Friday, September 30, 2011

Venerable Gregory the Abbot of Pelsheme and Wonderworker of Vologda

Commemorated on September 30

Saint Gregory of Pelsheme, Vologda, was born in the city of Galich, Kostroma governia. He came from the line of the Lopotov nobility. When the youth reached age fifteen, his parents wanted him to marry, but they died, without seeing this come to pass. Young Gregory distributed the inheritance left him to the poor, and entered the monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos on the shore of Lake Galich.

The Igumen of the monastery regarded the new monk with mistrust because of his youth and noble parentage. Therefore, he placed Gregory in obedience to an experienced Elder. With great humility St Gregory served all the brethren. After a certain while he was ordained a priest. Soon St Gregory's fame as a pastor spread, and many began to arrive for spiritual guidance and counsels.

The Galich prince asked the monk to be godfather for his children. Burdened by fame and the nearness of his relatives, the monk went to Rostov to venerate the relics of St Leontius (May 23), and he settled in the monastery of St Abramius, (October 29). But here also news of the saint's ascetic feats quickly spread.

The monks of the Savior (Yakovlev) monastery turned to Archbishop Dionysius of Rostov (1418-1425) with a request to assign St Gregory to head their monastery. Out of humility the monk accepted the guidance over the monastery, but after two years he secretly left the monastery and withdrew into the Vologda forest.

In the Sosnovetsk wilderness he became acquainted with St Dionysius of Glushitsa (June 1). When the Lord prompted the holy ascetic to found his own monastery, St Dionysius approved his friend's intention. With a cross on his shoulders, St Gregory crossed over the River Pelsheme and planted the cross in a thicket by the river bank.

The first monk in the new monastery was the priest Alexis, in monasticism Alexander. In 1426 a church was built at the monastery in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos. Its icons were painted by St Dionysius, and St Gregory himself copied the sacred texts for the monastery. Gradually the number of monks increased, the monastery grew and became more famous.

St Gregory concerned himself with the nurturing of piety at the monastery, and at the same time he shared in the destiny of his country. In the year 1433, he went to Moscow in order to prevail upon the Galich prince Yuri Dimitrievich, who had seized the Moscow principality from Basil the Dark, to return Moscow to Prince Basil. Prince Yuri obeyed the monastic Elder.

But in 1434 the son of Prince Yuri, Demetrius Shemyaka, began to ravage the Vologda lands belonging to the Great Prince. St Gregory, distraught over the discord and violence, went to Demetrius Shemyaka and addressed him with bold words. "Prince Demetrius," said the monk, "you do things that are not Christian. It would be better if you had gone into a pagan land to a vile people ignorant of God. Widows and orphans cry out against you to God. How many people will perish from hunger and cold because of you, and if you don't stop the fratricide, the bloodshed and violence soon, then you shall lose both your glory and your princedom."

After this bold denunciation, Shemyaka gave orders to throw the holy Elder off a bridge. For several hours the monk lay there unmoving. His denunciations produced the desired effect, and Shemyaka soon quit Vologda. The courage of the monk only increased the veneration of him. Before his death, he received the Holy Mysteries, spoke a word of guidance to the brethren, and appointed as igumen of the monastery his fellow ascetic Alexander. St Gregory reposed on September 30, 1442 and was buried in the monastery he founded.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kyriakos the Hermit of Palestine

September 29

This Saint was born in Corinth in 448. He went to Palestine to the Lavra of Euthymius the Great, but because of his youth was sent by Saint Euthymius to Saint Gerasimus; after the death of Saint Gerasimus he returned to the Lavra of Saint Euthymius. Later he took on a more rigorous life of asceticism in the wilderness of Natoufa, where there was nothing to eat except the exceedingly bitter wild herb called squills, which, however, through his prayers, God made sweet for him and his disciple. He lived 107 years and reposed in the year 555.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Kyriakos , our God-bearing Father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer thou didst obtain heavenly gifts, and thou healest the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to thee with faith. Glory to Him that hath given thee strength. Glory to Him that hath crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The sacred lavra doth at all times rightly honour thee as a sure helper and support and mighty champion, and it annually observeth thy holy mem'ry. And since thou, O righteous Kyriakos, dost possess boldness with the Lord, protect us from our enemies, that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, O thrice-blessed Father.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Synaxis of the Venerable Fathers of the Kiev Near Caves

Commemorated on September 28

The Synaxis of Monastic Fathers who are venerated in the Near Caves of St Anthony, is now celebrated on September 28. This general commemoration was originally on the first Saturday after the Leave-taking of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (i.e. after September 21).

The general commemoration of the monastic Fathers of the Near Caves of St Anthony on the Saturday after the Leave-taking of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross dates to the year 1670. During the restoration of the Caves, which had been damaged by an earthquake, some of the relics of the ancient ascetics were uncovered and a church was built in honor of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross.

In 1760 a stone church in honor of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross was built over the Caves. In 1886, under Metropolitan Platon of Kiev, the Synaxis of the Fathers of the Near Caves was moved to September 28 because of the celebration of the Synaxis of the Saints of the Far Caves on August 28 .

There are two Canons to the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves. The first was compiled by the hieromonk Meletius the Orphan (inscribed in the Kiev Akathistnik of 1764). The second, found in the services in honor of the Fathers of the Kiev Caves, was compiled by St Demetrius of Rostov.

Among the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves are:

