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December 31, 2017

The Earliest Extant Sermon for New Years Day by Asterios of Amasea

Oration 4: Adversus Kalendarum Festum attacks the pagan customs and abuses of the New Years feast of the late 4th century, denying everything that Libanius had said supporting it. The sermon is an earnest protest against the evils into which New Year's festivals had drifted in his day. This is the earliest extant New Year's sermon, and in that respect it is unique. The strange customs portrayed in it make it peculiarly fascinating.

Oration 4

Against the Festival of the Calends

By Asterius of Amasea

January 1, 400 AD

Yesterday and today two feasts, not only unrelated and discordant, but wholly adverse and hostile to each other, have been celebrated. One is of the rabble without, gathering, in large sums, the money of mammon, and bringing in its train bargaining, vulgar and mean. The other is of holy and true religion, inculcating acquaintance with God, and the virtue of the purified life. And since many, preferring the luxury and absorption which arise from vanity, have left off going to church, come, let us with a discourse dispel from your souls this foolish and harmful delight, which as a sort of inflammation of the brain, with laughter and jesting, induces death. And in the treatment of the subject I may fittingly emulate Solomon. For in counseling young men to keep themselves from the snares of licentiousness, in order to make his own admonition cogent and effective, he personifies excess as an abandoned woman, and, by portraying all her wickedness, he thus exposes her to her dupes as deserving of their hatred.1 Wherefore I, too, after showing the vanity of the human heart in my discourse, will attempt to convert the lovers of pleasure from their misdirected zeal.


The Cell and Tomb of Saint Melania the Younger in Jerusalem

Saint Melania the Younger was initially a wealthy matron from Rome, who came to Jerusalem in 417 to establish a convent near the Mount of Olives and live out the rest of her days in asceticism. When she arrived in Jerusalem with her mother and husband Pinianus, Melania with her mother took up her abode in a little cell of the common hospice for pilgrims, close to the Church of the Resurrection, while Pinianus, it seems, was separated from them, the men being lodged in a place apart from the women. Here, then, in the heart of Jerusalem, and flooded with the luminous rays from our Lord's Cross and Sepulchre, Melania's soul was consumed more and more with the fire of Divine Love. Buried in obscurity, and enjoying the most complete self-effacement, she found her delight in continual fasting, in unwearied prayer, in charity and assiduous study of the Holy Scriptures. Her brief rest was taken on the hard ground, covered only with little mats of rough hair-cloth. When the shadows of evening fell, and the custodians at the end of Vespers closed the gates of Constantine's Basilica, it was a beautiful and touching sight to behold Melania go forth alone from her little cell, and prostrate herself before the doors of the Sanctuary, there to pass the night in prayer and vigil until they were opened again at cock-crow in the morning. The severe and prolonged fasts, with other austerities, brought on an illness during which it was with great difficulty that the Saint was prevailed upon to accept a pillow upon which to rest her aching head.

How You Can Help the Mystagogy Resource Center This Christmas

Dear Readers:

With the Christmas season underway, we tend to lose focus on the true meaning of the holiday amid all the hustle and bustle. And the true meaning of the holiday is best arrived at through the prescription of the Church during the Advent Season, which is threefold - prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Giving is important during the Christmas season because we imitate God by doing so, Who gave us His Only Begotten Son. There are many ways we can give back to God in gratitude and to give to our fellow people, and we should take advantage of these opportunities as much as we can. Among these is to support a ministry that is beneficial to you and to thousands like you, such as the Mystagogy Resource Center.

Synaxarion of Saint Melania the Younger of Rome

St. Melania the Roman (Feast Day - December 31)


Not with a physical hand and ink Melania,
Did Christ record you among the living after death.
On the thirty-first Melania was taken away from life.

This Saint lived during the reign of Emperor Honorius (393-423), son of Theodosius the Great, and was from a wealthy and illustrious and glorious family. Because she loved the Lord with all her soul, she preferred to live a life of virginity. Her parents however joined her in marriage against her will with a man.* By this she became the mother of two children. Later the parents lost their children to death. For this reason the blessed one left the city of Rome, and went to live in its suburb, and there she pursued every form of asceticism and virtue.** She took care of the sick, received strangers who came to her, and visited those in prison or exile. After this she sold all her many belongings and properties, and gathered from them twelve myriads of gold, namely one hundred and twenty thousand florins. These she distributed to churches and monasteries.

