the Christ the Savior Cathedral.
“Three Pussy Riot suspects have been behind bars for over a month for exactly the same thing,” the group said in a blog statement earlier this month.
Greece’s National poet Dionysios Solomos (1798–1857) was born on the Greek island of Zakynthos, to an elderly count and his teenaged housekeeper. Solomos was educated in Italy, where he studied law and literature, but on returning to Greece he relearned Greek, and decided to write in demotic, or common modern, Greek. He gained fame early on with his ‘Hymn to Liberty’ (1823), a 158‐quatrain poem – the first two stanzas are sung as the Greek National Anthem.
The poem Η Hμέρα της Λαμπρής or The Day of Easter is most famous from a scene from the award-winning film "Eternity And A Day", by Theodoros Angelopoulos (1998). In the movie Alexandros (Bruno Ganz) and the boy (Achilleas Skevis) are on a bus ride and encounter the Greek poet Dionysios Solomos (Fabrizio Bentivoglio), who recites verses from his poem Η Hμέρα της Λαμπρής. Some consider this scene part of one of the greatest scenes in all cinema:
Η Hμέρα της Λαμπρής
Καθαρότατον ήλιο επρομηνούσε
της αυγής το δροσάτο ύστερο αστέρι,
σύγνεφο, καταχνιά, δεν απερνούσε
τ' ουρανού σε κανένα από τα μέρη,
και από εκεί κινημένο αργοφυσούσε
τόσο γλυκό στο πρόσωπο τ' αέρι,
που λες και λέει μες της καρδιάς τα φύλλα
«γλυκειά η ζωή κι ο θάνατος μαυρίλα».
Χριστός ανέστη! Νέοι, γέροι και κόραις
όλοι, μικροί, μεγάλοι ετοιμασθήτε,
μέσα στις εκκλησιές τες δαφνοφόραις
με το φως της χαράς συμμαζωχθήτε,
ανοίξατε αγκαλιές ειρηνοφόραις
ομπροστά στους Αγίους, και φιληθείτε,
φιληθείτε γλυκά χείλη με χείλη,
πέστε Χριστός ανέστη, εχθροί και φίλοι.
Δάφναις εις κάθε πλάκα έχουν οι τάφοι,
και βρέφη ωραία στην αγκαλιά οι μαννάδες,
γλυκόφωνα, κοιτώντας ταις ζωγραφι-
σμέναις εικόνες, ψάλλουνε οι ψαλτάδες,
λάμπει το ασήμι, λάμπει το χρυσάφι
από το φως που χύνουνε οι λαμπάδες,
κάθε πρόσωπο λάμπει απ' τ' αγιοκέρι,
οπού κρατούνε οι Χριστιανοί στο χέρι.
The Day of Easter
The last cool star of dawn was
foretelling the brightest sunshine;
no cloud, no drift of mist was travelling
across any part of the sky.
Coming from there, the breeze
blew so sweetly across the face,
so gently, that it seemed
to whisper to the depths of the heart:
‘Life is sweet and death is darkness.’
‘Christ is Risen!’ Young and old, maidens,
everyone, little and great, prepare!
Inside the laurel-covered churches,
gather in the light of joy!
Open your arms and with them offer peace,
that the icons of the saints may see.
Embrace and kiss each other sweetly, lip on lip,
let friend and foe proclaim, ‘Christ is Risen!’
Laurels are placed on every tomb,
beautiful babes are held in mothers’ arms,
the choristers sing sweetly
as they come before the icons.
Bright is the silver, bright is the gold,
under the light of the Easter candles.
Each face alights before the holy candles,
that Christians bear in hand.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Though I have never attended the miraculous ceremony of the Holy Light in Jerusalem which takes place annually on Holy Saturday afternoon, I once did have the blessing of seeing the Holy Light when I was in Athens in 1991, and was told of a miracle performed by the Holy Light not in Jerusalem, but in a tiny chapel in Athens.
After two months of pilgrimages to various holy shrines throughout Greece, my final day arrived and I was staying with my Uncle and Aunt in Glyfada, Athens. My Aunt Sia decided to buy me a gift before going home, so she took me across the street to the home of an iconographer whom she knew in order to buy me two hand-painted icons. We arrived at the home of this older couple and when I walked in the entire house was filled with icons, which was obviously also their studio. My aunt told me to choose two icons, so I picked one of Christ at Jacob's Well with St. Photine and another of All New Martyrs Under the Ottomans, both of which were very beautiful.
The couple whom we bought the icons from were a very devout and welcoming couple and were most impressed by the extensive pilgrimage I took, being only 15 years old at the time. They decided therefore to take me to a chapel nearby of which they were caretakers and is little known in Glyfada, dedicated to Saint Barbara but belonging to the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. After venerating the icons they showed me a spot which contained a glass bowl of oil in which was lit a small fire. This fire they told me came from Jerusalem a few years prior when monks brought the Holy Light to Athens. Since then this fire burned perpetually.
When I asked how they kept the fire burning perpetually for so long, they told me about a miracle. They said that since they were the only caretakers of the chapel, they always took care of the Holy Light to make sure it never extinguished. One year however they went to go visit family abroad for more than a few weeks, and when they returned the Holy Light had extinguished. With sorrow they decided to reignite the oil lamp anyway, so they grabbed some oil and refilled the bowl. As they refilled the bowl the Holy Light spontaneously lit again without having to be reignited. Since then they always made sure to keep the fire going.
See more photos of the chapel here.
A Sinai Codex of 1716 contains the life and deeds of Saint Nikandros the New Ascetic who shone with virtue and holiness at the Sacred Monastery of Saint Katherine at the holy and God-trodden mountain of Sinai. According to the codex, Saint Nikandros was born in 1581 on the island of Kastelorizo where there was a metochion of Saint Katherine's Monastery dedicated to the Holy Apostles. He became a monk at Sinai in 1611 and reposed in 1631 in the days of Archbishop Joasaph.
While at Sinai there was a very virtuous hieromonk named Ignatios from Rethymno in Crete. Ignatios took Nikandros as his novice. Since both desired to know the monasteries and hermitages of Mount Athos, they went and remained there for five years. But they again returned to the place of their repentance at Sinai believing they could find more quietness there, and there they lived for the rest of their lives.
Hieromonk Ignatios was a very good and virtuous spiritual father. He had perfect indegence and continence and his constant work was prayer. His disciple however, Monk Nikandros, surpassed his Elder. He had greater temperance and indefatigable obedience to his Elder and attained a state of complete dispassion. He never appeared to be joyous or sad but always stood with the same unchanging state of mind. He would do a prostration to everyone and to whatever someone said to him he would always begin by saying "bless father".
