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May 31, 2021

The Best of May 2021 by the Mystagogy Resource Center (MRC)


Below is the monthly review for the month of May 2021 of the ten most popular articles on, then all the posts made on the other websites of the Mystagogy Resource Center in order of popularity.

Holy Synod of the Church of Crete Unanimously Agrees to the Official Canonization of Elder Eumenios Saridakis

In a meeting today, 31 May 2021, of the Holy Synod of the Church of Crete which gathered in Heraklion, all the Bishops unanimously agreed to the proposal of Metropolitan Makarios of Gortynos and Arcadia which he proposed on the Sunday of the Veneration of the Honorable Cross this past year, which is to submit for official canonization the name of Archimandrite Eumenios Saridakis to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Sunday of the Samaritan Woman - True Worshipers (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (Jn. 4:24)

God and all the truth about God is not a revelation of man, but a revelation of God Himself to those who are worthy of revelation. We see this clearly in Holy Scripture and in the lives of the saints, who are "an epistle of Christ." God who has revealed Himself to man, gives him knowledge, and this knowledge of God entails the salvation of man. The Lord told the Jews, "For unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24). That is, the presence of Christ as "I am" is the true life for man, while the ignorance of God constitutes the death of man. In the Samaritan woman the Lord revealed Himself and this resulted in her salvation.

May 29, 2021

The Causes of the Fall of Constantinople, According to Joseph Bryennios

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The fall of Constantinople on May 29, 1453 was the culmination of the declining glory of the Roman Empire, the so-called Byzantium. Much has been written about the causes of this fall, which presents the situation in which the Roman Empire-Byzantium was at that time, since all of Asia Minor and Eastern Thrace was lost and only Constantinople and its environs remained. The occasional enemies had inflicted great damage, culminating in a final blow by the Frankish occupation of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade on April 13, 1204. After a few years (1261) its recapture and liberation offered nothing really substantial, because the city was already destroyed and completely looted.

Apart from the political and social causes that contributed to the fall of Constantinople, special mention should be made of the spiritual causes to which we usually do not pay much attention.

The American Historian Who Testified to the Existence of the Grave of Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos

Edwin Augustus Grosvenor was born in 1845 in West Newbury, Massachusetts. After graduating from Amherst College in 1867, he served as a tutor at Robert College in Constantinople, which was then under the Ottoman Empire. After returning to the U.S., he obtained an M.A. from Amherst College and was ordained as a minister in Newburyport in 1872. That same year, Edwin Grosvenor returned to Robert College with his new wife and began teaching. Grosvenor then taught at Amherst College from 1892 to 1914, and was professor emeritus until his death in 1936. Today the house where he lived in Amherst is a sorority house of the college that bears his name.

Grosvenor was called "one of the most cosmopolitan of Americans" by author and abolitionist Thomas Wentworth Higginson. His son, Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor, was the first employee and longtime editor of National Geographic Magazine, as well as the son-in-law of Alexander Graham Bell.

The Fall of Constantinople, 1453

By Dionysios Hatzopoulos

When, at the age of twenty-one, Mehmed II (1451-1481) sat on the throne of the Ottoman Sultans his first thoughts turned to Constantinople. The capital was all that was left from the mighty Christian Roman Empire and its presence, in the midst of the dominions of the powerful new rulers of the lands of Romania, was pregnant with danger. The new Sultan demonstrated diplomatic abilities, during his early attempts to isolate politically the Byzantine capital, when he signed treaties with the Emperor's most important Western allies, the Hungarians and the Venetians. He knew, however, that these were temporary measures, which would provide him with freedom of movement for a limited time only. To give the final blow on the half-dead body of the Byzantine Empire he had to move fast. He was so much preoccupied by his project of conquest that, according to the contemporary Greek Historian Michael Dukas, his mind was occupied by it day and night. A successful expedition against his enemy Ibrahim the Emir of Karamania, in central Asia Minor, postponed briefly his plans. He was back in his capital Hadrianople in May 1451, where he set in motion his great project. The first step was to isolate the Byzantine capital, both economically and militarily. Already, during the winter of 1451 he began recruiting competent builders, familiar with military works and fortifications, whose mission would be to build a powerful fortress on the Bosphorus. Its construction, supervised by the Sultan, began in the middle of April 1452. Built on the European side, at the narrowest point of the strait, called initially the Cutter of the throat (Boghaz-kesen), it became eventually known as Rumeli Hisar. It was a huge complex of strong fortifications whose task was to shut completely, by its artillery, to Western and Byzantine vessels the route to and from the Black Sea. The new fortress complemented the one that had been built on the Anatolian shore, at the time of Sultan Bayazid I (1389-1402), about six miles south of Constantinople, which was known as Anadolu Hisar. The presence of the two fortresses made clear to everyone that the Sultan was the real master of the straits. From now on, all ships intending to enter the Black Sea had to pay tolls. If they refused they would be sank. Indeed, near the end of 1452 a Venetian vessel attempted to pass without paying the required tolls. It was sank by the new fortress's guns, its crew of thirty men was taken prisoner. The officers and sailors were brought to the Sultan, who ordered their immediate execution. The act was rightly interpreted by the Venetian and Genoese governments as an indication of hostilities soon to break. However, despite all the indications and the realization that a new siege of Constantinople was to begin at any moment, the two Italian Republics, under political and economic pressures at home, reacted without much enthusiasm.

