July 31, 2020

The Best of July 2020 by the Mystagogy Resource Center (MRC)

Below is the monthly review for the month of July 2020 of the ten most popular articles on johnsanidopoulos.com, then all the posts made on the other websites of the Mystagogy Resource Center in order of popularity.


1. How Hagia Sophia Became a Museum in 1934

2. The British Intended for Hagia Sophia To Be a Church Again in 1918

3. Was Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos A Uniate?

4. The Hagia Sophia Churches (Fr. George Florovsky)

5. The Proposal of Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogaia Regarding Hagia Sophia

How a Plague Hastened the Discovery of the Miraculous Icon of the Virgin Mary on the Island of Tinos in 1823

A year after the beginning of the Greek Revolution, in July of 1822, a nun named Pelagia from the Monastery of Kechrovouni on the island of Tinos had a vision of the Mother of God, telling her to dig in a certain location on the island where there was an icon depicting her. This dream was repeated three times until the nun Pelagia was convinced and appealed to the authorities, which organized the search for the icon in September of 1822. Excavations began under the supervision of Stamatelos Kangades and a few days later, the foundations of an ancient church dedicated to John the Baptist were found. Near the Holy Altar, a very old dry well was finally discovered, about twenty meters deep. No icon was found, however, so the quest ceased.

Greeks and Turks (Photios Kontoglou)

Greeks and Turks (by artist Johann Wilhelm Baur, 1636)

By Photios Kontoglou

By the time the Turks appeared in Asia Minor it was a small tribe. In order to multiply, they captured and converted the locals, most of whom were Greeks. In this diabolical way, which is said to have been advised by an imam, they became a great nation. But this artificial way of multiplying ceased at one point and they began to dwindle again. The German professor Krumbacher writes that as long as Turkey was nourished by the peoples it had enslaved and by the wealth it had amassed for centuries, it grew and grew stronger, until the fear of Europe came. But as those happy years passed, she began to drink her own blood, which could not be replaced by anything. As much as they had harems with many women and as much as they were masters in this country, they kept falling, instead of moving forward. Incessant and long-term conscription cooperated a lot to this, but more so unnatural debauchery and degeneration was the reason that the Turkish population was becoming more and more dilute, including bad administration, even though the Greek subjects had the same administration and in fact much worse.

July 30, 2020

An Academic Theologian Describes His Vision of the Theotokos

The late Markos Siotis (1912-2003), who was elected in 1993 to the Academy of Sciences of Athens and was professor emeritus of the New Testament of the School of Theology of the University of Athens, described in writing in 1972 the following incident that took place while he was on the island of Tinos for the celebration of the Dormition of the Theotokos on August 15th. He wrote:

The Hidden Cross of Pontus, a True Story

Harry Efraimides, a Professor at Metsovio Polytechnic of the National Technical University of Athens, went to Trebizond in Pontus of Asia Minor to teach a seminar, which he was invited to, and at the same time he wanted to fulfill the request of his aunt. His aunt had lived in Trebizond before the population exchange of 1922, and during the catastrophe her infant son was taken by the Turks and never heard from again (most likely he was raised to be a Turkish soldier, it was thought). Harry's aged aunt, who was living in Athens, now wanted Harry to visit her old house in Trebizond and retrieve for her the baptismal Cross that belonged to her son Kostis, to remember him. Now when Harry arrived at his aunt's house, what he found greatly surprised him.

Synaxis of the Saints of Aegina

On July 30th the eleven Saints associated with the Greek island of Aegina are commemorated together. The celebration of this feast takes place in the Church of the Saints of Aegina which is in Livadi, often confused as the Church of Saint Thomas, which is wrong, because the adjacent chapel located in the courtyard of the church is alone dedicated to Saint Thomas.

July 29, 2020

How Saint Irene Chrysovalantou Saved a Man from Certain Death by Nazi Soldiers

In he year 1944, Nicholas Mavromatakis was a resident in Kifisia of Athens. He was a pious Orthodox Christian who was married and had seven children. His wife was expecting their eighth child. Nicholas and a friend took a position at Ntaou Penteli in Attica, hauling wood and wood charcoal. It was during this time that a member of the Greek Resistance had killed a German garrison commander in Rafina of Attica as well as his driver while in an automobile.

