Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Best of January 2018 by the Mystagogy Resource Center (MRC)

Below is the monthly review for the month of January of the ten most popular articles from the month on, then all the posts made on the other websites of the Mystagogy Resource Center.

1. Palestinian Muslims Beat, Torture and Threaten Greek Monks in Jerusalem

2. Miracle Reported of the Resurrection of a Baby Girl in Belgium

Miracle Reported of the Resurrection of a Baby Girl in Belgium

The following report was released by Fr. Dionysios Tampakis, and is dated 22 January 2018. It was told to him by Abbess Arsenia of the Monastery of Christ of the Forest on the island of Paros, where the tomb of Saint Arsenios of Paros and the center of his veneration is located.

A few minutes ago, Abbess Arsenia Tsantouli (Abbess of the Monastery where Saint Arsenios of Paros lived in asceticism) and the Nuns related to us the following astonishing miracle:

Church of Saint Arsenios the New in Paros

Saint Arsenios the New of Paros reposed on January 31, 1877 at the Monastery of the Transfiguration, known also as the Monastery of Christ of the Forest, and today also known as the Monastery of Saint Arsenios, where he served as spiritual father to the nuns. Soon after his repose a small chapel was dedicated to him at the monastery, erected at the site of his tomb, which was included inside it. Later, between 1935 and 1945 a much larger chapel was built to replace the old one. Official recognition of his sainthood came in 1967 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Soon after two more chapels dedicated to Saint Arsenios were dedicated to him in the suburbs of Athens, one at Moschaton and one in Spata.

Synaxis of Panagia Dakriroousa in Kefallonia

The Monastery of Koronatos is 3 kilometers from the town of Lixouri. According to tradition, the nobleman Leon Polikalas fled from Koroni in the Peloponnese to the province of Paliki on the island of Kefallonia, bringing with him an icon of the Mother of God. He then honorably dedicated it to a church, which was built at his own expense and care at the end of the 15th century. During the following century, the church was most likely destroyed by earthquakes.

A shepherd from the Megalogenis family from the village of Polikalata was herding his sheep in the village where the Monastery lies today. The ram abandoned the herd on a daily basis and went to drink water from the spring under the fig tree in the village where the church used to be before the earthquakes. After following it, the herdsman saw a blinding flash coming from the fig tree. As he approached, he saw an icon of the Virgin Mary with a small amulet. He brought it down and took it home, but the icon kept on leaving and returning to the fig tree where the shepherd had found it. This happened many times, so the herdsman finally had to make the miracle public and with his fellow villagers’ contributions, the church was rebuilt. The original icon of the Panagia Koroniotissa has been lost. A copy of this icon is the miraculous one found today on the church throne.

Saints and Feasts of January 31

On the thirty-first Cyrus and John were beheaded.

Holy and Wonderworking Unmercenaries 
Cyrus and John

Saints Cyrus and John the Wonderworkers and Unmercenaries

A Miracle of Saints Cyrus and John for the Physician Gesios

The Holy Martyrs Cyrus and John in the "Life of Saint John the Merciful"

Holy Martyr Athanasia with her three daughters 
Theoktiste, Theodota and Eudoxia

Saints Cyrus and John the Wonderworkers and Unmercenaries

Holy Martyrs Victorinus, Victor and Nikephoros

Holy Martyrs Victorinus, Victor, Nikephoros, Claudius, Diodoros, Sarapinos and Papias of Corinth

Holy Martyr Claudius

Holy Martyrs Victorinus, Victor, Nikephoros, Claudius, Diodoros, Sarapinos and Papias of Corinth

Holy Martyr Diodoros

Holy Martyrs Victorinus, Victor, Nikephoros, Claudius, Diodoros, Sarapinos and Papias of Corinth

Holy Martyr Sarapinos

Holy Martyrs Victorinus, Victor, Nikephoros, Claudius, Diodoros, Sarapinos and Papias of Corinth

Holy Martyr Papias

Holy Martyrs Victorinus, Victor, Nikephoros, Claudius, Diodoros, Sarapinos and Papias of Corinth

Holy Martyr Tryphaine

Synaxarion of Saint Tryphaine the Martyr

Saint Julias the Presbyter of Aegina

Saints Julian and Julias the Missionaries from Aegina

Venerable Marcella of Rome

Venerable Melangell the Hermitess of Wales

Saint Melangell the Hermitess of Wales (+ 641)

Saint Nikitas of the Kiev Caves, Bishop of Novgorod

Saint Nikitas of the Kiev Caves, Bishop of Novgorod (+ 1108)

Saint Nikita the Solitary, Who Had Been Seduced By the Devil and Thereby Became Famous as a Prophet

Holy New Martyr Elias Ardounis of Kalamata

Holy New Martyr Elias Ardounis of Kalamata (+ 1686)

The Church Built Over the Spot Where the Holy New Martyr Elias Ardounis was Martyred in Kalamata

Venerable Arsenios the New of Paros

Saint Arsenios of Paros Resource Page

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Christian Humanism of the Three Hierarchs

By Fr. George Dion Dragas

The Three Hierarchs, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom, are the Fathers of the Greek Orthodox Church par excellence, the patron saints of Christian, Hellenic education and culture. Our Church has praised them and continues to do so by using the richest vocabulary and literary devices, which she can produce. She praises them as "those, who have the manner of the Apostles," "the teachers of the ecumene," "the instruments of grace," "the depths of wisdom," "the oceanic sources of the Spirit," "the living water, which produces the brightest diamonds," "the trees that bear the fruit of joy and gladness," "the coals that burn with an unquenchable fire," "the castles of faith," "the expert healers of the sickness of soul and body," "the theologians," "the foundations," "the golden mouths of God," "the glory of wisdom," "the three greatest luminaries of the three Suns of the Godhead."

