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December 31, 2014

The Top 25 Most Popular Mystagogy Posts of 2014

Below is a list of The Top 25 Most Popular Mystagogy Posts of 2014. These were posts from 2014 only, and do not reflect posts of previous years nor from my other websites. Personally I find it to be an interesting list filled with surprises, and it shows what drove most people to my website and reflects their interests. Like previous years, the first three received more than double the page views of all the rest. Thank you all for visiting over the past year and for your support, and I hope to provide even better more compelling material for the coming new year. Please continue to support this ministry to widen our audience with even more compelling posts, and if you haven't given financially to this ministry in 2014 please do so today by clicking on SUPPORT THIS MINISTRY. I thank you in advance and a blessed and joyous New Year to all!

Orthodox Christmas Resource Page

"The Nativity Forty-day Fast represents the fast undertaken by Moses, who, having fasted for forty days and forty nights, received the Commandments of God, written on stone tablets. And we, fasting for forty days, will reflect upon and receive from the Virgin, the living Word - not written upon stone - but born, incarnate, and we will commune of His Divine Body." - St. Symeon of Thessaloniki

The Nativity Fast

Orthodox Nativity Fast Resource Page

Christmas Origins and Paganism

Christmas Origins Resource Page


Thanksgiving Resource Page


Greeks, Jews & Hanukkah - A Story That Still Needs To Be Told

Seven Maccabees Resource Page

Sunday of the Holy Forefathers (Dec. 11th - 17th)

Sunday of the Holy Forefathers Resource Page

The Sunday Before Christmas (Dec. 18th - 23rd)

Sunday Before the Nativity of Christ Resource Page

Forefeast of the Nativity of the Lord (Dec. 20 - 24)

Forefeast of the Nativity of the Lord Resource Page

Christmas Day (Dec. 25th)

Synaxarion for the Nativity of Christ, the Veneration of the Magi and the Shepherds Who Beheld the Lord

Nativity of Christ: Epistle and Gospel Reading

The Nativity of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ (Sergei V. Bulgakov)

Church Fathers, Saints and Teachers on Christmas

A Resource Page on the Nativity of Christ in the Church Fathers, Saints and Teachers

Christmas Theological Reflections

Christmas Theological Reflections Resource Page

The Nativity in Art and Iconography

Christmas Art and Iconography Resource Page

The Magi from the East

Three Magi Resource Page

Christmas in Greece

Christmas Around the World Resource Page

Christmas in Mount Athos

Christmas Around the World Resource Page

Christmas in Cyprus

Christmas Around the World Resource Page

Christmas in Russia

Christmas Around the World Resource Page

Christmas in Ukraine

Christmas Around the World Resource Page

Christmas in Serbia

Christmas Around the World Resource Page

Christmas in Georgia

Christmas Around the World Resource Page

Christmas in Romania

Christmas Around the World Resource Page

Christmas in Bulgaria

Christmas Around the World Resource Page

Christmas in the Holy Land

Christmas Around the World Resource Page

Christmas in the West

Christmas Around the World Resource Page

Christmas Music

Christmas Music and Hymns Resource Page

Christmas Traditions

Christmas Traditions Resource Page

Christmas and Non-Christians

Atheists and Christmas

Christmas TV and Films

Christmas Stories Resource Page: Literature, Film and Television

Christmas Stories and Literature

Christmas Stories Resource Page: Literature, Film and Television

Creepy Christmas

Creepy Christmas Resource Page


Holy Hieromartyr Myron of Cyzicus

Orthodox Keep Christ at Center of Christmas

Amazing Orthodox Church Snow Sculptures!

From Nativity to Theophany (December 25 - January 6)

Twelve Days After Christmas Resource Page

New Years Day Resource Page

Circumcision of Christ Resource Page

Saint Basil the Great Resource Page

Orthodox Theophany Resource Page

Saint John the Baptist Resource Page

December 30, 2014

The Truth About Christmas and the Myth-Making of Christmas

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Metallinos

The purpose of the incarnation is the deification of man. "God becomes man to make Adam god" (Christmas hymn). "He became man, that we may become god" (Athanasius the Great). "God became a man and man became a god" (John Chrysostom). To the rationale of a moralist, the term "became god", as it is used by the Fathers, such as Athanasius the Great, is a scandal. This is why they talk about a "moral deification". They are afraid to accept that deification alters "by grace" to what the Triune God is "by nature" (uncreated, without beginning, immortal). Christmas is, therefore, directly connected with the Crucifixion and Resurrection, and the Ascension and Pentecost.