May 28, 2021

The Syndrome of Archpriest Avvakum in the Church Today

By Metropolitan Nektarios of Argolidos

Recently I received the book "The Life of the Archpriest Avvakum", published by Kedros. I had read it years ago, when it was first published, and I wanted to read it again. I had the feeling that there are some elements in common with the situation we are experiencing within the Church and especially with the upheaval brought by COVID 19.

Archpriest Avvakum was born in 1620 and died in 1682. He was sentenced to death by fire. He was a descendant of a levite/priestly family. His father was a priest, but addicted to the passion of alcoholism.

The first thing we can easily note is the trauma he suffered from his drunken priest-father, which later led him to an extreme ascetic practice. He was ordained a 19-year-old deacon and a 21-year-old presbyter, despite the canons which are very strict in terms of age. It is no coincidence that he will soon become the strict observer of the canons. And we have seen the same thing many times. The violators of the sacred canons become "canonists" and use the sacred canons as "cannons", as Saint Paisios used to say.

Synaxarion of Saint Andrew the Fool for Christ


On the 28th of this month [May], we commemorate our Venerable and God-bearing Father Andrew the Fool for Christ.


The saying of Paul was introduced by Andrew,
"We are fools for Christ" he cried.
On the twenty-eighth Andrew died with a prudent mind.

A rich man named Theognostos was serving as a bodyguard in Constantinople under the Emperor Leo the Great (886-912). Among his slaves there was Andrew, a Scythian by birth. He was a calm and kindhearted young man. Theognostos liked him and took care of his education. Andrew frequented the church of God, studied the Scriptures diligently and liked to read the lives of Saints, drawing inspiration especially from the Holy Martyrs. Gradually the desire to devote himself totally to God grew stronger in him and following a sign from above he took upon himself a very difficult and unusual ascetic feat - foolishness for the sake of Christ - that is, he started acting as if he was insane. His zeal often pushed him to endure mockery, humiliation and heavy insults and to take actions that are judged to be unbalanced and eccentric. But he endured the humiliations, comforted by the fact that many times he managed to bring people who were astray to the straight path.

May 27, 2021

The Hunchback of Cyprus and Saint John the Russian


As you enter the Church of Saint John the Russian you will see hanging before the shrine of the Saint, like a spoil of victory, a simple and poor gift: a walking stick. It belongs to Maria Siaka, an old lady from the village of Frenaro near Ammochostos in Cyprus.

For eighteen years she had been a hunchback and bent so forward that her face was but a short distance from the ground. On the 11th of August 1978 relatives of the old lady, together with about a hundred Cypriots, brought her to the Church of Saint John. They lifted her up to enable her to venerate the Saint’s holy and incorrupt body. Looking at the sacred relic the old lady wept and beseeched Saint John to grant her a little divine help for the remainder of her life. Saint John saw the grandeur of her soul, her grief and also her deep faith. Not long after, before the eyes of everyone there, it seemed that an invisible arm seized her shoulders with tremendous power and slowly began to unfold her body. Her spine creaked and cracked and returned to its original form - the old hunchback stood upright!

Pilgrim Walks 87 Miles To Venerate the Relics of Saint John the Russian


In the month of May vows made to Saint John the Russian increase as his feast day on the 27th approaches. A typical example of this was a vow fulfilled in 2019 by  Kostas Zarkadoulas, in which he walked 87 miles (140 km) from Aliartos in Boeotia to the Church of Saint John the Russian in Prokopi. The journey took him 40 hours, and he was accompanied by his friend Vasili Karanasos. The vow to walk to Saint John the Russian was actually one he made to Saint Paraskevi.

"I Am Saint John the Russian. I Will Make You Well in Five Days."

Elias Papakostas from Evrytania, when he came from America to his homeland, became seriously ill with pneumonia, intestinal infection and heart disease. His life was coming to an end. The year was 1937.

In vain the doctors tried to save him. He fought against death for forty days. One day a friend of his, a lawyer from Volos, went to the sick man.

He told the desperate mother of the sick man that once in Halkida he had heard talk of a Saint John the Russian. The sick man, as he says, was in such a bad condition that he could not hear, nor was he able to see what was said by the visitor. He heard only the word "Russian".

After 32 Days of Saint John the Russian Appearing in His Dreams, a Man Is Told To Build a Chapel, and Now It Is Completed

In May 2020, just before the feast of Saint John the Russian on May 27th, Vangelis Papaloukas completed building a very beautiful chapel dedicated to Saint John the Russian in Vagia of Boeotia. He started building this chapel in 2015 after a wonderful experience, but because of covid measures he was not able to consecrate the chapel until measures were lifted, and thus celebrate the Saint properly to whom it is dedicated.

What inspired Vangelis Papaloukas to undertake this task of building a chapel? According to him, the reason for the construction of the chapel was some dreams he had, in which he saw every day for a month the Saint, "who initially appeared as a shadow, while later he also showed his face." "He was a young saint, who appeared to me as if he was asking for something from me," says Mr. Papaloukas, and continues: "He took me to the place where the church is now, and then I woke up."

May 26, 2021

The Wisdom of God (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

 By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

“Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the open squares she raises her voice; down the crowded ways she calls out, at the city gates she utters her words” (Proverbs 1:20-21).

