Dear Readers: A long time supporter of the Mystagogy Resource Center has informed me that they would like to donate $3000 to help me continue the work of this ministry, but they will only do it as a matching donation, which means that this generous donation will only be made after you help me raise a total of $3000. If you can help make this happen, it will be greatly appreciated and it would be greatly helpful to me, as I have not done a fundraiser this year. If you enjoy the work done here and want to see more of it, please make whatever contribution you can through the DONATE link below. Thank you!
(Total So Far - Day 6: $2350)

February 29, 2016

A Miracle of St. John Cassian in 1974 in Nicosia, Cyprus

In Nicosia stands the only church in Cyprus dedicated to St. John Cassian, in a quarter known as Agios Kassianos (Aykasyano in Turkish). It was built in 1854, next to an older church dedicated to the Saint from around 1780, and it contains ancient icons which are believed to have been brought over from the Church of Hagia Sophia in Nicosia after it was taken by the Turks and turned into a mosque. There is also an icon of St. John Cassian dating to 1730, which was encased in silver in 1786.

The Relics of Saint John Cassian in Marseilles

Skull of St. John Cassian

After visiting many monasteries and saints throughout Egypt, the Holy Land and Asia Minor, St. John Cassian went to Rome, where he accepted the invitation to found an Egyptian-style monastery in southern Gaul, near Marseilles. He arrived in Marseilles around 415. He founded a complex of monasteries for both men and women, one of the first such institutes in the West, and served as a model for later monastic development. It is believed this establishment was the Abbey of Saint Victor, or it was located nearby. Cassian died in the year 435 in Marseilles.

The Cave of Saint John Cassian in Romania

It is believed by some that Saint John Cassian was born in the village of Casian in Constanta of Romania, which is why he is often referred to as a Scythian. In Dobrogea there is the Monastery of Saint John Cassian, built in 2001, and nearby is the Cave of Saint John Cassian, where it is said he lived for a short time as an ascetic at an early age.

St. John Cassian on the Scriptural References to Those Who Are Figuratively Ambidextrous


By St. John Cassian

Conference 6,
Chapter 10

Of the Excellence of the Perfect Man who is Figuratively Spoken of as Ambidextrous

Those are they then who are figuratively spoken of in Holy Scripture as ἀμφοτεροδέξιον, i.e., ambidextrous, as Ehud is described in the book of Judges who used either hand as the right hand. And this power we also can spiritually acquire, if by making a right and proper use of those things which are fortunate, and which seem to be on the right hand, as well as of those which are unfortunate and as we call it on the left hand, we make them both belong to the right side, so that whatever turns up proves in our case, to use the words of the Apostle, the armor of righteousness.

Synaxarion of Saint John Cassian the Roman

On the twenty-ninth of this month [February], we commemorate our Holy Father Cassian the Roman.1


Cassian was brought to divine perception,
Divinely scented like noetic cassia.
On the twenty-ninth the high-minded Cassian died.2

Our most-venerable Father Cassian was from Old Rome,3 the son of pious and affluent parents, from whom he was given over to a teacher, and was educated in the pinncale of external philosophy. Along with this he was clever and sharp, and was fervent in earnestness and pursuit. He then gave himself over to the sacred and divine learning of the Old and New Scriptures. Thus he attained the pinnacle of divine knowledge, and ornamented his life with purity and cleanliness.

February 28, 2016

Saints Marana and Kyra, Two Female Ascetics of Syria

Sts. Marana and Kyra (Feast Day - February 28)


With the withering of their flesh,
Marana and Kyra have been made worthy to master the heavens.

By Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus, Syria

After recording the way of life of the heroic men, I think it useful to treat also of women who have contended no less if not more; for they are worthy of still greater praise, when, despite having a weaker nature, they display the same zeal as the men and free their sex from its ancestral disgrace.

At this point I shall treat of Marana and Kyra,1 who have defeated all the others in the contests of endurance. Their fatherland was Beroea, their stock the glory of their fatherland, and their upbringing appropriate for their stock. But despising all these, they acquired a small place in front of the town, and entering within it, walled up the door with clay and stones. For their maidservants who were eager to share this life with them they built a small dwelling outside this enclosure, and in this they told them to live. Through a small window they keep a watch on what they are doing, and repeatedly rouse them to prayer and inflame them with divine love. They themselves, with neither house nor hut, embrace the open-air life.

