Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Holy Martyrs Bidzina, Shalva and Elizbar, Princes of Georgia (+ 1661)

Sts. Bidzina, Shalva and Elizbar the Princes of Georgia (Feast Day - September 18)

In the 17th century the Persian aggressors razed churches, monasteries, and fortresses and drove out thousands of Georgian families to resettle them in remote provinces of Persia. The deserted territories were settled by Turkic tribes from Central Asia. In the chronicle The Life of Kartli it is written: “The name of Christ was not allowed to be uttered, except in a handful of mountainous regions: Tusheti, Pshavi, and Khevsureti.”

But the All-merciful Lord aroused a strong desire in the valiant prince Bidzina Choloqashvili of Kakheti and, together with Shalva and his uncle Elizbar, princes of Aragvi and Ksani provinces, he led a struggle to liberate Kakheti from the Tatars. (The Persian governor of Kakheti, Salim Khan (1656-1664), had been encouraging the Tatar tribesmen to profane the Christian churches.)

Holy Martyr Kastor

St. Kastor the Martyr (Feast Day - September 18)


Kastor was not a wild beast, but a noble man,
Or rather we should say he was a brave man who was assaulted.

All we know of Saint Kastor is that he was martyred for his faith in Christ.

Holy Martyrs Sophia and Irene of Egypt

Sts. Sophia and Irene the Martyrs (Feast Day - September 18)


The heads of Irene and Sophia were cut off,
They beheld You who are peace beyond comprehension O Word.

The Holy Martyrs Sophia and Irene were from Egypt and were beheaded for confessing Christ during the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270-275), when Claudius was governor in Egypt. They are commemorated the day after the Holy Martyr Sophia and her daughters Faith, Hope and Love. There is an Athonite fresco with a scene of their martyrdom from 1547 at Dionysiou Monastery.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Holy Hieromartyrs Herakleides and Myron, Bishops of Tamassos in Cyprus

Sts. Herakleides and Myron of Tamassos (Feast Day - September 17)


Herakleides and Myron were assigned to the fire,
They approached Christ as fragrant myrrh.

Herakleides was the son of a pagan priest and lived in the village Lambadistis, in Cyprus. His father, although a pagan, was hospitable and did not hesitate to accommodate the Apostle Paul together with Barnabas and Mark when they came to Cyprus. The Apostles however refused to dine with one who sacrificed to idols, but instead asked for a guide around the island. Herakleides' father gladly volunteered his son. The Apostles led Herakleides to the faith of Christ, since he was eager to learn, and he in turn, led his parents. It is said that his name was first Herakleon but changed by Saint Paul upon his baptism to Herakleides. Saint Barnabas on his second trip to Cyprus appointed him Bishop of Cyprus and placed him in Tamassos. He is said to have built churches, cured diseases, raised the dead, cast out demons, and worked innumerable wonders. Herakleides worked with great zeal along with his disciple Myron, his successor as Bishop of Tamassos, for the dissemination of Christianity with impressive results, and many pagans believed in Christ. His successes however agitated the unbelievers, who killed them by burning them alive.

Holy Martyrs Haralambos and Panteleon with their Companions

Sts. Haralambos and Panteleon and those with them (Feast Day - September 17)


On his way to the slaughter Haralambos rejoiced,
And Panteleon was like a lion on his way to the knife.

The Holy Martyrs Haralambos and Panteleon with their companions suffered martyrdom for Christ. Their synaxis was celebrated in their Martyrium at the Deuteron district of Constantinople.

Holy Martyrs Maximos, Theodotos, Hesychios and Asklepiodota


For September 17

To Maximos, Theodotos and Asklepiodota.
One woman and two young men,
Went to decapitation with one burning heart.

For February 19

To Maximos, Theodotos and Hesychios.
Three strong men contested together,
Being brave even to decapitation for you Trinity.

To Asklepiodota.
Christ crowned Asklepiodota,
She whose head was cut off by the sword.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Gospel Commentary for the Sunday After the Holy Cross (St. Theophylact of Ochrid)

Sunday After the Holy Cross

Mark 8:34-38; 9:1

From the Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Mark

By Blessed Theophylact of Ochrid

34-37. And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, Whosoever desireth to follow after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever desireth to save his life, shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospels, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

[In this passage of St. Mark, and in the following commentary, the single Greek word, psyche, has been translated as either "life" or "soul" as it has both these meanings. See also Theophylact's Explanation of St. Matthew, pp. 30, 61, and 193. Tr.]

Since Peter had rebuked Him for wanting to be crucified, the Lord called the people unto Him, and said in the hearing of all, but directing His words mostly towards Peter, "Do you find fault with Me, Peter, because I take up the cross? I say to you, that neither you, nor anyone else, will be saved unless you die for the sake of goodness and truth." See that Christ does not compel a man to die on a cross against his own will. Instead He said, Whosoever desireth. The Lord is saying: "I compel no one. I invite him to something good, not to something bad to which he must be forced. Whoever does not want these things is not worthy of them." We can learn what it means to deny oneself if we understand what it means to deny another. He who denies another is he who, when he sees his brother, or servant, or father, being flogged or even murdered, does not turn towards him and pity him in his suffering, but acts as if he were a stranger to him. In this same manner the Lord wants us to show no pity towards our own bodies, so that even if we are flogged, or worse, let it make no difference to us. Let him take up his cross, that is, accept a most shameful death, for at that time to die on a cross was considered the most shameful of deaths. But since many were crucified for being bandits, the Lord added to the crucifixion something else: that one ought to have virtue. This is what it means to follow Me. Although His command that one give oneself over to death seemed hard and cruel, the Lord straightway shows this commandment is given out of love for mankind. For whosoever shall lose his life for My sake shall find life. (But the death of a condemned man, or of one who hangs himself, is not for Christs sake and brings no such reward.) And, on the contrary, he who appears to have saved his life, far from finding life, shall lose it by not remaining steadfast during his time of martyrdom. Do not say to Me, "But he has saved his life", it means nothing. Even if you say that he has gained the whole world as well, it is of no benefit. No one can exchange money for his salvation, for if that were so, a man who had gained the world but lost his soul, could, while burning in the flames of hell, use his money to buy innocence. But at that time and in that place no such trade can be made. Here let us shut the mouths of those who say, following Origen, that all the souls in hell will be restored [and reunited with those in heaven] after they have been punished in accordance with their sins. (1) Let them hear that there is no exchange that can be made there for ones soul. No one is kept in hell as a punishment. Rather, it is the weight of his own sins which holds him there.