Nikandros reposed over a year prior to his spiritual father Ignatios. After a year the fathers went to the cemetery to bury another brother, and when Elder Ignatios entered to see the relics of Nikandros he found the corpse full and having the color of saffron and it was gushing myrrh. Fr. Ignatios left the cemetery with tears, saying: Thank you, Lord, that even while alive you gave me this information about my novice."
Note: Many sources give the feast day of Saint Nikandros as January 29th. But according to the Metropolis of Symi, Saint Nikandros is celebrated on Bright Wednesday. Rather, it is Saint Ignatios of Rethymno who is likely commemorated on January 29 (see here).
The holy and most-honored icon of the Panagia "Ypsenis" was hidden beneath an olive tree in the eponymous village of Lardos, which was the site of an old Monastery of the Most-Holy Theotokos. In that place was often found in asceticism and prayer our Holy Father Meletios (February 12), who one night became an eye-witness to a marvelous spectacle. A column of light came down from the sky lighting up the tree and surrounding area.
Surprised he approached and found an old looking icon of the Mother of God. The next night the Theotokos appeared to him in a dream telling him to build in her name a temple at the place where he found the icon, in order to place the icon, and to establish a monastery, to continue in his asceticism.
At the same time she showed him a place near the area where she told him to dig to find the necessary money for such a large project. The Saint obeyed the command of the Panagia, dug at the place suggested, and found the buried treasure by which he managed to meet the costs of building. He built the temple in which he treasured the Holy Icon, and refounded the ruined monastery, where he lived in asceticism till the end of his earthly life.
The miraculous icon is treasured until now in the homonymous monastery and is honored by the faithful and is a source of many miracles to those who approach with faith and reverence.
The Monastery of Panagia Ypseni
On the South-Eastern side of the island of Rhodes, 50 km from Rhodes Town, in the direction of Lindos and the village Lardos, hidden in a once verdant forest is the monastery of the Panagia Ypseni or Gypseni.
There are two possible explanations for the title given the Panagia. Ypseni from the Greek word for height, indicating the monastery is built on high ground. There is a folk verse which says, “O Panagia of Ypseni, thou who art in the heights”. The other explanation says that it is a corruption of the word gypseni, because of the high amount of gypsum in the surrounding
According to the commemorative stone at the entrance of the Church, the monastery was built around 1855. It’s founder was St. Meletios of Rhodes.
Today about 15 nuns live within the monastery, under the spiritual direction of the abbess of the monastery, Mariam. The monastery’s first abbess was the nun Eugenia. The sisterhood was established by the Metropolitan of New Zealand, Amphilochios Tsoukos.
The monastery celebrates its patronal feast on the 22 and 23rd of August, on the leavetaking of the Dormition of the Mother of God, where multitudes of people come together. The monastery also celebrates the memory of St. Meletios on the 12th of February. There is also a celebration on Bright Wednesday.
The Synaxis of the Icon of the All-Holy Mother of God of Ypseni is celebrated on Bright Wednesday after Pascha. The faithful take the icon to the village of Lardos on Bright Monday. The priest and a multitude of people accompany the icon to every house, so that all can receive her blessing. On Tuesday of Bright Week the icon is returned to the Holy Monastery Ypseni accompanied by the priests and a multitude of the faithful who make the journey on foot.
The sisters of the monastery paint icons, sew, work the land (vines, olives, citrus fruits etc) and mount icon reproductions onto natural wood.
For the complete account of Fr. Mitrophanes' vision of the Holy Light in Jerusalem, which authenticates the annual phenomenon that takes place at the Holy Sepulchre on Holy Saturday, read I Saw the Holy Light by Fr. Savva Achileos.
Below Fr. Mitrophanes, who was guardian of the Holy Sepulchre for 58 years, is interviewed regarding his experience (in Greek):
April 16, 2012
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, known as the Church of the Resurrection, has been an important pilgrimage destination since the 4th century. There are three major rights of the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate over the pilgrimage area.
The first one is the key of the inside gate of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as the Exarch explains to ana-mpa.gr. Responsible for the key of the main entrance of the Church is a local Muslim family whose roots are associated to Prophet Muhammad. The Holy Community of the All-Holy Sepulchre, also known as Templars, have the right to open the Church’s gate using the inside key. The Orthodox monastic fraternity has guarded and protected the Christian Holy places in the Holy Land for centuries. Keeping the Sepulchre, Jesus’ burial site, and Golgotha safe, are two of the most significant pilgrim rights of the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate.
The Holy Community of the All-Holy Sepulchre or Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre administers the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem.
The Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre was traditionally founded in year 313, and the foundation of the Churches in the Holy Land by Constantine and St. Helen is traditionally dated to year 326. At first, it bore the name “Order of the Spoudaeoi (studious, zealous, industrious, serious),” or “The Spoudaeoi of the Holy Resurrection of Christ.” The Brotherhood was distinguished primarily for their observance of uninterrupted mental prayer and heartfelt supplication in the Holy Lands.
The Patriarchal School of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem (School of Sion) provides the Orthodox testimony of the Christian Faith at the Holy Lands. The Patriarchal School, which is a Gymnasium and Lyceum and fully equivalent to the public schools of middle Education of the Greek State, recognized by the State since 1911, follows the complete program of the Ministry of Education enriched by special subjects which cover Christianity’s special role. Graduates may be inducted to the Brotherhood and under the care of the Patriarchate, continue their studies in Greek or foreign universities.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite
Now, my Christian brethren, do you bear it in your soul, instead of thanking and glorifying the sweetest Jesus Christ, and God the Father your Creator, you dishonor Him and intimidate Him with the demonic acts which you do on the day of His Resurrection? He endured so much to free you from sin, and you again bring it back to life? He resurrected to raise you from evil, and you again fall? And when? On the same days on which He raised you. O great ingratitude! O unheard of hard-hearted Christians!
You who throughout Holy Great Lent and Holy Week lift up your hands and pray and do your cross, and when Pascha comes, you dare to make those hands instruments of sin, playing tambourines and lyres and other diabolical games?
You who with your tongue and lips commune of the Body and Blood of Christ and chant such spiritual and divine songs on the day of Pascha, and after with the same tongue and lips sing pornographic and diabolic songs?
You who with your legs stand in the Temple of God and do prostrations and bend your knees to venerate Almighty God, and when the Bright Day comes you bear it in your heart to beat the same legs? To jump like rams? To dance like crazy people and the demonically possessed? And with those naughty moves you would venerate the devil?
You, to conclude, become temples of God and the Holy Spirit during the holy days of Great Lent and Pascha, and you the same again become temples of the devil and evil spirits with satanic games, dances and songs? These are things that do not match, acts which do not blend, because what union is there between light and darkness? The devil with Christ? The temple of God with the temple of idols? As Paul says: "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" (2 Cor. 6:14).