Like the Prodigal Son, We Must Come to our Senses (St. Paisios the Athonite)

St. Paisios the Athonite said the following:

God is very near us, but also very high. In order for someone to have God bend to descend and remain with them, they must be humbled and repent. Then, the greatly-compassionate God, beholding their humility, lifts them up to the Heavens and loves them greatly. There is joy in heaven over the repentance of a sinner, says the Gospel.

The Triodion is a Theater and We Must Choose our Roles. Who Will We Be?

By Archimandrite Porphyrios,
Abbot of the Holy Monastery of the Honorable Forerunner in Beroea

In many cases the Holy Gospel presents almost theatrical representations. It calls them parables.

They are not for play theater, with physical images and fake, but for us to choose roles and through them to gain, if we are able, sweet Paradise.

So now that the Triodion has begun, the curtain has opened, and the roles are before us again these first two Sundays, that is, the manner by which we will live our lives.

February 27, 2016

Holy New Martyr Elias of Trebizond (+ 1749)

St. Elias the Neomartyr (Feast Day - February 27);
photo shows the Monastery of Panagia Theoskepastos in Trebizond.

The Holy Neomartyr Elias was the son of a priest named Constantine and hailed from the village of Kryonero in Trebizond of Pontus, Asia Minor. For reasons unknown to us, he was apprehended by Muslims and underwent extremely painful torture in Molos (Mum Hani) to force him to convert to Islam. Refusing to abandon his faith in Christ, he was sentenced to be hanged in 1749. Christians took up his sacred relics and buried them at the Monastery of Panagia Theoskepastos in Trebizond.

Saint Thalelaios the Cilician

St. Thalelaios of Syria (Feast Day - February 27)


Thalelaios brightly has come towards the heavens,
Like a sprouting olive tree, he is crowned for his virtues.

By Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus, Syria

Nor shall I be silent about the story of Thalelaios (Thalelaeus);1 for the spectacle is full of wonder, and not only have I heard the accounts of others but have myself been an eyewitness of the extraordinary spectacle. At twenty stades from Gabala - it is a small and charming city - he repaired to a hill on which there was a precinct dedicated to demons and honored with many sacrifices by the impious of old. Here he pitched a small hut. They always served those miscreants, they said, in an attempt to appease by service their great cruelty, for they caused harm to many passing by or of the neighborhood, not only men but also asses and mules, oxen and sheep, not making war on irrational animals but by means of them plotting against men. On this occasion, when they saw him arrive, they tried to frighten him, but were unable to do so, since faith fenced him round and grace fought on his behalf. Therefore, filled with rage and frenzy, they proceeded against the trees planted there - there happened to be many flourishing fig and olive trees on this hill. They say that more than five hundred of these were suddenly uprooted; I heard this recounted by the neighboring peasants, who were formerly engulfed by the darkness of impiety but received through his teaching and miracle-working the light of the knowledge of God.

Saints Asklepios and James, Hermits of Syria

Sts. Asklepios and James (Feast Day - February 27)


All the righteous of the earth you judge O Master,
Two righteous men stood by each other.

By Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus, Syria

Of this company (Saint Polychronios, see Feb. 23) is also the wonderful Asklepios (Asclepius), who is ten stades distant (one mile) but who has keenly embraced the same way of life. He has the same food, dress, modesty of character, hospitality, brotherly love, kindness, and gentleness, intercourse with God, consummate poverty, abundance of virtue, wealth of philosophy, and all the other things we related concerning that sacred person. He is said, at the time he was numbered with the brethren who inhabit the village, to have embraced the ascetic and disciplined life, and to have derived no harm from mixing with the multitude. Therefore, for having been preeminent in each life, both the social and the eremitical, he will with good reason receive the honor of a double crowning.

February 26, 2016

Synaxarion of Saint Photini the Samaritan Woman and Those Martyred With Her

St. Photini and those with her (Feast Day - Gr. February 26, Slav. March 20; Fourth Sunday of Pascha)

On the twenty-sixth of this month [February], we commemorate the Holy Martyr Photini the Samaritan Woman, who conversed with Christ at the well, and those with her, namely her five sisters, her two sons, Sebastian the military commander and Theokletos the former magician.