38-9:1. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. And He said unto. them, Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

Intellectual faith does not suffice, but confession of faith with ones mouth is required as well. Since man himself is two-fold, let his sanctification be two-fold as well. The soul is sanctified by faith, but the body is sanctified by confessing. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed to confess that the Crucified One is his God, of him also shall the Crucified One be ashamed. For the Lord shall judge that man to be an unworthy servant, when He comes with glory, escorted by the angels, and no longer in lowly form. At the second coming He will not appear, as He did before, to be of base origin and circumstance, and an object of scorn. Since He speaks of His own glory, He desires to show that He is not vainly boasting, and says, There be some of them that stand here, namely, Peter, James, and John, who shall not die until I have shown them at the Transfiguration the glory with which I shall appear at the second coming. For the Transfiguration was nothing less than a foreshadowing of the second coming, and as He appeared in radiance then, so will He shine at the second coming, as will also all the righteous.


1. This false teaching of Origen, apokotastasis, the general restoration of all fallen creation, was condemned by the Church as heresy at the Fifth Ecumenical Council held at Constantinople in 553 AD.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Origins of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

By Louis van Tongeren

The roots of the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross lie in Jerusalem and go back to the fourth century. The oldest sources associate the observance with the annual feast of Dedication of two churches built at sacred sites in Jerusalem: the Martyrium on Golgotha and the Anastasis rotunda, located over Jesus' tomb and therefore also called the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or the Church of the Resurrection. According to the oldest stratum of the Armenian Lectionary, which goes back to the liturgical customs of Jerusalem circa 415, the feast of the Dedication of the two churches, which was celebrated for eight days, began on September 13 in the Anastasis. On the second day (September 14) people gathered in the Martyrium and "the venerable, life-giving Holy Cross was displayed for the whole congregation." Here we do not yet find an independent feast of the Cross with a name of its own. The feast focuses on commemorating the Dedication of the two churches. The term "Exaltation" is first used in the sixth century by the monk Alexander of Cyprus (527-565), when he reports that "the Fathers, commanded by the Emperor, determined that the day of the Exaltation of the venerable Cross and of the Dedication should be celebrated annually on September 14, in honor of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." For Alexander too the celebration is a combination of Exaltation and Dedication.

Why Every Christian Should Wear A Cross

By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

The Christians of old were accustomed to carry on themselves the Cross of Christ, made either out of wood, gold, silver or some other metal, for their protection and salvation. For this reason Saint Pankratios the Bishop of Taormina, who is celebrated on the ninth of July, when he baptized Christians, he gave to each of them a Cross made from cedar to carry on them. And Gregory the Theologian carried a Cross towards the averting of every adversary. For this reason he spoke to the devil in meter:

Holy Martyr Valerianos the Infant

St. Valerianos the Infant (Feast Day - September 14)


To small Valerianos the great God gave,
A great big crown in heaven.

The Holy Martyr Valerianos the Infant was perfected by the sword.

Holy Martyr Theokles

St. Theokles the Martyr (Feast Day - September 14)


Theokles was brought to his calling above,
Having as a chariot the cutting of the sword.

The Holy Martyr Theokles was perfected by the sword.

Hagia Sophia To Remain a Museum

The Constitutional Court of Turkey, Turkey's top court, decided on Thursday 13 September 2018 that Hagia Sophia will not be turned into a place of Muslim worship after an appeal made by a private organization called “Authority for Historical Monuments and Environment”.

The Temple that was built in the 6th Century AD by the Roman Emperor Justinian as a Christian Cathedral, is now a Museum and will remain a Museum.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Saint John of Prislop

Saint John of Prislop, locally known as Saint John of Silvas, became a monk at a young age in the Prislop Monastery, then known as Silvas Monastery, in southwestern Romania at the turn of the sixteenth century. After several years in that place, he went into the mountains five hundred meters from the monastery to lead a solitary ascetical life, struggling against the assaults of the demons.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Historical Development of the Feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos

By Mikhail Skaballanovich, Ph.D.

Although St Andrew of Crete calls the Nativity (nativitas) of the Most Holy Theotokos the “Beginning of All Feasts,” it was likely the last of the twelve major Christian holidays to appear in the calendar.

As a rule, holidays dedicated to the Mother of God appear later than the ones dedicated to the Lord. Although the first report of the holiday of the Nativity of the Mother of God dates back to the 5th century, viz., the homilies of Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople (439-446) in the East and Sacramentarium of Pope Gelasius (492-496) in the West, these accounts are not fully reliable: the authenticity of Proclus’s words is contested, while the earliest copies of the Sacramentarium of Pope Gelasius date to a much later time (8th century). A recently discovered Syrian menologion (AD 412) does not mention the Nativity of Theotokos and, for that matter, neither does it mention any of the other Marian holidays; it mentions only two of the holidays dedicated to Jesus Christ, i.e. the Nativity of Christ and Theophany. This menologion commemorates “Presbyter Faustus and Ammonius and 20 martyrs with them” on September 8 (O.S.).

This holiday apparently originated in the Greek Church and soon spread to Rome and its affiliated churches. It is noteworthy that this holiday is celebrated by Nestorians (the Nativity of Our Lady Mary) as well as by Jacobites, on September 8 (with the exception of several ancient Coptic menologions, where this holiday is celebrated on April 26). It may mean that this holiday appeared in the Eastern Church before these heretics parted ways with the Church, i.e. in the 5th century.

St Andrew of Crete († ca. 712) wrote two homilies and a canon for this holiday.
He already considered this holiday as a solemnity. He insists in his canon that all creation must rejoice (Ode 1); the heaven must be glad and the earth must be joyful (Ode 4); barren women and mothers must join the chorus (Ode 6). St Andrew probably wanted to put this holiday on par with other Marian feasts. If you read his canon, full of deep emotion and admiration, you will surely see that a 7th-century Christian like St Andrew, who died in the early 8th century, perceived the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos as a day when his heart trembled in awe and his soul was overflowing with exalted feelings.