God Upon the Earth

By Basil Skiadas

With the Incarnation of God the pre-eternal divine plan for the salvation of the human race is realized. The Son and Word of God with His Incarnation managed to wipe out death from sin, but also to renew human nature and to guide it to true knowledge of God. So within the vast ocean of darkness and of the shadow of death, God came upon the earth to save man.

December 29, 2014

Russian Church Includes Sts. Prophyrios and Nikephoros in Church Calendar

In its last gathering for 2014, the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia gathered on December 25th under the presidency of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in the Holy Monastery of Saint Daniel in Moscow.

During the meeting the Holy Synod decided to include in the List of Saints for commemoration both Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva and Saint Nikephoros the Leper.

Life and Sayings of Holy Abba Benjamin of Nitria

Venerable Benjamin (Feast Day - December 29)


You left behind this life in old age in a goodly manner,
And Benjamin was united with the good.

By Bishop Palladius

And there was also in the mountain of Nitria a marvelous man whose name was Benjamin, who attained to a high state of perfection in the ascetic life, for he had fasted and toiled for eighty years. Now he was held to be worthy of the gift of the craft of the physician, and from every wound (or stripe) upon which he laid his hand, and which Christ blessed or gave him the power to heal, straightway every pain departed. 

The Slaughter of the Innocents by Herod and the Symbolism of the 14,000 Infants

By George P. Patronos

The feast in honor of the "14,000 slaughtered children" is for many non-believers a scandal, as the number of infants killed by Herod in his hunt for Jesus was much smaller. But these people not only ignore the deeper significance of Herod's massacre, but also the symbolic dimension of the number.

What does history tell us?

December 28, 2014

Where Christmas is Annually Celebrated in a Cave

Like every year, His Eminence Metropolitan Amphilochios of Kisamos and Selinon presided over the Christmas Divine Liturgy, on Christmas Eve, in the Cave of St. John the Hermit in Marathokefala, Kisamos. The fires, shepherds, animals and the natural surroundings of the Holy Cave, as well as the Byzantine splendor of the shrine, affect the souls of thousands who came to worship and mentally travel to the Holy City of Bethlehem, where Christ our Savior was incarnated.

The Silence of Joseph

By Fr. Vasilios I. Kalliakmanis

A) If it is true that the language of the world to come is that of silence, then Joseph, the Betrothed of the Virgin, is a type of the man of the age to come. None of his words are recorded in the Gospels, none of his conversations mentioned. Only his thoughts and actions are described. He approaches the mystery of the ineffable self-emptying of the Son and Word of God with awe, circumspection and silence. And when thoughts of doubt overwhelm him, with the torment caused by unbearable mental pain, then heaven speaks.

An Old Seal of Simonopetra Monastery

This is an old seal of Simonopetra Monastery in Mount Athos of the Nativity of Christ. As we know, the main church of the Monastery is dedicated to the Nativity of Christ and the initial name of the Monastery, founded by and later named after St. Simon the Myrrhgusher (Dec. 28), was "New Bethlehem".

December 27, 2014

A Christmas Eve Miracle in Loutraki! (video + photos)

December 24, 2014

The power of the icon of Panagia Giatrissa (All Holy Virgin the Healer) in Loutraki was shown once again on the night of Christmas Eve.

According to the report of, everything started around 3:30 a.m. when three people with covered faces managed to smash the external camera located near the office of the church and they proceeded to break into the church by means of the entrance.

The Recent Discovery of the Burial Place of St. Stephen

November 13, 2014

During excavations near the Palestinian town of Ramallah archaeologists have discovered a greatest Christian relic – the burial place of Holy Archdeacon Stephen, the First Martyr for Christ, reports the Linga news portal.

The Location of the Stoning of St. Stephen in Jerusalem

Acts says “Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him”, but the location where he was buried is not specified. In 415 AD a priest named Lucian had a dream that revealed the location of Stephen’s remains. The relics of the martyr are said to be preserved in the Church of St Stephen in Jerusalem, built by the Empress Eudocia. The adjoining Monastery complex was so large that by the beginning of the sixth century it housed close to 10,000 monks. Having been destroyed in the 12th century by crusaders not wanting to give Salah id-Din a base outside the walls, the new church was re-dedicated in 1900 by Dominicans, based considerably upon the remains of the old.