Your Samaritan was cast into the well,
Who at the well you mutually greeted O Word.

The Holy and Great Martyr Photini, was the Samaritan woman who conversed with Christ at Jacob’s well in Samaria. The Gospel of John records how Christ knew about and revealed her history of many husbands. She was baptized along with her two sons and five sisters after Pentecost. They went with the Apostles preaching Christ, bringing many idolaters to the truth, for their teaching was filled with the power of Holy Spirit which they had received.

Saint Photini, the Chosen Evangelist

By Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria

Interpreting the sacred text of John the Evangelist and Theologian that refers to the meeting of Christ with the Samaritan woman, Saint Gregory Palamas offers us with his theological words an admirable exhortation: what should be the first priority in our lives?

Saint Gregory says that the Samaritan woman teaches us, with the abandonment of her house and water pitcher, to consider as preferable to our living needs the benefits of the teaching which our Lord referred to as "the good portion" to Martha, when he defended Mary who was listening attentively to His words (Lk. 10:42).

The Holy Water of Saint Photida and the Faith of the Turkish Aga

St. Photida (Feast Day - September 26)

Elder Gregory, of the Holy Monastery of the Honorable Forerunner and the Transfiguration, told us the following:

During one of the many times we went with the priest of my village, Papa-Aleko, to assist in the settlement of Amphipolis, we met an older man who then was helping the church of Amphipolis. Talking with him, he told us about an event that took place during the Turkish occupation, when he was a child of twelve years old:

February 25, 2016

Saint Maximus the Confessor on Heretics

By St. Maximus the Confessor

Heretics, therefore, we should in no way help, as heretics, even if we all are allowed without fear to do anything, both for the aforementioned reasons, nor to impinge on God without realizing it; and because it is not good to give them the freedom to festively process in their falsehood and protest against piety, so as to prevent them from shaking the secure foundation of the Faith of certain ones who are naive, with the bite of treachery, like snakes, appearing within us, and we also are found, without wanting, to participate in the punishment which hangs over them for this. [...]

Saint Alexander the Roman, Who Was Martyred in Drizipara of Thrace


For February 25th

Alexander was seen as the disk of the sun,
Beheaded for Christ, the glory of the Sun.

For May 13th

The sword cut off the head of a sacred man,
Coupling blood with the priesthood.

For May 14

The cutting off of the head was like a speeding ship,
Carrying Alexander from this life.

The Holy Martyr Alexander was from Carthage, but some maintain that he came from Puteoli of Italy. When he came of age he became a soldier and served in the regiment of the tribune Tiberian at Rome. When he was eighteen, the Roman Emperor Maximian Hercules (286-305) issued an edict that all citizens were to go to the temple of Jupiter outside the city on a designated day to offer sacrifice.

Synaxarion of Saint Tarasios, Patriarch of Constantinople

On the twenty-fifth of this month [February], we commemorate our Holy Father Tarasios, Archbishop of Constantinople.


The people received salvation from the tumult of the storm,
From Tarasios who was anchored and unwashed by the waves.
On the twenty-fifth Tarasios flew away from commotion.

Our Holy Father Tarasios dogmatized the veneration of the holy icons, which were in danger of being completely done away with and be lifted from the Church of Christ. With his cooperation the Holy and Seventh Ecumenical Synod gathered in the year 787, during the reign of Constantine and his mother Irene. Through this Synod, the Roman Emperors were turned once again to the revered traditions of the Holy and All-Praised Apostles, and the Saints of the former Ecumenical Synods, and the Holy Church of Christ was united with the Patriarchates.

February 24, 2016

The First and Second Finding of the Honorable Head of John the Forerunner

On the twenty-fourth of this month [February], we commemorate the First and Second Finding of the Honorable Head of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John.


From the earth was manifested the revered head of the Forerunner,
Exhorting once again to bear fruits that are worthy.
He who once baptized the crowds in running waters,
Was manifested in the earth and baptized in the spring of miracles.
On the twenty-fourth the head of the Forerunner was made manifest.