Only a person who had been reared in veneration of this day and maybe heard enthusiastic hymns composed by earlier authors could have the inspiration to write such masterpieces as the 2nd Canon for the Nativity of Theotokos. This holiday is highlighted in a 7th-century Jerusalem Book of Canons, and a Georgian version refers to it as significantly different from other days. This feast is also referred to by name in the Festive Gospel, which Emperor Theodosius III (715 – 717) gave as a present to St Catherine Monastery on Mt Sinai. This Gospel was written with golden letters and apparently contained readings only for the most important holidays of the ecclesiastical year (it contains readings only for 21 days of the year: aside from the current twelve major feasts – with the exception of Palm Sunday, which might have been omitted by mistake – there are readings for September 1, December 24, January 5, February 7, March 9, April 23, May 8 and 10, June 29).

In the West, this holiday is first mentioned in the Roman Pseudo-Hieronymus Martyrology (7th century), in the statutes of Bishop Sonnatius of Rheims (614 – 631) as one of the 13 days of the year when public affairs are forbidden, and in the Martyrology of St Bede the Venerable (†735). Holy Pope Sergius (687-701) is said by Anastasius the Librarian (9th century) to have appointed a litany (a procession) from St Mary Church to St Adrian Church on this day. The rules of St Boniface (8th century) name this feast as one of the holidays that merit special honor (sabbatizandae a populis cum singulari devotione). King Charles the Bald mentions this holiday in one of his charters (on distribution of monastery lands). An 8th-century Anglo-Saxon Pontifical contains a bishop’s blessings for this feast.

However, this holiday was not common in the West even in the 7th – 9th centuries. There is no such holiday in the Gothic-Gallican Calendar (7th – 8th centuries), Calendarium Luxoviensis (7th century), the list of holidays found in the Acts of the Council of Mainz (813), in the 10th-century Toledo Calendar and ancient Mozarabic calendars, all of which mention the Assumption. 17th-century liturgics scholars even asserted that it was Fulbert of Chartres (†1028) who first popularized it; instead, he might have been instrumental in the expansion of this holiday to Northern France. The earliest Latin sermons on this feast belong to him, and the feast is characterized as a new one.

Although it took a long time to become commonly known and celebrated in the West, this holiday took even longer to become as solemnly celebrated as it is nowadays. The most ancient calendar of Corbie Abbey (8th – 9th centuries) contains the following note on September 8: “Memory (natale) of St Adrian and of the Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary.” Later records assign one Mass to the Nativity of the Mother of God and another Mass to the commemoration of St Adrian; then two Masses to the Nativity and one to St Adrian; then St Adrian is left with only the early Mass; and then finally St Adrian has only a commemoration (commemoratio). Bruno von Hildesheim is characterized in a chronicle dated 1155 as “this most venerable prelate (praesul) was God-loving: he shone with ardent reverence towards His Most Glorious Mother Virgin Mary and diligently did whatever he could to venerate her. Among other things, he was the only bishop who ordered an eight days long octave (apodosis) of Her Nativity to be observed in his diocese, which was later adopted by the entire Holy Mother Church.” Bishop Guido Autissiodensis (†1270) also made this feast a solemn annual celebration in his diocese. Pope Innocent IV made the eight days long octave of this holiday mandatory for the entire Western Church during the Council of Lyon in 1245. Pope Gregory XI (1370-1378) determined a vigil and a fast for this feast, as well as a special rite of mass.

It was in the West and around that time that an explanation for the date of this holiday (September 8) was found. Durandus (†1296) writes that a pious man heard joyful singing of Angels every year on that day and he wondered why they were singing. It was revealed to him that the Angels rejoiced because Virgin Mary had been born on this day; as soon as the Pope learned about it, he ordered a celebration of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin on earth like in the heaven.

* * *

Church chants dedicated to the holiday of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos must have appeared from its very beginning. Unfortunately, our current service hardly retains any of the 5th or 7th century hymns dedicated to this feast. Liturgical manuscripts that date back to 7th and 8th century (e.g., some Georgian manuscripts) contain chants that are totally different from our current ones.

We do not have a kontakion for the Nativity of Theotokos composed by St Roman the Melodist who lived in the 6th century and wrote many of our current kontakia for the twelve major feasts. It is only the troparion Thy Nativity, O Theotokos Virgin that belongs to these ancient times — the 5th – 7th centuries, given that the same chant is a part of both the Roman Catholic mass and the Eastern Orthodox liturgy, and that this is practically the sole case where worship hymns in the Orthodox Church and the Roman Church coincide.

On the contrary, the 8th and the 9th centuries were the time when a number of church hymns dedicated to the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos appeared. Less than half of them made it into our current rite of celebration of this feast and its eve. The majority of these chants were introduced into the rite of worship by ancient rubrics but later faded out of use. Currently, there are chants by the following authors used during church services of the Nativity of the Mother of God: St Andrew of Crete († ca. 712) — the Second Canon of the feast; St John of Damascus († ca. 780) — the First Canon of the feast; Patriarch Herman of Constantinople († 740) — the aposticha; Anatoly, bp. of Thessalonica (?) — several stichera chanted during the litiya; Stephen and Sergius of the Holy City, i.e. monks of St Sabbas Monastery in the Holy City (Jerusalem), fl. 9th century — the Canon of the Eve of the feast. The following authors once had their chants used in old times, e.g. according to the Hypotyposis of the Monastery of the Theotokos Evergetis, Constantinople, but were later rejected by our current Typikon: Emperor Leo VI († 916) — Canon, tone 4 I Shall Open My Mouth (according to the Evergetis Hypotyposis, it was chanted during “pannikhida” of the feast) and another canon with the same initial irmos (according to the same document, it was chanted during “pannikhida” on September 11); George, bishop of Nicomedia (?), fl. 9th century — Canon, tone 4 I Shall Open My Mouth (the same Hypotyposis assigns this canon for the Matins on the Eve of the feast) and Canon, tone 4, The Powerful Generals during the “pannikhida” on September 10. The same Evergetis Hypotyposis requires (during the “pannikhida” on September 9) another canon, tone 4, I Shall Sing To Thee, O Lord My God, by John (of Damascus?). It is worth noting that St Cosmas of Maiuma did not leave us a canon for this feast: nor did he leave canons for Easter, Ascension, Annunciation, and Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple.