The Wisdom of God is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, through Whom all that was created, was created. All that was created manifests its Omniscient Creator, both that which is in the field as well as that which is in the city. In a field is a pure and bright nature but in the city is man with his trades and skills. The Wisdom of God cries out and does not whisper throughout all of nature and through all beneficial trades and skills of man. She [Wisdom] covered all the fields, she filled the entire city and she is above the earth and under the earth, in the heights of the stars and in the depths of the seas. He who wants to hear her can hear her in every place; he who wants to learn from her and to be delighted by her can be taught and delighted in every place; he who wants to be corrected and built up by her can be corrected and built up by her in every place.

Mid-Pentecost - Stirring Up Our Thirst for the Light of the Paraclete

By Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou

"I will give unto him that thirsts of the fountain of the water of life freely".[1]

During Great Lent, to a certain degree, we taste of Christ’s death. In the middle of this period, the Church institutes the Veneration of the Honorable Cross, to inspire and strengthen us in our struggle and to prepare our souls to enter into the life-giving presence of the Risen Lord. We are reminded that it was through the Cross that joy and the Resurrection came into the world.

In the middle of the period of the Pentecostarian, we celebrate Mid-Pentecost, which ignites our thirst for the Light of the Comforter, and confirms our determination, so we persevere in prayer with ever-increasing yearning, "until we are clothed with power from on high".[2] Mid-Pentecost is the prelude of the feast of Pentecost, when the Lord will satisfy our soul’s hunger, "when we behold His glory".[3]

May 25, 2021

Elenaba the Clairvoyant (+ 1920)

In the village of Kefalochori, located in the region of Nicaea in Asia Minor, before the population exchange, lived a revered and graceful young woman, Eleni. She was called Elenaba, which combines Eleni with Abba, due to the fact that she had the wisdom, discernment and spoke like an Abba of the Desert.

She was orphaned of her parents and worked as a servant for a compassionate Turk. At night Elenaba would pray for many hours. The Turk would hear her say in her prayer: "Let me take the sins of such and such." In other words, she was praying for others. The Turk would see many people come to her for advice and understood that she had a special gift. He held her in great honor and felt that God helped him because of Elenaba. He himself recorded the events and prophecies related to her, because he was convinced that Elenaba had the gift of clairvoyance.

Protopresbyter Spyridon Statiris (+ May 2, 2021)

Protopresbyter Spyridon Statiris was born on 28 March 1934 in Messonghi on the Greek island of Kerkyra, to the poor and pious parents John (a fisherman by trade) and Demetroula. At the age of 14 young Spyro was orphaned of his father and became the protector and provider for his mother who was almost blind and unable to work as well as his elderly aunt Irene. Before he died, his father told him: "My child, leave the sea and follow the Church." As he did not own any property, not even their own house, Spyro, in order to make a living, sold fish to the nearby villages, which he carried on his head in a basket. This was probably the cause of the strong migraines which afflicted him until the age of 60.

Due to poverty, deprivation and hardship, at the age of 17 he fell ill with tuberculosis and was hospitalized twice at the Sotiria Hospital of Athens.

Orphanhood, sickness and poverty built in him humility and very strong trust in God the Father and love for our Christ, our Panagia and the Saints of our Church. Indeed, in his life God sent many Good Samaritans, who supported him in many ways, in every moment of his life.

Father Stylianos from Heraklion, Crete (+ May 2, 2021)


Father Stylianos was an exemplary priest from Heraklion, Crete. Though he was born with one kidney, the Lord granted him around 95 years of life. Despite his very old age and retirement, he continued to catechize, confess, read endless supplicatory canons, complines, and talked for endless hours on the phone every day and in private with people who really needed him. They learned a lot from his inexhaustible knowledge, always with a smile to help despite his physical aches and pains. On the Day of Resurrection the Lord chose his faithful servant to continue his unceasing prayer in heaven and intercede to the Lord to have mercy on mankind. The photo above is very recent, wearing the priestly stole of Saint Porphyrios while reading a Supplicatory Canon to the Theotokos.

The Providence of God in the Life of Saint Anthimos the Arethiotis (+ 1870)

St. Anthimos the Arethiotis (Feast Day - May 25)

Hieromonk Anthimos Vrettos was born around 1775 in Ithaca and at a young age he entered the historic Monastery of Aretha (or Retha) in the Province of Valtos, where at that time his compatriot Hieromonk Seraphim was abbot.

With the beginning of the Greek Revolution and the blessing of his Abbot, he followed the Greek troops where he attended to the needs of the soldiers, and was honored for his contribution with the "Silver Medal".

Returning to the Monastery, he succeeded Seraphim as Abbot, but in 1833, when the Bavarians abolished many Orthodox Monasteries, Anthimos, "poor and destitute and not having a place to lay his head", left and now lived as a parish priest in Lagkada Valtos.

May 24, 2021

Almost Every Monk at Stavrovouni Monastery Has Been Infected With the Coronavirus

Stavrovouni Monastery in Cyprus is considered one of the oldest monasteries in the world, which is believed to date back to Saint Helen, who established the monastery in the fourth century and left behind a large portion of the True Cross for veneration.

These days, however, Stavrovouni Monastery is not doing too well. For weeks the Monastery has been closed due to coronavirus infections spreading. On May 19th of this year they had their first death reported due to the coronavirus. His name was Monk Demetrianos.

