Many many thanks to all those who contributed to match a generous $3000 donation from an anonymous donor. The goal was attained this past weekend. It is because of people like you that the Mystagogy Resource Center can continue to offer unique material to all for free on a daily basis that I hope people find beneficial. For those who still wish to contribute, please do so, with much gratitude in return. God bless you all!

January 31, 2020

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

Saint Elias Ardounis was born in Kalamata in the 17th century and worked as a barber. One day he became a Muslim, but soon after repented and secretly went to Mount Athos to weep for his apostasy. After becoming a monk and staying on the Holy Mountain for eight years, he decided to return to Kalamata to confess his faith publicly before those whom he had previously renounced Christ. For this he was beaten, imprisoned and tortured, and finally burned alive just outside Kalamata in a place called Velioura on Kallipateira Street. This happened on January 31, 1685.

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

Saint Sophronios of Jerusalem wrote the Life and Miracles of the Unmercenary Saints Cyrus and John. He did this after visiting the shrine of these Saints in Menuthis, which is outside Alexandria, at which time he was healed of a serious and painful eye ailment that afflicted him for months. This took place around the year 610. This was also the year Saint John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria, died. Sophronios, accompanied by John Moschos, were acquainted with John the Merciful while they were in Alexandria. Sophronios and John wrote a biography of John the Merciful after his repose, but it is no longer extant. Leontios, who was Bishop of Neapolis in Cyprus, wrote a supplemental biography to follow up on that which was written by Sophronios and John, and this is the primary source we have for a biography of John the Merciful. In Leontios' account, we only have two mentions of Saints Cyrus and John, whereas we can assume there may have been more references to them in the biographies of Sophronios and John Moschos.

Saint Marcella of Rome (+ 410)

Saint Marcella was born in 325 to a noble family of Rome. As a young girl, she heard Saint Athanasius speak. Having lost her husband in the seventh month of her marriage, she rejected the proposal of Cerealis the consul, uncle of Gallus Caesar, and resolved to imitate the lives of the ascetics of the East. She abstained from wine and meat, employed all her time in pious reading, prayer, and visiting the churches of the apostles and martyrs, and never spoke with any man alone. Her example was followed by many virgins of the first quality, who put themselves under her direction, and Rome was in a short time filled with monasteries. Her palace on the Aventine Hill was made into a monastery, where she lived with the virgins and widows of Rome.

Saint Melangell the Hermitess of Wales (+ 641)

On this day [January 31 and May 27] we commemorate the Venerable Melangell, who hailed from Ireland, and lived in asceticism in Wales.


Melangell, of the coming eternal life,
Together with the angelic choirs, was made worthy.

Saint Melangell's (pronounced Mel-en-geth, whose name has been latinised as Monacella) story begins as a familiar one. She was a seventh century Irish princess who had dedicated her life to prayer. Her father, King Iowchel, had arranged for her to marry against her will. Wishing to preserve her life of virginity and prayer, in about the year 590 she fled Ireland and settled in the countryside of Montgomeryshire (present-day Powys), at the head of the Tanant Valley in Northern Wales. There she lived a life of solitude and prayer, sleeping on bare rock with a cave as her cell.

January 30, 2020

The Three Hierarchs and the Calendar Issue (Elder Cleopa Ilie)

Fr. Calistrat Bobu (+ 1975)

While serving as head sacristan, Brother Constantine (Elder Cleopa Ilie before his tonsure) was an eyewitness to several miracles which occurred during the Divine Liturgy at Sihastria. He recalled these in later years and would recount them to those who came to him for their spiritual edification. Among these he recalled the following:

"Look at at what happened to a very good priest, Fr. Calistrat Bobu. He was a known spiritual father and confessor, but he went to see a nun who was living as a hermitess in the forest. At that time there were about fifty known monks and nuns living alone like that in the woods. This particular nun continued to adhere to the Old Calendar, in opposition to the decision of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church. When Fr. Calistrat visited her, she said:

"Basil the Great, the Lion of Christ" (Documentary)

January 29, 2020

The Epistle of Ignatius of Antioch to Polycarp of Smyrna

Ignatius, who is also called Theophoros, to Polycarp, Bishop of the Church of the Smyrnaeans, or rather, who has, as his own bishop, God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ: abundance of greetings.

1. Having obtained good proof that your mind is fixed in God as upon an immoveable rock, I give exceeding glory that I have been thought worthy to behold your blameless face, which may I ever enjoy in God! I entreat you, by the grace with which you are clothed, to press forward in your course, and to exhort all that they may be saved. Maintain your position with all care, both in the flesh and spirit. Have a regard to preserve unity, than which nothing is better. Bear with all, even as the Lord does with you. Support all in love, as also you do. Give yourself to prayer without ceasing. Implore additional understanding to what you already have. Be watchful, possessing a sleepless spirit. Speak to every man separately, as God enables you. Bear the infirmities of all, as being a perfect athlete: where the labor is great, the gain is all the more.

Saint Blath of Kildare (+ 523)

St. Blath of Kildare (Feast Day - January 29)

Saint Blath was a nun who served her obedience as cook at Saint Brigid's Convent in Kildare. She earned a reputation for sanctity, and of her cooking it is said that bread and bacon at Brigid's table were better than a banquet elsewhere. A miracle concerning Blath says that an almost empty dearth of milk lasted well beyond what it should have after Blath continued to dip cup after cup of milk from the almost empty dearth for the poor. Blath is the Irish word for 'flower', and is thus Latinized as Flora.

Synaxis of All Saints of Ekaterinburg

The Synaxis of All Saints of Ekaterinburg (Yekaterinburg) is a feast of the Russian Orthodox Church in memory of the saints associated with the Diocese of Ekaterinburg. The celebration was established with the blessing of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill in 2010 at the initiative of the Archbishop of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky Vikenti. The celebration of the Synaxis of All Saints of Ekaterinburg began to be celebrated in 2011. January 29/February 11, the day of the founding of the Diocese of Ekaterinburg, was chosen as the day of celebration. In total, 63 Saints of the 17th-20th centuries were glorified in the Synaxis of All Saints of Ekaterinburg, whose ascetic life and martyrdom were directly connected with the Diocese of Ekaterinburg.

Saint Ignatius, Bishop of Smolensk (+ 1210)

St. Ignatius of Smolensk (Feast Day - January 29)

By some accounts, Saint Ignatius was the first Bishop of Smolensk. He was a friend of Saint Abraham (Aug. 21), whom he ordained to the priesthood. Bishop Ignatius was a meek and pious man, heading the trial instigated by Saint Abraham’s enemies, at which the monk was acquitted.

January 28, 2020

The Life of our Venerable Father Ephraim the Syrian (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse

The holy Ephraim was a native of the city of Nisibis in Mesopotamia. He was born at the very beginning of the reign of Saint Constantine the Great (reigned 306-337), of Christian parents, for in later life he said: "Those who gave me birth instilled within me the fear of the Lord. My ancestors confessed Christ before the judges' tribunals; I am kinsman to martyrs. My grandfathers, who lived to a ripe old age, were tillers of the soil, and my parents followed the same way of life." The holy one reposed while Saint Theodosius the Great was emperor (reigned 379-395).

The venerable Ephraim received from God the gift of wisdom: from his lips grace flowed like a river of sweetness, watering with compunction the souls of all who listened to his instructions. This was evident very early in his life. When he was still a child, his parents had the following dream concerning him: a grapevine arose from the tongue of their son and, increasing in stature, filled the whole world with its branches and fruit. The birds of the heavens flocked together and ate the grapes, yet however many they consumed, the quantity of grapes increased accordingly.

Saint John of Réome in Gaul (+ 544)

St. John of Reome (Feast Day - January 28)

Saint John was one of the main institutors of monastic life in the West. He was born in Gaul in the diocese of Langres about the year 424, and brought up as a pious Christian by his parents, who were exemplary for holy living. At the age of twenty, he built himself a cell with a little oratory where he could devote himself to contemplation without distraction. Meditating on Scriptural examples of renunciation of the world, especially on the life of Saint John the Baptist in the desert, and on the Apostle's eagerness to follow the Lord, he left his native district and his parents without looking back and settled in a wild, forbidding spot called Réome (Reomay) in the region of Auxois. There he began to live the hesychast life like the monks in the desert of the East.

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

St. Glastian of Kinglace (Feast Day - January 28)

Saint Glastian was a native of the county of Fife, where he served as Bishop for many years. Amidst the desolation which was spread over the whole country, in the bloody civil war between the Scots and Picts, in which the latter were entirely subdued, Bishop Glastian was the comforter, spiritual father, and most charitable protector of many thousands of both nations. He died in 830, at Kinglace in Fifeshire, Scotland and was particularly honored in that country, and in Kyntire. According to the ancient custom of that country, his name is frequently written Mac-Glastian, the word Mac signifying son.

Saint Cannera of Inis Cathaig (+ 530)

St. Cannera of Inis Cathaig (Feast Day - January 28)

Little is known of Saint Cannera (or Conaire) except that which is recorded in the story of Saint Senan, who ruled a monastery on Scattery Island (Inis Cathaig), which ministered to the dying--but only men. Cannera was an anchorite from Bantry in southern Ireland. When she knew she was dying, she traveled to Senan's monastery, after a divine vision directed her there, without rest and walked upon the water to cross the river because no one would take her to the place forbidden to women. Upon her arrival, the abbot was adamant that no woman could enter his monastic enclosure. Arguing that Christ died for women, too, she convinced the abbot to give her last rites on the island and to bury her at its furthermost edge. Against his argument that the waves would wash away her grave, she answered that she would leave that to God. Probably because Saint Cannera walked across the water, sailors honor their patron by saluting her resting place on Scattery Island. They believed that pebbles from her island protected the bearer from shipwreck. A 16th-century Gaelic poem about Cannera prays, "Bless my good ship, protecting power of grace...."