The extant sources do not allow us to say anything definitive about the kind of service and the hymns and readings that the holiday of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos had before the 7th century. Luckily, we have a 7th-century source that sheds light on the rite of this service: a translation into the Georgian language of the so called Jerusalem Canonarium, that is, a collection of liturgical instructions, or rather an index of readings during worship in the Church of Jerusalem. We read, “The Nativity of Theotokos. Troparion, tone 1: Thy Nativity, O Theotokos Virgin. Prokeimenon, tone 1: Thou Hast Sanctified Thy Dwelling; verse: God Is Our Refuge and Strength.” This note is followed by a list of readings, viz., 1. The Wisdom of Solomon 8:2-4 (mistakenly cited as Proverbs); 2. Isaiah 11:1 ff.; and an unnumbered reading of Hebrews 8:7-9,10. Hallelujah, tone 8: Hear O Daughter. Gospel Luke 11:27-32. Washing of hands, tone 1, “Thy Nativity, O Most Pure Virgin.” Apparently, these are the instructions for the Liturgy only; more important feasts have rubrics for the Vespers and the Matins, too. Perhaps, the Vespers and the Matins of this feast did not differ too much from everyday services. We see Old Testament readings during the Liturgy and a special troparion “on washing of hands”, which might have been a substitute of the Cherubic Song. Remarkably, the Gospel reading in this source begins with “And it came to pass, as he spake these things…”, i.e. with the last words of the current Gospel reading. The second earliest source that contains liturgical instructions for this feast is the so called Canonarium of Mt Sinai, i.e. a similar book, which was meant to be used in a certain Church (maybe the Church of Constantinople), found alongside a Gospel book in St Catherine Monastery on Mt Sinai and attributed to the 9th century. The Vespers prokeimenon in this book is “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God” and the verse is God loves the Gates of Zion. The OT readings, the troparion, the Epistle and Gospel readings, and the Koinonikon are already the same as today.

The information about the order of the services on the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos is available to us since the 11th century, when this service was already very close to the current one. We will mention only the few differences between the known ancient manuscripts and the current Typikon.

Thus, the manuscript of a Georgian translation of the Typikon (the 11th -century Synaxarion of Iveron Monastery on Mt Athos) requires a special prokeimenon on the Vespers of this feast: “The holy place of the tabernacles of the most High, God is in the midst of her” and the verse was God Is Our Refuge. There was no litiya during the Vespers according to this book; it stipulated current stichera for Lord I Cried during the Aposticha (this book does not determine stichera for Lord I Cried; the same is true for all other great feasts); the troparion is the current one but in the first tone; the usual Matins kathisma is replaced with Psalms 43, 44, and 132; the Antiphons during the Liturgy are It Is Good — apparently the usual weekday ones — with the following refrains: 1). By the Prayers of Theotokos, 2). and 3). Save Us, O Son of God Born of a Virgin, For We Sing Thee: Hallelujah.

The 11th-century practice of celebration of the feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos in the Evergetis Monastery in Constantinople as recorded in a 12th-century manuscript has the following differences from the current practice. Only three initial stichera are chanted during the Lord I Cried at Vespers: the first and the second ones are repeated three times, and the third sticheron is repeated twice. There was no litiya during Vespers according to this Typikon. The Aposticha had the following verses: 1) Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions: how he sware unto the Lord, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob; 2) The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it;

Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. Only two first stichera of the Aposticha coincide with the current ones, while the third one, Thy Most Honorable Nativity, is now the last during the Vespers; the fourth, Today the Barren Gate, is currently the fourth sung at Lord I Cried. The troparion is in tone 1. The first kathisma at the Matins was the usual one, and the second was a special one, appropriate for the feast, i.e. the sixth kathisma, O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath. The sessional hymn after the first kathisma is the one which is now read after the second kathisma; the sessional hymn after the second kathisma is the one that is read after the third ode of the canon today; the sessional hymn after the polieley is the one that is now read after the first kathisma. Canons: First Canon has irmoses repeated twice, troparia by 4, the 2nd by six (no mention of irmoses here); consequently, the canon itself is read by 12 (today by 16). The current 1st sessional hymn after the polieley is read after Ode 3 of the canon; the exapostilarion Holy is the Lord our God is read after Ode 9, like on other, mainly medium-importance feasts and, “optionally, another exapostilarion, sung to the tune of Hearken O Women: The ends of earth rejoice.” The Lauds included six stichera but the book names only two of them (probably the first two of the current ones), Glory: Now: the sixth one currently at Lord I Cried, Today the Barren Anna. The Beatitudes during the Liturgy are unique to this feast, in tone 8 “Remember us” — a troparion, a troichen and a theotokion. The following readings from the “Book of Praises to the Theotokos” were incorporated into the service according to this book of rubrics: the First Homily of St John of Damascus, beginning with Come All Nations, during the panikhida; the Second and the Third Homilies of St John of Damascus during the Matins after the First and the Second Kathisma, beginning with the following words, “If the Earth is measured by cubits” and “Various other subjects of feasts”; a homily by St Andrew of Crete “This feast is the beginning of all feasts” after the polieley; a “historical account by St James in his Metaphrastos” after Ode 3 of the Canon (currently, there remain the following readings: the Second Homily by St John of Damascus, referred to as the Homily by St Andrew of Crete; the First Homily by St John of Damascus after the 2nd Kathisma; a homily by Gregory the Hieromonk; and an unspecified “reading of the feast” after the 1st Kathisma).

We see that the service according to that Typikon is different from our current one in just a few ways, such as lack of several stichera (e.g. stichera during the litiya), another order of stichera and sessional hymns, and an abridged canon. The Hypotyposis of Evergetis Monastery is an important document in the history of liturgy because it recorded the practice of worship, which was the middle ground between the so call Studite and Jerusalemite Typika. The Hypotyposis of Evergetis is closer to the Studite Typikon in its earliest form, which we cannot find in the full copies that exist today, due to the fact that these remaining copies date back to the 12th-13th centuries and are very close to the Jerusalem (the present) Typikon; they are much closer to it than the Hypotyposis of Evergetis.

