Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Apostle James the Brother of St John the Theologian

Commemorated on April 30

The Holy Apostle James, the son of Zebedee, was the brother of St John the Theologian, and one of the Twelve Apostles. He and his brother, St John, were called to be Apostles by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who called them the “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17). It was this James, with John and Peter, who witnessed the Raising of the Daughter of Jairus, the Lord’s Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, and His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

St James, after the Descent of the Holy Spirit, preached in Spain and in other lands, and then he returned to Jerusalem. He openly and boldly preached Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, and he denounced the Pharisees and the Scribes with the words of Holy Scripture, reproaching them for their malice of heart and unbelief.
The Jews could not prevail against St James, and so they hired the sorcerer Hermogenes to dispute with the apostle and refute his arguments that Christ was the promised Messiah Who had come into the world. The sorcerer sent to the apostle his pupil Philip, who was converted to belief in Christ. Then Germogenes himself became persuaded of the power of God.  He burned his books of magic, accepted holy Baptism and became a true follower of Christ.

The Jews persuaded Herod Agrippa (40-44) to arrest the Apostle James and sentence him to death (Acts 12:1-2). Eusebius provides some of the details of the saint’s execution (CHURCH HISTORY II, 9). St James calmly heard the death sentence and continued to bear witness to Christ. One of the false witnesses, whose name was Josiah, was struck by the courage of St James. He came to believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. When they led the apostle forth to execution, Josiah fell at his feet, repenting of his sin and asking forgiveness. The apostle embraced him, gave him a kiss and said, “Peace and forgiveness to you.” Then Josiah confessed his faith in Christ before everyone, and he was beheaded with St James in the year 44 at Jerusalem.

St James was the first of the Apostles to die as a martyr.


As a soldier of the Lord you were ranked among the choir of apostles. / Together with your brother, O James, you clung wholeheartedly to the Savior. / Armed with the power of the Spirit you preached him to all and were slain by the sword. / Therefore we sing your praises!


You were a chosen apostle of Christ / And the only brother of the beloved Theologian. / Most praised James, ask remission of sins and great mercy / For those who sing hymns to you.


You heard the voice of God calling you / And turned away from the love of your father. / With your brother you hastened after Christ, O glorious James. / With him, you were counted worthy to behold the Lord’s divine Transfiguration!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Holy Martyrs Diodorus and Rhodopianus the Deacon in Anatolia

The Holy Martyrs Diodorus and Rhodopianus the Deacon suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) in Aphrodisias, Caria. They were stoned to death for spreading Christianity among the pagans.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Martyrs Maximus, Dada, and Quinctilian at Dorostolum

Commemorated on April 28

The Martyrs Maximus, Dada, and Quinctilian suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), who issued a decree requiring everyone to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods during the public festivals, and to put Christians to death.

Tarquinius and Gabinius, the emperor’s representatives in Dorostolum, made a sumptuous feast, attended not only by the inhabitants of the city, but also people from the surrounding villages.

After the festivities, someone reported to the emperor that three brothers, Dada, Maximus and Quinctilian, did not obey the imperial decree and withdrew themselves into the Ozovia forest. Soldiers were sent after them, who caught the holy brothers at prayer and led them forth for trial.

The governors interrogated the brothers, who confessed themselves Christians. Tarquinius offered to make St Maximus a pagan priest of Zeus, but the saint called Zeus a foul adulterer and again confessed the True God.

Tarquinius attempted to reason with Sts Dada and Quinctilian. They said that their brother was well versed in the Holy Scripture and they would follow him in everything. They threw the martyrs into prison, but they thought only of the salvation of their souls. At midnight when the saints were asleep, the devil appeared to them. When the martyrs woke, they beheld an angel who said, “Fear not, for God your hope brings you to Himself. He is not far from you and will sustain you.”

In the morning, Tarquinius told the brothers that the gods had revealed their will to him in a dream: they were to be put to death if they did not offer sacrifice. The martyrs answered that the Lord had commanded them to endure torments for His sake.

The tortures and interrogations continued for several days from morning to evening. Finally, they sentenced the martyrs to death, led them out under guard to their forest and beheaded them with a sword.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Raising of Lazarus (Lazarus Saturday)

Commemorated on April 27

Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday

Visible triumphs are few in the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ. He preached a kingdom “not of this world.” At His nativity in the flesh there was “no room at the inn.” For nearly thirty years, while He grew “in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52), He lived in obscurity as “the son of Mary.” When He appeared from Nazareth to begin His public ministry, one of the first to hear of Him asked: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John I :46). In the end He was crucified between two thieves and laid to rest in the tomb of another man.

Two brief days stand out as sharp exceptions to the above—days of clearly observable triumph. These days are known in the Church today as Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday. Together they form a unified liturgical cycle which serves as the passage from the forty days of Great Lent to Holy Week. They are the unique and paradoxical days before the Lord’s Passion. They are days of visible, earthly triumph, of resurrectional and messianic joy in which Christ Himself is a deliberate and active participant. At the same time they are days which point beyond themselves to an ultimate victory and final kingship which Christ will attain not by raising one dead man or entering a particular city, but by His own imminent suffering, death and resurrection.

By raising Lazarus from the dead before Thy Passion,
Thou didst confirm the universal resurrection, 0 Christ God!
Like the children with the palms of victory,
we cry out to Thee, 0 Vanquisher of Death:
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!
(Troparion of the Feast, sung on both Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday)

Lazarus Saturday

In a carefully detailed narrative the Gospel relates how Christ, six days before His own death, and with particular mindfulness of the people “standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me” (John 11 :42), went to His dead friend Lazarus at Bethany outside of Jerusalem. He was aware of the approaching death of Lazarus but deliberately delayed His coming, saying to His disciples at the news of His friend’s death: “For your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe” (John 11:14).

When Jesus arrived at Bethany, Lazarus was already dead four days. This fact is repeatedly emphasized by the Gospel narrative and the liturgical hymns of the feast. The four-day burial underscores the horrible reality of death. Man, created by God in His own image and likeness, is a spiritual-material being, a unity of soul and body. Death is destruction; it is the separation of soul and body. The soul without the body is a ghost, as one Orthodox theologian puts it, and the body without the soul is a decaying corpse. “I weep and I wail, when I think upon death, and behold our beauty, fashioned after the image of God, lying in the tomb dishonored, disfigured, bereft of form.” This is a hymn of St John of Damascus sung at the Church’s burial services. This “mystery” of death is the inevitable fate of man fallen from God and blinded by his own prideful pursuits.

With epic simplicity the Gospel records that, on coming to the scene of the horrible end of His friend, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). At this moment Lazarus, the friend of Christ, stands for all men, and Bethany is the mystical center of the world. Jesus wept as He saw the “very good” creation and its king, man, “made through Him” (John 1:3) to be filled with joy, life and light, now a burial ground in which man is sealed up in a tomb outside the city, removed from the fullness of life for which he was created, and decomposing in darkness, despair and death. Again as the Gospel says, the people were hesitant to open the tomb, for “by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days” (John 11:39).

When the stone was removed from the tomb, Jesus prayed to His Father and then cried with a loud voice: “Lazarus, come out.” The icon of the feast shows the particular moment when Lazarus appears at the entrance to the tomb. He is still wrapped in his grave clothes and his friends, who are holding their noses because of the stench of his decaying body, must unwrap him. In everything stress is laid on the audible, the visible and the tangible. Christ presents the world with this observable fact: on the eve of His own suffering and death He raises a man dead four days! The people were astonished. Many immediately believed on Jesus and a great crowd began to assemble around Him as the news of the raising of Lazarus spread. The regal entry into Jerusalem followed.

Lazarus Saturday is a unique day: on a Saturday a Matins and Divine Liturgy bearing the basic marks of festal, resurrectional services, normally proper to Sundays, are celebrated. Even the baptismal hymn is sung at the Liturgy instead of Holy God: “As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.”

Very Rev. Paul Lazor


 By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your passion, / You did confirm the universal Resurrection, O Christ God! / Like the children with the palms of victory, / We cry out to You, O Vanquisher of death; / Hosanna in the Highest! / Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!


 Christ the Joy, the Truth and the Light of all, / The Life of the World and the Resurrection / Has appeared in His goodness, to those on earth. / He has become the Image of our Resurrection, / Granting divine forgiveness to all!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Friday, April 26, 2013

6,000 Martyrs of the St David Gareji Monastery, Georgia

Commemorated on April 26

In 1616 the Persian shah Abbas I led his enormous army in an attack on Georgia. Having quenched his thirst for the blood of the Christians, he arranged a hunt in the valley of Gare (Outer) Kakheti. He encamped with his escorts in the mountains of Gareji and spent the night in that place.