January 27, 2020

The Style of St. John Chrysostom According to an English Classical Scholar

The Rev. Anthony Blackwall, an English classical scholar and schoolmaster, published An Introduction to the Classics in 1718, where  he writes as follows on the style of St. John Chrysostom:

“I would fain beg room among the classics for three primitive writers of the church, St. Chrysostom, Minutius Felix, and Lactantius. St. Chrysostom is easy and pleasant to new beginners; and has written with a purity and eloquence which have been the admiration of all ages. This wondrous man in a great measure possesses all the excellencies of the most valuable Greek and Roman classics. He has the invention, copiousness, and perspicuity of Cicero; and all the elegance and accuracy of composition which is admired in Isocrates, with much greater variety and freedom. According as his subject requires, he has the easiness and sweetness of Xenophon, and the pathetic force and rapid simplicity of Demosthenes. His judgment is exquisite, his images noble, his morality sensible and beautiful. No man understands human nature to greater perfection, nor has a happier power of persuasion. He is always clear and intelligible upon the loftiest and greatest subjects, and sublime and noble upon the least.” 

Holy Monastery of Saint John Chrysostom in Koutsoventi and the Legend of the Leper Queen


On the northern side of the Pentadactylos mountain range, at the Kyrenia district, very close to the village of Koutsoventi, and below the Castle of Buffavento, the Monastery of Saint John Chrysostom is situated. It is famous for its holy water spring, the water of which cures skin diseases.

According to tradition, in the Castle of Buffavento, which also became the reason for the Monastery of Saint Chrysostom to be built, there lived far from the world, a Queen, who suffered from the incurable illness of leprosy. Her name was Maria di Molino and she was of Venetian origin. Her only company was her beloved lap-dog whο finally also got infected by leprosy.

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

Archbishop Peter was born on February 18, 1878, the eldest son of a Moscow protopriest, Fr. Constantine Zverev (who later became the spiritual father of Grand-Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna), and his wife Anna. He was given the name of Basil in Holy Baptism after St. Basil the Confessor (February 28). Already as a child he loved playing church services, and zealously attended church services with his father.

In his early childhood he had a vision of the Saviour. As he described it: "In childhood I was very fat and pudgy. The adults liked to squeeze me, and I couldn't bear this and pushed them away with my hands and legs. And then I saw a vision. We had a table standing by the wall in the living-room, and there I saw the Saviour sitting, dressed in blue and red clothing and holding me in His hands. And under the table was a terrible dog. The Saviour took my hand and stretched it under the table to the dog, saying:

Saint Marius of Bodon (+ 555)

St. Marius of Bodon (Feast Day - January 27;
(photo) Abbey Bodon in Saint-May

Saint Marius (also known as May or Mari) was born at Orleans, became a monk, and after some time founded Abbey Bodon at La-Val-Benois, in the village of present-day Saint-May named in his honor.

Saint Marius made a pilgrimage to Saint Martin’s, at Tours, and another to the tomb of Saint Denis, near Paris, where, falling sick, he dreamed that he was restored to health by an apparition of Saint Denis, and awaking, found himself perfectly recovered.

Saint Natalis of Ulster (+ 564)

St. Natalis of Ulster (Feast Day - January 27);
(photo) Ruins of St Naile's Church in the Parish of Kinawley

His father was Aenghus, who was 3rd in descent from Lughaidh, King of Munster. Saint Natalis (also called Naile) was a disciple of Saint Columba and founded monasteries throughout Ulster in northern Ireland, serving as an abbot at St Naul’s Abbey, Inver (County Donegal), Kinawley (Cill Naile), Inver Naile (at Raphoe, County Donegal), and Devenish Island, where he succeeded Saint Molaise. A well in his memory still exists beside Kinawley Church, where the handle of his bell was preserved up to the 19th century.

January 26, 2020

Saint Xenophon of Robeika (+ 1262)

Venerable Xenophon of Robeika was a disciple of Saint Barlaam of Khutyn. He later became abbot of the Khutyn Monastery. Resigning from this post, he later founded the Trinity Monastery on the Robeika River, close to Novgorod. He reposed there on June 28, 1262. He is commemorated on June 28th (day of his repose) and January 26 (day of his patron saint).

Sermon on the Sunday of Zacchaeus (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

By St. Cyril of Alexandria

Commentary on the Gospel of Luke

Sermon 127

Luke 19:1-10

Behold a man named Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus was chief of the publicans, a man entirely abandoned to covetousness, and whose sole object was the increase of his gains: for such was the practice of the publicans, though Paul calls it "idolatry," possibly as being fit only for those who have no knowledge of God. And as they shamelessly made open profession of this vice, the Lord very justly joined them with the harlots, thus saying to the chiefs of the Jews, "The harlots and the publicans go before you into the kingdom of God." But Zacchaeus continued not among their number, but was counted worthy of mercy at Christ's hands: for He it is Who calls near those who are afar off, and gives light to those who are in darkness.

Fifteenth Sunday of Luke: Gospel Reading

Fifteenth Sunday of Luke

Gospel According to Luke 19:1-10

Sunday of Zacchaeus the Tax-Collector


At that time, Jesus was passing through Jericho. And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today." So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost."

Thirty-Second Sunday After Pentecost: Epistle Reading

Thirty-Second Sunday of Pentecost

St. Paul's First Letter to Timothy 4:9-15


Timothy, my son, the saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and suffer reproach, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things. Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you. Practice these duties, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress.

Exaposteilarion and Doxastikon of the Tenth Resurrection Eothinon Gospel for Sunday Matins

The following hymns from the Sunday Matins service are directly related to the Tenth Eothinon Resurrection Gospel (John 21:1-14) read before the Canon, which speaks of the third appearance of the Resurrected Christ to His disciples as they were fishing on the Sea of Tiberias. There are eleven eothina all together, and each Sunday is successively dedicated to one of them, then the cycle starts again. Each of the eleven eothina symbolizes one of the eleven disciples to whom the Lord appeared following His Resurrection.

January 25, 2020

The Appearance of Saint Iakovos Tsalikis in a Photograph 11 Months After His Death

By Dr. Stylianos Papadopoulos

This photograph which is being published for the first time in the pages of this edition [Μακαριστός Ιάκωβος Τσαλίκης, 5th edition, published in 2000] was taken in the cell of the late Elder Iakovos eleven months after his death.

The Cypriot Hierodeacon who took it wasn't able to visit the late Elder while he was alive, so he wanted to take a picture of his cell.

And - O the miracle! - when the film was developed, everyone was amazed to see the form of the late Elder.

The letter of the journalist-writer, Mr. M.G. Michaels, who informed us of this miracle, is published below:

When Papa-Fotis the Fool for Christ Visited a Brothel in His Vestments

By Fr. Athanasios Giousmas

Once, it was late at night, and we [Papa-Fotis] visited one of the houses in our town where he sometimes found accommodation.

Before he went to sleep, he told the man of the house:

"Tomorrow at sunrise, you and me have got work to do."

Abortion as a Form of Genocide

By Archimandrite Ephraim, Abbot of Vatopaidi Monastery

We live at a time when people are becoming increasingly vindictive. Their morals are deteriorating and their minds are darkened. The absurdity that people are experiencing today is obvious and undeniable. We’re living in a time prophesied by Anthony the Great, when people who are mad appear to be rational and those who are rational are deemed mad. It may be claimed that in older times, too, there was rampant sinfulness, but we ought to note that there was never this offensive legitimization and widespread social acceptance of sin. In our time, abortions, adultery and homosexuality have all been made legal, though this would have been inconceivable until the middle of the 20th century. It’s a cause of astonishment, if nothing else, that today sin is projected not simply as legitimate, but as an ideal way of life.

Did Gregory the Theologian Refer to the Writings of Dionysius the Areopagite?

In his Oration on the Theophany of Christ, Gregory the Theologian writes in section 6:

"But when I say God, I mean Father, Son, and Holy Spirit... This then is the Holy of Holies, which is hidden even from the Seraphim, and is glorified with the thrice-repeated Holy, meeting in one ascription of the title Lord and God, as one of our predecessors has most beautifully and loftily pointed out."

The question is: Who is the "predecessor" Gregory is referring to? Some believe Gregory is referring to Athanasius the Great, while others believe he is referring to Dionysius the Areopagite.

Treatise on the Art of Letter Writing (St. Gregory the Theologian)

Letter 51 of St. Gregory the Theologian is addressed to Nicobulus the Younger, his great-nephew. Gregory considered Nicobulus "the most important of the relatives I care about." He had studied under Gregory in Cappadocia and then hoped to study overseas, desiring "excellence in speaking" through "the fiery force of rhetoric" as his greatest ambition, to make a name for himself "both in assemblies and in court." His model in this of course was his great-uncle himself. In this letter, Nicobulus the Younger, having requested of his great-uncle a treatise on letter writing, Gregory responds with a short letter about the art of writing a letter.

January 24, 2020

An Alleged Portrait of St. Xenia of Petersburg Painted During Her Lifetime

St. Xenia of Petersburg is said to have reposed around 1802. There is no documentary information about her life, and the first publications of folk legends about her date back to the 1840s. Yet in February of 2017 the State Hermitage Museum presented the alleged portrait of Xenia of Petersburg that may have been painted in her lifetime.

The Skull of Saint Xenia of Rome

Saint Xenia of Rome (Jan. 24) reposed in peace in the fifth century in Mylasa of Caria, which is in southwest Turkey. At a certain point in time her relics were transferred to Selymbria in Thrace where they were kept in the Metropolitan Church. During the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922, the Greeks had to leave Selymbria and took with them their ecclesiastical treasures, among which were the relics of Saint Xenia. They were brought to Kavala, where her skull is still kept in the Metropolitan Church of Saint John the Forerunner.

Saint Philotheos, Builder of Philotheou Monastery (+ 10th cent.)

St. Philotheos the Builder (Feast Day - January 24)

Venerable Philotheos was a disciple of Saint Athanasios the Athonite, and went on to establish what became known as Philotheou Monastery in 992. According to historical sources, the original name of the monastery was the Little Monastery of Fteris which was located in the region of Kravvatos, where today stands the Chapel of the Prophet Elias. The monastery was moved to its current location in the 11th century without any differences in the buildings and the architecture from the initial building. The katholikon of the monastery is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Theotokos and there are many murals from 1752. It is located on the east side of the Athonite peninsula, very close to the Monastery of Karakalou, and is the 12th monastery in the hierarchy of Athos’ monasteries.

Saint Sophia of Shamordino (+ 1888)

St. Sophia of Shamordino (Feast Day - January 24)

Sophia Bolotova was born in 1845 to a noble family. Her father was Mikhail Pavlovich Bolotov, who graduated from the School of Philosophy and Law of St. Petersburg Imperial University and was trustee of bread reserve stores in the Bogoroditsky district of the Tula province, participating in projects to free peasants. Her mother was Alexandra Dmitrievna, who raised six children, two sons (Dmitry and Eugene) and four daughters (Sophia, Maria, Elena and Barbara). Alexandra Dmitrievna was a very pious woman, and her children received both a secular and religious education. Four out of six children became monastics, while one died in childhood (Barbara) and the youngest married into nobility (Elena). Her brother Dmitry Bolotov was tonsured a monk with the name Daniel and became famous as an Optina icon painter. His most famous work was the portrait of Elder Ambrose of Optina lying on pillows.

Saint Gerasim, Bishop of Great Perm (+ 1447)

St. Gerasim of Perm (Feast Days - January 24 and 29)

Saint Gerasim, Bishop of Great Perm (Ust-Vymsky), was the third bishop of the newly-enlightened Zyryani people, and he was a worthy successor to Saint Stephen, the Enlightener of Perm (Apr. 26), and Bishop Isaac his direct predecessor. He was elevated to the See of Perm sometime after 1416, and participated in many Church synods in Moscow: one in 1438 to condemn the Unia and Metropolitan Isidore, and one in 1441, which defined the selection of the Metropolitan of All Rus by a Synod of Russian pastors.

January 23, 2020

Saint Paulinus of Nola Resource Page

St. Paulinus of Nola (Feast Day - January 23)

Saint Paulinus the Merciful, Bishop of Nola (+ 431)

On Saint Paulinus of Nola (Sulpicius Severus)

On Saint Paulinus of Nola (St. Eucherius of Lyon)

The Correspondence Between St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Paulinus of Nola

The Correspondence Between St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Paulinus of Nola

In his City of God (Bk. 1, Ch. 10), St. Augustine says the following about his contemporary St. Paulinus of Nola:

"For if many were glad that their treasure was stored in places which the enemy chanced not to light upon, how much better founded was the joy of those who, by the counsel of their God, had fled with their treasure to a citadel which no enemy can possibly reach! Thus our Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, who voluntarily abandoned vast wealth and became quite poor, though abundantly rich in holiness, when the barbarians sacked Nola, and took him prisoner, used silently to pray, as he afterwards told me, 'O Lord, let me not be troubled for gold and silver, for where all my treasure is You know.' For all his treasure was where he had been taught to hide and store it by Him who had also foretold that these calamities would happen in the world. Consequently those persons who obeyed their Lord when He warned them where and how to lay up treasure, did not lose even their earthly possessions in the invasion of the barbarians; while those who are now repenting that they did not obey Him have learned the right use of earthly goods, if not by the wisdom which would have prevented their loss, at least by the experience which follows it."

On Saint Paulinus of Nola (Sulpicius Severus)

Sulpicius Severus (+ 425) was a Christian writer and native of Aquitania in modern-day France. He was a friend and admirer of Saint Paulinus of Nola and spiritual child and biographer of Saint Martin of Tours. In his Life of Martin, Severus describes his first meeting with him, and he reports:

"[Martin's] talk with us was about not other than the abandonment of the enticements of the world and the burdens of the age so that we might follow the Lord Jesus freely and readily. And he offered to us the most outstanding example of our time, that illustrious man Paulinus, whom we mentioned earlier. He, having thrown away his great wealth and followed Christ, almost alone in these times had fulfilled the evangelical teaching. 'We must follow and imitate him!' he exclaimed. The present age was fortune in an example of such great faith and virtue, since, according to the will of God, as a rich man and possessing many things, by selling all and giving to the poor, he had made possible by example what was impossible to accomplish."

On Saint Paulinus of Nola (St. Eucherius of Lyon)

Saint Eucherius, Bishop of Lyon (+ 449), was a contemporary of Saint Paulinus, Bishop of Nola (+ 431). He wrote a work titled "On Contempt for the World," and in it he praised Paulinus for renouncing his wealth and high office to respond to the higher call of service to God. He thus wrote of him:

"Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, the great ornament and light of France, a person of princely revenues, powerful eloquence, and most accomplished learning, so highly approved of this our profession that choosing for himself 'the better part,' he divided all his princely inheritance amongst the poor, and afterward filled most part of the world with his elegant and pious writings."

A Miracle of Saint Paulinus of Nola (St. Gregory the Dialogist)

By St. Gregory the Dialogist

(Dialogues, Bk. 3, Ch. 1)

Being careful to entreat of such fathers as lived not long since, I passed over the worthy acts of those that were in former times, so that I had almost forgot the miracle of Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, who both for time was more ancient, and for virtue more notable, than many of those which I have spoken of. Wherefore I will now speak of him, but as briefly as I can. For as the life and actions of good men are soonest known to such as be like them, so the famous name of venerable Paulinus became known to my holy elders, and his admirable fact served for their instruction: who, for their gravity and old years, are as well to be credited, as if that which they reported they had seen with their own eyes.

January 22, 2020

Church of Saint Joseph Samakos the Sanctified in Azokeramos, Crete

The Church of Saint Joseph Samakos the Sanctified in Azokeramos, Crete was built as a monument to the Saint in the place where he was born and raised. In the time of the Saint in the 15th century, the village of Azokeramos was known as Keramoi, at the easternmost end of the province of Siteia. Today his incorrupt relics rest on the island of Zakynthos.

Saint Brihtwald, Bishop of Ramsbury (+ 1045)

Saint Brihtwald (Brithwold) was a monk at Glastonbury in Wiltshire who was chosen Bishop of Ramsbury in 995, and governed it for 50 years. His fame comes not from his long episcopate, but from his prophecy and vision concerning the successor to Saint Edward the Confessor.

January 21, 2020

Our Venerable Father Maximus the Confessor (+ 662)

St. Maximus the Confessor (Feast Day - January 21)

By Hieromonk Makarios of Simonopetra

Saint Maximus* was born into one of the great families of Constantinople in 580.** Endowed with exceptional intelligence and an uncommon ability for high philosophical speculation, he completed his studies with great distinction and embarked on a political career. The Emperor Heraclius, on coming to the throne in 610, appointed him as his chief secretary; but honors, power and riches could not quench the secret longing of Maximus since his youth to lead a life in keeping with the true philosophy. He resigned his post after only three years and became a monk at the Monastery of the Mother of God at Chrysopolis (Scutari, modern Uskudar). Well prepared for spiritual combat through meditation on Holy Scripture and study of the holy Fathers, he climbed steadily up the ladder of virtues leading to blessed impassibility. He overcame the impulses of lust through well-regulated ascesis, and of anger through meekness. Freeing his mind thereby from the tyranny of the passions, he nourished his intellect through prayer, raising it peaceably to the heights of contemplation. In the silence of his cell, gazing into the abyss of his heart, he considered within himself the great Mystery of our Salvation — whereby the Word of God, moved by His infinite love for mankind, has condescended to unite Himself to our nature, which is separated from God and divided against itself by self-centred love (philautia); He has thus restored the unity of our nature, brought in the reign of brotherly love and concord among men, and opened to us the way of union with God, for "God is Love" (1 John 4:16).

The Discovery of the Holy Relics of Saint Maximos the Greek in 1996

The Discovery of the Holy Relics of Saint Maximos the Greek

By S. Beliaev

Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, September 1996.

The local council of the Russian Orthodox Church that met in the Holy Trinity-Saint Sergius Lavra, 6-9 June 1988, added Saint Maxim the Greek to the roster of saints. The Acts of the council state: "Thus, fully convinced of the truth and reliability of the miracles performed by the prayers of these ascetics and taking note of the numerous forms of their Christian piety, their supreme spirituality, and service in the Church, the council determines: 'It pleased the Holy Spirit and us' to include in the roster of the holy people of God for veneration in the Russian Church the following champions of Christian piety ... Saint Maxim the Greek (1470-1556), who is honored locally as a holy man of Radonezh, wonderworker, venerable ascetic, and master of the monastic life. As a prisoner and victim of many years of imprisonment, he maintained steadfastness in matters of the true faith and personal humility in his life of devotion. As the author of various compositions, the Saint stated the divine truths of Orthodox doctrines and, as a spiritual teacher, he elucidated the traditions of the holy Fathers."

The Veneration of the All-Holy Mother of God in the Theology of St. Maximos the Greek

By Neža-Agne Zajc,
Insitute of Cultural History, Scientific-Research Centre of Slovenian Academy of Sciencea and Arts, Ljubljana-Slovenia


This paper presents the circumstances of the trials against St. Maximos the Greek, and focuses particularly on the second trial in 1531. The author focuses on the accusation of supposed heretical mistakes in his translation of the text The Hagiography of the Mother of God from Menologion of Symeon Metaphrastes. On the basis of the manuscript it is proposed that Maximos used the exact and careful method of translation based on patristic and hagiographic sources. More than that, in his writings he combined earlier hagiographic sources from the Eastern and Western early Christian traditions, such as the patristic and liturgical interpretations of the hagiographic material. Of particular interest is that the tradition of the Byzantine hymnography reflected in the works of St. Maximos the Greek, mainly in those that are defined as prayers, confessions and theological polemics that significantly showed his attachment to the protection of the Mother of God. The fact is that, as an Athonite monk, Maximos understood the Mother of God as a part of the orthodox Holy Trinity, which he explained in his confessional texts. He often supported his arguments for the holiness of the Mother of God with exegetic examples from Holy Scripture. Indeed, the verses from the Byzantine hymnographical odes, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and which flourished in the Holy Vatopaidi Monastery, as well as in the Athonite period of the monk Maximos, present the essence of the works and personal theology of Maximos the Greek. Therefore, this unique monastic worldview, which combined very different sources of Christian knowledge (Holy Scripture, hymnography, liturgy, patristic, iconography, and hagiography), was also marked by the special consideration of the Mother of God in Orthodox theology, which together make the theological system of St. Maximos the Greek so original. Maximos the Greek thus presents in his works, and especially in his prayers, an important preservation of Athonite ascetic tradition, particularly connected with the Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi.

1. Introduction (biographical remarks)

As Mihail Trivolis, in 1506, he joined Vatopaidi Monastery at Mount Athos, dedicated to the Annunciation of Mother of God[1]. He was ordained and given the monastic name Maxim (after the monastic example of Saint Maximus Confessor). In Vatopaidi Monastery, Maxim developed his extensive writing, translation and transcribing activities to which he added acquisition of the knowledge of Slavic languages. Not only the vicinity of the Serbian Hilandar Monastery on Athos, but also the Athonite archives, which kept the oldest Slavic, and even Glagolitic manuscripts, were possible records from which Maxim studied Slavic elements of liturgical language of Eastern Christian liturgy. As an experienced scribe, with calligraphic and linguistic skills, the Athonite monk Maxim was chosen for the mission to the Orthodox lands; in 1516 he was sent, therefore, as a translator from Greek to Old Church Slavonic, from Athos to Moscow, at the invitation of the Russian emperor Vasili III. He departed from Athos in June of 1516, staying in Constantinople in April 1517, and reaching the Crimea early in 1518[2].

On 4/5th of March 1518 Maxim arrived in Moscow, and very soon started to work. After his translation of Apostolic works he started to translate an annotated Psalter with commentaries, to which he added an extended patristic interpretation of the Canticles following the reading of 150 Psalms. Maxim the Greek – as he was called in Russia – notably continued his previous theologically-polemical writing, translation and editing (redacting) activities. However, in 1525 Maxim the Greek, was in Moscow, accused of making heretical mistakes during his translation work, and remained imprisoned until almost his dying day. He was not only forbidden to communicate, read and write, but also to attend a liturgical service (the Divine Liturgy) and to receive the Holy Eucharist, which was the harshest punishment for an Athonite Orthodox monk. In 1531 he was accused of another offense, due to his translation of The Hagiographic Life of the Mother of God From the Menologion of Symeon Metaphrastes. Nevertheless, after that the conditions of his imprisonment became slightly milder, and he was at least allowed to write. Consequently, he began extensive writing with the main aim of defending his own careful work, devoted piety, sincere monasticism and strict and firm Orthodox theological system. He claimed that for him the knowledge of the language was near to the meaning of what he considered as Holy[3]. The latter was clearly stated in his writing, titled The Treatise of the Monk Maxim about Correcting the Russian Books, and About Those Who Say that the Body of Lord after the Resurrection was Indescribable, where he spoke about his dealing with a Russian liturgical book (Triodion):

“I do not corrupt Russian books, as I was falsely accused, but take great care in my fear of God to correct, with my common sense, what has spread from inept copyists, unfamiliar with holy grammar – or from the memorable men and first translators of the holy texts. Truth must be told. Sometimes the gist of Hellenic sayings was not fully apprehended, which led to steering away from the truth. Hellenic speech is often difficult to interpret; those who do not learn its grammar, poetry and above all philosophy, cannot clearly understand what was written, and can not translate it. The truth must be told that I carefully and diligently corrected what they misunderstood. The same must be explained to your Excellency with all honesty, in front of whom I humble myself as before God. Let me start with the following. I took the holy book of the Triodion and noticed in the 9th hymn of the Great Thursday Canon: ‘In His nature the non-created Son and Word of the Father Who is always without beginning, Who is not in His nature non-created, as they sing about Him.’ I could not stand this great insult, so I amended the injury, as was handed to us by the most sublime Paraclete through the most blessed Kosmas in our books.”[4]

As is be evident from the title of the above-cited text, Maxim also was opposed to the depictions and literal expressions about Jesus Christ which could not theologically properly express Christ’s divine and human nature (“consubstantial-homoousion”) and His equality to God the Father (“without beginning”). At the same time as Maxim argued for the eternal and everlasting being of God the Son (grammatical categories of the verb: gr/lat. aorist and perfect), at the same time he claimed that Jesus Christ must be visible to the believers, what Maxim based on such literal portraits of God the Son that could be found in Holy Scripture. This was exactly defined in the First Council of Nicaea (325)[5], to which Maxim often referred his own writings, and was standing in the center of earlier (Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzen) and later patristic polemics (Maximus the Confessor) about the nature of our Lord. Theological problems, concerning the correct and valid presentation of God the Son in poor human expressions (iconographic or literal) were the main questions about which Maxim was writing in Russia. This is the reason why he safeguarded so carefully the proper pronunciation of the Holy Trinity and confronted so hard against the Latin innovation and inclusion to the apostolic Creed of the Orthodox Church, the controversial filioque, within which in the 9th century was neglected also the liturgical act of the Holy Spirit (Gr. epiklesis) during the Divine Liturgy.

From the above cited fragment it is also obvious that Maxim understood his work with Russian liturgical books in a strictly pious manner: he more than once declared, that it had to be appreciated, that during his editing work he was guided directly by the Holy Spirit. That was explicit approval of his deep faith and devoted action. From Maxim’s point of view his correcting of linguistic mistakes in Russian books was not theologically doubtful, but corresponded to the the most humble doing that was trying to make the Russian manuscripts to be closer to the origins of the biblical text and to be more truthful regarding the Greek sources. More than that, Maxim considered the grammatical validness of the language of Holy Scripture as highly theologically authoritative[6]. Only with the aid of the Holy Spirit he was also capable to use the holistic knowledge that he gained in North Italy (philological work with texts) and at  Mount Athos (critical editing of liturgical manuscripts)[7]. The fact is that in Vatopaidi his previous education was welcomed and appreciated, because there the brothers trusted him with the most precious and oldest manuscripts to work with (correct, fulfill etc.), and because of his experiences he was known among the Athonite clergy/monks as a learned and well lettered monk. In his letter to Metropolitan Macarius, written in 1542[8], Maxim told him that he was already, as a monk of the Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, writing against heretical teachings and also preaching the Holy Orthodox faith. But nowhere had he met such behavior and actions against him like in Moscow, where he faced the harshest injustice, unfair treatment and discrimination, as was the darkness in the monastery prison, the cold, the smoke, the starving because of which he was often on the edge of death and almost died[9].

2. Works

2. 1. Prayers

At the end of the letter to the Metropolitan Macarius Maxim the Greek asked for the three topics: he requested to return him his own Greek books (that he carried to Moscow), to give him the right for receiving a Holy Communion, and he also humbly requested to leave him back to Greece, to return to the Holy Mount Athos. That he expressed with a unique naming of the Holy Mount Athos: “Give me an opportunity to see the Holy Mount, the prayer-assistant for the whole world” (“Дадите ми видети святую гору, молитвенницу вселеней«) that was his monastic home, and also an implicit addressing of the Mother of God[10]. It thus seems reasonable that Maxim was in this way forced to create his own prayers for a personal liturgy. Moreover, his prayers, dedicated to the three entities of the Holy Trinity, as well as to the Mother of God, can be understood as the basic monastic prayers that not only present Maxim’s preamble to writing a text but can also be seen as his substitutes for the standard liturgical prayers. The prayers of St. Maxim the Greek presented an important part of his argumentation with regard to the Orthodox theology, based on his special interpretation of the Holy Scripture that could be understood with the comprehension of Maxim’s liturgical contemplation. He wrote many of heterogeneous texts, that could be read as prayers (“The Ode to the Holy Trinity”, “The Prayer to All-pure Mother of God, and also About the Lord’s Sufferings”, “The Prayer On the Holy Dormition”, “The Prayer of Mother of God”, “The Great Canon to the Holy Paracletos”, “The Prayer of Mary of Egypt”, “The Prayer of Susanna”, “The Song about How St. Peter Cried Out[11], “The Third Poem of the Prophetess Anna”),[12] that all reflected not only the very closeness of God the Son and Mother of God but also the appeal to include Mary in each thanksgiving Trinitarian prayer as the conclusion of each written text. He concluded most of his prayers and other texts with the final thankful words in the honor of Jesus Crist and simultaneously to the Holy Mother of God[13]. Moreover, such contemplation was extremely important for Maxim’s spiritual survival in Russia, as he was confessing several times, for example as in his “Prayer to the Holy Mother of God, and partly about the Lord’s sufferings:”[14]

“I pray to you, the most pure Mother of the Highest, and the only consolidation of my soul, the hope and the sweetness.”[15]

This could be understood as a realistic reflection of his prayer practice in Moscow that continued his Athonite monastic experience from the Holy Vatopaidi monastery. Such veneration of the Mother of God can be confirmed in theological doctrine only by the refusal of an addition to the Confessional Creed of lat. filioque, and this could explain also Maxim’s constant polemics against Catholicism. Maxim’s prayers, generally dedicated to the Holy Theotokos, have a triple structure: 1. Introduction with dedication, marked with a deeply personal expression of repentance. 2. Theological argumentation of the Orthodox and iconographically seen Trinitarian theology, especially concerning inspiration from the Holy Spirit. 3. Through the contamination and metamorphoses of the opposition of human darkness and Divine light, the author’s words are directed to the evangelical scene of the brightness of the attendance of the Holy marriage, sourced from Matthew 20, 1-16. Also in “The Prayer of St. Mary of Egypt,” Maxim repeated the strict dedication seen in the words of Mary of Egypt to the Holy Mother of God.

Nevertheless these prayers reflected Maxim’s theological-liturgical treatise of the main Orthodox controversies: in the prayer “On the Birth of the Lord and the Redeemer our Jesus Christ” he meanwhile polemically wrote against Jews; in three texts, entitled “The Third Poem of Anna” he argued against the astrological beliefs, what was one of his main polemical subjects etc[16]. Therefore, it should be noted that the prayers of Maxim the Greek had a place in his theology very similar to the role of Byzantine hymnography in the Orthodox theology.

However, his theologically personal attitude to the Holy Theotokos could be considered as the most important item in Maxim’s theological approach to the Holy Trinity, which led to the kernel of his theological system with the specific theologically-liturgical and partly also iconographic understanding of Christian tradition.

2. 2. Apologetic writings (Defending himself)

In his earlier texts Maxim mainly fought against the Latin additions and modifications to/of the Credo of the Christian faith, such as the controversial filioque. On the other hand, his texts from the later period implicitly contain (are secretly permeated with) his objections to any diminution of the holiness of the Mother of God. Furthermore, it is quite reasonable that, due to the accusations against him of making heretical mistakes in honor of the Mother of God, Maxim the Greek later reorganized his writings into specific apologetic sequences.

Already at the beginning of his living in Moscow Maxim provided in “Annotated Psalter with Commentaries” a detailed interpretation of the biblical canticle, the Song of Mary, known in the western liturgical tradition as “Magnificat” (based on evangelical verses Lk 1, 46-55), that at the beginning of the explanation Maxim summarised as expressing glory to the Son of God. Maxim’s interpretation of “Magnificat” followed the hierarchy of cosmographical view from the theology of Gregory of Nazianzen, but also showed Maxim the Greek’s own affiliation that led to the ideas about the goodness of earthly life and the virtue of human creation. Maxim the Greek specifically connected the message of this liturgical song with the idea of the God’s benevolent love of humankind, as seen in the words with which he concluded his second translation of the “Liturgical Psalter” in 1552 (four years before his death in Moscow in 1556). Although the inseparability of Mother and the Son was iconographically established in early Christian ideality (ideology) that was renewed in the early European renaissance period especially because of the spreading of new heresies, Maxim’s theological and others writings confirmed his own personal attachment to Mother of God who protected him also during his imprisonment in Russia.

A particular understanding of the principal theological non-separativity of Mary and God the Son he expressed more clearly in his argumentation on the Holy Trinity (Mary as the one who is responsible for the incarnation-birth of the Christ-Word). This topic was one that Maxim[17] indirectly but constantly attempted to clarify when working with Russian clerics and monks, as can be seen in a close reading of his text The Confession of the Orthodox Faith[18] (written after April 1538)[19]. He strictly preserved the pronunciation of the Confessional Creed of Orthodox Church within the pronunciation of the Holy Trinity, to which he did not forget to add the dedication to the Holy Mother of God, because he considered that She was also responsible for the real incarnation of the Holy Christ. In his text “The Confession of the Orthodox Faith” he clearly stated:

“I also believe and confess always essential the Son and God the Word without beginning and born from God the Father without beginning and with the spreading grace and glorified act of the Holy Spirit in the most pure nature (being) of the most Holy, and the most Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.”[20]

Although, nowadays it could be regarded as traditional and dogmatic, his veneration of the Virgin Mary was quite exclusive and extremely important for his spiritual salvation in Russia. In fact, Maxim the Greek considered the Holy Theotokos as one of the main persons and divine entities that are responsible for the spiritual realization of the Orthodox Holy Trinity.

However, in the same manner as Maxim was arguing against the lat. filioque by stating that the Holy Spirit proceeds only from God the Father, he comparably was also repeating that at the Annunciation Mary accepted the Holy Spirit from the Angel Gabriel and with the gift of memorizing theologically irreproachable poetic words. Correspondingly that theological issue may be iconographically observed in the scenes of Annunciation (from the second half of the 11th century) and Deisis (from the end of 11th– to the beginning of 12th centuries) in the mosaics at the Vatopaidi Monastery, and was proclaimed by Andronikus II in 1301 in a chrysobull[21] – a copy of[22] which Maxim carried from Athos to Moscow in 1518. Indeed, it was during the time of Andronikus II in Vatopaidi that the honouring of Theotokos was perfected[23]. Therefore, Maxim’s veneration of the Holy Theotokos was based on the specific and direct connection, with the supervision that on the Holy Vatopaidi monastery has a Holy Mother of God from many centuries from the past to nowadays.

2. 3. The missing aspect of his theological works

Maxim the Greek translated The Hagiographic Life of the Mother of God (from the Byzantine compilation of the hagiographic texts in the Menologion of Symeon the Logothet Metaphrastos)[24] in the year 1521. Ten years later he was also because of that translation again accused that he made heretical mistakes in the translated text. When Maxim heard the accusations, immediately observed that Russian clergy did not correctly understood the message of the hagiographical text, but they were trying to see in his translation associations with the heresy of Judaizers which was very popular at that time in Russia. Maxim justified that he did not translate the words that could remind Judaizer’s teachings[25]. On the basis of his corrections that he made in the manuscript, it seems that he was quite well aware of the possibility of improper interpretation of that hagiography of Mary. After that he defined in several of his writings the theologically wrong teaching of Judaizers. About that he alluded also in his prayer, that it is in the unique collection of Maxim the Greek’s manuscripts[26] placed directly after his prayer to the Holy Theotokos, entitled “On the Birth of the Lord and the Redeemer our Jesus Christ, and also against the Juda”, which he began with words about the vicinity of the virginal and untouchable insight of the Mother of God and Her Son (“Се и вертепъ, и ясли, и новороженъ младенець в нихъ, въсклоненъ Материю Своею неискусомужною«).

The new researches confirmed that the hagiographical text of Symeon Metaphrastos about the life of Mother of God might have originated from an older text that could be identified as the very rare manuscript of the “Life of the Virgin”, attributed to St. Maximus the Confessor, and which has until today survived only in a manuscript originally translated to Georgian and held by the Athonite Iviron Monastery[27]. On the contrary, Maxim the Greek began[28] The Hagiographic Life of Mother of God with an apology of untouched nature of the Mother of God that could not be expressed in earthly terms. Further on, the text was referred to the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Athanasius of Alexandria, and St. Dionysius the Areopagite, thus underlining important patristic writings, along with bringing extensive biblical (canonical and non-canonical texts, reflecting the critical reading of the Infancy gospels and Thomas’s Gospel) and other patristic sources. Thus, Maxim’s translations included also unique references such as to Juvenalius of Jerusalem that fought against Nestorians[29]. Indeed, “The life of the Virgin” of Maximus the Confessor presented a theologically very important text for the medieval worship of the Holy unit of the Mother of God and Her Holy Son (Her Son’s ministry and Her leadership of the early Christian community) that was often spread by liturgical tradition. That text was implicitly responsible for the specific piety and warm devotion also in the Christian West. We could only presume that Maxim the Greek knew the Confessor’s “The Life of the Virgin”, but he did certainly refer also to pre-metaphrastos editions[30]. This manuscript, that contains also Maxim the Greek’s corrections of certain words (his own autograph)[31], shows how he translated the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa into a special prepositional order that reflected Greek morphological ability to express the main grammatical categories, more than the principle of the syntax, as known in the West[32]. The latter confirmed the last author’s correction in the manuscript of The Hagiography of the Mother of God, indicating that Mary is responsible for the glory of Jesus Christ and the final redemption of the human: “To Mother of God, the Grace, confessing and to her Son, the Redeemer of all and the King Who all on her benefit and redemption built.”[33] It was important that this text could serve to Maxim as a valid source of a special field of the canonical Christian knowledge in which the information about the holiness of the Mother of God was passed on and survived. That was in the Orthodox poetical prayers[34] of the main early Christian, Eastern patristic theologians and hymnographers, in whose liturgical odes the unique knowledge, concerning the life of Mary, had been preserved. More exactly, in those poetical prayers, the holy nature of the Mother of God was properly theologically confirmed, because it was built in the accordance with liturgical awareness of the worship of Mother of God, Whose beauty was only a part of Her spiritual unit with God the Son[35], very close to Nicolas Cabasilas’ Christological conception, where Mary takes place as a co-cause who shares a unique degree in Christ’s redemption[36].

Maxim the Greek spread these theological topics in several of his personal writings.

In the text Against Those Who are Blemishing the Holiness of the Mother of God Maxim applied to the Virgin a biblical language taken from the Mosaic law (the snake and Moses), with more complexity than Nicolas Cabasilas did[37]. He involved not only the Old Testament metaphorical predictions from the psalms (Ps 31: 4; Ps 44: 10, 11, 14; Ps 45, 5-6; Ps 67: 16-17; Ps 109: 3; Ps 81, 1; Ps 88, 37-38) but also the vision of Isaiah in the desert (Is: 11, 1), the pre-echoes in women personalities of the Old Testament (Esther, Leah, Mariam, etc.) as the biblical prophetical testimony of the Holy Virgin, and connected them with three authoritative Apostles: James, John and Peter. Firstly, he mentioned that the Ladder of St. James is the confirmation of the Mother of God. Secondly, he referred to the first eirmos of the third canticle (the second tone)[38] from the Sunday Matins after the first reading of the “Liturgical Psalter”, which is associated with the Feast of Apostle John the Theologian (26 September). In that context he explained a Greek expression of lily (gr. kriin), which enriched the desert, that, according to Maxim’s words, adequately symbolized the Trinitarian purpose of the Holy Mother of God in the Church of believers. Moreover, Maxim expressed that the Mother of God is “standing at the right hand of the Lord” by which he reaffirmed his faith that Mary lives in the same timelessness, as well as in the eternal presence of Her Son, Godman Jesus Christ. With Apostle Peter it was connected the liturgical and hagiographical tradition of the Feast of Dormition (the verse: Christ’s invitation to His Mother: “Come, and be my bride; Angels were frightened, seeing how the Lord is carrying in His hand the soul of a woman”), that might originated from the Prayer “On Dormition”, attributed to Symeon Metaphrastos, that Maxim also wrote down in Russia. That prayer contains outstanding and expressive verses that act in the rhythmical prose as a refrain:

“Inspire me, Empress, with the power of the words and give me a stronghold (fortress) of pre(o)-images, to feel the divine entities with heart compassion.”

The latter expression of ‘pre(o)images’ could be also theologically explained with a biblical exegesis by which the holiness of the Mother of God was foretold also in certain verses of the Psalms, and in certain pre-Christian oracles as a proto-forms of the unshakable faith in the Son of God, in which the oral Christian tradition of the pronouncement of the “future” biblical reality was shown. The latter texts were known to Maxim, who also translated a short poem of Sibylla[39], with an Acrostic[40] to Jesus Christ.

In one of his most important works and very personally marked text, entitled About This Unfortunate Century[41], Maxim the Greek created a unique, female personage, marked with the humane and ethical value of his reception of the biblical time[42]. Thus it could be as well associated with the portrait of the Mother of God.

In the beginning of the text, a narrator (an author) a lonesome traveler meets near a steep road a woman in black, a very sad widow. She identifies herself as name Basileusa/Vasileusa[43] and tells him about the miseries of the world in a lament, consistent with the writing manner of the Byzantine court of the eleventh century[44]. It is expected to have an association within the Moscow political situation at that time, notably with the short, but extremely unpleasant period of the reign of a widow, Elena Glinskaya, but this is only surface of more complex message of this text[45], in which a literary form of the personificated prayer was literally realized and transformed into a spiritual being (prosopopoeia).

However, the last speech of Basileusa is descending into a prayer:

“I do not have Samuel, the great priest who was reacting against the sinner Saul, I do not have Nathan who cured David with a virtuous parable and with that saved him from a harvest sin, I do not have adherents-zealots like Elijah and Elisha, who were not ashamed before the aggressive Emperor Samaritan, I do not have Ambrose, the marvellous priest of God, who did not fear the greatness of the empire of Emperor Theodosius, I do not have Basil the Great, who was enlightened in the shrine and had wisdom, and with most clever teachings threatened Valent the persecutor of my sister, I do not have a John with a golden mouth (that means Chrysostom), who noticed the greedy Eudoxia and was aware of the tears of the poor widow …”

The lamentation of Basileusa with Old Testament prophets-emperors and Church fathers from the fourth to sixth centuries, the sense of time is transposed, through the vacuum of temporality, non-contiguous or not-contemporaneous but representative human beings or individuals who faithfully served Christ.

Such an interpretation of the pious females in Holy Scripture could be associated with St. Ambrose’s writings about virginity (‘De virginibus’ and ‘De virginitate’) and his discourse on the death of Theodosius (‘De obitu Theodosii’), in which among the patriarchs of Genesis in the heavenly company also Constantine the Great could be reached. This was rarely given in the early patristic tradition, but was accepted in the liturgical poetry by the Byzantine hymnographer Romanos the Melodist[46], who opened the new stage in the church poetry by achieving the bondage of classical tradition and liturgical service[47]. From Romanus Maxim the Greek might have known such scheme of the genealogy of irreproachable female personalities of the Bible. But such a strictly biblical interpretation of the eternal meaning of the heritage of the Mother of God as seen in Maxim’s theology could also be noticed in the Patristic of St. Gregory of Nyssa, particularly in his meditation on “The Song of Songs”, where he assigned the place for the Church of Christ in the role of Christ’s bride, which allowed him the perception of a certain timeless theological doctrine[48]. However, the introduction of Basileusa’s prayer with the words “I do not have …” – must be recognized as the beginning of the prayer to the icon of the Mother of God of the Holy Vatopaidi Monastery[49].

In Russia this kind of prayer was known a century later, in the 17th century, when it was assimilated into a prayer to the icon called ‘Всех скорбящих радость’-‘The Joy of all Who Suffer,’[50] which in some aspects replaced late-Byzantine forms and Western presentations of the iconographical motif named Pieta. Not accidently Maxim the Greek, while he noticed that the iconographical motif of Pieta was wrongly interpreted among Russian, he provided an explanation of this image. In the text About the Image Called Melancholy he defined the meaning of ‘Pieta’, which was in Russia misunderstood as spiritual dejection (what is one of the great sins and a sign of lack of personal humbleness). He distinguished the Latin meaning of the word (that Maxim named as ‘Roman’) from its later use, mainly connected with the Virgin Mary, whom Western and late-Byzantine 13th century presentations depicted as crying or grieving Mother. He wrote that “Pieta” has to be interpreted as an image, related to a special reflection and impression of Jesus Christ. According to Maxim’s explanation ‘Pieta’ means a compassion, merciful attitude and piousness, in its relation to the image of Jesus Christ, Who ordered such portrait to be depicted, as was shown to believers during the time of Divine Liturgy, exactly when in the vision of the pope Gregory I. in the moment of putting the fourth part of the Holy Lamb into the chalice. That story Maxim remembered because the pious Italian people related to him when he was young and still secular[51].

It could be said, that Maxim’s presentation of Basileusa is not a rhetorical allegory, but a literal realization (Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία) of the Gospel form of the Heavenly Celestial City or the Kingdom of Heaven. But in the context of temporal closure, caused by an absence of gentle devotees, Basileusa listed various male figures from the Old Testament and the pious men of the fourth century Patristic and Imperial circles. Indeed, these were the centuries before and after the life of the Virgin Mary, within which was expressed the Byzantine hagiographic belief in the eternal presence of the Mary in the consciousness of the believers and in the liturgical tradition of humble prayers to Her.

This concept, especially reserved for ‘the expression of the inexpressible’ (such as apophatic and mystical context of the presence of Christ’s Mother in the Holy Scripture), and developed in the Byzantine hymnography, could be defined in Maxim’s theological works as part of the unique pattern of the so called ‘Theology of the Mother of God’ that he expanded in his confessional writings about the Orthodox faith. It could be confirmed that Maxim the Greek with his works exactly revealed that field within which the canonical Christian knowledge of the holiness of the Mother of God survived. As already mentioned, within the Orthodox prayers, liturgical hymns and homiletic works of the early Christian, Eastern and patristic theologians and hymnographers was the specific awareness of the temporal presence of the Mother of God transmitted to the consciousness of the believers, focusing on the prayers to the Christian God in the Holy Trinity.

However, Maxim the Greek’s main source of the information about the holiness of the Mother of God were the hymns of Byzantine liturgical tradition, especially those of Joseph Hymnograph and Cosma of Jerusalem[52]. His meaningful argumentation of the beatitude of Mary with the aid of fragments from Byzantine hymnography could be understood as a unique characteristic of his reception of the heritage of Mother of God[53]. Yet, Maxim’s works could be connected also with the centuries later on, from 11th to the 13th, when the liturgical veneration of the Mother of God was significantly increasing not only in the Byzantine Empire, but also in the Christian West (in South and North Italy) – as well in the Old Church Slavonic literature. It was then on the eve of the early Renaissance period when a number of early Christian heretical controversies, very similar to previous Arians, Nestorians, and Eutychians, were again a basic subject of theological polemics, but Maxim argued in his writings also against Latins and Muslims, and against the heresy of Judaizers. But more exactly, Maxim was, veritably, seeking for the right manifestation of the Holy Trinity. In Byzantine hymnography such poetic battles against heresies were known from Acathyst hymns, the structure of which is in undertone reflected in Maxim’s prayers, especially in the long prayer Canon-service to the Holy Paracletos (РГБ, ф. 274, № 302, л. 432-440), that present the manifestation of the Maxim’s spiritually devoted contemplation of the Orthodox economy and the divine Providence. In this long prayer his synthetic management of the theological vision is the most clearly pronounced. That Canon he wrote down with an ash on the wall of the cell, when he was in monastery prison in the deep dark and completely solitude during his first imprisonment (in Iosifo-Volokolam). To such degree his prayerful creation then combined several aspects of a confessing prayer.

After the introduction of that Canon, Maxim the Greek contemplated – in an authentic ‘diataxis’ form of the Vatopaidi Monastery 16th century prayer[54] – about the interior of the Temple or Church (“Joy the God, the door that could not be entered/which is without entrance”)[55]. The latter form was an implicit address to Mother of God of the icon of Vatopaidi, called ‘Paramythia’[56] (the 13th century), or the icon of Theotokos of Iviron, called the ‘Doorkeeper’[57]. However, in this Canon with the basic principles of monastic prayers and liturgical chants, Maxim followed the special ascetic rule. After the pronunciation of 50 Psalm a respect of the special sequence of obligatory odes/praises/hymns is defined in the short versions of prayers that could be identified as special variants of Kyrieleison (Jesus’ prayer, similar to the prayer of the evangelical tax-collector, Lk 18, 13). These short prayers are addressed to the persons of the Holy Trinity, among which is founded a place for praising the Mother of God. If the mentioned textual correspondences could be understood as a direct and truthful reflection of Maxim’s position in the condition of his writing down the text, this prayer could be regarded as an invocatory moment for the beginning of his intensive writing. That were then possibly Maxim’s personal prayers that opened his introductory dedication in significant order: a prayer on repentance “merciful Lord, Christ, the God, have a mercy upon me, sinful being; as to the Holy Trinity, glory to you, the Holy Trinity, our God, glory to you; as to the Holy Paracletos, merciful Lord, Paracletos, the God, have a mercy upon me, the sinful.” To these short prayers are added two verses in the honour of the Holy Mother of God. These verses could be identified as a version of the “New Kontakion” to the Annunciation of the Mother of God as Maxim the Greek defined them in the Greek Psalter (in Russia) in which he wrote down a parallel Greek-Slavic verses with analogue correspondences[58]. The most impressive is the fact, that such consequence of dedication (to God the Son, Jesus Christ; to Holy Trinity; to Holy Paraclete), within the imperative praise to Theotokos, is respected in every single ode of nine hymns in this long prayer. The first ode/hymn represents the praise to the incarnation of the Logos, wholly presented on earth, which expressed the Orthodox view against Apollinius of Laodicea (against him and Juda Maxim the Greek also wrote a polemic text)[59], but in the concluded yell is at the same time the praise to Mother of God, represented as the Holy Earth;[60] the second ode is missing, according to the earliest editions;[61] but the third ode[62] is – after the brief mentioning of the Holy Trinity – dedicated to the Holy Spirit, and again, at the same time, to the Holy Theotokos. After the final prayer to the Holy Spirit it is placed a short prayer to the Holy Mother of God as the last hymn (hallelujah) that presents an expression of direct gratitude to Christ’s Mother for protecting and preserving the souls of all believers. This prayer to the Holy Mother of God Maxim importantly ascribed as the obligatory end of all prayers – acts and one’s lifetime – that should offer to him/to the believer a pious end peaceful vision of the Second coming of Christ.

This kind of incorporation of the verses in the honor of Theotokos among the nine hymns was known already in the Canons of Andrew of Crete in 7th century[63]. Yet, it was known also in Slavonic tradition, when in the 9th century in Old Church Slavonic the first Slavic church poet, Constantine the Philosopher (a brother of Methodius)[64], used such hymnographical formula in the “Canon to the great and saint martyr of Christ, Demetrius.” Nevertheless Maxim the Greek’s “Canon to the Holy Paracletos” has certain characteristics of the Akathystos hymn it does not reflect concrete imitations of the forms of the Great Canon of Andrew of Crete. We could thus conclude that none of his sources could be considered as directly repeated or literally translated by Maxim into Old Church Slavonic language. However, nevertheless the Mother of God is the conclusion of each ode of the Canon[65] and also of each Maxim’s Trinitarian veneration, Maxim the Greek dedicated this long intercessory prayer to the Holy Paracletos, not to the Holy Theotokos.

Indeed, Maxim created in Slavonic an equivalent of the oldest patterns of Christian liturgy, as might be found in the oldest Greek liturgical manuscripts from the ninth century on. Maxim managed to create his own Slavonic language with the aim to pray properly in concordance with the Greek Orthodox theology. The truth is that Maxim the Greek polished the Old Church Slavic liturgical language to a certain level that it could serve him as analogous and parallel voice to the Greek of the Gospels, focusing on the prayerfulness to the Christian God in the Holy Trinity. In truth, Maxim the Greek’s wish was to balance the veneration among the voices of the Orthodox Trinity, and on the global level – to make fully apprehensible, intelligible and unmistakable the Orthodox Christian Theology.


[1] For a brief acknowledgment with the biographical facts of Maximus the Greek see Zajc, Neža. Some Notes on the Life and Works of Maxim the Greek (Michael Trivolis, ca 1470 – Maksim Grek, 1555/1556). Part 1: Biography. Scrinium 11 (2015): 314-325.

[2] Ihor Ševčenko, On the Greek Poetic Output of Maksim Grek, Byzantinoslavica LVIII (1997): p. 63-64 (1-60). (cf. Н. В. Синицына, Послание Максима Грека Василию III об устройстве афонских монастырей (1518-1519 гг.), Византийский временник (1966), Москва, 118-119).

[3] Cf. V. Jagić, Разсуждения южнославянской и русской старины о церковно-славянском языке (Санкт-Петербургъ: 1896), The Treatises of South-Slavonic and Russian Antiquitiy About Old Church Slavonic, Sankt Peterburg, 1896, p. 301, p. 306.

[4] Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale: Mss. Slave 123, p. 259v.–260r.

[5] Cf. The Nicaean Creed, designed for bishops: “ …who exists everlastingly and did not at one time not exist … but the Scriptures described Him as validly and truly begotten as Son so that we believe Him to be immutable and unchangeable /…/ For He is the image, not of the will or of anything else, but of His Father’s very substance” (Leo Donald Davis, The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787), Their History and Theology, Delaware, 1987: Michael Glazier, 55).

[6] See more, Neža Zajc, Some Notes on the Life and Works of Maxim theGreek (Michael Trivolis, ca 1470 – Maksim Grek,1555/1556) Part 2: Maxim the Greek’s Slavic Idiolect, Scrinium 12 (2016), 375-382.

[7] By Maxim’s knowledge should be understood the whole Christian erudition that includes hagiographic, liturgical, hymnographical, patristic information that built origins of Byzantine tradition and that Maxim obtained in during his Athonite monasticism in Vatopaidi monastery, and previously in North Italy.

[8] Н. В. Синицына, Максим Грек в России, Москва 1977, 155.

[9] Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, Mss. Slave 123, p. 79.

[10] Maxim the Greek directly linked the history of the Holy Mount to the patronage of the Mother of God, about which he wrote not only in the Letter to Vasili III (St. Maksim Grek, Works, vol. I, p. 123 (cf. N. V. Sinitsyna, The Letter of Maksim Grek to Vasili III. About the Arrangement of Athonite Monasteries, Византийский временник,1966, p.111-136), but also in other texts, connected with the oral tradition and the liturgical customs of the Holy Mount Athos (Moscow, Russian State Library (RGB), in the Mss. coll. Rum. 264, p. 195v.-199v; cf. V. F. Rzhiga, Unpublished Works of Maksim Grek, Byzantinoslavica, VI (1935/1936), p. 95-99, p. 133v.-134; Moscow, Russian Historical Museum (GIM), Mss. coll. Chlud 236, fol. 232 v.-236v. About the establishing of the Vatopaidi Monastery in the Letter to Vasili III: Moscow, The Historical Museum, Мss. coll. Chlud. 236, fol. p.240-242; about the Iviron Monastery and the Iviron icon he wrote in the text in the same Mss. Chlud 236, pp..236 v.-240p. The latter suggests the confirmation of the closest identification of the authorship of this manuscript, firstly attributed to the Novgorod locality, with the name of Maxim the Greek (cf. С. О. Шмидт, Памятники письменности в культуре познания истории России, т. 1, Допетровская Русь, книга 2, Москва: Языки славянских культур, 2008, p. 589–594).

[11] Cf. a similar canticle of St. Ambrose of Milan, ‘Super Luc. de poenit., distinct’ (P. Trubar, Articuli oli deili te prave stare vere kersanske. Tuebingen: Zavod za staroslovensko tipografii, 1562, p. 143).

[12] Only in Manuscript: Moscow, Russian State Library (RGB): Mss. Coll. Rum 264, 12-36. These three texts explain the wrong beliefs of astrological thinking and followed a short text, introducing a special veneration of the Eucharistic bread (of the Holy Communion) and the veneration of the Mother of God (Gr. Panaghia), while explaining the wrong beliefs of astrological thinking.

[13] »Праведенъ еси, и прави суди Твои, по божественному и покланяемому слову, яко наказания ради и обращения нашего, ниже самѣх Твоих святых и покланяемых щадищь храмовъ и образовъ Твоих и Пречистыа Ти Матере»; «обое о тебѣ, Богородице, смотрѣние бысть, рекше божественною силою преложишяся и побѣдишяся естественнии устави»; «от них же да избавит нас Господь, молитвами Пречистыя Владычици нашея Богородици и приснодѣвы Марии» (St. Maxim the Greek, The works, 2, Moscow 2014, Сочинения 2, p. 239, 283, 295).

[14] Paris, BN, Slave 123, p. 159v.

[15] Cf. »Еи, молю Тя, пречисая Мати Вышняго, моеи души едино утѣшение, упование, сладосте«

[16] In Moscow, Maxim also faced superstitions and false beliefs of Russian people as well as popular influences, spreading from the German Protestant theological writings that were many times in coincidence with the astrological thinking, which had been disseminated in Moscow by German surgeon Nicholas of Lubeck (presumably Blucher). In his writings against astrology, he usually spoke in the manner of the apology of the Orthodox theology, especially in the letters addressed to Fiodor Karpov. (D. Tschižewskij, History of Russian Literature, Graventage,1960, Mouton, p. 292).

[17] The Poetics (conditional term) of Maxim the Greek was fully realistic, on the same level as the biblical reality is in the relation with a mortal, human reality.

[19] Синицына Н. В. Максим Грек. Москва: Молодая гвардия, 2008, Жизнь замечательных людей. Серия биографий. Вып. 1362 (1162), p. 190.

[20] Cf. «Исповедание православной веры»: «Такожде вѣрую и исповѣдую ражаемаго безначялнѣ и присносущнѣ Сына// и Бога Слова от безначялнаго Бога и Отца, благоволениемъ Отчимъ и осѣнениемъ Святаго Духа зачята бывша въ пречистых ложеснах Пресвятыа и приснодевы Марии Божиа матери» – St. Maxim the Greek, Works 2, Moscow 2014, Сочинения 2, p. 52.

[21] Le Mont Athos et l’Empire Byzantine -Tresors de la Sainte Montagne, Paris 2009, p.136, no. 45.

[22] С. М. Каштанов, »К истории русско-греческих культурных связей в XVI в.«, in: Моcxobia, Москва, 2001, p. 214.

[23] Каштанов, К истории русско-греческих культурных связей в XVI в., 215.

[24] Once considered that the original of the translation was lost (Белокуров С.А. О библиотеке московских государей в XVI столетии. М., 1899. p. 317–318, 331), it was then published on the basis of manuscript in 1917 (Basilius Latyšev. Menologii byzantini saeculi X supersunt. 2 vols. S-Pb, 1912. V. 2.P. 374–383).

[25] Судные списки Максима Грека и Исака Собаки / Подг. Н.Н. Покровского. Мoscow, 1971, 127-129.

[26] Paris, BN, Slave 123, 155v-160, 160-166v.

[27] Maximus the Confessor, The Life of the Virgin, transl. and Introduction by S. J. Shoemaker, New Haven-London: Yale University Press, 2012, p. 8-14.

[28] S-Petersburg, National Library of Sankt Petersburg, RNB, Mss. coll. Sof. 1498, p. 119 v, 121 v.

[29] Успенский Ф. И. История византийской империи. т.1. Москва 2016. p. 338.

[30] Cf. S. J. Shoemaker, Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption, Oxford Early Christians Studies 2006: Oxford University Press; S. J. Shoemaker, The Georgian Life of the Virgin attributed to Maximus the Confessor: Its Authenticity (?) and Importance, Scrinium (2006), pp. 307–328; Simone Claude Mimouni, Les traditions anciennes sur la Dormition et l’Assomption de Marie, Etudes literraire, historique et doctrinales, Leiden-Boston , 2011, Brill.

[31] In the text from the page 132r, further also on the margins.

[32] Cf. R. H. Robins, The Byzantine Grammarians, Berlin-New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1993, p. 32.

[33] Sank Petersburg, Russian National Library (RNB): Mss. coll. Sof. 1498, p. 158 v.

[34] Cf. Moscow (RGB), Mss. fond 113, coll. Volokolamskoe № 488, fol. 65 v, p. 66r.

[35] The latter explicitly found a reflection on the icon of Mother of God, iconographically known as Elousis-Umylenie, widely spread after the end of twelfth century in Byzantium as well as in the West.

[36] N. Cabasilas, The three Marian homilies of Cabasilas, On the Dormition, p. 12; W. Kallistos, “The Earthy Heaven”, in: W. M. McLoughlin, J. Pinnock (ed.), Mary for Earth and Heaven, Leominster, 2002, pp. 355-364.

[37] N. Cabasilas, On the Nativity to the Mother of God, 3, 13; On the Annunciation, 2.

[38] Cf. The eirmos: “The desert, the barren church of the gentiles, blossomed as a lily at your coming, Lord”.

[39] RGB, coll. Rum. 264. p. 64-66v; Russian National Library of Saint Petersburg, RNB-РНБ, собр. ОЛДМ (CLXXVI), л. 188-190.

[40] Maksim Grek was explaining the poetics of the verse acrostic as the personal defence which the authors-hymnographers presumably used to protect themselves from “those who look for the glory of others.”

[41] The text, concerning primarily the ruthless and merciless rulers of this age, is thematically continued in the letter of Maxim the Greek to Metropolitan Macarius, which follows About This Unfortunate Century in Mss. Slave 123 (Paris, BN).

[42] See more: Zajc, Neža. St Maxim the Greek (1470-1556) : some notes on his understanding of the sacred time, Slavia Meridionalis, 16 (2016): 329-368.

[43] It is worth to mention that Maxim wrote down also “A Crying of the Wife of Maurice” (Moscow, Russian Historical Museum (GIM): Mss, coll. Eparh, p. 191), the Byzantine Emperor and a martyr. Her name was, however, Constanti(n)a. The notification gave the opportunity to indicate the time when in Byzantium the Emperor started to name himself ‘Basileus, who is faithful to God (C. Diehl, A Byzantium (Greatness and Decline), 10th ed., New Jersey, 1957, p. 29).

[44] Georgina Buckler, Anna Comnena, Oxford 1929: Clarendon Press, 1929, pp. 241– 243.

[45] В. Ф. Ржига, Опыти по истории русской публицистики XVI века: Максим Грек как публицист, [V. F. Rzhiga, »The Investigations about the History of Russian Publicity: Maksim Grek as a Publicist«, in: TODRL], ТОДРЛ 1(1934), pp. 51–59, 103, 107.

[46] J. Moorhead, Ambrose: Church and society in the late Roman world, Michigan, 1999, pp. 52–54, 67, n. 44

[47] Tillyard, Byzantine Music and Hymnography, 1923, p. 11.

[48] See more, A. Louth , ‘From beginning to beginning’: Endless spiritual progress in St Gregory of Nyssa: Lecture at the XXI Conference on the Orthodox Spirituality, Bose 2013, in: E. Bianchi (Ed.), The Proceedings of the XXI International Ecumenical Conference on Orthodox spirituality “The Ages of the Spiritual Life”.

[49] Чудотворные иконы Пресвятой Богородицы (автор и сост. С. Алексеев), Санкт-Петербург 2012, 40.

[50] Молитвослов, [The Prayer Book], Москва: Изд. Сретенского монастыря ХПП «Софрино», 1998, p.192–193. In present time, the similar verses could be found in the prayer before the “Kazanskaya” icon of the Mother of God. The latter was significantly related to the Muscovite period of Maxim in Russia: he wrote a prayer to the Holy Mother of God ‘Who saves the Pius Land During the Invasion of Non-Christians’ after the victory of Ivan IV over the Khaganate of Kazan on 2 October 1552. It seems that the prayer Maxim the Greek gave to Rus’ proved one of the main source for the prayers to the Holy Mother of God celebrated in the month of October/ November.

[51] While celebrating Divine Liturgy, Gregory I. recognized the image of Jesus Christ. He was so touched that he began to cry and therefore ordered the icon painters to depict in the future only that kind of the Holy icon of God the Son (cf. H. Gombrich, The Story of Art, Phaidon, 2006, 16. ed., p. 107).

[52] Joseph of Sicille (Wellesz Е. A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography. Oxford (2. изд.), 1998. С. 443)

[53] It is worth mentioned that inseparability of the Holy Mother and Her Holy Son was known also previously that on the icon, called Ελεούσα, at the images in the catacombs of the early Roman christian tombs, from the period of Constantine I. when Christian iconography was only slowly began to formulate.

[54] Н. Д. Успенский, Византийская литургия: историко-литургическое исследование – анафора: опыт историко-литургического анализа, Москва: Изд. Совет русской православной церкви, 2006 [N. D. Uspenski, The Byzantine Liturgy: Historical-liturgical Research – anaphora: the Historical-Liturgical Analyse, Moscow, 2006], p. 212.

[55] Moscow, Russian Government Library, RGB, Mss. Coll. Rog. Kladbishe, No. 302, fol. 432v.; Moscow, RGB, MDA, 173/I, no. 42, additional chapters (without a numbers), there are added the following words: ‘Joy the walls and Intercession/the Protection to whom we are running to.’

[56] It was a liturgical custum with a rule to worship the icon of Vatopaidi before leaving the Church, and Igumen of monastery was every time pass the keys from the doors of monastery to a doorkeeper.

[57] Maxim the Greek’s text about the Vatopaidi Icon of the Mother of God, is in Moscow, Historical Museum, (GIM), Mss. coll. Чуд. № 34, pp. 236v -240r. The copy of this icon was transmitted to Russia in 17th century on the request of the Patriarch Nicon.

[58] Sank Petersburg, Russian National Library, Mss. Coll. Sof. 78, fol. 160 v.

[59] Paris, BN, Slave 123, p. .

[60] E. Wellesz, The “Akathistos”, A Study in Byzantine Hymnography, Dumbarton Oaks Papers (1955), p. 147.

[61] P. F. Krypiakiewicz, “De hymni Acathisti auctore”, Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XVIII (1909), p. 361.

[62] Andrej Kritski, Veliki kanon, Ljubljana, 2013, pp. 23-43.

[63] Tillyard H. J. W. Byzantine Music and Himnography. Oxford 1923. С. 20.

[64] R. Jakobson, Selected Writings. VI, Early Slavic Paths and Crossroads, I, Berlin-New York-Amsterdam: Mouton, 1985, p. 306).

[65] Cf. Tillyard, ibid., p. 19.



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