Monk Anthony the First-Founder (July 10) Monk Abramius the Lover of Labor (August 21) Monk Abramius the Recluse (October 29) Monk Agapitus, Unmercenary Physician (June 1) Monk Alexis the Recluse (April 24) Monk Alypius the Iconographer (August 17) Martyr Anastasius the Deacon (January 22) Monk Anatolius the Recluse (July 3) Monk Arethas the Recluse (October 24) Monk Athanasius the Recluse (December 2) Igumen Barlaam (November 19) Hosiomartyrs Basil and Theodore (August 11) Hieromonk Damian the Healer (October 5) Monk Elias of Murom (December 19) Bishop Ephraim of Pereyaslavl (January 28) Monk Erasmus the Black-Robed (February 24) Martyr Eustratius (March 28) Monk Gregory the Iconographer (August 8) Martyr Gregory the Wonderworker (January 8) Monk Helladius the Recluse (October 4) Monk Isaac the Recluse (February 14) Monk Isaiah the Wonderworker (May 15) Monk Jeremiah the Clairvoyant (October 5) Monk John the Faster (December 7) John the God-pleasing (December 29) Martyr John the Infant (December 29) (commemorated with the 14,000 Infants killed at Bethlehem by Herod) Monk John the Long-Suffering (July 18) Nun Juliana, Princess of Olshansk (July 6) Hieromartyr Kuksha, Enlightener of the Vyati (August 27) Bishop Laurence the Recluse of Turov (January 29) Monk Luke the Steward (November 6) Monk Macarius (January 19) Monk Mark the Grave-digger (December 29) Monk Matthew the Clairvoyant (October 5) Bishop Mercurius of Smolensk (August 7) Martyr Moses the Hungarian (July 26) Monk Nectarius the Obedient (November 29) Monk Nestor the Chronicler (October 27) Monk Nicholas Svyatosha, Prince of Chernigov (October 14) Monk Nicodemus the Prosphora-baker (October 31) Igumen Nikon (March 23) Monk Nikon the Shriveled (December 11) Bishop Niphon of Novgorod (April 8) Monk Onesimus the Recluse (October 4 and July 21) Monk Onesiphorus the Confessor (November 9) Monk Onuphrius the Silent (July 21) Monk Pimen the Faster (August 27) Monk Pimen the Much-Ailing (August 7) Archmandrite Polycarp (July 24) Monk Prochorus the Orach-eater (February 10) Monk Sava the God-pleasing (April 24) Monk Sergius the Obedient (October 7) Monk Simon, Bishop of Suzdal (May 10) Monk Sisoes the Recluse (October 24) Monk Spyridon the Prosphora-baker (October 31) Monk Sylvester the Wonderworker (January 2) Monk Theophanes the Faster (October 11) Monks Theophilus the Mourner (December 29) Monk Theophilus the Recluse (October 24) Hieromonk Titus (February 27) Twelve Master Architects of Constantinople who painted the monastery church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos (February 14)
Besides these Saints, there are thirty other Saints among the monks of the Kiev Caves, whose myrrh-producing heads were preserved. In the Service to the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves on September 28 St Ephraim the Priest is mentioned (Ode 9). The hieromonk Athanasius Kalpophyisky wrote in 1638, that his incorrupt body, clothed in priestly vestments, lay opposite the relics of St Elias of Murom. Hieromonk Athanasius also mentions St Eustathius, (Ode 8), who was a goldsmith before he came to the monastery.

In the Canon of Meletius the Orphan, St Dionysius, Archbishop of Suzdal (June 26 and also October 15) is also mentioned. The holy hierarch was detained by the Lithuanian prince at Kiev after his consecration as Metropolitan of Moscow by the Patriarch of Constantinople. He died on October 15, 1384 and was buried in the Antoniev Cave.

Besides the monks mentioned in the Services, the hieromonk Athanasius Kalpophyisky in his Manuscript of 1638 indicated even more Saints, whose uncovered relics they venerated: St Hieronymos, Recluse and Wonderworker; St Meladius, holy Elder and Wonderworker; St Pergius, holy Elder; St Paul, a monk of remarkable obedience.

The names of the priests St Meletius, St Serapion, St Philaretos, St Peter are preserved in the old manuscript Calendars.

On May 24,1853, in one of the branches of the Near Caves, an inscription was discovered on an eleventh century crypt: "Lord, preserve Thy servants Theodosius and Theophilus. Many Years." "The Grave of the Cave-Dweller John. Here John the sinner lived and is now." On an oak board: "John the Cave-Dweller." Thus the names of the new Kiev Caves Fathers: Theophilus, Theodosius and John were revealed.

There is also a general commemoration of the Monks of the Near Caves together with the Monks of the Far Caves on the second Sunday of Great Lent, when the Synaxis of all the Monastic Fathers of Kiev Caves is celebrated. The Canon of the Hieromonk Meletius the Orphan enters into the Service of that feastday (the Service to the Kiev Caves Monastic Fathers, and to all the Saints who shone forth in Little Russia, inscribed from Akathists with a Canon). The service was printed by the Kiev Caves Dormition Lavra in 1866.

Without doubt, not all the names of the Fathers of the Kiev Caves are known. In the Synaxis, all the Fathers illumined by ascetic deeds in the Caves are glorified. In the Oikos of the Service of September 28 we sing: "Who can praise Your Saints, O Good One? I try to count their number, but they are multiplied more than the sands of the sea. O Master Christ, Who have numbered the stars and named them all, grant their petitions for us..."


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Venerable Sabbatius the Wonderworker of Solovki

Commemorated on September 27

Saint Sabbatius of Solovki came to the St Cyril of White Lake monastery in the year 1396, where he received the monastic tonsure. He there pursued asceticism for a long time, unquestioningly fulfilling all obediences. His humility, gentle love towards the brethren and his strict life distinguished the monk Sabbatius among his fellow ascetics. He soon became burdened by the attention and esteem of the brethren and laity coming to him, and having learned that on Lake Ladoga is the rocky island of Valaam, he decided to settle there.

The brethren of the St Cyril of White Lake monastery were very sad to be parted from their Elder. At Valaam the worldly fame also began to disquiet the humble Elder. Then the monk learned that in the north was the uninhabited island of Solovki, and he began to ask the igumen's blessing to settle there in solitude. But the igumen and the brethren did not want to be separated from their holy Elder.

At the command of God St Sabbatius left the Valaam monastery by night and set off to the shores of the White Sea. When he learned from the local people that the island was two days distant, that on it were many lakes and that no one lived on the island, he was even more eager to settle there. The astonished local people asked the ascetic, whitened with grey hair, how he would live there and what he would eat. "My Master," replied the monk, "gives the fresh strength of youth to the frail, and nourishes the hungry to satiety."

For a certain time St Sabbatius remained at the chapel near the mouth of the Vyg River, in the environs of Soroka. There he encountered St Germanus pursuing asceticism as a hermit, and together they decided to settle upon the island. In a frail boat, praying to God, the Elders set off upon the harsh sea and after three days they reached Solovki Island.

The ascetics settled by the Sekirna hill, where they raised up a cross and built their cells. In the severe conditions of the north, the Elders hallowed the unpopulated island by their exploits. Here also the Enemy of mankind,the devil, tempted the holy Elders. A certain fisherman with his wife, moved with a sense of envy, came somehow to the island and settled near the ascetics. But the Lord did not permit the laypeople to remain near the monks. Two youths in bright garb appeared to the wife of the fisherman and struck her with rods. The fisherman took fright, quickly gathered his things and hastened to return to his former place of residence.

Once, when St Germanus had gone for supplies along the Onega River, St Sabbatius, alone and sensing his impending end, turned to God and prayed that He would grant him to partake of the Holy Mysteries. The monk sailed for two days to the mainland and at ten versts from the Vyg River encountered the igumen Nathanael, who had come to the distant settlement to commune a sick Christian. Igumen Nathanael rejoiced at meeting the monk, fulfilled his wish and heard the account of his exploits on the island. In parting, they agreed to meet at the church along the Vyg River.

