Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Synaxarion for the Veneration of the Honorable Chain of the Apostle Peter

On the sixteenth of this month, the veneration of the honorable Chain of the Holy and Glorious Apostle Peter is celebrated.


We venerate your honorable bonds O Peter,
Release me from the long bonds of my accusations.
On the sixteenth I venerate the bonds of Peter.

On this day is venerated the honorable Chain, with which the Foremost Peter was bound for Christ by orders of the tetrarch Herod, as the Apostle Luke records in the twelfth chapter of Acts. From his apostolic and all-sacred body, this Chain received sanctifying and wonderworking grace, to sanctify those who venerate it with faith, and to release those bound by all types of evils and illness.

Saint Maxim of Totma the Fool for Christ (+ 1650)

St. Maxim of Totma (Feast Day - January 16)

Venerable Maxim was a priest in the town of Totma in the Russian North during the early seventeenth century. He was called Maxim Makarev, son of Pope (priest). He was made a priest, and for forty-five years he lead the ascetic life of a fool-for-Christ, abiding in ceaseless prayer, fasting, nakedness, and with total disregard for his own body.

The venerable priest Maxim was distinguished even during his lifetime by his grace-filled gifts from God. He reposed in deep old age on January 16, 1650 and was buried near the Varnitsa Resurrection in Totma. His holy and laborious life, and the miraculous healings that came from his grave, inspired his contemporaries to compile his Life, but this Life burned in a fire at the Resurrection Church in 1676. Later, in 1680, a new Life was compiled after the first was lost. Meanwhile, the miracles continued happening at the venerable one’s grave.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Saint Maurus, Disciple of Saint Benedict of Nursia (+ 584)

St. Maurus (Feast Day - January 15)

Venerable Maurus was born into a noble family of Rome in the year 512. At the age of twelve he was entrusted to the care of Saint Benedict (Mar. 14), who at that time was giving shape to twelve monasteries. Saint Gregory the Diaologist wrote of this in his Dialogues (Bk. 2, Ch. 3):

"At that time also many noble and religious men of Rome came to him, and committed their children to be brought up under him for the service of God. Evitius delivered Maurus to him, and Tertullius, the Senator, brought Placidus. These were their sons of great hope and promise: of the two, Maurus, growing to great virtue, began to be his master's helper; but Placidus, as yet, was but a boy of tender years."

Saint Gregory also informs us of a miracle involving Saint Maurus in his Dialogues (Bk.2, Ch. 7):

"On a certain day, as venerable Benedict was in his cell, young Placidus, the holy man's monk, went out to take up water at the lake, and, putting down his pail carelessly, fell in after it. The water forthwith carried him away from the land as far as one may shoot an arrow. The man of God, being in his cell, by and by knew this. He called in haste for Maurus, saying: 'Brother Maurus, run as fast as you can, for Placidus, who went to the lake to fetch water, has fallen in, and is carried a good way off.'

A strange thing, and, since the time of Peter the Apostle, never heard of! Maurus asked his father's blessing and, departing in all haste at his command, ran to that spot on the water to which the young lad had been carried by the force of the water. Thinking that he had all that while been on the land, Maurus took fast hold of Placidus by the hair of his head, in all haste he returned with him. As soon as he was on land, coming to himself, he looked back, and then knew very well that he had run on the water. That which before he dared not to presume, being now done and past, he both marveled at, and was afraid of what he had done.

Coming back to the father, Benedict, and telling him what had happened, the venerable man did not attribute this to his own merits, but to the obedience of Maurus. Maurus, on the contrary, said that it was done only on his commandment, and that he had nothing to do with that miracle, not knowing at that time what he did. The friendly contention proceeded in mutual humility, but the youth himself that had been saved from drowning determined the fact. He said that when he was drawn out of the water, he saw the Abbot's garment on his head, affirming thereby that it was the man of God that had delivered him from that great danger."

Maurus was ordained a deacon, and subsequently, Benedict, prior to leaving for Monte Cassino, appointed him coadjutor at Subiaco. During his tenure, various miraculous cures were attributed to his prayers. Around 528, Benedict summoned Maurus to join him at Monte Cassino.