Therefore we say that during Pascha and Bright Week Christians should not play such games, dance and sing songs, and likewise during the days of Pascha Christians should not shoot rifles or pistols or other similar guns. Because the Risen Christ, not only has He no need of such things, but instead He hates and abhors them because - a) they traumatize many people and often get killed - b) from the noise Christians cannot hear the services and spiritual hymns and the songs of Resurrection.
And if in the old days there was gunpowder and Christians shot off these guns during Pascha, it is certain that all the Holy Fathers would have written about them and struggled with this evil and national habit. It is a national habit during festivals to shoot these things off and not Christian. It is the Christian habit only to strike the sacred bells and the simantron and to chant "Christ is Risen!" and other joy-giving songs of the Holy Resurrection.
From Christians of Good Repute (Χρηστοήθεια των Χριστιανών) by St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
A Syrian Style Easter
Guns On Pascha 1905
Paschal Fireworks Battle In Chios
Boy Dies In Athens From Pascha Fireworks
Greek Bombs Trouble Tarpon Springs On Easter
Tarpon Springs Explosion Rocks Greek Religious Celebration
Fr. John Kalaidis (1925-2009), known by many as Papa-John, reposed on the 4th of August of 2009 in Neohori, Serres. He was a Holy Elder of the people of Serres and for his simplicity was known as a Papa-Nicholas Planas of our times. Papa-John was also the founder of the Church of Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene in Neohori, Serres (see here for video of feast on Bright Tuesday).
He helped thousands of Christians who fled to him for help with their various problems. With prayers to his beloved Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene countless and great miracles took place. With his charismatic gifts of foreknowledge and clairvoyance given by God, he led many souls on the path of repentance, confession and salvation.
The first video above is of Papa-John serving the Supplication Service to Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene on their Bright Tuesday feast in March of 2001. The videos which follow below are a lecture he gave in Mytilene in June of 2001 to pilgrims of Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene Monastery, the Church of the Archangel Michael Mandamadou, Saint Theraponta, and other places.
In the central part of Cyprus, in the mountains of the Troodos range, some of the most important monuments of the history of Byzantine painting have survived. These are the painted churches which have to this day preserved brilliant examples of various trends of Byzantine and post-Byzantine monumental art, from the 11th to the 19th century. Ten of these churches have so far been granted World Cultural Heritage status by UNESCO.
The Church of Panagia Phorbiotissa, better known as Panagia of Asinou, is situated in the north foothills of the Troodos mountain range. It is built on the east bank of a stream, three kilometers south of the village of Nikitari. In 1985 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Panagia Forbiotissa (or Forviotissa) used to be the katholicon (monastery church) of the Monastery of Forbion, as its name implies. According to the dedicatory inscription above its south entrance, which is dated to 1105/6, the church was built with the donation of Magistros Nikephoros Ischyrios, who subsequently became a monk with the name Nikolaos. The monastery was founded in 1099 and it functioned until the end of the 18th century, when it was abandoned.
The church consists of two parts: the vaulted single-aisled nave and the narthex, which is a later addition belonging to the second half of the 12th century. The narthex with its two semi-circular apses belongs to a type directly influenced by Constantinople. Already from the 12th century a steep-pitched timber roof, covered with flat tiles, sheltered the church. Today no traces of the rest of the monastic buildings survive.
The interior of Panagia Forbiotissa is entirely covered with wall-paintings, which vary in date. The earliest group is dated to 1105/6 and it expresses the (then) latest style of the Comnenian period. These frescoes reflect the art of Constantinople, which is thought to be the artist's birthplace, and they are one of the most important groups of Byzantine art of this period. The strong influence of the Empire's capital can be explained by the fact that the prevailing geopolitical conditions of the time led Alexios Comnenos I (1081-1118) to render Cyprus his most important military base of the North-eastern Mediterranean.
Many of the original wall-paintings, dated to 1105/6, are preserved in the apse of the Holy Bema and the west wall of the church, which must have often suffered great damages especially from earthquakes. During the 14th century, for instance, the conch of the apse collapsed and was soon after rebuilt and redecorated. At the same time the external buttresses were added and a little later, the flying buttress at the eastern end of the north wall was built.
The narthex was decorated with mural paintings soon after its erection during the second half of the 12th century, and in 1332/3 it was redecorated following strong Frankish influences. In its iconographic programme, we distinguish the large number of donors.
In the same church there are also some later frescoes, dating to the 17th century.
Panagia of Asinou celebrates on Bright Tuesday.
Travelling on the Nicosia-Troodos tourist road and entering the Galata community, on your right you face the "Panagia of Podithou" church. Panagia of Podithou is what remained from a small Monastery that today does not exist. The church is built at the centre of a long and narrow valley close to the riverside of Klarios. Panagia of Podithou has been designated by UNESCO in 1985, which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range.
The church's shape is rectangular and - in the east - it ends in a semicircular apse. The internal dimensions without the apse are 12 x 4 meters. It is surrounded by a Π-shaped gallery that is covered by the same V-shaped, wooden roof, which is capped by tile plates made by tile-makers from Galata. It was built in 1502 by Demetrios de Coron and his wife Helen. Demetrios and his family were one of medieval Cyprus's families of Latin descent that were Hellenized. In 1461 Demetrios was the commander in the "Pentagia" region and was in favour of Iakovos, illegitimate brother of the legitimate queen Charlotte, who was illegitimately claiming the royal crown of Cyprus. Forty-one years later, in 1502, Demetrios de Coron built the "Panagia Eleousa" Church that was later renamed "Panagia of Podithou".
In the external side of the west wall, the Virgin Mary is figured above the central entrance. The donators are depicted under Her throne, a couple to the left and a man to the right, having a model of the church in their midst, which they offer to the Virgin Mary. Under this composition there is the following founder's inscription:
"THIS DIVINE AND VENERABLE CHURCH OF THE ALL-HOLY, MERCIFUL MOTHER OF GOD WAS RAISED IN THE YEAR OF OUR CHRIST 1502 THROUGH EXPENSES AND MUCH DESIRE OF KIROU MISER DEMETRI DE CORO AND HIS WIFE ELENI, FOUNDERS OF THIS HOLY MONASTERY, AND THOSE OF YOU WHO READ THIS PRAY FOR THEM AND WISH THEM BLESSEDNESS THROUGH OUR LORD, AMEN".
The monastery functioned until the beginning of the 19th century but like many other monasteries of the island it then fell into decline and was finally abandoned after the tragic events of 1821 when the Archbishop and other notables were executed following the Greek revolution. Around 1850 the monk Sophronios established Galata’s first primary school in the monastic buildings.