Almost all the monks of the Monastery of Stavrovouni were infected with the virus and some are being treated at the General Hospital of Nicosia. Fr. Neophytos is intubated, while the condition of Fr. Theophanes is also serious. Hieromonk Gregory, Fr. Artemis and Fr. Hilarion are also in the hospital. The Abbot Dionysios was also in the hospital, along with two others, but they were released.

Saint Iakovos Tsalikes and the Catholic Pharmacist

In 1990 or 1991 there was a Catholic Pharmacist from Volos, who was catechized and wanted to be baptized Orthodox, at the Monastery of the Venerable David, by Elder Iakovos Tsalikes, on Pentecost.

Everything was ready and from Saturday the sponsor and the candidate arrived for the baptism. On Sunday during the Divine Liturgy, the sponsor entered the sanctuary while Elder Iakovos was liturgizing and told him that the candidate for baptism, who for a long time was begging to be baptized, decided to not be baptized and left, on his way back to Volos.

"Don't worry, my child," said the Elder, "he will be here within twenty minutes."

The Chapel of the Holy Skull in Samos

Relics from left to right: 1) Gifts of the Magi, 2) St. Febronia, 3) St. Michael of Synnada

The village of Ano Vathi is situated in the northeast of the island of Samos. Ano Vathi was created in the 17th century when the inhabitants moved away from the coast due to pirate raids. The streets are narrow and steep and some of the traditional, old houses have hanging bay windows in a Venetian style.

One of the hidden jewels of this village is the Chapel of the Holy Skull, or Agia Kara. Agia Kara is a small single aisle, tiled-roof church, built around the end of 17th century. The two main features of interest in this chapel is the wood carved iconostasis and the large fresco of the Great Judgment built at the chapel's exit.

It Is Wrong To See Things as Black and White (Fr. Ananias Koustenis)

By Fr. Ananias Koustenis

Someone who does something bad or even many bad things should not be thrown away. They also have a good side and in their life they have done both good and noble deeds. This is why we should not look at things as if they are black and white, my brethren. This is wrong.

We cannot judge anyone from one, two or even three incidents in their life, but this can only be done by taking into account the entirety of their life and especially their repentance.

May 23, 2021

Sunday of the Paralytic - House of Mercy (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water" (Jn. 5:4)

At the pool (in its porticoes) which was at the Sheep Gate "there was a large crowd of sick people" waiting for the descent of the angel to be released from their disease. This "pool" was also visited by the "Angel of Great Counsel", Christ, and He healed the bedridden man who had suffered for thirty-eight years. When the man had no man, He was accepted by the God-man. When he could not enter the pool, after the descent of the angel, he was found worthy to meet the Lord of the angels.

Reflection on the Sunday of the Paralytic (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse

"Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee" (John 5:14). Sin does not strike only the soul, but the body as well. In some cases this is exceedingly obvious; in others, although not so clearly, the truth remains that the illnesses of the body always stem from sins. A sin is committed in the soul and directly makes it sick; but since the life of the body comes from the soul, then the life coming from a sick soul is of course not healthy. The mere fact that sin brings darkness and sorrow must unfavourably act on the blood, in which lies the basis of bodily health. But when you remember that it separates man from God, the Source of life, and places man in disharmony with all laws acting in himself and in nature, then one must marvel how a sinner remains alive after sinning. This is the mercy of God, Who awaits repentance and conversion. Consequently, a sick person must rush first of all to be cleansed of sins and make peace with God in his conscience. This paves the way for the beneficial action of medicine. They say that there was one distinguished doctor who would not begin treatment until the patient had confessed and received the holy Mysteries; and the more serious the disease, the more urgently he insisted upon this.

May 22, 2021

Greeting With "Christ is Risen" 20 Days After Easter

By Demetrios Panagopoulos (1916-1982), Preacher

I once picked up the phone twenty days after Easter and said "Christ is Risen" instead of "Hello".* The person on the other line responded:

"What are you talking about, my child? What is this place?"

"It is a house."

"What are you?"

"What am I? I'm a man."

May 21, 2021

Two Common Features in Traditional Icons of Saints Constantine and Helen

A common and very noticeable feature in traditional icons of Saints Constantine and Helen is that there is a Cross in between them. However, what many often do not notice is the placement of their hands on this Cross. There is a very specific rule regarding these hand placements: Constantine's hand must hold the Cross above where Helen places her hand on the Cross. Why such a specification? Because this indicates how the Cross was revealed to them - to Constantine was revealed the Cross in the sky above the earth, while to Helen was revealed the Cross in the ground below the earth.

Constantine's Kingdom, Consecrated by Christ

By Fr. Alexander Schmemann
In Constantine’s mind the Christian faith, or rather, faith in Christ, had not come to him through the Church, but had been bestowed personally and directly for his victory over the enemy — in other words, as he was fulfilling his imperial duty. Consequently the victory he had won with the help of the Christian God had placed the emperor — and thereby the empire as well — under the protection of the Cross and in direct dependence upon Christ. This also meant, however, that Constantine was converted not as a man, but as an emperor. Christ Himself had sanctioned his power and made him His intended representative, and through Constantine’s person He bound the empire to Himself by special bonds. Here lies the explanation of the striking fact that the conversion of Constantine was not followed by any review or re-evaluation of the theocratic conception of empire, but on the contrary convinced Christians and the Church itself of the emperor’s divine election and obliged them to regard the empire itself as a consecrated kingdom, chosen by God.
- From Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1977 p. 65-66.