On July 14th the German high command ordered the arrest of all those found in the vicinity of Ntaou Penteli. Approximately forty men were rounded up, including Nicholas Mavromatakis. None of the forty had any connection with the killing of the two Germans. The forty were taken as prisoners and transported to the village of Harvati near the large property of Levides. The men were ordered to strip naked and fall prone to the uneven ground. They were ordered to drag themselves, on their bellies like snakes, across uneven terrain. After the passage of a considerable amount of time, they were all exhausted and bruised. Then they were directed to stand on their feet in rows of three. The German soldiers then began shooting them in their backs with automatic weapons.

Saints Constantine and Cosmas of Kosinsky (+ 13th cent.)

Our Venerable Fathers Constantine and Cosmas were monastic followers of Saint Barlaam of Khutyn (Nov. 6) and his successor, Saint Anthony of Dymsk (Jan. 17). About the year 1220, they left the Khutyn Monastery and settled on a wilderness peninsula, situated 3 versts from the city of Staraya Rus, between the Rivers Polista and Smezhnya. In time they founded a monastery there in the name of Saint Nicholas, headed by Saint Constantine until his death (ca. 1240). Saint Cosmas continued with the exploits of his mentor. He was buried in the same grave with Saint Constantine. Their bodies rest in the Nikolo-Kosinsky Monastery beneath the vestibule of the Nikolaev Church, built in 1820 over the tomb of the Saints. 

July 28, 2020

Saint Paul of Xeropotamou (+ late 9th cent.)

St. Paul of Xeropotamou (Feast Day - July 28)

Venerable Paul of Xeropotamou, who built two Monasteries, that of Xeropotamou and Saint Paul, namely Saint George, who lived in the year 820, met his end in peace.*


Paul founded two Monasteries below,
He dwells in a Monastery with Angels above.

Saint Paul of Xeropotamou, in the world Prokopios, was allegedly the son of the Roman Emperor Michael I Rangabe (811-813), who later resigned the imperial office and became a monk in a monastery he built. Having received the finest education, Procopius became one of the most learned men of his time. His “Discourse on the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple,” the “Canon to the Forty Martyrs”, the “Canon to the Venerable Cross” and other works gained him great renown. But worldly knowledge and honors did not interest him. He exchanged his fine garb for beggar’s rags, and he went to the Holy Mountain to a place called Xeropotamou. He built a cell there at the ruins of an old monastery founded by the empress Pulcheria in honor of the Forty Martyrs. From Kosmas, a hermit, he received monastic tonsure with the name Paul.

Synaxarion of the Holy Martyr Eustathios of Ancyra

St. Eustathios of Ancyra (Feast day - July 28)


The all-blessed was delivered from the river by an Angel,
And expired in the hands of the Angel that saved him.

He was a soldier, who was brought before the Governor of Ancyra named Cornelius, was questioned by him, and boldly confessing the glorious economy of our Lord Jesus Christ, he was harshly beaten. They then pierced his ankles, and tying them with ropes, he was dragged into the city of Ancyra, up to the Sagaris River. The governor followed from behind and observed. There they placed the Saint in a chest and cast him into the river. An Angel of the Lord stopped this, removing the chest and placing it on solid ground. The Saint was found there to be unharmed, chanting: "He that dwells in the help of the Highest, shall sojourn under the shelter of the God of heaven" (Ps. 91:1).

Synaxarion of the Holy Martyr Akakios the Younger

St. Akakios the Younger (Feast Day - July 28)


Akakios was beheaded at the neck by the sword,
His soul was revealed as white, when milk gushed forth.