The building is single-aisled with a steep-pitched timber roof. A later portico surrounds the three sides of the church. The roof shelters both the church and the portico and it is covered with flat tiles. The Russian monk Vassili Barsky, who visited the monastery in 1734, mentions that there were two monks living in an adjacent small, two-storey building made out of mud-brick. This building survived until around the middle of the 20th century.
The church was never entirely painted. The mural paintings, which are contemporary with the church, cover the apse of the Holy Bema, both sides of the western pediment, as well as parts of the north and south walls. Only the figures of the Apostles Peter and Paul, on the north and south walls respectively, date to the 17th century.
The donor is depicted as an old man with his Greek wife, offering to the Virgin Mary a model of the church. It is obvious that he is a hellenised Frank who follows the Orthodox rites and speaks the Greek language.
The painter who worked at Podithou is affected, both in terms of style and iconography, by western art. Some of the scenes in this church are considered to be the best examples of the ‘Italobyzantine’ style of painting, which appeared and spread throughout the island during the period of Venetian domination. It combines Byzantine and Italian Renaissance elements.
Contemporary to the wall-paintings of 1502 is the wood-carved iconostasis, re-gilded in 1783, as well as a lectern.
The iconostasis is one of the earlier examples of this type that appeared in many Greek lands that were under the influence of Venice in the beginning of the 16th century, and it consists of late Gothic and Renaissance elements.
Panagia of Podithou celebrates its feast on Tuesday of Renewal Week.
The Church of Panagia Trikoukiotissa is all that remains of this monastery built in the 13th century. The church contains an icon of the Virgin which is credited with the ability to bring rain to parched fields.
It is situated two kilometers from Prodromos towards Platres in a marvelous natural environment with a spectacular view.
Externally the church is made of stone; the roof is of wood construction and covered by tiles. Architectonically the internal of the church is ‘trikliti’. The monastery which is constituted by five old cells which are on the right side of the church are saved until today and take in seven nuns and two other novices. Another transept has been built and completed with fifteen more cells. The Monastery of Trikoukias is under the protection and support of the Archdiocese of Cyprus.
It is said that the name comes from Trikoukies (medlar trees that had three kernels). Another version says that is from the tree Kokkonia according to which the closest monastery of Kykkos was named by that too. Another tradition mentions that the monastery was supported during Turkish domination with the one third (trikoutsi) of the taxation of the Kouklia manors.
Its history, the same with the other monasteries, is not known although most of the historians locate its foundation in the Byzantine years. The monastery had met glorious days especially in the years of Frankish domination while the Panagia Trikoukiotissa was considered to be miraculous, and her original icon was considered to be a work of the Apostle Luke. The reputation of the monastery and its icon started to be limited when the fame of the Panagia of Kykkos increased. The Turks of Ottoman times respected the monastery and did not destroy it, just because of it’s great reputation.
In 1761 the monastery was renovated and kept functioning until the end of the 18th century when it was run down. It was revived again as a female coenobium in September of 1997.
The Panagia of Trikoukias is celebrated in the area on Tuesday of Renewal Week as well as on the 15th August when her icon is carried in litany.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
On Lesvos, ye strove in contest for the sake of Christ God; ye also have hallowed her with the discovery of your relics, O blessed ones. O God‐bearer Raphael, with thee, we all honor Nicholas the deacon and Irene the chaste virgin, as our divine protectors, who now intercede with the Lord.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
On this day Thou hast appeared on the world like stars first as ascetics, then as athletes slain for Christ, and were translated to the heights, through the great torments that ye endured; and them that praise you, ye keep and protect, O Saints.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Let all of us honour as our protectors and miracle-workers the holy Martyrs who manifestly contended for Christ. Whose relics were hidden under the earth for many years, and who have manifested themselves to us in wondrous ways, Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, as well as those who contended with them in a godly-minded manner.
Let us honour with hymns the Hosiomartyrs of Christ, divine Raphael and venerable Nicholas, together with Irene, the guardians of Lesvos, for helping all.
For many years a monk had been seen walking on the hill at Karyes in Lesvos, Mytilene in Greece. Many Christians and Turks had seen him. The hill was also called Kaloyeros after the monk, who was seen holding a censor and would disappear in a splendour of light.
In 1917 the Turk who owned an estate with olive trees on the hill at Karyes, Hasan Bei, commissioned the police officer of Thermi, Efstratios Sitara to solve this mystery. The short investigation was soon abandoned as the belief was held that these visions were of a supernatural nature.
There was a small chapel there in the name of Panagia. Residents of Thermi held a service there every Easter Tuesday without hindrance from the Turkish owner of the property.
Many saw the monk. Shepherds grazing their flocks heard singing and bells from the chapel.
Tradition said the monk was killed by the Turks, but when this had happened no one knew. There had also been a female monastery there, but had been destroyed by barbarians. There was a strong belief that the place had Divine Grace and was Holy.
After the destruction and problems suffered by the Greeks in Asia Minor, the Turkish olive tree property was given to a Mr Marangos and his family. They sought permission to build a church.
On 3rd July 1959, excavations began for the foundations of the church. A grave was found containing a human skeleton and giving off a sweet fragrance. The head of the skeleton was resting on a round stone, much like a pillow.The head was about 30cms away from the body. The lower jaw was missing. The excavators also found a ceramic tile from the Byzantine era with a Cross engraved on it.
After the discovery of the grave, amazing phenomena started to occur. The bones were put in a sack by a Mr Doukas Tsolakis. He was in charge of the excavations. He could not lift the sack up due to the excessive weight.Noises were heard from the bones. They were also producing a fragrant incense. One of the workers, a Mr Leonidas Sideras kicked the sack and his leg went numb. Tsolakis hand remained motionless. He could not lift the sack. The priest was asked to do a Trisagion - a prayer for the departed. The night before he was due to conduct the service, he was wondering what name he should use. During the night Saint Raphael appeared to the Priest. He told him who he was, and that he was born on the island of Ithaka.
Since then St Raphael has appeared many times to different people. He suffered martyrdom on 9th April 1463.
St Raphael was born Georgios Laskaridis. His father was called Dionysios and his mother Maria. They were a devout family. St Raphael served in the army. He then became a monk and clergyman taking the name of Raphael.
He served as parish priest in the parish of St Demetrios of Loumbardiaris in Athens. He then became Archimandrite and Bishop at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
It was when he traveled to France that he met St Nicholas at Morlaix. Nicholas was from a wealthy family. He was a young student from Thessalonika studying at a French university. Nicholas was moved by the teaching of st Raphael and they became firm friends.