May 20, 2021

Synaxarion of the Holy Martyr Thallelaios


On the 20th of this month [May], we commemorate the Holy Martyr Thallelaios


Thallelaios having been harshly beheaded,
God gave a plant for the release of all suffering.*
On the twentieth the head of Thallelaios was cut off.

This Saint Thallelaios flourished during the reign of Emperor Numerian in the year 284, and was from a country in Phoenicia called Lebanon, whose father was Berukios the Hierarch of the Christians and his mother was called Romylia. Having learned the art of medicine, and gone into hiding inside an olive tree out of fear of the idolaters, he was arrested as a Christian in the city of Anazarbus, which is located in the second province of Cilicia. Being brought before the ruler Theodore, who, being unable to persuade the Saint to sacrifice to the idols, for this reason ordered that his ankles be pierced through, in order for a rope to go through them, and then have him suspended upside down. The servants therefore thought they did as the ruler ordered, by piercing through the ankles of the Saint and suspending him, but in fact they neither pierced him nor suspended him, but were struck with blindness, and their minds were altered by some divine power, so that they were unable to know what they were doing, which is why they pierced through a piece of wood and suspended it instead of the Saint. The ruler thought the soldiers were mocking him, so he had them flogged. Two of them, whose names were Alexander and Asterios, seeing this paradoxical matter, believed in Christ. Because of this they were beheaded, and received crowns of martyrdom.

May 19, 2021

Synaxarion of the Holy New Hieromartyr John Karastamatis of Santa Cruz

By Abbess Isidora Agierotheitissa


On the 19th of this month [May], we commemorate the Holy New Hieromartyr John the Wonderworker, martyred in the city of Santa Cruz of the New World in the year 1985.


As an inspired sacrificer of the bloodless sacrifice,
Likewise you became a bloody sacrifice O John.
On the nineteenth John was harshly struck and cut up

Father John Karastamatis of Santa Cruz was born on the Greek island of Andros on August 8, 1937. Having come to America where he was assigned to Greek Orthodox parishes in Alaska and Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, due to health related issues he was transferred to California for the warmer climate and became the first parish priest and one of the founders of the Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church in Santa Cruz, California. A married priest with two children, he was a fervent preacher of the Orthodox faith and tirelessly ministered not only to his flock but also the unemployed, homeless and drug addicts of the city. On May 19, 1985 he was found brutally murdered in his church. He has been credited with numerous miracles of healing since his death.*

Saint John, Prince of Uglich, in Monasticism Known as Ignatius (+ 1522)

St. John-Ignatius the Prince of Uglich (Feast Day - May 19)
The Holy Prince John was the son of the Christ-loving Prince Andrei Vasilyevich of Uglich, the third son of the Great Prince Vasily the Dark and Princess Helen. He was born around 1477 and received Holy Baptism in Velikiye Luki. From infancy he showed extraordinary restraint, unusual for children of his age. He was meek and lowly in heart, quiet, not given to anger, neither was he inclined to playing games nor seeking the royal comforts. Instead he studied the Divine Scriptures, and soon become familiar with it. His mother, Princess Helen, died in 1483. Having lost his beloved mother at the age of six, the youth found solace in warm prayer. The young Prince John then devoted himself even more to the reading of sacred books, constantly had the memory of death in his mind, attended all church services during the day, and spent the nights in prayer. The highest delight for him was conversations with pious people, his favorite pastime were acts of philanthropy. At such a young age, surrounded by a crowd of courtiers, in the midst of the noise of everyday life, he looked more like a monk than an heir to a reign of wealth and glory. He did not pay any attention to the deeds and honors of the princely rank, in general, instead everything that did not belong to the enlightenment of reason and the salvation of the soul was completely alien to him and, as it were, did not exist. Abstinent in food and drink, he loved to dress modestly and simply, to the extent that his high rank allowed him this simplicity, and he tried more to adorn himself with good manners than wealth and splendor of clothes.

Saint Demetrios of the Don, Great Prince of Moscow (+ 1389)

St. Demetrios of the Don of Moscow (Feast Day - May 19)

The Right-believing Great Prince Demetrios Donskoy (of the Don) of Moscow was born in 1350. His father Ivan the Fair died when he was nine years old, and so he was made the Prince of Moscow and entrusted to the guidance of Metropolitan Alexis of Moscow (Feb. 12), who served as his regent. From 1363 to his death he served as Grand Prince. Prince Demetrios combined Christian piety with his remarkable political talents, devoting himself to the unification of the land of Russia and to the emancipation of Russia from the Tatar-Mongol Yoke.

The most important event during Demetrios's early reign was to start building the Moscow Kremlin; it was completed in 1367. Thanks to the new fortress, the city withstood two sieges by Algirdas of Lithuania during the Lithuanian–Muscovite War (1368–72).[3] The war ended with the Treaty of Lyubutsk. In 1375, Demetrios settled, in his own favor, a conflict with Mikhail II of Tver over Vladimir. Other princes of Northern Russia acknowledged his authority and contributed troops to the impending struggle against the Horde. By the end of his reign, Demetrios had more than doubled the territory of the Principality of Moscow.

Synaxis of the Holy Five Bishops of Chytroi (Kythrea)

Chytroi (Kythrea) is a region in Northern Cyprus. The Diocese of Chytroi was established in the fourth century. The city thrived because of the great source of water, Kefalovrysos, part of which was transported, by way of an aqueduct, to Salamis, the capital of Cyprus. The rest of the water irrigated the area, making it a source of wealth. The first Bishop of Chytroi was Saint Pappos. We know very little about the Diocese of Chytroi. In the town of Kythrea, the successor to Chytroi, five bishops - Pappos (24 October), Athanasios (17 May), Photinos (2 August), Spyridon (19 September) and Demetrianos (6 November) - were honored as Saints. On the 17th of May, the Synaxis of all five of them together is celebrated, which was established in 2018 by Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus.

May 17, 2021

The Challenge of the Enlightenment and the "Kollyvades" Fathers

By Protopresbyter George D. Metallinos

In the 18th century, a new adventurous meeting of the Orthodox East and the West took place, which in its basic points is a repetition of the similar process of the 14th century. The successors of the Hesychasts of the declining Byzantium were the Kollyvades Fathers of Mount Athos, while in the place of the "Latin-Greek" Barlaam the Calabrian, that is, the bearer and exponent of the "European" consciousness, stood the most official representatives of the Greek Enlightenment, mainly clergy and monks as before. This was a new phase of our long-standing national division, of the long-running "spiritual dualism" which permanently devours our national flesh. This spiritual crisis is understood - correctly to a point - as a crisis of national identity. It is important, however, that again Mount Athos, a place more sensitive to issues of tradition, becomes the focus of the new conflict, since it has now been accepted (eg. Demetrios Apostolopoulos) that Mount Athos, in the figures of the Kollyvades, not only influenced, but also directed the struggle of the National Center in those truly crucial historical choices.

May 16, 2021

Sunday of the Myrrhbearers - The Risen One and the Myrrhbearers (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him" (Mk. 16:1).

In today's Gospel reading there is talk about the visit of the Myrrhbearing women "when the Sabbath was past" to the tomb, the encounter with the Angel and the information that "He is risen, He is not here." The encounter of the Myrrhbearers with the Lord is not described here, but we know very well that the Myrrhbearing women not only were found worthy of the angelic apparition and were the first to be informed of the Resurrection of Christ, but also were found worthy to see the Risen Christ. This is an event of great importance and significance. That is why in the person of the Myrrhbearers, female nature and in general all human nature is honored.

Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women - A Woman of Love and Service Is Never Bored or Empty

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

The third week after Holy Pascha is called the Week of the Holy Myrrhbearing Women. How did the Myrrhbearing women deserve such honor and memory that the Holy Church appointed a special week for their remembrance and glorification? Could it be that on the day of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, very early in the morning, they carried fragrant ointment to His tomb in order to anoint His body with it, for which they were called "myrrhbearers"? No. Of course, by this they proved that they loved Jesus Christ, but this was only their last deed, which they did for Him, out of love for Him who had died. No, even before, much earlier and much more they showed their love for Jesus Christ. They were at His burial, they were at His crucifixion, when He was led to Golgotha they followed Him and wept. But most importantly, during all the time Jesus Christ walked through the cities and villages and taught the people, these women were among the first to follow Him and served Him with their own means.

Father Ananias Koustenis Has Died Due to Complications With the Coronavirus

I almost hate to say what I'm about to write so soon after his repose, because it's going to sound like an "I told you so" comment, but I'm going to say it mainly because if you search the name "Ananias Koustenis" on the internet in English, this is by far the most popular story told about him.

In March 2020 a video began to circulate (which has now been removed by YouTube for violating its rules on spreading unverified information on covid-19, see here) of Father Ananias Koustenis "revealing" to the Orthodox world a "sure protection and cure" for the coronavirus. I can't remember all the details, but apparently an older gentleman from Greece said that Saint Nikephoros the Leper told him through a vision not to be afraid of the new virus (coronavirus), because he would protect and heal all those who have faith and turn to him in prayer.

May 14, 2021

The "Godlike Personhood" and the "Society of Persons"

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

In a text signed by "Hagiorite Fathers Living in Cells" and sent to the "Revered Sacred Community of the Holy Mountain of Athos" regarding the pandemic and the vaccine (dated 2/10/21) many and various things are written, for which they wrote the various "observations" of the friend of Mount Athos the Reader-Doctor Stephanos Demetropoulos.

However, I would like to comment on a paragraph which refers to the "mask-muzzle" which "allegedly" protects against the coronavirus the "Godlike personhood of man" and by this "abolishes the society of persons."

May 13, 2021

Homily in Thanks to the Lord for the End of the Epidemic of Cholera in Rybinsk in 1848

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

The Holy Church confesses You throughout the whole universe.

We had a terrible summer! For almost four months, each of us had to constantly fear not to die from an epidemic disease, because everyone got sick from it: both old and young, weak and strong, and few of those who fell ill did not die. We had a terrible summer! Our city was a hospital, and the Rybinsk pier was a haven for patients from different parts of Russia.

But do you remember, listeners, where we then ran away from fear? Of course you remember - to the church of God. And how calm we were here! Here we were not afraid to die, here we forgot to think that we had a disease in the city, here we looked at the dead calmly, because we looked at them as if they were alive. In the temple of the Living God, everything is alive - both the dead are alive, and the absent are inherent here; here are all those in Christ with us, for whom we pray, whom we remember. And that is why here we were not afraid for ourselves or for others. Here, after all, we are all under the special protection and patronage of Almighty God, because we are in His house.

George Cochrane Describes Easter Among the Greeks of Athens in 1835

Lithograph of King Otto I by George Cochrane. Otto I, Duke of Bavaria, became first King of Greece in 1832, under the London Convention, whereby Greece became a new independent monarchy under the protection of the great powers (United Kingdom, France and Russia).

George Cochrane arrived in Greece in January 1827 together with his uncle, admiral Thomas Cochrane, who was in command of two British steamships destined to reinforce the Greek fleet in the War of Independence. The first part of his two-volume account includes descriptions of the social, political and war situation in Greece in the last year of the war, together with Cochrane's meetings and conversations with Kolokotronis, Mavrokordatos, Tombazis, Kanaris and Kapodistrias, and his visits to Hydra, Poros, Nafplio, Argos and Athens. Cochrane returned to the Greek state twice, in 1834, and in 1835-36, with the project of setting up a steamship line which would connect Piraeus, Marseille, Malta, Naples, Istanbul, Syros, Izmir and Alexandria.

His two-volume book Wanderings in Greece was published in London in 1837. The edition is enriched with lithographs based on the author's drawings. The text remains one of the most interesting in its kind. Without being a profound political analysis, it paints a very precise picture of the public life of several personalities, mainly politicians, and offers penetrating insight into Greek society in the first years of the foundation of the Greek State.

The first volume of Wanderings in Greece ends with Greeks celebrating festively on the night before Great Lent, after which they returned to their homes to eat nothing but bread and olives for the next forty days. In the second volume Cochrane describes his observations of Easter in Athens in 1835. He writes:

The Holy Spring of Saint George in Mammari

The village of Mammari, in the province of Nicosia in Cyprus, is inextricably linked to Saint George. In fact, in the village there are two churches dedicated to the Saint, while at a distance of about 500 meters, to the southeast of the churches, is the Holy Spring of the Saint.

According to local legend, when a great drought passed through the area, Saint George was also riding through on his horse, and having become thirsty, he found no water anywhere. Going up the mountain, the horse tapped its feet on the rocks and immediately there began to gush water. In fact, the footprints of the horse can be seen until today on the rock next to the Holy Spring.

May 12, 2021

Saint Germanos of Constantinople as a Model for our Lives

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Germanos was born in Constantinople in 640 AD. His father was the patrician Justinian, a man worthy of mention and famous for his virtue, who during the reign of Emperor Heraclius administered much public authority. His colleagues, but also others who knew him, admired him for his learning and especially for his piety and virtue. However, this caused him to be envied by the grandson of Heraclius, Constantine Pogonatos, who killed him, saying that Justinian thought of revolting against his empire. "For envy does not know where there is profit," and thus the Saint was orphaned at the age of twenty.

Life, Works and Thought of Saint Epiphanios of Cyprus (Fr. George Florovsky)

By Fr. George Florovsky

I. Life.

Epiphanius was born in Palestine around 315. Exactly where he studied is unknown, but from his works it is evident that he was an extremely well-read man. He knew five languages: Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Coptic, and some Latin. Epiphanius was an ascetic from his early youth. He was a close friend of Hilarion and visited the monasteries in the Egyptian desert. When he returned home, he founded a monastery near his native town of Eleutheropolis, which he directed for many years. He was a well-known figure far beyond the borders of Palestine, and in 367 he was elected bishop of Constantia (Salamis) in Cyprus. There he became renowned as an ascetic, thaumaturge, and defender of orthodoxy. From 370 he was involved in polemics with the Apollinarians. Epiphanius developed a close friendship with Jerome on the basis of their common interest in ascetic discipline, and through Jerome he became involved in the Origenist controversy in Palestine.

May 11, 2021

Synaxarion of the Holy Venerable Martyrs Olympia and Euphrosyne of Karyes

 By Monk Gerasimos Mikragiannanitis


On the 11th of this month, we commemorate the Holy Venerable Martyrs Olympia and Euphrosyne of the Sacred Monastery of Karyes in Thermi of Lesvos, who contested in the year 1235.


Olympia having lived venerably,
Was seen as a Martyr of the Lord at the hands of pirates.
On the eleventh Olympia reposed having suffered and bewailed.

Blessed Olympia was born in Peloponnesos in the year 1200 to pious parents who were from Constantinople. Her father was a priest and her mother was the daughter of a priest, and it is unknown why and when they moved to Peloponnesos. At the age of ten she was orphaned of her parents, having departed life, so she was sent by her relatives to the Monastery of Karyes, which is located in Thermi on the island of Lesvos, where the abbess was her maternal aunt, whose name was Dorothea, and there she completely dedicated herself to God. When she became 19 years old, she was tonsured a nun, in the year 1219, and in her 25th year, the abbess Dorothea having died, she became abbess of this Monastery in the year 1225. After 10 years had passed, on the 11th of May in the year 1235, a swarm of pirates attacked the Monastery, striking like wild wolves, causing the nuns to scatter, plundering and destroying everything. At that time there were 30 monastics living in asceticism there, six of whom were dishonored by the savage barbarians, fleeing in grief to the mountains. However Olympia, as the abbess, stayed behind with a sister who was advanced in age, whose name was Euphrosyne, to withstand the rage of the assaults of the pirates. They suspended Euphrosyne onto a tree, which they set on fire; while they burned the body of blessed Olympia with burning torches. Then taking a fiery iron rod, they passed it right through her ears, and in this manner was her martyric end. Then the pirates, to complete their barbaric mania, took the body of the Martyr, and nailed it to a board of wood, and this is how she was buried, after the barbarians fled, by certain Christians, being unable to remove the nails, cutting the flesh of the blessed one by removing the nails, which numbered 20, the same number that were found with the bones of the Martyr, when her grave was discovered.