Saints and Feasts for the Sunday After Christmas

Saints Joseph the Betrothed, James the Brother of God 
and David the Prophet

Synaxarion for Joseph the Betrothed, James the Brother of God and David the Prophet

Sunday After Christmas: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Sunday After Christmas: Joseph the Betrothed, James the Adelphotheos and King David

The Sunday After the Nativity of Christ

Homily for the Sunday after Christmas (Archimandrite George Kapsanis) 

Saints and Feasts of December 31

On the thirty-first Melania was taken away from life.

Leavetaking of the Feast of the Nativity of Christ

Orthodox Christmas Resource Page

Venerable Melania the Roman

Synaxarion of Saint Melania the Younger of Rome

Saint Melania the Younger of Rome (Palladius of Helenopolis)

Life of Saint Melania the Younger of Rome (St. Dimitri of Rostov)

The Cell and Tomb of Saint Melania the Younger in Jerusalem

Holy Martyr Zotikos the Feeder of Orphans

Synaxarion of the Holy Martyr Zotikos the Feeder of Orphans

Saint Zotikos the Feeder of Orphans as a Model for our Lives

Venerable Gelasios

Life and Sayings of the Holy Abba Gelasios

Venerable Gaius

Venerable Gaius

Holy Ten Virgins of Nicomedia

Holy Ten Virgins of Nicomedia

Holy Martyr Olympiodora

Holy Martyr Olympiodora

 Holy Martyr Nemi

Holy Martyr Nemi

Holy Martyr Busiris

Holy Martyr Busiris

Holy Martyr Gaudentius

Holy Martyr Gaudentius

Saint Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria 
Saint George the Wonderworker, 
the so-called Macheromenos

Saint George the Wonderworker, the so-called Macheromenos

Venerable Kyriakos of Bisericani

Saint Kyriakos of Bisericani (+ 1660)

December 30, 2017

The Cave Chapel of the Flight Into Egypt at the Jordan River

The Cave Chapel of the Flight Into Egypt below the Monastery of Saint Gerasimos near the Jordan River is the traditional location where the Theotokos, Saint Joseph the Betrothed and the infant Jesus stopped for a night on their way to Egypt, after an Angel of the Lord warned them to flee before the coming massacre of Herod.

Holy New Venerable Martyr Gideon of Karakallou (+ 1818)

St. Gideon of Tyrnavos (Feast Day - December 30)


You shamed the enemy who wounded you of old,
You are shone to be Gideon the Venerable Martyr of Christ.
On the thirtieth the hands and feet of Gideon were severed by a sword.

The Saint was from the town of Kapourna near Makrynitsa of Pelion. He had pious parents, Avgerinos and Kyratza, and he was the first of eight children in the family. His baptismal name was Nicholas. Because of the heavy taxation imposed on the Christian population by the Ottomans, his father was forced to move the family to the village of Gierme, where he could save the money as needed. The Saint was then twelve years old.

The Cave With the Relics of the Holy Innocents in Bethlehem

Situated under the Basilica of the Nativity of Christ in Bethlehem, beside the belfry, is the Cave of the Holy Innocents, containing the bones and skulls of the small children massacred by Herod the Great in an effort to eliminate the one Child he thought was to replace him as the "King of the Jews". The number of these children is traditionally numbered to 14,000. The Cave also contains the bones of Christians massacred in the slaughter of the Persians in 614. Despite the humidity of the Cave, there is always a beautiful fragrance there.

Saints and Feasts of December 30

On the thirtieth the side of Anysia was stabbed with a sword.

