Monday, March 31, 2014

The Holy Hieromartyr Hypatius, Bishop of Gangra

March 31

This Saint, who was from Cilicia of Asia Minor, became Bishop of Gangra, the capital of Paphlagonia. He was present at the First Ecumenical Council. Because of his confession of the Orthodox Faith, he was put to death by the Novatians, a sect which denied that sins committed after Baptism could be forgiven.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Hypatius, 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 Third Tone
Celebrating blamelessly the sacred rites, O Hypatius, thou didst greatly multiply the talent that thou wast given; and when thou didst strive in contest, thou wast presented as a godly sacrifice and holy first-fruits unto Him that glorified thee with signs and wonders that tongue of man cannot tell.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

John Climacus the Righteous, author of The Divine Ladder of Ascent

March 30

This Saint gave himself over to the ascetical life from his early youth. Experienced both in the solitary life of the hermit and in the communal life of cenobitic monasticism, he was appointed Abbot of the Monastery at Mount Sinai and wrote a book containing thirty homilies on virtue. Each homily deals with one virtue, and progressing from those that deal with holy and righteous activity (praxis) unto those that deal with divine vision (theoria), they raise a man up as though by means of steps unto the height of Heaven. For this cause his work is called "The Ladder of Divine Ascent." The day he was made Abbot of Sinai, the Prophet Moses was seen giving commands to those who served at table. Saint John reposed in 603, at eighty years of age. See also the Fourth Sunday of the Fast.

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.

Kontakion in the First Tone
As ever-blooming fruits, thou dost offer the teachings of thy God-given book, O wise John, thou most blessed, while sweet'ning the hearts of all them that heed it with vigilance; for it is a ladder from the earth unto Heaven that conferreth glory on the souls that ascend it and honour thee faithfully.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Venerable Mark, Jonah and Bassa of the Pskov Caves

Saints Mark, Jonah and Bassa are venerated as the founders of the Pskov Caves monastery.
It is not known exactly when the first hermit monks settled by the Kamenets stream in the natural caves of the hill, which the local inhabitants called “the holy hill.” The monastery Chronicle presents an account of eyewitnesses, hunter-trappers from Izborsk nicknamed Selishi: “We came with our father to the outlying hill where the church of the Mother of God is now, and heard what seemed to be church singing. They sang harmoniously and reverently, but the singers could not be seen, and the air was filled with the fragrance of incense.”

Of the first Elders of the Pskov Caves monastery only Mark is known by name. The Chronicle says of him: “In the beginning, a certain Elder was living at the Kamenets near the cave. Some fishermen saw him by the three rocks above the cave of the Most Holy Theotokos church, but they were unable to discover who he was, his lineage, how and from whence he came to this place, how long he dwelt there, or how he died.”
The second igumen of the Caves monastery is identified as Elder Mark in the monastery Synodikon. St Cornelius (February 20) doubted the veracity of this inscription and ordered that the name be removed from the Synodikon. Suddenly he became grievously ill and it was revealed to him that this was his punishment for ordering the name of St Mark to be stricken from the monastery diptychs.

After begging forgiveness at the grave of the Elder Mark, Igumen Cornelius restored his name. When the cave church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos was dug out and the burial caves expanded, the igumen Dorotheus found the grave of St Mark in a state of neglect, but his relics and clothing were preserved.

In the year 1472, the peasant Ivan Dementiev cut down the forest on the hill. One of the felled trees rolled down the hill, uprooting another tree from the ground. The slide opened up the entrance to a cave, over which was the inscription: “The cave built by God” (There is a tradition that St Barlaam, a fool-for-Christ, frequently came to the cave and wiped out this inscription, but it miraculously reappeared every time).

The priest John (nicknamed “Shestnik”) came to this holy spot, where the first ascetics prayed. He was a native of “the Moscow lands” and served as priest at Iuriev (now Tartu) in “a right-believing church, established by people from Pskov” and dedicated to St Nicholas and the Great Martyr George. He and the priest Isidore spiritually nourished the Russians living there.

In 1470, Father John was compelled to flee to Pskov with his family because of persecution by the German Catholics. When he learned of the martyric death of St Isidore (January 8), Father John decided to settle in the newly-appeared “cave built by God,” so that there, on the very boundary with the Livonians, he might found a monastery as an outpost of Orthodoxy.

Soon his wife fell ill and died after receiving monastic tonsure with the name Bassa. Her righteousness was evidenced immediately after her death. Her husband and her spiritual Father buried St Bassa (March 19) in the wall of “the cave built by God,” but at night her coffin was “taken from the ground by an invisible power of God.”

Father John and St Bassa’s Father Confessor were upset, thinking that this had occurred because they had not done the complete Service for the Departed. So they sang the funeral service a second time, and they buried the body again. In the morning, however, it was found above ground. Then it was clear that this was a sign from God, so they dug St Bassa’s grave on the left side of the cave. Shaken by the miracle, John became a monk with the name Jonah and devoted himself even more fervently to spiritual struggles.

He dug out the cave church and built two cells on pillars, then petitioned the clergy of the Pskov Trinity cathedral to consecrate it, but they decided not to do so at the time “because of its unusual location.” Then St Jonah sought the blessing of Archbishop Theophilus of Novgorod.

On August 15, 1473 the cave church was consecrated in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. During the consecration there was a miracle from an icon of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos: a blind woman “sent by the merciful God, beginning His great gifts to His All-Pure Mother” received her sight (This icon, which they call the “old” to distinguish it from another wonderworking icon of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos with scenes of Her life around the borders, was painted around 1421 by the Pskov iconographer Alexis Maly, and is now kept in the altar of the Dormition church. The icon with scenes around the border is the Cave church’s patronal icon).

