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March 31, 2019

The Sign of the Cross: Its Power, Meaning and Miracles


Twenty centuries ago the Cross was an instrument of dishonorable punishment and of frightful death. The Romans condemned violent convicts to the punishment of crucifixion.

Today the Cross is paramount in the whole life of pious Christians, and of the whole life of our Church, as an instrument of sacrifice, salvation, joy, sanctity and grace. As the Holy Chrysostom writes, "This cursed and abominable symbol of the worst punishment now has become desirable and beloved. One sees it everywhere." On the holy altar, in the ordination of priests, at the Divine Liturgy, in the homes, at the markets, in the deserts and on the roads; at sea, on the ships and the islands; on the beds and vestments, at the weddings, at banquets, on gold and silver utensils, on jewelry and on frescos. It is so desirable, this gift has become to all an inexpressible joy.

Truly, wherever one looks, whether inside or outside the Church one sees the sign of the Cross, as a visible symbol but also as a sacred gesture. The sign of the Cross dominates in the life of the Church.

But why?

Venerable Stephen the Wonderworker

Venerable Stephen the Wonderworker (Feast Day - March 31)


How can Stephen be left behind uncrowned,
The wonderworker, who was crowned with grace by God?

Venerable Stephen the Wonderworker met his end in peace.

Parisian Codex 1623 folio 1436 contains some hymns dedicated to this Saint. From there we learn that he was an ascetic who pleased God and reposed in peace, but we do not know where he was from or when he lived.

In some Menologies he is listed for commemoration on December 28th.

Holy Thirty-Eight Martyrs

Holy 38 Martyrs (Feast Day - March 31)


A race of relatives fell by the sword,
Fallen races are turned away in the heavens.

The Holy Thirty-Eight Martyrs, who were all relatives, met their end by the sword.

Holy Martyr Menander

St. Menander the Martyr (Feast Day - March 31)


Naked Menander was dragged over rocks,
Christ dresses him in the garment of salvation.

The Holy Martyr Menander met his end by being dragged over rocks naked.

March 30, 2019

The Romiosini of 1821 and the Great Powers (6 of 11)

...continued from part five.

19. Greek Television Promotes the Russian Plan

Indeed, every week Greek television presents a forged movie of Papadiamantis' The Gypsy Girl, which depicts Greeks before the Fall of Constantinople in Peloponnesos as seemingly being enslaved in Romiosini.(13) In order for people to not become indignant by this, the Romans are called Byzantines. Therefore, Greek television teaches our children through this movie that Greeks were enslaved in Constantinople and that the Hagia Sophia of Justinian the Great was a church of the enemies of the Greeks.

On Saint John Climacus (St. Anastasios of Sinai)

St. Anastasios of Sinai was a monk of the monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai when Saint John Climacus was abbot there. In his Narratives, he offers us the following biographical information about his spiritual father, primarily about a prophecy at his tonsure and the appearance of the Prophet Moses at the monastery refectory.

By St. Anastasios of Sinai
(Narratives, 6 and 7)

Abba Martyrios, when he tonsured our venerable father John the abbot at the age of twenty, took him and went to that pillar of our wilderness, Abba John the Sabbaite in the wilderness of Gouda where he had with him his disciple Stephen the Cappadocian. When the Sabbaite elder saw them he rose and took water, put it in a small basin, washed the feet of the disciple (the young John) and kissed his hand; but he did not wash the feet of Abba Martyrios his superior.

Feast of the Visitation of the Most Holy Theotokos to Saint Elizabeth

Fresco of the Visitation in Saint George Church 
in Kurbinovo, North Macedonia

The establishment of this Feast of the Visitation of the Most Holy Theotokos and Saint Elizabeth and the composition of the Service are the work of Archimandrite Antonin Kapustin (1817–1894), head of the Russian Orthodox Mission in Jerusalem. Celebration of the Feast of the Visitation has not yet been accepted by all Orthodox jurisdictions.

Embrace of the Theotokos and Elizabeth, 
Timios Stavros (Honorable Cross) Church, 14th century - 
Pelendri village in Limassol area, south east of 
Kato Amiantos village near Saittas, Cyprus. 
The unborn John the Baptist bows before Jesus, who blesses him.

The Gorneye Convent in Jerusalem, built on the site of the Meeting of the Theotokos and Saint Elizabeth, celebrates this Feast on March 30. Since after the Annunciation (March 25) Mary "went with haste" to visit her cousin Elizabeth, March 30 seems a reasonable date for the feast, but it does run into possible conflicts with Holy Week and Easter. Therefore, if March 30 should fall between Lazarus Saturday and Easter, the Feast is transferred to Bright Friday.

