July 1, 2019

The Month of July in the Orthodox Church

By John Sanidopoulos

July is the seventh month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars and the fourth of seven months to have a length of 31 days. Being the second month of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, it is considered the hottest month of the year, while in the Southern Hemisphere it is considered the coldest month. It was named by the Roman Senate in honor of Roman general Julius Caesar, under whom the twelve month Julian calendar was formed, and July being the month of his birth. Prior to that, it was called Quintilis, being the fifth month of the ten month ancient Roman calendar.

In the Orthodox Church, though the month of July does not have any Major Feasts of the Lord or the Theotokos, it is still considered a month of festivity. This is because many of the Saints and Feasts commemorated in the month of July are popular Saints and Feasts which have many churches dedicated to them, and for this reason pilgrims flock to these churches in the warmth of the summer in order to celebrate them. One could speculate that since the weather in July is more agreeable for an outdoor festival, perhaps more than any other month, then it may be that because these Saints and Feasts are commemorated in July, they became especially popular as they were more celebrated. It should be noted also that often in July we also commemorate the Sunday of All Saints, and on the three weekends that follow we commemorate according to the moveable calendar many saints of various regions of the world, or ones who lived and struggled under various circumstances, such as the New Martyrs Under the Turks.

Among the popular Saints and Feasts of the month of July are the following: Sts. Kosmas and Damian of Rome (July 1); Deposition of the Robe of the Theotokos (July 2); St. John Maximovitch (July 2); St. Hyacinth (July 3); St. Andrew of Crete (July 4); St. Athanasios the Athonite (July 5); St. Sisoes (July 6); St. Kyriaki (July 7); St. Prokopios (July 8); St. Pankratios (July 9); St. Michael Paknanas (July 9); Miracle of St. Euphemia (July 11); St. Paisios the Athonite (July 12); St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite (July 14); Sts. Kyrikos and Julitta (July 15); St. Vladimir of Russia (July 15); St. Marina (July 17); St. Aimilianos (July 18); St. Macrina (July 19); Miracle of St. Haralambos (July 19); Prophet Elias (July 20); St. Symeon the Fool for Christ (July 21); St. Mary Magdalene (July 22); St. Markella of Chios (July 22); Prophet Ezekiel (July 23); St. Pelagia of Tinos (July 23); St. Christina (July 24); Dormition of St. Anna (July 25); St. Olympia the Deaconess (July 25); St. Eupraxia (July 25); St. Paraskevi (July 26); St. Panteleimon (July 27); St. Anthousa (July 27); St. Irene Chrysovalantou (July 28); St. Eudokimos (July 31); St. Joseph of Arimathea (July 31).

When reading the list of these popular Saints and Feasts of July, one becomes especially struck by the fact that so many of these popular Saints are renowned women who are very much revered in the Orthodox Church, and many Orthodox women are named after them. Among these are: St. Kyriaki, St. Euphemia, St. Julitta, St. Marina, St. Macrina, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Markella of Chios, St. Pelagia of Tinos, St. Christina, St. Anthousa, and St. Irene Chrysovalantou. Besides these women, we also celebrate the Deposition of the Robe of the Theotokos and the Dormition of St. Anna, these being perhaps the two biggest feast days in the month of July. This being the case, one could easily call the month of July a month dedicated to some of the greatest women of the Church.

In the month of July, therefore, we ought to especially celebrate with outdoor festivities the Saints and Feasts of the month, and no region in the world in which there is a Bishop should be absent of at least a church dedicated to a Saint or Feast of July. Women should especially celebrate this month, as many women this month of all ages proved themselves to be more manly than most men having contested and been found victorious either through their martyric or ascetic struggles. If July prepares us for anything, then it would be the fifteen day fasting period of August dedicated to the greatest among women, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, whose Dormition on Auguste 15th is considered the Summer Pascha.