They lived in the monastery for nine years. In 1462 Mohammed the conqueror captured Lesvos after a seventeen day siege. It fell on 17th September 1462. The Turks did not disturb the Monastery immediately. After 6 months, in April 1463, during Holy Week, a movement occurred in Thermi, causing some agitation. The Christians went up to Karyes to hide. The teacher Theodoros and the Commumity Chief Vasillios together with his family went up to the Monastery. St Raphael conducted the Divine Liturgy for the last time on Holy Thursday. On Good Friday the Turks came to the Monastery seized Abbot Raphael, Deacon Nicholas, the family of the Community Chief and the Teacher Theodoros. Everyone else had fled to the mountains. The Turks started torturing them to find out the hideout of the others.
Irene, the twelve year old daughter of the Community Chief had her hand cut off in front of her parents, who were tied to a tree. She was then put in a big earthen pot and burned to death. Her father, mother, and the teacher Theodoros were all murdered. St Raphael was horribly tortured in front of Saint Nicholas. St Nicholas died of heart failure, on seeing his mentor murdered.
The Monastery was then torched and the Turks fled. The next night some devout Christians buried the Holy Martyrs secretly.
When St Raphael started to appear to people he revealed everything - where the bones of the Martyrs were buried, the pot where little Irene was burned, the grave of the Teacher Theodoros, and the graves of Irene and her father.
At The site of the Ancient Church, icons were found, Holy Water, Sheets from handwritten Gospels and a round icon of Jesus. St Raphael also revealed the spot where his jaw was.
The grave of Mother Olympia, who suffered Martyrdom in 1235 when pirates destroyed Panagias Old Monastery and killed the nuns, was also found. Three large nails were found in her skull. More nails were found on her body.
In 1963 at the place of the Holy Martyrdom a Convent for Ladies was established.
St Raphael has performed and still performs many miracles to this day.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Elder Paisios said:
"On Monday of Renewal Week I was sitting at Archontariki and saying the Prayer. Suddenly I sensed an aroma, unlike anything else! I went in the hallway to see where it was coming from, I went to the church - nothing. I went outside in the yard. The aroma was much more pronounced. I heard the talanton beating. I looked and saw descending down a litany, and I knew it was coming from the icon of the Panagia."
On Bright Monday every year the procession of the miraculous image of "Axion Estin" descends below Koutloumousiou Monastery to the Cells of the Holy Apostles (Alypiou). The Cell of "Panagouda" is one kilometer away. From this distance the Panagia sent a greeting to some extent to the Elder.
From Life of Elder Paisios the Athonite, Hieromonk Isaac, Mount Athos, 2004, p. 288.
Note: On April 16, 2012, Bright Monday, the litany with the Holy Icon of Panagia "Axion Estin" passed by the Cell of Elder Paisios.
This is a beautiful recording of the Gospel reading from the Agape Service (John 20:19-25) in Ancient Homeric Greek (not Koine) chanted by Protopsaltis Evgenios Hardavellas. This was translated into Homeric Greek by St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite. It is set to the Heroic Hexameter, which is a metrical line of verse consisting of six feet. It was the standard epic metre in classical Greek and Latin literature, such as in the Iliad and Aeneid. (Read more here)
Below is the Gospel text in various Greek dialects:
Καὶ ὑπὲρ τοῦ καταξιωθῆναι ἡμᾶς τῆς ἀκροάσεως τοῦ ἁγίου Εὐαγγελίου, Κύριον τὸν Θεὸν ἡμῶν ἱκετεύσωμεν.
Σοφία. Ὀρθοί. Ἀκούσωμεν τοῦ ἁγίου Εὐαγγελίου.
Ἐκ τοῦ κατὰ Ἰωάννην ἁγίου Εὐαγγελίου, τὸ Ἀνάγνωσμα.
Ούσης οψίας τή ημέρα εκείνη, τή μιά τών σαββάτων, καί τών θυρών κεκλεισμένων, όπου ήσαν οι μαθηταί συνηγμένοι διά τόν φόβον τών Ιουδαίων, ήλθεν ο Ιησούς καί έστη εις τό μέσον, καί λέγει αυτοίς· ειρήνη υμίν. Καί τούτο ειπών έδειξεν αυτοίς τάς χείρας καί τήν πλευράν αυτού. Εχάρησαν ούν οι μαθηταί ιδόντες τόν Κύριον. Είπεν ούν αυτοίς ο Ιησούς πάλιν· Ειρήνη υμίν. Καθώς απέσταλκέ με ο πατήρ, καγώ πέμπω υμάς. Καί τούτο ειπών ενεφύσησε καί λέγει αυτοίς· Λάβετε Πνεύμα Άγιον· άν τίνων αφήτε τάς αμαρτίας, αφίενται αυτοίς, άν τινών κρατήτε, κεκράτηνται. Θωμάς δέ είς εκ τών δώδεκα, ο λεγόμενος Δίδυμος, ουκ ήν μετ’ αυτών ότε ήλθεν ο Ιησούς. Έλεγον ούν αυτώ οι άλλοι μαθηταί· Εωράκαμεν τόν Κύριον. Ο δέ είπεν αυτοίς· Εάν μή ίδω εν ταίς χερσίν αυτού τόν τύπον τών ήλων, καί βάλω τόν δάκτυλόν μου εις τόν τύπον τών ήλων, καί βάλω τήν χείρά μου εις τήν πλευράν αυτού, ου μή πιστεύσω.
Homeric Greek (By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite)
Όφρακε νωϊτέροισιν εν ούασι πάγχυ βάλωμεν
θέσφατον, ιμερόεσσαν, αγνήν Ευάγγελον όππα,
μειλίξωμεν άνακτα Θεόν, μέγαν ουρανίωνα.
Ιθυγενής. Σοφίη. Ευαγγελίοιο κλύωμεν.
Ειρήνη χαριεσσ’ επ’ απείρονα δήμον εσείται.
Εκ δ’ άρ’ Ιωάννοιο τόδ’ έστι βροντογόνοιο.
Αλλ’ άγετ’ ατρεμέσι χρησμούς λεύσωμεν οπωπαίς.
Εύτε δή ηέλιος φαέθων επί έσπερον ήλθε
καί σκιόωντο αγυιαί επί χθόνα πουλυβοτείρη,
ήματι εν πρώτω, ότε τύμβου άλτο Σαωτήρ,
Κληϊσταί δε έσαν θυρίδες πυκινώς αραρείαι,
βλήντο δέ πάντες οχήες εϋσταθέος μεγάροιο,
ένθα μαθηταί ομού τε αολλέες ηγερέθοντο,
μυρόμενοι θανάτω επ’ αεικέϊ Χριστού άνακτος,
Καὶ χόλον ἀφραίνοντα Ἰουδαίων τρομέοντες,
ήλυθε δή τότε Χριστός άναξ θεοειδέϊ μορφή,
έστη δ’ εν μεσάτω αναφανδόν καί φάτο μύθον.
