November 30, 2021

Katerina Derba, an Ascetic of the World (2 of 3)

...continued from part two.

Her Spiritual Work

Katerina lived an intense spiritual life, guided by patristic books, as if she were being taught by God. But she had good anxiety and was afraid of being misled. She told Fr. Methodios, a hieromonk she knew that would frequently go to Mount Athos, if an Athonite clairvoyant Elder was manifested, to take her to him to be counseled. When Papa-Ephraim Katounakiotis suffered a concussion and went to the hospital, she went to see him with Fr. Methodios. The Elder saw her in particular and, while many were waiting outside, he held her back and said to her: "Eldress, say more." He looked at her in amazement and with admiration repeated: "Eldress, say more." The Eldress told him: "I came here to ask and listen, not to speak." And the Elder said to her: “You will continue in this way. Do not be afraid. I will pray for you." He held her for over an hour, while the others waited outside and knocked on the door; he said to Fr. Methodios in particular: "The Eldress will repose in a few years." When he later went to Papa-Ephraim, he said to him again: "The Eldress will repose in a year. She will be the first in Paradise, in front of many Athonites. I have never seen such a soul in my life, nor could I imagine that there is such a soul in the world. It is a soul that has lived theology in practice and has transcended all spiritual stages. This grandmother with her simplicity, with her inner communion with God through prayer, with her great humility and her thirst and longing for Christ, reached such measures and she did not need to live in asceticism in a monastery. I will pray for her, but tell her to pray for me too."

November 29, 2021

How the Official Canonization of Saint Philoumenos of Jacob's Well Came About

The decision for the canonization of Fr. Philoumenos was made by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem at the insistence of Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou. Metropolitan Neophytos said the following about this in 2009, after he did a trisagion at the grave of the parents of St. Philoumenos, in their native village of Orunda in Cyprus:

The Nephew of Saint Philoumenos Talks About His Uncle's Martyric Death

(left) Fr. Elpidios, (right) Fr. Philoumenos

On November 29, 1979, the brother of Fr. Elpidios, the holy hieromartyr Philoumenos, was martyred in the shrine of Jacob's Well in Neapolis of the Holy Land. At the same time as when the martyrdom was taking place, Elder Elpidios, while he was in his cell in New Skete [on Mount Athos], saw in a miraculous way his martyrdom and heard him shout to him:

"My brother, they are killing me! My brother, they are killing me! Do not be indignant, to the glory of God!"

Testimony of the Dressing of the Martyred Body of Saint Philoumenos

The testimony of Fr. Sophronios the Agiotaphite, who received the sacred relic of the Holy Martyr Philoumenos (+ 1979) to clothe it and prepare it for burial, is shocking, in that his body remained warm and flexible for five days after his martyrdom.

"They took him to the morgue. He was then autopsied in Tel Aviv and they notified us on November 21. I went with three other Fathers of the Patriarchate and they gave him to us naked. When we asked them where his clothes were, they told us they were in Neapolis. Fortunately, we had taken with us everything we needed to dress him. But you cannot imagine the sight, when he was handed to us in pieces, his face unrecognizable, bearing the marks of martyrdom just as when the Persians slaughtered the Fathers of Saint Savvas and other Monasteries. So today a new martyrdom followed with Fr. Philoumenos.

November 28, 2021

Reflection on the Thirteenth Sunday of Luke (St. Theophan the Recluse)

Thirteenth Sunday of Luke
Luke 18:18-27
  By St. Theophan the Recluse

The Holy Forefathers—these are truly great people! If one were to generalize the thought which defines their greatness, only those who fulfill God’s will for the human race—a positive will—are truly great, for there is much that happens only by God’s allowance. There are also powerful figures who act apart from God’s will and even against it. These too can seem great, but not in and of themselves—only according to those great counteractions which God’s Providence puts forth to efface the evil caused by them. We know God’s direct will concerning eternal salvation; but God’s plans concerning the temporal sojourn of people on the earth are hidden from us. That is why it is difficult for us to determine who acts more straightly, or more precisely according to God’s will. One can only acknowledge one negative criteria as true: He who acts against God’s determination for the eternal salvation of people cannot be considered great, no matter how ostentatious his deeds; for it is evident that he is going against the obvious will of God. Though this known will does not concern temporal, but rather eternal things, it is doubtless that the one will of God cannot contradict another.

November 26, 2021

The Cave Chapel of Saint Stylianos in Kerkyra

Below the village of Afionas, in the northern part of the island of Kerkyra is one of the most remote and inaccessible beaches of Kerkyra, Porto Timoni. To reach Porto Timoni you take one of the two paths that start from the village and reach the destination with two beaches.