Entering the temple, the holy Elder prayerfully gave thanks to God for Communion. He then enclosed himself in a cell located near the church, and began to prepare himself for death. During this time the Novgorod merchant John came to shore and, having venerated the holy icons in church, he went to the holy Elder. Having received his blessing and guidance, he offered the monk a portion of his wealth and was saddened when he heard a refusal. To comfort the merchant, St Sabbatius offered to let him stay over until morning, and promised him prosperity on further journeying. The merchant John, however, hastened to disembark.

Suddenly there was an earthquake, and a storm arose on the sea. Taking fright, the merchant stayed where he was. In the morning when he entered the cell for a blessing, he saw that the Elder was already dead. He and Igumen Nathanael, who had just arrived, buried St Sabbatius at the chapel and wrote a manuscript of his Life. This occurred on September 27, 1435. After thirty years, the relics of St Sabbatius were transferred by St Zosimas (April 17) and the brethren of Solovki Island, placing them in the Transfiguration church. In 1566, the relics of Sts Sabbatius and Zosimas were transferred into a church, named in their honor (August 8).


You abandoned the world and fought the good fight By hardship, vigil and prayer. Pray to Christ our God to save our souls, O holy Father Sabbatius!


Fleeing the turmoil of life You dwelt on an island in the sea. You took up your cross and followed Christ Toiling in vigils, fasting and hardships. You became the adornment of the righteous And we lovingly celebrate your memory. Pray to Christ our God To save our souls, O righteous Sabbatius!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Falling Asleep of St. John the Evangelist and Theologian

September 26

This Apostle was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the brother of James the elder. First a fisherman by trade, he became an Apostle and the beloved Disciple of Christ. Only he of all the Disciples followed Him even to the Cross, and was entrusted with the care of our Saviour's Mother, as it were another son to her, and a brother of Christ the Teacher. After this, he preached throughout Asia Minor, especially in Ephesus. When the second persecution against the Christians began in the year 96 during the reign of Domitian, he was taken in bonds to Rome, and there was cast into a vat filled to the brim with boiling oil. Coming forth therefrom unharmed, he was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Returning again to Ephesus after the death of the tyrant, he wrote his Gospel (after the other Evangelists had already written theirs) and his three Catholic Epistles. In all, he lived ninety-five years and fell asleep in the Lord during the reign of Trajan in the year 100. He was called Theologian because he loftily expounded in his Gospel the theology of the inexpressible and eternal birth of the Son and Word of God the Father. It is for this cause that an eagle-a symbol of the Holy Spirit, as Saint Irenaeus says-is depicted in his icon, for this was one of the four symbolic living creatures that the Prophet Ezekiel saw (Ezek. 1:10).

Apolytikion in the Second Tone
O Apostle, beloved of Christ our God, hasten to deliver a defenceless people. He that allowed thee to recline on His breast, receiveth thee bowing in intercession. Implore Him, O Theologian, to dispel the persistent cloud of the heathen, and ask for us His peace and great mercy.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Who can tell thy mighty works, O virgin Saint? For thou pourest forth miracles, and art a source of healings, and thou dost intercede for our souls, as the Theologian and the friend of Christ.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Euphrosyne of Alexandria

September 25

Our righteous Mother Euphrosyne, who lived during the reign of Saint Theodosius the Younger (408-450), was the daughter of Paphnutius of Egypt. Forsaking her father and his wealth, she renamed herself Smaragdus, and pretending to be a eunuch of the imperial palace, she dressed herself as a man and entered a monastery of men where her identity remained unknown until her repose thirty-eight years later.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
In thee the image was preserved with exactness, O Mother; for taking up thy cross, thou didst follow Christ, and by thy deeds thou didst teach us to overlook the flesh, for it passeth away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal. Wherefore, O righteous Euphrosyne, thy spirit rejoiceth with the Angels.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Desiring to reach the life on high, thou earnestly didst spurn every vain and fleeting pleasure here below and didst live among men as if a man, O all-famed Euphrosyne, since for Christ thy Bridegroom's sake thou forsookest a bridegroom that was temporal.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thekla the Protomartyr & Equal-to-the-Apostles

September 24

This saint was from the city of Iconium. When she was eighteen years of age, she was instructed in the Faith of Christ and the hope of the resurrection by the Apostle Paul, whom also she followed, forsaking her betrothed and espousing a life of virginity for the sake of the Heavenly Bridegroom. Having preached Christ in various cities and suffered many things, she reposed in Seleucia of Cilicia at the age of 90.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O Lord Jesus, unto Thee Thy lamb doth cry with a great voice: O my Bridegroom, Thee I love; and seeking Thee, I now contest, and with Thy baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; for Thy sake I die, that I may live in Thee: accept me offered out of longing to Thee as a spotless sacrifice. Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since Thou art great in mercy.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
O glorious virgin, thou wast entrusted with an apostolate, while shining brightly with virginal beauty and adorned with crowns of martyrdom. And, O Thecla, thou also didst subdue the bull's fury and change the fire to dew by thine entreaties, O first contestant among all womankind.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Friday, September 23, 2011

Conception of the Honorable Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

Commemorated on September 23

The Conception of the Venerable Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John: The holy Prophet Malachi prophesied that before the Messiah's birth His Forerunner would appear, and would indicate His coming. The Jews therefore in awaiting the Messiah also awaited the appearance of His Forerunner.

In a city of the hills of Judea in the land of Palestine lived the righteous priest St Zachariah and his wife St Elizabeth, zealously observing the commandments of the Lord. The couple, however, had a misfortune: they remained childless in their old age, and they prayed unceasingly to God to grant them a child.

Once, when St Zachariah took his turn as priest at the Temple of Jerusalem, he went into the Sanctuary to offer incense. Going behind the veil of the Sanctuary, he beheld an angel of God standing at the right side of the altar of incense.

St Zachariah was astonished and halted in fear, but the angel said to him, "Fear not, Zachariah, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John." But Zachariah did not believe the words of the heavenly messenger, and then the angel said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you the good news. Behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words...."

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zachariah and they were astonished that he had not come out from the Sanctuary after so long a time. And when he did come out, he was supposed to pronounce a blessing upon the people, but could not do so because he had been struck speechless. When Zachariah explained by gestures that he was unable to speak, the people then understood that he had experienced a vision. The prophecy of the Archangel was fulfilled, and Righteous Elizabeth was delivered from her barrenness, and gave birth to John, the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord.


Rejoice, O barren one, who formerly did not bear a child,
for you have conceived the Lamp of the Sun, who is to illumine the whole universe darkened by blindness.
Rejoice, O Zachariah
and cry out with boldness:
“The prophet of the Most High desires to be born!”


Podoben: “The angelic choir...”
Great Zachariah rejoices with his wife, the far-famed Elizabeth,
for she has fittingly conceived John the Forerunner,
whom an angel announced in gladness;
and whom we rightly honor
as an initiate of the grace of God.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition

From here.