December 26, 2014

Raphael Eznepidis, Brother of Elder Paisios, Has Reposed in the Lord

His funeral will take place tomorrow morning in the Sacred Church of Saint Nicholas in Konitsa.

December 26, 2014

One day after the great feast of Christendom, Christmas, 96-year-old Raphael Eznepidis died today, who was the brother of Elder Paisios (Arsenios Eznepidis in the world), widely known for his life and work, and has already been proposed to be classified in the List of Saints of the Orthodox Church. The elder Raphael Eznepidis lived bedridden with his wife and one of his children, Christos.

The Miraculous Palm Tree of Hermopolis, Egypt

By Sozomen

At Hermopolis, in the Theba├»s, is a tree called Persis, of which the branches, the leaves, and the least portion of the bark, are said to heal diseases, when touched by the sick; for it is related by the Egyptians that when Joseph fled with Christ and Mary, the holy mother of God, from the wrath of Herod, they went to Hermopolis; when entering at the gate, this largest tree, as if not enduring the coming of Christ, inclined to the ground and worshipped Him. 

Properly Honoring the Theotokos the Day After Christmas

By Vasilios Haralambous

On the 26th of December our Church has appointed for the Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos to be celebrated. This has been appointed very wisely by our Church, for it follows the feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod state: "We have been taught to honor in the first place her who is properly and truly the Mother of God and exalted above all the heavenly powers; also the holy and angelic powers; and the blessed and altogether lauded Apostles, and the glorious Prophets and the triumphant Martyrs which fought for Christ, and the holy and God-bearing Fathers, and all holy people; and to seek for their intercessions, as they are able to render us at home with the all-royal God of all, so long as we keep His commandments, and strive to live virtuously." The hymnology of the Church and the discourses of the Fathers of the Church have preserved for us the proper way to honor the Most Holy Theotokos. In the Service of Matins for the Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos, we chant in the Theotokion of the Third Ode: "A container without capacity you became for the uncontainable Creator, containing Him in the flesh, All-Immaculate One who is full of grace." If we understand this Theotokion, the meaning of the feast is clearly demonstrated.

December 25, 2014

"On the Day of the Birth of Our Savior Jesus Christ" by St. John Chrysostom

On the Day of the Birth of Our Savior Jesus Christ
(Which was then still uncertain, but a few years ago made known and proclaimed on the part of ones who came from the West.)

By St. John Chrysostom

1. That which, long ago, the Patriarchs travailed with, the prophets foretold, and the righteous desired to see, has come to pass, and received its completion today: God both was seen upon the earth through flesh and associated with humans. Therefore let us rejoice and be glad, beloved. For if John, being in (his) mother's womb, leapt when Mary visited Elizabeth-much more we, having beheld not Mary, but our very Savior brought forth this day, ought to leap and exult and wonder and be astounded at the magnitude of the economy exceeding all thought. For consider how great it would be to see the sun, descended from the heavens, running its course upon earth and thence sending forth its rays upon all. And if this happening in the case of the perceptible sun would have astounded all who beheld it-behold consider with me now-how great it is to see the Sun of righteousness sending forth rays from our flesh and illumining our souls. For a long time I was desiring to see this day, and not simply to see it, but with so great a crowd - and I was praying continually for our theatre so to be filled, just as now it is possible to see it filled. Accordingly this has come to pass and reached its goal. Although it is not yet the tenth year, from when this day has become clear and well known to us, but nevertheless it has flourished through your zeal, as if delivered to us from the beginning and many years ago. Whence one would not be in error to call the day both new and old: new because it was recently made known to us; at the same time, old and time-honored because it quickly became of like stature as the older days, and reached the same measure in stature with them. For just as with hardy and good trees (for the latter, as soon as they are put down into the earth, immediately shoot up to a great height and are heavy with fruit), so too this day being well known among those dwelling in the West from the beginning, and now having been brought us, and not many years ago, thus shot up at once and bore so much fruit, as is possible to see now--our sacred court filled, and the whole Church crowded by the multitude of those gathering together. By all means expect the worthy return for such great eagerness from Christ, who was brought forth according to the flesh today. That One will repay you completely for this zeal, for the affection and zeal with regard to this day is the greatest sign of love for the One born. But if it is necessary that some things be introduced by us fellow-servants, we also shall contribute things to the best of (our) ability, or rather, whatever the grace of God gives to be said for your advantage. Then what do you desire to hear today? What else, but concerning this day? For I know well that many still even now argue with one another­ some accusing, others defending-and much discussion takes place about this day everywhere: some charging that it is sort of new and recent, and has been introduced now; others defending that it is old and well established, since the prophets already foretold concerning his birth, and from the beginning it became very manifest and famous with those living from Thrace to Gades. Come then, let us set in motion the discourse concerning these things. For as the subject of dispute enjoys so much good will from us, if it should become more well-known, it is very clear that it will enjoy greater zeal by far, when exposition concerning the teaching produces in you a greater disposition about.