During the reign of Emperor Licinius (308-324), he was a young man in age, and because he confessed that he was a Christian, he was suspended and lacerated. He was then handed over to Governor Terentios, who had the Saint put in a fiery cauldron, full of pitch, oil and lard. The Saint was protected by divine grace, and remained unharmed. The athlete of Christ was then forced to run behind the governor, who was going from Apamea to Apollonia. On his way, he was brought into the temple of the idols, and through his prayers, the idols there were broken. He then stood before the tribune Zelikinthios, who upon seeing the Martyr remaining steadfast in the faith of Christ, had him harshly beaten. Then a lion was released on him, and because he was kept unharmed from this, he was beaten again. Then he was put in a cauldron full of pitch and asphalt, which is a liquid similar to sulfur. Because the Saint remained unburnt, Zelikinthios thought it was because the cauldron was cold, so he went close to it, and was immediately consumed, and turned to something like dust.

Holy Martyr Drosis

St. Drosis the Martyr (Feast Day - July 28)


Drosis was cast into a golden furnace,
In whom there was found no fraud, nor mixture of filth.

The Holy Martyr Drosis met her end by being cast into a golden furnace.

Consecration of the Temple of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos at the Diakonissa

Floorplan of the Beyazit Churches A, B, C

On July 28th the Orthodox Church commemorates the Consecration of the Temple of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos at the Diakonissa. Diakonissi, or Diakonissa, was a district of Constantinople, within the city walls, west of the Beyazit Gate. Saint Olympia the Deaconess had hermitages built in this area, which were consumed by fire in 465, and again in 533 during the Nika Riots. These hermitages housed the one hundred Deaconesses that served in the Great Church. Patriarch Kyriakos II, around the year 598/99, built the Church of the Most Holy Theotokos in Diakonissi, for his sister, who lived in this area as a Deaconess of the Great Church. Because of its association with Deaconesses, the district received its name. In the eleventh century it is also reported that the Theotokos Church had an elementary school. The Church of the Theotokos is likely today the ruins of Church B of the Beyazit Churches. Their ruins are currently located under some of the buildings of Istanbul University.

Fragment of the piscina of Church B

July 27, 2020

"Saint Panteleimon Knocked On My Window"

Monastery of Saint Panteleimon at Penteli

By Olympia Vakofaris

We often went to the Monastery of Saint Panteleimon [in Penteli, founded by the Elder Simon Arvanitis], because my husband was a builder and he helped every eight days in the construction of the Monastery; he could work one day and two or three, as needed.

Once when he was working there (I happened to be with him too), Elder Simon notified him to go next Saturday morning to work there.

But we forgot.

Saint Paraskevi and the Miracle of the Annihilation of the Unbelieving Turks by Cholera

By Paraskevas Lambropoulos

During the Turkish occupation, in a small church, the Turkish occupiers did not let the priest liturgize.

They would go and do dirty things inside the church and on Sundays they would guard it and sought to kill him.

But Saint Paraskevi offered guidance to the priest while he was sleeping, that he should go ring the bell, because when he rang the bell, they would not bother him afterwards.

Saint Panteleimon and the Healing of the Soul (Archim. George Kapsanis)

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis

In the Apolytikion to the Holy Great Martyr Panteleimon, who we commemorate today, we ask the Saint to intercede to the Lord for the remission of our sins. One would expect that, from such a great physician as Saint Panteleimon, we would ask for the healing of physical illnesses, but the Church asks for the healing of illnesses of the soul, namely the passions, which are often the cause of physical illnesses, and are worse, because physical illnesses can also be good for people, good for their soul, to lead them to repentance, but the illnesses of the soul, the passions, lead to eternal death.

Turkey’s Test of Civilization

By Taner Akçam
July 13, 2020

Basically, the whole Hagia Sophia affair can be summed up with the phrases “improper” or “a shame”. But I think that the audience whom I am addressing do not possess the cultural delicacy to find these words meaningful. For their sakes, it would better to formulate it in a frank manner that they could more easily understand: the deed that is being performed in regard to Hagia Sophia is a clear show of barbarism.

It is a declaration of a “Turkish lack of culture and destructiveness” to the entire world. And the pairing of President and AK Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli is the political alliance through which this lack of culture and destructiveness has been made manifest.

Holy Great Martyr Panteleimon: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Holy Great Martyr Panteleimon the Healer

July 26

Matins Gospel Reading

Gospel According to Luke 21:12-19


The Lord said to his disciples, "Beware of men who will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives."