On the road to the end of the peninsula that leads to the beach is the Chapel of Saint Stylianos, carved into a cave, which houses the icon of Saint Stylianos.

The Sacred Skull of Saint Stylianos

Saint Stylianos was from Paphlagonia and lived in strict asceticism for the love of Christ in the latter 6th century and early 7th century. When he reposed in the Lord, his face shone like the sun and an angel appeared to take his soul to heavenly glory. His prayers have worked many miracles, both during his earthly life and since. He is of special help to children who are ill, orphans and to childless couples.

November 25, 2021

Katerina Derba, an Ascetic of the World (1 of 3)

She was born in Vlasti of Kozani in 1890 and was the sixth daughter of John Vlachogiannis and Maria, who was a very pious woman and very prudent. Her mother said that her ancestors twice hosted Saint Kosmas the Aitolos in their house and he blessed them.

Katerina attended some classes in Primary School, learned to read and studied a lot throughout her life. She was very beautiful and when a new teacher came to their village, he liked her and took her as his own. Her father gave his blessing, Katerina got married to Konstantinos Derba and they settled in her husband's village, in Tsaritsani of Elassonos. While Katerina was expecting her third child, someone shot and killed her husband. So at the age of 27 she became a widow with three babies. To make a living she learned to sew. Later, her relatives built a house in Vlasti next to her paternal home. There she also learned knitting. Her son, George, also learned sewing and later settled in Thessaloniki, where he was followed by his mother Katerina.

November 24, 2021

A Conversation With Saint Paisios on the Existence of the Invisible Naked Ascetics of Mount Athos

By Hieromonk Athanasios of Simonopetra,
Hymnographer of the Great Church of Christ

"Elder [Paisios]," I said to him, "I want you to give us a blessing to leave, because it is getting dark and we do not have a flashlight, we will be killed on the road."

"Sit over there, so we can talk. Where will I find company? I've been desperate to see a man!"

Of course, he did not need company, but his purpose was to help us spiritually, and I said to him:

"Okay, we'll sit down. But I want you to tell us something."


"I went to Saint Anna the day before yesterday, there in Little Saint Anna, and I heard various stories being said about the naked ascetics."

"Well," he said, "what do you want me to tell you?"

"Elder, do they exist or do they not exist?"

The Story of the Icon of the Panagia Pyrovoletheisa ("of the Gun Shot")

When Mount Athos was occupied by a Turkish guard in April of 1822, a soldier dared to shoot at the icon of the Theotokos located outside the entrance of the Sacred Great Monastery of Vatopaidi. The bullet hit the right hand of the Panagia. As soon as he shot the right hand of the Panagia, the sacrilegious soldier immediately fell down and frothed in front of the gate like a madman, as the historical manuscript states about this event. This soldier, who was the nephew of the captain of the detachment, then went and hung himself on an olive tree in the garden opposite the entrance of the monastery. The danger of retaliation and looting of the monastery would have been certain, if the scene was not witnessed by a fellow soldier who informed his uncle about it. The captain of the detachment then confessed that this was indeed a divine chastisement and ordered that his nephew, the soldier, be cast away dishonorably and unburied. The miraculous icon of the Panagia Pyrovoletheisa ("of the Gun Shot") is located at the entrance of the Sacred Great Monastery of Vatopaidi, and the location of the gunshot on the right hand can still be seen.

The Repose of Elder Elpidios as a Testimony of his Holiness

Elder Elpidios was the brother of Saint Philoumenos, who was martyred at Jacob's Well in the Holy Land in 1979. Besides his life, his repose on November 18, 1983 was a testimony to his holiness.

According to the testimony of Archimandrite Athanasios, the abbot of Machaira Monastery in Cyprus, who was a spiritual child of Elder Elpidios when he was abbot of Machaira Monastery:

"A week before he was in a coma. He was holding his prayer rope in his hand. The doctor said he had lost all awareness of his environment, and was left only with mechanical movements. I therefore pulled the prayer rope from the hand of the Elder. He then opened his eyes, saw me, reached out his hand, grabbed his prayer rope and continued to pray in his own way. When we asked for his blessing, he put his hand on our head and blessed us with the priestly blessing. All this was done in the presence of the doctor."

November 23, 2021

Homilies on the Holy Mysteries - The Mystery of the Divine Eucharist (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The Mystery of the Divine Eucharist

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Since so far, my beloved brethren, we have analyzed Baptism and Chrismation, today we must emphasize a few points about the great mystery of the Divine Eucharist. Of course, for this mystery we highlighted what was needed in last year's liturgical sermons. But now we must emphasize some points that have to do with the spiritual life and the Divine Eucharist.