According to these copies of the Studite Typikon, which are a Slavonic-Russian edition of this Typikon made in 12th or 13th centuries, the worship on this feast has the following differences from the current one. There are six verses for the stichera on Lord I Cried, and the stichera are the current first three ones; there is no litiya during Vespers according to this Typikon; the Aposticha stichera go in the following order: the 1st Sticheron is the same as today; the 2nd Sticheron is the same as the 3rd Sticheron now; the 4th Sticheron is the same as the 4th Sticheron on Lord I Cried today. Glory: Now: tone 2, to the tune of House of Ephratha, unspecified text — possibly the current aposticha sticheron from the Small Vespers; troparion, tone 1. The prokeimenon Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, which was sung after the Gospel at Matins during other feasts, was likewise sung after the Gospel at Matins of this day. The canons were chanted as follows: the First Canon had irmoses read once and verses repeated twice in Odes 1, 3, 4 and 6; both irmoses and verses were repeated twice in Odes 5, 7, 8, and 9 (because the first odes contained three verses, while the last odes contained just two verses each); the Second Canon had irmoses and verses recited once: all verses were by 12; there was the exclamation Holy Is The Lord Our God after Ode 9. The current three stichera at the Lauds were chanted twice each, then Glory: Now, followed by the first one of them. This Typikon always required Aposticha, too: Matins aposticha in tone 2, to the tune of House of Ephratha (unspecified), Glory: Now: One of those. Liturgy had “designated Psalms and they sing canons in tone 2, odes 3 and 5 with irmoses, during the Beatitudes.”

According to the earliest copies of the current Jerusalem Typikon, the service of the Nativity of Theotokos is only slightly different from the current (printed) Typikon. The two first stichera are repeated at Lord I Cried. Some manuscripts require singing the Second Canon by 6 with just the troparia without irmoses; other (Slavonic) manuscripts note that “we say its irmoses and troparia once, for they are plentiful.” The exapostilarion of the feast is chanted twice. It is either not specified or the one that Greeks use today. (Sessional hymns aren’t specified either, so we cannot be certain if they are meant to be the same as today or not). The odes of the Liturgy are taken only from the First Canon.

Finally, there are minor inconsistencies between our current rubrics of that feast and the modern Greek or Old Rite rubrics. The Greek rubrics have more differences, albeit insignificant. Thus, according to the Greek Menaia, the first two stichera at Lord I Cried are read twice. The First Sessional Hymn after the Polieley and the Sessional Hymn after Ode 3 of the Canon are chanted one in the place of the other, and there is no second sessional hymn after the polieley. The First Canon has irmoses by 8, the Second Canon has troparia by 6. There is a kontakion and an ikos after the Sixth Ode, together with a brief synaxarion (description) of the feast with preceding verses. The Ninth Ode does not have any refrains. The exapostilaria we use nowadays aren’t there; instead, they use one exapostilarion, mentioned in ancient books, and sing it three times to the tune of Hearken O Women: “The ends of earth today rejoice of Thy Nativity, O Virgin Theotokos Mary and the Unwedded Bride; it is through it that thy parents’ woeful malediction of infecundity was untied, as well as the curse of birth of Foremother Eve.”

According to the liturgical instructions used in the Patriarchate of Constantinople for parish churches, this service has the following differences from ours. They sing stichera by 6 at Lord I Cried; they do not have a litiya during Vespers; the litiya accompanied with singing of a troparion goes before Matins, which is served separately from the Vespers, similarly to other great feasts. The Matins contains Psalter (kathismas) and a polieley to Theotokos My heart is inditing; then hypakoe (in fact, it is a sessional hymn) after the Third Ode of the Canon. During the Liturgy, they sing antiphons consisting of the verses of what is known to us as the select Psalm for the Exaltation, viz., verses 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 (see below), with insertions of Ps. 132:17 between verses 7 and 8, and Psalm 132:14 between verses 9 and 11. The chorus of the First Antiphon is By the Prayers of Theotokos; and of the Second Antiphon, Save Us O Son of God, Wondrous Art Thou In Thy Saints…; of the Third Antiphon, a troparion. They sing Come Let Us Worship… Wondrous Art Thou in Thy Saints during the Entrance.

According to the liturgical instructions used by Old Rite believers, the second and the third stichera at Lord I Cried are sung twice; they sing Today The Barren Gate sticheron in tone 6 after the Gospel reading; they have no refrains after Ode 9; instead they have a katavasia Mysterious Is The Paradise. Instead of It Is Truly Meet they sing Virginity Is Alien to Mothers and repeat the Photogogikon (Svetilen) three times. Apparently, the photogogikon is the same as in the Greek Menaia.

Our account of the history of the service in honor of this feast makes it clear how slowly and gradually this service was developed. Its authors were holy monks and confessors of the 8th and 9th centuries and this fact, coupled with high artistic qualities of their works, was the reason why their chants replaced earlier and doubtlessly simpler and less sophisticated hymns used in the 5th-7th centuries. Later, quite a few famous hymnographers brought the fruit of their inspiration to this feast, which came to be more and more venerated and honored by the Christian oikumena; however, the Church was so demanding that their works were not adopted for use during worship because they were found to be less brilliant than the former ones. It is also worth noting the care with which the liturgical instructions replaced certain hymns with others in the course of their centuries-long formation and development: texts formerly used at the Aposticha were then moved to Lord I Cried; texts originally chanted between odes of the canons were later moved to kathismas and the polieley. The rubrics were hesitant even in the seemingly unimportant issues, such as where to repeat a sticheron and which one to repeat; which number to sing canons by; whether to sing irmoses of the second canon or not. All this guarantees that the current rite of church service on this day is a harmoniously balanced single whole.

Saint Athanasius of Serpukhov the Elder (+ 1401) and Saint Athanasius the Younger (+ 1395)

Sts. Athanasius the Elder and Athanasius the Younger (Feast Day - September 12)

Saint Athanasius of Serpukhov was born at Obonezh Pyatina with the name Andrew into the family of the priest Auxentius and his wife Maria. He was, from youth, inclined towards prayer and renunciation of the world, and he sought a worthy guide in monastic labors.

At this time, news of Saint Sergius of Radonezh had already spread throughout the whole of Rus. The Monastery of the Life-Creating Trinity at Makovets had become for everyone a luminous model of monastic organization. Here in the monastery, the cenobitic life transformed “the hateful discord of this world,” creating a oneness of spirit in a unity of love based on the example of the Divine Trinity. The youth Andrew went from the outskirts of Novgorod to Abba Sergius at Makovets, following in his footsteps in search of spiritual perfection.

Saint Bassian of Tiksnensky in Vologda (+ 1624)

St. Bassian of Tiksnensky (Feast Day - September 12)

Venerable Bassian of Tiksnensky (or Totemsky) was born with the name Basil, and was a peasant from the village of Strelitsa (by other accounts, from the village of Burtsevo), near the city of Totma. Married with two children, he was by trade a tailor. Leaving his family, he became a monk under Elder Therapon in the Spaso-Sumorinsky Monastery at the River Sukhona, founded by Saint Theodosius of Totemsky, where he spent several years in asceticism and obedience. At first they were hesitant in accepting him as a monk, since he had abandoned his family, but they eventually admitted him and he took the name Bassian at tonsure.