February 23, 2016

The Tightrope of the Triodion

By Protopresbyter Fr. Thomas Vamvinis

The period of the Triodion is a tightrope between excess and lack, sociability and inwardness, independence and obedience. With the hymns of the Triodion and the words of the Fathers, the Holy Church stigmatizes over-eating without measure, but also draws attention to the excess of fasting, possibly related to pride. She does not want to simply exhaust the body, but to transform the passions and make the mind dominant over anger and desire. This is why she turns the mind within, urging silence and prayer, as well as merciful giving. She inspires obedience to the will of God and in Christ to the whole creation, because this is the freedom of love.

Saint Polycarp of Smyrna Resource Page

St. Polycarp of Smyrna (Feast Day - February 23)


Polycarp sacrificed himself for You O Word,
Bearing much fruit in an astonishing manner by being bound to the fire.
On the twenty-third Polycarp was burned in the flames.

Hieromartyr Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna

Saint Polycarp as a Model for our Lives

Saint Polycarp and the Great Fire of Smyrna

The Right Hand of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna

Mystagogy Helps Bring Relic of St. Polycarp to Thousands in Romania

The Relic of the Arm of St. Polycarp is Stolen

The Man Who Stole the Right Arm of Saint Polycarp Identified

A Relic of Saint Polycarp Returns to Nafpaktos (Update on the 2013 Theft)

The Veneration of Saint Polycarp in Greece

The 12th Century Church of Saint Polycarp in Tanagra of Boeotia

Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian as a Model for our Lives

Saint Ignatius of Antioch Resource Page

Saint Boukolos Resource Page

Saint Pionius the Hieromartyr and Those With Him

Synaxarion of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna

On the twenty-third of this month [February], we commemorate the Holy Hieromartyr Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna.


Polycarp sacrificed himself for You O Word,
Bearing much fruit in an astonishing manner by being bound to the fire.
On the twenty-third Polycarp was burned in the flames.

Saint Polycarp was a close disciple of John the Theologian and Evangelist, together with Ignatius the God-bearer. He became Bishop of Smyrna after Saint Boukolos, who had prophesied concerning the episcopacy he was to receive. When the impious Antoninus Pius (138-161)* instituted a persecution against the Christians in the year 143, then this divine Polycarp was captured and brought before the proconsul, namely the second under the highest in command. Having boldly confessed Christ, he was perfected in martyrdom by fire, and so the blessed one received from the Lord the unfading crown of martyrdom.

The Letter of the Church of Smyrna Concerning the Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp


The Church of God which sojourns at Smyrna, to the Church of God sojourning in Philomelium, and to all the congregations of the Holy and Catholic Church in every place: Mercy, peace, and love from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, be multiplied.

Chapter 1. The subject of which we write

We have written to you, brethren, as to what relates to the martyrs, and especially to the blessed Polycarp, who put an end to the persecution, having, as it were, set a seal upon it by his martyrdom. For almost all the events that happened previously [to this one], took place that the Lord might show us from above a martyrdom becoming the Gospel. For he waited to be delivered up, even as the Lord had done, that we also might become his followers, while we look not merely at what concerns ourselves but have regard also to our neighbors. For it is the part of a true and well-founded love, not only to wish one's self to be saved, but also all the brethren.

February 22, 2016

The Pharisaical Abbot: A Didactic Story From the Life of Saint Hilarion Troitsky

The true saints always struggle to keep the genuine humility of the publican. They never believe in their own holiness and gifts. And of course, even though it may be obvious they have certain gifts of God in their lives, they never advertise them. Rather they hide them, and often ask God to have them removed for fear of falling into the passion of vainglory.

Saints Thalassios and Limnaios of Syria

Sts. Thalassios and Limnaios of Syria (Feast Day - February 22)


Limnaios and Thalassios by means of the sea,
Departed this life and have been brought to the harbor.

By Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus, Syria

Tillima is a village in our region, which formerly received the seeds of the impiety of Marcion, but now enjoys cultivation by the Gospel.1 South of it is a ridge neither too rough nor too flat; here an ascetic dwelling was built by the wonderful Thalassios (Thalassius), a man adorned with many other good qualities, but surpassing the men of his time in simplicity of character, gentleness, and modesty of spirit. I say this, not relying on hearsay alone, but having had experience; for I visited the man and often enjoyed his sweet company.