Man is first born, then he must have movement and energy in him and of course in order to live he needs to be nourished. If someone after his birth has no energy and does not eat, there will come a time when he will die. The same is true of spiritual birth. First one is reborn from the spiritual womb of the Church which is the Font, then one is anointed with Holy Chrismation and acquires movement, and then one comes to Divine Communion and communes of the Body and Blood of Christ to live.

November 22, 2021

The Sainthood and Love of Saint Iakovos of Evia

Monk Akakios of Kavsokalyva, a spiritual child of Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva, gave us the following testimonial:

It is worthwhile for me to tell you an incident that happened in Kavsokalyva together with Elder Porphyrios, which concerns Elder Iakovos and is in my opinion a great testimony.

It was May 1991, a few months before the venerable repose of the two Holy Elders, Porphyrios and Iakovos.

We were in Kavsokalyva, in the cell, that is, the room of the Elder - Elder Porphyrios himself, his submissive hieromonk Photios, the spiritual father, and myself.

Saint Iakovos of Evia and His Ability to Fly

Father Paul Tsouknidas testified as follows to the fact that Saint Iakovos Tsalikes had the ability to fly:

A hieromonk introduced me to Elder Iakovos Tsalikes in 1987, I made him my spiritual father, and I would go see him as a layman at the time, in my car from Karditsa to the Monastery of Venerable David, because I found much rest going to confession to the blessed Elder.

One day when I went with the hieromonk to the Sacred Monastery to stay for a few days and to confess, on the way while we were traveling, before we reached Rovies after Lake Evia, the hieromonk who was in the passenger seat told me:

The Police Officer, the Demon and the Handprint of Saint Iakovos of Evia

 By Elder Gabriel,
Abbot of the Monastery of the Venerable David in Evia

(Excerpt from a Homily)

The miracles of Saint Iakovos take place every day! They are innumerable.

A characteristic one took place in Cyprus. Police officer Andreas Voskou, the spiritual child of Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou, had a pimple on his forehead, which was collecting pus. With doctors and drugs, he could not find a cure. Reading the book of Fr. Iakovos, he begged him - he had not met him while he was alive - and he said to him "Elder Iakovos, as when you lived you ran with the Holy Head [of Venerable David] and offered your blessing to the faithful, so come to me with the Holy head and bless me".

A Doctor Has a Vision of Saint Iakovos of Evia

A doctor testifies to the following vision he had of Saint Iakovos Tsalikes:

On the second day of Easter in 1997, the feast of Saint George, I had an accident where I broke my leg. During the days of my hospitalization I read the book which concerned the life of Elder Iakovos [Saint Iakovos Tsalikes], so carefully that I felt that I had visited the Monastery.

At one point I prayed that when I recovered, I could visit the Monastery. Indeed, in the late summer, I visited Venerable David with my family and visited all the places I had read from the book - the church, the hermitage where Elder Iakovos prayed, and his grave, which I venerated.

Saint Iakovos Tsalikes and the Suicidal Teenager

A priest narrated the following related to Saint Iakovos Tsalikes and a suicidal teenager:

One day a young boy came to confession and was in despair for a recurring sin he was committing, and the temptation got him to the point of finding a gun and wanting to commit suicide.

I tried for a long time to persuade him with love and patience to remove the temptation of despair from himself, but in vain.

Then I suggested that he go to the Monastery [of Venerable David the Elder in Evia] to rest for a few days, if he had a blessing from the Elder [the Abbot of the Monastery, Elder Iakovos], since it was a feast day.

November 21, 2021

Homily Two on the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

Angels, having seen the entrance of the Most Pure One, were in awe.

When I remembered the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos, it occurred to me that we were going to the temple of God. How the holy angels must be in awe when they see some Christians entering the temple of God. Ah, listeners, some of us come here sometimes with such anger and bitterness in our souls that we, unworthy ones, cannot help but wonder how they come in like this, stand like that and remain so angry, spiteful. In our temple of God, God is present by His grace, the All-Gracious, Almighty God, and therefore there is so much of everything that is holy, sanctifying, rejoicing, consoling, that, it seems, it would be impossible for an evil and spiteful person not to calm down, not to leave behind their anger and bitterness.

Homily One on the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

The Church is now celebrating the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos. What does this entry mean? The parents of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Ancestors of God Joachim and Anna, being childless for a long time, prayed to God to give them a child and, if it was God's will, promised to dedicate the child to God to live and serve in the temple.

The fervent prayer of the righteous is not done in vain: God gave Joachim and Anna a daughter, whom they named Mary. She lived at their house for three years; on the fourth, according to the given vow, she was brought by them to the temple. Then the singing priests and Levites met her, and the high priest solemnly blessed her. Thus, she remained to live there until a certain time at the Jerusalem temple. This entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the temple is now celebrated by the Holy Church.

Reflection for the Feast of the Entry of the Mother of God (St. Theophan the Recluse)

 By St. Theophan the Recluse

On the feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple, “Christ is born” is first sung, preparing believers for a worthy meeting of the feast of Christ’s Nativity. Having understood this inspiration, act according to it. Delve deeply into the mystery of the incarnation of the Only-Begotten Son of God, ascend to its beginning in the pre-eternal counsel of God concerning the existence of the world and man in it, see its reflection in the creation of man, meet joyfully the first tidings of it immediately after the fall, trace rationally its gradual revelation in Old Testament prophesies and prefigurations. Understand how and who prepared to receive God incarnate, under the influence of Divine educational institutions and activities within Israel — pass, if you want, across the borders to God’s people and gather there rays of God’s light, shining in the darkness — and ponder to what degree those chosen from among all nations reached the presentiment of the unusual manifestation of God’s providence for people. This will be a mental preparation. But now the fast has begun — collect yourself in order to prepare for Communion, go to confession and take Communion with the Holy Mysteries of Christ: this will be an active and living preparation. If, on account of all this, the Lord grants you to feel the power of His coming in the flesh — then, when the holiday comes, you will celebrate it not out of a joy foreign to you, but one of your own flesh and blood.

November 20, 2021

Homilies on the Holy Mysteries - The Mystery of Chrismation (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 The Mystery of Chrismation

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Immediately after emerging from the Font, my beloved brethren, in which the Christian was baptized in the "name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit", the mystery of Chrismation takes place, that is, the priest anoints the neophyte Christian with the Holy Myrrh in the central parts of his body, saying the phrase “The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Amen".

This action is found in the Acts of the Apostles, since there we see that people were baptized and then the Apostles who had received the Holy Spirit from Christ put their hands on their heads, and so began to prophesy after receiving the Holy Spirit.

Explanations and Clarifications of Ecclesiastical History and the Deontology of the Ukrainian Issue (Part 12)

 ...continued from part eleven.

* By the late Germanos Verykopoulos, a Bishop of the Old Calendarists, was ordained the late Elder Ephraim of Katounakia, a submissive of two zealots of Mount Athos, but of the stature of the venerable Joseph the Hesychast. In the 42 years of his priestly life, he always saw with his sense of sight divine Grace cover over the Holy Gifts (only once he did not see it). When, with the help of God, they returned to communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and commemorated the Patriarch, he began to see more clearly this mystery of the perceptible presence of divine Grace. Previously, as long as he was attached to the zealots, he saw it dimly, as he himself said and catechized.

November 19, 2021

Homilies on the Holy Mysteries - The Mystery of Baptism (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The Mystery of Baptism

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

A necessary condition for becoming a Christian, my beloved brethren, is the mystery of Baptism, which is called by the Holy Fathers an "introductory mystery", because through it we enter the ecclesiastical life and become members of the Body of Christ and at the same time members of the Church.

Holy Baptism is also called "birth", because through it we are spiritually reborn. Man is born twice, once biologically from his mother and the other spiritually from his spiritual mother who is the Church. In both cases there is a womb; in the first it is the womb of the mother, in the second case it is the spiritual womb, which is the sacred Font. There is a third birth that comes from repentance and from the spiritual struggle that takes place with the Grace of God and our conscious and free response to it.

November 18, 2021

Homilies on the Holy Mysteries - The Church and Her Mysteries (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The Church and Her Mysteries
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

These short sermons, my beloved brethren, which will take place during the summer months in the Sacred Temples of our Metropolis during the Divine Liturgy, as is customary, will refer to the great subject of the Mysteries of our Church and will briefly present the main points of each mystery, both to emphasize their value and to participate in them.

Today's introductory sermon will address the topic "The Church and Her Mysteries".

November 16, 2021

A Village in Kerkyra Dedicated to the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew

One of the largest and most beautiful villages of Kerkyra is called Agios Mattheos, known locally as "Ai Mathias", where there is a parish church with an imposing bell tower dedicated to the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, which was the place of worship of the first inhabitants of the village.

Homily on the Power of a Good Word and Showing Mercy Towards Sinners (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

“And Jesus passing by there saw a man sitting at the tax office named Matthew, and He said to him: 'Follow me.' And he arose and followed Him.” (Matthew 9:9)

Who was this Matthew, who later became a great apostle and evangelist? He was a publican and collected taxes. The people hated tax collectors and perceived them as sinners, for they performed many injustices in order to obtain more money for themselves. And this man, whom everyone perceived as wretched, and whom they distanced themselves from, the Lord called, saying to him: “Follow me.”

Only two words, and these began a revolution in the soul of the publican. He arose immediately, and threw down his money and followed Christ.

November 15, 2021

Explanations and Clarifications of Ecclesiastical History and the Deontology of the Ukrainian Issue (Part 11)

...continued from part ten.

* Let us proceed to the recent "threats" of the political arrogance of our Russian brothers. Indirectly they are talking about the appropriation of the Old Calendarist factions of Greece. This was not directly said by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, but inferred, in an interview with a Russian channel, which was immediately published in a Greek website, on the eve of our own Hierarchical Session. For so long this was not said, because other more elitist methods of pressure were being employed by the Metropolitan among the Greek Hierarchy and the ecclesiastical body. Now, on the verge of a discussion and a possible decision, this intimidation by the Russian Metropolitan and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Muscovite Church is also being planted!

Homilies on Holiness and the Saints - The Honorable Forerunner and Baptist John (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The Honorable Forerunner and Baptist John

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Hagiou Vlasiou

During the past two months, in the short Eucharistic sermons, we analyzed what holiness is in the Church and who belongs to the army of saints. We saw the Prophets, the Apostles, the Evangelists, the Fathers and Teachers, the Martyrs, the Venerables and the Ascetics, and especially Christ and His Mother, our Panagia.

In the category of saints, however, belong all those who strive to keep the will of God in their daily lives, those who have Christ in them, those who have the mind of Christ and have a sacred desire to enter the Kingdom of God.

The purpose and mission of Christians is to become saints. The command we have all received is, "Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy" (Lev. 10:44).

November 14, 2021

Discourse on Love (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis,
Former Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Gregoriou

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ handed down to us the perfect teaching on salvation. And he himself was the first to implement what he taught. It is he who ‘practices and teaches’ (Matt. 5, 19). He also gave us the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of real love. But the most outstanding Good Samaritan is Christ himself, who took upon himself our nature tortured by robbers, that is the demons, the passions, and human wickedness, then raised it and gave it life through his death on the Cross and his resurrection.

Homily on the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Metropolitan Dionysios of Servia)

By Metropolitan Dionysios of Servia and Kozani

(Delivered on September 14, 1965)

‘Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus’. This ‘lawyer’ [i.e. a student of the Law of the Old Testament, rather than an advocate in a court] approached Jesus Christ, supposedly to ask what he should do to inherit eternal life, but in fact out of a desire to provoke Him. The lawyer was an educated man of his time who studied and interpreted the Law and it was his aim to trap Jesus into a discussion. Instead he received a much-needed lesson. Jesus got him to understand that it’s one thing to be well-educated and play at being clever and quite another to be a good and useful human being. Wisdom isn’t a matter of knowing who your neighbor is, but knowing what you should do for that person. Everybody knows and says lots of things, but very few do what they should. This is why we see in this parable the lawyer asking one thing and Christ answering another. The lawyer asks: ‘Who is my neighbor?’, and Christ answers: ‘Go and do likewise’. The lawyer asks who’s supposed to be his neighbor and Christ sends him off to demonstrate his love to every person. Because each and every person is our neighbor. Christ doesn’t tell him that every person’s his neighbor, but what he should do for every person, who is his neighbor. And this is what we Christians need to do on every occasion: not to know a lot and be wise, but to have love and to do what we should.

Reflection on the Eighth Sunday of Luke (St. Theophan the Recluse)

 Eighth Sunday of Luke

Luke 10:25-37

By St. Theophan the Recluse

To the man who asked how to be saved, the Lord on his part offered a question: "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" By this He showed that to resolve all perplexity one must turn to the word of God. And so that there will not be such perplexity at all it is best to always read Divine Scripture attentively, with discernment and sympathy, applying it to your own life, and fulfilling in your own thoughts what relates to thoughts, in your own feelings and dispositions what relates to the senses, and in your deeds what relates to deeds. One who hearkens to the word of God gathers bright understanding of all that is in him, what is near to him, and what is above him; he clarifies his obligations in all aspects of life, and holy rules, like valuable pearls, are strung onto the thread of his conscience, which then precisely and definitely indicate how and when to act so that he please the Lord. He tames the passions—something reading the word of God always acts to assuage. No matter what passion troubles you, begin to read the word of God and the passion will become quieter and quieter, and at last it will be entirely calmed. He who enriches himself through knowledge of the word of God is overshadowed by the pillar of cloud which guided the Israelites in the desert.

November 13, 2021

The Reconciliation of Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Epiphanios of Salamis

Archbishop Theophilos of Alexandria was the enemy of Archbishop John Chrysostom of Constantinople. Bishop Epiphanios of Salamis, an enemy of Origenism, was told by Archbishop Theophilos that Archbishop John was harboring Origenist fugitives. Epiphanios traveled to Constantinople and conspired to discredit John and cast doubts on his leadership, while John did his best to accommodate his elderly colleague from Cyprus, not knowing he had been duped by Theophilos. Their differences, however, were irreconcilable. In the end, each bishop wished a dubious fate for the other, both of which came true: Epiphanios died on his journey home, and John was deposed twice and died in exile.

Life of Saint John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (Rev. Alban Butler)

 By Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73)

This incomparable doctor, on account of the fluency and sweetness of his eloquence, obtained soon after his death the surname of Chrysostom or Golden Mouth, which we find given him by St. Ephrem of Antioch, Theodoret, and Cassiodorus. But his tender piety, and his undaunted courage and zeal in the cause of virtue, are titles far more glorious, by which he holds an eminent place among the greatest pastors and saints of the church. About the year 344, according to F. Stilting, Antioch, the capital city of the East, was ennobled by his illustrious birth. He had one elder sister, and was the only son and heir of Secundus, master of the horse, that is, chief commander of the imperial troops in Syria. His mother Anthusa, left a widow at twenty years of age, continued such the remainder of her life, dividing her time between the care of her family and the exercises of devotion. Her example in this respect made such an impression on our saint’s master, a celebrated pagan sophist, that he could not forbear crying out: “What wonderful women have the Christians!”1 She managed the estate of her children with great prudence and frugality, knowing this to be part of her duty to God, but she was sensible that their spiritual instruction in virtue was of infinitely greater importance. From their cradle she instilled into them the most perfect maxims of piety, and contempt of the world. The ancient Romans dreaded nothing more in the education of youth, than their being ill-taught the first principles of the sciences; it being more difficult to unlearn the errors then imbibed, than to begin on a mere tabula rasa, or blank paper. Wherefore Anthusa provided her son the ablest masters in every branch of literature, which the empire at that time afforded. Eloquence was esteemed the highest accomplishment, especially among the nobility, and was the surest means of raising men to the first dignities in the state. John studied that art under Libanius, the most famous orator of that age; and such was his proficiency, that even in his youth he excelled his masters. Libanius being asked by his pagan friends on his death-bed, about the year 390, who should succeed him in his school: “John,” said he, “had not the Christians stolen him from us.”2 Our saint was then priest. Whilst he was only a scholar, that sophist one day read to an assembly of orators a declamation composed by him, and it was received with unusual tokens of admiration and applause. Libanius pronounced the young orator happy, “as were also the emperors,” he said, “who reigned at a time when the world was possessed of so great a treasure.”3 The progress of the young scholar in Philosophy, under Andragatius, was no less rapid and surprising; his genius shone in every disputation. All this time his principal care was to study Christ, and to learn his spirit. He laid a solid foundation of virtue, by perfect humility, self-denial, and a complete victory over himself. Though naturally hot and inclined to anger, he had extinguished all emotions of passion in his breast.4 His modesty, meekness, tender charity, and singular discretion, rendered him the delight of all he conversed with.    

November 12, 2021

The Nuns of Shamordino, Prisoners of the Gulags of Solovki and Vorkutlag

The sisterhood of Shamordino Convent, around 30 in number, were imprisoned in 1923 at the closure of the convent by the Soviet authorities, first in Solovki prison camp, then the sisterhood was broken up and dispersed and, with the exception of one striking account by American prisoner John H. Noble that emerged following his release some 30 years after the nuns' disappearance, it is generally unknown, apart from scant references, what became of any other members of the sisterhood thereafter.

Saint Emilian of Cogolla (+ 574)

St. Emilian of Cogolla (Feast Day - November 12)

Emilian was born about 472 in La Rioja, Spain. He was a shepherd who upon reaching maturity decided to become a hermit. After spending several years with Felix an experienced hermit, Emilian took up residence in the mountains.

Several years later, Emilian was called by Didymus, Bishop of Tarazona, to be ordained a priest and assigned to the parish of Berceo. As a priest, Emilian generously distributed the funds from the parish to the poor. The extent of his generosity was such that his fellow priests found fault and opposed him a situation that finally led to his being allowed to return to a hermitic life in the mountains.

Saint Varnava of Hvosno Resource Page

St. Varnava of Hvosno (Feast Day - November 12)


Saint Varnava Nastic's Homily on the Episcopal Office (Spoken at his Ordination as Bishop of Khvostansky)

By Saint Varnava Nastic, Bishop of Khvostansky

(Delivered on August 19, 1947)

Dear brothers and sisters!

The height of honor, according to Christ's measure, is given to people in accordance with the height of their readiness for sacrifice. Those who give little will receive little honor. The one who sacrifices much will receive much honor. Those who accept the greatest honor among men make the greatest sacrifice through this. For Christ, according to His own words, first had to go through Golgotha in order to enter later into His glory. And how can people avoid this criterion when the immortal God Himself obeyed it? Those who flee from sacrifice are also fleeing from the only honor under this sun that is of God, for which it is useful to fight. When our Lord Jesus Christ sent His apostles into the world, He established sacrifice as a program and a way of their life. And only by their readiness for the apostolic sacrifice did the Galilean fishermen receive the apostolic honor. This is the standard set at the foundation of Christ's Church, has invariably remained the main one at all times of its history, and will remain so until the end of the age. High honor in Christ's Church means high sacrifice.

Holy New Martyr Mark of Kleisoura (+ 1598)

Holy New Martyr Mark Markoulis was from Kleisoura in Kastoria and lived in the 16th century. Sources for his life do not exist and the only information we have about him comes from a manuscript of a priest from Kastoria named Papa-Argyris, the original of which is now lost. There we are informed that his father's name was Peter and we are told about his martyrdom.

He was arrested by the Ottomans and brought to Argos Orestiko, where he endured torture for refusing to deny his faith in Christ and become a Muslim. Finally, he was executed by hanging and his lifeless body was cast into the Haliacmon River in 1598. According to a local tradition, the execution of the Saint took place on the plane tree which is next to the Church of Saint Paraskevi in Argos Orestiko.

A church in Kastoria dedicated to Saint Mark the Evangelist is believed to have been built in honor of this New Martyr after his martyrdom, but was named after the Evangelist in order to not incur the wrath of the Turks.

The first celebration of his memory took place locally in 2012 and it was established at that time that his annual commemoration would take place on November 12th. He was officially canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on February 12, 2020.


November 11, 2021

Saint Menas and the Debtor

About 20 years ago, the house of a man from Velestino with a plot of 300 sq.m. was put up for auction by a bank, along with a farm with a building that existed in it. The first time no bidder appeared and the auction was repeated. In the second auction also no one appeared to bid.

The bank according to the law made a decision by the Court of First Instance and the court reduced the price of the first offer to the low amount of 6,000,000 drachmas for both properties, ie about 18,000 euros. The debtor all this time went to the Icon of Saint Menas, in the Chapel and asked for help. I saw him constantly. He was a friend and he had helped me a lot in the landscaping of the courtyard of the Chapel.

The Nephew of Saint Nektarios

Anastasios Kephalas was the thirteenth and youngest child of the teacher Haralambos Kephalas, who was the brother of Saint Nektarios Kephalas. He was not only the nephew of the Saint, but also the godchild, since he was baptized by his uncle.

When Anastasios was 12 years old, he was the Saint's last relative to speak with him before his repose, which he did for three hours before he delivered his soul to the Lord at Aretaeio Hospital in Athens on November 8, 1920, at 22:30.

November 10, 2021

Saint Milos and the Miracle of the Paschal Egg (Two Testimonies)

Saints reveal themselves in marvelous ways, and in the Fall of 2004, while in Patras, Greece, researching an interview on St. Andrew’s journeys, Road to Emmaus staff had coffee with Mrs. Smaragda Pavlou, a Patras native, whose surprising Pascha story was a highlight of their visit. Hesitant at first to have the story recorded, at the urging of her spiritual father, Smaragda agreed:

It was Great Thursday, 1939, and my sister Photini and I were young girls. Great Thursday was the day we dyed our Pascha eggs, and we had saved many eggs during the fast. Patras was not crowded in those days; we had land behind our house for chickens, and that year we had a new young hen among our brood. On the morning of Great Thursday, she laid her first egg and immediately died. We were very surprised and felt great pity for her, so we took the egg and included it with the others we were dying red for Pascha. On Great Saturday, the eggs were blessed in church, the parish of St. Dionysios on Astings Street, and after the Pascha liturgy, one egg was selected to be put into the icon corner as a blessing for the year. That Pascha we chose the egg from the little hen that had died, and set it in the icon case. A few months later, on the morning of November 10, for no obvious reason, the egg fell from the icon case and broke with a loud crack. Amidst the fragments of the shell, we found a tiny black wax-like oval medallion, with a figure in a phelonion and omophorion with the Holy Gospel in his hand [typical of an icon of a Bishop], and the name “Agios Milos” [Saint Milos] etched around the figure in capital letters. On the opposite side, without words, was the familiar image of St. Stylianos, holding an infant [feast day on November 26]. It seemed to us that the dried up contents of the egg had shaped themselves into an Icon-Not-Made-By-Hands. I asked everyone I knew who St. Milos was, but no one had ever heard of him, not even the priest. Everyone in our family saw this wonderful icon from the egg. We knew that St. Milos had come to us, and we all prayed to him. For a whole year afterwards, people came to our home to venerate the tiny icon; our house became like a public shrine. Then, Greece was invaded.

A 103 Year Old Woman Recalls Having Saint Arsenios of Cappadocia as a Village Priest and Her Difficult Life

By Romanos Kontogiannidis
103 year old Zoe Kortsinidou - one of the few living first generation refugees - experienced deprivation, poverty, pain, orphanhood, successive uprootings, wars and death. However, with the intercessions of Saint Arsenios of Cappadocia - "Hadjifentis" as she calls him - God blessed her to make her happy with a large family and to be satisfied with the little sight in her eyes.

From the depths of her mind she recalls her memories of her village, Farasa of Cappadocia, which Zoe Kortsinidou left as a child forever during the uprooting of the Greeks of Asia Minor.

Despite her deep old age, Mrs. Zoe remembers very clearly the place where she was born and talks about it with longing. Maybe in her mind she becomes a child again and runs again on the cobbled streets of her homeland.

November 9, 2021

Saint Nektarios, Patron Saint of Athletes

Saint Nektarios, after a proposal of a committee of Physical Education Teachers in Greece, was proclaimed the Patron Saint of Athletes, as he blessed the establishment of an Athletics Association in Kymi as "something excellent", with the goal of such clubs being physical exercise and spiritual development, two poles around which the perfect education and upbringing revolves. Later, as the Director of the Rizareio School, he took special care of the students involvement in sports and the improvement of their nutrition. Also, in the same School, he established soccer as a sport for the students at their request. Thus he was the first to introduce soccer as a sport in the school environment.

We have preserved the discourse in praise of exercise and youthful involvement in sports at the inauguration of the Athletics Association in Kymi on August 21, 1893 titled "On Exercise". This text was published slightly adapted for general use on May 3, 1901 in a magazine of the time.

The Favorite Corner of Saint Nektarios

The favorite corner of Saint Nektarios in his Monastery in Aegina, under the pine tree in the back of his room.
In this chair he sat and on this table he wrote many of his books and the beautiful poetic hymns that he left us.

The Life of Saint Nektarios in Icons

November 8, 2021

Father John Romanides: His Life and Legacy

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Today, 1 November 2021, marks the twentieth anniversary of the repose of the distinguished professor and teacher Fr. John Romanides, which took place on November 1, 2001 in Athens.

My acquaintance with him in the beginning was through his oral teachings and his texts of the 1970's, and then from 1987 until his repose I had close contact with him. After his retirement from the University of Thessaloniki he remained in Athens, almost alone, and we had frequent personal and telephone communication, because at that time I was serving as Preacher and Director of Youth Ministry of the Sacred Archdiocese of Athens.

In fact, in 1995, at his suggestion, we taught together at a seminar in Canada, presenting the therapeutic teaching of the Orthodox Church to Clergy that came from all the canonical jurisdictions of America. For three days we both delivered lessons in Orthodox theology. The same happened in 1997, near Atlanta, with the additional presence of Fr. George Metallinos.

Angels in the Teaching of Fr. John Romanides

- The time of the angels is in the ages without end, as angels are not restricted by matter. Thus angels move in intervals of time that do not resemble our own.

- Man has a slight conception of what time is, but he understands almost nothing about the ages, unless he reaches glorification and has spiritual insight, and sees an angel himself. Then he has experience of an angel.

- There is an interpretive rule that St. Basil the Great expresses very clearly: Wherever the Angel in the Old Testament is called God - because there are different kinds of angels, there are created angels as well - wherever the Angel who appears to the Prophets is called God, He is Christ.