Holy Venerable Martyr Anysia of Thessaloniki 
Venerable Theodora of Caesarea

Saint Theodora of Caesarea

Holy Martyr Philetairos of Nicomedia

Holy Martyr Philetairos of Nicomedia and Those With Him

Holy Seven Martyrs, 
the Commander and his Six Soldiers 
who Believed in Christ Through Saint Philetairos

Holy Martyr Philetairos of Nicomedia and Those With Him

Venerable Leo the Archimandrite 
Saint Anysios, Bishop of Thessaloniki
Saint Anysios, Bishop of Thessaloniki (+ 407)
Holy New Venerable Martyr Gideon of Karakallou 

December 29, 2017

Saint Athenodoros the Leper, Disciple of Pachomios the Great

St Athenodoros the Leper (Feast Day - December 29)


My gift to Athenodoros is a discourse,
For a divine man who is dead a discourse is fitting.

The following account comes from the Paralipomena of Saint Pachomios (ch. 16):

We ought to mention another holy man from among the brothers who practiced the life of virtues thoroughly and, for the sake of edification, to narrate a few facts of his life. This brother of blessed memory, being a leper in his body, had his cell separate from the brothers. All his life he lived only on bread and salt. He used to make one mat a day and often, when he was plaiting the ropes that go into the mats, his hands would be pierced by the rushes and covered with blood, so that the mats he was doing were stained with his blood. Although he had such an illness, he never missed the assemblies of the brothers and never slept in daytime until his departure from this life. And it was his habot to recite by heart some section from the Scriptures every night before going to sleep; and then he would sleep until the signal was given for the nightly assembly.

The Cruelty of Herod Toward the Infants and the Manner of his Death (Eusebius of Caesarea)

By Eusebius of Caesarea

Ecclesiastical History (Bk. 1, Ch. 8)

1. When Christ was born, according to the prophecies, in Bethlehem of Judea, at the time indicated, Herod was not a little disturbed by the inquiry of the magi who came from the east, asking where he who was born King of the Jews was to be found — for they had seen his star, and this was their reason for taking so long a journey; for they earnestly desired to worship the infant as God, — for he imagined that his kingdom might be endangered; and he inquired therefore of the doctors of the law, who belonged to the Jewish nation, where they expected Christ to be born. When he learned that the prophecy of Micah announced that Bethlehem was to be his birthplace he commanded, in a single edict, all the male infants in Bethlehem, and all its borders, that were two years of age or less, according to the time which he had accurately ascertained from the magi, to be slain, supposing that Jesus, as was indeed likely, would share the same fate as the others of his own age.

Sermon on the Feast of the Holy Innocents (St. Caesarius of Arles)

Sermon 222


By St. Caesarius of Arles (470-542)

1. Today, dearest brethren, we are celebrating the feast of those infants who, the Gospel text tells us, were killed by King Herod, and for this reason our land, the fruitful mother of heavenly soldiers and such great virtues, should rejoice with the greatest exultation. Behold, the wicked enemy could never have helped the blessed infants as much by submission as he did by his hatred. As today's most sacred feast shows us, the grace of benediction shone forth in the blessed infants as much as cruelty against them abounded. For we heard a little while ago that when King Herod was pursuing Christ, thousands of happy boys were killed. As the prophet said, "Rachel mourns her children, she refuses to be consoled because her children are no more" (Jer. 31:15; Matt. 2:18). The blessed mother of the triumphant, the land of illustrious warriors, rich in children, for a short time seemed to the eyes of the foolish to be bereaved. But she never was in need of consolation, nor did she bewail the sons whom she acquired with enviable sorrows, even while she lost them. Blessed are you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, who suffered the cruelty of King Herod in the death of your sons, and at the same time merited to offer to God a white-clad group of peaceable, sinless infants.

Saints and Feasts of December 29

On the twenty-ninth the slaughtered infants called for pappa.