Saint Pelagia the Fool for Christ of Diveyevo (+ 1884)

St. Pelagia of Diveyevo (Feast Day - January 30)

In the world she was known as Pelagia Ivanovna Serebrennikova. She was born in Arzamas to parents named Ivan and Parasceva, and she had two brothers named Andrew and John. In her childhood her father died, and her mother remarried a strict man named Alexei. As a child she came down with a severe illness, making her bedridden for a very long time. When she finally recovered, it was as if she was a different person, doing foolish things often. For example, she would go out to the garden in the middle of the winter, she would lift up her skirt in public, she would stand on one leg and spin around like a ballerina, and would scream for no reason. Her parents would punish her for these things, but her behavior did not change. Already from childhood she was nicknamed "fool" for her unusual behavior, and years later her mother understood that she was gifted at this time with the grace of foolishness for the sake of Christ.

Saints and Feasts of January 30

On the thirtieth the golden three-sunned radiance shined.

Commemoration of our Holy Fathers and 
Ecumenical Teachers, Basil the Great, 
Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom, 
known together as the Three Hierarchs.

Three Hierarchs Resource Page

Holy Hieromartyr Hippolytus, Bishop of Rome

Synaxarion of Holy Hieromartyr Hippolytus, Bishop of Rome, and his Companions

Holy Martyr Censorinus

Synaxarion of Holy Hieromartyr Hippolytus, Bishop of Rome, and his Companions

Holy Martyr Sabainus

Synaxarion of Holy Hieromartyr Hippolytus, Bishop of Rome, and his Companions

Holy Martyr Chryse

Synaxarion of Holy Hieromartyr Hippolytus, Bishop of Rome, and his Companions

Holy Martyr Theophilos the New

Saint Theophilos the New

Saint Bathild, Queen of France and Nun of Chelles

Saint Bathild, Queen of France and Nun of Chelles (+ 680)

Saint Peter I, Tsar of Bulgaria

The Relationship Between a Tsar Peter of Bulgaria and Sant John of Rila

Venerable Zeno the Faster of the Kiev Caves

Saint Zeno the Faster of the Kiev Caves (+ 14th cent.)

Holy New Martyr Theodore the Hatzis of Mytilene

Holy New Martyr Theodore the Hatzis of Mytilene (+ 1784)

Holy New Martyr Dimiter of Sliven

Holy New Martyr Dimiter of Sliven, Bulgaria (+ 1841)

Venerable Pelagia the Fool for Christ of Diveyevo

Saint Pelagia the Fool for Christ of Diveyevo (+ 1884)

Commemoration of the Miracle 
of the Great Martyr George in Zakynthos

Commemoration of the Miracle of the Great Martyr George in Zakynthos in 1688

Commemoration of the Finding in Tinos 
of the Sacred Icon of Panagia Evangelistria

Panagia Evangelistria of Tinos Resource Page

Monday, January 29, 2018

Why Don't We Fast During the Week of the Publican and the Pharisee?

"For what profit is there in fasting twice a week, if in so doing it serves only as a pretext for ignorance and vanity, and if it makes you arrogant, haughty and selfish?" (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

By Hieromonk Job (Gumerov)

The parable of the publican and the Pharisee gives an image of the spiritual truth that "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" (Js. 4:6). The Pharisees were representatives of the social-religious trend in Judea during the second century B.C. Their distinguishing characteristic was an intense zeal for observing the Law of Moses. Religious life requires that a person be attentive to himself, that he have moral sensitivity, humility, and pure intentions. If he doesn’t have these, a hardness of heart gradually creeps in on him. Then a pseudo-spirituality inevitably comes. The result is spiritual death. If instead of humility there is self-opinion and pride, instead of sacrificial love there is spiritual egoism, then it is not hard for the devil to take over such a person and make him an accomplice in his evil deeds. People who are unbelieving or spiritually inattentive do not even know or guess how often they do just what the enemy of our salvation wants them to do.

Holy Martyr Ashot the Kuropalates, King of Georgia (+ 826)

St. Ashot I Kuropalates (Feast Day - January 29)

In the year 786, Ashot, the son of Adarnerse, ascended the throne of Kartli. From the very beginning of his reign he fought fiercely for the reunification of Georgia. His first step was to take advantage of the Arab Muslims’ weariness and banish them from Tbilisi.

Three years passed and, under the leadership of a new ruler, the reinvigorated Muslims began to hunt for Ashot. The king was forced to flee after he delayed taking action against them. The enemy had again conquered Tbilisi.

Ashot was compelled to leave Kartli, and he departed for Byzantium with his family and small army. The refugees journeyed as far as Javakheti in southern Georgia and stopped near Lake Paravani for a rest. But while they were sleeping, a Saracen army assailed their camp. The king’s army was doomed, but “God helped Ashot Kuropalates and his scant army. He bestowed power upon them, and they defeated an enemy that greatly outnumbered them.” The king was deeply moved by God’s miraculous intervention and decided that, rather than journeying on to Byzantium as he had intended, he would remain in the region of Shavshet-Klarjeti.

Saint Gildas the Wise, Abbot of Rhuys in Brittany (+ 570)

St. Gildas the Wise (Feast Day - January 29)

Venerable Gildas may have been born in the lower valley of Clydeside in Scotland around 500. He is often called "Badonicus" because he was born in the year the Britons defeated the Saxons at Bath in the Battle of Mount Badon. His father was of the ruling family of a small kingdom on the borders of Northumbria with its capital at Dumbarton but he was sent from the banks of the Clyde to the monastery of Llaniltut or Llantwit, in southern Wales, where he was trained by Saint Illtyd (Nov. 6) together with Saint Samson (July 28) and Saint Paul Aurelian (Mar. 12), though he was much younger. Well-known Irish monks, including Saint Finnian (Dec. 12), became his disciples. He made a pilgrimage to Ireland to consult with his contemporary saints of that land and wrote letters to far-off monasteries. He seems to have had considerable influence on the development of the Celtic Church.

Saint Barsimaios the Confessor, Bishop of Edessa

St. Barsimaios of Edessa (Feast Day - January 29)


Bound to the earth with burdensome flesh Barsimaios,
You were carried away where the burden is light.