Saint Baradatos of Antioch

St. Baradatos of Antioch (Feast Day - February 22)


On earth you put to death your members as Paul says,
Partaking of life in the heavens Baradatos.

By Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus, Syria

The avenging spirit common to men has devised many ways of evil in his zeal to consign the whole human race to total destruction, and the nurslings of piety have devised many and differing ladders for the ascent into heaven. Some, contesting in companies - myriad are such communities, defeating enumeration - enjoy unageing crowns and attain the desired ascent; others, embracing the solitary life, practicing conversation with God alone and receiving no human consolation, enjoy in this way proclamation as victors. Some living in tents and others in cells chant hymns to God; others embrace the life in holes and caves. Many, of whom I have recalled some, have not been induced to have a cave or hole or hut or cell, but giving their bodies to the naked air endure contrasts of temperature, sometimes frozen by unrelieved frost, sometimes burnt by the fire of the sun's rays. Of these again the life is various: some stand all the time, others divide the day between sitting and standing; some, immured in enclosures, shun the company of the many; others, with no such covering, are exposed to all who wish to see them.

Finding of the Relics of Apostles and Martyrs at Eugenios in Constantinople

Finding of the Relics of the Holy Apostles and Martyrs of Eugenios (Feast Day - February 22)


Martyrs appeared hidden under the earth,
Taken up before all on the face of the earth harmed.
On the twenty-second the revered bones appeared in the earth.

During the persecutions against Christians the relics of the holy martyrs were usually buried by believers in hidden places. So at Constantinople, near the gates and tower in the Eugenios quarter,* the bodies of several martyrs were found. Their names remain unknown by the Church.

When miracles of healing began to occur at this spot, the relics of the saints were discovered after an investigation and transferred to a church with great honor. The discovery took place in the days of Patriarch Thomas I (607-610).** When the relics were displayed for veneration, many sick who attended were cured.

It was revealed many years later to a certain pious clergyman, Nicholas the Calligrapher, that among the relics discovered at Eugenios were the relics of the holy Apostle Andronikos of the Seventy and his assistant Junia (May 17 and July 30), whom the Apostle Paul mentions in the Epistle to the Romans: "Greet Andronikos and Junia, my relatives and my fellow prisoners; they are prominent among the apostles and they were in Christ before me" (Rom 16:7). In the twelfth century, a great domed church was built on the spot where the relics of the holy Martyrs were discovered. This work was undertaken by Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos (1183-1185), whose patron saint was the holy Apostle Andronikos.

* The Gate of Eugenios, between the Prosphorianos Harbor and the ancient Acropolis district of Constantinople, north of Hagia Sophia, was near the Seraglio Point, which is the apex of the triangle formed by the city on the Bosporus.

** The Great Synaxaristes records that the discovery took place during the reign of Emperor Arkadios (395-408). However, a conflict exists since Patriarch Thomas I came to the throne of Constantinople in the seventh century. There are three possible reasons for this inconsistency: 1) a transcription error; 2) they did not want to ascribe the discovery to the tyrannical Emperor Phokas (602-610); or, 3) it is possible the relics were discovered on two different occasions, first during the reign of Arkadios then during the reign of Phokas. This latter theory is most probable, since the Synaxaristes indicates that the relics of the Apostle Andronikos and Junia may have been discovered when it was revealed to Nicholas after "many years".

Apolytikion in the First Tone
O glorious Martyrs, you foundations of the Church, your venerable relics have appeared from the depths of the earth like spiritual roses and treasuries of graces. They breathe forth the grace of healing and grant the fragrance of life to those who lovingly call you blessed.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
When ye shone forth from the earth like luminaries, ye dispersed the gloomy mist of all impiety, O Saints, and ye enlightened believing souls, O godly Martyrs who championed the Trinity.

February 21, 2016

The Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Imagine now that we are patients in this hospital of the world. The sickness that every one of us is suffering from has the same name – unrighteousness. The word includes all the passions, all lust, all sins – all the weakness and enervation of our souls, our hearts and our minds.

The sick are one thing at the beginning of their illness, another at its peak and yet another in its healing. But such are the characteristics of these illnesses of the inner man that only those who are healed are aware of the terrible sickness from which they had been suffering.