Saint Sophronius, Bishop of Irkutsk and Wonderworker of All Siberia (+ 1771)

St. Sophronius of Irkutsk (Feast Day - March 30)

Saint Sophronius, Bishop of Irkutsk and Wonderworker of all Siberia, whose family name was Kristalevsky, was born in Malorussia in the Chernigov region in 1704. His father, Nazarius, was “a common man in his affairs,” and the Saint was named Stephen, in honor of Saint Stephen the Protomartyr. He had two brothers and a sister, Pelagia. The name of one brother was Paul. The name of the other older brother is unknown, but it is said that he was head of the Krasnogorsk Zolotonosh Monastery.

Stephen’s childhood years were spent in the settlement of Berezan in the Pereyaslavl district of the Poltava governance, where the family settled after the father was discharged from service. When he came of age, Stephen entered the Kiev Theological Academy, where two other future hierarchs were studying: Joasaph, future Bishop of Belgorod (Sept. 4), and Paul, future Metropolitan of Tobolsk (June 10).

Saint John II, Patriarch of Jerusalem (+ 417)

St. John of Jerusalem (Feast Day - March 30);
Greek miniature depicts the Church of Holy Zion


The president of the perceptible throne of Zion,
Departed for the Zion which is invisible.

Our Holy Father John was born around 356 and succeeded Saint Cyril as Patriarch of Jerusalem in 387. Many scholars today ascribe to him the five Mystagogical Catecheses traditionally ascribed to his predecessor Cyril.

On September 15, 394 Patriarch John officiated in the Consecration of the Church of Holy Zion: the homily pronounced by John was preserved in Armenian and not published until 1973.

In 415, he took part in the translation of the relics of Saint Stephen the Protomartyr from his tomb in the village of Kafargamala to Jerusalem in cooperation with Bishops Eusthonos of Sebaste and Eleutheros of Jericho.

March 29, 2019

The Romiosini of 1821 and the Great Powers (5 of 11)

Adamantios Koraes

...continued from part four.

17. Why They Wanted the Destruction of Romiosini

The Europeans and especially the Russians knew well the times of 1828, that in the event the above-mentioned ecclesiastical Romiosini organized politically as a state according to the plans of Rigas Velestinlis or John Kapodistrias, it would pose as a threat to Russia itself and in time also to Europe.

There had already developed a large Romaiic commercial fleet under various state flags. A united Roumeli of the Balkans with their love for the sea handed down to them from their fathers would have very quickly become an appreciable strength - especially at a time when the nautical power of the British and the French had expanded worldwide, as well as the Spanish and the Portuguese, who had been dominated by Islam for many centuries. It is generally accepted that a large amount of the success of the revolution of 1821 depended on the nautical power of the nation.

Introduction to the Philokalic Writings of Saint Hesychios of Sinai

By Elder Basil of Poiana Marului
Spiritual Father of St. Paisius Velichkovsky

In a certain sense, the life and teachings of the holy fathers is like the way men provide for all their bodily needs and necessities. A person who has mastered some craft or skill uses it to support himself. Another person puts his efforts into the various chores of farming and procures all the necessities for his household this way. Still others, who are more enterprising, instead of such crafts and occupations as these, acquire, say, a ship or a vineyard and thus satisfy their needs free from all the anxiety and instability and vicissitudes of working for a living.

This pattern can also be observed in the spiritual life. Some of the holy fathers, in view of the weakness of those who have just entered into monasticism, assign them, along with fulfilling the commandments of Christ, prolonged reading of the psalms, canons and troparia which have been instituted by the Holy Spirit for the glorification of God and as a rule for monastics. But there are others who have learned the refined skill of spiritual understanding and who do not want beginners to be occupied only with physical training. Together with the commandments of Christ, they give them a moderate rule of psalmody, that is nocturns, matins, the hours, vespers and compline, and in place of lengthy psalmody they lay down the rule of practicing noetic prayer, with this additional condition: should the Holy Spirit visit a person through the activity of prayer of the heart, then he should by all means leave off the above said external rule, because internal prayer fulfills it. Such instructors impart noetic work in part, but not to a very great extent, says St. Gregory of Sinai. There is a third group who from great skill and examination of the lives and writings of all the saints, and especially through the action and wisdom of the Holy and Life-giving Spirit, lay down the learning and practice of noetic prayer as a general rule, especially for beginners; for this, they say, is the mortification of the passions by fulfilling the commandments of Christ. They divide it into two principalities, like a second Paradise which gushes forth an ocean divided into two streams, that is active and spiritual prayer.

Saint Niketas of the Roslavl Forests (+ 1793)

St. Niketas of the Roslavl Forests (Feast Day - March 29)

Venerable Niketas was born in the city of Orel in 1695. From childhood, he loved to go on pilgrimages to the holy places. As a youth, he left his parents and lived about a mile or so from the White Bluff (Beloberezhsk) Hermitage. It is not known when he received the monastic tonsure, or from whom. In 1780 he built a cell on a hillock, and he dug a well by the hill. He ate bread that passersby would leave in his basket, which hung by the roadside on a tree. This was in a dense part of the forest, and animals were often seen by the hermit’s cell. Mosquitoes bit him mercilessly, until he was covered in blood. They tormented him terribly, but Saint Niketas bore everything with patience. He received the gift of tears from God, and he always shed tears for his own sins and for the sins of others.

Saints Mark, Jonah and Bassa of the Pskov Caves

Sts. Mark, Jonah and Bassa of the Pskov Caves (Feast Day - March 29)

Saints Mark, Jonah and Bassa are venerated as the founders of the Pskov Caves Monastery.

It is not known exactly when the first hermit monks settled by the Kamenets stream in the natural caves of the hill, which the local inhabitants called “the holy hill.” The monastery Chronicle presents an account of eyewitnesses, hunter-trappers from Izborsk nicknamed Selishi: “We came with our father to the outlying hill where the church of the Mother of God is now, and heard what seemed to be church singing. They sang harmoniously and reverently, but the singers could not be seen, and the air was filled with the fragrance of incense.”

March 28, 2019

The Romiosini of 1821 and the Great Powers (4 of 11)

John Kapodistrias and Rigas Velestinlis (or Pheraios)

...continued from part three.

12. The Russian Design and the Proposal of John Kapodistrias

Within this prism we must interpret the proposal of Russia in 1824: to divide the already microscopic, at that time, state of Greece into three autonomous principalities in imitation of the Danubian Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia.(3) Bessarabia and the Crimea with its Romaiic population had already become a part of Russia.

Having this tactic of the Russians in view, as well as the plans of Rigas Velestinlis, John Kapodistrias, as soon as he received his duties as President of Greece in April of 1828, proposed to the Russians the establishment of the Balkan confederation of five autonomous states - Dacia, Serbia, Macedonia, Epirus and Greece - and the conversion of Constantinople into a free city.(4)

March 27, 2019

The Romiosini of 1821 and the Great Powers (3 of 11)

8. Romans and Roumeli of 1821

In 1821 the Romans consisted of the overwhelming majority of the population in the Balkans.(2) Because of this, as before, the entire Turkish geographical area of Europe under the Ottoman Empire, namely the Balkans, continued to be called Roumeli, or the land of the Romans.

9. The Russians Go Against Romiosini

Despite this the Romans of the Balkans, united by the Church against so many hardships over the centuries, broke up, dissolved and assimilated because of propaganda and forged histories and became Romanians, Albanians and Greeks, while for those Romans who continued to know Slavonic the Russians established as separate states, such as Montenegro, Serbia and Bulgaria.

Venerable Eutychios

Venerable Eutychios (Feast Day - March 27)


Fortunate Eutychios entered the beyond,
Departing from the earth and settling in heaven.

On this day we commemorate Venerable Eutychios.

Holy Martyrs John and Baruch

Sts. John and Baruch the Martyrs (Feast Day - March 27)


John was courageous before the sword,
Baruch had the same and more.

The Holy Martyrs John and Baruch met their end by the sword.

Venerable Kyrikos of Apros

St. Kyrikos of Apros (Feast Day - March 27)


You are dead Father Kyrikos,
Although I bring you my heart, I want to bring my tongue.

Venerable Kyrikos of Apros in Thrace met his end in peace.

March 26, 2019

The Romiosini of 1821 and the Great Powers (2 of 11)

Peter the Great in foreign costume before his mother, 
Tsaritsa Natalya, Patriarch Andrian, and his tutor Zotov.

4. Romaic and Romaiic

For Greek-speakers, Vlach-speakers and Arvanitic-speakers this much was obvious, that Romiosini was always bilingual, with Latin initially as a language of the administration, and Greek as the written language. This bilingualism was maintained for 500 years before Constantine the Great moved the capital of Romiosini from Old Rome to Constantinople New Rome. For this reason eventually the same name was maintained, with Latin being called "Romaic" and Greek being called "Romaiic". That is, the same name with one iota (i) meant Latin, and with two iota's (ii) meant Greek. Vlach is Neo-Latin and Arvanitic is a mixed language primarily of Latin and Greek. Hence it was always the case that Vlach-speakers, Arvanitic-speakers and Greek-speakers were called Romans. It is complete nonsense for us to agree with the propaganda of the Great Powers that during the Turkish occupation the name Roman only had religious significance and not national.

Third Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary (St. Gregory the Wonderworker)

By St. Gregory the Wonderworker

Again have we the glad tidings of joy, again the announcements of liberty, again the restoration, again the return, again the promise of gladness, again the release from slavery. An angel talks with the Virgin, in order that the serpent may no more have converse with the woman. In the sixth month, it is said, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a virgin espoused to a man.

Gabriel was sent to declare the world-wide salvation;

Gabriel was sent to bear to Adam the signature of his restoration;

Gabriel was sent to a virgin, in order to transform the dishonour of the female sex into honour;

Gabriel was sent to prepare the worthy chamber for the pure spouse;

Gabriel was sent to wed the creature with the Creator;

Gabriel was sent to the animate palace of the King of the angels;

Gabriel was sent to a virgin espoused to Joseph, but preserved for Jesus the Son of God.

The Empirical Path Towards the Knowledge of God (St. Justin Popovich)

By St. Justin Popovich

The more a man exercises himself in the virtues, the greater becomes his knowledge of God. The more he knows God, the greater is his asceticism. This is an empirical and pragmatic path. “If any man will do His [God’s] will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God” (John 7:17). In other words: It is by living the truth of Christ that one comes to know its veracity and uniqueness. This is truly an empirical, experimental and pragmatic path. The knowledge of the truth is not given to the curious, but to those who follow the ascetic way. Knowledge is a fruit on the tree of virtues, which is the tree of life. Knowledge comes from asceticism. For the true Christian, Orthodox philosophy is in fact the theanthropic ascesis of the intellect and of the whole person. Here, those arresting words of the Savior are especially significant. “Him who hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.”

Second Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary (St. Gregory the Wonderworker)

By St. Gregory the Wonderworker

It is our duty to present to God, like sacrifices, all the festivals and hymnal celebrations; and first of all, the annunciation to the holy mother of God, to wit, the salutation made to her by the angel, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured!" For first of all wisdom and saving doctrine in the New Testament was this salutation, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured!" conveyed to us from the Father of lights. And this address, "highly favoured," embraced the whole nature of men. "Hail, thou that art highly favoured" in the holy conception and in the glorious pregnancy, "I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." And again the Lord, who came for the purpose of accomplishing a saving passion, said, "I will see you, and you shall rejoice; and your joy no man takes from you." And after His resurrection again, by the hand of the holy women, He gave us first of all the salutation "Hail!" And again, the apostle made the announcement in similar terms, saying, "Rejoice evermore: pray without ceasing: in everything give thanks." See, then, dearly beloved, how the Lord has conferred upon us everywhere, and indivisibly, the joy that is beyond conception, and perennial. For since the holy Virgin, in the life of the flesh, was in possession of the incorruptible citizenship, and walked as such in all manner of virtues, and lived a life more excellent than man's common standard; therefore the Word that comes from God the Father thought it meet to assume the flesh, and endue the perfect man from her, in order that in the same flesh in which sin entered into the world, and death by sin, sin might be condemned in the flesh, and that the tempter of sin might be overcome in the burying of the holy body, and that therewith also the beginning of the resurrection might be exhibited, and life eternal instituted in the world, and fellowship established for men with God the Father. And what shall we state, or what shall we pass by here? Or who shall explain what is incomprehensible in the mystery? But for the present let us fall back upon our subject. Gabriel was sent to the holy virgin; the incorporeal was dispatched to her who in the body pursued the incorruptible conversation, and lived in purity and in virtues. And when he came to her, he first addressed her with the salutation, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured! The Lord is with you." Hail, thou that art highly favoured! For you do what is worthy of joy indeed, since you have put on the vesture of purity, and are girt with the cincture of prudence. Hail, thou that art highly favoured! For to your lot it has fallen to be the vehicle of celestial joy. Hail, thou that art highly favoured! For through you joy is decreed for the whole creation, and the human race receives again by you its pristine dignity. Hail, thou that art highly favoured! For in your arms the Creator of all things shall be carried. And she was perplexed by this word; for she was inexperienced in all the addresses of men, and welcomed quiet, as the mother of prudence and purity; (yet) being a pure, and immaculate, and stainless image herself, she shrank not in terror from the angelic apparition, like most of the prophets, as indeed true virginity has a kind of affinity and equality with the angels. For the holy Virgin guarded carefully the torch of virginity, and gave diligent heed that it should not be extinguished or defiled. And as one who is clad in a brilliant robe deems it a matter of great moment that no impurity or filth be suffered to touch it anywhere, so did the holy Mary consider with herself, and said: Does this act of attention imply any deep design or seductive purpose? Shall this word "Hail" prove the cause of trouble to me, as of old the fair promise of being made like God, which was given her by the serpent-devil, proved to our first mother Eve? Has the devil, who is the author of all evil, become transformed again into an angel of light; and bearing a grudge against my espoused husband for his admirable temperance, and having assailed him with some fair-seeming address, and finding himself powerless to overcome a mind so firm, and to deceive the man, has he turned his attack upon me, as one endowed with a more susceptible mind; and is this word "Hail" (Grace be with you) spoken as the sign of gracelessness hereafter? Is this benediction and salutation uttered in irony? Is there not some poison concealed in the honey? Is it not the address of one who brings good tidings, while the end of the same is to make me the designer's prey? And how is it that he can thus salute one whom he knows not? These things she pondered in perplexity with herself, and expressed in words. Then again the archangel addressed her with the announcement of a joy which all may believe in, and which shall not be taken away, and said to her, "Fear not, Mary, for you have found favour with God." Shortly have you the proof of what has been said. For I not only give you to understand that there is nothing to fear, but I show you the very key to the absence of all cause for fear. For through me all the heavenly powers hail you, the holy virgin: yea rather, He Himself, who is Lord of all the heavenly powers and of all creation, has selected you as the holy one and the wholly fair; and through your holy, and chaste, and pure, and undefiled womb the enlightening Pearl comes forth for the salvation of all the world: since of all the race of man you are by birth the holy one, and the more honourable, and the purer, and the more pious than any other: and you have a mind whiter than the snow, and a body made purer than any gold, however fine, and a womb such as the object which Ezekiel saw, and which he has described in these terms: "And the likeness of the living creatures upon the head was as the firmament, and as the appearance of the terrible crystal, and the likeness of the throne above them was as the appearance of a sapphire-stone: and above the throne it was as the likeness of a man, and as the appearance of amber; and within it there was, as it were, the likeness of fire round about."

March 25, 2019

The Romiosini of 1821 and the Great Powers (1 of 11)

The Romiosini of 1821 and the Great Powers

Orthodoxos Typos
25 March 1978
(Translated by John Sanidopoulos)

By Protopresbyter Fr. John Romanides

1. 1821 and the Objective of the Great Powers

In 1821 the Romans initiated a revolution, in order for the state of Romiosini to become once more Roman civilization, which they kept with pride and every form of sacrifice during the difficult years of the Turkish occupation, the Frankish occupation and the Arab occupation.

The Great Powers [Russia, France and Great Britain] however only wanted to weaken or destroy and not divide the Ottoman Empire. Neither did they want Romiosini as a state, nor as a civilization. For this reason no Roman with the plans for the Romiosini of Rigas Velestinlis ever received support and reinforcement from the Great Powers. Those who sought to become rulers of that Romiosini, were they who would accomplish either consciously or naively the breakup and dissolution not only of the Ottoman Empire, but also of Romiosini.

First Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary (St. Gregory the Wonderworker)

By St. Gregory the Wonderworker

Today are strains of praise sung joyfully by the choir of angels, and the light of the advent of Christ shines brightly upon the faithful.

Today is the glad spring-time to us, and Christ the Sun of righteousness has beamed with clear light around us, and has illumined the minds of the faithful.

Today is Adam made anew, and moves in the choir of angels, having winged his way to heaven.

Today is the whole circle of the earth filled with joy, since the sojourn of the Holy Spirit has been realized to men.

Saint Parthenius of the Kiev Caves (+ 1855)

St. Parthenius of Kiev (Feast Day - March 25)

Venerable Parthenius, in the world known as Peter Ivanovich Krasnopevtsev, was born on 24 August 1792 to a poor family and was accustomed to hardships since childhood, since from a young age he had to work hard. His older brother Basil was a monk.

At a young age Peter had a vision of the Holy Spirit in the form of a snow-white dove soaring in the sky. This vision made the thirst for something better to sink into his soul and he became opposed to all earthly things for himself.

He studied at the Tula Seminary, but did not complete his studies. Instead, he went to the Kiev Caves Lavra. For twelve years he had the obedience of being the prosphoron maker of the monastery. In imitation of Saint Nicodemus the Prophoron-Maker of the Kiev Caves, he also memorized the entire Psalter.

Holy Martyrs Pelagia and Theodosia

Sts. Pelagia and Theodosia (Feast Day - March 25)


Theodosia and Pelagia by the sword,
Found a sea of gifts from God the Word.

The Holy Martyrs Pelagia and Theodosia met their end by the sword.

They are probably to be identified with the group of martyrs mentioned in the Roman Martyrology for March 23rd, listed as Domitius, Pelagia, Aquila, Eparchius and Theodosia. They all died by the sword under Julian the Apostate in 361.

The Annunciation: An Announcement of Great Joy on Earth

By Archimandrite Dionysios Karagiannis

On the great day of the Annunciation everything is divine and wonderful, glorious and exquisite, but Our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, is above all, “an announcement of great joy on earth.”

The Virgin Mary received the good announcement and gave the good announcement, and divine and human things, of heaven and earth, the original and saving plans of God for the salvation of man, were announced.

This annunciation, this news of great joy for all mankind, is found in the mystery of today’s feast. God the Logos becomes what he had never been, that is man, while remaining God; and the Virgin Mary became what she also had never been, a mother but a virgin at the same time, before she gave birth and after she gave birth.

March 24, 2019

Venerable Martin of the Thebaid

St. Martin of the Thebaid (Feast Day - March 24)


You were reared well fair old man Martin,
Dying you died and were delivered to your forefathers.

Venerable Martin of the Thebaid met his end in peace.

St. Gregory Palamas: The Wonder of Noetic Prayer

By Archimandrite Dionisios Karagiannis

During the Second Sunday of Great Lent, the Church celebrates the memory of the epitome of faith and life, St. Gregory Palamas, later Archbishop of Thessaloniki, who, according to the hymns, is the great teacher of the Church and the preacher of divine light.

The distinction of essence and energies of God involves all of those things God can share and those He cannot share. The essence of God is inaccessible and unknown to creation, including people. However, one can come into relationship and communion with God through His uncreated energies, and the grace offered generously.

March 23, 2019

Holy New Hieromartyr Macarius Kvitkin, Protopresbyter of Orenburg (+ 1931)

By Vladimir Kvitkin-Pawlenko
(Son of Saint Macarius Kvitkin)

Archpriest Macarius Kvitkin was glorified as one of the New Martyrs for Christ in 1981 by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and in 2000 by the Moscow Patriarchate. On February 9, the Russian Church triumphantly celebrates the memory of the Synaxis of New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. Fr. Makary's son, Vladimir Kvitkin-Pawlenko set down the account of his life. In 1995 it was published in Orthodox Life.

New Martyr Fr. Makary was born in 1882 in the town of Orsk, Orenburg Province. He was the son of the pious Fyodor and Evdokia Kvitkin. At a very early age, he came to love Christ and the Church, and was a deeply religious youth, often attending church, and reading and singing in the choir. As a young man, he first completed a course of studies at a teachers' college, and taught in a school. In 1904 Makary married Evfrosinia Kondratievna Beznosovaya, a pious maiden from a prosperous family. One year later, their first son, Sergei, was born.

Holy Martyrs Victorian, Frumentius and Companions (+ 484)

Sts. Victorian, Frumentius and Companions (Feast Day - March 23)

Victorian, proconsul of Carthage, a native of Hadrumetum, was one of the wealthiest men in North Africa, and had held several important offices under Hunneric, the Vandal king, son of Genseric. Hunneric, being resolved to trample out the faith in the Godhead of Christ, and establish the Arian heresy throughout his dominion, offered Victorian the highest honors, and his own special favor, if he would regard Christ as a creature.

Victorian replied, "Nothing can separate me from the faith and love of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the confidence that I have in so mighty a master, I am ready to suffer all kinds of torments rather than to consent to Arian impiety. You may burn me or expose me to wild beasts, or kill me by other tortures; but never will you prevail on me to desert the Church in which I was baptized." This reply so exasperated the tyrant that he made the Saint undergo the worst and most protracted torments his ingenuity could devise. Victorian endured them all with a good courage, and gained the martyr's crown.

March 22, 2019

On the Veneration of Icons (2 of 2)

By St. Nektarios of Aegina

The use of icons in the Church dates back to ancient times.... The monuments with the engravings and the murals found in the chambers-cemeteries of the catacombs as well as the martyria where worship took place, testify to the use of icons and certify that in the second and third century icons were used in the Church.

The enemies of icons claim that Christians coming from the Jews as well as the nations could not have icons. The Jews because even when they became Christians did not alienate themselves from the Mosaic law, while Christians from the nations were afraid they might turn to idolatry.

March 21, 2019

On the Veneration of Icons (1 of 2)

By St. Nektarios of Aegina

The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church from apostolic tradition continues to depict the Icon of the Savior, the Theotokos, the Holy Apostles and all the Saints who pleased God and were glorified by Him, and it teaches and confers the honor and veneration that suits them.

The veneration of Holy Icons is not opposed to the Second Commandment of the law in the Decalogue:

"You shall not make for yourself any idol, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not venerate them, nor worship them."

Extreme Positions in Theology and Life

Emeritus Professor of Theology George Mantzaridis offers profound insights on extremist positions in Life as well as in Theology.

March 20, 2019

New Martyrs of Estonia Canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate

The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided to include in the canon of the Orthodox Church of Estonia those who gave their lives in martyrdom and those who are accounted as confessors for the Orthodox Faith between 1944 and 1955, following a proposal by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Estonia and its President, Metropolitan Stephanos of Tallinn and All Estonia.

Saint Martin of Braga, Apostle of the Sueves (+ 580)

Little is known of his early life. Martin was born about 520 in Pannonia (today: Hungary, Croatia, Serbia). As a young man he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where he became a monk. While living in Palestine, he met pilgrims from Spain who spoke to him about the need to convert pagans and Arians in their lands. With the encouragement of the pilgrims he traveled to Spain at about 550. He arrived in Galicia in the northwestern part of of the Iberian peninsula to convert the Suevi, a Germanic tribe that earlier had migrated into Spain. Many in the tribe were still pagans and others had accepted Arianism.

Holy Venerable Martyr Euphrosynus of Blue Jay Lake (+ 1612)

St. Euphrosynus of Blue Jay Lake (Feast Day - March 20)

Saint Euphrosynus of Blue Jay Lake (Sinozersky), in the world Ephraim, was born in Karelia near Lake Ladoga in the second half of the sixteenth century. His father's name was Simeon, but his mother's name has not come down to us. In his youth he lived near the Valaam Monastery, perhaps as a novice, until it was captured and ransacked by the Swedes. Later he moved to Novgorod the Great. After he spent some time there, the Saint then withdrew to one of the Novgorod outskirts, the Bezhetsk “pentary” [one fifth of the “Pyatiny Novgorodskiya,” comprising five outlying districts of Novgorod the Great].

Holy Martyr Emmanuel

St. Emmanuel the Martyr (Feast Day - March 20)


By the sword I shed forth a cup,
Emmanuel declared of his blood.

The Holy Martyr Emmanuel met his end by the sword.

This is probably the same Saint as the Holy Martyr Manuel commemorated on March 26th. Even though there he is known as Manuel, both Holy Martyrs have the same iambic verses.

Holy Martyr Lollion

St. Lollion the Martyr (Feast Day - March 20)


Lollion bore the punches standing,
Exerting neither groans nor moans.

The Holy Martyr Lollion, or Lollionos, met his end by punches with the fist.

It should not be out of the question that the Holy Martyr Lollionos commemorated on July 15th is the same person as this Holy Martyr. He is said to have been kicked to death by executioners.

Holy Martyr Aquila the Eparch

St. Aquila the Martyr (Feast Day - March 20)


You were seen as a sacrifice without blemish Aquila,
Offered without blemish to the Master by the sword.

The Holy Martyr Aquila (Akyla) the Eparch met his end by the sword.

Holy Martyr Rodianos

St. Rodianos the Martyr (Feast Day - March 20)


As a red rose Rodianos,
Brought to you Christ his bloody decapitation.

The Holy Martyr Rodianos met his end by the sword.

March 19, 2019

The Relics of Sts. Chrysanthos and Daria in the Church of Santi Apostoli of Rome

After their martyrdom in Rome along the Via Salaria, Saints Chrysanthos and Daria were buried in the nearby Catacomba di Trasone. When the catacombs were abandoned in the ninth century, the relics of the two Saints were originally taken to Santi Apostoli. They are now claimed to be enshrined in several locations, most notably at the Cathedral of Reggio Emilia where a 2011 analysis found the human remains of an age and makeup corresponding to the documented origins.

Synaxarion of the Holy Martyr Pancharios

St. Pancharios the Martyr (Feast Day - March 19)


Pancharios had all the riches of grace,
Anointed by God's grace on the way to being beheaded.

When the emperors Diocletian and Maximian reigned, from the years 286 to 305, which totaled nineteen years, the entire ecumene was full of the delusion of the idols, and every Christian that confessed Christ, was not only deprived of their property and belongings, but they even lost their lives, having first been tried with many and various tortures. At that time lived also Pancharios the Martyr of Christ, who was from the land of the Ousanon, from the city known as Villapati,* and was the son of Christian parents. He was tall and mighty in stature and handsome in appearance. Having gone to Rome, he became friends with Diocletian, became first of the ruling Senators, and was exceedingly loved by the emperor. Because of the exceeding love each shared for one another, Panacharios - alas! - disowned his faith in Christ, and became like-minded with the emperor. The emperor therefore arranged for Pancharios to receive provision-money every year from the empire, some by written apportionment, others by imperial edict, in order that by this he would have every manner of rest and relaxation. This bitter news reached the blessed mother and sister of Pancharios, and they wrote him a letter, advising him to first remember the fear of God, then to remember the fearsome judgment of God, at which time, those who recognized Christ, and boldly confessed Him before emperors and rulers, they will in turn confess on behalf of the Master Christ, and will receive the promise and rest of eternal good things. These were all things he knew very well. To the contrary, those who defied and denied the divinity of Christ, they will receive many judgments against them on that fearsome day of judgment. This also he knew very well. "Whoever confesses Me before others, I will also confess before my Father in heaven. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before My Father in heaven" (Matt. 10:32-33). These are the things they wrote him, as well as the other saying of the Lord which says: "What will it benefit a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 8:36).

Saint Innocent of Komel and Vologda (+ 1521)

St. Innocent of Komel and Vologda (Feast Day - March 19)

Venerable Innocent of Komel and Vologda was born at Moscow, and was descended from the Moscow princely family of Okhlyabinin. He became a monk in the Monastery of Saint Cyril of White Lake (June 9), and was put under the guidance of Saint Nilus of Sora (May 7).

Holy Martyrs Diodoros the Presbyter and Marianos the Deacon

Sts. Diodoros and Marianos (Feast Day - March 19)


The cave was like an altar. Within is offered,
The sacrificer of Christ, and his levite with him.
The Holy Martyrs Diodoros the Presbyter and Marianos the Deacon suffered martyrdom after the martyrdom of Saints Chrysanthos and Daria.

In a cave near the place of execution of the Holy Martyrs Chrysanthos and Daria in Rome, Christians began to gather to honor the anniversary of the their martyrdom. They celebrated Church services and partook of the Holy Mysteries. Learning of this, the pagan authorities sealed the entrance to the cave, and those within received the crown of martyrdom.

Two of these martyrs are known by name: the Presbyter Diodoros and the Deacon Marianos. Their relics rest today in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Rome.

March 18, 2019

Saint Nikolai Velimirovich, the Serbian Chrysostom (+ 1956)

St. Nikolai Velimirovich (Feast Day - March 5)

Saint Nikolai of Zhicha, “the Serbian Chrysostom,” was born in Lelich in western Serbia on January 4, 1881. His parents were Dragomir and Katherine Velimirovich, who lived on a farm where they raised a large family. His pious mother was a major influence on his spiritual development, teaching him by word and especially by example. As a small child, Nikolai often walked three miles to the Chelije Monastery with his mother to attend services there.

Sickly as a child, Nikolai was not physically strong as an adult. He failed his physical requirements when he applied to the military academy, but his excellent academic qualifications allowed him to enter the Saint Sava Seminary in Belgrade, even before he finished preparatory school.

After graduating from the seminary in 1905, he earned doctoral degrees from the University of Berne in 1908, and from King’s College, Oxford in 1909. When he returned home, he fell ill with dysentery. Vowing to serve God for the rest of his life if he recovered, he was tonsured at the Rakovica Monastery on December 20, 1909 and was also ordained to the holy priesthood.

Synaxarion of the Holy Martyrs Trophimos and Eukarpios

Sts. Trophimos and Eukarpios (Feast Day - March 18)


Unending fruits and food were found in the furnace,
By the champions Eukarpios and Trophimos.

When a persecution against Christians ignited in Nicomedia, during the reign of Emperor Maximian in 298, many Christians were captured and imprisoned. After they were interrogated with many examinations and punishments, those who remained till the end in their confession of the faith of Christ, were put to death. At that time were also the Martyrs of Christ Trophimos and Eukarpios, who were at first powerful and daring and part of the imperial army, through which they were persecutors and extreme enemies of Christ and Christians, and they would gathered up Christians and imprison them. They had reached the point where the tyrants gave them all authority against the Christians, and whoever they wanted they punished, while they took care of whoever they wanted as well.

March 17, 2019

Homily for the Sunday of Orthodoxy (Metr. Athanasios of Limassol)

By Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol

On the first Sunday of Lent, we celebrate the Sunday of Orthodoxy, that is to say the feast of the restitution of the holy icons, as the Church once again, by the grace of God, vanquished the heresy of the iconoclasts and preserved with exactitude the faith and the tradition of the Holy Fathers of the Church, as it has been preserved throughout the ages.

This faith has as its result the healing of humankind, our salvation and deification. Reverencing the holy icons is proof that we confess that God became a describable person, that the Word of God was truly incarnated and became a person, but also that people truly become children of God and vessels of the Holy Spirit, temples of God and members of Christ. We reverence the holy icons of the Saints and their holy relics because God dwelt in them. So we celebrate the restitution of the holy icons and have the blessed custom of carrying them in procession, of honoring and embracing the icons of Christ and Our Lady and the Saints of the Church.

Homily for the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy (St. Ignatius Brianchaninov)

By St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

Orthodoxy is the true knowledge of God and reverence of God. Orthodoxy is the worship of God in Spirit and in Truth. Orthodoxy is the glorification of the true God, the knowledge of Him and worship of Him. Orthodoxy is the glorification of God by man, the true servant of God, given to him through the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the glory of the Christian (cf. Jn 7:39).[1] Where there is no Spirit, there is no Orthodoxy.

There is no Orthodoxy in human teachings and philosophies; false reason reigns in them—the fruit of the fall. Orthodoxy is the teaching of the Holy Spirit given by God to man for his salvation. Where there is no Orthodoxy, there is no salvation. "Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic [meaning: universal] Faith. Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly" (from the Creed of St. Athanasius[2]).