By: Fr. Anthony Alevizopoulos

When we speak about Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition, we do not mean two separate or opposing things, but a harmonious whole: God’s complete revelation about the grace of man’s salvation.

St. Basil the Great summarizes this teaching of Orthodoxy in the following words: “From the dogmas and the truth which the Church safeguards, some we have received from written teaching and some, which have secretly reached us, we received through the tradition of the apostles. Both have the same importance for the faith. And no one with even a meager knowledge of ecclesiastical teachings will raise objection... Since if we asserted that we should abandon as many “practices” that are unwritten, because supposedly they’re not of great importance, we would damage – without realizing it – the essence of the Gospel, or rather we would transform the Gospel into “a name empty of meaning.”

St. Basil the Great does not fail to mention specific examples of the Church’s “practices” in his time, which no one would dispute, yet are not found in any written tradition:

“For example (so as to recall the first and most common of all), who taught in writing that whoever hopes in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ shows this faith by making the sign of the cross? To turn towards the East during prayer, which written text teaches this? The words of the Church during the blessing of the bread and the holy cup at the Holy Eucharist, which of the saints left them behind in writing? We certainly do not confine ourselves to the things the Apostles or the Gospel acknowledge, but before the eucharist and after it, we also say other things, since we were taught by unwritten teaching that they have great power in the celebration of the mystery.”

However, the father of the Church himself also mentions the celebration of other holy mysteries. “We bless,” he says, “the water of baptism as well and the oil of chrism and the one who is being baptized. From which written texts did we get these things? Do we not know about them from the tacit and secret tradition?... Do all these things not precede from the teaching which our fathers kept secret and which was not publicized, which our fathers preserved in silence, without much scrutiny and inspection, since they had learned correctly that in silence we must protect the decency of the mysteries?”

This preservation “in silence” was in the mindset of the Apostles and referred to the correct attitude of the faithful towards the mysteries of God.

“The apostles and the fathers who set up institutions in the Church from the beginning, sought to safeguard the secrecy. Moreover, when something is easily perceived by someone, it ceases to be a mystery; this is the meaning of unwritten tradition,” St. Basil concludes. However, afterwards he brings it up again, he uses the confession during holy baptism as an example:

“From which written tradition do we have the confession of faith in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? For, if based on the tradition of baptism we make our confession [of faith] as an essential element of the baptism (i.e. Triadic), since from consistency to piety we ought to believe as we are baptized, let us again from consistency to piety, offer doxology in a consistent manner with the faith (i.e. Triadological). If, however, they reject this manner of doxology as unwritten, then let them present us with written proof concerning the confession of faith and the other things we have mentioned.”

Therefore, there is not a significant difference between the written and unwritten revelation of God, between the written and unwritten tradition of the Church, which goes back to the first centuries of the Church and comprises an integral part of the life of the Church throughout the centuries.

We emphasize that the Gospel message is preserved and conveyed by the Church. The Apostles entrusted the teaching of Christ to the pastors of the Church, who were in unbroken apostolic succession and guaranteed the pure and certain propagation of this teaching to the following generations. This “tradition” or “heritage,” which was received “once and for all” from the saints and transmitted without “gaps” or “interruption” from one generation to the next, is not made up of “mandates of men” but is the product of the constant presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church, whose head is Christ.

Christ did not come to write books, but to guide the scattered children of God to unity under the same Head. This was the primary message of the Old Testament, which is correctly understood with the person of the coming messiah at the center. For Christians, the new, central event is not the gathering of some books, which were called the New Testament, but the event itself of salvation in Christ. The Apostles received the command to “increase” the body of Christ, building on the one foundation – Christ. Their work was not to write books, and even the texts they wrote were gathered together after their deaths by the Church itself and constituted the New Testament. They were situational texts, presupposing verbal preaching and not rendering it unnecessary, nor replacing it.

One cannot understand the “Canon” of the New Testament (the catalog of books belonging to the New Testament) without [understanding] the course of Church history. Without the Church we cannot cogently answer the question, “which books belong to Holy Scripture and for what reason,” nor can we make progress in the interpretation of Holy Scripture without running the risk of creating ceaseless separate groups, schisms and heresies which put man’s salvation in danger.

The erroneous beliefs of all heretical groups, which put forward a different “Canon” of Scripture or which deviate from the truth of Holy Scripture are due to the following one reason: they rejected the Church and cut themselves from communion with it. Thus, they lost the stable measure of judgment and point of reference which would ensure them communion “with all the saints” and a share in the salvific faith which was delivered “once and for all” to the saints (Jude 3). When anyone rejects the Church, they themselves become a point of reference and measure of judgment; they inevitably fall victim to subjective fallacy, they are removed to “another Gospel” (Galatians 1 6:8).

If man preserved the purity of his heart, God would continue to communicate in a more immediate way with him; the written word would not be needed. This means that the books of the Holy Scriptures were given as a type of medicine which the sick person uses. However, this does not mean that the written word is left to itself and made absolute, seeing as it is a part of the “heritage,” not all of it. The Church’s holy tradition is all of it and it is not understood outside the Church.

It’s a matter of the sacred message of the Church, of the common experience “of all the saints,” not mandates made by men. It is apostolic succession, which is directly connected to the apostolic teaching and is expressed as the common conscience of the Church, with the “mouth” of the Ecumenical Councils.

An excerpt from the book Our Orthodoxy.

Journal: Dialogos
Volume 31

Martyr Phocas the Gardener of Sinope

Commemorated on September 22

The Holy Martyr Phocas the Gardener came from the city of Sinope on the southern shore of the Black Sea. Having a small garden, he lived modestly. He sold what he grew, and supported himself on the proceeds. He helped the needy and paid for the housing of vagrants. The Christian piety of the saint had a great influence on other people. Even pagans deferred to him with deep respect. Under his influence they often abandoned their error and accepted the Christian Faith.

The governor of the district, aware that St Phocas was spreading Christian teachings, gave orders to find and kill him. The saint himself accidentally came upon those sent after him, and without revealing his name, he courteously received them, fed them and prepared a place for them to spend the night.

At night he went into the garden, then prepared a grave and a place for his burial. He even made arrangements for all his possessions to be distributed to the poor after his death. In the morning St Phocas declared to the strangers that it was he for whom they were searching, and told them to fulfill the duty entrusted to them. The visitors were distressed, not wanting to kill the kindly saint. They felt honor bound to spare St Phocas, but he would not hear of it, and humbly bent his head beneath the sword.