Holy Fourteen Thousand Infants 
Massacred at the Decree of Herod

Holy Innocents Resource Page

Commemoration of All Christians Who Died 
from Starvation, Thirst, Cold and the Sword

Commemoration of All Christians Who Died from Starvation, Thirst, Cold and the Sword

Venerable Markellos, 
Abbot of the Akoimeton Monastery

Saint Markellos, Abbot of the Monastery of the Unsleeping Ones (+ 485)

Saint Markellos of the Unsleeping Ones and the Demon Possessed

Venerable Thaddeus the Confessor

Synaxarion of our Venerable Father Thaddeus the Confessor (+ 818)

Venerable Benjamin of Nitria

Life and Sayings of Holy Abba Benjamin of Nitria

Venerable Athenodoros

Saint Athenodoros the Leper, Disciple of Pachomios the Great

Venerable George, Bishop of Nicomedia, 
Composer of Canons and Troparia

Saint George, Bishop of Nicomedia, Composer of Canons and Troparia

Saints Mark the Grave-Digger 
and Theophilus the Weeper

Saints Mark the Grave-Digger and Theophilus the Weeper

Consecration of the Church of the Holy Forty Martyrs 
near the Bronze Tetrapylon

The Bronze Tetrapylon and the Church of the Holy Forty Martyrs in Constantinople

December 28, 2017

Holy Martyrs Gorgonios and Peter

Sts. Gorgonios and Peter the Martyrs (Feast Day - December 28)


The sea hides Gorgonios and Peter,
But their memory is not hidden with time.

Among the Holy Martyrs who escaped being burnt alive in the church at Nicomedia that killed 20,000 were Saints Gorgonios and Peter. They had been imprisoned with the Holy Martyr Indes, and all three received the same blessed martyric end. They were all cast into the sea with a millstone around their necks, and in this way departed to the Lord.

Holy Martyr Theophilos the Deacon

St. Theophilos the Deacon (Feast Day - December 28)


Taking stock of the continuous stones that wounded him,
Theophilos assembled as a friend of God.

Theophilos was a Deacon who stood before the emperor Maximian with Saints Dorotheos, Mardonios and Mygdonios. While the latter three were in prison, Bishop Anthimos had sent Deacon Theophilos with a message for them. Bishop Anthimos and Deacon Theophilos had been miraculously preserved from being burned alive when the church was set fire killing 20,000. They were spared to help build up and benefit the Church of Nicomedia.

Holy Martyr Zeno of Nicomedia

St. Zeno the Martyr (Feast Day - December 28)


The head of Zeno was cut off by a sword,
Unwilling to venerate the statue of Zeno (namely Zeus).

After the Emperor Maximian had 20,000 Christians burned alive in a church in Nicomedia a few days after the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord, he thought he had killed what was left of the Christians of the city. For this reason he called for a public festival to the goddess Demeter, and at this festival a large altar was set up for sacrifices to be offered.

Holy Martyrs Dorotheos, Mardonios and Mygdonios

Sts. Dorotheos, Mardonios and Mygdonios (Feast Day - December 28)


To Dorotheos.
Dorotheos says "my head,
Which has been cut off I carry as a gift to God."

To Mardonios.
And I know of one Mardonios the Martyr,
Having affection for Christ, and enduring the flames of fire.

To Mygdonios.
Mygdonios is thrown into a pit,
Who happens to be known by all as a Martyr.

Holy Martyr Glykerios the Presbyter

St. Glykerios the Presbyter (Feast Day - December 28)


Glykerios was cast into the fire,
Declaring "the manner of my end is sweet to me."

After Emperor Maximian called for a persecution of the Christians of Nicomedia following his return from a victorious campaign in Ethiopia, and the Christians refusal to participate in the imperially decreed sacrifices to the lifeless idols of all Roman citizens, the wise and fearless priest Glykerios openly addressed the emperor, saying among other things: "You boast of your triumphs over hordes of your enemies, but we who are small in number shall overcome with the help of the great God whose power you ought to have observed, O senseless and stone-like man, especially after those fearsome signs. Have you forgotten the terrifying thunder, lightning and hail, followed by the deaths of so many subjects and the ruin of the crops? These things took place on account of the blasphemies you pronounced. Therefore, entertain no hope in converting us. We fear not your threats."

Holy Martyr Indes the Eunuch


I hear in the life of Indes how he received his end,
Arriving at the furthest edge his end came in the depths.

Saint Domna, also commemorated on this day, was a priestess of the idols from a young age, and after coming across a copy of the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, she inquired further into the Christian faith from a certain Christian maiden she knew. One night she secretly paid a visit to Bishop Cyril of Nicomedia, seeking Holy Baptism, and at the age of fourteen she was made a catechumen under Deacon Agapios. Returning to her palace, she concealed her prayer and fasting from others, except from Indes her eunuch, who was privy to her actions. Indes was of a barbarian race, but in his manner and deeds he was most noble. He joined Domna in his desire to become a Christian, and they were both baptized together by Bishop Cyril.