Holy Martyrs Macedonios, Theodoulos and Tatian of Phrygia

Sts. Macedonios, Theodoulos and Tatian the Martyrs (Feast Day - September 12)


Macedonios and Tatian my Christ,
With Theodoulos were beheaded on Your behalf.

By Sozomen
(Ecclesiastical History, Bk. 5, Ch. 11)

[During the reign of Julian the Apostate, in 362,] Macedonios, Theodoulos and Tatian, who were Phrygians by birth, courageously endured martyrdom. A temple of Misos, a city of Phrygia, having been reopened by the governor of the province, after it had been closed many years, these martyrs entered therein by night, and destroyed the images. As other individuals were arrested, and were on the point of being punished for the deed, they avowed themselves the actors in the deed. They might have escaped all further punishment by offering sacrifices to idols; but the governor could not persuade them to accept acquittal on these terms. His persuasions being ineffectual, he maltreated them in a variety of forms, and finally extended them on a gridiron, beneath which a fire had been lighted. While they were being consumed, they said to the governor, Amachus (for that was his name), "if you desire cooked flesh, give orders that our bodies may be turned with the other side to the fire, in order that we may not seem, to your taste, half cooked." Thus did these men nobly endure and lay down their life amid the punishments.

Holy Martyr Okeanos

St. Okeanos the Martyr (Feast Day - September 12)


Okeanos is perceived as bright as the sun,
Bathing in fire, as if in the ocean.

The Holy Martyr Okeanos was perfected in fire.

He is probably the Okeanos martyred with the Holy Martyrs Centurionus, Theodore, Ammianus and Julian, who are commemorated on September 4th. In some calendars for September 4th, such as the Menologion of Basil II, he is known as Kion, but he is not listed with them in the Synaxarion of Constantinople. These Holy Martyrs were martyred in Nicomedia in the year 288, who after undergoing various tortures had their feet cut off with an axe and then were cast into the flames.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Saint Euphrosynos the Cook ... Cooking

"They despised him as a simpleton, and only trusted him to do the cooking. He performed many secret deeds of virtue, but people only saw him when he was dirty after his cooking, and in shabby clothes."

(From the 5th cent. Life of Saint Euphrosynos)

Saint Theodora of Vasta Resource Page

St. Theodora of Vasta (Feast Day - September 11)

Introduction to the Book "Saint Theodora of Vasta"

The Life of Saint Theodora of Vasta

What Scientists Have Said About the Miraculous Chapel of St. Theodora in Vasta

Miracles of Saint Theodora of Vasta

By Archimandrite Iakovos Kanakis,
Priest of the Church of Saint Theodora in Vasta

The great miracles that take place in our lives are accomplished by the grace of God. It is God who works through the saints of our Church. The intercessions of the saints before Him help those who invoke them with faith. All the saints intercede on behalf of the faithful, as does the one who is known throughout the world, Saint Theodora of Vasta in Arcadia.

Many miracles take place at her sacred shrine in Arcadia as well as in many parts of the world, when they invoke her with confidence.

Documentary on the Church of Saint Theodora in Vasta

Monday, September 10, 2018

Saint Paul the Obedient of the Kiev Caves

St. Paul the Obedient of the Kiev Caves (Feast Day - September 10)

Venerable Paul the Obedient was an ascetic in the Far Caves at Kiev. Upon assuming the monastic schema at the Kiev Caves Lavra, the monk underwent very burdensome obediences without a murmur, which the monastery’s abbot assigned to him.

Saint Joasaph of Kubensk, Wonderworker of Vologda (+ 1457)

St. Joasaph of Kubensk (Feast Day - September 10)

Saint Joasaph of Kubensk, Wonderworker of Vologda, was baptized with the name Andrew. His parents, Prince Dimitri Vasilievich of Lesser Zaozersk (a descendant of Prince Theodore Rostislavich of Smolensk and Yaroslavl), and Princess Maria, were known for their deep piety, which they imparted to the future ascetic. In 1429 Prince Dimitri Vasilievich was killed in Yaroslavl by Kazan Tatars during their raid on the Volgda cities. Andrew was probably a baby at the time, and his mother Princess Maria was left ti raise him along with his two brothers Symeon and Theodore and one sister Sophia.

Holy Martyr Chariton

St. Chariton the Martyr (Feast Day - September 10)


You have much grace Martyr of Christ Chariton,
For the sake of Christ your throat was cut.

The Holy Martyr Chariton was perfected by the sword. His annual synaxis was celebrated in the Deuteron district of Constantinople.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Gospel Commentary for the Sunday Before the Holy Cross (St. John Chrysostom)

Sunday Before the Holy Cross

John 3:13-17

From the Homilies on the Gospel of Saint John

By Saint John Chrysostom

3:13 - "No man has ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven.

"And what manner of sequel is this?" asks one. The very closest, and entirely in unison with what has gone before. For since Nicodemus had said, "We know that You are a teacher come from God," on this very point He sets him right, all but saying, "Think Me not a teacher in such manner as were the many of the prophets who were of earth, for I have come from heaven now. None of the prophets has ascended up there, but I dwell there." Do you see how even that which appears very exalted is utterly unworthy of his greatness? For not in heaven only is He, but everywhere, and He fills all things; but yet He speaks according to the infirmity of His hearer, desiring to lead him up little by little. And in this place He called not the flesh "Son of Man," but He now named, so to speak, His entire Self from the inferior substance; indeed this is His wont, to call His whole Person often from His Divinity, and often from His humanity.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Saint Sophronios, Bishop of Akhtala in Iberia (+ 1803)

St. Sophronios of Akhtala (Feast Day - September 8)

Saint Sophronios was born to pious and virtuous parents in the year 1738 in the village of Lotsion of Chaldia in Pontus. His father was a priest named George Sertarides, and his mother was Barbara. He had four sisters and five brothers, one of whom, Demetrios, was also a priest. Sophronios himself was baptized with the name Symeon.