They buried the holy Martyr Phocas in the grave that he himself had prepared in the garden. The place of his burial was glorified by miracles, and later a church was built there. An accurate account of the martyr's death was collected by Asterius of Amasea (+ 410). The holy Martyr Phocas is especially venerated by seafarers, and he is called upon by those traveling by sea.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jonah the Prophet

September 21

The Prophet Jonah, the son of Amathi, of the town of Geth-hopher (IV Kings 14:25), was of the tribe of Zabulon; he prophesied during the years 838-810 before Christ. God commanded him to go to Nineveh, the great city of the Assyrians, and to proclaim that its destruction was nigh at hand because of the sins of its people. But he, as a Prophet who knew the great compassion of God, feared that at his preaching the Ninevites would repent; that God, accepting their repentance in His love for man, would not fulfill Jonah' threats; and that he would be branded a false prophet. So he disobeyed the divine command, and boarded a ship and departed elsewhere. Yet, the sudden and fearful sea-storm and the revelation of Jonah's disbedience caused the sailors to cast him into the sea. A great sea-monster appeared straightway by divine providence, and swallowed him up. For three days and nights he was found in its belly and he prayed, saying the words, "I cried aloud in my affliction unto the Lord my God..." (Jonah 2:3, the Sixth ode of the Holy Psalter). The sea-monster then vomited him up on dry land and he again heard God's command. Wherefore, he went and preached, saying, "In three days, Nineveh shall be destroyed." The people became terrified and all repented. The great, the small, babes at the breast, and even the irrational beasts themselves fasted, and thus, having found mercy from God, they were spared His wrath. Jonah' book of prophecy is divided into four chapters, and is placed fifth in order among the twelve minor Prophets. His three-day sojourn in the sea-monster's belly is an image of our Saviour's three-day burial and His life-bringing Resurrection (Matt. 12:39-40). His name means "dove."

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
To the Ninevites, thou wast a trumpet, blaring fearful threats of Heaven's judgments, at the which they repented with all their hearts; and from the sea-monster's belly didst thou foreshow the Lord's divine Resurrection to all the world. Hence, entreat Him to bring out of corruption all of us, who honour thee, O Jonah, as a friend of God.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Thou didst pass three days and nights within the sea-monster's entrails, showing forth the Lord's descent into the belly of Hades; for when He had freely suffered His saving Passion, He arose out of the sepulchre on the third day. Hence, we honour thee, O Prophet, who wast deemed worthy to be a figure of Christ.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Eustathios the Great Martyr, his wife and two children

September 20

The holy Martyr Eustathios before his baptism was an illustrious Roman general named Placidas in the days of the Emperor Trajan. While hunting in the country one day, he was converted to the Faith of Christ through the apparition of an uncommonly majestic stag, between whose antlers he saw the Cross of Christ, and through which the Lord spoke to him with a human voice. Upon returning home, he learned that his wife Tatiana had also had a vision in which she was instructed to become a Christian. They sought out the Bishop of the Christians and were baptized, Placidas receiving the name Eustathios, and Tatiana the name Theopiste; their two sons were baptized Agapius and Theopistus. The family was then subjected to such trials as Job endured. Their servants died, all their goods were stolen, and on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem they were scattered abroad, each not even knowing if the others were still alive. By the providence of God, they were united again after many years, and returned to Rome in glory. Nevertheless, when they refused to sacrifice to the idols-a public sacrifice from which no Roman general could be absent-the Emperor Hadrian, who had succeeded Trajan, had them put into a large bronze device in the shape of a bull, which was heated with fire until they died. When their holy bodies were removed, they were found to be without harm. They suffered martyrdom about the year 126.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
O blest one, since thou didst emulate Christ's sufferings and drankest His cup with eagerness, thou didst become a partaker and joint-heir of His glory, O wise Eustathios; and since He is God of all things, He gave thee divine power from Heaven's heights.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Monday, September 19, 2011

Right-believing Great Prince Igor of Kiev and Chernigov

Commemorated on September 19

The Holy Prince Igor of Chernigov: The mid-twelfth century was a grievous time of incessant internecine strife over the Kiev principality between two princely factions: the Olegovichi and the Mstislavichi. They were all close relatives, they were all great-grandsons of Yaroslav the Wise. The Mstislavichi were called after their father, St Mstislav the Great (April 15), son of Vladimir Monomakh (from whence their other name: "Monomashichi"). The Olegovichi were called after the name of Oleg Sviatoslavich (+ 1115), known as "Gorislavich" because of his bitter ["gore"] fate. Oleg Gorislavich was the son of the Kievan prince Sviatoslav (+ 1076), who participated in the Transfer of the Relics of the holy Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb in the year 1072 (May 2). Sviatoslav was the owner of two of the most remarkable theological collections of this time -- the "Sviatoslav Izbornik [selections from the holy Fathers] of 1073" and the "Izbornik of 1076."

In certain old Mesyateslovs [Menaia], Prince Sviatoslav himself was esteemed as a saint of God, but particularly famed were his two grandsons: St Nicholas Sviatosha (October 14), and Nicholas's first cousin, the holy Martyr Prince Igor Olegovich, the son of Oleg Gorislavich.

St Nicholas Sviatosha and St Igor Olegovich represent two different paths of Christian sanctity in ancient Rus. St Nicholas forsook the world and his princely duties to become a simple monk. He died in peace, after nearly forty years at the monastery. St Igor, involved in the struggle for the Kiev principality by God's will, would blot out the sin of princely strife by his own martyrdom.

In the year 1138 the Great-principality of Kiev was assumed by Igor's elder brother, Vsevolod Olegovich (great-grandfather of St Michael of Chernigov). Although his rule lasted only a few years and was filled with constant wars, Prince Vsevolod considered Kiev as his own dominion to bequeath [a view partly in conflict with the complex "appanage" system, rotating princes on the basis of seniority], and he decided to bequeath it as an inheritance to his brother Igor. For this he cited the example of Prince Vladimir Monomakh and said, almost as if intentionally provoking the Monomashichei: "Vladimir appointed Mstislav, his son, to follow after him in Kiev, and Mstislav designated his brother Yaropolk. 'And herewith I declare that if God should take me, I give Kiev over to my brother Igor.'"

The haughty words of Vsevolod, whom the Kievans did not love, became a pretext for inciting enmity against his brother Igor and all the Olegovichi. "We do not want him to inherit," resolved the Kievan council. The ill-will and arrogance of the prince provoked the ill-will and arrogance of the Kievans. St Igor, dragged into the very center of events against his will, became an innocent victim of the growing hatred.

On August 1, 1146 Prince Vsevolod died, and the Kievans kissed the cross, accepting Igor as their new prince. Igor kissed the cross and promised he would rule the people of Kiev justly and defend them. But the Kievan nobles violated their oath of fidelity when they kissed the cross, and immediately invited the Mstislavichi to Kiev with their forces. Beneath Kiev a battle raged between the forces of Prince Igor and those of Izyaslav Mstislavich. Once again breaking their oath, the Kievan forces went to Izyaslav's side during the battle. For four days Igor Olegovich hid himself in the marshes about Kiev. Then they took him captive, and took him to Kiev and put him in the "blockhouse." This was on August 13. His princely rule lasted only two weeks.