At midnight the shah’s attention was drawn to a flaming column of lights advancing up the mountain. At first he took it to be an apparition. He was soon informed, however, that a famous monastery was situated in that place and on that night the monks were circling their church three times with lighted candles in celebration of Christ’s Holy Resurrection. Immediately the shah commanded his army to march to the monastery and destroy all those found celebrating.

That same night an angel of the Lord appeared to Abbot Arsenius of David-Gareji and told him, “Our Lord Jesus Christ is calling the brothers to His Heavenly Kingdom. On this night great suffering awaits you—you will be killed by the sword. He who desires to prolong his earthly life, let him flee, but he who thirsts to purify his soul for eternity, let him perish by the sword, and the Lord God will adorn him with the crown of immortality. Tell this to all who dwell in the monastery, and let each man choose for himself!”

The abbot informed the monks about his vision, and they began to prepare for their imminent sufferings. Only two young monks feared death and fled to a mountain not far from the monastery. At the chanting of the Lord’s Prayer near the end of the Paschal Liturgy, the monastery was completely surrounded by Persian warriors. Abbot Arsenius stepped out of the church and approached their leader to request that the monks be given a bit more time to finish the service and for all the brothers to receive Holy Communion.

The Persians consulted among themselves and agreed to honor this request. The fathers partook of the Holy Gifts, encouraged one another, and presented themselves clad in festive garments before the unbelievers. First the Persians beheaded Abbot Arsenius; then they massacred his brothers in Christ without mercy.

After the Persians finished killing the monks, they were organized into several regiments and made their way towards the other monasteries of the Gareji Wilderness. Halfway between the Chichkhituri and St. John the Baptist Monasteries the Muslims captured the two young monks who had earlier fled and demanded that they convert to Islam.

The monks refused to abandon the Christian Faith and for this they were killed. A rose bush grew up in the place where they were killed and continued to fragrantly blossom through the 19th century, despite the dry and rocky soil.

At the end of the 17th century, King Archil gathered the bones of the martyrs with great reverence and buried them in a large stone reliquary to the left of the altar in the Transfiguration Church of David-Gareji Monastery. Their holy relics continue to stream myrrh to this day.

The brothers of the Monasteries of St. David of Gareji and St. John the Baptist received a blessing from Catholicos Anton I to compose a commemorative service for the martyrs and to designate their feast day as Bright Tuesday, or the third day of Holy Pascha.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mark the Apostle & Evangelist

April 25

Mark was an idolater from Cyrene of Pentapolis, which is near Libya. Having come to the Faith of Christ through the Apostle Peter, he followed him to Rome. While there, at the prompting of Peter himself and at the request of the Christians living there, he wrote his Gospel in Greek, and it is second in order after Matthew's. Afterwards, travelling to Egypt, he preached the Gospel there and was the first to establish the Church in Alexandria. The idolaters, unable to bear his preaching, seized him, bound him with ropes, and dragged him through the streets until he, cut to pieces on rocks, gave up his soul. It is said that he completed his life in martyrdom about the year 68. He is depicted in holy icons with a lion next to him, one of the living creatures mentioned by Ezekiel (1:10), and a symbol of Christ's royal office, as Saint Irenaeus of Lyons writes.

If April 25 falls on or before Great and Holy Pascha, the Feast of St. Mark is translated to Bright Tuesday.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
O Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
When thou hadst received the Spirit's grace from Heaven's heights, thou rentest apart the webs of the philosophers; and on catching all of the nations in thy net, O all-lauded Mark, thou didst offer them to thy Lord, by preaching the Gospel of divine renown.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Martyrs Pasikrates and Valention in Moesia, Bulgaria

The Martyrs Pasikrates and Valention came from the city of Durostorum, Silistria (now Bulgaria) and were soldiers under the governor Absolanus. Pasikrates was twenty-two years old, and Valention was thirty.

When a persecution against Christians began, Sts Pasikrates and Valention openly confessed their faith in Christ. At the trial Pasikrates spit at the idol of Apollo, and refused to offer sacrifice.

The brother of St Pasikrates wept and urged him merely to appear to offer sacrifice to the idols. The martyr placed his hand on the sacrifice in the fire and said, “The body is mortal and burns in the fire, the soul, however, is immortal and is not harmed by these torments.” St Valention also showed his readiness to suffer for Christ.

When they led the martyrs to execution, the mother of St Pasikrates followed them and exhorted her son not to fear death for Christ. Both martyrs were tortured and then beheaded in 288.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

George the Great Martyr & Triumphant

April 23

George, this truly great and glorious Martyr of Christ, was born of a father from Cappadocia and a mother from Palestine. Being a military tribune, or chiliarch (that is, a commander of a thousand troops), he was illustrious in battle and highly honoured for his courage. When he learned that the Emperor Diocletian was preparing a persecution of the Christians, Saint George presented himself publicly before the Emperor and denounced him. When threats and promises could not move him from his steadfast confession, he was put to unheard-of tortures, which he endured with great bravery, overcoming them by his faith and love towards Christ. By the wondrous signs that took place in his contest, he guided many to the knowledge of the truth, including Queen Alexandra, wife of Diocletian, and was finally beheaded in 296 in Nicomedia.

His sacred remains were taken by his servant from Nicomedia to Palestine, to a town called Lydda, the homeland of his mother, and then were finally transferred to the church which was raised up in his name. (The translation of the Saint's holy relics to the church in Lydda is commemorated on November 3; Saint Alexandra the Queen, on April 21.)

If April 23 falls on or before Great and Holy Pascha, the Feast of St. George is translated to Bright Monday.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Liberator of captives, defender of the poor, physician of the sick, and champion of kings, O trophy-bearer, Great Martyr George, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Cultivated by God, you became manifest as an honorable tiller gathering for yourself the sheaves of virtue. For you sowed with tears but reaped with gladness; in the contest you competed with your blood and came away with Christ. By your intercessions, O Holy One, all are granted forgiveness of sins.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Monday, April 22, 2013

Venerable Vitalius of Gaza

Commemorated on April 22

Saint Vitalius, a monk of the monastery of St Seridus, arrived in Alexandria when St John the Merciful (November 12) was Patriarch of Alexandria.

When he was sixty years old, he undertook an extraordinary task: he wrote down from memory the names of all the prostitutes of Alexandria and he began to pray for them. He worked from morning to evening, earning twelve copper coins each day. In the evening the saint bought a single bean, which he ate after sunset. Then he would give the rest of the money to one of the harlots, whom he visited at night and said, “I beg you, take this money and do not sin with anyone tonight.” Then he stayed with the harlot in her room. While she slept, the Elder spent the whole night at prayer, reading the Psalms, and quietly left in the morning.

He did this each day, visiting all the harlots in turn, and he made them promise to keep the purpose of his visit secret. The people of Alexandria, not knowing the truth, became indignant over the the monk’s behavior, and they reviled him. However, he meekly endured their scorn, and he only asked that they not judge others.

The holy prayers of St Vitalius saved many fallen women. Some of them went to a monastery, others got married, and others found respectable work. But they were forbidden to tell anyone the reason why they had changed their life, and thereby stop the abuse heaped upon St Vitalius. They were bound by an oath they had made to the saint. When one of the women began to break her oath and stood up to defend the saint, she fell into a demonic frenzy. After this, the people of Alexandria had no doubt concerning the sinfulness of the monk.

Certain of the clergy, scandalized by the behavior of St Vitalius, reported him to the holy Patriarch John the Merciful. But the Patriarch did not believe the informers and he said, “Cease to judge, especially monks. Don’t you know what happened at the First Council of Nicea? Some of the bishops and the clergy brought letters of denunciation against each other to the emperor St Constantine the Great (May 21). He commanded that a burning candle be brought, and not even reading the letters, he burned them and said, “If I had seen with my own eyes a bishop sinning, or a priest, or a monk, then I would have veiled such with his garb, so that no one might see his sin.” Thus the wise hierarch shamed the calumniators.

St Vitalius continued on with his difficult exploit: appearing himself before people under the guise of a sinner and a prodigal, he led the prodigal to repentance.

One time, emerging from an house of ill repute, the monk encountered a young man going there -- a prodigal fellow, who with an insult struck him on the cheek and cried out, that the monk was a disgrace to the Name of Christ. The monk answered him: “Believe me, that after me, humble man that I be, thou also shalt receive such a blow on the cheek, that will have all Alexandria thronging to thine cry”.