July 26, 2020

Homily One for the Seventh Sunday of Matthew - On the Spiritual and Physical Senses (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

On the Spiritual and Physical Senses

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

(Seventh Sunday of Matthew - 9:27-35)

Christ, as it says in the Gospels, performed many miracles to show people that He was the Messiah they had been waiting for and that these are foretells of the new life He has brought into the world. Miracles were proof of His messianic nature, in addition to the love he showed to people suffering from various ailments, physical and mental.

In today's Gospel we saw two miracles that Christ performed. One is that he healed two blind people who immediately gained the light of their eyes and saw the creations of God. The other miracle is that he healed a deaf man who could not hear, and this deafness was a consequence of a demonic condition and was not just a physical illness. In both of these miracles we see the healing of two bodily senses, sight and hearing.

Homily for the Epistle Reading on the Feast of Saint Paraskevi (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

(Homily for Galatians 3:23-4:5)

On the occasion of the feast of Saint Paraskevi, the Church has established to be read today as an apostolic reading a passage from the letter of the Apostle Paul to the Christians of Galatia, which is known as the epistle to the Galatians.

Studying today's apostolic reading, one assumes that it was chosen by the Church because it includes the phrase: “Those who have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:27-28).

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

Seventh Sunday of Matthew - 9:27-35

By St. John Chrysostom

(Homily 32 on Matthew)

"And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed Him, crying, and saying, 'Thou Son of David, have mercy on us.' And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him: and Jesus says unto them, 'Believe ye that I am able to do this?' They say unto Him, 'Yea, Lord.' Then touched He their eyes, saying, 'According to your faith be it unto you.' And their eyes were opened."

Wherefore can it be that He puts them off, and they crying out? Here again teaching us utterly to repel the glory that comes from the multitude. For because the house was near, He leads them there to heal them in private. And this is evident from the fact, that He charged them moreover to tell no man.

But this is no light charge against the Jews; when these men, though their eyes were struck out, receive the faith by hearing alone, but they beholding the miracles, and having their sight to witness what was happening, do all just contrary. And see their earnestness also, both by their cry, and by their prayer itself. For they did not merely approach Him, but with loud cries, and alleging nought else but "mercy."

July 25, 2020

The Wonderworking Icon of Saint Anna with the Theotokos from Smyrna

The icon of Saint Anna with the twelve-year-old Theotokos was originally located in Smyrna of Asia Minor. During the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922, the Turks set the city of Smyrna on fire to banish the Greeks who formed the majority population of the city, including the Cathedral of Saint Photini in the city square, in which was this icon of Saint Anna and the Theotokos. The icon was saved from the fire by a faithful Christian.

Saint Chrysostomos, Metropolitan of Smyrna at the time, who was ripped to pieces and slaughtered by the Turkish mob, would bring childless couples to this icon. He would have them fast for forty days, say prayers to Saint Anna, and at the end of the forty days to commune of the Divine Eucharist. When this was completed, the faithful couple could be sure that they would now be able to have a child. And when they did have a child, they would make a metallic offering to the icon. Because this icon was so wonderworking, it was full of vow offerings, even from childless Muslims who would come and pray before this icon and become partakers of the miraculous grace.

The Grandparents of Christ and Soteriology

The soteriological plan for the salvation of humanity was realized in the birth of Mary, so honoring those who were selected to bring Mary forth is an idea that developed in Byzantium from the eighth century onward. In the eighth century, Kosmas Vestitor summarized the reasons for celebrating Mary's parents, "through whom the beginning of salvation for all has come about."

From the eighth to the eleventh century, Byzantium developed feast days to include the grandparents of Christ into the ecclesiastical calendar in order for the Church to form a more holistic view of salvation in its liturgical life. This is when we begin celebrating the Nativity of the Theotokos (Sept. 8), Saints Joachim and Anna (Sept. 9), the Entry of the Theotokos (Nov. 21), the Conception of Saint Anna (Dec. 9) and the Dormition of Saint Anna (July 25).

Dormition of Saint Anna: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Dormition of Saint Anna, 
Mother of the Most Holy Theotokos
July 25

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode 4.
Psalm 67.35,26
God is wonderful among his saints.
Verse: Bless God in the congregations.

The reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians 4:22-27


Brethren, Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in travail; for the children of the desolate one are many more than the children of her that is married."

July 24, 2020

Hagia Sophia and the Ottomans

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

Great sorrow filled our souls with the transformation of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, which is an ecclesiastical and cultural rape, especially in our time, which is characterized as an era of human rights and respect for religious freedom. This shows both the mentality of the Turks and the response of those who supported them in their decision, because I do not think that they made such moves without any support from some great Heads of State.

However, Hagia Sophia has nothing to do with the Turkish-Ottomans, unless they consider it as booty of a continuous conquest of the Queen City from the year 1453 until today. However, history cannot be erased nor silenced nor misinterpreted.

The Proposal of Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogaia Regarding Hagia Sophia

On the occasion of today's completely unjustified desecration of the Holy Temple of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, which has deeply wounded every Greek and Christian soul, His Eminence the Metropolitan of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki, Nicholas, made the following statement and proposal:

"Perhaps now is the right time, in response to the ungodly provocation and insult of Turkey to turn the historic Christian temple of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, with the initiative of the Holy Synod and the help of the Greek State, for the Greek people as a whole to undertake the reconstruction of a new imposing temple to the Wisdom of God, which is in fact a fulfillment of the oldest Vow of our heroic ancestors.

Troparion on Behalf of the Desecration of the Temple of Hagia Sophia in Much-Coveted Constantinople

on Behalf of the Desecration of the Temple
of Hagia Sophia,
in Much-Coveted Constantinople

Mode pl. 1. The co-beginningless Word.

Hasten to banish the desecrating horde,
from Your most-beautiful Temple
of Hagia Sophia, which
brilliantly adorns, Savior,
renowned Constantinople unto the ages,
and find us worthy,
who, alas, lie in sin,
to glorify You within It
without ceasing, Lord.

The least of suppliants,
Dr. Haralambos M. Bousias
Great Hymnographer of the Church of Alexandria

The Hagia Sophia Churches (Fr. George Florovsky)

By Fr. George Florovsky

The first temple in Constantinople dedicated under the name of "Holy Wisdom" was possibly designed by Constantine himself. The building was however completed much later and the "Great Church" was first consecrated only in 360, under Constantius, by an Arian bishop. It is not at all clear when the name "Hagia Sophia" was first given to the church. Socrates says only: "which is now called Sophia" (II, 43). It is quite possible that the "Great Church" in the beginning had no special name, and the name of Sophia came to prominence later; it was probably a current connotation rather than an intentional dedication.

July 23, 2020

The Story of Nun Pelagia Marabellia (+ 1945)

By Hieromonk Demetrios Kavvadias

Pelagia Marabellia, known as Stavroula in the world, was born in the village of Molaoi in Mani in 1860. She was the only girl among her six brothers. From a young age she had the desire to become a nun. She dressed modestly in plain clothes and would retire to distant chapels, where she quietly indulged in the divine work of prayer.

But her family, and especially her father, wanted to see her married to a local so that she would not live very far. His daughter, of course, reacted strongly against this. However, when the situation became impossible she fabricated a way to fulfill what she most desired. She agreed to be engaged to the groom they chose and the date of the wedding was set. She participated happily in the wedding preparations so as not to arouse anyone's suspicions. She gained strength from her prayers and unwavering faith in Christ and the thought that the chosen Bridegroom of her soul was worth every sacrifice.

Saint Thyrsos, Bishop of Karpasia in Cyprus

St. Thyrsos of Karpasia (Feast Day - July 23)

Saint Thyrsos is more popularly known as Therissos in Karpasia of Cyprus. Little is known of his life, but according to local tradition, from his childhood he desired to live a virtuous life. At a young age he was ordained a Deacon then a Presbyter, and when Karpasia was in need of a Bishop he was chosen to shepherd Christ's flock there. He guided them and consoled them during the difficult time of the Arab conquest.

Around the year 965, when Emperor Nikephoros Phokas liberated Cyprus from the Arabs, and it returned under Roman rule, Saint Thyrsos chose a suitable replacement as Bishop, and withdrew to a cave in Karpasia in order to live as an ascetic. There numerous faithful would visit him daily, until he died and at which time he was buried. Next to his grave a church was built in his honor. Having been a miracle worker in life, he continued to work miracles for the faithful after death.

Holy New Martyr Andrew Argunov (+ 1938)

St. Andrew Argunov (Feast Day - July 23)

Andrew Ivanovich Argunov was born into the peasant family of Ivan Kuzmich and Pelagia Vasilievna Argunov on October 13, 1904. Due to the early death of his father, the family began to be in dire need, but, despite this, Andrew managed to be educated in a rural school. After that, he was a handicraftsman, and worked in an artel, which was engaged in the production of toothbrushes. In addition to work, Andrew Argunov sang in the church choir and was the chairman of the parish council of the Protection of the Mother of God Church in the village of Prudtsy. The events that ultimately led to his death took place in the 1930s.

Commemoration of the Miraculous Appearance of the Mother of God at Pochaev Lavra, which Saved the Monastery from the Assault of the Tatars and Turks (1675)

The celebration in honor of the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God on July 23 was established in memory of the deliverance of the Dormition Lavra from a Turkish siege on July 20-23, 1675.

In the summer of 1675 during the Zbarazhsk War with the Turks, in the reign of the Polish King Jan Sobesski (1674-1696), regiments composed of Tatars under the command of Khan Nurredin via Vishnevets fell upon the Pochaev Monastery, surrounding it on three sides. The weak monastery walls and its stone buildings did not offer much defense against a siege. The abbot Joseph Dobromirsky urged the brethren and laypeople to pray to their heavenly intercessors: the Most Holy Theotokos and Saint Job of Pochaev.

July 22, 2020

The Woman Who Was Near Death and Saved by Saint Markella

In 1785 some people started from Chora on the island of Chios to go to their village in Volissos.

On the way, however, they were caught in a snow storm in a deserted and uninhabited place, so that a woman fainted and fell down like dead.

The others who were with her since they could not offer her anything, picked her up and put her in the cell of the Church of Saint George, which was in this mountainous area called Flori.

The woman was at the throes of death, and so they left her there alone since they too were not safe at this point.

Holy New Hieromartyr Michael Nakaryakov (+ 1918)

St. Michael Nakaryakov (Feast Day - July 22)

The early life of Father Michael Nakaryakov is unknown to us, but he was born in 1866. He served in the Transfiguration Cathedral of the village (now the city) Usolye as the third priest. His main service was the fulfillment of the following requirements: baptism of newborns, weddings of young couples, funeral services for the dead, prayers for the needs of the people of the village and nearby villages. He was loved by the parishioners more than the other priests for his mercy and non-acquisitive lifestyle. He made great efforts to educate poor children from working families in the Law of God. He was involved in fundraising for gifts to the poor for the holidays. On Easter, Father Michael went around to the houses of the poor and distributed money, sometimes saying: "This is for shoes", "This is for gifts to children." He himself was married with children.

July 21, 2020

Holy Martyrs Theophilos, Trophimos and another Thirteen Martyrs With Them

Sts. Theophilos, Trophimos and 13 Others (Feast Day - July 21)


In the heavens Theophilos and Trophimos,
Found nourishment and the friendship of God.

To Trophimos.
Trophimos had three and ten men as companions,
Having fellow athletes they were beheaded at the same time.

These Saints contested during the reign of Diocletian in the year 308. Because they could not be persuaded to deny Christ, their bodies were lacerated and they were stoned. Then their legs were beaten, and they were cast into the fire. Having been kept from harm, they were finally beheaded, and the renowned ones received crowns of martyrdom.

Holy Martyrs Theodore and George

Sts. Theodore and George the Martyrs (Feast Day - July 21)


As athletes Theodore and George,
Raised a great trophy against error.

The Holy Martyrs Theodore and George are commemorated on this day. We have no other details of their life or martyrdom.

Holy Martyr Eugenios

St. Eugenios the Martyr (Feast Day - July 21)


Indeed Eugenios is most brave!
As one who is noble he was struck at the neck.

The Holy Martyr Eugenios met his end by the sword.

Holy Martyrs Justus and Matthias

Sts. Justus and Matthias the Martyrs (Feast Day - July 21)


The two men gave their necks to the sword,
Receiving a common end and a common crown.

The Holy Martyrs Justus and Matthias met their end by the sword.*


* There is no reason to confuse this Justus and Matthias with the Justus and Matthias of Acts 1:21–26.

Holy Three Martyrs of Melitene

Holy Three Martyrs of Melitene (Feast Day - July 21)


Scripture gives voice to the rocks that cry from within,
Regarding the three killed by dragging.

The Holy Three Martyrs of Melitene met their end by being dragged over rocks.*


* These three martyrs could be the same as the Three Martyrs of Melitene commemorated on October 31st, though it says they were martyred by being having their legs crushed.

July 20, 2020

Holy Prophet Elijah: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Holy Prophet Elijah
July 20

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode 1.
Psalm 109.4,1
You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
Verse: The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies my footstool.

The reading is from St. James' Universal Letter 5:10-20


Brethren, take as an example of suffering and patience the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we call those happy who were steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your yes be yes and your no be no, that you may not fall under condemnation. Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit. My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

July 19, 2020

Homily One for the Epistle Reading on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers - Christian Behavior (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

(Titus 3:8-15)

In his letter to Titus, the Apostle Paul, as we heard today in the Apostolic reading, among other things, urges him to advise Christians (clergy and laity) to behave properly in society. It does not speak of an outward behavior, but of the result of the salvation that took place with the incarnation of Christ and experienced in their lives.

Homily Three for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod - Empirical Theology (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

This Sunday is dedicated by the Church to the Holy Fathers who convened the Fourth Ecumenical Synod in Chalcedon in the year 451 AD, which confronted the heresy of Monophysitism. This is the heresy that claims that the two natures of Christ - divine and human - were united in one nature and in particular the human nature was absorbed by the divine nature. This view subverted the whole teaching of the Church, which maintains that the human nature is preserved in Christ even after its union with the divine nature.

The heresy of Monophysitism is a continuation of the great heresy of Arianism, which claimed that Christ is a creature and not God. The basis of these first heresies was that they tried to interpret the Person of Christ with logic. The important thing is that the heretics and all their like-minded people theologized using Greek philosophy and reflection, while the Fathers used the experience of the Prophets and Apostles, as expressed in Holy Scripture, but also as confirmed by their own spiritual, ecclesiastical experience. This is the basic difference between heretics and the Fathers. The heretics tried to interpret the relationship of the Father with the Word, and the relationship of the two natures in Christ, using philosophical presuppositions, while the Fathers knew from experience that the Word is God, because in His appearance to the Apostles and to them He shone like Light, like the sun. Thus, the Word has the same essence and energy as the Father and the Holy Spirit. Also, the union of the two natures in the Person of Christ became "unmingled", "unaltered", "indivisible" and "inseparable".

How We Came to Celebrate the Fourth Ecumenical Synod in July

On the Sunday that falls between July 13th and 19th, the Orthodox Church commemorates the Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod. Some commemorate only the Fourth Synod on this day, some the first four ecumenical synods, while others the first six ecumenical synods, or all the ecumenical synods. The history behind this commemoration is as follows.

On July 9, 518, the long reign of Emperor Anastasios, who was sympathetic to the Monophysites, came to a close, and the Orthodox Justin succeeded him on the throne. On Sunday July 15, the new emperor entered the Great Church of Constantinople, and Patriarch John II, accompanied by twelve prelates, was making his way through the throngs that crowded every corner. As he came near the raised dais where the pulpit stood shouts arose, "Long live the patriarch! Long live the emperor! Why do we remain excommunicated? Why have we not communicated these many years? You are Catholic, what do you fear; worthy servant of the Trinity? Cast out Severus the Manichean! O Justin, our emperor, you win! This instant proclaim the Synod of Chalcedon, because Justin reigns". These and other cries continued. The procession passed into the inclosure, but the excited congregation went on shouting outside the gates of the choir in similar strains: "You shall not come out unless you anathematize Severus", referring to the heretical Patriarch of Antioch. Patriarch John, having meanwhile gained time for thought and consultation, came out and mounted the pulpit, saying, "There is no need of disturbance or tumult; nothing has been done against the faith; we recognize for orthodox all the synods which have confirmed the decrees of Nicaea, and principally these three - Constantinople, Ephesus, and the great synod of Chalcedon".