The Beloved Priest of Saint Porphyrios Has Reposed

Aimilios Polygenis
February 21, 2016

Today, Sunday the 21st of February, at the age of 88, the known military priest of Sfakia in southwest Crete, Papa-George Chiotakis, reposed.

The charismatic Papa-George was from the village of Nomikiana which belongs to the municipality of Sfakia, and he had twelve children, for which the President of the Democratic Party Kostis Stephanopoulos honored him as a super-multi-child priest.

An Annual Miracle of Saint Anthimos of Chios on his Feast Day

I wanted to share a miracle I experienced yesterday, 15 February 2016, at the Sacred Monastery of Panagias Voitheias in Chios. Yesterday was the feast of Saint Anthimos of Chios, the founder of the Sacred Monastery of Panagias Voitheias, and I had the great blessing to be present at the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.

Are You a Publican or a Pharisee?

By Spyros Symeon

Today is the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. A known parable of the Lord that has a depth of meaning even though it was spoken 2,000 years ago, and today it is heard throughout our churches and its sound reaches the ears of our conscience.

February 20, 2016

Life and Sayings of Holy Abba Bessarion of Egypt

St. Bessarion of Egypt (Feast Day - February 20 and June 17)


After much sweat and pain Bessarion,
You found much of a return in wages through death.

Our Holy and Venerable Father Bessarion was born in Egypt, and at a young age he withdrew from the world to live the solitary life. He was initiated into the angelic life by Saint Anthony the Great (Jan. 17), and was a disciple of Saint Makarios (Jan. 19), the founder of Scetis. He then lived the life of a wanderer under the open air, fortified with faith, and overcoming the passions of the flesh. His asceticism was so severe, that he is recorded to have said, "Forty nights I remained standing among thorns without sleeping."

Saint Agathon, Pope of Rome (+ 681)

St. Agathon of Rome (Feast Day - February 20)


Agathon of Rome kept the rudder straight,
Drawing back the ship to noetic harbors.

Saint Agathon (Agatho) was born in Sicily to devout parents who made sure their son was well educated and learned the divinely-inspired Scriptures. Upon the death of his parents he distributed his inheritance to the poor and became a monk at the Monastery of Saint Hermes in Palermo.* There he strove to acquire all the virtues, and was noted for his humility, meek nature and a heart which overflowed with kindness. For this reason he was made worthy to receive the gift of wonderworking.

February 19, 2016

Photios the Great and the Eighth Ecumenical Synod (7 of 7)

6. The Personality of Photios the Great

When one studies the historical events that preceded the convening of the Eighth Ecumenical Synod, as well as those during and after the Synod, they will recognize the great personality of the sacred Photios. He was the dominant figure of that time and the most pensive, discerning and a great leader, who was able to see the urgency of the state of his time, and to have a sober and sensible mind. We can see this from three vantage points.

Saints Eugenios and Makarios the Confessors

Sts. Eugenios and Makarios the Confessors ( Feast Day - February 19)


As noble saplings you inhabited blessed ones,
The earth Eugenios and Makarios.


Before you died at the same time you suffered,
Countless torments Eugenios and Makarios.

Eugenios and Makarios were pious Christians who were arrested during the persecution of Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) for refusing to sacrifice to the idols. Brought before the tyrant, they steadfastly confessed Christ and rebuked the Emperor for having abandoned the Christian faith in order to worship lifeless idols. For this reason they were ordered to be tortured.

On Coexisting With People of Other Religions

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

We all want God to give unity of faith to the world. But you are confusing things.

The reconciliation of people is one thing, while the reconciliation of religions is another. Christianity requires all of us to love everyone with all our hearts, whatever faith they may have.

February 18, 2016

Photios the Great and the Eighth Ecumenical Synod (6 of 7)

4. The Self-Consciousness of the Synod as Ecumenical

The Synod was convened by Emperor Basil the Macedonian, was chaired by Patriarch Photios of Constantinople, was attended by representatives of the Pope and representatives of all the Patriarchates. The issues the Synod faced were doctrinal and ecclesiological, and therefore it can be safely assumed that it deemed itself to be the Eighth Ecumenical Synod. Indeed this is how it is recorded in the consciousness of the Church.