A certain while afterwards St Vitalius settled into a small cell and in it at night he died. At that very hour a terrifying demon appeared before the youth who had struck the saint, and the demon struck the youth on the cheek and cried out: “Here is a knock from St Vitalius.” The youth went into a demonic madness. In a frenzy he thrashed about on the ground, tore the clothing from himself and howled so loudly, that a multitude of people gathered.

When the youth finally came to his senses after several hours, he then rushed off to the cell of the monk, calling out: “Have mercy on me, O servant of God, for I have sinned against thee.” At the door of the cell he came fully to his senses and he told those gathered there about his former encounter with St Vitalius. Then the youth knocked on the door of the cell, but he received no answer. When they broke in the door, they then saw, that the monk was dead, on his knees before an icon. In his hand was a scroll with the words: “Men of Alexandria, judge not beforehand, til cometh the Lord, the Righteous Judge”.

At this moment there came up the demon-possessed woman, punished by the monk for wanting to violate the secret of his exploit. Having touched the body of the saint, she was healed and told the people about everything that had happened with her.

When the women who had been saved by St Vitalius learned about his death, they gathered together and told everyone about the virtues and mercy of the saint.

St John the Merciful also rejoiced, in that he had not believed the calumniators, and that a righteous man had not been condemned. And then together with the throng of repentant women, converted by St Vitalius, the holy Patriarch solemnly conveyed his remains throughout all the city and gave them reverent burial. And from that time many of the Alexandria people made themselves a promise to judge no one.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Sunday, April 21, 2013

5th Sunday of Great Lent: St Mary of Egypt

Commemorated on April 21

St Zosimas (April 4) was a monk at a certain Palestinian monastery on the outskirts of Caesarea. Having dwelt at the monastery since his childhood, he lived there in asceticism until he reached the age of fifty-three. Then he was disturbed by the thought that he had attained perfection, and needed no one to instruct him. “Is there a monk anywhere who can show me some form of asceticism that I have not attained? Is there anyone who has surpassed me in spiritual sobriety and deeds?”
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Zosimas, you have struggled valiantly, as far as this is in the power of man. However, there is no one who is righteous (Rom 3:10). So that you may know how many other ways lead to salvation, leave your native land, like Abraham from the house of his father (Gen 12:1), and go to the monastery by the Jordan.”

Abba Zosimas immediately left the monastery, and following the angel, he went to the Jordan monastery and settled in it.

Here he met Elders who were adept in contemplation, and also in their struggles. Never did anyone utter an idle word. Instead, they sang constantly, and prayed all night long. Abba Zosimas began to imitate the spiritual activity of the holy monks.

Thus much time passed, and the holy Forty Day Fast approached. There was a certain custom at the monastery, which was why God had led St Zosimas there. On the First Sunday of Great Lent the igumen served the Divine Liturgy, everyone received the All-Pure Body and Blood of Christ. Afterwards, they went to the trapeza for a small repast, and then assembled once more in church.

The monks prayed and made prostrations, asking forgiveness one of another. Then they made a prostration before the igumen and asked his blessing for the struggle that lay before them. During the Psalm “The Lord is my Light and my Savior, whom shall I fear? The Lord is defender of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps 26/27:1), they opened the monastery gate and went off into the wilderness.

Each took with him as much food as he needed, and went into the desert. When their food ran out, they ate roots and desert plants. The monks crossed the Jordan and scattered in various directions, so that no one might see how another fasted or how they spent their time.

The monks returned to the monastery on Palm Sunday, each having his own conscience as a witness of his ascetic struggles. It was a rule of the monastery that no one asked how anyone else had toiled in the desert.
Abba Zosimas, according to the custom of the monastery, went deep into the desert hoping to find someone living there who could benefit him.

He walked into the wilderness for twenty days and then, when he sang the Psalms of the Sixth Hour and made the usual prayers. Suddenly, to the right of the hill where he stood, he saw a human form. He was afraid, thinking that it might be a demonic apparition. Then he guarded himself with the Sign of the Cross, which removed his fear. He turned to the right and saw a form walking southward. The body was black from the blazing sunlight, and the faded short hair was white like a sheep’s fleece. Abba Zosimas rejoiced, since he had not seen any living thing for many days.

The desert-dweller saw Zosimas approaching, and attempted to flee from him. Abba Zosimas, forgetting his age and fatigue, quickened his pace. When he was close enough to be heard, he called out, “Why do you flee from me, a sinful old man? Wait for me, for the love of God.”

The stranger said to him, “Forgive me, Abba Zosimas, but I cannot turn and show my face to you. I am a woman, and as you see, I am naked. If you would grant the request of a sinful woman, throw me your cloak so I might cover my body, and then I can ask for your blessing.”

Then Abba Zosimas was terrified, realizing that she could not have called him by name unless she possessed spiritual insight.

Covered by the cloak, the ascetic turned to Zosimas: “Why do you want to speak with me, a sinful woman? What did you wish to learn from me, you who have not shrunk from such great labors?”

Abba Zosimas fell to the ground and asked for her blessing. She also bowed down before him, and for a long time they remained on the ground each asking the other to bless. Finally, the woman ascetic said: “Abba Zosimas, you must bless and pray, since you are honored with the grace of the priesthood. For many years you have stood before the holy altar, offering the Holy Gifts to the Lord.”

These words frightened St Zosimas even more. With tears he said to her, “O Mother! It is clear that you live with God and are dead to this world. You have called me by name and recognized me as a priest, though you have never seen me before. The grace granted you is apparent, therefore bless me, for the Lord’s sake.”

Yielding finally to his entreaties, she said, “Blessed is God, Who cares for the salvation of men.” Abba Zosimas replied, “Amen.” Then they rose to their feet. The woman ascetic again said to the Elder, “Why have you come, Father, to me who am a sinner, bereft of every virtue? Apparently, the grace of the Holy Spirit has brought you to do me a service. But tell me first, Abba, how do the Christians live, how is the Church guided?”

Abba Zosimas answered her, “By your holy prayers God has granted the Church and us all a lasting peace. But fulfill my unworthy request, Mother, and pray for the whole world and for me a sinner, that my wanderings in the desert may not be useless.”

The holy ascetic replied, “You, Abba Zosimas, as a priest, ought to pray for me and for all, for you are called to do this. However, since we must be obedient, I will do as you ask.

The saint turned toward the East, and raising her eyes to heaven and stretching out her hands, she began to pray in a whisper. She prayed so softly that Abba Zosimas could not hear her words. After a long time, the Elder looked up and saw her standing in the air more than a foot above the ground. Seeing this, Zosimas threw himself down on the ground, weeping and repeating, “Lord, have mercy!”

Then he was tempted by a thought. He wondered if she might not be a spirit, and if her prayer could be insincere. At that moment she turned around, lifted him from the ground and said, “Why do your thoughts confuse you, Abba Zosimas? I am not an apparition. I am a sinful and unworthy woman, though I am guarded by holy Baptism.”

Then she made the Sign of the Cross and said, “May God protect us from the Evil One and his schemes, for fierce is his struggle against us.” Seeing and hearing this, the Elder fell at her feet with tears saying, “I beseech you by Christ our God, do not conceal from me who you are and how you came into this desert. Tell me everything, so that the wondrous works of God may be revealed.”

She replied, “It distresses me, Father, to speak to you about my shameless life. When you hear my story, you might flee from me, as if from a poisonous snake. But I shall tell you everything, Father, concealing nothing. However, I exhort you, cease not to pray for me a sinner, that I may find mercy on the Day of Judgment.

“I was born in Egypt and when I was twelve years old, I left my parents and went to Alexandria. There I lost my chastity and gave myself to unrestrained and insatiable sensuality. For more than seventeen years I lived like that and I did it all for free. Do not think that I refused the money because I was rich. I lived in poverty and worked at spinning flax. To me, life consisted in the satisfaction of my fleshly lust.

“One summer I saw a crowd of people from Libya and Egypt heading toward the sea. They were on their way to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. I also wanted to sail with them. Since I had no food or money, I offered my body in payment for my passage. And so I embarked on the ship.

“Now, Father, believe me, I am very amazed, that the sea tolerated my wantonness and fornication, that the earth did not open up its mouth and take me down alive into hell, because I had ensnared so many souls. I think that God was seeking my repentance. He did not desire the death of a sinner, but awaited my conversion.

“So I arrived in Jerusalem and spent all the days before the Feast living the same sort of life, and maybe even worse.