July 18, 2020

Holy Venerable New Martyr Barbara Yakovleva (+ 1918)

St. Barbara the New Martyr (Feast Day - July 18)

Barbara Alexeyevna Yakovleva was born around 1880 in the Principality of Tver, and was fluent in Russian, English and German. She became a nun at the Saints Martha and Mary Convent in Moscow, which was founded in 1908 by Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna. She arrived to the Convent from Yalta on August 20, 1910. As of 1911, she was 31 years old.

She was small in stature and deeply pious, and served as Grand Duchess Elizabeth's maid before being tonsured. Her nickname was Varya. The Grand Duchess and other women also took vows on that date. As sisters of Grand Duchess Elizabeth's convent, the women were well known throughout Moscow for performing acts of charity. They took food to the homes of the poor, set up a home for women suffering from tuberculosis, established a hospital to care for the sick, established homes for the physically disabled, pregnant women and the elderly. They also established an orphanage. Their charitable efforts later spread to other cities in Russia.

Holy Hieromartyr Kozman (+ 1630)

St. Kozman (Feast Day - July 18)

Over the centuries the monastic complex founded by Saint David of Gareji became a spiritual and cultural center for all of Georgia. Many of the faithful flocked there with a desire to serve Christ.

Among them was the hieromonk Kozman, who would end his earthly life as a martyr.

Few details of the life of Holy Martyr Kozman have been preserved. According to the Georgian catholicos Anton, Saint Kozman was a learned and righteous ascetic, well-versed in the canons of the Orthodox Church.

July 17, 2020

Saint Marina and the Twelve Year Old Girl Who Was Near Death

By Paraskevas Lambropoulos

Now I will tell you about a certain miracle a woman told me.

This miracle happened to a twelve-year-old girl. It should be noted that the girl, when she was twelve years old, was quite physically developed.

So one day she went with her father to another village, to help a family friend with the harvest. There they met someone who, as soon as he saw the daughter, said to her father:

"Hey, Haralambos, it's time you start looking for a husband! Your daughter grew up."

The Crypt of Saint Marina in Miggiano

The Crypt of Santa Marina is situated under the 14th century homonymous chapel near the cemetery of Miggiano, accessible via a staircase placed to the right of the chapel, and it is one of the gems of Salento’s rock-cut architecture. 

This is a Basilian crypt dating to the 10th or 11th centuries and consists of three rooms. The first part still preserves the fresco depicting Santa Marina on the front wall. The space on the right side, once occupied by the apse, has been used as an ossuary and still preserves the ruins of a pedestal and a column. The smaller chamber accommodates a cycle of frescoes and Greek inscriptions. Each environment presents the typical steps which act as seats and in the apse are the remains of an altar and a column. 

Saint Timothy of Sviatogorsk the Fool for Christ (+ 1563)

St. Timothy the Fool for Christ (Feast Day - July 17)

In 1563, during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, in the suburbs of the Pskov region of Voronich, there lived a fifteen-year-old shepherd named Timothy, whom everyone considered a holy fool. Once he grazed his flock near the Lugovitsa River and suddenly in the air he saw the Eleousa Icon of the Mother of God, which was in the Voronich parish church of Saint George. This vision of Timothy was repeated a second time in another place, on Mount Sinica, and this time he also heard a voice foretelling that in six years the grace of God would shine on this mountain. Timothy did not tell anyone about his wonderful vision.

Saint Marcellina, Sister of Saint Ambrose of Milan

St. Marcellina (Feast Day - July 17)

Saint Marcellina was born in Trier, Gaul around the year 330 into a Roman Christian family. Her father served as Praetorian prefect of Gaul. The sister of Ambrose of Milan, she was older than her two brothers. About the year 354 Ambrosius, the father, died, whereupon the family moved to Rome. It appears that after the death of their parents, she took responsibility for the upbringing of her younger brothers, Ambrose and Satyrus.