Synaxarion of our Holy Father Leo, Pope of Rome

On the eighteenth of this month [February], we commemorate our Holy Father Leo the Pope of Rome.


The soul of the divine Leo was released,
And demonic hordes he struck with fear.
On the eighteenth Leo released his soul.

Our Holy Father Leo flourished during the reign of Emperor Marcian (450-457). Due to his extraordinary wisdom and purity, and the simplicity and blamelessness of his life, he was ordained Bishop of Old Rome by the grace of the Holy Spirit. He was a venerable shepherd over his flock, and the blasphemies of the heretics he perfectly obliterated in the days of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod, at which six hundred and thirty Fathers gathered in Chalcedon in the year 451. He expounded and dogmatized on many things of the Orthodox faith, and mightily overthrew the doctrines of those heretics who taught the nonsense that Christ our God had one nature, one energy and one will.

Saint Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 449)

St. Flavian the Confessor (Feast Day - Gr. Feb. 16, Slav. Feb. 18)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich


Flavian became Patriarch of Constantinople following St. Proclus. He was a contemporary of St. Leo the Pope (Feb. 18). He fought resolutely against Eutyches and Dioscorus, but did not live to see the Triumph of Orthodoxy at the Fourth Ecumenical Synod [Chalcedon 451 A.D.), for prior to that at a heretical Robber Synod [Ephesus, 431 A.D.] he was mercilessly beaten, trampled upon and died there. Flavian was a faithful soldier of Christ, and a courageous defender and confessor of the Orthodox Faith. He died in the year 449 A.D.

February 17, 2016

Photios the Great and the Eighth Ecumenical Synod (5 of 7)

Emperor Basil I the Macedonian (867-886)

c) The Primacy of the Pope

Previously we showed how the West expressed the Primacy of the Pope. He was not viewed as having primacy of honor, but as the Primate of the Pentarchy system, a primacy of jurisdiction, with the attempt of the Pope to impose his views throughout the Church, considering himself to have canonical management and responsibility over it.

The legates of the Pope at the Synod tried to pass on the view that only the Apostle Peter and his successors have received the authority from Christ to "bind and loose", and they have the primary responsibility over the entire Church. Within this perspective the Pope is the only source of the priesthood, and this is why Patriarch Photios had no authority as a pontif, unless it came from the Pope. In the Minutes of the Synod it shows that the Pope viewed himself above the Synod, and he was the one to specify the decisions and ratify them. Even in the letter which the Pope wrote in Latin addressed to the Synod to put forward the issue of Photios, he gave a mandate for Photios to ask forgiveness for the problems he created in the Church, and in this way the Pope truly put himself above the other Patriarchs.

St. Theodore of Byzantium and the Miraculous Deliverance of Mytilene from the Plague in 1832

By George Sotiriou

In the year 1832, a terrible and deadly disease, the plague, hit the population of Mytilene. Deaths occurred each day and were increasing in number. Residents were forced to abandon their homes and flee to the surrounding hills in the hope that they would not get the disease. And even the city authorities left their offices in the city and took refuge in the mountains. The government had sent for teams of doctors from Constantinople and medicines, none of which had any effect.

But where human efforts failed, the grace of God was successful, by the prayers of the Holy New Martyr Theodore of Byzantium.

Holy Theodoroi Resource Page (Theodore the Stratelates and Theodore the Tiro)

Saint Theodore the Stratelates (February 8 & June 8) 

Synaxarion of the Translation of the Sacred Relic of Saint Theodore the General 
Saint Theodore the Tiro (February 17 & First Saturday of Great Lent) 

Synaxarion of Saint Theodore the Tiro and Great Martyr

On the seventeenth of this month [February], we commemorate the Holy Martyr Theodore the Tiro.


The Tiron was shown to be a newly-chosen soldier,
And approached God as a newly-burned soldier.
On the seventeenth the Tiron was burned in fire.

The Holy Martyr Theodore lived during the reigns of Emperors Maximian (286-305) and Maximinus (308-313), and resided in the metropolis of Amasea, which is an eminent city of Cappadocia off the coast of the Black Sea, and was from the village of Houmialos. At the time therefore when the Saint was numbered among the soldiers called the Tiron (Tiro means armed soldier, or rather was a newly enlisted recruit), when he was under the regimental command of Vriga, then he confessed that Christ was the true God, and that the idols of the Greeks were lifeless statues, the work of men's hands. Wherefore he was brought before his commander, and he gave Theodore some time and a deadline to think things over. Then the Saint did a great virtuous action, for he took an idol of Rhea, the mother of the gods, which played the Greeks for fools, and he threw it into the fire and burned it.