December 24, 2014

Christ Was Born Not to Establish a New Religion

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

My beloved brethren,
Again the love and mercy of God has made us worthy to celebrate the great feast of Christmas, the Birth of Jesus Christ as man. He who was born as God before the ages from the Father, and was born without seed in time from the Panagia as man. Two births, in eternity and in time, which have become the cause of our own regeneration. This is why the sacred hymnographers of our Church, and also all the Holy Fathers, hymn and glorify the God-man Christ, who regenerated man and renewed all of creation, giving to both man and all of creation another perspective and meaning.

Christmas... What is Missing?

By Evangelia

These days I eavesdrop on people talking about the meaning of Christmas, about love between people, about peace, about the brotherhood of peoples, about hope and salvation.

These are beautiful words that come to life during these days, thoughts that want to become actions to help the poor, the elderly, the homeless and the needy.

And while we remember all those in need, we find once again the forgotten person within us, the person who lives other days by sharing and sometimes participating in injustice, withholding, violence and wickedness.

Saint Eugenia the Martyr as a Model for our Lives

Holy Virgin Martyr Eugenia (Feast Day - December 24)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Eugenia lived in the third century and came from a noble family of Rome, but grew up in Alexandria of Egypt where her father was appointed Provincial Governor. Her parents were pagans and were called Philip and Eugenia. Saint Eugenia, however, was baptized secretly from her parents and when she grew up, because they were forcing her to marry a pagan, she left and went to a male monastery, where she was received because she disguised herself as a man and changed her name to Evgenios. She did this so that her parents would not find her and force her to return to them.

December 23, 2014

A Christmas Sermon of Saint Jerome

The Nativity of Christ

By St. Jerome

"She laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:7) 

His mother laid him in a manger. Joseph did not dare to touch him, for he knew he had not been begotten of him. In awe, he rejoiced at a son, but he did not dare to touch the Son.

"She laid him in a manger." Why in a manger? That the prophecy of Isaiah, the prophet, might be fulfilled: "An ox knows its owner, and a donkey, its master's manger." (Isa.1:3) In another place, it is written: "You save both humans and animals, O Lord." (Ps. 36:6) If you are human, eat the Bread; if you are an animal, come to the manger.

The Least Who Yearn To Become Mangers

By Fr. Haralambos Papadopoulos

The humble manger of Bethlehem will remain for centuries a symbol of hope for all those who were disappointed by the ideologies, philosophies and religions of this world. For all those who experience and confess their personal fall not as a legal offense or a debt obsession but as an existential failure in the journey of truth about life and existence.

December 22, 2014

Elder Paisios the Athonite on Christmas

Christ, in His great love and great delight that causes the souls of the faithful to jump for joy for all His holy feasts, resurrects us truly since He raises us up to spiritual heights. It is sufficient that we participate and have a spiritual appetite to celebrate spiritually; then we spiritually party and spiritually get drunk from the heavenly wine the saints bring us at their expense.

To live the feasts we must have our mind on the holy days and not on the work we have to do for the holy days. Let us think about the events of each holy day and say the Prayer while glorifying God. In this way we will celebrate each feast with much reverence.

December 21, 2014

Honoring the Old Testament Athletes of our Faith

By Archimandrite Dionysios Anthopoulos

Today, my beloved, is the Sunday before the Nativity of Christ, and our holy Orthodox Church prepares us for the great feast by setting before us sacred figures "who throughout the ages have pleased God, from Adam until Joseph, the betrothed of the Most Holy Theotokos."

Let us proceed by listening to the content of the Apostolic reading of today which the Apostle Paul addressed to the Hebrew Christians:

December 20, 2014

From Basil the Great To Santa Claus

In a lecture delivered in Athens to natives of Nafpaktos, His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou examines briefly some of the characteristics of St. Basil described in the dismissal hymn for his feast. He elucidates the process by which the figure and personality of St. Basil underwent a transformation in Europe and the New World and became confused with Father Christmas or Santa Claus, who is associated with commerce, advertising, consumption, optimism and politics. He also considers the consequences of this distortion in personal and social life.

The issue I chose to examine today to your love is titled "St. Basil the Great and Santa Claus". It may seem that it lacks originality, but as you will see below it is of great importance for our time.

Photos Associated With St. John of Kronstadt Today

In the basement chapel of the Convent of Saint John of Rila in St. Petersburgh, which was founded by St. John of Kronstadt, there can be found the tomb of St. John of Kronstadt. It is said that his body was hidden years ago for fear the communists may steal his body, and till this day the location of his body is not known.

December 19, 2014

The Simple Woman Who Taught a Bishop To Pray

By Metropolitan Nicholas (Selentis) of Halkida

A simple woman taught me to pray with devotion and tears. She lived in Perama of Piraeus and was contemptuously called not by her name but by her nickname "Avgoulou",* because she sold fresh eggs to make her "daily bread".

The Barefoot Cleric With the Lantern

By His Eminence Metropolitan Ambrose of Neapolis and Samareia

When I went to the Holy Land and celebrated Pascha for the first time in 1954, I saw a cleric with a white beard, thin, pale and barefoot who was coming with a lantern in his hand on Great Saturday, followed also by two barefoot nuns. I then heard a deacon named Chrysostomos saying:

"These people make their appearance here once a year. Where or how they live nobody knows."

The World's Largest Monument to Saint Nicholas in Far East Russia

The world's largest monument to Saint Nicholas is in Anadyr Chukotka in far east of Russia.

December 18, 2014

Saint Daniel the Hesychast, Father of the Moldavian Hesychasts

St. Daniel the Hesychast (Feast Day - December 18)

Saint Daniel the Hesychast, the great wonderworker and instructor of monastics, was born in Moldavia at the beginning of the fifteenth century. He was baptized with the name Dumitru. When he was sixteen, he became a monk of the monastery of St Nicholas at Radauti and received the name David. His spiritual Father was Saint Leontius of Radauti (July 1). After many years of ascetical struggles, he became a chosen vessel of the Spirit and was ordained to the holy priesthood.

The Chapel of Saint Barbara in Konitsa and Elder Paisios

In the village of Konitsa stands the Chapel of Saint Barbara, which is connected with Elder Paisios in that it was the church he attended while growing up and it was here that he had his first divine vision and cultivated a life-long reverence and relationship with Saint Barbara.

Saint Dionysios of Zakynthos Answers a Pious Woman's Prayers

There was a modest and God-revering woman named Angela. She had no male child, but four daughters. She was greatly distressed at not having given birth to a son and spoke of it on several occasions with some of the Saint's pious kinswomen. She heard them recount the extraordinary miracles taking place on a daily basis through the Saint. After listening to these accounts, she was inspired to invoke the Saint with faith. She did indeed believe unhesitatingly and began calling upon the Saint with fervent tears that through his intercessions she might obtain a male child and be consoled.

December 17, 2014

Moses and the Vision of God

By Professor Georgie I. Mantzaridis

The vision of God is presented in the Holy Scriptures in two different forms which appear to be mutually exclusive. Some passages characterize the vision of God as an impossibility. In the book of Exodus, for example, God tells Moses: “You cannot see My face; for no man can see My face and live,”[1] while the psalmist notes that God “made darkness His hiding place.”[2] In the New Testament, the Apostle and Evangelist John writes: “No one has ever seen God”[3], And the Apostle Paul adds that God is He “whom no one has ever seen or can see”[4].