Saints and Feasts of December 28

On the twenty-eighth twenty thousand men 
were killed by burning.

Holy Twenty Thousand Martyrs of Nicomedia

Synaxarion of the 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia

The 20,000 Holy Martyrs of Nicomedia

Holy Martyrs Who Were Senators That Remained 
Outside the Fire and Were Tortured and Killed

Synaxarion of the 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia

Holy Martyr Indes the Eunuch

Holy Martyr Indes the Eunuch

Holy Martyrs Gorgonios and Peter

Holy Martyrs Gorgonios and Peter

Holy Martyr Zeno of Nicomedia

Holy Martyr Zeno of Nicomedia

Holy Martyr Mardonios

Holy Martyrs Dorotheos, Mardonios and Mygdonios

Holy Martyr Dorotheos

Holy Martyrs Dorotheos, Mardonios and Mygdonios

Holy Martyr Theophilos the Deacon

Holy Martyr Theophilos the Deacon

Holy Martyr Mygdonios

Holy Martyrs Dorotheos, Mardonios and Mygdonios

Holy Martyr Glykerios the Presbyter

Holy Martyr Glykerios the Presbyter

Holy Martyr Domna

Synaxarion of the Holy Martyr Domna

Saint Domna as a Model for our Lives

Holy Martyr Secundus

Holy Martyr Secundus

Venerable Babylas

Saint Babylas the Mime of Tarsus

Venerable Simon the Myrrhgusher, 
Founder of Simonopetra Monastery 
Venerable Ignatius of Loma and Yaroslav
Venerable Nephon the New Cenobiarch
Holy Hieromartyr Alexander Tsitseronov, 
Known as Cicero

Encomium for the Holy Protomartyr Stephen (St. Proclus of Constantinople)

Saint Stephen was once commemorated the day after Christmas on December 26 as the first martyr (protomartyr) of the Christian community, and as such became famous throughout the Christian Church. On 26 December 415 his relics were found and transferred to Jerusalem, where in c.438/9 a shrine was built and dedicated to him. Stephen also became a popular subject with patristic and Roman/Byzantine homilists. Patriarch Proclus of Constantinople (+ 447), who seems to have preached the following encomium the day after Christmas (today the Orthodox Church celebrates Saint Stephen on December 27th), in his characterization of Stephen as witness to and martyr of Christ, portrays the characters who are involved in the stoning of Stephen according to Acts 6-7, from a fourfold perspective: he firstly presents his audience with a portrait of Stephen, secondly moves on to the dispute between Stephen and the Jews and his arrest, thirdly the preacher employs invective against the Jews regarding their true attitude towards Moses, and finally crowns his encomium on Stephen by portraying Christ as judge who hands over the prize of victory to Stephen.

Encomium for the Holy Protomartyr Stephen

By St. Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople

The sensible sun, which rises above the earth, has beside it as attendants, the stars of the Dipper, Orion, Pleiades and even the Morning Star.

The Sun of Righteousness, however, who radiated by rising within the virginal womb, does not need assistance from the light of the stars, but has raised up the Protomartyr Stephen to shine beside His immortal rays.

December 27, 2017

Homily on the Nativity of Christ (St. Gregory of Nyssa)

By St. Gregory of Nyssa

“SOUND THE TRUMPET at the new moon,” says David, “even in the notable day of your feast.” The commandments of Divinely-inspired teaching are assuredly a law for those who hear them. Therefore, since the notable day of our feast is at hand, let us, too, fulfill the law and become heralds of the solemnity. The trumpet of the law, as the Apostle bids us understand, is the word. For the sound of the trumpet, he says, should not be uncertain, but its notes should be distinct so that the hearers may clearly perceive it. So let us produce a clear and audible sound, brethren, one that is no less noble than that of the trumpet. For the Law, prefiguring the truth in the shadowy types, enjoined the sounding of the trumpet at the Feast of Tabernacles. Now, the theme of the present Feast is the mystery of the true Tabernacle. For on this day did He Who vested Himself with humanity for our sake pitch His human tabernacle; on this day our tabernacles, which had disintegrated through death, are reconstituted by Him Who constructed our habitation from the very beginning. Let us utter the words of the Psalm, joining in chorus with the loud-voiced David: “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” How does He come? He crosses over into human life, not by boat or by chariot, but through the incorruption of a Virgin. This is our God, this is our Lord, Who appeared to us to ordain a Feast with thick branches, even unto the horns of the altar.