February 16, 2016

A Historic Athonite Icon of Saint Haralambos in the Hut of Saint Akakios

By Monk Patapios of Kavsokalyva

One of the sacred treasures of the Hut of Saint Akakios, which belongs to the Skete of the Holy Trinity of Kavsokalyva, is the historic portable icon which bears the inscription "Saint Haralambos the Rapid Helper", the work of an Athonite factory from the mid-18th century.

February 15, 2016

Holy New Martyr John the Koulakiotis (+ 1776)

St. John the Koulakiotis (Feast Day - February 15)

The Holy New Martyr John came from a village near Thessaloniki called Koulakia, now known as Halastra (or Pyrgos) and he was a teacher. For a certain period of time he went to Mount Athos, where he had a subordinate named Argyris.

Saint Eusebius the Hermit of Asikha

St. Eusebius of Asikha (Feast Day - February 15)


Gladly fleeing human contact in life,
Eusebius became the wonder even of Angels.

By Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus, Syria

To the Saints described above I shall add the great Eusebius, who died a short time ago.1 During a lifespan of very many years he endured labor equal to this time, accumulated virtue equal to this labor, and carried off therefrom a profit many times greater, for the Umpire surpasses the contests in the munificence of his gifts in return. Entrusting the care of himself at first to others, he followed where they led, for they too were men of God, athletes, and gymnasts of virtue. After passing time with them, and well and truly acquiring knowledge of philosophy, he embraced the solitary life. Repairing to a mountain ridge - adjacent to it is a large village which they call Asikha - and using a mere enclosure whose stones he did not even join together with clay, he continued for the rest of his life to endure the hardship of the open air, covered in clothing of skins, feeding on chick-peas and beans soaked in water; and sometimes he ate dried figs, trying thereby in some way to support the weakness of his body.

February 14, 2016

Feast of the Corinthian Co-workers of the Apostle Paul: Titius, Justus, Chloe and Crispus

On the first Sunday after the 13th of February there is celebrated "in ancient Corinth", the memory of the co-workers of the Apostle Paul: Titius, Justus, Chloe and Crispus.

We only have biographical information about Saint Chloe. Accordingly, Saint Chloe was from Corinth (not Ephesus as some sources say), and was a significant co-worker of the Apostle Paul to the Church of Corinth.

Chloe had spiritual ties with the great Apostle of Christ. She stood by the Apostle in his missionary ministry, as much as possible. The anxiousness of the Apostle Paul for the Church of Corinth was shared by Chloe. This is why when a quarrel took place in the Church of Corinth, she rushed to Paul in Ephesus (1 Cor. 1:11). It was because of this that Saint Paul wrote his Epistles to the Corinthians.

This act by Chloe testifies to her faith in Christ and care for the household of God. Chloe did not want quarrels and divisions. She didn't want groups of believers, but unity in Christ (1 Cor. 1:12). She wanted the Church of Christ to be one Body whose Head was Christ (1 Col. 1:18). Therefore, to dispel the factionalism of the Church of Corinth, she ran to the founder of the Church of Corinth. And this intervention brought positive results.

May such a desire burn also within our souls. The desire for unity. And when there is a quarrel in a local church, like Chloe, rush to intervene through the Priest or Bishop, and help to restore unity.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
The splendor of grace, illuminated your nous, you were shown to be an associate, of the Apostle of Christ, who you informed to straighten the hearts, of the Church of Corinth that honors you. Blessed Chloe, as a divine handmaiden, cease not to intercede, on behalf of our souls.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
With the divine teachings of the gospel, Chloe was fruitfully tilled as the earth, you approached the Lord glorious one, being granted the heavenly fruits of righteousness as divine glory.

Rejoicing you ran to Christ, blessed Chloe, having become divinely-minded through the teachings of the Apostles, you informed the earth by your conduct, and became a partaker of heavenly glory.