“When the holy Feast of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross of the Lord arrived, I went about as before, looking for young men. At daybreak I saw that everyone was heading to the church, so I went along with the rest. When the hour of the Holy Elevation drew nigh, I was trying to enter into the church with all the people. With great effort I came almost to the doors, and attempted to squeeze inside. Although I stepped up to the threshold, it was as though some force held me back, preventing me from entering. I was brushed aside by the crowd, and found myself standing alone on the porch. I thought that perhaps this happened because of my womanly weakness. I worked my way into the crowd, and again I attempted to elbow people aside. However hard I tried, I could not enter. Just as my feet touched the church threshold, I was stopped. Others entered the church without difficulty, while I alone was not allowed in. This happened three or four times. Finally my strength was exhausted. I went off and stood in a corner of the church portico.

“Then I realized that it was my sins that prevented me from seeing the Life-Creating Wood. The grace of the Lord then touched my heart. I wept and lamented, and I began to beat my breast. Sighing from the depths of my heart, I saw above me an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. Turning to Her, I prayed: “O Lady Virgin, who gave birth in the flesh to God the Word! I know that I am unworthy to look upon your icon. I rightly inspire hatred and disgust before your purity, but I know also that God became Man in order to call sinners to repentance. Help me, O All-Pure One. Let me enter the church. Allow me to behold the Wood upon which the Lord was crucified in the flesh, shedding His Blood for the redemption of sinners, and also for me. Be my witness before Your Son that I will never defile my body again with the impurity of fornication. As soon as I have seen the Cross of your Son, I will renounce the world, and go wherever you lead me.”

“After I had spoken, I felt confidence in the compassion of the Mother of God, and left the spot where I had been praying. I joined those entering the church, and no one pushed me back or prevented me from entering. I went on in fear and trembling, and entered the holy place.

“Thus I also saw the Mysteries of God, and how God accepts the penitant. I fell to the holy ground and kissed it. Then I hastened again to stand before the icon of the Mother of God, where I had given my vow. Bending my knees before the Virgin Theotokos, I prayed:

“‘O Lady, you have not rejected my prayer as unworthy. Glory be to God, Who accepts the repentance of sinners. It is time for me to fulfill my vow, which you witnessed. Therefore, O Lady, guide me on the path of repentance.’”

“Then I heard a voice from on high: ‘If you cross the Jordan, you will find glorious rest.’

“I immediately believed that this voice was meant for me, and I cried out to the Mother of God: ‘O Lady, do not forsake me!’

“Then I left the church portico and started on my journey. A certain man gave me three coins as I was leaving the church. With them I bought three loaves of bread, and asked the bread merchant the way to the Jordan.

“It was nine o’clock when I saw the Cross. At sunset I reached the church of St John the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan. After praying in the church, I went down to the Jordan and washed my face and hands in its water. Then in this same temple of St John the Forerunner I received the Life-Creating Mysteries of Christ. Then I ate half of one of my loaves of bread, drank water from the holy Jordan, and slept there that night on the ground. In the morning I found a small boat and crossed the river to the opposite shore. Again I prayed that the Mother of God would lead me where She wished. Then I found myself in this desert.”

Abba Zosimas asked her, “How many years have passed since you began to live in the desert?”

“‘I think,” she replied, “it is forty-seven years since I came from the Holy City.”

Abba Zosimas again asked, “What food do you find here, Mother?”

And she said, “I had with me two and a half loaves of bread when I crossed the Jordan. Soon they dried out and hardened Eating a little at a time, I finished them after a few years.”

Again Abba Zosimas asked, “Is it possible you have survived for so many years without sickness, and without suffering in any way from such a complete change?”

“Believe me, Abba Zosimas,” the woman said, “I spent seventeen years in this wilderness (after she had spent seventeen years in immorality), fighting wild beasts: mad desires and passions. When I began to eat bread, I thought of the meat and fish which I had in abundance in Egypt. I also missed the wine that I loved so much when I was in the world, while here I did not even have water. I suffered from thirst and hunger. I also had a mad desire for lewd songs. I seemed to hear them, disturbing my heart and my hearing. Weeping and striking myself on the breast, I remembered the vow I had made. At last I beheld a radiant Light shining on me from everywhere. After a violent tempest, a lasting calm ensued.

“Abba, how shall I tell you of the thoughts that urged me on to fornication? A fire seemed to burn within me, awakening in me the desire for embraces. Then I would throw myself to the ground and water it with my tears. I seemed to see the Most Holy Virgin before me, and She seemed to threaten me for not keeping my vow. I lay face downward day and night upon the ground, and would not get up until that blessed Light encircled me, dispelling the evil thoughts that troubled me.

“Thus I lived in this wilderness for the first seventeen years. Darkness after darkness, misery after misery stood about me, a sinner. But from that time until now the Mother of God helps me in everything.”

Abba Zosimas again inquired, “How is it that you require neither food, nor clothing?”

She answered, “After finishing my bread, I lived on herbs and the things one finds in the desert. The clothes I had when I crossed over the Jordan became torn and fell apart. I suffered both from the summer heat, when the blazing heat fell upon me, and from the winter cold, when I shivered from the frost. Many times I fell down upon the earth, as though dead. I struggled with various afflictions and temptations. But from that time until the present day, the power of God has guarded my sinful soul and humble body. I was fed and clothed by the all-powerful word of God, since man does not live by bread alone, but by every word proceeding from the mouth of God (Dt 8:3, Mt.4:4, Luke 4:4), and those who have put off the old man (Col 3:9) have no refuge, hiding themselves in the clefts of the rocks (Job 24:8, Heb 11:38). When I remember from what evil and from what sins the Lord delivered me, I have imperishible food for salvation.”

When Abba Zosimas heard that the holy ascetic quoted the Holy Scripture from memory, from the Books of Moses and Job and from the Psalms of David, he then asked the woman, “Mother, have you read the Psalms and other books?”

She smiled at hearing this question, and answered, “Believe me, I have seen no human face but yours from the time that I crossed over the Jordan. I never learned from books. I have never heard anyone read or sing from them. Perhaps the Word of God, which is alive and acting, teaches man knowledge by itself (Col 3:16, 1 Thess 2:13). This is the end of my story. As I asked when I began, I beg you for the sake of the Incarnate Word of God, holy Abba, pray for me, a sinner.

“Furthermore, I beg you, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, tell no one what you have heard from me, until God takes me from this earth. Next year, during Great Lent, do not cross the Jordan, as is the custom of your monastery.”

Again Abba Zosimas was amazed, that the practice of his monastery was known to the holy woman ascetic, although he had not said anything to her about this.

“Remain at the monastery,” the woman continued. “Even if you try to leave the monastery, you will not be able to do so. On Great and Holy Thursday, the day of the Lord’s Last Supper, place the Life-Creating Body and Blood of Christ our God in a holy vessel, and bring it to me. Await me on this side of the Jordan, at the edge of the desert, so that I may receive the Holy Mysteries. And say to Abba John, the igumen of your community, ‘Look to yourself and your brothers’ (1 Tim 4:16), for there is much that needs correction.

Do not say this to him now, but when the Lord shall indicate.”

Asking for his prayers, the woman turned and vanished into the depths of the desert.

For a whole year Elder Zosimas remained silent, not daring to reveal to anyone what he had seen, and he prayed that the Lord would grant him to see the holy ascetic once more.

When the first week of Great Lent came again, St Zosimas was obliged to remain at the monastery because of sickness. Then he remembered the woman’s prophetic words that he would not be able to leave the monastery. After several days went by, St Zosimas was healed of his infirmity, but he remained at the monastery until Holy Week.

On Holy Thursday, Abba Zosimas did what he had been ordered to do. He placed some of the Body and Blood of Christ into a chalice, and some food in a small basket. Then he left the monastery and went to the Jordan and waited for the ascetic. The saint seemed tardy, and Abba Zosimas prayed that God would permit him to see the holy woman.

Finally, he saw her standing on the far side of the river. Rejoicing, St Zosimas got up and glorified God. Then he wondered how she could cross the Jordan without a boat. She made the Sign of the Cross over the water, then she walked on the water and crossed the Jordan. Abba Zosimas saw her in the moonlight, walking toward him. When the Elder wanted to make prostration before her, she forbade him, crying out, “What are you doing, Abba? You are a priest and you carry the Holy Mysteries of God.”

Reaching the shore, she said to Abba Zosimas, “Bless me, Father.” He answered her with trembling, astonished at what he had seen. “Truly God did not lie when he promised that those who purify themselves will be like Him. Glory to You, O Christ our God, for showing me through your holy servant, how far I am from perfection.”

The woman asked him to recite both the Creed and the “Our Father.” When the prayers were finished, she partook of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. Then she raised her hands to the heavens and said, “Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen Your salvation.”

The saint turned to the Elder and said, “Please, Abba, fulfill another request. Go now to your monastery, and in a year’s time come to the place where we first time spoke.”