What the Fiery Furnace of Babylon Foreshadowed

Within historical context, St. John Chrysostom explains that the Three Holy Children, who refused to worship the pagan idol in Babylon, were delivered from the burning fiery furnace of King Nebuchadnezzar for the following reason:

"For fire is accounted by the Persians to be a god.... God, therefore, being desirous to pull up by the roots the material of impiety, permitted the punishment to take this form, in order that: He might give the victory to his servants before the eyes of all these fire-worshipers; and, that He might persuade them by the plain fact that the gods of the nations are in dread not of God only, but even of the servants of God. Consider how the crown of victory was woven by the adversaries, and the enemies themselves were made witnesses of this trophy." ("On the Statues", Homily 4)

December 16, 2014

Saint Modestos of Jerusalem as a Model for our Lives

St. Modestos (Feast Day - December 16)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Modestos lived in the late sixth century and in the early or middle seventh century. His parents were named Eusebius and Theodouli and they were from Sebastia in Palestine. In the synaxaria there is not a lot of information pertaining to his life and the period before he became Patriarch of Jerusalem. During the period of his patriarchate (632-634) he reconstructed the sacred shrines destroyed by the Persians, with the assistance of Christians from the East. He pastored his reasonable flock entrusted to him by the Church with venerableness and righteousness. His great love extended to all of creation, to all the creations of God, which is why he wrote prayers for the protection of animals and for their healing from various illnesses. These prayers are available in the Small Euchologion of the Church and are read by priests when they are invited by farmers for this purpose.

December 15, 2014

St. Nikodemos Explains How We Came to Celebrate Christmas on December 25th


On the 15th of December we Commemorate
the Ordination of Saint John Chrysostom.

We must know that on the fifteenth of the month of December, the divine John Chrysostom was ordained Patriarch of Constantinople, when the feast of Christ's Nativity began to be celebrated by him. Because at that time information had come from the West, and in time the feast followed. Wherefore an apologetic discourse was proclaimed by him which is most beautiful and most beneficial.

Saint Pardos the Solitary of Palestine

St. Pardus the Hermit (Feast Day - December 15)

Our holy father lived in Palestine in the sixth century. In his youth, Pardos was a wagoner. One day, arriving in Jericho, he left his beast of burden in front of an inn which he entered. At that moment, it happened that a child fell in front of the beast which trampled upon it, thereby killing it. When Pardos beheld the crushed child, cruelly slain by his animal, his heart became extremely laden with guilt. Though it was an unintentional sin, the conscience-stricken Pardos laid on himself a harsh penance. He abandoned his trade, and, though very young he left the world. He withdrew into the arid desert to live a life of mortification, spiritual toil and repentance.

The Fort of Intzedin and the Chapel of Saint Eleutherios in Crete

The Fort of Intzedin is the only fort on Crete built by the Turks, located on the hill Kalami, 15km east of Chania and has a panoramic view of the Souda Gulf. The fortress of Intzedin was built in 1872 by Reouf Pasha, on the same location where in 1646 the Turks first built a tower, chasing away the Venetians. It was the main defense construction of the port and was named "Intzedin" to honor the first born son of the Sultan Abdul Aziz Intzedin. In later years, the building was used as a prison for political prisoners, prisoners of common criminal law and for prisoners who received the death penalty.

Holy Hieromartyr Eleutherios of Illyricum and his mother Anthia

Sts. Eleftherios and Anthia (Feast Day - December 15)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

From a good tree comes good fruit. This wonderful Saint had noble and greatly eminent parents. Eleutherios was born in Rome, where his father was an imperial proconsul. His mother Anthia heard the Gospel from the great Apostle Paul and was baptized by him. Having been left a widow early, she entrusted her only son for study and service to Aniketos the Bishop of Rome.

An Impressive Orthodox Nativity Scene

For the fifth consecutive year the Church of Saints Haralambos and Anthony in Krya Iteon, a neighbourhood in the southern part of the city of Patras in Greece, has created an impressive Orthodox Nativity scene to help put everyone in a joyful holiday spirit and remind them of the Incarnation of Christ the Savior.

December 14, 2014

Myrrh Abundantly Dripping from an Icon of Saint Gabriel in Georgia (video)

In the home of a family in the country of Georgia, an icon of the recently canonized Saint Gabriel has been dripping myrrh since July. It is a family with two children, and they are all described as very good people.

The woman of the house in which the icon can be found explains: "This is the icon I bought at Easter. I placed in a spot it deserves - in the sacred corner. About three months ago, it began to drip myrrh. I wiped the icon and noticed that the fabric was damp. A very large flow started. There was myrrh across the surface of the icon. After a week, I noticed a crack in the glass. In the morning, at 4:00AM dawn, I heard a creaking sound. You can see how the myrrh is dripping."

Holy Martyrs Thyrsos, Leukios and Kallinikos of Bythinia

Sts. Thyrsos, Leukios and Kallinikos (Feast Day - December 14)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Saints Thyrsos and Leukios were honorable citizens of Caesarea of Bithynia, the former being baptized and the latter being a Christian catechumen. Kallinikos, however, was a pagan priest. When Emperor Decius’s heir, Cumbricius, began to mercilessly torture and murder Christians, the fearless Leukios appeared before him and, reproaching him, said: “Why have you waged war against your own soul, O Cumbricius?” The enraged judge ordered that he be flogged, tortured and finally beheaded. The tortured Leukios went to his beheading as joyfully as if he were going to a wedding. Witnessing the death of the courageous Leukios, blessed Thyrsos, inflamed with divine zeal like that of Leukios, also appeared before the judge and reproached him for his evil crimes and for his unbelief in the One True God. He also was flogged and cast into prison. The invisible hand of God healed him of his wounds, opened the prison door and led him out. Thyrsos immediately went to Phileas, the Bishop of Caesarea, to be baptized by him. After his baptism, he was again seized and tortured, but he endured the tortures, bearing them as though in a dream and not in reality. By the power of his prayer, many idols fell down. The pagan priest Kallinikos, upon seeing this, converted to the Christian Faith, and both he and Thyrsos were condemned to death. Kallinikos was beheaded, and they placed Thyrsos in a wooden coffin to be sawn in half. However, the power of God would not permit this, and the saw was unable to cut into the wood. Then St. Thyrsos arose from the coffin and prayed to God, rendering Him thanks for the tortures, and he peacefully gave up his soul to his Lord. At the end of the fourth century, the Emperor Flavian built a church to St. Thyrsos near Constantinople and placed his holy relics in it. The Saint appeared in a vision to Empress Pulcheria and counseled her to bury the relics of the Forty Martyrs (March 9) alongside his.*

December 13, 2014

Why Was Jesus Born In Bethlehem?

By John Sanidopoulos

Five or six miles southwest of Jerusalem lay the tiny town of Bethlehem in the Judean hills. It was here that man’s eyes first saw God in the flesh. Why this place and not another of so many other possibilities?

Bethlehem was the perfect place for Christ to have been born. Of course it was the home of Joseph and Mary’s ancestors - the city of David. But it was more. Bethlehem was "the house of bread". This is what the word Bethlehem means.

To have received such a name, Bethlehem must have produced some delicious bread, and the city's ovens must have produced quite a sweet aroma.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church Canonizes Bartholomew (Bondarenko) the Fool for Christ (+ 1931)

On Sunday, 7 December 2014, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine glorified Bartholomew Bondarenko, a Staretz and Fool-for-Christ's Sake of the Cherkassy Eparchy of the UOC-MP. His was chosen to be numbered among the saints by the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on 16 September 2014, due to his popular veneration.

December 12, 2014

The Fascinating History of the Relics of Saint Spyridon

By John Sanidopoulos

Saint Spyridon reposed in the Lord in the year 348 in his native Cyprus. It was observed soon after that his revered relics remained incorrupt and became a source of many miracles, to the glory of God. For three hundred years after his repose, his sacred relics remained in Cyprus, and in the seventh century, according to his biographer Bishop Theodore of Paphos in 655, they were placed in a church in Trimythous of Cyprus.

Due to the Arabic raids on Cyprus, the sacred relics of Saint Spyridon were transferred to Constantinople at the end of the seventh century, probably in the year 691 by order of Emperor Justinian II (685-695, 705–711). In Constantinople the relics were kept in a female monastery, according to testimony from a twelfth century manuscript (Cod. Paris. Gr. 1594), next to the male Monastery of Christ Philanthropos, probably in the Convent of the Panagia Kecharitomene, which were both founded in the eleventh century by Irene Dukas, wife of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1081–1118), and were separated by a wall.

The Healing of a Young Boy from a Deadly Illness in 1861 by St. Spyridon

A certain lad named John Pallios, the only son of Spyridon and Katherine Vrikos, were Orthodox Christians residing for many years in Barletta, a town in central Italy. Early in November 1861, when John was eight years of age, he was stricken by a severe case of typhoid fever which grew progressively worse over seventeen days, defying all medical treatment.