Ειρήνη υμίν φίλοι, ησυχίη τ’ ερατεινή.
Ως ειπών επέδειξεν εήν πλευρήν ηδέ χείρας.
Γήθησαν δέ μαθηταί, επεί ίδον Ευρυμέδοντα.
Τούς δ’ αύτις προσέειπεν Ιησούς ουρανοφοίτης.
Ειρήνη υμίν φίλοι, ησυχίη τ’ ερατεινή.
Ως εμέ πέμψε Πατήρ, ός υπέρτατα δώματα ναίει,
Ώδ’ εγώ υμέας εις χθόνα πέμπω ευρυόδειαν.
Ως άρα φωνήσας μύσταις έμπνευσ’ αγορεύων.
Πνεύμα δέχνυσθ’ άγιον, φαεσέμβροτον, υψιθόωκον.
Ών μέν ατασθαλίας θνητών αφέητ’ επί γαίαν,
τοίσιν ή που αφίενται ες ουρανόν αστερόεντα.
Ών δ’ άρ’ επεσβολίας υπερφιάλων κρατέητε,
τοίσιν αλυκτοπέδης κείναι σθεναρής κρατέονται.
Θωμάς δ’ ώ επίκλησις άπασι Δίδυμος ακούειν,
ουχ άμα τοίς άλλοις μύσταις πρίν ομώροφος έσκεν,
Ιησούς ότ’ έβη είσω μελάθροιο εταίρων.
Ίαχον ούν άλλοι τούτω ερίηρες εταίροι.
Είδομεν οφθαλμοίσιν Ιησούν παγκρατέοντα.
Τούς δ’ απαμειβόμενος Θωμάς προσέφησεν ατειρής.
Ίχνια ήν μή ίδω μετά χείρεσιν ηλοτορήτης,
δάτυλον εμβάλλω τε εκείνου ένδοθι χειρός,
χείρα τ’ εμήν είσω πλευρής οί ρεία βαλοίμην,
ούποτε υμετέροισι λόγοις κεφαλή κατανεύσω.
(Νικοδήμου του Αγιορείτου, Συμβουλευτικόν Εγχειρίδιον, "Ήτοι περί φυλακής τών πέντε αισθήσεων", έκδ. γ΄, Βόλος 1958, σ. 200-201).
Attic Greek (set to Iambic Metre)
Ἐπαξίως κλύωμεν ἁγίου ἕπους.
Ἄγωμεν ᾠδὴν ἱκετήριον πάνυ
Ἡμῶν Ἄνακτι, δώμαθ᾿ ὃς πόλου ἔχει.
Ὀρθὴ σοφίη! ἀγλαῶν ἐφετμέων
Εὐάγγελον νῦν οὔασιν θῶμεν γ᾿ ὄπα.
Ἐκ τῶν Ἰωάννοιο ῥητῶν ἐνθέων
Ἄκουσμα ὄντος τῶν πάνυ ψυχοσσόων.
Σιγήν τε πάντες σχῶμεν ἠδ᾿ ἡσυχίην.
Ἥμος δ᾿ ἄρ᾿ ἔσκεν ὀψίῃ τῶν Σαββάτων,
Εὔτ᾿ ἂν πυλάων κεῖτ᾿ ὀχεὺς τανυσμένος,
Ἔσαν θ᾿ ἑταῖροι ἔνθα δὴ βεβυσμένοι
Δέει μανίῃς Ἰσραὴλ θεοκτόνου,
Μέδων ποθεινὸς ἤλυθεν Παγκρατέων.
Τῆμός τε μέσσον ἵστατ᾿ αὐδάων φίλοις,
Θαρσεῖτ᾿ ὀπηδοί! χάρμ᾿ ὑμῖν ἀνασσέτω.
Ἧ, καὶ φίλοισι φῆν᾿ Ἄναξ τὰς ἐὰς χέρας,
Πλευρήν τε θείην δεξιὴν τ᾿ οὐταμένην.
Τοὶ δ᾿ ὡς ἄνακτα εἶδον ὑψιβρεμέτην,
Ἄφαρ χάρησαν, νόσφι βάλλον τε τρόμον.
Αὖτις δὲ τοῖσιν εἶπε πανσθενοῦς βίη,
Ὁμοφρονεῖτε! ἀσπάσαθ᾿ ἡσυχίην.
Ἀπφὺς ὥσπερ ἲς ἔπεμψέ μ᾿ ἐς χθόνα
Κἀγὼ φεραυγῶς ὑμμέας ὡς ἓς γ᾿ ἔθνη.
Ἦ, καὶ ἄημα Πνεύματος Παναγίου
Ἦκεν γ᾿ ἀπὸ στόματος ἄμβροτον μάλα,
Δέχνυσθε, φήσας, Πνεῦμα θεῖον προφρόνως.
Ὅτου βροτῶν κεν ἀμπλακημάτων μένος
Λύσητε, τοῖσι ταῦτα συγγνώστ᾿ ἄρ᾿ πέλει.
Ὦν αὗται δ᾿ ἔμπης ἐνδέδενται ἐν γέῃ,
-Τάων ἀσύγγνωστ᾿ ἐν πόλῳ τε τυγχάνει.
Θωμᾶς δὲ τῶν δε, δίδυμος κεκλημένος,
Ἀπῆν, παρόντος Παμμέδοντος ἐν μέσῳ.
Φράζεσκεν οἱ ἔπειτα οἱ ἄλλοι φίλοι
Ἄνακτα Χριστὸν λεύσαμεν λαοσσόον.
Ἀτὰρ μετηῦδα τοῖς λίην ἀραρότως,
Εἰ μή με λεύσω τρῆσιν ἥλων δριμέων
Χερσίν, ποσίν τε Δεσπότου τετρῃμένοις,
Οὐλῇ τε τῶνδε δάκτυλ᾿ αὖ ἐμὰ φέρω.
Αὗθις τε πλευρὴν χεῖρά γ᾿ ἀκριβουμένην,
Ἤκιστα πίστιν ἐμμέων λόγοις ἔχω
Modern Greek (according to Apostoliki Diakonia of the Church of Greece)
Ὥστε νὰ καταστοῦμε ἱκανοὶ νὰ ἀκούσουμε
τὸ Ἅγιο Εὐαγγέλιο, ἂς ἱκετεύσουμε τὸν Κύριο, τὸν Θεόν μας.