Saint Fabiola of Rome (+ 399)

St. Fabiola of Rome (Feast Day - December 27);
Jean-Jacques Henner painted this portrait of Fabiola (in a classical Roman profile) in 1885;
this idealized rendition of the Saint was lost in 1912.

Saint Fabiola belonged to the patrician Roman family of the gens Fabia. She had been married to a man who led so vicious a life that to live with him was impossible. She obtained a divorce from him according to Roman law and, contrary to the ordinances of the Church, she entered upon a second union before the death of her first husband.

At the time of Saint Jerome's stay at Rome (382-84), Fabiola was not one of the ascetic circle which gathered around him. It was only later that, upon the death of her second consort, she decided to enter upon a life of renunciation and labor for others. On the day before Easter, following the death of her second consort, she appeared before the gates of the Lateran Basilica, dressed in penitential garb, and did public penance for her sin, which made a great impression upon the Christian population of Rome. The Pope received her formally again into full communion with the Church.

Saint Theodore, Archbishop of Constantinople (+ 687)

St. Theodore I of Constantinople (Feast Day - December 27)


Theodore was viewed as an excellent shepherd,
Being an imitator of the great Shepherd.

Our Holy Father Theodore was born and raised in Constantinople, and lived during the reign of Emperor Constantine IV Pogonatos (668-685). Due to his great piety and virtue, he was ordained Presbyter of the most holy Great Church of Hagia Sophia. He was then appointed to the positions of synkellos (an advisor and fellow-boarder of the Patriarch, who was usually viewed as his designated successor) and skevophylax (keeper and protector of the sacred liturgical vessels). After the then Patriarch Constantine (675-677) died, Theodore was constrained by the emperor and the entire senate, together with the entire Holy Synod of Bishops, to succeed him. Thus he was ordained Patriarch of Constantinople in 677.

Saints and Feasts of December 27

On the twenty-seventh Stephen is taken away by stones.

Holy Apostle and Archdeacon Stephen the Protomartyr

Saint Stephen the Protomartyr Resource Page

Venerable Theodore the Graptos

Saint Theodore the Graptos, Who Was Branded With Twelve Iambic Verses

Saint Theodore, Archbishop of Constantinople

Saint Theodore, Archbishop of Constantinople (+ 687)

Venerable Luke of Trigleia

Venerable Luke of Trigleia

Holy Martyrs Maurice, his son Photinos 
and the Seventy Soldiers With Them

Holy Martyrs Maurice, His Son Photinos and the Seventy Soldiers With Them

Saint Fabiola of Rome

Saint Fabiola of Rome (+ 399)

December 26, 2017

Synaxarion of Saint Euthymios the Confessor, Bishop of Sardis

St. Euthymios of Sardis (Feast Day - December 26)

On this day we commemorate our Holy Father Euthymios the Bishop of Sardis and Confessor, or we should rather say, the Hieromartyr.


You stand before Christ, thrice-blessed Euthymios,
You have attained the fullness of unceasing cheerfulness.

This Saint lived during the reign of Constantine and Irene (780-797). At first he shined as a star in his solitary conduct. Later when he became a Bishop, he refuted by his authority the heretical Iconomachs at the Second Synod of Nicaea, namely the Seventh Ecumenical Synod (787). Seeing that he held his ground, the emperors sent him as an ambassador to various embassies. Because Nikephoros Staurakios took imperial authority in 802, and he lived his life lawlessly, the Saint rebuked him. Therefore he was exiled to Pantelleria in the West, together with other Orthodox Bishops. From then till the time of his confession, it was a period of twenty-nine years, during which the thrice-blessed one was unable to receive his Metropolis and sit in his see. When the emperors who held power were removed from within, and the beastly-named Leo became emperor, namely the Armenian, in 813, the Saint was brought back from exile, and he was questioned by him if he venerated the holy icons. Because the Saint applied his habitual boldness, and anathematized the emperor while standing before him, the tyrant became enraged, and exiled the Saint to Assos, which is also called Apollonia, and is located near Adramyttion.