Around 543, Innocentius, the Bishop of Mans, sent his vicar, Adenard, to Monte Cassino to request Benedict to send some monks to Gaul. Maurus was dispatched and, during the journey, obtained a number of cures for the sick and injured encountered along the way. Through the generosity of King Theudebert, he founded Glanfeuil Abbey, which he governed for many years. He resigned the abbacy in 581 to spend the remainder of his life in solitude and prayer. The abbey of Glanfeuil, was later called St. Maur-sur-Loire. Maurus died at Glanfeuil Abbey 15 January 584.

Saint Gabriel of Lesnovo Monastery in Bulgaria

St. Gabriel of Lesnovo (Feast Day - January 15)

Venerable Gabriel was born as an answer to his noble parents prayers in Osiche near Ksiva Palanka, some thirty-eight miles from Skopje around the beginning of the twelfth century. After being married for a very short time, he fled his family home upon the death of his wife in search of finding a place suitable to living a God-pleasing life, and at this time he met a deacon named Thomas who inflamed his heart with the beauty of the ascetic life. He then had a vision of the Archangel Michael in which he was urged to return home and establish a church in his village. Having established a church in honor of the Nativity of the Theotokos, he again left his home and entered the Monastery of the Archangel Michael, also known as Lesnovo Monastery, on the slopes of Mount Plavitsa, near the village of Lesnovo about twenty-seven miles east of Skopje. Having become notable for his humility and obedience, the abbot tonsured him and gave him the blessing to live in a cell apart from the brethren in order to further devote his time to prayer.

Saint Alexander, Founder of the Monastery of the Unsleeping Ones (+ 430)

Venerable Alexander, founder of the Monastery of the Unsleeping Ones, was born in Asia and received his education at Constantinople. He spent some time in military service but, sensing a call to other service after reading the passage in Holy Scripture that says: "If you seek perfection, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor. You will then have treasure in heaven. Afterward come back and follow me" (Matt. 19:21), he distributed all his belongings to those in need and left the world, accepting monastic tonsure in one of the Syrian wilderness monasteries near Antioch, under the guidance of the elder Elias. He spent four years in strict obedience and monastic effort, after which he received from the abbot the blessing to dwell in the desert. Going into the wilderness, the monk took with him nothing from the monastery, except the Gospel. The monk then struggled in the desert for seven years. Afterwards, the Lord summoned him to preach to pagans.

Holy Six Fathers who Lived in the Utter Desert

Holy Six Fathers (Feast Day - January 15)


The souls of the six shined as they flew away from life,
Now they stand together with the six-winged intelligences.

According to the Synaxarion of Constantinople, these Holy Six Fathers who lived in asceticism in the utter desert are said to have reposed in peace. They share the same iambic verses as the Holy Six Martyrs who we celebrate on January 4th, which indicates they are probably the same people. That the Holy Six Martyrs are called "Martyrs" should not confuse us, since there also they are said to have reposed in peace. This could mean that these Six Fathers, by living in the utter desert, suffered martyrdom by their extreme asceticism. We do not know their exact identity.

Monday, January 14, 2019

How St. Theodore of Sykeon Spent His Youth Between Epiphany and Palm Sunday

Saint Theodore (Apr. 22) was born in Sykeon, a village in Galatia. The public highway of the imperial post ran through this village, and on the road stood an inn kept by a very beautiful girl, Maria, and her mother, Elpidia, and a sister Despoinia. And these women lived in the inn and followed the profession of courtesans. Theodore was the son of Maria and Kosmas, who had become popular in the Hippodrome in the corps of those who performed acrobatic feats on camels, was appointed to carry out the Emperor's orders.

When he was about twelve years old an epidemic of bubonic plague fell upon the village and it attacked him along with the others so that he came near to dying. They took him to the shrine of Saint John the Baptist near the village and laid him at the entrance to the sanctuary, and he recovered and returned home.

He used to frequent a shrine dedicated to the martyr Saint George, located up the rocky hill which lay near the village. At the age of fourteen, he went there to live. Even at such a young age, Theodore was granted the gift of healing.

Saint Kentigern, the First Bishop of Glasgow, Scotland (+ 612)

By Dmitry Lapa

Saint Kentigern has been venerated for many centuries as one of the apostles of Scotland and patron-saint of Glasgow. He is best known in Scotland as Mungo, which means "darling", or "beloved one". Unfortunately, very little genuine information on this 6th-century saint has survived. His later life was composed by a Cistercian monk, Jocelyn of Furness, late in the 12th century, but earlier traditions about the saint are more authentic.

The future saint was born in about 518 or 528 in Culross in Scotland. His mother was the holy princess Theneva, who is also venerated as patron-saint of Glasgow, and a Russian Orthodox parish in Edinburgh is dedicated to her. From his childhood St. Kentigern became a disciple of St. Serf, a great missionary among the Picts, who gave him the second name "Mungo". Young Kentigern began to live a very austere ascetic life and decided to become a missionary as well. He first began to preach the Gospel in the Cathures region on the River Clyde, where the city of Glasgow now stands. The ascetic, following the Irish monastic tradition, fervently prayed day and night, kept a very strict fast and lived in extreme poverty in a tiny cell, where he slept on a rock. He often retreated to the River Clyde to pray there for several hours. With time, he was consecrated the first bishop of the Britons who lived in the small kingdom of Strathclyde (now the Strathclyde region on the River Clyde). The bishop worked very energetically, developing his large diocese, building many churches and monasteries. Specifically, he founded a church in Glasgow, which was later to become very famous. St. Kentigern served in Strathclyde (Glasgow) for 13 years, converting local people to Christ by his preaching as well as by example of his holy life.

What Was Revealed on Theophany? (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse

The Baptism of the Lord is called Theophany [revelation of God] because in it the one true God, worshipped in Trinity, revealed Himself so palpably: God the Father — through the voice from heaven, God the Son incarnate — through His baptism, and God the Holy Spirit — through the descent upon the Baptized. Here the mystery of the relationship between the persons of the Most Holy Trinity is also revealed. God the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son, but does not proceed from the Son. Here also is revealed the fact that the incarnate Divine economy of our salvation is accomplished by God the Son incarnate, coexisting with the Holy Spirit and God the Father. And it is revealed that the salvation of each person can be accomplished no way other than in the Lord Jesus Christ, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, according to the good will of the Father. All the Christian Mysteries shine here with their divine light and enlighten the minds and hearts of those who with faith celebrate this great festival. Come, let us mentally hasten on high and plunge ourselves into the contemplation of these mysteries of our salvation, singing, “When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest” — a salvation which in trinity establishes us, and in trinity saves us.

Holy Martyr Agnes

St. Agnes the Martyr (Feast Day - January 14)


The defiled ones put Agnes in a house of darkness,
Introducing her to a most luminous house.

The Holy Martyr Agnes met her end by being cast into a dark prison.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Testimony of John the Baptist (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse

Saint John bore witness of Christ Jesus, that He is in truth "the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29), that He is the promised Deliverer, awaited by all. Those who were near him heard this and believed. From them this witness passed on to the people, and everyone began to think that he of whom John bore witness was not an ordinary man. The Savior pointed this out when in the last days in the temple, he proposed to the heads of the temple a question: whence was the baptism of John, from heaven or of men (cf. Mark 11:29)? They refrained from answering, because it was impossible for them not to see that John came baptizing with water not of himself. But if they were to say this, they would immediately have to acknowledge John’s testimony that the Promised One was before them, and therefore be compelled to submit to His teaching. But they did not want to submit, not for any well-founded reasons, but solely because of their prejudice. But their obstinacy does not in the least lessen the power of the witness of St. John. To this day, it is as certain as it was when it came forth from his mouth. We hearken unto John who shows us the true Deliverer; and through this we enliven our faith, as a faith which has tangible proof behind it.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Repentance as the Path to the Lord (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse

Before the Lord’s appearance to the people, before He began the work of Divine economy* of our salvation, Saint John the Forerunner was sent to prepare people for receiving Him. This preparation consisted in a call to repentance. Since then, repentance has become the path to the Lord and Savior, and the threshold to faith in Him. The Savior Himself began His preaching with the words: "Repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Repentance and faith lead a person who seeks salvation back and forth between these two states. Repentance weighs him down with the burden of his sins and frightens him with the impartial judgement of God’s righteousness. But faith comes along and shows him the Deliverer Who has taken away the sins of the world. He who repents cleaves to the Deliverer, and laying down the burden of his sins through confession, joyfully runs after Him along the path of His commandments. Faith in this manner is born of repentance and is founded on it. He who repents holds firmly onto faith according to his feeling of deliverance. Faith is alive through repentance. Without repentance faith would be like a sapling which is without an animating current—withered and not giving of life.

* The Russian word, domostroitelstvo, is translated as “Divine economy,” which refers to God’s stewardship, overseeing our salvation, as a steward oversees a household. The epitome of God’s Divine economy is Christ’s incarnation, and salvation through Him.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Church of Saint Theodosios the Cenobiarch in Acheleia of Paphos

Acheleia is a village in the Paphos District of Cyprus, located near to Paphos International Airport. South of the village, about 200–300 meters outside the community, stands the small Church of Saint Theodosios the Cenobiarch. It is a simple country church of the Byzantine style shaped like an equal-armed cross with a dome in the middle.

Externally it is made of stone, the external wall being up to a meter thick. It is built at a level lower than that of the ground (one meter) and it is enclosed by a low, stone-made wall that is two feet tall. Although the building was constructed many years ago, around the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century, it does present some interest regarding its interior.

Holy Martyr Mairos

St. Mairos the Martyr (Feast Day - January 11)


Mairos cried out in his torments,
"Do not cower Mairos, but be stricken and crowned."

The Holy Martyr Mairos met his end by his torments.

This is most likely the same person as the Holy Martyr Maior who is commemorated on February 15th. There we read the following about him from the Synaxarion of Constantinople:

Commemoration of Saint Stephen in Placidia with Saints Theodore and Agapios the Archimandrite


The three now stand before the throne of the Trinity,
They are absent from the earth and dwell in the heavens.

Most likely, this refers to the Church of Saint Stephen which was near the Placidia Palace, in the tenth district of Constantinople, and may be identified with the Church of Saint Stephen at Konstantianai. Within this church were probably relics of Saint Stephen the Protomartyr, with the two other Saints mentioned (or perhaps this refers to two other chapels near Placidia). Their commemoration was kept together in this church on January 11th.

Synaxis of the Myriads of Angels

Synaxis of the Myriad of Angels (Feast Day - January 11)


Those singers of the thrice-holy hymn,
The Angels likewise do we honor with hymns.

The Synaxis of the Myriads of Angels was celebrated in the Martyrium of Saint Anastasia at the Portico of Domninos in Constantinople.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Relics of Saint Theophan the Recluse

Saint Theophan the Recluse (1815–1894) is one of the most influential Russian spiritual writers of the nineteenth century. He had a profound influence on the spiritual rebirth of the whole Russian society. Showing himself to be a zealous servant in all spheres of ecclesiastical life, in 1866, after twenty-five years of service to the Church in various fields, he was at his own request released from his bishopric in the Vladimir diocese and retired to the Holy Dormition Vysha Hermitage in the Tambov diocese as its abbot, where after six years he made a firm decision to leave the world and go into reclusion, which he remained in for the last twenty-two years of his life. In a very short period of time he became famous to all the faithful of Russia, thanks to his numerous articles, books, letters, and sermons, which won the hearts of the Russian Orthodox people. Many wrote to him, and he wrote every day around forty letters in answer.

Saint Paul of Obnora (+ 1429)

St. Paul of Obnora (Feast Day - January 10)

Venerable Paul of Obnora, a famed disciple of Saint Sergius of Radonezh, was born at Moscow in the year 1317. From his youth he distinguished himself by his piety and kindliness towards the poor and suffering. His rich parents prepared him for marriage and a secular life, but at twenty-two years of age he secretly left his parental home and received tonsure at the Nativity Monastery on the Volga in the Yaroslav diocese.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Gregory of Nyssa and Epektasis

One of the most important contributions made by Gregory of Nyssa should be seen in light of a prevailing belief of the day, namely, that the Platonic notion of perfection is static as opposed to movement or change. It is here that Gregory breaks with a strong philosophical position--that stability is perfection and that alteration is for the worse. It was therefore easy to envisage in Christian terms, for example in Origen, that humankind "fell" from perfection and needed to return to this static state of existence. On the other hand, Gregory saw perfection in terms of constant progress, the term for which is epektasis, perpetual ascent or striving (see Phil. 3:13), his most notable contribution to theology. In Gregory’s theology, God himself has always been perfect and has never changed, and never will. Humanity fell from grace in the Garden of Eden, but rather than return to an unchanging state, humanity's goal is to become more and more perfect, more like God (theosis), even though humanity will never understand, much less attain, God's transcendence. Since there is no limit to perfection, the same applies to virtue. Thus progress is never-ending.

Commemoration of the Great Earthquake That Took Place in the Year 867 A.D.

The Great Earthquake of 867 (Commemorated on January 9th)

On this day, January 9th, we commemorate the great earthquake which occurred in Constantinople in the year 867 during the reign of Emperor Basil, when the great shrine of the Most Holy Theotokos in the Sigma (Portico) and many other churches and private houses collapsed.

In the early tenth century Life of Ignatios, Niketas David Paphlago wrote of this earthquake:

"On the 9th of January, a most powerful earthquake occurred, and many churches, gates and most of the houses collapsed, and there was such a carnage of men and beasts that no words can express it. And the great house of the Wisdom of God was split into several parts and would have been ruined had not certain leading men taken care of it. This was before the October synod."

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Saint Gregory the Wonderworker of the Kiev Caves Lavra (+ 1093)

St. Gregory the Wonderworker of the Kiev Caves (Feast Day - January 8)

Venerable Gregory was tonsured at the Kiev Caves Lavra in the time of Saint Theodosius (May 3). Due to diligence in prayer, he was early granted the gift of wonderworking and the victory over demons. He devoted much time to reading books, which were his sole possession. He had the ability to bring thieves to their senses. Several times robbers broke in on him in his cell or in the garden, but the Saint reasoned with them, the thieves repented, and began to lead honest lives. Others were caught and imprisoned, but the monk gave part of his books to the city ruler in order to rescue from prison the thieves who attacked him. He sold his remaining manuscripts, not wanting to tempt potential robbers, and distributed the proceeds to the poor.

Synaxarion of the Holy Martyrs Julian, Basilissa, Celsius and Anthony

Sts. Julian, Basilissa, Celsius and Anthony (Feast Day - January 8)


To Julian and Basilissa.
Many rewards Julian and Basilissa,
Are laid in store for you through the sword.

To Celcius and Anthony.
The head of Celcius is cut off by the sword,
Together with the head of Anthony.

To the Martyrs with Julian.
Men who truly reverence Christ came together,
And were delivered to death with one mind.

To the Wife of the Governor.
Longing for Christ inflicted the mother of Celsius,
Causing her to despise her husband, and torments.

Monday, January 7, 2019

John the Baptist Reveals the Cave of Sapsa, Where He Was Visited by the Lord

By St. John Moschos

(The Spiritual Meadow, Ch. 1)

The Life of John the Elder and the Cave of Sapsa

There was an elder called John in the monastery of Abba Eustorgios whom the holy Elias, Archbishop of Jerusalem, wanted to put in charge of all the monasteries in Jerusalem. John objected, saying that he was wanting to travel to Mount Sinai in order to pray there. The Archbishop urged him to be made an abbot first before going off to wherever he wanted. The elder still would not agree, but at last the bishop let him go on the strength of a promise that John would accept this responsibility on his return. He thanked the Archbishop and began his journey to Mount Sinai, taking his disciple with him.

Homily on Saint John the Baptist (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

By St. Cyril of Alexandria

(Sermon 10, Commentary on Luke 3:15-17)

3:15-17. But when the people were in expectation, and all men reasoned in their hearts concerning John, whether he were not the Christ, John answered, and said to them all, "I indeed baptize you in water, but there cometh He Who is mightier than I, Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire, Whose fan is in His hand, and He shall purge His floor, and gather His wheat into stores, but the chaff He will burn in unquenchable fire."

It is written, that "a just father will bring up (his children) excellently." For those who are clad in the glory of the righteousness that is by Christ, and are acquainted with His sacred commands, will train up excellently and piously those who are their sons in the faith, giving them not the material bread of earth, but that which is from above, even from heaven. Of which bread the admirable Psalmist also makes mention, where he says, "Bread establisheth man's heart, and wine rejoiceth man's heart." Let us therefore now also establish our hearts: let our faith in Christ be assured, as we correctly understand the meaning of those evangelic writings now read unto us. For when the people, it says, were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts of John, whether he were not the Christ, he answered them in the words which we have just heard read.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Homily on the Feast of the Lord’s Theophany (St. John Maximovitch)

By St. John Maximovitch

When celebrating the Theophany, we call to remembrance both that God was made known to people as Trinity and that Jesus was revealed to people as Christ. Where was Christ revealed? Where was His work begun? Did He go to a great city to be revealed there in His Glory? Did He ascend a high mountain, with a crowd of many thousands standing below and looking up at Him like a wonder? No! Christ went into the desert, to the River Jordan, where John was baptizing the people. John preached repentance, calling upon sinners to be baptized in the Jordan as a sign of repentance. Christ, Who has no sin, now comes and asks for baptism as a sinner. John was fearful: “You should baptize me!” Jesus replies: “Let it be so now: for this is how we should fulfill all righteousness” [cf. Matthew 3:13-15].

A White Christmas for Mount Athos (photos and videos)

Today is Christmas Eve in Mount Athos, and a few days ago it was hit by a heavy snowstorm, covering it with a thick layer of snow. This has caused serious problems for both the monks and the pilgrims to the Holy Mountain.

As of today, it was 37°F (3°C). In the capital of Karyes (altitude 350m) the snow reached 70cm (27.5 inches), while at slightly higher altitudes it exceeded 1.30cm (51 inches).

Kontakia on the Holy Theophany (St. Romanos the Melodist)

By St. Romanos the Melodist

Prelude. Today you have appeared to the whole world, and your light, O Lord, has made a sign upon us who, with knowledge, sing your praise, “You have come, you have appeared, the unapproachable Light.”

1. In Galilee of the nations, in the country of Zavulon and the land of Naphthalim, as the prophet said, a great light has shone-Christ. For the darkened, a shining beam has appeared, blazing out of Bethlehem, or rather, out of Mary-the Lord, the sun of justice, has made his rays dawn on the whole inhabited world. Therefore let us all, Adam’s naked children, put him on that we may be kept warm; for as a covering for the naked and a light for the darkened you have come, you have appeared, the unapproachable Light.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

A Theophany Story for All Enthusiasts for Perfection

By St. John Climacus

(Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 4:31)

I should be quite unjust to all enthusiasts for perfection if I were to bury in the tomb of silence the achievement and reward of Macedonius, the first of the deacons there.* This man, so consecrated to the Lord, just before the feast of the Holy Theophany, actually two days before it, once asked the pastor for permission to go to Alexandria for a certain personal need of his, promising to return from the city as soon as possible for the approaching festival and the preparation for it. But the devil, the hater of good, hindered the archdeacon, and though released by the abbot, he did not return to the monastery for the holy feast at the time appointed by the superior. On his returning a day late, the pastor deposed him from the diaconate and put him in the rank of the lowest novices. But that good deacon of patience and archdeacon of endurance accepted the father’s decision as calmly as if another had been punished and not himself.

Venerable Menas of Sinai

St. Menas of Sinai (Feast Day - January 5)

Venerable Menas lived in asceticism for fifty-nine years in a certain monastery of Sinai, where he died peacefully in the second half of the sixth century. Myrrh flowed from his holy relics, which was noticed three days after his death. Saint John Climacus speaks of this wonderful man in his book The Ladder of Divine Ascent (Step 4:34), where he is portrayed as a model of blessed and ever-memorable obedience. He writes of him:

Venerable Tatiana

Venerable Tatiana (Feast Day - January 5)


Tatiana once wasted away from fasting,
Now she joins the Angels who love fasting.

Venerable Tatiana met her end in peace.

Venerable Domnina

Venerable Domnina (Feast Day - January 5)


Given to you is the allotment above,
For the maltreatment below of your flesh Domnina.

Venerable Domnina (or Domna) met her end in peace.

Holy Martyr Theoeidos

St. Theoeidos the Martyr (Feast Day - January 5)


Feet trampled on the flesh of Theoeidos,
Pressing out his soul into the celestial vat.

The Holy Martyr Theoeidos met his end by being trampled by executioners.

Holy Martyr Sais

St. Sais the Martyr (Feast Day - January 5)


"I have entered into the depths of the sea" said Sais,
"Fleeing the plunging into the depths of error."

The Holy Martyr Sais (or Saios) met his end by being cast into the sea.

Friday, January 4, 2019

I Met Saint Nikephoros the Leper in 1961

Father Nikephoros, Spiritual Fighter and Guide

By Archimandrite Nikodemos Yiannakopoulos

I met Father Nikephoros in the year 1961 at the Hospital of Infectious Diseases, which was then a Leper Colony. We went, as a companionship of young people then, with the Deacon and later Metropolitan of Chalkida, Nicholas Selentis. He encouraged us to bring some joy to our socially isolated brothers, to embrace them, eat with them from their own plates, and to commune after them.

One of them was Father Nikephoros. The marks of the disease were clear on him. He was blind, mutilated and physically worn out. It could be immediately discerned however, that underneath the sick body was spiritual power, divine zeal, and an endless love and peace that entirely pierced you.

Holy Martyrs Chrysanthos and Euphemia


To Chrysanthos.
Chrysanthos blossomed as altogether pleasant fruit,
Who appeared much mightier than gold.

To Euphemia.
The discourse of praise to Euphemia,
Clearly made her worthy of immortality.

We do not know the identity of these Holy Martyrs, but in the Synaxarion of Constantinople we are told that a church was dedicated to them in Constantinople near the Church of Saint Akakios in Kontoskalion, known today as Kumkapi, that used to be in the area where the Armenian Patriarchate is located today.

Holy Six Martyrs

Holy Six Martyrs (Feast Day - January 4)


The souls of the six shined as they flew away from life,
Now they stand together with the six-winged intelligences.

According to the Synaxarion of Constantinople, these Holy Six Martyrs are said to have reposed in peace. This seems like an oxymoron, until we discover that on January 15th we commemorate the Holy Six Fathers who lived in asceticism in the utter desert, and they share the same iambic verses as today's saints. This could mean that these Six Fathers, by living in the utter desert, suffered martyrdom by their extreme asceticism. We do not know their exact identity.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Month of January in the Orthodox Church

By John Sanidopoulos

January (in Latin, Ianuarius) is named after the Latin word for door (ianua), since January is the door to the year and an opening to new beginnings. It is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the first of seven months to have a length of 31 days. The first day of the month is known as New Year's Day. It is, on average, the coldest month of the year within most of the Northern Hemisphere (where it is the second month of winter) and the warmest month of the year within most of the Southern Hemisphere (where it is the second month of summer). In the Southern Hemisphere, January is the seasonal equivalent of July in the Northern Hemisphere and vice versa.

Why the Prophet Malachi is Celebrated on January 3rd in the Church Calendar

By John Sanidopoulos

Having celebrated the Birth of the Lord on December 25th, and the Circumcision of the Lord eight days later on January 1st, the Church is now preparing us to celebrate on January 6th the Holy Theophany, when the Holy Trinity manifested themselves at the Baptism of our Lord at the Jordan River. To prepare us for this event, the Holy Prophet Malachi has been installed for commemoration on January 3rd. But why the Prophet Malachi?

Holy Mother and Two Children Martyrs

Holy Mother and Two Children Martyrs (Feast Day - January 3)


The mother was burned, and the children towards the flames,
Run as the children of sparrows.

The Holy Mother and Two Children Martyrs met their end in fire.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Saint Nilos Erichiotis, also known as the Sanctified (+ 1334)

St. Nilos the Sanctified (Feast Day - January 2)

Venerable Nilos Erichiotis, also known as Nilos the Sanctified, was born in 1228 in Constantinople and was a descendant of the imperial family of Laskaris. He became a monk at a very young age at the famous Monastery of Akimiton, where he changed his name from Nicholas to Nilos upon tonsure. Many years later he went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Holy Martyr Theopistos

St. Theopistos the Martyr (Feast Day - January 2)


You were killed faithful Theopistos with stones,
By the ill counsel of the throng of unbelievers.

The Holy Martyr Theopistos met his end by stoning.

Holy Martyr Sergios of Caesarea in Cappadocia

St. Sergios of Caesarea (Feast Day - January 2)


It cannot be said nor brought to mind,
How much joy Sergios had when his head was cut off!

Saint Sergios lived during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305). When Sapritius, the governor of Armenia and Cappadocia, known for his great eagerness in carrying out all the emperor's orders, in 304 traveled through Caesarea in Cappadocia, he imprisoned all the city's Christians. They weren't many, for most had fled to the mountains and hid there. Despite the cruel tortures, none of those arrested denied their faith.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Repentance of Basil the Great

St. Basil the Great received his elementary education at the hands of his father, Basil of Neocaesarea. For his higher education, the talented youth attended schools of rhetoric in Caesarea of Cappadocia, Constantinople, and finally Athens (after 351). St. Basil thus received a first-rate education and this cultivation will tell in his later theological works. While studying at the famous school of Athens, he made the acquaintance and lifelong friendship of St. Gregory, the future Archbishop of Constantinople. Around 356 he returned to his native Caesarea and began a short-lived career as a rhetorician.

The Meaning and Prefigurements of the Circumcision of Christ

The circumcision of our Lord Jesus Christ is commemorated today, brethren, which He condescended to receive in the flesh according to the commandment of the ancient law, "Ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a sign of a covenant between Me and you" [Gen. 17:11]. From the Old Testament, let us take a look at some of its mystical meanings and prefigurements.

In The Epistle of Barnabas, we read: “Abraham, the first who enjoined circumcision, looking forward in spirit to Jesus, purposed that rite, having received the mysteries of the three letters. For the Scripture saith, ‘And Abraham circumcised ten and eight and three hundred men of his household.’ What, then, was the knowledge given to him in this? Learn the eighteen first, and then the three hundred. The ten and the eight are thus denoted - ten by ‘iota'(I) and eight by ‘eeta’ (H). You have the initials of the name of Jesus. And because the Cross was to express the grace of our redemption by the letter ‘taf’ (T), he says, also, three hundred. He signifies, therefore, Jesus by two letters and the Cross by one. He knows this Who has put within us the engrafted gift of His doctrine.”1

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Venerable Theodosios, Abbot of Triglia

St. Theodosios of Triglia (Feast Day - January 1)


Perceiving the great virtues of Theodosios,
He was chosen to lead the revered monastery.

Our Venerable Father Theodosios, Abbot of Triglia Monastery in Bithynia, met his end in peace.

Holy Martyr Theodotos

St. Theodotos the Martyr (Feast Day - January 1)


I am not content, said Theodotos,
Unless my head is cut off for God’s sake.

The Holy Martyr Theodotos met his end by the sword.

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