Sarbelos was a pagan priest in the city of Edessa at the time of the Emperor Trajan (98-117). One day, as he was about to preside at a great idolatrous festivity wearing all his insignia of gold and precious stones, he was approached, not for the first time, by Saint Barsimaios, the holy bishop of the city whose ardent zeal for Christ led to the conversion of many of his fellow citizens, who once again warned him of the heavy account which he would have to render to God for having thus led so many souls to perdition. Sarbelos went through with the celebration but, touched by the grace of Christ, he sought out the bishop the next day, and throwing himself at his feet, asked to receive Baptism with his sister Bebaia. At Baptism Sarbelos received the name Thathuel.

Synaxarion of the Holy Seven Martyrs of Samosata

On this day [January 29] we commemorate the Holy Seven Martyrs who were perfected in Samosata: Philotheos, Hyperechios, Abibus, Julian, Romanos, James and Paregorius.


On behalf of the Word who was nailed to the Cross,
The heads of seven athletes were nailed.

These Saints, as soldiers of Christ the heavenly King, reviled and rebuked the delusion of the idolaters. Thus the idolaters captured them, and struck their upper arms and thighs with thick rods. They were then flogged without mercy, had heavy chains bound to their necks, and they were cast into prison. After they were taken out of prison, and flogged for a second time. Then they were suspended and had nails struck through their heads, which caused them to deliver their souls into the hands of God, and in this way the renowned ones received the unfading crowns of the contest.

Saints and Feasts of January 29

On the twenty-ninth the soul of Ignatius ascended.

Translation of the Relic of the Holy Hieromartyr 
Ignatius the God-bearer

Translation of the Relics of Saint Ignatius the God-Bearer

Saint Ignatius of Antioch Resource Page

Holy Martyrs Philotheos, Hyperechios, Abibus, 
Julian, Romanos, James and Paregorius at Samosata

Synaxarion of the Holy Seven Martyrs of Samosata

Holy Martyrs Silouan the Bishop, 
Luke the Deacon and Mokios the Reader

Holy Martyrs Silouan the Bishop, Luke the Deacon and Mokios the Reader

Holy Martyrs Sarbelos and Bebaia

Holy Martyrs Sarbelos and Bebaia of Edessa

Saint Barsimaios the Confessor, Bishop of Edessa

Saint Barsimaios the Confessor, Bishop of Edessa

Venerable Aphrahat

Saint Aphrahat the Persian

Venerable Akepsimas

Venerable Akepsimas

Saint Blath of Kildare

Saint Blath of Kildare (+ 523)

Venerable Gildas the Wise, Abbot of Rhuys

Saint Gildas the Wise, Abbot of Rhuys in Brittany (+ 570)

Holy Martyr Ashot the Kuropalates, King of Georgia

Holy Martyr Ashot the Kuropalates, King of Georgia (+ 826)

Saint Laurence the Recluse of the Kiev Caves, 
Bishop of Turov

Saint Laurence the Recluse of the Kiev Caves, Bishop of Turov (+ 1194)

The Demoniac Who Journeyed to the Kiev Caves Lavra

Saint Ignatius, Bishop of Smolensk

Saint Ignatius, Bishop of Smolensk (+ 1210)

Venerable Ignatios the Sinaite of Rethymno

Saint Ignatios the Sinaite of Rethymno (+ 1632)

Saint Andrei Rublev the Iconographer

Saint Andrei Rublev the Iconographer

The Spirituality of Andrei Rublev's Icon of the Holy Trinity

Andrei Tarkovsky's "Andrei Rublev" (1966)

Three Great Perm Holy Hierarchs: 
Gerasim, Pitirim and Jonah

Saint Gerasim, Bishop of Great Perm (+ 1447)

Saint Pitirim, Bishop of Great Perm (+ 1456)

Saint Jonah, Bishop of Great Perm (+ 1470)

Holy New Martyr Demetrios of Chios

Holy New Martyr Demetrios of Chios (+ 1802)

Synaxis of All Saints of Ekaterinburg

Synaxis of All Saints of Ekaterinburg

Sunday, January 28, 2018

History of the First Sunday of the Triodion (Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee)

By John Sanidopoulos

As we enter the period of the Triodion, which is the three week preparatory period leading up to Great Lent, it is important to remember from a historical perspective that the reason it exists is because as the history of the Church developed over the centuries, so did its feasts and commemorations and the meanings behind them. In the early centuries of the Church, the Sunday's of Great Lent were primarily associated with the Gospel Reading of the day, which were meant to catechize especially the catechumens who were preparing for Holy Baptism around Easter time. This is why before the seventh century, the Third Sunday of Great Lent was dedicated to the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee. This all changed however in the seventh century, when in 614 the Persian king Chosroes II sacked Jerusalem and took, along with the spoils, the relic of the True Cross. It was recovered fourteen years later by Emperor Heraclius II who defeated the Persians and in the spring of 629 personally carried it back to Jerusalem. The return of the True Cross to the Church of Jerusalem by the Emperor considerably enhanced the veneration of the Holy Cross, which eventually resulted in placing its veneration at the Third Sunday of Great Lent, since catechumens were becoming more rare at that time. Another reason the Third Sunday of Great Lent was dedicated to the Holy Cross was because on March 6th the Church celebrated the Finding the Honorable Cross by Saint Helen, but because it usually landed on a fasting day it could not be properly celebrated, so it was given a permanent placement on a Sunday in Great Lent when it could be properly celebrated. Today only the Doxastikon of the Praises during Matins and many Idiomela remind us of the Publican and the Pharisee on the Third Sunday of Great Lent.

A Poem on the Publican and the Pharisee (St. Gregory the Theologian)

By St. Gregory the Theologian

Two men, I am taught, went up to the temple, an overweening Pharisee who considered himself before all with God, and a publican whose heart within him was heavy because of unholy gains. The Pharisee recounted in detail his fast, his tithings according to the law, comparing himself with the men of old, and making light of the publican in his words. The publican, however, wept, beat his breast with his hands, and, afraid to raise his eyes to the broad heaven, throne of almighty God, he turned his humble gaze to the pavement. Standing afar off, he prayed thus: "Be merciful, be merciful to thy servant who is weighed down with evil. Not the law, not tithing, nor good works will save me, nor is my assailant mistaken. I am ashamed to touch the temple with my unholy feet. Let thy grace and thy pity flow on my unworthiness, for this is the one hope, O King, thou hast provided for miserable sinners."

Homily for the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee (St. Ignatius Brianchaninov)

By St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

In today's Gospel, the prayer of the publican is shown drawing God’s mercy to him. This prayer consisted of the following words: "God be merciful to me a sinner" (Lk. 18:13). It is worthy of our attention that God heard such a short prayer, and that it was pronounced in the temple, during the common worship services, during the reading and chanting of psalms and other prayers. This prayer is commended in the Gospels; it is set forth as an example of prayer, and it becomes our sacred duty to piously contemplate it.

Why didn't the publican choose some majestic and moving psalm by which to pour out his heart before God, but instead had recourse to such a brief prayer? Why did he repeat only it during the entire service? Our answer is according to that of the holy Fathers. When true repentance begins to shudder in the soul, when humility and contrition of spirit arises there because one’s eyes have been opened to the soul’s sinfulness, then loquacity becomes unbearable, impossible. Concentrating within itself, turning all its attention upon its disastrous condition, the soul begins to call out to God through some form of short, concise prayer.

Saints and Feasts of the Last Sunday of January

Synaxis of the Holy New Martyrs 
and Confessors of Russia

Synaxis of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia

Holy New Martyr Peter, Metropolitan of Krutitsa

Holy New Martyr Peter, Metropolitan of Krutitsa (1863-1937)

Synaxis of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia

The New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia are group of saints of the Russian Orthodox Church martyred or persecuted for Christ after the October Revolution of 1917 under the Bolsheviks.

Shortly after the October Revolution a Local Synod on 5 (18) April 1918 passed a resolution: "We have set throughout Russia an annual memorial on the Sunday following the 25th of January as a day of all confessors and martyrs who died in the current fierce years of persecution."

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia glorified the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in 1981.

Saints and Feasts of January 28

On the twenty-eighth Ephraim’s soul was taken.

Venerable Ephraim the Syrian

Saint Ephraim the Syrian Resource Page

Venerable Palladios

Saint Palladios the Anchorite

Venerable James the Ascetic

St. James the Ascetic, Who Murdered Yet Did Not Despair

Saint James the Ascetic, also known as the Faster

Saint James the Ascetic, Who Was a Rapist and Murderer

Holy Two Martyrs, a Mother and Daughter

Holy Two Martyrs, a Mother and Daughter

Holy Martyr Charis

Saint Charis the Martyr

Saint Cannera of Inis Cathaig

Saint Cannera of Inis Cathaig (+ 530)

Saint John of Réome

Saint John of Réome in Gaul (+ 544)

Saint Glastian, Bishop and Confessor in Scotland

Saint Glastian, Bishop and Confessor in Scotland (+ 830)

Venerable Ephraim the Wonderworker of Novy Torg

Saint Ephraim the Wonderworker of Novy Torg (+ 1053)

Saint Ephraim of the Kiev Caves, Bishop of Pereyaslavl

Saint Ephraim of the Kiev Caves, Bishop of Pereyaslavl (+ 1098)

Venerable Theodosius of Totma

Saint Theodosius of Totma (+ 1568)

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee Resource Page


If thou art pharisaical, betake thyself far from the Temple;
For Christ is within, He Who accepteth the humble.
About the Parable 
Complimentary Articles 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Saint Demetrianos the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tamassos

St. Demetrianos of Tamassos (Feast Day - January 27)

We do not know when Saint Demetrianos lived, but it was probably in the early centuries of Christianity in Cyprus when idolatry still prevailed. He was born in Tamassos, was a Christian from his youth, and loved Christ with all his soul. When the priest of the village became ill, the Bishop of Tamassos ordained Demetrianos a priest. To the faithful he was a spiritual father and guide, to orphans he was a protector, to the sick he was a consoling brother. For this reason when the Bishop of Tamassos died, he was elected to become his successor.

Synaxarion for the Translation of the Relics of Saint John Chrysostom

On the twenty-seventh of this month, is the translation of the relic of our Holy Father John Chrysostom the Archbishop of Constantinople.


Dead you sit on the throne O John,
But you live in God, saying peace to all.
On the twenty-seventh the lifeless body was carried off as gold.

The blessed and divine John Chrysostom, because he did not ignore what was just in accordance with his love for people, but rebuked the empress Eudoxia for her lawlessness and injustice, and this because in a tyrannical manner she took the field of a widow, whose name was Kallitrope: for this reason he was exiled twice, and again he was called back from exile. The third and last time, he was sent to Cucusus, which according to some is near Tokat, and is called Göksun by the Turks, at the border of Cappadocia and lesser Armenia, and is honored with the throne of a Bishop. From Cucusus he was exiled to Arabissus. From Arabissus he was exiled to Pytius, which is also its name today and is also located near Tokat. These three places were not only desolate and wanting of what was needful, but it was also fought over by the neighboring Isaurians.

Saints and Feasts of January 27

On the twenty-seventh the lifeless body was carried off as gold.

Translation of the Sacred Relics of 
Saint John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople

Synaxarion for the Translation of the Relics of Saint John Chrysostom

Translation of the Relics of St. John Chrysostom (St. Dimitri of Rostov) 

Saint John Chrysostom and the Translation of His Relics (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

Saint John Chrysostom Resource Page

Placement of the Relics of Saint Marciana the Empress 
in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople

Saint Marciana, otherwise known as Euphemia, Empress of the Romans (+ 524)

Venerable Claudinus

Venerable Claudinus

Venerable Peter the Egyptian

Life and Sayings of Holy Abba Peter the Egyptian

Saint Demetrianos the Wonderworker, 
Bishop of Tamassos

Saint Demetrianos the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tamassos

Saint Marius of Bodon

Saint Marius of Bodon (+ 555)

Saint Natalis of Ulster

Saint Natalis of Ulster (+ 564)

The Tale of Saint Natalis and the Ossory Werewolves

Holy New Martyr Demetrios at Constantinople

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

Holy New Hieromartyr Peter, Archbishop of Voronezh

Holy New Hieromartyr Peter, Archbishop of Voronezh (+ 1929)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Life of Saint Paula of Rome (St. Jerome)

This, one of the longest of Jerome's letters, was written to console Eustochium for the loss of her mother who had recently died. Jerome relates the story of Paula in detail; speaking first of her high birth, marriage, and social success at Rome, and then narrating her conversion and subsequent life as a Christian ascetic. Much space is devoted to an account of her journey to the East which included a visit to Egypt and to the monasteries of Nitria as well as a tour of the most sacred spots in the Holy Land. The remainder of the letter describes her daily routine and studies at Bethlehem, and recounts the many virtues for which she was distinguished. It then concludes with a touching description of her death and burial and gives the epitaph placed upon her grave. The date of the letter is 404 A.D.

By St. Jerome

Letter 108

To Eustochium

1. If all the members of my body were to be converted into tongues, and if each of my limbs were to be gifted with a human voice, I could still do no justice to the virtues of the holy and venerable Paula. Noble in family, she was nobler still in holiness; rich formerly in this world's goods, she is now more distinguished by the poverty that she has embraced for Christ. Of the stock of the Gracchi and descended from the Scipios, the heir and representative of that Paulus whose name she bore, the true and legitimate daughter of that Martia Papyria who was mother to Africanus, she yet preferred Bethlehem to Rome, and left her palace glittering with gold to dwell in a mud cabin. We do not grieve that we have lost this perfect woman; rather we thank God that we have had her, nay that we have her still. For "all live unto" God,2730 and they who return unto the Lord are still to be reckoned members of his family. We have lost her, it is true, but the heavenly mansions have gained her; for as long as she was in the body she was absent from the Lord2731 and would constantly complain with tears:-"Woe is me that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar; my soul hath been this long time a pilgrim."2732 It was no wonder that she sobbed out that even she was in darkness (for this is the meaning of the word Kedar) seeing that, according to the apostle, "the world lieth in the evil one;"2733 and that, "as its darkness is, so is its light;"2734 and that "the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not."2735 She would frequently exclaim: "I am a stranger with thee and a sojourner as all my fathers were,"2736 and again, I desire "to depart and to be with Christ."2737 As often too as she was troubled with bodily weakness (brought on by incredible abstinence and by redoubled fastings), she would be heard to say: "I keep under my body and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway;"2738 and "It is good neither to eat flesh nor to drink wine;"2739 and "I humbled my soul with fasting;"2740 and "thou wilt make all" my "bed in" my "sickness;"2741 and "Thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer."2742 And when the pain which she bore with such wonderful patience darted through her, as if she saw the heavens opened2743 she would say "Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away and be at rest."2744

Translation of the Relics of Saint Theodore the Studite in 844

Translation of the Relics of Saint Theodore the Studite (Feast Day - January 26)

Saint Theodore was exiled in 815 for refusing to acquiesce in a revival of Iconoclasm during the reign of Emperor Leo V (813-820). He was freed and recalled to Constantinople in 821 after Michael II (820-829) became emperor, but he was unable to reach an accommodation with the new ruler to call a synod against Iconoclasm. Instead, it seems he voluntarily went again into exile in 823, first to the Monastery of Saint Tryphon near Cape Akritas southeast of the city, and later to Prinkipo in the Princes' Islands. He died there November 11, 826.

Saint Gabriel, Abbot of the Monastery of Saint Stephen in Jerusalem (+ c. 490)

St. Gabriel of the Monastery of Saint Stephen in Jerusalem (Feast Day - January 26);
Photo shows the Monastery of Saint Stephen in Jerusalem


With Gabriel the first-rank invisible intelligence,
So also the new Gabriel stands before Christ.

What we know of our Venerable Father Gabriel comes to us from the writings of Cyril of Scythopolis, specifically from the Life of Saint Euthymios, where the following is written:

"The great Euthymios himself did not want to make his place a cenobitic house or even a lavra; when people came to him wishing to renounce the world, he would send them to the blessed Theoktistos in the monastery below, as he did with those who wished to make some offering. But when God chose to make this place inhabited, he sent first of all three brothers in the flesh, who were of Cappadocian origin and Syrian rearing, and preeminent in all spiritual knowledge - Kosmas Chrysippos and Gabriel. When these men begged to remain with him, he would not accept them; three things prevented him - his love of solitude, their youth, and the fact that Gabriel was a eunuch from birth. That night, however, he had a vision of someone saying to him, 'Accept these brothers, since God has sent them, and stop repelling those wishing to be saved.' At this the Saint accepted them, and said to Kosmas, the eldest of them, 'See, I have acted as God has commanded me. But take care not to let your youngest brother come near my cell, for because of the warfare of the enemy it is not right for a feminine face to be found in a lavra. As for you, I do not think you will stay here long, since you are destined to become in time shepherd of the Church of Scythopolis.'"

Holy Hierarch Joseph the Merciful, Metropolitan of Moldova (+ 1902)

Metropolitan Joseph (Iosif Naniescu) was born on July 15, 1818 into the family of the priest Ananias Mihalache, receiving the name of John at Baptism. Left fatherless at the age of two, he was raised by his mother, Theodosia, until at the age of ten he was entrusted to the care of his uncle, Hierodeacon Theophylact of the Frumoasa Monastery in Bessarabia.

Accompanied by him, in 1831 he went to Iaşi to live in the Monastery of Saint Spyridon, which was then under the leadership of Archbishop Varlaam Cuza Sardeo. On 23 January 1835 he was tonsured and took the name Joseph. He then followed Hierodeacon Theophylact to the Monastery of the Holy Prophet Samuel in Focşani, where, on November 23, 1835 he was tonsured into monasticism by Bishop Chesarie, and the next day he was ordained a hierodeacon.

Saint Germanos of Sagmata in Boeotia (+ 1540)

St. Germanos of Sagmata (Feast Day - January 26)

Our Venerable Father Germanos was born in 1480 and served as abbot of the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration on Mount Sagmata in Boeotia during the bitter years of slavery under the Turkish oppressors. There he lived a life of strict asceticism and through his prayers performed many miracles.

Saints and Feasts of January 26

Xenophon with his wife and children died on the twenty-sixth.

Venerable Xenophontos with his wife Maria 
and his children Arcadius and John 

Venerable Symeon the Ancient

Saint Symeon the Ancient

Holy Martyrs Ananias the Presbyter, 
Peter the Prison Guard 
and the Seven Soldiers With Them

Holy Martyrs Ananias the Presbyter, Peter the Prison Guard and the Seven Soldiers With Them

Venerable Ammonas

Life and Sayings of Holy Abba Ammonas the Bishop

Venerable Gabriel

Saint Gabriel, Abbot of the Monastery of Saint Stephen in Jerusalem (+ c. 490)

Holy Two Martyrs of Phrygia

Holy Two Martyrs of Phrygia

Saint Paula of Rome

Life of Saint Paula of Rome (St. Jerome)

Venerable Clement the Stylite of Mount Sagmata

Saint Clement the Stylite of Mount Sagmata (+ 1111)

Venerable Germanos of Sagmata

Saint Germanos of Sagmata in Boeotia (+ 1540)

Venerable Xenophon of Robeika

Saint Xenophon of Robeika (+ 1262)

Saint David, King of Georgia

Saint David IV, “the Restorer,” King of Georgia

Holy Hierarch Joseph the Merciful, 
Metropolitan of Moldova

Holy Hierarch Joseph the Merciful, Metropolitan of Moldova (+ 1902)

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

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

Earthquakes in the Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church

Translation of the Sacred Relics of 
Saint Theodore the Studite (844)

Translation of the Relics of Saint Theodore the Studite in 844

Saint Theodore the Studite Resource Page

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Church of Saint Gregory the Theologian in Gelveri of Central Anatolia

Church of Saint Gregory the Theologian in Gelveri

Following the death of Saint Gregory the Theologian in 389, he was buried either at his estate in Arianzos or in Nazianzos itself or in nearby Gelveri. Oddly, for someone of Gregory's importance, the location of his burial seems to have gone unrecorded. In the early tenth century Niketas the Paphlogonian, in his Encomium to Saint Gregory the Theologian, relates that he was buried in his father's mausoleum, his body covered by a single stone. Before this we have no other text addressing his death and burial, and it seems as if he died unnoticed, with no Oration composed in his honor.

Saint Anatole I of Optina (+ 1894)

St. Anatole I of Optina (Feast Day - January 25)

Saint Anatole (Zertsalov) was born in the village of Bobolya on March 24, 1824. His father, Moses Kopev, was a deacon, and his mother’s name was Anna. The parents were exceptionally devout Christians who hoped that their children would enter the monastic life.

Their only son Alexis was taught to read from the age of five. He was studied at the Saint Boris Theological Seminary, then later he entered the seminary at Kaluga. When he was fourteen, Alexis was stricken with a fever which kept him out of school for a year.

Saint Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev and Gallich (+ 1918)

St. Vladimir of Kiev (Feast Day - January 25)

The holy Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev was the first bishop to be tortured and slain by the Communists at the time of the Russian Revolution.

Basil Nikephorovich Bogoyavlensky was born in the province of Tambov of pious parents on January 1, 1848. His father, a priest, was later murdered. The young Basil graduated from the Theological Academy in Kiev in 1874, and taught in the Tambov seminary for seven years before he was ordained to the holy priesthood.

Saint Gabriel, Bishop of Imereti (+ 1896)

St. Gabriel Kikodze (Feast Day - January 25)

Bishop Gabriel (Kikodze) was born November 15, 1825, in the village of Bachvi, in the western Georgian district of Ozurgeti in Guria. His father was the priest Maxime Kikodze.

From 1840 to 1845, Gabriel (Gerasime in the world) studied in Tbilisi and at the theological seminaries in Pskov and Saint Petersburg. In 1849, he graduated from the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy with a master’s degree, and in the same year he was married and returned to Georgia. Upon his return he was appointed Dean of Tbilisi Seminary. In 1854 Saint Gabriel was ordained a deacon, and later a priest.

Saints and Feasts of January 25

On the twenty-fifth Gregory who spoke of divine things died.

Saint Gregory the Theologian, 
Archbishop of Constantinople

Saint Gregory the Theologian Resource Page

Venerable Publios

Saint Publios of Zeugma in Syria

Venerable Theodotos

Saint Publios of Zeugma in Syria

Venerable Gregory

Saint Publios of Zeugma in Syria

Venerable Maris

Saint Maris the Recluse of Cyrus

Venerable Apollo

Holy Abba Apollo of the Thebaid

Holy Martyr Medula with her Companions

Holy Martyr Medula with her Companions

Venerable Kastinos, Bishop of Byzantium

Saint Kastinos, Bishop of Byzantium

Venerable Demetrios the Skeuophylax

Venerable Demetrios the Skeuophylax

Holy New Martyr Auxentios at Constantinople

Holy New Martyr Auxentios of Bellas in Ioannina (+ 1720)

Holy Martyr Felicitas of Rome and her Seven Sons

Holy Martyr Felicitas of Rome and her Seven Sons

Saint Moses, Archbishop of Novgorod

Saint Moses, Archbishop of Novgorod (+ 1362)

Venerable Anatole I of Optina

Saint Anatole I of Optina (+ 1894)

Saint Gabriel, Bishop of Imereti

Saint Gabriel, Bishop of Imereti (+ 1896)

Holy New Hieromartyr Vladimir, 
Metropolitan of Kiev and Gallich

Saint Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev and Gallich (+ 1918)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Holy Theosemia (The Miraculous Rescue of Saint Neophytos the Recluse)

On January 24th we commemorate a feast established by Saint Neophytos the Recluse, called Theosemia, which is translated as Sign of God, that commemorates an event in his own life. The event took place in 1198 when he was moving to his second cell high up a cliff called New Zion, when through divine aid he was saved from a premature death by a rock and a cliff that an evil demon engineered against him, but the most-merciful God, who has power over life and death, cast the rock aside and rescued him. This resulted in him establishing an annual feast beginning in 1199 that he kept on the date of its occurrence, January 24th, for which he composed prayers and a divine office in a book titled Theosemia.

Becoming St. Xenia: A Study of Sanctity and Madness

By Troy J. Thomas

The holy fool saints of Russia have a legacy for being heroes to the Russian people and an enemy to the Russian state. There is a multitude of captivating literature pertaining to this tradition as the Russian Orthodox Church has a large number of adherents, second only to the Roman Catholic Church. I find Russian Orthodoxy to be nuanced and the cultural significance of their saints to be rich. Soviet life and Bolshevik attacks on the church organization in the early twentieth century have created gaps in the continuity of literature due to the difficulty in publishing Russian Orthodox literature during times when printing was banned. However, literature that is readily available includes engaging narratives, folk tales, and appraisals that illustrate how dynamic the culture is. Through my work, I discuss one piece of this Orthodox tradition by looking at the perceived sanctity and madness of Russian fools-for-Christ’s sake. We must examine the multitude of relationships with regards to the holy fools, Russian Orthodox establishment, local communities, Muscovite cults, western adherents, and tsars.

Synaxarion of the Holy Hieromartyr Babylas of Sicily with Agapios and Timothy his Disciples

Sts. Babylas, Agapios and Timothy of Sicily (Feast Day - January 24)


To Babylas.
Previously Babylas contested against demons,
He also contested through blood.

To Agapios and Timothy.
Agapios together with Timothy,
Were known as sure imitators of the Teacher.

Our Holy Father Babylas was from the East, having been born to noble parents who loved God, in the notable city of Theoupolis (Antioch). He was raised in the education and admonition of the Lord and learned sacred letters, which more quickly bring man to God. Having loved God from a young age, he came to despise the world. After his parents died, he distributed their wealth to the poor and the widows and the orphans. Thus liberating himself of all the troubles and cares of life, he ascended a mountain and lived in silence, having with him two disciples Agapios and Timothy. He became a Priest, and worthily honored the office of the priesthood. After this he withdrew from there and went to Rome.

Saint Cadoc, Abbot of Llancarfan in Wales (+ c. 580)

St. Cadoc of Wales (Feast Day - January 24)

By Dmitry Lapa

St. Cadoc (c. 497 - c. 580) was the founder of the famous monastery of Llancarfan (c. 518) in the present-day Vale of Glamorgan in Wales. This monastery was to become one of the best-known in Wales, as well as a great centre of learning.

Two of the most popular lives of St. Cadoc were written 500 years after his repose and contain both authentic and inauthentic information. St. Cadoc was the elder son of king Gundleus (or Woolos, “the warrior”) and Queen Gwladys (Gladys; both of them later became hermits and were venerated as saints after their repose) and he was born in Monmouthshire. St. Petroc of Cornwall was a relative, and the priest and hermit Tathyw (Tathan) baptized him and instructed him in the monastic life. It was said that Cadoc had worked miracles even before his death: heavenly light miraculously appeared in his parents’ home and even food was multiplied (hence he is a patron of those suffering from famine). The future saint refused to claim the throne and decided to serve God all his life. He preached very zealously in Wales and later founded Llancarfan monastery, becoming its first abbot. He is rightly considered to be one of the founding fathers of monasticism in south Wales. The name "Llancarfan" from Welsh means "a deer church." Tradition tells us that two tame deer, harnessed to a carriage, helped St. Cadoc build the monastery.

Some early sources say that about 1,000 monks lived in the Llancarfan Monastery at the same time. Llancarfan also had several small daughter monasteries and cells (sketes). St. Cadoc also established a seminary in his monastery which was to produce many holy men. The soil of this part of south Wales, before the arrival of St. Cadoc, was very marshy and barren. The saint and his disciples drained the marshes and cultivated the land so energetically that it soon became fertile land. Thanks to the unbelievable labors of the ascetic Cadoc and his monks, which took many years, this formerly uninhabitable region turned into one of the most beautiful and prosperous corners of south Wales. Apart from the church, the monastic buildings and the seminary, the monastery also had its own hospital.

According to tradition, the future St. Iltut, who later was to found another great monastic centre at Llantwit-Major, began his monastic life at Llancarfan under St. Cadoc. At the invitation of St. Cadoc, Gildas the Wise once came to this monastery. St. Gildas remained there for a year, taught in the seminary and even compiled a copy of the Gospels, which was kept in the monastery church for a long time. The Welsh people loved this Gospel so much that they used to take oaths on it. Llancarfan Monastery was also noted for the tradition of serving the needy.

Once a band of robbers was approaching the community. St. Cadoc with his brother monks, relying on God, went out singing church hymns in very loud voices: the robbers were immediately ashamed and turned back.

St. Cadoc with the deer.

It is also recorded that St. Cadoc lived as a hermit on the island of Flatholm in the Bristol Channel, while his friend, St. Gildas, lived as a hermit on another small island nearby, called Steepholm, which is now in Somerset. The friends and hermits met from time to time to pray together.

During his life St. Cadoc studied for some time in Ireland and visited many Irish monasteries, and in about the year 562 he probably made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Rome. From Jerusalem he brought back to his monastery several altar stones which had touched the Holy Sepulcher. Later St. Cadoc (perhaps together with St. Gildas) led a solitary life on an island off the coast of Brittany, not far from Vannes. It should be mentioned that a great many Welsh and Cornish saints moved to live in and evangelize Brittany while a considerable number of Bretons came to lead the ascetic life in Wales. These two lands were very closely linked spiritually. In Brittany St. Cadoc was a very active missionary, and there he may have founded a chapel and a monastery.

Some sources say that in his later years, Cadoc was too old to rule his Llancarfan Monastery and so he retired to a certain secluded place, probably near Abergavenny. According to tradition, St. Cadoc was slain by a pagan in the town of Weedon (originally Beneventum in Northamptonshire) in England while serving the Liturgy. (This tradition is supported by the fact that at that time pagan Saxons and Angles were actively invading parts of Britain and the saint went to England to support persecuted Christians). However, some historians believe that the saint was not martyred and died a natural death. Some researchers suppose that St. Cadoc was also a bishop, but there is no strong evidence to support this.

Church of St. Cadoc in Llancarfan, Wales, the site of his monastery.

Among other monasteries possibly founded by St. Cadoc, we can mention the monastery of Brecknock, as well as numerous chapels, churches and monasteries in Dyfed (present-day Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, and Ceredigion), Cornwall, Brittany and Scotland. It is said that the saint constructed a stone monastery in the Scottish region of Stirlingshire, in a place called Kilmadock. Cadoc allegedly lived here for seven years and seven churches in the area were dedicated to him. Opponents of this story state that the monastery of St. Cadoc was situated in another place—in the present-day St Ninians near Stirling.

The saint was a close friend of St. Gildas and probably communicated with St. David, the patron-saint of Wales. Among his disciples there were St. Barrog as well as St. Finnian of Clonard, one of the greatest Irish saints (owing to St. Finnian, St. Cadoc became well-known in Ireland). According to evidence from that time, St. Cadoc was famous for his outstanding intellect and so he was called "Cadoc the Wise" by his contemporaries. Later there even appeared collections of his sayings. St. Cadoc is usually depicted with a lance and with a crown near his feet, sometimes with a deer, mouse or pig. (All of these animals helped the saint in his life. A mouse during the famine showed the monastery’s brethren an abandoned and very rich granary, and a sow pointed out to the saint the spot where he was to build his monastery).

St. Cadoc's Church, Llancarfan.

At least fifteen churches are dedicated to St. Cadoc in Wales, especially in the south of the country and also in Brittany. A chapel in Cornwall is dedicated to him as well. Disciples and spiritual children of Cadoc continued his labors in South Wales and built many churches and chapels in his memory, particularly in Glamorgan and Gwent. The monastery of Llancarfan, founded by the saint, existed till 1086 when it was dissolved after the Norman Conquest. In the present-day village of Llancarfan (situated 15 miles from Cardiff and just near the town of Cowbridge), where this monastery was located, there is still a large, beautiful and ancient church, dedicated to St. Cadoc. It is visited by pilgrims to this day. Several years ago during conservation work inside this church, fine and bright fifteenth century wall-paintings, depicting the life and miracles of St. George, the royal family members, the seven deadly sins, and so on were uncovered under a layer of limewash on one of its walls.[1]

A Norman church in the Welsh town of Caerleon is dedicated to him; apparently the saint visited this place or lived the ascetic life here for some while. A local hospital bears the saint's name as well. The name of St. Cadoc is invoked against deafness, especially by the faithful in the department of Finisterre in Brittany. No less than thirty places in Brittany (including even an isle called L’Ile de St. Cado) are named after St. Cadoc. In ancient time his name was also evoked against scrofula and cramps.

A stained glass of Sts. Gundleus, Cadoc and Gwladys

And now let us say a few words about the parents of St. Cadoc—Gundleus and Gwladys (both reposed in the first half of the sixth century and are commemorated on March 29/April 11). St. Gwladys was one of numerous children of the famous saintly King Brychan of Brecknock, and in her youth was very beautiful. She married Gundleus, then a ferocious pagan, who was a minor king in south-east Wales. They had several sons, the greatest of whom was St. Cadoc. Under the influence of his pious Christian wife and his glorious son Cadoc the king subsequently repented of all his past sins and became a devout Christian. In a miraculous vision Gundleus was soon told to found a hermitage together with his spouse on Stow Hill near Newport in South Wales (now within the city of Newport).

Thus, this devout royal couple began to lead austere ascetic life. Already at an advanced age, they lived in such abstinence that they ate nothing but bread and herbs, drank nothing but water and prayed even on winter nights in the River Usk (which was a common practice among Celtic saints). They attended church every day, kneeling in prayer before the holy altar. But the holy couple did not stop at this. On St. Cadoc’s advice they abstained from marital relations and lived separately in solitude and unceasing prayer till the end of their lives. St. Gwladys then moved to the spot called pencanau in Bassaleg near Newport where she lived an extremely austere life in her cell, standing every day in the river Ebbw in prayer. Shortly before her death she moved to Gelligaer in Caerphilly where she probably reposed.

Many sites near Newport and Gelligaer were connected with her and a number of churches, chapels and holy wells were dedicated to this saint. Today Gwladys is the patroness of both Newport and Gelligaer, though she is especially venerated in the town of Bargoed in Caerphilly, where a church is dedicated to her and a school bears her name. Girls in Wales and throughout Britain used to be called “Gladys.” As for Gundleus, up to his death he wore rags, ate barley bread and drank a little water, and combined prayer with manual labor. On his deathbed he was visited by St. Cadoc who gave him communion. Today he is co-patron of Newport together with his wife Gwladys; the local Anglican cathedral in this city is dedicated to him and a street bears his name. This is a remarkable example of family holiness in ancient Britain.


[1] This discovery is considered to be one of the best and rarest tableaux of the Great-Martyr George the Victory-Bearer, Patron-Saint of England, in Britain. Interestingly, similar cases of the discovery of medieval wall-paintings beneath whitewash occur regularly. The fact is that the medieval churches of Britain were very richly and beautifully decorated inside, but Protestants, especially the Puritans in the seventeenth century, deliberately whitewashed the walls of churches in order to hide the paintings, which were against their religion. However, this did not destroy the precious frescoes but, on the contrary, helped them survive.


Apolytikion in Plagal of the Fifth Tone
Having been raised in piety, O Hierarch Cadoc, thou didst dedicate thy life to God, serving Him in the monastic state. As with joyful heart thou didst fulfill thy daily obedience, caring for the earthly needs of countless paupers, look now upon our spiritual poverty, and beseech Christ our God, that He will grant us great mercy.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fifth Tone
We honour thee with hymns, O venerable Hierarch Cadoc, for the pilgrimage of thy life was found pleasing to God, Who in His goodness adorned thee with authority, and as thou didst receive the crown of martyrdom, whilst serving the Holy Mysteries, pray for us that we also may be blessed to die in Christ.

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