In order to free a prisoner from the "blockhouse," a dank log house without windows or doors, it was necessary to "chop" him out of there. The much-suffering Igor fell grievously ill, and they thought that he would die. Under these conditions the enemies of the prince decided "to chop him out" of prison and have him tonsured a schemamonk at the Theodorov monastery. With the help of God, the prince recovered his health. As a monk at the monastery, he spent his time weeping and praying.

The struggle for Kiev continued. Incited by pride and blind hatred, neither side wanted to give in. Determined to wipe out the line of the Olegovichi, and all its princes, the Kievan council in the following year decided to kill the prince-monk.

The Metropolitan and the clergy tried to reason with them and stop them. The prince ruling at Kiev, Izyaslav Mstislavich, and in particular his brother Vladimir, tried to avert this senseless bloodshed, and to save the holy martyr, but they themselves were in danger from the vicious mob.

The mob rushed into church during the Holy Liturgy and seized Igor, who was praying before the icon of the Mother of God, and they dragged him out to kill him. Prince Vladimir halted the mob at the gates of the monastery. Igor said to him: "Brother, will you forsake me?" Vladimir jumped down from his horse, wanting to help, and covered him with his princely cloak while saying to the Kievan people: "Brethren, do not commit murder!" According to the Chronicle, "Vladimir led Igor to his mother's palace, and they rushed at Vladimir."

Vladimir succeeded in pushing Igor into the palace and locking the gates. But the people broke down the gates, and seeing Igor "in the lofts," they dragged the holy martyr down and murdered him on the stairway. The vicious mob was so intense, that they subjected the dead body of the sufferer to further beatings and abuse. Then they dragged him by his feet to the Desyatina (Tithe) church. They threw him on a cart, and then "hung him up in the marketplace."

Thus did the holy martyr surrender his soul to the Lord, "and he put off the perishable robe of mankind, and was clothed in the imperishable and much-suffering robe of Christ." When on the evening of the same day the body of St Igor was transferred to the church of St Michael, "God manifested a great sign, and the candles around him lit by themselves." On the second morning the holy sufferer was buried in the monastery of St Simeon, on the outskirts of Kiev.

In the year 1150, Prince Sviatoslav Olegovich of Chernigov transferred the relics of his brother, St Igor, to Chernigov and put them in the cathedral of the Savior. The wonderworking Igorov icon of the Mother of God, before which the martyr prayed before his murder, is in the Dormition church of the Kiev Caves Lavra (the icon is commemorated on June 5).


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Martyr Ariadne of Phrygia

Commemorated on September 18

The Holy Martyr Ariadne was a servant of Tertillos, a city official of Promyssia (Phrygia) during the reign of the emperor Hadrian (117-161). Once, when on the occasion of the birth of a son, the master made a sacrificial offering to the pagan gods, the Christian Ariadne refused to participate in the impious ceremony.

They subjected her to beatings and lacerated her body with sharp iron hooks. Then they threw the martyr into prison and for a long while they exhausted her with hunger, demanding that she worship their gods.

When they released the saint from prison, she left the city, but Tertillos sent pursuers after her. Seeing that they were chasing her, she ran, calling out to God to defend her from her enemies. Suddenly, through her prayers, a fissure opened in the mountain, and St Ariadne hid in it. This miracles brought the pursuers into confusion and fear. In their depravity of mind they began to strike one another with spears.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sophia & her three daughters: Faith, Hope, and Love

September 17

These Saints were from Italy and contested for the Faith about the year 126, during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian. Faith was twelve years old, Hope, ten, and Love, nine; each was tormented and then beheaded, from the eldest to the youngest. Their mother Sophia mourned at their grave for three days, where she also fell asleep in peace; because of her courageous endurance in the face of her daughters' sufferings, she is also counted a martyr. The name Sophia means "wisdom" in Greek; as for her daughters' names, Faith, Hope, and Love (Charity), they are Pistis, Elpis, and Agape in Greek, and Vera, Nadezhda, and Lyubov in Russian.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O Lord Jesus, unto Thee Thy lamb doth cry with a great voice: O my Bridegroom, Thee I love; and seeking Thee, I now contest, and with Thy baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; for Thy sake I die, that I may live in Thee: accept me offered out of longing to Thee as a spotless sacrifice. Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since Thou art great in mercy.

Kontakion in the First Tone
Since Faith and Hope and Love were in truth sacred branches of venerable Sophia, the namesake of wisdom by grace they have shown all men that Greek wisdom is foolishness, and in contest they proved to be prizewinning victors; wherefore, they received a crown that never shall perish from Christ God, the Lord of all.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Friday, September 16, 2011

St Sebastiana the Martyr and Disciple of St Paul the Apostle at Heraclea

Commemorated on September 16

The Holy Martyr Sebastiana was a follower of the holy Apostle Paul. During a persecution against Christians under the emperor Dometian (81-96), she was on trial as a Christian before the governor named Georgios in the city of Marcianopolis in the Mizea region.

St Sebastiana firmly confessed her faith in Christ, and for this she was subjected to cruel tortures. At first they beat her, and then they threw her into a red-hot oven, from which she emerged unharmed. They sent the saint to the city of Heraklea, where sentence was pronounced on her a second time.

The governor, named Pompian, gave orders to tie the saint to a tree and lacerate her body with roof-tiles. The martyr remained unbroken in her faith. Then the governor gave her to be eaten by wild beasts. There too, the Lord preserved the holy martyr, and the beasts refused to touch her. Then, by order of the governor, St Sebastiana was beheaded. Her body, thrown into the sea, was taken by angels to the island of Rhodes (in Thrace, in the Sea of Marmara).


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Liturgical Year

From here.


The Liturgical Year

By: Fr. Anthony Alevizopoulos
PhD. of Theology, PhD. of Philosophy

Already by ancient Tradition, the Church honored the day on which the saints reposed as their day of birth, and celebrated the great events in the lives of the saints by celebrating the Holy Liturgy. But apart from these festivals, the Church also established the great feasts of the year which were associated with the great mystery of divine dispensation.

The liturgical year of the Church is not a measure for calculating time but for the living and experiencing of the entire mystery of the world's salvation, and is a prefiguring of the eternity to which the Christian looks. Liturgical time moves within the dimension of the eternal present; there is no separation between past, present and future. Thus it is that the hymns of the Church which refer to the great events of salvation in Christ use the word "today".

"Today does the Virgin give birth to the Superessential..."

"Today, He who hung the earth in the waters, hangs upon the Cross..." Here we have a new dimension of time, the time of transfiguration and incorruption bathed in the unwaning light of the "eighth day", the day of the Resurrection. In liturgical place and time everything finds its harmonious unity; angels and men are "reconciled" in Christ; they are united under the one Head of the body, Christ, and men are thus able to practise their "royal" and priestly ministry within creation and thereby bring it [creation] back to its doxological relationship with the Triune God.

In liturgical time we do not simply recall or simply refer back to the events of the divine dispensation; rather we mystically experience and live these events and sacramentally participate in the life of Christ and of all the saints; we become partakers of Christ's legacy and commune in His sanctity; partakers of the salvation which is the spiritual experience of the Church through­out the ages; we do not simply celebrate the sacred memory of God's works.

The festal cycle of Christmas puts forth God's entry into the world of faith, an entry which is God's conde­scension for man's restoration. The "child" that "was born unto us and given unto us", according to the hymn of the Church is the super-essential and unapproachable God, Who becomes approachable for fallen man. Through this act God accepts His creation, and leads it from its fallen state to restoration, from death to life, from corruption to incorruption. For this reason all of creation co-celebrates this event. The earth offers the cave, the angels glorify together with the shepherds and the magi follow together with the Star:

"Today the Virgin brings forth the Super-essential, and the earth offers the cave to the Unapproachable, Angels together with the shepherds sing praises; The Wise Men journey on with the Star. For, for our sakes, God, Who is before all the ages, is born a little Child".

The festal cycle of Easter leads the believer through a long preparation of repentance and asceticism, which culminates, during Holy Week, in the night of the Resurrection, in the beginning of the "other life" where we celebrate the death of Death and the annihilation of Hades.

"We celebrate the death of Death,

the annihilation of Hell,

the beginning of a life new and everlasting.

And in ecstasy we sing praises

unto the author thereof,

the only God of our Fathers,

blessed and exceedingly glorious".

"Now are all things filled with light;

heaven, and earth and the places under the earth.

All creation doth celebrate

the Resurrection of Christ,

on Whom also it is founded."

Man, in the person of Christ, was assumed by Divinity; thus, through Christ's death, man crushed Death and rose to a life of incorruption and immortality, he ascended in glory and was exalted to the height of the glory of God the Father (I Tim. 3, 16. Philip. 2, 9-11). This is the significance of the feast of Christ's Ascen­sion. Before this "strange miracle" the hosts of angels remain voiceless; all of creation engulfs the mystery with silence:

"The Angelic Hosts...beholding our nature and marvelling at its strange ascension, wondered amongst themselves: Who is this here present?

But as they discerned that this was their own Master, they commanded the Heavenly Gates to open..."

Our Lord's bodily Resurrection and Ascension, in accordance with the message of the angels (Acts 1,11) also pre-announces His bodily return. The Lord, how­ever, prior to His Ascension promised to "send" the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit revealed to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost the entire mystery of divine love, and gave to them power and divine charismata so as to become zealous preachers and defy all dangers. With Pentecost, the period of confusion which began with Babel ends, and man enters into a period of unity and returns to the one nature, to "the one in Christ":

"When the Most High confounded the tongues, He dispersed the nations: but when He distributed the tongues of fire, He called all men unto unity. Wherefore, with one accord, we glorify the All-holy Spirit." (Kontakion of Pentecost).

This deep unity is experienced by every Christian in liturgical place, not only during the feast of Pentecost but at every Eucharistic gathering, especially on the Lord's Day, Sunday, during which the weekly festal cycle reaches its climax.

The celebration of Sunday is not a replacement for the keeping of the Jewish Sabbath. By establishing Saturday as a day of rest, God desired to limit Israel's insensitivity and carnality as well as its love for material things. The Command was given to the spiritually-weak Israelites and was based on the fear of punishment, within the framework of a relationship of Lord and servant between God and man that was regulated by the Mosaic Law.

The Christian, however, finds himself in a relation­ship of "adoption"; his place vis-a-vis God is not gov­erned by the Law, but by God's grace; that is, he is under grace (Rom. 6,14). He is called to direct all his desire towards God and to do His will out of love - not out of fear - continuously, and not only one day a week.

Sunday is the day of the new creation, the birthday of God's children and depicts not one day's rest but the eternal rest of the faithful. It is outside the weekly cycle of the Jews and is characterized as the eighth day. That which the believer lives in liturgical time and place, he is called to continue throughout all his life, which should be enlightened by the unwaning light of Christ's Resur­rection and of Pentecost.

This, however, is not easy for man in this life. Thus, he has need to return often to liturgical place, to relive the joy of the Resurrection and the Transfigur­ation, in order to set out once again in the world. This he must do until such time as the second Coming of Christ becomes a reality. Then shall all of man's life and all of creation acquire the experience of a continuous Divine Liturgy within the continuous glory of the Resurrection and Pentecost (cf. Is. 60, 1-22. Rev. 12,22-25).

THE ORTHODOX CHURCH Its Faith, Worship and Life
Rev. Antonios Alevisopoulos, Th.D., Ph.D
Translated by Rev. Stephen Avramides

Martyr Porphyrius the Actor

Commemorated on September 15

The Holy Martyr Porphyrius suffered during the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363). Porphyrius was an actor and on the emperor's birthday he was performing a role at the theater, where he was supposed to mock the mystery of holy Baptism.

During the play Porphyrius was immersed in water and said: "The servant of God, Porphyrius, is baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Through divine grace, he emerged from the water and confessed himself a Christian. Julian ordered him to be tortured, and after the torments, to be beheaded. This took place in the city of Ephesus in the year 361.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Elevation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross

September 14

Saint Helen, the mother of Saint Constantine the Great, when she was already advanced in years, undertook, in her great piety, the hardships of a journey to Jerusalem in search of the cross, about the year 325. A temple to Aphrodite had been raised up by the Emperor Hadrian upon Golgotha, to defile and cover with oblivion the place where the saving Passion had been suffered. The venerable Helen had the statue of Aphrodite destroyed, and the earth removed, revealing the Tomb of our Lord, and three crosses. Of these, it was believed that one must be that of our Lord, the other two of the thieves crucified with Him; but Saint Helen was at a loss which one might be the Wood of our salvation. At the inspiration of Saint Macarius, Archbishop of Jerusalem, a lady of Jerusalem, who was already at the point of death from a certain disease, was brought to touch the crosses, and as soon as she came near to the Cross of our Lord, she was made perfectly whole. Consequently, the precious Cross was lifted on high by Archbishop Macarius of Jerusalem; as he stood on the ambo, and when the people beheld it, they cried out, "Lord have mercy." It should be noted that after its discovery, a portion of the venerable Cross was taken to Constantinople as a blessing. The rest was left in Jerusalem in the magnificent church built by Saint Helen, until the year 614. At that time, the Persians plundered Palestine and took the Cross to their own country (see Jan. 22, Saint Anastasius the Persian). Late, in the year 628, Emperor Heraclius set out on a military campaign, retrieved the Cross, and after bringing it to Constantinople, himself escorted it back to Jerusalem, where he restored it to its place.
Rest from labour. A Fast is observed today, whatever day of the week it may be.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
Save, O Lord, Thy people and bless Thine inheritance; grant Thou unto the faithful victory over adversaries. And by the power of Thy Cross do Thou preserve Thy commonwealth.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Lifted up on the Cross by Your free will, Christ God, grant mercies to the new commonwealth that bears Your name. Gladden our faithful rulers by Your power, giving them victories over their adversaries. May Your alliance be for them a weapon for peace, an invincible standard.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Greatmartyr Ketevan the Queen of Georgia

Commemorated on September 13

The holy Queen Ketevan was the daughter of Ashotan Mukhran-Batoni, a prominent ruler from the Bagrationi royal family. The clever and pious Ketevan was married to Prince David, heir to the throne of Kakheti. David’s father, King Alexander II (1574–1605), had two other sons, George and Constantine, but according to the law the throne belonged to David. Constantine was converted to Islam and raised in the court of the Persian shah Abbas I.

Several years after David and Ketevan were married, King Alexander stepped down from the throne and was tonsured a monk at Alaverdi. But after four months, in the year 1602, the young king David died suddenly. He was survived by his wife, Ketevan, and two children—a son, Teimuraz, and a daughter, Elene—and his father ascended the throne once more.

Upon hearing of David’s death and Alexander’s return to the royal throne, Shah Abbas commanded Alexander’s youngest son, Constantine-Mirza, to travel to Kakheti, murder his father and the middle brother, George, and seize the throne of Kakheti. As instructed, Constantine-Mirza beheaded his father and brother, then sent their heads, like a precious gift, to Shah Abbas.

Their headless bodies he sent to Alaverdi. (Since the beginning of the 11th century, Alaverdi had been the resting place of the Kakhetian kings.) The widowed Queen Ketevan was left to bury her father-in-law and brother-in-law.

But Constantine-Mirza was still unsatisfied, and he proposed to take Queen Ketevan as his wife.

Outraged at his proposition, the nobles of Kakheti rose up and killed the young man who had committed patricide and profaned his Faith and the throne. Having buried the wicked Constantine-Mirza with the honor befitting his royal ancestry, Ketevan sent generous gifts to Shah Abbas and requested that he proclaim her son, Teimuraz, the rightful heir to the throne.

While she was awaiting his reply, Ketevan assumed personal responsibility for the rule of Kakheti. Concerned that, if he denied this request, Kakheti would forcibly separate from him and unite with Kartli, Shah Abbas hastily sent Prince Teimuraz to Georgia, laden with great wealth.

In 1614 Shah Abbas informed King Teimuraz that his son would be taken hostage, and Teimuraz was forced to send his young son Alexander and his mother Ketevan to Persia. As a final attempt to divide the royal family of Kakheti, Shah Abbas demanded that the eldest prince, Levan, be brought before him, and he finally summoned King Teimuraz himself.

The shah’s intentions were clear: to hold all of the royal family in Persia and send his own viceroys to rule in Kakheti. He sought to eliminate King Luarsab II of Kartli as well, but Teimuraz and Luarsab agreed to attack the Persian army with joint forces and drive the enemy out of Georgia.

Shah Abbas sent his hostages, Queen Ketevan and her grandsons, deep into Persia, while he himself launched an attack on Kakheti.

With fire and the sword the godless ruler plundered all of Georgia. The royal palace was razed, churches and monasteries were destroyed, and entire villages were abandoned. By order of the shah, more than three hundred thousand Georgians were exiled to Persia, and their homes were occupied by Turkic tribes from Central Asia. Hunger and violence reigned over Georgia.

The defeated Georgian kings Teimuraz and Luarsab sought refuge with King George III of Imereti.

After they had spent five years exiled in Shiraz (Persia), the princes Alexander and Levan were separated from Ketevan and castrated in Isfahan. Alexander could not endure the suffering and died, while Levan went mad.

St. Ketevan, meanwhile, remained a prisoner of the ruler of southeastern Persia, the ethnic Georgian imam Quli-Khan Undiladze, who regarded the widowed Queen of Kakheti with great respect. According to his command, Ketevan was not to discover the fate of her grandsons.

Queen Ketevan spent ten years in prison, praying for her motherland and loved ones with all her might and adhering to a strict ascetic regime. Constant fasting, prayer and a stone bed exhausted her previously pampered body, but in spirit she was courageous and full of vitality. She looked after those assigned to her care and instructed them in the spiritual life.

After some time Abbas resolved to convert Ketevan to Islam, and he announced his intention to marry her. He asked that his proposal be conveyed to her the same day she was informed of the fate of her grandsons. As a condition of their marriage, Abbas insisted that Ketevan renounce the Christian Faith and convert to Islam. In the case of her acquiescence, Imam Quli-Khan was to respect and honor her as a queen, and in the case of her refusal, to subject her to public torture.

The alarmed imam begged the queen to submit to the shah’s will and save herself, but the queen firmly refused and began to prepare for her martyrdom. (According to one foreign observer, her steadfastness delayed the Islamization of the Georgians in Persia: “In the course of a conversation at the court of Shah Abbas, where a young and recently converted Georgian was present, the question arose as to why it was that, while all young Georgians were forced to embrace Islam, their mothers were not. The explanation given by one of those present was that since the Queen would not change her faith Georgian mothers likewise refused.” (Z. Avalishvili, “Teimuraz I and His Poem ‘The Martyrdom of Queen Ketevan,’” Georgica [vol I, no. 4/5, 1937] pp. 22.)

Queen Ketevan was robed in festive attire and led out to a crowded square. Her persecutors subjected her to indescribable torment: they placed a red-hot copper cauldron on her head, tore at her chest with heated tongs, pierced her body with glowing spears, tore off her fingernails, nailed a board to her spine, and finally split her forehead with a red-hot spade.

St. Ketevan’s soul departed from her body, and the executioners cast her mutilated body to the beasts. But the Lord God sent a miracle: her holy relics were illumined with a radiant light.

A group of French Augustinian missionary fathers, who had witnessed the inhuman tortures, wrapped Queen Ketevan’s body in linens scented with myrrh and incense and buried it in a Catholic monastery.

Some time later the holy relics of Great-martyr Ketevan were delivered to her son, Teimuraz, King of Kakheti.

Teimuraz wept bitterly for his mother and sons and buried the relics with great honor in the Alaverdi Cathedral of St. George.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's, even 2007!):