He said, “If only it were possible for me to follow you and always see your holy face!”

She replied, “For the Lord’s sake, pray for me and remember my wrechedness.”

Again she made the Sign of the Cross over the Jordan, and walked over the water as before, and disappeared into the desert. Zosimas returned to the monastery with joy and terror, reproaching himself because he had not asked the saint’s name. He hoped to do so the following year.

A year passed, and Abba Zosimas went into the desert. He reached the place where he first saw the holy woman ascetic. She lay dead, with arms folded on her bosom, and her face was turned to the east. Abba Zosimas washed her feet with his tears and kissed them, not daring to touch anything else. For a long while he wept over her and sang the customary Psalms, and said the funeral prayers. He began to wonder whether the saint would want him to bury her or not. Hardly had he thought this, when he saw something written on the ground near her head: “Abba Zosimas, bury on this spot the body of humble Mary. Return to dust what is dust. Pray to the Lord for me. I reposed on the first day of April, on the very night of the saving Passion of Christ, after partaking of the Mystical Supper.”

Reading this note, Abba Zosimas was glad to learn her name. He then realized that St Mary, after receiving the Holy Mysteries from his hand, was transported instantaneously to the place where she died, though it had taken him twenty days to travel that distance.

Glorifying God, Abba Zosimas said to himself, “It is time to do what she asks. But how can I dig a grave, with nothing in my hands?” Then he saw a small piece of wood left by some traveler. He picked it up and began to dig. The ground was hard and dry, and he could not dig it. Looking up, Abba Zosimas saw an enormous lion standing by the saint’s body and licking her feet. Fear gripped the Elder, but he guarded himself with the Sign of the Cross, believing that he would remain unharmed through the prayers of the holy woman ascetic. Then the lion came close to the Elder, showing its friendliness with every movement. Abba Zosimas commanded the lion to dig the grave, in order to bury St Mary’s body. At his words, the lion dug a hole deep enough to bury the body. Then each went his own way. The lion went into the desert, and Abba Zosimas returned to the monastery, blessing and praising Christ our God.

Arriving at the monastery, Abba Zosimas related to the monks and the igumen, what he had seen and heard from St Mary. All were astonished, hearing about the miracles of God. They always remembered St Mary with faith and love on the day of her repose.

Abba John, the igumen of the monastery, heeded the words of St Mary, and with the help of God corrected the things that were wrong at the monastery. Abba Zosimas lived a God-pleasing life at the monastery, reaching nearly a hundred years of age. There he finished his temporal life, and passed into life eternal.

The monks passed on the life of St Mary of Egypt by word of mouth without writing it down.

“I however,” says St Sophronius of Jerusalem (March 11), “wrote down the Life of St Mary of Egypt as I heard it from the holy Fathers. I have recorded everything, putting the truth above all else.”

“May God, Who works great miracles and bestows gifts on all who turn to Him in faith, reward those who hear or read this account, and those who copy it. May he grant them a blessed portion together with St Mary of Egypt and with all the saints who have pleased God by their pious thoughts and works. Let us give glory to God, the Eternal King, that we may find mercy on the Day of Judgment through our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom is due all glory, honor, majesty and worship together with the Unoriginate Father, and the Most Holy and Life-Creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.”


The image of God was truly preserved in you, mother, / for you took up the Cross and followed Christ. / By so doing, you taught us to disregard the flesh, for it passes away, / but to care instead for the soul, since it is immortal. / Therefore your spirit, holy mother Mary, Rejoices with the angels!


Having been a sinful woman, / you became through repentance a Bride of Christ. / Having attained angelic life, / you defeated demons with the weapon of the Cross. / Therefore, most glorious Mary, you are a Bride of the Kingdom!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Saturday, April 20, 2013

5th Saturday of Great Lent: of the Akathist to the Theotokos

Commemorated on April 20

On the Fifth Saturday of Great Lent, the Saturday of the Akathist, we commemorate the “Laudation of the Virgin” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.

In 625, when the emperor Heraclius was fighting the Persians, the Khan sent forces to attack Constantinople by land and by sea. Patriarch Sergius urged the people not to lose heart, but to trust in God.

A procession was made around the city with the Cross of the Lord, the robe of the Virgin, the Icon of the Savior not made by hands, and the Hodigitria Icon of the Mother of God. The Patriarch dipped the Virgin’s robe in the sea, and the city’s defenders beat back the Khan’s sea forces. The sea became very rough, and many boats sank. The invaders retreated, and the people of Constantinople gave thanks to God and to His Most Pure Mother.

On two other occasions, in 655 and 705, the Theotokos protected the city from Saracen invaders. A feastday dedicated to the Laudation of the Virgin was established to commemorate these victories. The Akathist to the Mother of God is believed to originate from this period, and its use has spread from Constantinople to other Orthodox lands.

The icon before which the Akathist was sung was given to the Dionysiou Monastery on Mt. Athos by Emperor Alexius Comnenos. There, it began to flow with myrrh. There were at least three wonderworking copies of this icon in Russia before the Revolution.

This icon shows the Mother of God seated on a throne, and surrounded by Prophets with scrolls.


When the archangel understood the mysterious command, / he came to the house of Joseph with haste and proclaimed to the unwedded Lady: / The One Who bowed the heavens by His condescension / is contained wholly and without change in you! / As I behold Him in your womb, taking the form of a servant, I am frightened, but cry: / Rejoice, unwedded Bride!


Victorious leader of triumphant hosts, / we your servants, delivered from evil, sing our grateful thanks to you, Theotokos! / As you possess invincible might set us free from every calamity, / so that we may sing: Rejoice, unwedded Bride!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Friday, April 19, 2013

St Tryphon the Patriarch of Constantinople

Commemorated on April 19

Saint Tryphon, Patriarch of Constantinople, was a monk from the time of his youth, distinguished by his meekness, lack of malice, full submission to the will of God, and his firm faith and love for the Church. At this time the emperor Romanus (919-944) ruled in Constantinople. He wanted to elevate his younger son Theophylactus to the patriarchal throne. When Patriarch Stephanos (925-928) died, Theophylactus was only sixteen years old. The emperor then suggested that St Tryphon be “locum tenens” of the patriarchal throne until Theophylactus came of age.

St Tryphon meekly accepted the burden of patriarchal service and for three years he wisely governed the Church. When Theophylactus turned twenty (931), the emperor told St Tryphon to resign the patriarchal throne. St Tryphon did not consider it proper to hand over the throne to an inexperienced youth, and he refused to do so. The emperor could not intimidate St Tryphon, since his life was blameless. Then Romanus employed the cunning counsels of Bishop Theophilus of Caesarea.

The deceitful bishop went to St Tryphon and urged him not to obey the emperor, and not to resign the patriarchal throne. Then Bishop Theophilus craftily obtained St Tryphon’s signature on a blank sheet of paper. Not suspecting any treachery, the guileless saint took a clean sheet of paper and wrote: “Tryphon, by the Mercy of God, Archbishop of Constantinople, the New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch.”

When they presented this paper to the emperor, he ordered them to write over the saint’s signature: “I hereby resign the position of Patriarch, because I consider myself unworthy of this office.” When this false document was read before the imperial dignitaries, servants removed St Tryphon from the patriarchal chambers.

St Tryphon patiently endured the injustice done to him, and returned to his own monastery. He lived there as a simple monk for a year before his death (+ 933). His body was taken to Constantinople and buried with the Patriarchs.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Icon of the Mother of God of St Maximus

Commemorated on April 18

The Maximov Icon of the Mother of God was painted in the year 1299 following Her appearance to St Maximus, Metropolitan of Vladimir (December 6). A description of this vision was inscribed on the left side of his crypt. The icon shows the Mother of God in full stature with the Christ Child in Her left hand. With Her right hand, she offers Metropolitan Maximus (depicted on his knees, or sometimes standing) a bishop’s omophorion.

The Mother of God appeared to St Maximus when he arrived in Vladimir from Kiev. In the vision, She gave the omophorion to him saying, “My servant Maximus, it is good that you have come to visit My city. Take this omophorion and shepherd the flock of My city.” When the saint awoke, the omophorion lay in his hands.

The appearance of the Mother of God was a sign of approval for the transfer of the metropolitan See from Kiev to Vladimir. The omophorion given by the Mother of God was preserved at the Dormition cathedral in Vladimir for 112 years. In 1412, during an incursion of the Tatars, the omophorion was hidden by the cathedral’s doorkeeper Patrick, who was martyred by the Tatars.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Monday, April 15, 2013

Martyrs Basilissa and Anastasia of Rome the Disciples of Apostles Peter and Paul

Commemorated on April 15

The Holy Women Martyrs Basilissa and Anastasia lived in Rome and were converted to Christianity by the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. They devoted themselves to the service of the Lord.

When the emperor Nero (54-68) persecuted Christians and gave them over to torture and execution, Sts Basilissa and Anastasia took the bodies of the holy martyrs and gave them reverent burial. Rumors of this reached Nero, so Sts Basilissa and Anastasia were locked up in prison. They subjected them to cruel tortures: they scourged them with whips, scraped their skin with hooks, and burned them with fire. The holy martyrs remained unyielding, however, and bravely confessed their faith in Christ the Savior. By Nero’s command, they were beheaded with the sword (+ ca. 68).

Martyr Anastasia

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday of St. John Climacus

April 14

Tone of the week: Tone Four

First Eothinon

The memory of this Saint is celebrated on March 30, where his biography may be found. He is celebrated today because his book, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, is a sure guide to the ascetic life, written by a great man of prayer experienced in all forms of the monastic polity; it teaches the seeker after salvation how to lay a sound foundation for his struggles, how to detect and war against each of the passions, how to avoid the snares laid by the demons, and how to rise from the rudimental virtues to the heights of Godlike love and humility. It is held in such high esteem that it is universally read in its entirety in monasteries during the Great Fast.

Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
When the women Disciples of the Lord had learned from the Angel the joyful message of the Resurrection and had rejected the ancestral decision, they cried aloud to the Apostles triumphantly: Death has been despoiled, Christ God has risen, granting His great mercy to the world.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
With the rivers of your tears, you have made the barren desert fertile. Through sighs of sorrow from deep within you, your labors have borne fruit a hundred-fold. By your miracles you have become a light, shining upon the world. O John, our Holy Father, pray to Christ our God, to save our souls.

Seasonal Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
To you, Theotokos, invincible Defender, having been delivered from peril, I, your city, dedicate the victory festival as a thank offering. In your irresistible might, keep me safe from all trials, that I may call out to you: "Hail, unwedded bride!"


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Fourth Saturday of Lent

April 13

Apolytikion in the Second Tone
O Apostles, martyrs, prophets, hierarchs, righteous, and just ones, who have finished your course well and have kept the Faith: seeing ye have boldness with the Saviour, beseech Him for us, since He is good, that our souls be saved, we pray.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Friday, April 12, 2013

Venerable Athanasia the Abbess of Aegina

Commemorated on April 12

Saint Athanasia was abbess of a monastery on the island of Aegina in the ninth century. She was born into a pious Christian family, and her parents were named Nicetas and Marina. Already at seven years of age the girl studied the PSALTER, which she read constantly and with feeling. Once, while working at the weaver’s loom, St Athanasia saw a shining star coming down to her from above, which touched her bosom and lightened all her being, and then disappeared. From that moment, the maiden was illumined in soul and she firmly resolved to enter a monastery.

When St Athanasia reached the age of sixteen, her parents entreated her to marry. She consented, but after sixteen days her husband was killed by barbarians who invaded Aegina.

St Athanasia decided to take advantage of her unexpected freedom and dedicate herself to God. Then the emperor Michael the Stammerer (820-829) issued a decree ordering all young widows and virgins to take husbands. Therefore, St Athanasia was forced to marry again. It is said that her second husband was a Moslem, whom she converted by her holy way of life.

She led a pious and virtuous life. She did housework, helped the sick and those in need, and took in wanderers. On Sundays and feastdays she invited family and acquaintances to her home and read the Holy Scriptures to them. Under her influence, her husband entered a monastery, and progressed in virtue and holiness. Soon, he departed to the Lord.

The saint gave away her property, became a nun, and founded a women’s monastery in a remote place. After four years, the sisters asked St Athanasia to become the abbess of the small community. In spite of her position, the saint surpassed all the others in meekness and humility. She asked about the infractions of the sisters with love, not anger.

Although St Athanasia had the title of abbess, she regarded herself as the least of the sisters and always had in mind the commandment of the Savior: “Whoever would be first among you, let him be your servant” (Mt. 20:27). The saint never permitted the sisters to wait on her, not even to pour water over her hands.

St Athanasia wore a hair-shirt, and over it clothes of coarse sheep’s wool. She slept very little, and prayed most of the night. By day she labored together with the sisters. On most days she ate only bread and water, and that in moderation, and only after the ninth hour of the day. She never ate cheese or fish except on Pascha and on the twelve Great Feasts. During Lent, she did not eat bread or drink water. She would only eat some vegetables every other day.

On the island of Aegina lived a certain monk named Matthew, who had been an igumen. Each night he read the whole PSALTER, and also read prayers. The saint slept sitting up and only for a short time. He could not refrain from tears when the Psalms were chanted, while reading prayers, or offering the Bloodless Sacrifice.

He wore only a coarse hair-shirt, and through his temperance and struggles his body became completely withered. He had a special love for St John the Theologian. Once, during the the Divine Liturgy he saw the Apostle standing by the altar table.

The saint healed a paralytic with his mantle; by making the Sign of the Cross he corrected the face of a man distorted by the actions of the devil; he cast out demons and worked many other miracles. St Matthew blessed St Athanasia to go to a more isolated place with her sisters. She built a monastery on a desolate hill of the island near an ancient church of the Protomartyr Stephen.

St Athanasia was granted the gift of healing by God. After she healed a man afflicted with a malady of the eyes, a crowd of people began to flock to her in order to receive healing from their infirmities of soul and body. From the abundant gifts brought to the monastery, she built three churches at the monastery: one dedicated to the Most Holy Theotokos, another to the holy Prophet John the Forerunner, and the third to St Nicholas the Wonderworker.

Her increasing celebrity distressed the saint, and she took the two sisters closest to her in spirit (Maria and Eupraxia) and went secretly to Constantinople. There, as a simple nun, she entered one of the women’s monasteries, where she lived for seven years.

Again, her holy life attracted attention. The sisters of the Aegina monastery learned where their abbess had gone, and they went to her imploring her to return. Submitting to the will of God, she returned to the monastery she founded. Soon after this she had a vision of two radiant men, giving her a document which said: “Here is your freedom, take it and rejoice.”

St Athanasia spent the twelve days before her death in unceasing prayer. On the eve of the Dormition of the Most HolyTheotokos she summoned the sisters and said that she was able to read the PSALTER only as far as the twelfth Psalm. The saint asked them to continue reading the PSALTER for her in church. The sisters went to church and there fulfilled her request, and then they came to bid the saint farewell. She blessed them and asked them to celebrate the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos solemnly and joyfully, and also to provide a meal for the poor and destitute. Then, after Divine Liturgy, they could bury her body. With these words, St Athanasia fell asleep in the Lord on August 14, 860.

The saint predicted that she would receive glory in Heaven forty days after her death. On the fortieth day, two devout sisters were granted to see St Athanasia and two radiant men standing before the royal doors of the iconostasis. They clothed her with a purple robe embroidered with gold, pearls, and precious stones. They set a crown on her head, handed her a gleaming staff, and led her through the royal doors into the altar.

Before her death, St Athanasia ordered the nuns to feed the poor for forty days. The sisters, however, did not fulfill her request and set out the memorial meal for only ten days. The saint appeared to some of the sisters and said, “Let everyone know that alms given for a departed soul for forty days after death, and food offered to the hungry, appease God. If the departed souls are sinful, they receive forgiveness from God. If they are righteous, then the good deeds bring God’s mercy on the souls of those who perform them.

Then she thrust her staff into the ground and became invisible. The staff left behind sprouted the next day and became a live tree. A year after the saint’s death, they led a possessed woman to the grave. When they dug up the ground, they then noticed a fragrance and removed the coffin. After she touched it, the demoniac was immediately healed. Then they opened the lid of the coffin and saw the saint’s incorrupt body, from which myrrh flowed.

St Athanasia looked like she was asleep. Her face shone brightly, her body was preserved incorrupt and soft, and even her hands were supple. The priests decided to place her body in church. When they transferred the body into a new coffin, the nuns removed the hair-shirt from her holy relics and wanted to dress her in silken clothes, but the hands of St Athanasia were so firmly clasped to her bosom, that the nuns could not dress her in the silken garb. Even in death the saint displayed her love for poverty. Then one of the sisters knelt down and began to pray to the saint, saying, “O lady, hear us as you heard us when you lived with us. Now consent to be dressed in these clothes, our humble gift to you.” St Athanasia, as though alive, lifted and extended her hands into the clothing.

The holy relics of St Athanasia were put into a crypt and became a source of healings.

The Life of St Athanasia is found in Vatican codex 1660, which dates from the year 916.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Antipas, Bishop of Pergamum

April 11

Saint Antipas was a contemporary of the holy Apostles, by whom he was made Bishop of Pergamum. He contested during the reign of Domitian, when he was cast, as it is said, into a bronze bull that had been heated exceedingly. The Evangelist John writes of him in the Book of Revelation, and says (as it were from the mouth of Christ, Who says to the Angel [that is, the Bishop] of the Church of Pergamum): "I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is; and thou holdest fast My Name, and hast not denied My Faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful Martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth" (Rev. 2:13). The faithful pray to this Saint for ailments of the teeth.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
The celebrated hierarch and Pegamum's first prelate, the fellow-contestant of Martyrs and most divine myrrh-streamer, ye faithful, come let us honour now wise Antipas, who truly is a great and swift healer of severely afflicted teeth, and cry to him with our whole soul: Glory to Christ that hath glorified thee. Glory to Him that hath crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Martyr Africanus and 40 others, beheaded at Carthage

Commemorated on April 10

The Holy Martyr Terence and his companions suffered under the emperor Decius (249-251). The emperor issued an edict commanding all subjects to offer sacrifice to the pagan idols. Many, afraid of torture, complied. However, St Terence and forty other Christians bravely affirmed their faith in the Savior and ridiculed the idols.

Fortunianus saw that Terence inspired the others by his example, and so he ordered him to be isolated in prison with his three closest companions: Africanus, Maximus, and Pompeius. Fortunianus was determined to force the rest of the martyrs, including Zeno, Alexander and Theodore, to renounce Christ.

Neither threats nor terrible tortures could sway the holy martyrs. They burned them with red-hot iron, they poured vinegar on the wounds, they sprinkled on salt, and they raked them with iron claws. In spite of their sufferings, the saints did not weaken in their confession of Christ, and the Lord gave them strength.

After the execution of the thirty-six martyrs, Fortunianus summoned Terence, Maximus, Africanus and Pompeius before him. He showed them the martyrs’ bodies and again urged them to offer sacrifice to the idols. The martyrs refused. The governor put heavy chains on them, and gave orders to starve them to death. By night, an angel of the Lord removed the martyrs’ chains and fed them.

In the morning, the guards found the saints cheerful and strong. Then Fortunianus ordered sorcerers and conjurers to carry snakes and all kinds of poisonous creatures into the prison. The guards looked into the cell through an opening in the ceiling and saw the martyrs unharmed, praying, and the snakes crawling at their feet. When the sorcerers opened the door of the prison cell, the snakes bit them. The furious Fortunianus gave orders to behead the holy martyrs. Christians took up their holy bodies and buried them with reverence outside the city.


A chosen army of athletes from Africa contested nobly for the faith. / They were of one mind and heart / and of one accord in their struggles. / Now they intercede that we all may be saved.


Let us celebrate the memory of Terence and his companions / and draw near to receive healing. / For with grace and power of the Spirit / they heal the sicknesses of our souls.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

New Martyrs Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesbos

Commemorated on April 9

Newly-Appeared Martyrs of Lesbos, Sts Raphael, Nicholas and Irene were martyred by the Turks on Bright Tuesday (April 9, 1463) ten years after the Fall of Constantinople. For nearly 500 years, they were forgotten by the people of Lesbos, but “the righteous Judge... opened the things that were hid” (2 Macc. 12:41).

For centuries the people of Lesbos would go on Bright Tuesday to the ruins of a monastery near Thermi, a village northwest of the capital, Mytilene. As time passed, however, no one could remember the reason for the annual pilgrimage. There was a vague recollection that once there had been a monastery on that spot, and that the monks had been killed by the Turks.

In 1959, a pious man named Angelos Rallis decided to build a chapel near the ruins of the monastery. On July 3 of that year, workmen discovered the relics of St Raphael while clearing the ground. Soon, the saints began appearing to various inhabitants of Lesbos and revealed the details of their lives and martyrdom. These accounts form the basis of Photios Kontoglou’s 1962 book A GREAT SIGN (in Greek).

St Raphael was born on the island of Ithaka around 1410, and was raised by pious parents. His baptismal name was George, but he was named Raphael when he became a monk. He was ordained to the holy priesthood, and later attained the offices of Archimandrite and Chancellor.

In 1453, St Raphael was living in Macedonia with his fellow monastic, the deacon Nicholas, a native of Thessalonica. In 1454, the Turks invaded Thrace, so the two monks fled to the island of Lesbos. They settled in the Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos near Thermi, where St Raphael became the igumen.

In the spring of 1463, the Turks raided the monastery and captured the monks. They were tortured from Holy Thursday until Bright Tuesday. St Raphael was tied to a tree, and the ferocious Turks sawed through his jaw, killing him. St Nicholas was also tortured, and he died while witnessing his Elder’s martyrdom. He appeared to people and indicated the spot where his relics were uncovered on June 13, 1960.

St Irene was the twelve-year-old daughter of the village mayor, Basil. She and her family had come to the monastery to warn the monks of the invasion. The cruel Hagarenes cut off one of her arms and threw it down in front of her parents. Then the pure virgin was placed in a large earthen cask and a fire was lit under it, suffocating her within. These torments took place before the eyes of her parents, who were also put to death. Her grave and the earthen cask were found on May 12, 1961 after Sts Raphael, Nicholas and Irene had appeared to people and told them where to look.

Others who also received the crown of martyrdom on that day were St Irene’s parents Basil and Maria; Theodore, the village teacher; and Eleni, the fifteen-year-old cousin of St Irene.

The saints appeared separately and together, telling people that they wished to be remembered. They asked that their icon be painted, that a church service be composed for them, and they indicated the place where their holy relics could be found. Based on the descriptions of those who had seen the saints, the master iconographer Photios Kontoglou painted their icon. The ever-memorable Father Gerasimos of Little St Anne Skete on Mt Athos composed their church service.

Many miracles have taken place on Lesbos, and throughout the world. The saints hasten to help those who invoke them, healing the sick, consoling the sorrowful, granting relief from pain, and bringing many unbelievers and impious individuals back to the Church.

St Raphael is tall, middle-aged, and has a beard of moderate length. His hair is black with some grey in it. His face is majestic, expressive, and filled with heavenly grace. St Nicholas is short and thin, with a small blond beard. He stands before St Raphael with great respect. St Irene usually appears with a long yellow dress reaching to her feet. Her blonde hair is divided into two braids which rest on either side of her chest.
Sts Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene (and those with them) are also commemorated on Bright Tuesday. Dr. Constantine Cavarnos has given a detailed account of their life, miracles, and spiritual counsels in Volume 10 of his inspirational series MODERN ORTHODOX SAINTS (Belmont, MA, 1990).


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Monday, April 08, 2013

Venerable Rufus the Obedient of the Kiev Far Caves

Saint Rufus the Obedient, Hermit of the Caves, lived at the Kiev Caves monastery during the fourteenth century. He was distinguished for his obedience and glorified as a lover of labor and fasting. He was buried in the Far Caves. He is celebrated a second time on August 28, the Synaxis of the Fathers of the Far Caves.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Sunday, April 07, 2013

St George the Confessor the Bishop of Mitylene

Commemorated on April 7

Saint George, Metropolitan of Mytilene, from his youth he led a monastic life, and was especially accomplished in the virtue of humility. In the reign of Leo the Isaurian (716-741) the saint underwent persecution from the iconoclasts and became a Confessor.

During the reign of the emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitos (780-797) St George was elevated to the archbishopal cathedra of the city of Mytilene on the island of Lesbos. His life was radiant with prudence and purity and resembled the life of angels. He possessed a gift of wonderworking, cast out unclean spirits and healed incurable diseases. The saint distinguished himself by his compassion, and he helped all the needy. In 815, during the reign of the iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820), the holy archpastor was banished and sent to Cherson, where he died after the year 820.

At the hour of his death a bright star shone in the heavens over the city of Mytilene.


Like a meadow planted by God / You were fruitful with the grace of the Spirit, / O holy Archpastor of the Mysteries. / You cultivated the souls of the faithful / Refreshing them with living water. / O righteous Father George, / Pray Christ our God to grant us great mercy!


You shone on the world like the sun, O holy and righteous George, / Inspired initiate of the holy Faith, / Enlightening your disciples!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Third Saturday of Lent

Apolytikion in the Second Tone
O Apostles, martyrs, prophets, hierarchs, righteous, and just ones, who have finished your course well and have kept the Faith: seeing ye have boldness with the Saviour, beseech Him for us, since He is good, that our souls be saved, we pray.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Friday, April 05, 2013

Icon of the Mother of God of Kasperov

Commemorated on April 5

The Kasperov Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. Tradition says that this holy icon had been brought to Cherson from Transylvania by a Serb at the end of the sixteenth century. Passing down from parent and child, the icon had come to a certain Mrs. Kasperova of Cherson in 1809.

One night in February of 1840 she was praying, seeking consolation in her many sorrows. Looking at the icon of the Virgin, she noticed that the features of the icon, darkened by age, had suddenly become bright. Soon the icon was glorified by many miracles, and people regarded it as wonder-working.

During the Crimean War (1853-1856), the icon was carried in procession through the city of Odessa, which was besieged by enemy forces. On Great and Holy Friday, the city was spared. Since that time, an Akathist has been served before the icon in the Dormition Cathedral of Odessa every Friday.

The icon is painted with oils on a canvas mounted on wood. The Mother of God holds Her Son on her left arm. The Child is holding a scroll. St John the Baptist (Janurary 7) is depicted on one border of the icon, and St Tatiana (January 12) on the other. These were probably the patron saints of the original owners of the icon.

The Kasperov Icon is commemorated on October 1, June 29, and Bright Wednesday.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2012(with 2011's link here also and further, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios - In the Church we are all one and Christ is the head.

From here.

The Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios

 In the Church we are all one and Christ is the head
The head of the Church is Christ and we humans, we Christians, are the body. The Apostle Paul says: He is the head of the body, of the Church. (Col 1:18)

The Church and Christ are one. The body cannot exist without its head. The body of the Church is nourished, sanctified and lives with Christ. He is the Lord, omnipotent, omniscient, everywhere present and filling all things, our staff, our friend, our brother: the pillar and sure foundation of the Church. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the basis - everything. Without Christ the Church does not exist. Christ is the Bridegroom; each individual soul is the Bride.

Christ united the body of the Church with heaven and with earth: with angels, men and all created things, with all of God’s creation with the animals and birds, with each tiny wild flower and each microscopic insect. The Church thus became the fullness of Him who fills all in all, (Eph. 1:23) that is, of Christ. Everything is in Christ and with Christ. This is the mystery of the Church.

Christ is revealed in that unity between His love and ourselves: the Church. On my own I am not the Church, but together with you. All together we are the Church. All are incorporated in the Church. We are all one and Christ is the head. One body, one body of Christ: You are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Cor. 12:27) We are all one because God is our Father and is everywhere. When we experience this we are in the Church. This is our Lord’s wish for all the members of the Church as expressed in His great high-priestly prayer: that they may be one. (John 17:11,22) But that’s something you can only understand through grace. We experience the joy of unity, of love, and we become one with everyone. There is nothing more magnificent!

The important thing is for us to enter into the Church - to unite ourselves with our fellow men, with the joys and sorrows of each and everyone, to feel that they are our own, to pray for everyone, to have care for their salvation, to forget about ourselves, to do everything for them just as Christ did for us. In the Church we become one unfortunate, suffering and sinful soul.

No one should wish to be saved alone without all others being saved. It is a mistake for someone to pray for himself, that he himself may be saved. We must love others and pray that no soul be lost, that all may enter into the Church. That is what counts. And it is with this desire one should leave the world to retire to a monastery or to the desert.

When we set ourselves apart from others, we are not Christians. We are true Christians when we have a profound sense that we are members of the mystical body of Christ, of the Church, in an unbroken relationship of love - when we live united in Christ, that is, when we experience unity in His Church with a sense of oneness. This is why Christ prays to His Father saying, that they may be one. He repeats the prayer again and again and the apostles emphasize it everywhere. This is the most profound aspect, the most exalted meaning, of the Church. This is where the secret is to be found: for all to be united as one person in God. There is no other religion like this; no other religion says anything of this sort. They have something to say, but not this mystery, this exquisite point of the mystery which Christ demands and tells us that this is how we must become, that he wants us to be His.

We are one even with those who are not close to the Church. They are distant on account of ignorance. We must pray that God will enlighten them and change them so that they too may come to Christ. We see things in a human light, we move on a different plane and imagine that we love Christ. But Christ, who sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous, (Matt. 5 :45) tells us: Love your enemies (Matt. 5:44). We need to pray that we may all be united, united in God. Then, if we live out this prayer, we will achieve corresponding results; we will all be united in love.

For the people of God there is no such thing as distance, even if they be thousands of miles apart. However far away our fellow human beings may be, we must stand by them. Some people regularly telephone me from a town on the edge of the Indian Ocean - Durban is what it’s called, if I am pronouncing it correctly. It’s in South Africa, two hours drive from Johannesburg. Indeed, a few days ago they came here. They were taking a sick person to England and they came here first to ask me to read a prayer. I was very moved.

When Christ unites us, distances don’t exist. When I leave this life it will be better. I’ll be closer to you.

The Christian religion transforms people and heals them

Our religion is the religion of religions. It is from revelation, the authentic and true religion. The other religions are human, hollow. They do not know the greatness of the Triune God. They do not know that our aim, our destiny, is to become gods according to grace, to attain likeness with the Triune God, to become one with Him and among ourselves. These are things the other religions do not know. The ultimate aim of our religion is that they may be one. (John 17:11,22) Here the work of Christ finds completion. Our religion is love, it is eros, it is enthusiasm, it is madness, it is longing for the divine. All these things are within us. Our soul demands that we attain them.

For many people, however, religion is a struggle, a source of agony and anxiety. That’s why many of the ‘religiously minded’ are regarded as unfortunates, because others can see the desperate state they are in. And so it is. Because for the person who doesn’t understand the deeper meaning of religion and doesn’t experience it, religion ends up as an illness, and indeed a terrible illness. So terrible that the person loses control of his actions and becomes weak-willed and spineless, he is flied with agony and anxiety and is driven to and fro by the evil spirit.

He makes prostrations, he weeps, he exclaims, he believes he is humbling himself, and all this humility is a work of Satan. Some such people experience religion as a kind of hell. They make prostrations and cross themselves in church and they say, ‘we are unworthy sinners’, then as soon as they come out they start to blaspheme everything holy whenever someone upsets them a little. It is very clear that there is something demonic in this.

In fact, the Christian religion transforms people and heals them. The most important precondition, however, for someone to recognize and discern the truth is humility. Egotism darkens a person’s mind, it confuses him, it leads him astray, to heresy. It is important for a person to understand the truth.

Long ago when people were in a primitive state they didn’t have houses or anything. They would go into caves without windows. They would block up the entrance with stones and branches so that the wind didn’t blow in. They didn’t realize that outside there is life, oxygen. When he is enclosed in a cave, a person is worn down, he becomes ill, he is destroyed, whereas when he is outside he is revitalized. Can you understand the truth? Then you are out in the sun, in the light; you see all the magnificence of creation; otherwise you are in a dark cave. Light and darkness. Which is better? To be meek, humble, peaceful and to be filled with love, or to be irritable, depressed and to quarrel with everyone. Unquestionably the higher state is love. Our religion has all these good things and is the truth. But many people go off in another direction.

All those who deny this truth are psychologically ill. They are like those children who became delinquent or anti-social because they lost their parents, or because their parents divorced or quarreled. And all those confused people find their way into various heresies. The confused children of confused parents.

But all these confused and ant-social persons have a strength and perseverance and achieve a great many things. They succeed in bringing normal and peaceable people into subjection. They influence other like-minded people and they prevail in the world because they are in the majority and find themselves followers. Then there are others who, although they do not deny the truth, are nevertheless confused and psychologically ill.

Sin makes a person exceedingly psychologically confused. And  nothing makes the confusion go away – nothing except the light of Christ. Christ makes the first move: Come unto me all you who labour… (Matt. 11:28) Then we accept this light with our good will, which we express through our love towards Him, through prayer, through our participation in the life of the Church, and through the sacraments.

Often neither labour, nor prostrations, nor crossing ourselves attract God’s grace. There are secrets. The most important thing is to go beyond the formal aspects and go to the heart of the matter. Whatever is done must be done with love.

Love always understands the need to make sacrifices. Whatever is done under coercion always causes the soul to react with rejection. Love attracts the grace of God. When grace comes, then the gifts of the Holy Spirit come. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-sufferance, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23) These are the things which a healthy soul in Christ should have.

With Christ a person is filled with grace and so lives above evil. Evil does not exist for him. There is only good, which is God. Evil cannot exist. While there is light there cannot be darkness. Nor can darkness encompass him because he has the light.

SOURCE : Wounded by Love - The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios