Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Historic Divine Liturgy After 600 Years in the Cretan Monastery of the Three Hierarchs

By John Sanidopoulos

The 14th century scholarly monk Joseph Philagres (or Philagrios) was born in Crete, when the island was under the Venetian occupation (1204-1669). His original name was John and took the name Joseph when he became a monk and priest. He studied Aristotelian philosophy, rhetoric, logic, and ethics in the Pandidakterion at Constantinople.

Saint Basil the Great Resource Page


Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Three Hierarchs: Towers of Faith

By Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria

January, the month of the Holy Fathers. It begins with the figure of Basil the Great and ends with the joint celebration of the three greatest luminaries of the Three-sunned Divinity: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom.

They are the strongholds of piety and the writing tablet of the Holy Spirit. They are the fragrant blossoms of Paradise, and the breasts from which gushed forth the milk of salvation, according to the expression of the sacred hymnographer.1

They are the foremost of the chorus of the Holy Fathers and Teachers, who with the illumination of the Holy Spirit expressed in their time and continue to express until today with their words which are timeless, the experience of divine truth.

Saint Theophilos the New

St. Theophilos the New (Feast Day - January 30)


The beloved head of Theophilos is honored,
Being unwilling to love the gods of the barbarians.

Saint Theophilos was born and raised in Constantinople during the reign of the Orthodox rulers, Emperor Constantine VI and Empress-regent Irene (780-802). He held the rank of military governor in the Kibyrrhaiotai theme. At that time the Romans launched a naval campaign against the Saracens, or rather the Hagarenes. He embarked on this campaign with two subordinate admirals, but they were envious of him. When the hostilities began, he attacked the Saracens with his forces, followed by his two admirals. Employing diverse military tactics and war engines, he overpowered the enemy. The victory was only short lasting, however, since the two envious admirals took the opportunity of delivering Theophilos over to the enemy by withdrawing from the fight.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Holy New Martyr Demetrios of Chios (+ 1802)

St. Demetrios of Chios (Feast Day - January 29)


Thessaloniki is not alone in having its boast.
Chios also has a Martyr named Demetrios.
Moreover, he has become an ointment being slain by cruel men.

Demetrios was born into a devout family on the island of Chios in 1780, his father being called Apostolos and his wife Maroulou. While still young, he went to work for his elder brother Zannes who was established as a merchant in Constantinople under an employer. After some time, between twenty and twenty-two, he got engaged without seeking his brother's consent, choosing first to write to his father of his plans, which so angered his brother that he and his employer threw Demetrios out of the house. Homeless and hungry, he remembered that one of his brother's Turkish clients owed a sum of money. Desperately he went to his estate as if on an errand from his brother to collect the debt, but really intending to make use of the money himself. The Turk was not at home and he was received by the man's daughter. She knew Demetrios by sight, for he had often come with goods, and she had been much taken by his handsome appearance. She managed to lure him into the home and employed her charms with diabolical skill, bringing him to the point of denying his faith and of promising to become a Muslim in order to marry her. Though he quickly came to change his mind, he spent about two months with her in the house as if a prisoner and under close surveillance, for observing his sad and gloomy countenance, the Turks of the household suspected that he might go back on his decision. Demetrios however looked for any opportunity to escape.

Saint Aphrahat the Persian

St. Aphrahat (Feast Day - January 29)


Though of the flesh and alive Aphrahat exists as dead,
He lives eternally, appearing lifeless and dead.

By Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus, Syria

That the nature of all men is one and that it is simple for those who wish to practice philosophy, whether they are Greeks or barbarians, is easy to learn from many other examples. Aphrahat1* on his own, however, is sufficient to show this dearly; for this man, though born and bred among the lawless Persians,2 stemming from such parents and educated in their customs, advanced to such virtue as to eclipse those who have been born of pious parents and have received a pious education from childhood. First of all, thinking nothing of his family, although it was distinguished and illustrious, he hastened to worship the Master, in imitation of his forebears the Magi; then, in disgust at the impiety of his kin, he chose a foreign country in preference to his own, and repaired to Edessa,3 a city large and well-populated and exceptionally illustrious in piety. Finding a hovel outside the city-walls and immuring himself, he tended his own soul, pulling out, like an excellent cultivator, the thorns of the passions by the roots, weeding the divine crop, and offering to the Master the seasonal fruits from the seeds of the Gospel.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Only Orthodox Monastery in the World Dedicated to St. Ephraim the Syrian

The Sacred Coenobitic Monastery of Saint Ephraim the Syrian in the Heart of Pieria

At the foot of Mount Olympus, in a place known as Panagia, on the border of the foothills of Olympus and Pieria, near the village of Kontariotissa in Katerini, is a female convent dedicated to the great Father of our Church, the Venerable Ephraim the Syrian. Indeed it is the only shrine to the Saint in all of Greece.

Patriarchate of Jerusalem to Officially Canonize St. John Jacob the Chozebite

The Patriarchate of Jerusalem will formally recognize on Sunday, 31 January 2016, the sainthood of the Romanian Venerable Father John Jacob of Neamţ, or the Chozebite, as the Representative of the Romanian Patriarchate to the Holy Land, V. Rev. Archimandrite Teofil Anăstăsoaie, informs us. At this event, the Romanian Patriarchate will be represented by a delegation led by His Grace Timotei of Prahova, Assistant Bishop to the Archdiocese of Bucharest.

The canonization ceremony of Venerable John Jacob will take place at Saint George the Chozebite Monastery, near Jericho, Israel. On this occasion, His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem and all Palestine, will officiate the Divine Liturgy. Many hierarchs, clergy and faithful are expected to attend the canonization ceremony.

We note that the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, during its working session of 20 June 1992, canonized the Venerable Father John Jacob of Neamţ, having his feast day on August 5th, the day of his passing to the Lord.

The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem decided during its autumn session of 2015 to recognize the sainthood of the Romanian Venerable Father John Jacob.

Official Announcement and Agreed Texts of the Synaxis of Primates Regarding the Holy and Great Synod 2016

The Orthodox Academy of Crete in Chania, Crete

Announcement of the Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches 

The items officially approved for referral to and adoption by the Holy and Great Synod are:

Saint Ephraim the Syrian Resource Page

St. Ephraim the Syrian (Feast Day - January 28)


Ephraim, the Syrian by tongue, once heard in psalms
A tongue he knew not calling him on high.
On the twent-eighth Ephraim’s soul was taken.


Synaxarion of Saint Ephraim the Syrian

Saint Ephraim the Syrian in the "Ecclesiastical History" of Sozomen

The Life of our Venerable Father Ephraim the Syrian (St. Theophan the Recluse)

Our Holy Father Ephraim the Syrian

Our Holy Father Ephraim the Syrian

St. Ephraim the Syrian (Feast Day - January 28)

Although St. Ephraim is commemorated before the beginning of Great Lent, he is more particularly remembered during this time in connection with the well-known prayer he composed: "O Lord and Master of my life..," which is recited repeatedly in the daily lenten cycle of services, as it should also be by Orthodox faithful in their private morning and evening prayers throughout the lenten period. The prayer may be said to capsulize the teaching of this eloquent Holy Father of the Church, who left several volumes of spiritually instructive writings which merited high praise from his illustrious contemporaries, St. Basil the Great and his brother St. Gregory of Nyssa. The life of St. Ephraim is perhaps no less instructive.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hieromonk Kosmas of Gregoriou, Missionary to Zaire (+ 1942-1989)

By Monk Moses the Athonite

Kosmas was born in 1942 in the village of Theodosia in Kilkis. At a young age he came with his parents to Thessaloniki, where they lived very poorly. The church was his second home and the priest of his parish was his second father. He enjoyed studying Holy Scripture and attending Catechetical School. From an early age he entered the struggle of life while studying at the same time. He became spiritually associated with the late Augoustinos Kantiotis (+ 2010) and began a correspondence with Fr. Chrysostomos Papasarantopoulos (+ 1972), who was in Africa. His desire for missionary work began to fester within him. He had contacts with Elder Philotheos Zervakos (+ 1980) of Longovardos Monastery in Paros. He knew technical work, mechanical work, electrical work, electronics, nursing, being a lifeguard and building things. He attended Apostoliki Diakonia for the Training Seminar for Catechists and took lessons in foreign missionary work, and he learned nursing at the Red Cross. He even received a degree in swimming. Later he would save a drowning child in a lake in Kolwezi. He wanted to study medicine, but was not able to do so. But he did go to the High School of Rizarios School.

The Location and Dates of the Holy and Great Synod of Orthodoxy 2016

According to, the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church will take place at the Orthodox Academy of Crete in Kolympari of Chania. The Synod will be presided over by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, with the Primates and their delegations participating from all the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches. The dates the Synod will be convened will be from June 16th to the 27th. On the Sunday of Pentecost, June 19th, a Panegyrical Divine Liturgy will be celebrated by the Ecumenical Patriarch and concelebrated with the various Primates at the Cathedral Church of Saint Menas in Herakleion.

Holy New Martyr Demetrios the Bartender of Constantinople (+ 1784)

St. Demetrios of Constantinople (Feast Day - January 27)

By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite


A heavenly light was set upon your relics,
Having been beheaded for Christ out of divine love.

Demetrios was a native of Galata in Constantinople and resided in the precinct of Karakoy, where he was a bartender at a tavern owned by a certain Hadji-Panagiotis. He was only twenty-five years old, handsome in appearance, and sober in conduct. For these virtues, he was always hated by the Laz Muslims,* who frequented the tavern. In various ways, they attempted to divert him from the Faith and make him a Muslim, but they strived in vain.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Wonderworking Icon of Saint Xenophontos in Mazotos, Cyprus

The Wonderworking Icon of Sts. Xenophon, Maria, Arcadius and John

Mazotos is a village 22 km away from Larnaca in Cyprus, close to the sea. The community today numbers about 1,200 predominantly Greek speaking Cypriots but with about 350 expatriates who are there on a permanent basis as retirees.

At a distance of half a kilometer from the heart of the village of Mazotos, in the northeast, there is the Chapel of Saint Xenophontos the Xorinos which dates to 1821. The icon of the Saint that also depicts his wife Maria and sons Arkadios and John is also dated to 1821, according to an inscription on the icon. It was returned to the village by Hadji-Demetrios, a camel man from Voukolida of Karpasia, who came to and was married at Mazotos.

It was a summer night, in the middle of the century before last, when Saint Xenophontos appeared to him and said:

"Wake up to go and bring me to Mazotos, and the village will see good things from me."

Saint Symeon the Ancient

St. Symeon the Ancient (Feast Day - January 26)


You did away with the dirt Ancient Symeon,
The head of the ancient enemy you reduced to the dirt.

By Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus in Syria

If one were deliberately to omit Symeon the Ancient* and consign the memory of his philosophy to oblivion, one would doubtless not escape a charge of injustice and malice, as neither being willing to praise what is worthy of praise nor offering what is worthy of love for imitation to those wishing to benefit; I myself not from fear of accusation but through desire to praise shall make the narration of this man's way of life. He persevered for the greatest possible length of time in embracing the eremetical life and dwelling in a tiny cave; he enjoyed no solace from men, for he chose to live alone, but discoursed persistently with the God of the universe. It was edible plants that he made his food. This toil won him also the gift of rich grace from above, even to the extent of exercising authority over the most bold and fearsome of wild animals. And this was manifest not only to the pious but also to unbelieving Jews.

Commemoration of the Great Earthquake of Constantinople (mid-5th cent.)

Great Earthquake of Constantinople (Feast Day - January 26)


You shook but again halted the earth O Word,
Your compassion being greater than Your wrath.

During the final years of the reign of Emperor Theodosius II (408-450), on a Sunday, at the second hour, there occurred such a great earthquake in Constantinople, that it destroyed the city walls, together with many homes and neighborhoods of the city. Extensive damage was especially suffered from the port of Troas to the copper Tetrapylon.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Saint Gregory the Theologian Resource Page

St. Gregory the Theologian (Feast Days - January 19, 25, 30)

St. Gregory the Theologian and the Healing of the Castrated Emperor

Sabbatios was the oldest son of the Roman Emperor Leo V the Armenian (813–820). After Leo deposed Michael I and ascended the throne on Christmas 813, he had the young Sabbatios crowned co-emperor and renamed Constantine. This name was not chosen by chance, as both were iconoclasts who reinstated the iconoclasm of Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (717–741) and his son Constantine V (741–775). In 815 on Easter, Constantine nominally presided, as his father's representative, over a Church Synod in Constantinople, which reinstated the ban on the veneration of icons.

Synaxarion of Saint Gregory the Theologian

On the twenty-fifth of this month [January], we commemorate our Holy Father Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople.


For the Orthodox to know God as essence,
Was given to the Christians as a gift from Gregory.
On the twenty-fifth Gregory who spoke of divine things died.

The Great Gregory the Theologian flourished during the reigns of Emperors Valens (364-378) and Theodosius the Great (379-395), and was from Cappadocia Secunda. His parents, Gregory and Nonna, were noble and just, and at one time revered the idols out of ignorance. After giving birth to the Great Gregory, they also were reborn by water and the Spirit, namely through Baptism, and his father became the Bishop of Nazianzus.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Holy and Great Synod Will Take Place in Crete in June 2016

The Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church will meet in June this year, according to the Athens News Agency-Macedonian Press Agency (ANA-MPA).

A decision was made as the Primates are gathered in a Synaxis at the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambesy, Geneva, whose work is done under the presidency of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

Of course, for the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church to meet in June, during the period of Pentecost (06/19/2016), the Primates in Geneva must definitely choose the themes and regulations.

The Translation of the Relics of the Holy Martyr Anastasios the Persian


You are crowned Anastasios with the grace of your contest,
Granting us grace through your relics.

While Saint Anastasios was undergoing cruel tortures in Caesarea of Palestine at the orders of the Persian governor there, the Abbot of the Monastery of Saint Anastasios near Jerusalem and spiritual father of the Holy Martyr, Justin, learned of his desire to suffer for Christ, therefore he requested that the entire brotherhood entreat the Lord on his behalf, in order that he faithfully and courageously complete the path of martyrdom. He himself wrote a letter to Saint Anastasios, which he sent through two monks of the brotherhood, where he encouraged the Holy Martyr in his contest, and this made him more eager to fulfill his desire. One of these monks, by order of the Abbot, even followed the Saint when he was sent from Caesarea to Persia, in order to serve his needs and comfort his soul, which suffered due to his ill-treatment. Furthermore, by witnessing the sufferings and martyrdom of the Saint, he could provide eye-witness testimony to the events as they transpired, in order to inform the Abbot and the brotherhood. After the blessed Anastasios completed his great martyric contest by being strangled to death with seventy other Christians and beheaded, then the brother monk went with other God-loving Christians of the area in order to acquire back his sacred and venerable body. They then beheld an astonishing wonder, for while the other bodies were being eaten by dogs, the relic of the Holy Martyr they refused to approach, rather they reverently protected it. Wherefore the brother monk took the body and gave it the appropriate honors in the little time he had, and buried it in the nearby Monastery of the Holy Martyr Sergios. This took place in the tenth year of the reign of Heraclius, on the 22nd of January. The monk stayed in Persia for a short while, trying to figure out how to return to his Monastery in Jerusalem without falling into danger.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Highest Altitude Orthodox Chapel in All of Greece and the Balkans (photos + videos)

The peak of Profitis Ilias on Mount Olympus in Greece

Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and the second highest mountain in the Balkans. Built at an altitude of 2803 meters on the Mouson Plateau (Plateau of the Muses), 10 minutes from the Skiing and Hiking Association refuge, Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elijah or Elias) is the highest chapel in all of Greece and the Balkans (and perhaps the world).

Saint Salamanes the Hesychast

St. Salamanes the Hesychast (Feast Day - January 23)


Crawling on the ground and sunk down in life,
Your acts and words were lofty Salamanes.

By Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus in Syria

Since I think I would be wronging virtue if I were not also to make known to posterity the life of the wonderful Salamanes,* but allow it to be buried by oblivion, I shall, in summary, make the narration. To the west of the river Euphrates, lying on the very bank, is a village called Capersana. Originating from this village, he embraced the quiet life. Finding a small hut in the village on the opposite bank, he confined himself, leaving neither door nor window. Once a year he would dig a hole at ground level and receive his food for the whole year, never speaking to anyone; and he continued in this way not for a short time but for the longest possible.

Saint Paulinus the Merciful, Bishop of Nola (+ 431)

St. Paulinus of Nola (Feast Day - January 23)

Pontius Meropius Paulinus was born c. 352 at Bordeaux, in southwestern France. He was from a notable senatorial family with estates in the Aquitaine province of France, northern Spain, and southern Italy. He was educated in Bordeaux, where his teacher, the poet Ausonius, also became his friend. At some time during his boyhood he made a visit to the shrine of St Felix at Nola near Naples.

His normal career as a young member of the senatorial class did not last long. In 375, the Emperor Gratian succeeded his father Valentinian. Gratian made Paulinus suffect consul at Rome c. 377, and appointed him governor of the southern Italian province of Campania c. 380-1, but in 383 Gratian was assassinated at Lyon, France, and c. 384 Paulinus returned to Bordeaux. There he married a Spanish Christian woman named Therasia. Paulinus himself became a Christian and was baptized c. 389 by Bishop Delphinus of Bordeaux. Shortly afterwards, his wife and he moved to their estates in Spain. When they lost their first child, a boy, only eight days after birth, the couple decided to live a secluded religious life.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Miraculous Discovery of the Icon of Panagia Eleistria in Koroni in 1897

The Icon of the Christ Crucified discovered in Koroni.

On January 22nd our Holy Church honors the miraculous finding of the Sacred Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos Eleistria in Koroni, which was found in 1897 in Koroni of Messenia, Greece.

The discovery of the miraculous icon of the Eleistria is based on a vision of a most pious old woman from Koroni named Maria G. Stathakis.

An Orthodox Chapel Inside a 400 Year Old Oak Tree

This chapel in a 400-year-old oak tree is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and located in the Kutaisi Botanical Garden in Kutaisi, Georgia.

Holy Martyr Anastasios the Persian (+ 628)

St. Anastasios the Persian (Feast Day - January 22)


Anastasios is strangled by the throat,
The cord becoming beautified with brilliance.
On the twenty-second Anastasios underwent strangling.

Anastasios, the glorious Martyr of Christ, was from Persia, and lived at the time when the Persian King was Chosroes II (590-628), and the Roman Emperor was Heraclius (610-641). Anastasios' Persian name before Baptism was Magundat, the son of a magi named Vav, and from him he thoroughly learned the magical arts. He then entered into military service at the time when the Persians invaded Palestine, where they sacked the holy city of Jerusalem, and took many of its inhabitants as slaves. Among those held in bondage was the Honorable and Life-Giving Cross, on which our Lord endured His Passion, and they took it to Persia. While in the hands of the Persians, the Honorable Cross worked many miracles, causing many to say that the God of the Christians had come to Persia.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Saint Maximus the Confessor Resource Page

St. Maximus the Confessor (Feast Day - January 21 and August 13)

Brief Life of Saint Maximos the Greek (+ 1556)

By George Martzelos

Saint Maximos the Greek was one of the most distinguished monks and theologians of the 16th century, famed for his missionary activities and reforming achievements in the Russia of his time.

He was born in Arta in around 1470 of respected and prosperous parents, and his name in the world was Michael Trivolis. At an early age he went to study in Italy, at major centers of the Renaissance, where he was taught by distinguished Greek scholars.

On the completion of his studies in Italy, Michael Trivolis determined to embrace the monastic life on the Holy Mountain, choosing as his place of residence the renowned Monastery of Vatopaidi. Thus, towards the end of 1505 or in early 1506 he was tonsured as a monk, taking the name of Maximos, and devoted himself with zeal to study and the pursuit of the spiritual life. He remained in the Monastery for ten years as an ordinary monk, avoiding holding monastic offices, but taking part in various missions for the Monastery in Macedonia and the islands, where he preached the word of God.

The Severed Right Hand of St. Maximus the Confessor

During the reign of the monothelite Emperor Constans II (630-668), Saint Maximus the Confessor was exiled three times, but before the third time an incident took place that earned him the title of "Confessor". To put an end to his teaching and writing about the Orthodox faith against Monothelitism, the Emperor ordered that his tongue be cut out and his right hand severed. Then as he was carried off to his third exile from Constantinople to the Caucasus, it was ordered that his severed members be hung around his neck as he was paraded through the City. Saint Maximus reposed in exile in 662.

Holy Martyr Neophytos of Nicaea

St. Neophytos of Nicaea (Feast Day - January 21)


Neophytos rooted out the earthly tree,
Planting one new and beautiful even as a child.

The Holy Martyr Neophytos was born in Nicaea of Bithynia, to Christian parents who were named Theodore and Florentia, and lived during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). From early infancy he was full of the grace of God.

One day when he was nine years old he was in the company of other children who were all thirsty, and while praying at the door of a church he struck a rock with a finger, which caused a spring of water and milk to pour forth and quenched their thirst as well as that of a large crowd that came to see the wonder. Instead of becoming vainglorious over such a display of the power of God through his prayers, Neophytos was humbled and strove to conceal his virtuous way of life.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Revelation of the Torments of the Damned to Abba Makarios the Great

This image depicts a beneficial story told by Abba Makarios the Great of Egypt (Jan. 19) and recorded in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers. It is from the Cemetery Church of All Saints in the town of Perama of Rethymnos, the seat of the municipality of Mylopotamos of Crete, by the iconographer Emmanuel Sephakis. It illustrates through graphic imagery the torment of those who lived life selfishly, in turn having no communion with God or man in the next life, as well as the alleviation the damned receive when they are prayed for by the righteous. The tale is told as follows:

Elder Sophrony on the Toll Houses, Hell and Paradise

- The toll houses about which the Fathers write are symbols of a reality. The Fathers understand them as follows: after the fall of man, the soul is nourished by the body, in other words, it finds refreshment in material pleasures. After death, however, these bodily passions that used to divert the soul no longer exist, because the soul has left the body, and they choke and stifle the soul. These are the toll houses and hell. Abba Dorotheos says that hell is for someone to be shut up for three days in a room without food, sleep or prayer. Then he can understand what hell is.

A Saint Worthy of Emulation: Saint Euthymios the Great

By Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes

Blessed are those who have abandoned the world and the things of the world for the love of the Savior Christ. Blessed are those who struggle to gain communion with God by means of pure prayer. Blessed are those who struggle in this life to acquire the virtues. Blessed are those who repent and abhor the works of sin. Blessed are those who "die in the Lord" because their wage will be much in heaven.

Today our Holy Orthodox Church celebrates the memory of our Venerable Father Euthymios the Great. Saint Euthymios was born in 377 in the Armenian city of Melitene near the Euphrates River during the reign of Roman Emperor Gratian. His parents, Paul and Dionysia, were noble and virtuous, but they did not have children. They begged God daily to give them a child and cease their pain.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Saints Makarios of Egypt the Anchorite and Makarios of Alexandria the Citizen

Sts. Makarios of Egypt and Makarios of Alexandria (Feast Day - January 19)


The pair of Makarii had a divine death,
Sharing in the most blessed life.
On the nineteenth the Makarii obtained the blessed land.

By St. Palladius, Bishop of Helenopolis

(The Lausiac History, chs. 17-18)

I hesitate either to speak or write the many great and incredible events that happened in connection with those famous men, the two Makarii, lest I should incur the suspicion of being a liar; indeed the Holy Spirit has declared that "the Lord destroys all them that speak falsehood" (Ps. 5:6). So do not disbelieve me, most believing one, for I am not lying. Of these Makarii the one was an Egyptian by race, the other an Alexandrian [i.e. Roman], a seller of sweetmeats.

Saint Mark the Eugenikos - the Star of Ephesus

St Mark, whose name in the world was Manuel, was born of pious parents in 1392 in the queen of cities, Constantinople. His father was called George and was the Sakellarios and Deacon of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia, and his mother was Maria who was the daughter of the pious physician Luke.

Both parents tried and succeeded in raising Manuel in the education and admonition of the Lord. But the death of his father left him and his younger brother John orphans at a tender age.

His first letters, the Saint learnt from his father George, who had a famous private school. After the death of his father, his mother sent him to continue his studies to the then most famous teachers, John Cartasmeno (later Metropolitan Ignatius of Selmyria) and the mathematician and philosopher George Gemistus Plethon. Among his classmates was the later sworn enemy Cardinal Bessarion.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Saint Athanasius the Great Resource Page

St. Athanasius the Great (Feast Days - January 18 and May 2)


Synaxarion of Saints Athanasius and Cyril, Archbishops of Alexandria

On the eighteenth of this month [January], we commemorate our Holy Fathers Athanasius and Cyril, the Archbishops of Alexandria.


To Athanasius
Although dead Athanasius lives,
For the righteous live even when dead.

To the Flight of Cyril
Today is prescribed the commemoration of the flight of Cyril,
Where he accomplished an ever-memorable achievement.

On the eighteenth the body of Athanasius was mournfully buried.

Of these two Holy Fathers of ours, Saint Athanasius flourished during the reign of Constantine the Great (306-337) and was present at the First Ecumenical Synod in Nicaea in the year 325 as a Deacon of Archbishop Alexander of Alexandria. There he put to shame the impious Arius with wise words and proofs from Holy Scripture. Following the repose of the blessed Alexander, he was made Archbishop of Alexandria. Because Constantius (337-361), the son of Constantine the Great, was an Arian, he exiled this Great Athanasius to various places. After the blessed one remained steadfast for forty years in such persecution, he departed to the Lord.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Saint Anthony the Great Resource Page

St. Anthony the Great (Feast Day - January 17)


Having the stature of heaven and intelligent beings,
You are the leader of ascetics Anthony.
On the seventeenth Anthony thereupon was lifted up.

Synaxarion of Saint Anthony the Great

On the seventeenth of this month [January], we commemorate our Holy Father Anthony the Great.


Having the stature of heaven and intelligent beings,
You are the leader of ascetics Anthony.
On the seventeenth Anthony thereupon was lifted up.

Our Holy Father Anthony was from Egypt, and was taught the Christian faith by his father and mother. He flourished during the reigns of Diocletian (284-305) and Maximianus (286-305), attaining in age also the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337). Having therefore given himself over to a life of asceticism, and exceeding all the ascetics and venerable ones of his time, he became for all those that came after him an example and model of asceticism. And the amazing thing is, that he was the first, or among the very few, who originated such a super human asceticism and angelic state, and practically alone attained the highest peak of such a state, as his extensive biography records.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Are Female Animals Forbidden in Mount Athos?

By John Sanidopoulos

Though it is commonly known human females are forbidden from entering Mount Athos, based on the ancient monastic principle of "avaton", which states that if they wish to enforce it females should not enter male monasteries and males should not enter female monasteries, it is also commonly believed and highlighted that Mount Athos forbids female animals as well. A Google search of "Mount Athos female animals" will show how persistently this is believed, especially by the foreign press. Just a few days ago the U.K. Daily Mail even included it in a title of a press release that had nothing to do with the subject, where it said: "The Striking Images of Mount Athos in Greece Where Women and Children are Banned (and even female animals are forbidden)". Is it true therefore that female animals are forbidden in Mount Athos?

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Dangers of Parisian Theology

Orthodox Ecclesiastical Theology

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

When we speak of Parisian theology, we mean that theology which was formed from various Russian theologians that had opposed the reforms of Peter the Great, and which was expressed in the West by Russian slavophile immigrants. The Theological Institute of St. Sergius in Paris cultivated the basic concepts of this theology, because many Russian theologians fled there.

It is, of course, known that these Russian theologians had a sense of the Orthodox hesychastic tradition and, observing the humanistic principles of western civilization, entered into dialogue with the various philosophical and religious movements of the West and tried to help. That is, they sought to do what the Church Fathers of the fourth century did, namely to respond to the inquiries of westerners, and to solve, by means of Orthodox Revelation, the existential, philosophical, anthropological, social, and other such problems prevailing in the West.

Synaxarion of Saint Paul of Thebes

On the fifteenth of this month [January], we commemorate our Holy Father Paul of Thebes.


If the gates of Thebes in Egypt are a miracle,
How much more Paul, and the radiant gates of his life?
On the fifteenth Paul the offspring of Thebes died.

Our Holy Father Paul lived during the reign of Decius (‎249–251) and Valerian (253-260), and was from the city of Thebes in Egypt. When he came to know that the husband of his sister sought to betray him to the tyrants as a Christian, with the aim of inheriting the portion of the Saint's parental inheritance: for this reason he departed and fled like David into the desert and mountains, in fear of the torments inflicted on Christians by the tyrants. With the passing of time, the fear of torment lessened, while in the heart of the Venerable One there increased the fear of God, and the longing to be in God's favor. For this reason he went into the deepest desert, and he entered a cave, where he passed the remainder of his life in peace and in impassivity to the passions, and he departed to the Lord.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Elder Symeon of Xenophontos († 1893–1984): His Visions of Christ and the Theotokos

Elder Symeon of Xenophontos († 1893–1984)

I remember when I was 55 to 60 years old, and I wondered about a great matter. I wanted to know how is Christ. I prayed constantly, but I never saw Him with my eyes how He is.

Is He perhaps a man like me? This is what I would often ask Christ in my thoughts: "How are you Christ? Do you have a mouth, hands, eyes, feet? Do you walk like us? Where are you now and from where do you come from when I call on you in my prayers? How are you here and at the same time in the Heavens?"