Historicity of the Flight Into Egypt Traditions

Many Copts are absolutely convinced the traditions of Christ's travels throughout Egypt as a child is historical truth. They are convinced Jesus Christ indeed visited specific locations in Egypt that can still be visited today. The only first century source we have is the Gospel of Matthew, but Matthew doesn’t mention any specific location in Egypt. Those locations were only mentioned centuries later.

Westerners may call this tradition a legend but it is certainly an old one and one that is of tremendous importance for the Egyptian Copts. It would thus not be correct to brush it away because of lack of any historical and archaeological evidence that Jesus, Mary and Joseph visited specific locations.

Did Christ Perform Miracles as a Child? (St. John Chrysostom)

By St. John Chrysostom

(From Homily 21 on the Gospel of John)

"This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee." (John 2:11)

Now if any say that this is not a sufficient proof that it was the "beginning of His miracles," because there is added simply "in Cana of Galilee," as allowing it to have been the first done there, but not altogether and absolutely the first, for He probably might have done others elsewhere, we will make answer to him of that which we have said before. And of what kind? The words of John (the Baptist): "And I knew Him not; but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come, baptizing with water."

Flight Into Egypt Resource Page


Coming towards you is He Who struck you with terror in days of old,
Egypt shudders understanding this to be God.

Synaxarion for the Synaxis of the Theotokos and Her Flight Into Egypt With Christ

The Flight of the Theotokos Into Egypt With Christ

Silent Movie: "The Flight Into Egypt" (1903)

Jesus Christ as an Immigrant

The Cave Chapel of the Flight Into Egypt at the Jordan River

The Miraculous Palm Tree of Hermopolis, Egypt

The Miracle at the Virgin Mary Church in Maadi, Egypt in 1976 

Rare Icon of the Virgin Mary and Christ in Egypt

The Heretical Icon of the "Holy Family"

Historicity of the Flight Into Egypt Traditions


Synaxis of the Theotokos Resource Page


Blamelessly giving birth without knowing a man in the marriage-bed,
As a blameless gift we welcome the words.
Dance and sing on the twenty-sixth for the most-pure birth-giving.

Saints and Feasts of December 26

Dance and sing on the twenty-sixth 
for the most-pure birth-giving.

Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos

Synaxis of the Theotokos Resource Page

The Flight of Christ and the 
Most Holy Theotokos Into Egypt

Flight Into Egypt Resource Page

Holy Hieromartyr Euthymios the Confessor, 
Bishop of Sardis

Synaxarion of Saint Euthymios the Confessor, Bishop of Sardis

Venerable Constantine who was a Jew

Synaxarion of Saint Constantine the Jew

Venerable Euarestos

Synaxarion of our Venerable Father Euarestos

Holy New Hieromartyr Constantios the Russian

Holy New Hieromartyr Constantios the Russian (+ 1743)

Venerable Nicodemus of Tismana

Saint Nicodemus of Tismana (+ 1406)

Synaxis of the Panagia of Bethlehem

The Miraculous Icon of the Panagia of Bethlehem

The Icon of the Panagia of Bethlehem and Her Appearance to a Muslim Man

Elder Paisios' Favorite Icon of the Panagia

Synaxis of Panagia Alexiotissa in Patras

Panagia Alexiotissa In Patras, Greece

Manger Scene at Panagia Alexiotissa in Patras, Greece

Synaxis of the Panagia Antivouniotissa in Kerkyra

Synaxis of the Panagia Antivouniotissa in Kerkyra

December 25, 2017

Oration on the Theophany or Birthday of Christ (St. Gregory the Theologian)

The title of this Oration has given rise to a doubt whether it was preached on Dec. 25, 380, or on Jan. 6, 381. The word Theophania is well known as a name for the Epiphany; which was originally a celebration both of the Nativity and the Baptism of our Lord. The two words seem both to have been used in the simplest sense of the Manifestation of God, and certainly were applied to Christmas Day. Thus Suidas says, "The Theophany is the Incarnation of the Savior;" and Epiphanius (Her. 53), "The Day of the Theophany is the day on which Christ was born according to the flesh." But St. Jerome applies the word to the Baptism of Christ, "The day of the Theophany is still venerable; not, as some think, on account of His Birth in the flesh; for then He was hidden, not manifested; but it agrees with the time at which it was said, 'This is My beloved Son'." There is also a Sermon, attributed to St. John Chrysostom, On the Baptism of Christ, in which it is expressly denied that the name Theophany applies to Christmas. The Oration itself, however, contains evidence to show that the Festival of our Lord's Birth was kept at the earlier date; for in c. 16 the Preacher says, "A little later you shall see Jesus submitting to be purified in the river Jordan for my purification." And another piece of evidence occurs in the oration In Sancta Lumina, c. 14, "At His Birth we duly kept festival, both I the leader of the feast, and you. Now we have come to another action of Christ and another Mystery."

Oration 38
On the Theophany or Birthday of Christ

By St. Gregory the Theologian

1. Christ is born, glorify Him. Christ from heaven, go out to meet Him. Christ on earth; be exalted. Sing unto the Lord all the whole earth; and that I may join both in one word, let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, for Him Who is of heaven and then of earth. Christ in the flesh, rejoice with trembling and with joy; with trembling because of your sins, with joy because of your hope. Christ of a Virgin; O you Matrons live as virgins, that you may be mothers of Christ. Who does not worship Him That is from the beginning? Who does not glorify Him That is the last?

Saints and Feasts of December 25

Mary the Virgin bore God on the twenty fifth.

The Nativity in the Flesh of our Lord 
and God and Savior Jesus Christ

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

Orthodox Christmas Resource Page

The Veneration of the Magi

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

Orthodox Christmas Resource Page

The Shepherds Who Beheld the Lord

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

Orthodox Christmas Resource Page

The Remarkable Christmas Homily of Kyros Panopolites

In the 440's a remarkable and unusual sermon was delivered on Christmas Day before a hostile congregation.

Kyros, a poet of some repute, came to Constantinople from his native Egypt and used his literary ability and the patronage of the empress Eudokia to become praefectus urbi about 435 and praefectus praetorio by 439. He held both offices simultaneously for about four years, but his career was ruined when Emperor Theodosius II accused him of being a pagan, removed him from power, and confiscated his property. Whether paganism was really the issue is difficult to say, as several sources claimed that the emperor's real motive was envy of Kyros' popularity among the people of Constantinople.

December 24, 2017

Holy Venerable Virgin Martyr Eugenia and Those With Her


To Eugenia.
Eugenia was crowned first for her labors,
Baptized dipped in dye by the sword.
On the twenty-fourth Eugenia submitted to the sword.

To Basilla.
Who will outrun you to be beheaded by the sword,
Martyr Basilla of divine solid faith?

To Philip.
A two-edged knife against error,
Philip slays with the knife of his mouth.

To Protas and Hyacinth.
Hyacinth and Protas were beheaded by the sword,
Alotted honor by God as first Martyrs.

Commemoration of Righteous Abel, Son of Adam


Your blood and soul apart cry out to God,
O first of the dead, and first of the saved.

According to Genesis 4:1-12:

'Adam knew his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering — fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Sunday Before the Nativity of Christ Resource Page

Sunday of the Holy Ancestors of Christ (Falls Between December 18 and 24)


Seeing the dazzling radiance of your conceiving, O Virgin, Abraham the friend of God, noble Isaac, Jacob and the whole choir of saints chosen by God rejoice; and they bring creation to meet you with words of joy. For you appeared as the source of joy, since you conceived in your womb him who once appeared in Babylon and beyond all understanding preserved unburned the Youths unjustly cast into the furnace. And so they also raise the song as they hymn a Virgin who gives suck.