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November 3, 2021

Homilies on Holiness and the Saints - The Panagia, the Saint of Saints (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 The Panagia, the Saint of Saints

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

All the Summer Sundays we analyzed in the liturgical short sermons the things related to holiness and the various categories of saints. But all the saints - Prophets, Apostles, Fathers, Martyrs, Venerables and Saints in general - were exceeded by our most hymn-worthy Panagia. All the saints prophesied, praised, glorified and honored her.

In the Akathist Hymn we turn to the Panagia and say to her: "Rejoice, greatest saint of the saints". She is the greatest of all saints. After all, the term "Panagia" (All-Holy) states this. In fact, Saint Gregory Palamas says that the Panagia is "the pinnacle and completion of all the saints". The Panagia is the pinnacle of every saint, holier than any saint, but also the completion of the saints, in the sense that the Panagia was the joy of all the saints, because through her Christ incarnated.

According to the teachings of the Holy Fathers, the Panagia did not commit any sin in her life, not even with her thoughts. Her mind, her heart, her desires, her body, everything was most pure and most immaculate. Saint Gregory Palamas says that with the incarnation God not only came to us, but He came "from a pure and immaculate Virgin, or rather from one who is most all pure and most holy". And he goes on to say that the Panagia was not only above any defilement of the flesh, but was also superior to the thoughts that come from the flesh. Even the body of the Panagia was purer than the spirits of the saints.

So much was and is the purity of our Panagia, that no one can gaze at the height of her majesty. Characteristic is a troparion that refers to the Panagia: "No tongue is able to worthily praise the Theotokos, making dizzy the mind of man but also that of the otherworldly angels." Just as man becomes dark and dizzy when he sees every height and depth, so the purest mind of humans and angels feels dark and dizzy when he looks at the person of the Panagia.

Despite her purity, she is not cut off from the human race, but she has great love for humanity, she has "divine motherly bowels", that is, she has bowels of compassion as the Mother of God and as our mother. She has the highest privilege to be the person who gave her flesh to the Son and Word of God, but at the same time to come from our own race, the human race.

Always we look towards her and ask for her intercessions. We feel that we have nothing in common with her, since she was very pure to the finest point of her thoughts, while we commit many sins every day. And in our dizziness and from our sins and from the vision of this great person, we ask her for her love, her support, her intercessions.

May you have the intercessions of our Panagia throughout your life. May the Panagia protect you, your families, our homeland and the whole world. And may she pray for our repentance, as well as to become our mediator on the great day of Judgment.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.