So one night, before the bell struck for the Midnight Service, Matins and Divine Liturgy, I heard two or three knocks on the door of my Cell. I got up, opened it, and what did I see?

Thirty-Three Holy Fathers Massacred at Raithu


Just as Rachel once did for her children, now for the Abbas,
Raithu weeps, having been slaughtered together with swords.

Raithu is two-days journey from Mount Sinai, on the shores of the Red Sea, where the Hebrews, in the course of their journey to the Promised Land, had found twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees (Ex. 15:27). There holy ascetics lived in quietude and prayer, until one day during the reign of Diocletian (284-305) when 300 Blemmyes from Ethiopia came ashore and killed 147 Christians from Pharan like wild animals, and captured their wives and children. They then came upon the fortified church of Raithu, where thirty-three fathers had taken refuge. There the Abbot Paul encouraged his monks to persist to the end and rejoice in joining the choir of holy Martyrs in heavenly glory.

Thirty-Eight Holy Fathers Massacred at Mount Sinai

38 Holy Fathers Massacred at Mount Sinai (Feast Day - January 14)


Swords exacted many murders,
Ill-treating men who loved virtue.
On the fourteenth the Abbas were slain with the sword.

Long before Emperor Justinian built the great Monastery on the slopes of Mount Sinai in 527 like a desert fortress to protect the monastic fathers from dangerous marauders, many ascetics were scattered throughout the wilderness in their longing to attain union with God by abandoning all things temporal and vain for a life of prayer and beloved asceticism.

Saint Theodoulos, the Son of Saint Nilus of Sinai

Venerable Theodoulos (Feast Day - January 14)


Theodoulos was seen to be great in virtue,
Imitating indeed the life of his father.

Theodoulos was the son of the wise and holy Nilus (Nov. 12), who had been the Prefect of Constantinople, but fled the glory of this world and went to Mount Sinai with his son Theodoulos and became a monk. His wife and daughter also went to Egypt and together retired into a convent. Nilus and Theodoulos lived there in quietude and prayer, until one day the defenseless ascetics were attacked by marauding Saracens, and were slaughtered. Saint Nilus managed to flee, while his son Theodoulos was captured together with another young monk, and they were dragged away by force.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

St. Maximos of Kapsokalyvia and Fourteenth-Century Athonite Hesychasm

By Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia

"Here every stone breathes prayers", Fr. Nikon of Karoulia (1875-1963) used to say when walking along the steep and rocky paths of Athos. But while each part of Athos possesses its own distinctive sense of the divine presence, there is one region in particular where the spirit of the Holy Mountain can be felt with an especial intensity. This is the district extending eastwards from the Skete of Great Saint Anna, round the southern tip of the peninsula, as far as the Great Lavra. In scenery it is the wildest and most spectacular area of Athos, a land of ravines and precipices, with the slopes of the Mountain rising abruptly from the sea to the summit over six thousand five hundred feet above. Access here is only by boat or by rough footpaths; for the roads that disfigure the Athonite landscape elsewhere have not penetrated as far as this, and it may be hoped that they never will. There are no cenobitic houses in this section of Athos but only small hermitages, some grouped in monastic villages such as Great Saint Anna or Kerasia, others hidden and isolated. This is the living heart of Athos, its inner sanctuary.

Saints Hermylos and Stratonikos as Models for our Lives

Sts. Hermylos and Stratonikos (Feast Day - January 13)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saints Hermylos and Stratonikos lived during the reign of Emperor Licinius (308-322), who to please the pagans ordered a persecution against the Church and its members. He closed and demolished sacred churches and put many Christians to death, after subjecting them to cruel and inhumane torture. Deacon Hermylos spoke against the extermination of so many innocent people, who were perfectly honorable and law-abiding citizens. Of course, he was arrested, cruelly tortured and thrown in prison. In prison he prayed and chanted hymns to the glory of God, and he was peaceful and calm, being "full of the Holy Spirit." Because he remained firm in his faith, and unharmed, he was subjected to even more cruel tortures. Nearby was one of his close friends, Stratonikos, who seeing the torments of his friend wept. When the executioners saw him weep they tortured him. When he also gave his confession of faith, they were both put to death together. Thus, they jointly were made worthy of receiving the unfading crown of martyrdom.

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