Σοφία. Ὀρθοί. Ἂς ἀκούσουμε τὸ Ἅγιο Εὐαγγέλιο.
Εἰρήνη σὲ ὅλους.
Ἀπὸ τὸ κατὰ Ἰωάννη Ἅγιο Εὐαγγέλιο, τὸ Ἀνάγνωσμα.
Κατὰ τὴν ἑσπέραν τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης, τῆς πρώτης ἑβδομάδος, καὶ ἐνῷ οἱ πόρτες ἦσαν κλειστές, ἐκεῖ ποὺ ἦσαν συγκεντρωμένοι οἱ μαθηταί, διότι ἐφοβοῦντο τοὺς Ἰουδαίους, ἦλθε ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ στάθηκε εἰς τὸ μέσον καὶ τοὺς λέγει, «Εἰρήνη νὰ εἶναι μαζί σας».
Ὅταν εἶπε αὐτό, τοὺς ἔδειξε τὰ χέρια του καὶ τὴν πλευράν του.
Οἱ μαθηταὶ ἐχάρησαν διότι εἶδαν τὸν Κύριον. Ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοὺς εἶπε πάλι, «Εἰρήνη νὰ εἶναι μαζί σας. Καθὼς ἔστειλε ἐμὲ ὁ Πατέρας καὶ ἐγὼ στέλλω ἐσᾶς».
ὅταν εἶπε αὐτὸ ἐφύσησε εἰς τὸ πρόσωπον καὶ τοὺς λέγει,
«Λάβετε Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον, ἐὰν κάποιων συγχωρήσετε τὶς ἁμαρτίες νὰ εἶναι συγχωρημένες,
ἂν κανενὸς δὲν τὶς συγχωρήσετε, θὰ μείνουν ἀσυγχώρητες».
Ὁ Θωμᾶς, ἕνας ἀπὸ τοὺς δώδεκα, ὁ ὀνομαζόμενος Δίδυμος,
δὲν ἦτο μαζί τους ὅταν ἦλθε ὁ Ἰησοῦς.
Τοῦ εἶπαν λοιπὸν οἱ ἄλλοι μαθηταί,«Εἴδαμε τὸν Κύριο».
Αὐτὸς δὲ τοὺς εἶπε, «Ἐὰν δὲν εἰδῶ εἰς τὰ χέρια του τὸ σημάδι ἀπὸ τὰ καρφιὰ καὶ δὲν βάλω τὸ δάκτυλό μου εἰς τὸ σημάδι ἀπὸ τὰ καρφιὰ καὶ δὲν
βάλω τὸ χέρι μου εἰς τὴν πλευράν του, δὲν θὰ πιστέψω».
That we may be found worthy to listen to the Holy Gospel, let us pray to the Lord our God.
Wisdom. Arise. Let us hear the holy Gospel. Peace be with all.
The reading is from the holy Gospel according to John. Let us be attentive.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.
So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Yannis Tsarouchis is a famous painter in modern Greece and acquired a deep love for Orthodoxy and the arts the Church has produced through his mentor Photios Kontoglou. He, along with Kontoglou, helped revive Greek tradition in painting. It is known that Tsarouchis (1910-1989) had a deep attraction to Mount Athos where, even when seriously ill, he would arrive every year as a pilgrim before Holy Week to attend the all-night services and would leave after Pascha. He was enthusiastic by the monastic typicon and fascinated by the Byzantine melodies. In his last years he lived at the Cell of Saint Nicholas of Koutloumouseiou Monastery with Elder Hierotheos, he worshipped at Protaton, and always confessed. Manos Hatzidakis wrote: "Tsarouchis is a Christian, not because he goes to church, but because he knows how to stand in it, with the comfort of a priest and the sanctity of a small child."
Wikipedia: Yannis Tsarouchis
The Greek Painter, Yannis Tsarouchis (Greek)
Ο ΓΙΑΝΝΗΣ ΤΣΑΡΟΥΧΗΣ ΚΑΙ Η ΒΥΖΑΝΤΙΝΗ ΜΟΥΣΙΚΗ
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Pascha isn't the lamb, nor the red egg, nor the tsoureki bread, nor the candle, nor the new clothes, nor is it our presence in the church ten minutes before the "Christ is Risen!" and a minute after. Pascha is not the worship of food, the festival, nor dance and drink. Pascha is not the spits in the street, nor the exchange of greetings, nor returning to the village. Or at least, that's not all it is.
Pascha is above all the taste of the Kingdom of God, the voice of heaven within us that comes when we receive at the Divine Liturgy. Then our soul, albeit briefly, is transformed, is calm, it feels something of forgiveness and love that rises from within the tomb. Then we feel we are brothers with the world, because we partake of the cup of Life together. Pascha is our change of life, our resurrection from our passions and vices which scar us. It is not worth saying that Pascha came and we were not reconciled with God, our fellow man, neighbor, ourselves, and that we feel more free from the bondage of evil and death. Pascha is also the defeat of the last enemy of human nature, that is death: He has trampled death by death ....
Pascha is the occasion for unity, unity between peoples and societies. We can not say that we celebrate the Resurrection while war and discord prevails in our souls. We can not say that we believe in the messages of Christ and to invoke this capacity to crush our people, reputations, conscience, fellows, neighbor, our brothers. We can not do Pascha with malice for others, whoever they are, what they have done us!
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos
Once a year, during the Agape Vespers on Pascha, Archimandrite John Karamouzis exits the Holy Altar through the Royal Gate and gives the Gospel in sign language so the deaf could understand the text. Papa-John, as he is known, has spent the last few years ministering to the deaf and hard of hearing and is only one of four priests in Greece that knows sign language.
"My involvement began 11 years ago when the mother of a deaf child approached me and asked me to deal with him because he had finished high school for the deaf, and upon his return home to Halkida he could not communicate with anyone who could hear. I thought this was a message from God to deal with deaf people and to give them all my interest and energy," said Fr. John to Sunday Democracy.
For Fr. John this opened a new path in life and he decided to deal with this not only pastorally but also scientifically.
Fr. John studied Greek sign language, which he knows in the capacity of teaching and interpretation, while he did his thesis on the pastoral care of the deaf at Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. He is a preacher of the Holy Metropolis of Halkida and he cooperates with Inter-Christian relations for the Holy Synod. "The last Sunday of every month at All Saints parish in Kallithea the Divine Liturgy is celebrated with simultaneous interpretation in sign language from the laity. Deaf come from all parts of Athens in this important initiative," says Father John, and adds: "At the same time in several Metropolis' there are liturgical gatherings and there are revealed the degree of needs, perhaps not at the level we wanted, but even so it's a significant offering."