The Tomb and Relics of Saint Cyril the Apostle to the Slavs

A chapel on the right side of the nave of the Basilica of San Clemente in Rome is dedicated to Saints Cyril and Methodios. In this chapel rests the only surviving relics of Saint Cyril. The original tomb of the Saint is also in the basilica, with offerings there dedicated by all the Slavic nations, as well as other nations of the world.

At the request of the King of Moravia, the Roman Emperor Michael III in 863 sent the two brothers Cyril and Methodios from Thessaloniki to teach and preach Orthodox Christianity.

May 10, 2021

The Mystery of the Missing Relics of Saint Cyril VI, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 1821)

The martyrdom of Ecumenical Patriarch Cyril VI of Constantinople on 18 April 1821 by the Turks, who was hanged in Adrianople and whose body was dumped in the river Evros, is still a topic of discussion in the remote village of Pythio in the eastern part of Didymoteicho, on the Greek-Turkish border.

A few meters from the only cafe of the village where the few residents gather to discuss their lives and the news, there is a narrow alley with the empty tomb of the Patriarch, above which stands a chapel dedicated to his memory that is cared for daily by the residents. In 1993 the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece recognized him as a Saint of the Church, but no one knows where his sacred relics are located.

The Touch of Thomas and the Queen of Ioannina in Post-Byzantine Monumental Art

Meteora, skevophylakion of the Monastery of the Transfiguration (after 1382)

Eleni Evangelou's research work: "Women and Icons - The Case of Maria Angelina Doukaina Palaiologina, Queen of Ioannina (ca. 1349/50-1394)", is a special contribution to the chapter on women in the Palaeologian period and post-Byzantine art.

The third chapter of the work is titled: "Maria after Maria: the Touch of Thomas and the Queen of Ioannina in Post-Byzantine Monumental Art".

This chapter examines some post-Byzantine representations of the Touch of Thomas, which include the figure of Maria Palaiologina. These are frescoes dating from the 16th to the 18th century and adorn the churches of Ioannina, Thessaly and Macedonia.

May 9, 2021

Thomas Sunday - Wrestling With God (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"Unless I see ... I will not believe" (Jn. 20:25)

The Apostle Thomas, in order to believe in the Resurrection of Christ, asked to see, because he had not yet received the Holy Spirit and had not acquired an inner sense, which would assure him of the Deity of Christ. He wanted to see and feel in order to gain tangible knowledge of God. But the knowledge of God is not an experience of the senses, but of inner information, inner communion with Christ, which is channeled into the body as well. However, the sacred hymn of this Sunday calls the unbelief of Thomas "good", on the one hand because it was well-intentioned, and on the other hand because it became a cause to prove the Resurrection of Christ.

May 8, 2021

The Amazing Miracle of Marmaketo: An Annual Paschal Miracle in Crete on the Feast of Saint John the Theologian

Every year, on May 8th, the feast day of Saint John the Theologian, crowds of believers from all over Crete arrive at the small village of Marmaketo, at the Lasithi Plateau, to participate in the annual miracle of Marmaketo.

At the Church of Saint John the Theologian, on Great Friday of Holy Week, the process for this miracle which will culminate on May 8th begins. On Great Friday morning, the women of Marmaketo gather some wild orchids, called Paschal Flowers, from the fields. They then meet at the church and decorate the Epitaphion with the wild orchids, along with various other flowers from their gardens.

Reflection for Bright Saturday (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse 
We have two lives, fleshly and spiritual. Our spirit is as though buried in our flesh. Once it begins to extract itself—coming to life by God’s grace—from its intertwining with the flesh and to appear in its spiritual purity, then it will be resurrected, or it will resurrect itself piece by piece. When it wholly tears itself out of this binding, then it comes forth as if from a tomb, in a renewed life. In this manner the spirit becomes separate, alive and active; whereas the tomb of the flesh is separate, dead and inactive, though both are in the same person. This is the mystery of what the apostle says: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (II Cor. 3:17). This is liberty from decay, which surrounds our incorruptible spirit; or from passions, corrupting our nature. This spirit, entering into the freedom of the children of God is like a beautifully colored butterfly, fluttering away from its cocoon. Behold its rainbow coloring: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal. 5:22). Is it possible for such a beauty of perfection not to arouse in us a desire to emulate it?

May 7, 2021

The Great Miracle at the Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring in Paros in July of 1944

Monastery of Longovarda of the Life-Giving Spring in Paros

On May 14, 1944, an English submarine anchored in the bay of Piso Livadi, Paros, and the soldiers were divided into three groups led by the residents of the island Antonios Delenta, Manolis Gryllakis and Nikolaos Stella. They went up to the village of Tsimpidos (Marpissa) and captured seven German soldiers that were sleeping, killed two radio operators who had just managed to send out a telegram about the raid, and injured the commander of the airport Lieutenant Tampe; communication cables were also found cut. In retaliation, the Germans arrested the young Nikolaos Stella from Leukes at the airport the next morning. Having reasonable suspicions against him, they killed him, hanging him on a tree in a high place to be seen by the surrounding villages for intimidation on May 21st.