From a young age he loved divine things, especially monasticism. Therefore at a young age he went to the Monastery of Saint George in Choutoura where he became a novice. Three months later he went to the Monastery of Soumela, and three years later went to the Monastery of Vazelon, where he submitted himself to Elder Meletios. There he was educated, progressed in virtue, tonsured with the name Sophronios and was ordained a priest.

Holy Martyr Artemidoros

St. Artemiados the Martyr (Feast Day - September 8)


In leaping Artemidoros is strong,
And being burned in the fire shows his deeds.

The Holy Martyr Artemidoros was perfected in fire.

Holy Martyr Severus

St. Severus the Martyr (Feast Day - September 8)


"I am ready to bear all suffering,"
Severus said, "and is the sword for me?"

The Holy Martyr Severus was perfected by the sword.

Holy Martyrs Rufus and Rufianus

Sts. Rufus and Rufianus the Martyrs (Feast Day - September 8)


Bending to the sword Rufianus said,
"Remain in your affirmation Rufus, do not hesitate, 

but follow me."

The Holy Martyrs Rufus and Rufianus were perfected by the sword.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Synaxarion of Saint Kassiani the Hymnographer

By Metropolitan Kyrillos of Rhodes

On the seventh of this month, we commemorate our 
Venerable and God-bearing Mother 
Kassiani the Hymnographer.


Kassiani is looked upon in the Church,
As a siren of hymns with divinely-struck music.
On the seventh Kassiani the sweet-toned nightingale died.

She balked royal honor and glory, having not been selected by Emperor Theophilos to be his wife. Having withdrawn to ascetic struggles in her own monastery that she founded in the Queen City, which was called "The Kassias", she spent her life in fasting, vigils and untiring prayers. Occupying herself with the construction of divinely-inspired hymns, for this she was called a melodist and hymnographer of the Church. Removing herself from the Queen City, with another nun, she went to Sicily, and from there went to Crete, then on to Kasos, where she lived in venerable asceticism on the island in a cave known as "The Grias". There she reposed in the sleep of the Venerables, and was buried by the pious in the Church of the Most Holy Theotokos, in the village known as "Empourgio", in a coffin preserved till this day.

Saints Symeon (1476) and Amphilochius (1570) of Pangarati Monastery in Romania

Sts. Symeon and Amphilochius of Pangarati Monastery (Feast Day - September 7)

Venerable Symeon was born at the beginning of the 15th century in a village close to the city of Piatra Neamţ city, at the time of Prince Alexander the Kind (1400-1432). From his youth, he was a very pious man, choosing to live the monastic life and joining the community of Bistriţa Monastery. After much asceticism and obedience, in 1432, he retired together with two of his disciples on the left bank of Pângăraţi creek. There, he built a cell of fir beams in a beautiful meadow, where he stayed together with his disciples in unceasing prayers, so that his place was known as “Symeon’s Hermitage”. Having heard of him, Prince Stephan the Great (1457–1504) helped him raise a small wooden church dedicated to the Holy Great Martyr Demetrios the Myrrh-Gusher. When Metropolitan Teoctist I consecrated it, Venerable Symeon was ordained a priest, having become the first founder and abot of Pângăraţi Monastery, called “Symeon’s Skete” until 1508. There he gathered many disciples around him, growing in self-denial and prayer, and receiving the gifts of healing and of prophecy. The faithful benefited from his blessings, as well as the high officials, and even Prince Stephan the Great, who used to ask for his advice for himself and for the country.

Saint Macarius of Optina (+ 1860)

St. Macarius of Optina (Feast Day - September 7)

The future Saint Macarius was born in 1788 into the noble Ivanov family, and was baptized with the name Michael in honor of Saint Michael of Tver (Nov. 22). His parents Nicholas and Elizabeth had an estate in the village of Shepyatino in the Dimitrov district in the Orel province. They also owned property in other provinces, including the village of Zhelezniki in Orel Province where they lived. The Ivanovs moved to Moscow in 1794 so Elizabeth could receive medical treatment for tuberculosis.

Michael’s beloved mother died on January 21, 1797, and was buried in the Saint Andronicus Monastery. The nine-year-old Michael moved to the village of Karachev to live with his sister Daria and her husband Simeon Peredelsky, who had been elected to the District Court of Karachev. Michael received his primary education there in the local parish school.

Holy Hieromartyr Macarius of Kanev (+ 1678)

St. Macarius of Kanev (Feast Day - September 7)

The Hieromartyr Macarius (Makarii) of Kanev lived in the seventeenth century. This was a most terrible time for Orthodox Christians in western Rus. The constant struggles of the Hieromartyr were an attempt to defend the Orthodox faith under difficult conditions, when it was possible only to defend the future of the Russian Orthodox Church, which was preserved from the brusque passing of the hurricane of the Unia, endured together with Tatar incursions.

Macarius was born in 1605 in the city of Ovruch in Volhynia into the illustrious Tokarevsky family, renowned adherents of Orthodoxy. In the years between 1614-1620 the Saint studied at the Ovruch Dormition Monastery, and upon the death of his parents he became a monk at this monastery, having begun his service as a novice.

Holy New Martyr Lygeri of Chios (+ 1822)

St. Lygeri of Chios (Feast Day - September 6)

The Holy New Martyr Lygeri was born in the village of Anavatos on the island of Chios in 1804. Her parents were simple islanders who had great faith in God, and passed this faith on to their daughter, who was loved by all.

In 1822 the Turkish pasha of Chios beheld the beauty of the young maiden Lygeri while he was in her village. He immediately desired to have her and ordered that she be brought before him. He promised her wealth, glory, honor and power if she would consent to being his lover. But she, immediately, rejected his offer.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Saint Eleutherius, Abbot of Saint Mark's Abbey in Spoleto (+ 585)

St. Eleutherius of Spoleto (Feast Day - September 6)

A wonderful simplicity and spirit of compunction were the distinguishing virtues of this holy man. He was chosen abbot of Saint Mark’s, near Spoleto, and favored by God with the gift of miracles. A child who was possessed by the devil, being delivered by being educated in his monastery, the abbot said one day: “Since the child is among the servants of God, the devil dares not approach him.” These words seemed to savor of vanity, and thereupon the devil again entered and tormented the child. The abbot humbly confessed his fault, and fasted and prayed with his whole community till the child was again freed from the tyranny of the fiend. Saint Gregory the Great not being able to fast on Easter-eve, on account of the extreme weakness of his stomach, engaged this saint to go with him to the Church of Saint Andrew’s and put up his prayers to God for his health, that he might join the faithful in that solemn practice of penance. Eleutherius prayed with many tears, and the Pope coming out of the church, found his stomach suddenly strengthened so that he was enabled to perform the fast as he desired. St. Eleutherius raised a dead man to life. Resigning his abbacy, he died in Saint Andrew’s Monastery in Rome about the year 585. His body was afterwards translated to Spoleto.