Approaching the deaf is an extremely difficult task. You need expertise, patience and unconditional love. "It is necessary for more to learn sign language," says Father John, adding: "It could be done today to 'translate' the entire Divine Liturgy in sign language by priests, because science gives us the 'weapons'. The deaf community is not a disabled people, but a 'cultural minority' according to the latest medical opinions. This minority has its own language, and we must learn to approach her. Probably it will take many years to do this, but its worth a try."
A Closed Community
The deaf community is very closed and guarded. "When approaching a deaf person one should know how to deal with them to become acceptable. For example, if a deaf person has turned his attention somewhere and one who hears comes and hits them on the back, the deaf considers it hostile and not friendly energy. These 'codes' you ought to know and this is done only when socializing with them," says Father John. The priest is to understand the particular temperament of the deaf. These are people socially isolated and suspicious. They also have a fear of not being able to communicate and be disappointed.
Father John scientifically studied all this data to implement, but also to teach other priests. Prejudices are indeed many. "Previously there were scientists who said that sign language should not be used because it is mimetic. In France in the 60's to prevent deaf people from using their hands, they tied them to focus on 'reading' of the lips. This scientifically collapsed as inhuman. Then they said sign language degrades them mentally. Just in 2000 was sign language officially recognized," says Fr John.
In Greece, the first clergyman who was deaf and dedicated to them was the late Metropolitan of Thebes Nicodemos, who learned sign language and communicated with them from the 50's, and gave part of his personal fortune to buy the first building of the club where he worked pastorally with the deaf.
The most difficult moment for Papa John is confession. "Every man has his own emotions and the need to express it in such a way as to show repentance," he says, adding: "The pastor who hears the confession must be fluent in sign language, emotionally to be present and know that the reactions of the deaf may be more intense because they can not express in words what they have in them".
"The pastor needs to know all aspects of the life of a deaf person. The most important of all is that the deaf do not have the perceptions of being deaf and are more prone to commit sin, because no one explained what is sin and what is not. The clergyman is often at odds with an entire worldview of the deaf. For example, I have confessions by deaf people who do not consider abortion a sin because no one had said it to them. When I explained it was, it was very difficult to convince them. I felt the difficulty to convince a man that what all his life he did, thinking he is right, is in fact a sin and must be changed. Basically when you come in contact with a deaf person who has no special relationship with the Church it is like facing a small child whom you must teach."
"Very much effort and dedication is needed for deaf ministry," says the Archimandrite. For nine years in the Halkis Metropolis they offer sign language courses. The course lasts two years and in each cycle about 30 people who hear learn how to communicate with the deaf. One has also been ordained a Reader by the Metropolitan Demetrios Bouleros of Halkis, who is the first deaf person placed in a position in the Church of Greece.
Every Sunday Father John gathers all deaf people in the region and discusses with them their problems. Mostly, however, he is always ready to help a deaf person with transactions with the State, and services in emergency situations. "There are cases where a deaf person gets sick and is taken to the hospital. There he can not explain what he suffers, or learn what tests and what treatment the doctors give for him to do. You understand that he is in panic. Think of someone who should be operated on and does not know whether or not they are in danger. In these cases, I hasten to restore the voice and hearing, and especially offer psychological support," said Father John.
They feel anger at God
Father John is making two important scientific investigations that are underway. In the first study whether religiosity affects deaf people and sociability. With special questionnaires he studied whether deafness affects their faith and relationship with God. The results so far show that the deaf community is largely away from Christ because most grew up in families that had not spoken on the subject, because the parents did not know sign language. About 99% of deaf people are born into families that hear and are deaf to adulthood and do not communicate with people around. "Many say they feel anger at God because of their problem. Many say that God is not interested and others (fewer) say they believe because they hope that God will heal them. Anyway, as a Church we need to see these findings carefully to better understand the problem," concludes Father John.
The second survey is of a sample of about 500 people studying those who hear and their religious views on the subject to show the treatment of deaf people who have a spiritual background. Here, the first results are concerning, largely because there seems to be indifference, while many say they would consider it a punishment of God to bring into the world a deaf child. "Many who are cosidered believers do not consider a deaf child as a blessing from God and that's frustrating," says Fr John.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos
On February 3, 2007 a Pomak from Sminthi visited Mount Athos. At the Monastery of Simonopetra a monk asked him to translate "Christ Is Risen" in his native language. He translated the hymn and the monk in turn put it to Byzantine notation. On April 8, 2007 the monks of Simonopetra Monastery sang for the first time "Christ Is Risen" in Pomak.
Hristσs si azhοvβ at umrβtene
Sas umνranye nastσpi umνranyeto
Harνsal ye zhοvσta zhιmne so bϊli
Χριστός σι αζιβά ατ ουμράτενε
Σας ουμίρανιε ναστόπι ουμίρανιετο
Χαρίσαλ γιε ζιβότα ζέμνε σο μπούλι
Below is the transcription of the hymn in Byzantine notation:
On March 4, 2007 the same Pomak man translated from the Gospel of John (John 20:19-31) the passage which is read every year during the Agape Vespers on Pascha Sunday. Now every year at Simonopetra this passage is read also in Pomak:
19 Agξna ye stαnalo akshαm le faf inσk dιne, na pσrvanek dιne ad Sσbatono natsξi, i vratαna so bϊlο zatvσrenο itαm kadιna so bϊli zbrαtο talebιne ad Yahudiαtskokne strαha, dashlσl ye Isα i ustayαl so ye faf sredσno i reklσl mi ye: "Mirιnye vαmi!"
20 I agξ ye reklσl inazν, prikαzal ye tδm tσgavοne rσkο i strαno. Drαgo mi ye pαnnalo talebτmne, agξna so vνdili Kνriono.
21 I reklσl mi ye pak Isα: "Mirιnye vαmi. Kαksa mo ye prevσdil mσne Bubαyko i ya prevαdom vαmi".
22 I agξna ye reklσl inazν, dϊinal ye ur tδh i reklσl mi ye: "Zτmite Evliyσsko Vαzdaho.
23 Akϊ banβm stσrite af grαhovene, she mi so af, akϊ gi banβm darzhξte, she so udarzhσnο".
24 'Ala Thomαs, ad on ikνno adνn, zhσkne so zavαlο "Bliznαk", ne ye bul sas tδh, agξna ye dashlσl Isβ.
25 Vνkali mu so drϊgοne talebι: "Vνdihme Kνriono!" Tσy mi ye reklσl: "Akϊ na vνdem faf rakοne mu belβgono ad shαykevene i akϊ na klam pσrstase na belαgono ad shαykevene i akϊ na klam rakσso na stranσto mu, nιma da izvβravom".
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos