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June 30, 2020

The Holy Spring of the Twelve Apostles in Constantinople

The Holy Spring of the Twelve Apostles in Constantinople is one of hundreds of holy springs in the Queen City, though it is one of the few that can be found outside of a church, on private property, that still functions.

In Constantinople, almost every church has a holy spring which is dedicated to another saint from the one commemorated in the main church and celebrates its own feast separately. The most significant holy springs in the City are in Panagia Blachernae, Panagia Vefa and Saint Demetrios in Xerokrini. The most famous of these holy springs is Zoodochos Pege in Balukli. Besides these, which are well known, there are hundreds of others that can be found even in homes, stores and private spaces. These sacred springs in the City were unique to the Orthodox Church, with none belonging to the Armenians. An exception is Sulu Manastır (Water Monastery), which is an Armenian church with a holy spring, however this shrine is built over the historic Monastery of Panagia Peribleptos from the 11th century, which was forcibly removed from the Romans of the City and given to the Armenians by the Ottomans.

Saint Dinar, Queen of Hereti

St. Dinar of Hereti (Feast Day - June 30)

"The Tale of Tsaritsa Dinar" is the 16th-century Russian story of Saint Dinar, a Christian queen (Russian: tsaritsa) of Hereti (southeastern Georgia), who is glorified as a pious helmswoman renowned for her wisdom and valor. Composed before 1553, the tale enjoyed a popularity during the second half of the 16th century.

The principal part of the tale focuses on the struggle of Dinar against the king of Persia who demands a tribute from her, and threatens to remove her from the throne in case of noncompliance. The queen meritoriously refuses to comply, replying that the king of Persia cannot usurp the power bestowed upon her by the Lord. In a fiery speech, Dinar encourages her hesitant nobles and, after a pilgrimage to a monastery, marches to meet the Persians. An armored-clad queen, riding a galloping white steed and holding an upraised sword, leads an army into battle, wins a crushing victory, and has the Persian king decapitated.

Synaxis of the Holy Twelve Apostles: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Synaxis of the Holy Twelve Apostles

June 30

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode Plagal 4.
Psalm 18.4,1
Their voice has gone out into all the earth.
Verse: The heavens declare the glory of God.

The reading is from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 4:9-16


Brethren, God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are ill-clad and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the off-scouring of all things. I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

June 29, 2020

On the Feast of the Foremost Apostles Peter and Paul (Elder Philotheos Zervakos)

By Elder Philotheos Zervakos

I am in awe and wonder, how the Holy Apostles that we celebrate today, achieved such great and extraordinary miracles! How can one not be in wonder and in awe?

Consider, my brethren, what was the Apostle Peter before? A fisherman. He knew nothing more than fishing, catching fish with a net on Lake Gennesaret. And suddenly you see him preaching to the whole universe. His words were so graceful and sweet that in one of his speeches three thousand and sometimes five thousand believed, whom he then baptized.

The Increasing Humility of the Apostle Paul

A clear indication of maturing in Christ is increasing humility. The closer we draw to Him the more He becomes the center of our lives; the closer we draw to Him the more we grasp His holiness and our sinfulness.

Notice the progression of increasing humility in the apostle Paul’s life.

Holy Apostles Peter and Paul: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Holy Glorious and All-Praised Foremost of the Apostles, Peter and Paul

June 29

Matins Gospel Reading

Gospel According to John 21:14-25


At that time, Jesus revealed himself to his disciples after he was raised from the dead, and he said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, "Follow me." Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?" When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?" Jesus said to him, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!" So, the word went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die; but Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?" This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

June 28, 2020

Gospel Commentary for the Third Sunday of Matthew (St. John Chrysostom)

By St. John Chrysostom

(From Homily 20-22 on Matthew)

3. "The light of the body is the eye."

What He says is like this: Bury not gold in the earth, nor do any other such thing, for thou dost but gather it for the moth, and the rust, and the thieves. And even if you should entirely escape these evils, yet the enslaving of your heart, the nailing it to all that is below, you will not escape: "For wheresoever your treasure may be, there is your heart also." As then, laying up stores in heaven, you will reap not this fruit only, the attainment of the rewards for these things, but from this world you already receive your recompence, in getting into harbor there, in setting your affections on the things that are there, and caring for what is there (for where you have laid up your treasures, it is most clear you transfer your mind also); so if you do this upon earth, you will experience the contrary.

June 27, 2020

Kontakion and Oikos to Saint Cyril Loukaris

Plagal of the Fourth Tone

Unconquerable athlete of the patriarchs, you were put to death by the envious hands of the Hagarenes, showing yourself, O Cyril, to be sown by God. Wherefore an unfading crown was conveyed to you, cease not to direct your intercessions, on behalf of those who cry out: Rejoice, much-contested Father.


The Angelic Powers above, strike a hymn worthy of you O Father; we the faithful on earth, with gladness celebrate your memory, crowning you with praises, Cyril, and crying out with faith:

Rejoice, venerable Chief Shepherd;
Rejoice, glorious Patriarch;
Rejoice, heavenly offspring of Crete;
Rejoice, offshoot of Agarathos Monastery;
Rejoice, successor of Mark, the torch of Egypt;
Rejoice, president of Byzantium, the eye of the Church;
Rejoice, for you seized the courage of war;
Rejoice, for you entered the path of martyrdom;
Rejoice, you who partake with all the Saints;
Rejoice, you who are an equal of the divine Martyrs;
Rejoice, revered administrator of gifts;
Rejoice, inheritor of true life;
Rejoice, much contested Father.

June 24, 2020

Metropolitan Kallinikos of Edessa, Pella, and Almopia (+ 1984) Has Been Canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Brief Biography and Hymns Included)

On Tuesday 23 June 2020 the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate convened at the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambesy, Geneva where they officially numbered among the Saints of the Orthodox Church the ever-memorable Metropolitan Kallinikos of Edessa, Pella, and Almopia (1919-1984). That evening the bells of the parishes throughout the Metropolis of Edessa rang for joy at the announcement. Metropolitan Joel of Edessa went to the tomb of the newly-glorified Saint, where all those present chanted his Apolytikion, Kontakion and Megalynarion composed by Metropolitan Joel himself. His feast day has been established to be celebrated on the 8th of August.

Human Beings Are Neither Born Free Nor Equal (St. Athanasios of Paros)

By St. Athanasios of Paros

- The real reason the French were led into impiety is something else. However, because they have shown and continue to show such a fierce obsession with the establishment of secular freedom and equality, the impression is that for this reason alone, by a common decision and choice, they have almost completely eliminated Christ and Christianity and its holy books.

- Freedom, then, is found in two forms. One is the freedom of the soul and the other of the body. Examining the definition of freedom in both of these forms, we find that it is defined as complete autonomy, that is, that no one recognizes any kind of dependence above themselves, nor do they receive orders from another, but that they are the sole master and ruler of themselves and no one else in the world. So if this is defined as an essential feature of freedom, that is, that man is not subject to any principle, I completely reject this general axiom of the most foolish atheists. In other words, I do not accept that people are born free (independent) in the world. On the contrary, I support and will prove that there is no such freedom in the world: people are born and live in the world as "slaves" (dependent) in many ways.

Three Wondrous Things That Accompanied the Birth of Saint John the Baptist

Three wondrous things accompanied the birth of St. John the Forerunner and Baptist.

The first wondrous thing is that St. John the Forerunner is the only Saint of the Church that the world came to know first as a Saint and then as a baby, first as a Prophet and then as a man. When he was still six months in the womb of his mother Elizabeth, the Grace of God manifested within him when he prophetically and joyously leaped as he heard the greeting of Mary, who had just conceived the Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit. This leaping was an act of veneration towards the Mother of God and worship towards the God-man, which also filled Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit and moved her to prophetically say to Mary: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” The prophetic grace was transferred from John to Elizabeth in order for him to express through her with words that Mary was blessed for believing the Lord and that the fruit of her faith and obedience was that she was now the mother of the Lord. The grace St. John received from the womb was unique and says a lot about him before he was even born.

June 23, 2020

Saints Niketas of Thebes and Those With Him

On the 23rd of this month, we commemorate the Venerable Niketas of Thebes, as well as the synaxis of those Venerables that are referred to in his biography, Theodore the revered priest, Daniel of the Castle in Patras, and Gregory of Mystras.


A victorious victor was the Theban Niketas,
Receiving the incorruptible crown of the Venerables,
The four Venerables with the four-fold virtues,
Were garbed with garments of Eden.
Today, Niketas, you were stripped of the seven skins.

Venerable Niketas lived around the early eleventh century and was from the Boeotian city of Thebes. His pious parents, Andrew and Theodora, dedicated him to the Lord from the womb, and gave Niketas over at the age of five to a teacher in order to receive an education. From his early youth he was noted for his prudence, wisdom, virtue and God-pleasing life.

Synaxis of All Saints of Vladimir

The Synaxis of All Saints of Vladimir is a festival in honor of the Saints of the Russian Orthodox Church, whose life was connected with the territory of the present Eparchy of Vladimir. It is held on June 23, and was established in 1982 with the blessing of Patriarch Pimen on the day of the celebration of the miracle of the Theotokos of Vladimir which took place in 1480 against the invasion into Moscow of Khan Achmed and his army.

Among those commemorated today are:


Avraamiy the Bulgarian († 1229)
Mitrofan the Archbishop († 1238)
Patrick the Holy Martyr († 1411)

Venerable Men

Nikita of Pereyaslavl († 1186)
Elijah Muromec of Pechersk (+ about 1188)
Pachomius Archimandrite and Theodosius († 1237)
Daniel of Uspensk (+ 1238)
Mikhail of Vyazniki († 1333)
Sergius of Radonezh († 1392)
Roman of Kirzhach († 1392)
Pakhomiy of Nerekhta († 1384)
Evfimiy of Suzdal († 1404)
Stefan of Makhra († 1406)
Nikon of Radonezhy († 1426)
Kosma of Yakhroma († 1492)
Job, Archimandrite of Vladimir (XV century)
Arkady of Vyazniki (+ 1592)
Prokhor and Vassian of Zayastrebye (+ 1592)
Dionysius of Pereyaslavl († 1645)
Lukian of Aleksandrov († 1654)
Cornelius of Aleksandrov († 1681)
Zosima of Aleksandrov (+ about 1713)

Venerable Women

Maria (monastic name: Martha) († 1206)
Theodosia (monastic name: Euphrosyne) († 1244)
Evfrosinia of Suzdal (+ 1250)
Vassa (in the monastery of Theodore) Nizhny Novgorod († 1378)
Sofia of Suzdal (+ 1542)
Theodosius of Murom (XVII century)


Maksim of Kiev (+ 1305)
Aleksy (Byakont) († 1378)
Iona of Moskow († 1461)
Hilarion of Suzdal (+ 1707)


Dionysius of Suzdal († 1385)
Arseniy of Elasson (+ 1625)


Theodore of Rostov (+ 1023)
John of Rostov († 1214)
Simon of Pechersk († 1226)
Kirill of Rostov († 1262)
Serapion of Vladimir († 1275)
Theodore of Vladimir († 1286)
Vasili of Ryazan († 1295)
Sofroniy of Suzdal († 1654)
Mitrofan of Voronezh (+ 1703)


Gleb of Murom († 1015),
Konstantin of Murom (+ 1129),
Mikhail and Fyodor of Murom (XII century)
Boris of Turov (+ about 1160)
Izyaslav Andreevich († 1165)
Mstislav Iziaslavich († 1172)
Andrei of Bogolyubovo (+ 1174)
Gleb of Vladimir (+ 1174)
Mikhail of Vladimir (+ 1176)
Pyotr of Murom ( † 1228)
Yuri Vsevolodovich († 1238)
Vasilko of Rostov († 1238)
Vsevolod Yuriyevich of Vladimir
Mstislav Yuriyevich
Vladimir of Vladimir
Dimitry of Vladimir († 1238)
Fyodor Yaroslavich of Vladimir († 1246)
Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich († 1253)
Aleksandr Nevsky (+ 1263)
Dmitri Svyatoslavich of Yuryev († 1269)
Dimitri Aleksandrovich († 1294)
Theodore Starodubsky (+ 1330)


Irina of Murom († about 1129)
Fevronia of Murom († 1228)
Agathia, Theodora, Maria and Christina († 1238)
Evdokia of Vladimir (XIV century)


Georgiy and Iulianiya of Murom (+ 1604)
Karp of Medush (XVII century)
Savva of Moshok (+ 1592)


Cyprian of Suzdal († 1622)
Evdokia of Suzdal (+ 1776)
Parthenius of Suzdal (+ second half of the 16th century)

Synaxis of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God in Memory of the Saving of Moscow from the Invasion of Khan Achmed in 1480

On June 23rd the Russian Church celebrates the miracle of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, which led to the saving of Moscow from the invasion of Khan Achmed in 1480.

Khan Achmed bin Küchük, Khan of the Great Horde between 1465 and 1481, invaded the Russian lands and headed for Moscow in the year 1480. Grand Duke Ivan III Vasilievich of Moscow and All Rus went out to meet him with the army. The troops met on the Ugra River (Kaluga Region), 150 miles from Moscow. They stood off shouting at one another on opposite banks for four days before a conflict became inevitable. In the Russian camp was the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, in front of which prayers were constantly offered. All of Moscow prayed to the Mother of God for the protection of their capital. The Metropolitan wrote to the Prince a message in which he urged him to bravely stand against the enemy, hoping for the help of the Mother of God. The Prince ordered his troops to retreat from Ugra, wanting to wait for the Tatars to cross. The Khan decided that the Russians were ambushing them, so he also began to retreat, at first slowly, and at night they ran, driven by fear. In gratitude for the liberation of Russia from the Tatars, a feast was established in honor of the Mother of God, by whose intercession it is believed drove the Khan's army away. After this miracle, the Ugra River became known as the "Belt of the Mother of God."

June 22, 2020

Saint Nicetas, Bishop of Remesiana (+ 414)

St. Nicetas of Remesiana (Feast Day - June 22)

Saint Nicetas was born around 335 in the Roman province of Dacia. He was probably either a Goth or a Thracian. Around the year 370 he was made the Bishop of Remesiana (present-day Bela Palanka, Serbia). In 398, Nicetas made a pilgrimage to Nola to visit the grave of Felix of Nola and he had gained the friendship of Paulinus of Nola.

He was engaged in active missionary work among the peoples to the northeast, not yet enlightened by the light of Christ. The lands and peoples covered by his apostolic preaching lay on both sides of the Danube. This points to the land and population of Dacia Trajan, Thrace, Mysia and Lesser Scythia - the territory now divided between Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. Saint Nicetas became the founder of not only new communities and temples, but also new dioceses, or diocesan centers. Because of his missionary activity, his contemporary and friend, Paulinus of Nola, lauded him poetically for instructing in the gospel those barbarians changed by him from wolves to sheep and brought into the fold of peace, and for teaching bandits to sing of Christ with a Roman heart, who previously had no such ability. Paulinus glorified Nicetas as the “father of the whole north” and the “good servant of Christ”. He also came to be known as the Apostle to the Danube.

June 21, 2020

Holy Hieromartyr Basil Kalapalikes (+ 1902)

St. Basil of Chiliodendrou (Feast Day - June 21)

The Holy New Hieromartyr Basil Kalapalikes was born in 1858. He was a married priest with three children, two sons and one daughter, and was the parish priest of the Church of Saint Demetrios in Chiliodendrou of Kastoria.

On the evening of 21 June 1902, certain Turks burst into his parish church while he was serving Vespers, and they shot him with their firearms as he stood before the Holy Altar. Seriously wounded, Basil came out of the church to investigate the cause of his injury, and he was stabbed by the unbelievers, mercilessly beaten with rods and axes, his head was broken, his jaw was twisted and his body was thoroughly injured to death. His blood-stained body, with difficulty, was later recognized by his beard and sacred robes and was buried behind the Holy Sanctuary.

Synaxis of All the Saints of Palestine

On this day, the Second Sunday of Matthew, we commemorate all the Saints who shone forth in Palestine.


Be magnified, O Zion, as you honor the Saints who shined all together in Palestine,
Zion, the Mother of Churches, celebrates a godlike host.

On the Second Sunday after Pentecost, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem celebrates the memory of the Saints who had lived and died in the region of the three Palestines, namely Galilee, Judea, and Arabia Petraea. These Saints include those of the Old and New Testaments, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Preachers, Evangelists, both eponymous and anonymous. Upon the Patriarchate’s request, the ever-memorable hymnographer of Mount Athos, Gerasimos Mikragiannanitis, had composed a special service for the feast.

Our Blessed and God-Bearing Fathers of the Holy Mountain

By Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki

Honoring the saints is a fundamental element of the Orthodox tradition and life. Through the churches dedicated to them, through the expressive icons of them as they are in eternity, through the poetic services, through their exciting Lives, through the constant invocation of their name, they are people who are very much alive for us and their grace intervenes in the lives of the faithful - strengthening, supporting and sanctifying them.

Gospel Commentary for the Second Sunday of Matthew (St. John Chrysostom)

By St. John Chrysostom

(From Homily 14 on Matthew)

"And walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brethren, Simon that was surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers. And He says unto them, 'Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men.' And they left their nets, and followed Him." (Matthew 4:18-19)

And yet John says that they were called in another manner. Whence it is evident that this was a second call; and from many things one may perceive this. For there it is said, that they came to Him when "John was not yet cast into prison;" but here, after he was in confinement. And there Andrew calls Peter, but here Jesus calls both. And John says, Jesus seeing Simon coming, says, "You are Simon, the Son of Jonah, you shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone" (John 1:42). But Matthew says that he was already called by that name; for his words are, "Seeing Simon that was called Peter." And from the place whence they were called, and from many other things, one may perceive this; and from their ready obedience, and abandonment of all. For now they were well instructed beforehand. Thus, in the other case, Andrew is seen coming into His house, and hearing many things; but here, having heard one bare word, they followed immediately. Since neither was it unnatural for them to follow Him at the beginning, and then leave Him again and return anew to their own craft, when they saw both John thrown into prison, and Himself departing. Accordingly you see that He finds them actually fishing. But He neither forbad them at the first when minded to withdraw, nor having withdrawn themselves, did He let them go altogether; but He gave way when they started aside from Him, and comes again to win them back; which kind of thing is the great point in fishing.

June 20, 2020

Virtual Tour of Hagia Sophia with Şerif Yenen

By Şerif Yenen

Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World" by historians, is one of the most visited places in the world in terms of art and architecture history. Hagia Sophia was a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica (church) for 916 years, later an imperial mosque for 481 years, and now a museum for 85 years.

We feel very lucky to have Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. Can you imagine, how many other 1500-year-old monuments with the roof still on top, there are around the world?

Virtual Tour of Chora Monastery (Kariye Museum) with Şerif Yenen

By Şerif Yenen

Well, lockdown measures may not allow you to travel and visit places of interest. However, I will continue bringing some of them to you. My online cultural tour will be in the Chora Church or Kariye Museum this time. The tour is in English. My virtual guided tour will soon be available on YouTube. You can also ask questions during the tour.

Let me emphasize that this is not in a documentary format, but a guided tour. I will be interpreting and summerising Chora with breathtaking images and videos.

June 19, 2020

Last year the Mayor of the Kahramanmaraş province in Turkey, Hayrettin Güngör, was caught on camera telling a woman from Trabzon, "We made you Muslim." Although he later apologized, it highlighted one of Turkey's best-kept secrets: Islamized Christians.

In 1924 various sources reported on a ship loaded at Mudanya, Turkey with 400 tons of human bones destined for use as fertilizer in France. They were believed to be the bones of Greeks & Armenians slaughtered during the final phase of the genocide.

In 1923, Near East Relief worker Miss Emily Petty of Berwick, PA arrived at Aleppo, Syria after shepherding 210 Greek & Armenian orphans from Harput, Turkey enduring freezing conditions over 500 miles through long stretches of desert & mountains infested with bandits.

Some Greeks in Turkey armed themselves and resisted the genocide. One of them was Evangelos Fotiadis. In 1920 Fotiadis offered stubborn resistance to the Kemalists near Karasu. He protected 10,000 hiding up in the mountains and directed them through the Kemalist zone to Greece.

In the same way that Jews hid from the Nazis in cupboards & cellars during the Jewish Holocaust, a young man by the name of Efthimios Couzinos spent 515 days hiding from the Kemalists in a hole under the floor of his school during the Greek Genocide.

The massacre of 40 Greek Boy Scouts at Aydin in June 1919 during the Greek Genocide coincided with a larger scale massacre of the Greeks of the town. According to a French source 1,500-2,000 Greeks were massacred at Aydin in June 1919.

June 1919: Turkish troops commit ghastly massacre of 40 Greek Boy Scouts & their leader at Aydin, western Turkey. They were all asked to renounce their Greek heritage. Instead they defiantly sang the Greek national anthem. All were subsequently massacred.

Félix Sartiaux was sent to Foça, Turkey in 1913 to conduct archaeological excavations on the town. Sartiaux witnessed and later documented the violent pillage & massacre of Greeks in June 1914 by Turkish irregulars. Over 100 Greeks were massacred.


June 18, 2020

Synaxis of the Bogolub Icon of the Mother of God

The Bogolub Icon of the Mother of God, one of the most ancient wonderworking icons of Russia, was painted in the twelfth century at the request of Holy Prince Andrew Yuryevich (July 4), in memory of an appearance to him by the Mother of God.

In the year 1155 Prince Andrew, having resettled from Vishgorod to the Suzdal region, brought with him a wonderworking icon of the Mother of God, which ccording to tradition was painted by the Evangelist Luke (this afterwards was called the Vladimir Icon). At seven versts distance from Vladimir by horse, the cart carrying the wonderworking icon stopped and could not be moved from the place. Prince Andrew asked the priest Nicholas, who accompanied him, to serve a Molieben before the Icon. For a long time Andrew prayed with tears before the venerable image. Later he went into his tent and continued his fervent prayer. The Most Holy Theotokos appeared to him with a small scroll in her hand and commanded the pious prince that the icon he brought from Vishgorod should remain at Vladimir, and that on the site of her miraculous appearance a church and monastery should be built. She then prayerfully raised her hand to Heaven, and received a blessing from Christ the Savior. Then the vision ended.

June 17, 2020

Saint Hypatios of Rufinianes and the Runaway Slaves Who Took Refuge in his Monastery

One time, the slaves of the former consul of Rufinianes (located on the Sea of Marmara southeast of Chalcedon) took flight and sought refuge in the monastery of Saint Hypatios (June 17), where they requested not only sanctuary but also admittance into the brotherhood. Hypatios received the runaway slaves and tonsured them as monks. The consul, meanwhile, dispatched men to search for the slaves. One of those sent on horseback was his kinsman upon whom the proconsul bestowed many favors. This kinsman, when he arrived at the monastery, instead of capturing the runaway slaves, he was instead captured by the way of life of the monks in the monastery. He was eventually tonsured a monk, became a distinguished ascetic, and was accounted worthy of the priesthood. As for the slaves, one of them, whose name was Paul, was caught by one of the men of the consul. Paul was subjected to torture and clapped in irons. He was then placed under a soldier's guard. In the middle of the night, an Angel of the Lord released Paul from his chains, bid him to rise, then dismissed him, saying: "Go and save yourself." Once Paul was free of the prison, he, too, went to Hypatios' monastery.

Basic Timeline of the Life of Saint Botolph of Iken

There is a tragic paucity of primary sources about our Holy Father Botolph of Iken, and many of the hagiographical accounts that do exist were written many centuries later and are often riddled with error and anachronism. The tragedy is made more acute when one considers that there are at least 78 historic or current churches dedicated to him in Britain, far more, it should be noted, than any other Pre-Conquest British Saint, and that his veneration extended not only throughout England but Scandinavia as well. In what follows we have tried to discern the basic outline of St Botolph’s life from the rare, fragmentary glimpses of him that we get in the couple of Anglo-Saxon sources as well as the later hagiographical narratives. For a fuller presentation of this timeline, complete with comprehensive academic referencing, please refer to a booklet on the Life of the saint which the College OLM is currently in the process of preparing for publication. We hope though that this simple time line will give an overview of this extraordinary Suffolk Saint and situate him a little within the spiritual milieu of the 7th Century. Please note all dates are approximate and indicative.

Saint Ananias the Iconographer of Novgorod (+ 1581)

St. Ananias of Novgorod (Feast Day - June 17)

Venerable Ananias was an iconographer of the Antoniev Monastery in Novgorod, and who lived in asceticism during the sixteenth century. An account about him is included in the narration about the miracles of the Venerable Anthony the Roman, from which it is known that the iconographer Ananias painted "marvelous icons of many holy wonderworkers" and, fulfilling a monastic vow, not once in thirty-three years did he go outside the monastery walls. Historical records impute the time of his blessed end as the year 1581 on June 17th.

One Who Condemns Others is Like a Murderer (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse

"But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless" (Matt. 12:7). Thus, in order to be saved from the sin of condemnation, we must obtain a merciful heart. A merciful heart not only does not condemn a seeming infringement of the law, but neither will it condemn an obvious one. Instead of judgment it feels pity, and would sooner weep than reproach. Truly the sin of condemnation is the fruit of an unmerciful, malicious heart that takes delight in debasing its neighbor, in blackening its neighbor’s name, in trampling his honor underfoot. This is a murderous affair, and is done in the spirit of the one who is a murderer from the beginning [Jn. 8:44]. Here there occurs much slander as well, which comes from the same source — for that is what the devil is, a slanderer, spreading slanderousness everywhere. Hurry to arouse pity in yourself every time the evil urge to condemn comes over you. Then turn in prayer to the Lord with a compassionate heart, that He might have mercy upon all of us, not only upon the one whom we wanted to condemn, but upon us as well — perhaps even more so upon us — and the evil urge will die.

From Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, June 17.

Saint Shalva of Akhaltsikhe (+ 1227)

St. Shalva of Akhaltsikhe (Feast Day - June 17)

Saint Shalva of Akhaltsikhe was a brilliant military commander in the army of Queen Tamar and the prince of Akhaltsikhe. After his victory at Shamkori in the Ganja region, Shalva carried with him the flag of the caliph, as a sign of the invincibility of the Christian Faith, and conferred it, along with the wealth he had won, as an offering to the Khakhuli Icon of the Theotokos. For his selfless service, Queen Tamar honored him with the rank of commander-in-chief of the Georgian army.

During the reign of Queen Tamar’s daughter Rusudan (1222-1245), the armies of Sultan Jalal al-Din stormed into Georgia. Rusudan rallied the Georgian forces and appointed a new commander-in-chief by the name of John Atabeg.

June 16, 2020

Homily on Theft (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke of Simferopol

For many years I have been preaching the gospel of Christ to many different people, and now I am preaching to you, my beloved flock. I tried my best to teach you the highest Christian virtues. I really wanted you to understand the law of Christ well and apply it in your life. I have untiredly called you to Christian perfection, because the Lord asks us, "Be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48).

I have always operated in this manner. The holy apostle Paul, the bearer of the Holy Spirit, who had the mind of Christ and had acquired the highest wisdom, before which mine is very weak, did likewise. Listen to what he says: “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to infants in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?" (1 Cor. 3:1-3).

June 15, 2020

Saint Monica as a Model for our Lives

By Protopresbyter George Papavarnavas

Saint Monica lived in the fourth century. She was born and raised in a Christian environment by pious and virtuous parents. Her husband, however, was an idolater, and, unfortunately, a cruel, violent and drunken man, and he ridiculed her for her way of life, which was characterized by love and philanthropy, but, according to her biographer, he never did hit her, which was common at that time, without, of course, meaning that this phenomenon is not observed even in our day. And, as he notes, he did not beat her, perhaps because she did not oppose him. However, she was deemed worthy out of her love and her patience to see her husband baptized, to change his way of life and to have an end that was "Christian", "without shame and peaceful".

June 14, 2020

Sunday of All Saints (Prof. John Fountoulis)

By Prof. John Fountoulis

(June 20, 1970)

With the Sunday of All Saints, the moveable cycle of feasts, which began with the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, ends. In the solemn Triodion and the joyful Pentecostarion, the Church presented to us all the work of the divine economy, centered on the great feast of Pascha. We saw the fall of the first-formed and the restoration of our race through the resurrection of Christ. We welcomed the coming of the Paraclete into the world and celebrated the birth of the new people of God, the inauguration and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit "on all flesh." In close connection with this feast is the present feast, the seal and the end of the great festive period. In other words, it comes as a proof of the work of the Church, of the energy of the Holy Spirit in the world. Because it shows us the fruits of that sowing, the reaping of the white lands that the apostles were sent to reap. And as Nikephoros Xanthopoulos very nicely observes in the synaxarion of the day: the most divine Fathers enacted this feast after the descent of the Holy Spirit to show that the presence of the All-Holy Spirit through the apostles succeeded in sanctifying and consolidating the human race and restoring people to the place of the angels through Jesus Christ, either with the offering of the blood of the martyrs, or with their virtuous conduct and behavior. And supernatural work is being done. The Spirit, God, descends, and the dirt, man, ascends. The Word of God raises the incarnate flesh and draws with it those who want to do works of reconciliation with God. Those who were alienated from God before, now unite with God and become His friends. The nations offer their first-fruits, all the Saints.

Homily Three for the Sunday of All Saints (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke of Simferopol

(Delivered in 1957)

Numberless and vast as the sands of the great Sahara and Gobi deserts, they are our contemporaries and those who lived before us. Who are they? What were lives like? What do we see in their souls? If we could see what is too vast to see, then we would see that the great majority of mankind consists of those who in Holy Scripture are called “peoples of the earth”. Why are they called by that name? Because the most important goals in their lives, and their main strivings, are directed toward the acquisition of earthly good things, those good things that they can receive from material nature.

June 13, 2020

The Theotokos as the Mystical Tongs

By John Sanidopoulos

A common issue in time of epidemics is whether or not to change the way Orthodox Christians receive Holy Communion, which is done with a common spoon. This spoon, however, is not called a spoon by Orthodox Christians, but it is referred to as Holy Tongs, because it holds Christ the burning coal, who is consumed as a burning fire. This is based on the vision of the Prophet Isaiah (6:6-7):

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquities are taken away and your sins have been purified.”

In the liturgical texts of the Orthodox Church, based on the writings of Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Saint Romanos the Melodist, and Saint Methodios of Olympus, the vision of the Prophet Isaiah was interpreted as a prefiguration of the Reception of Christ in the Temple. The burning coal which cleansed the prophet of his sins was Christ, "who takes away the sins of the world" (Jn. 1:29), while the tongs which held the coal represented Mary the Mother of God.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On October 31, 1997 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was the first religious leader to visit the tomb of Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia for a Wreath-Laying Ceremony in his honor at the Martin Luther King Center for Social Change. Present and introducing him was Coretta Scott King.

June 12, 2020

Saint Peter the Athonite Resource Page

St. Peter the Athonite (Feast Day - June 12)


And you were put forward to the right of Christ O Peter,
Saved naked from the sea of life.

Synaxarion of our Venerable Father Onouphrios the Egyptian

St. Onouphros of Egypt (Feast Day - June 12)


And the commandment of one tunic Father,
You exceeded having gone about naked to the end.
On the twelfth Onouphrios was removed from life without a tunic.

Venerable Onouphrios was from Egypt, who at first was in a coenobium, which was located in Hermopolis of the Thebaid. Having later heard about the quiet and secluded life of the Prophet Elias and John the Baptist, he left the coenobium and found a home in the desert for sixty years, without seeing another person. The Monk Paphnutios found him, having ventured into the innermost desert, in order to find venerable men, and to be blessed by them.

Saint Onuphry of Malsk and Pskov (+ 1492)

St. Onuphry of Malsk and Pskov (Feast Day - June 12)

Venerable Onuphry was a disciple of Euphrosynus of Pskov. Having secluded himself on Sennoy Island, located on Lake Malsk, he founded a monastery in honor of the Nativity of the Mother of God at Malsk, four versts from Izborsk and 56 versts from Pskov.

June 11, 2020

Saint Luke the Surgeon, Archbishop of Crimea (1877-1961)

By Metropolitan Nektarios of Argolis

If you ever find yourself on the Holy Mountain or in other old churches, you will notice that many of them are painted red. If you ask the monks, they will tell you that the color symbolizes the blood of Christ and His saints. It wants to remind us that, whereas the various religions or ideologies spread via propaganda, violence or oppression, the Church of Christ won people’s hearts through weakness, the blood of Christ and the saints, martyrdom and witness. There is not a single Orthodox Church that has not experienced its own martyrdom. And nor is there a saint that has not passed through his or her furnace of sorrows, temptations or martyrdom.

In the 20th century, the Russian Church underwent its own harsh martyrdom. For seven decades an untold number of martyrs and confessors gave their blood in their own witness on the cross.

One such moving witness on the cross is the figure of Archbishop Luke, Professor of Topographic Anatomy and Surgery. A man of rare talents and gifts, he served others as shepherd and doctor with remarkable love and self-denial, continuing the tradition of the great Unmercenary Saints of our Church. His astonishing personality and his magnanimity are cause for amazement, admiration and also divine consolation.

We Must Bear Our Cross With Patience (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke of Simferopol

Our life, the life of each person, is sorrow and pain. All these sorrows in our social and family life are our Cross. A failed marriage, an unfortunate choice of profession, don’t they bring us pain and sorrow? Shouldn’t people who’ve suffered these calamities have to bear them bravely? Serious illnesses, contempt, dishonor, loss of personal wealth, jealousy between spouses, slander and, in general, all the wickedness that people do to us, aren’t they all our Cross? That’s exactly what our Cross is, the Cross of the vast majority of people. These are the sorrows that afflict people and we have to bear them, even though most people don’t want to. But even people who hate Christ and refuse to follow His way, they, too, have to shoulder their own Cross of pain. What’s the difference between them and Christians? The difference is that Christians shoulder the Cross with patience and don’t complain against God. Humbly, with eyes cast down, they bear it to the end of their lives, following the Lord Jesus Christ. They do it for Christ and His Gospel, they do it for fervent love of Him, but the whole of their thought is caught up in the Gospel teaching.

When Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Met Saint Ephraim of Katounakia

It was the year 1989 (from 22 October till 3 November), when a three-member Patriarchal Exarchy, under the late Metropolitan Maximos of Stavroupoleos, which included Metropolitan Bartholomew of Philadelphia (later Ecumenical Patriarch) and Metropolitan Athanasios of Elenoupolis (later Metropolitan of Chalcedon) visited Mount Athos, with the purpose of establishing the Brotherhood of the Monastery of Vatopaidi.

Chinese Martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion Resource Page

Holy New Martyrs of China (Feast Day - June 11)

The Feast of the Chinese Martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion

The Holy New Martyrs of China (+ 1900)

A Report on the Martyrs and Confessors of Orthodoxy in China

Holy Hieromartyr Mitrophan of Beijing and his Family (+ 1900)

Orthodoxy in China and the Chinese Martyrs of 1900