Consecration of the Church of the Most Holy Theotokos at the Deuteron in the House of Saint Anna


The tent is sanctified now at the consecration,
Of her who consecrated our mortal nature.

The relationship between Roman rulers and Saint Anna, the mother of the Most Holy Theotokos, began in the sixth century when Emperor Justinian I (527-565) built a church in her honor in the Deuteron district of Constantinople. The historian Prokopios provides no description of the Church of Saint Anna in the Deuteron, but the tenth century writer/editor of the Patria of Constantinople tells us that it was a three-aisle church of great size (τρίκλινος, παμμεγεθέστατος). According to the Synaxarion of Constantinople, on September 6th we commemorate the Consecration of the Most Holy Theotokos at the Deuteron in the House of Saint Anna (the text actually says it was in Hagia Eirene, but other sources indicate it was indeed that of Saint Anna). This was probably a chapel in the church.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Homily on Saint Babylas of Antioch (St. John Chrysostom)

Homily on Saint Babylas of Antioch

By St. John Chrysostom

1. I was anxious today to pay the debt which I promised you when I was lately here. But what am I to do? In the meanwhile, the blessed Babylas has appeared, and has called me to himself, uttering no voice, but attracting our attention by the brightness of his countenance. Be not, therefore, displeased at the delay in my payment; at all events, the longer the time is, the more the interest will increase. For we will deposit this money with interest. Since thus did the master command who entrusted it to us. Being confident, therefore, about what is lent, that both the principal and the profit await you, let us not pass by the gain which falls in our way today, but revel in the noble actions of the blessed Babylas.

Saint Symeon the Wonderworker of Gareja (+ 1773)

St. Symeon the Wonderworker of Gareja (Feast Day - September 4)

Saint Symeon was raised at the David Gareja Monastery. He labored as a simple monk until he reached an advanced age, and was chosen to be abbot. Outstanding in virtue and humility, Saint Symeon was endowed by the Lord with the ability to work miracles.

Once Saint Symeon became deathly ill and lay lifeless for more than an hour. Then, by Divine Providence, he arose and distributed all of his possessions to the fathers of the monastery to keep him in remembrance.

Finding of the Sacred Relics of the Holy New Martyr Theodore the Hatzis of Mytilene in 1967

The Holy New Martyr Theodore of Mytilene, who was from Pyrgos Thermis of Lesvos, and commemorated by the Church on January 30th, was hanged in Mytilene in 1785 by the Turks for his love for Christ and refusal to embrace Islam. His honorable relic was then cast into the sea by the Turks, but a few days later it was found by certain Christians on the shore, and they buried him within the Chapel of Saint John the Forerunner in Mothona. There he remained buried until September 4, 1967 when his holy relic was found.

Holy Three Thousand Six Hundred and Twenty-Eight (3,628) Martyrs of Nicomedia

Holy 3,628 Martyrs of Nicomedia (Feast Day - September 4)


Six hundred and three times a thousand athletes together,
You united with the Angels above O Christ.

These Saints hid in the mountains and caves of Nicomedia in the year 290, who were first punished by Emperor Maximian with various tortures, and finally put to death. In this way they received the crowns of the contest.

Holy Martyr Sarbelos

St. Sarbelos the Martyr (Feast Day - September 4)


Sarbelos allowed those who do not reverence reverence,
Profane men to put their hands to stones.

The Holy Martyr Sarbelos (sometimes called Zarbelos) was perfected by being stoned to death.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Translation of the Relics of Saint Nektarios the Wonderworker in 1953

Saint Nektarios the Wonderworker reposed in 1920. Since his repose there were four translations of his holy relics - in 1921, 1923, 1927 and 1953. The event we commemorate today was the translation which took place on September 2, 1953 from his grave in Aegina to the church at the Convent of the Holy Trinity. Noteworthy was the strong fragrance that issued from the relics during the translation. The following is the testimony of Archimandrite Timothy Kalamperidis, who was present that day:

Saint Constantine the New, Emperor of the Romans (+ 641)

St. Constantine the New of Constantinople (Feast Day - September 3);
Coin depicts Heraclius (left) with Constantine III (right)


Christ the King O pious Constantine,
Crowned you in heaven with an embellished crown.

Constantine III, born 3 May 612, was Roman Emperor for four months in 641, making him the shortest reigning Eastern Roman emperor. He was the eldest son of the Emperor Heraclius and his first wife Eudokia.

Constantine's birth name was Heraclius Novus Constantinus, which was also the official name under which he reigned. The name Constantine became established in later Byzantine texts as short for the Emperor and has become standard in modern historiography. In terms of official imperial nomenclature, the style "Constantine III" would be more appropriate for his son Constans II (r. 641–668).

Holy Hieromartyr Aristion, Bishop of Alexandria


As one who is brave you hurriedly run to the fire,
Most excellent Martyr of Christ Aristion.

Saint Aristion was the Bishop of lesser Alexandria (Alexandretta, mod. İskenderun) in Cilicia of Asia Minor. He was born in the small town of Aribazo in the eparchy of Apamea, Syria at the beginning of the second century. His parents were pagans, and he spent his early years in an atmosphere of idolatry.

We do not know what sort of early education Aristion received, nor where he studied, but it did not satisfy his search for the truth. A ten-year-old boy who lived in the same town, the future martyr Anthony of Apamea (Nov. 9), showed him the path which led to the truth. Anthony instructed him in the true faith, and Aristion increased in piety and zeal for God.

Holy Martyr Archontios

St. Archontios the Martyr (Feast Day - September 3)


Archontios starved and hence was worn out,
The ruler of this world is an noetic lamia.

The Holy Martyr Archontios was perfected by starvation.

* Lamia in ancient Greek mythology was a woman who became a child-eating monster. Here the devil is described as a lamia for devouring the children of God, as opposed to Archontios who starved to death for his love of God.

To read more about supporting the ministry of the Mystagogy Resource Center, please visit the DONATE page. Thank you.

Please Visit Our Sponsors