The date of the consecration of the cave church is regarded as the official date of the founding of the Pskov Caves monastery. St Jonah labored at the Cave monastery until 1480, then peacefully fell asleep in the Lord. Upon his death they discovered a chain mail coat on his body. This was hung over his grave as a sign of his secret asceticism, but it was stolen during a German invasion.

The relics of St Jonah rest in the Caves beside the relics of the Elder Mark and St Bassa. Once, when the monastery was besieged, the Livonian knights wanted to open the lid of St Bassa’s coffin with a sword, but fire spurted forth from the coffin. Traces of this punishing fire may still be seen on the coffin of St Bassa.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Martyrs Jonah, Barachisius, Zanithas, Lazarus, Maruthas, Narses, Elias, Marinus, Habib, Sivsithina and Sava, in Persia

Saint Barachisius was the brother of St Jonah. They were Christians who lived in the village of Yasa in Persia during the time of the emperor Sapor (310-331), a fierce persecutor of Christians.

Learning that Christians were being tortured in the city of Baravokh, they went there to the prison where Sts Zanithas, Lazarus, Maruthas, Narses, Elias, Marinus, Habib, Sivsithina and Sava were being held.

They encouraged them to adhere to the Christian Faith until the very end. The holy brothers were arrested and brought to trial before the Persian princes Masdrath, Siroth and Marmis, who urged them to worship the sun, fire, and water. The holy martyrs firmly confessed their faith in Christ and would not agree to the demands of the pagans. Therefore, they were subjected to fierce torments and death.

St Jonah suffered first. They tied the holy martyr to a tree and beat him for a long time, then they dragged him across the ice of a frozen lake. They also cut off his fingers and toes, and cut out his tongue. Then they peeled the skin from his head, and finally sawed his body in half and threw it in a ditch.

They placed red-hot shackles on the wrists of St Barachisius, poured molten tin in his nose, ears and mouth, and they raked him with sharp instruments, after they tied him to a turning wheel. The holy martyr surrendered his soul to God after they poured boiling tar in his mouth.

The bodies of the holy martyrs Jonah, Barachisius and the other martyrs were buried by a pious Christian named Habdisotes.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Holy Martyrs Manuel and Theodosius

The Holy Martyrs Manuel and Theodosius suffered for their faith in Christ in 304 in Sirmium. Seeing how the pagans put Christians to death every day, they believed in Christ and resolved to suffer for their faith. They boldly confessed themselves as Christians before the governor. The governor and those around him marveled at their bravery.

By order of the governor, Sts Manuel and Theodosius were thrown into prison, and a strict watch was set over them. After several days the governor gave orders to bring the saints from prison, and he urged them to renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the idols. The holy martyrs, however, were steadfast in their confession.

Then the governor ordered Sts Manuel and Theodosius to be suspended from a tree, and scraped with sharp iron hooks. The martyrs were stabbed with a sharp trident, and then beheaded.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

St Malchus of Chalcis in Syria

Saint Malchus was the only son of a farmer, and lived near Antioch, Syria. Upon attaining the age of maturity, his parents had arranged a marriage for him, but Malchus secretly left home and received monastic tonsure in one of the monasteries, where he fulfilled various obediences for many years.

Upon learning of the death of his father, he wished to visit his mother. The igumen of the monastery would not bless him to go, but Malchus disobeyed him. He joined a group of pilgrims, and set out for his native district.

Along the way, Saracens attacked them, and enslaved them. Malchus’s master compelled him to marry one of his slaves. With the consent of his wife, St Malchus kept his vow of chastity, and eventually converted her to Christianity.

One day, St Malchus and his wife ran away. The master pursued them, but they hid in a cave, which proved to be the den of a lioness. The lioness did not harm the fugitives, but killed one of the pursuers who tried to enter the cave and capture them.

St Malchus sent his wife to a women’s monastery as she requested, while he returned to his own monastery. By then the igumen was no longer alive, and St Malchus never left the monastery again. For the edification of monks he often recounted his trials, which were the result of his disobedience. St Malchus labored in asceticism in the monastery until the end of his life. He died in peace in the fourth century.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Annunciation of the Theotokos

March 25

Six months after John the Forerunner's conception, the Archangel Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth, a town of Galilee, unto Mary the Virgin, who had come forth from the Temple a mature maiden (see Nov. 21). According to the tradition handed down by the Fathers, she had been betrothed to Joseph four months. On coming to Joseph's house, the Archangel declared: "Rejoice, thou Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." After some consideration, and turmoil of soul, and fear because of this greeting, the Virgin, when she had finally obtained full assurance concerning God's unsearchable condescension and the ineffable dispensation that was to take place through her, and believing that all things are possible to the Most High, answered in humility: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." And at this, the Holy Spirit came upon her, and the power of the Most High overshadowed her all-blameless womb, and the Son and Word of God, Who existed before the ages, was conceived past speech and understanding, and became flesh in her immaculate body (Luke 1:26-38).

Bearing in her womb the Uncontainable One, the blessed Virgin went with haste from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea, where Zacharias had his dwelling; for she desired to find Elizabeth her kinswoman and rejoice together with her, because, as she had learned from the Archangel, Elizabeth had conceived in her old age. Furthermore, she wished to tell her of the great things that the Mighty One had been well-pleased to bring to pass in her, and she greeted Elizabeth and drew nigh to her. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, she felt her six-month-old babe, Saint John the Baptist, prophesied of the dawning of the spiritual Sun. Immediately, the aged Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and recognized her as the Mother of her Lord, and with a great voice blessed her and the Fruit that she held within herself. The Virgin also, moved by a supernatural rejoicing in the spirit, glorified her God and Savior, saying: "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour," and the rest, as the divine Luke hath recorded (1:39-55).

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Today marks the crowning of our salvation and the revelation of the mystery before all ages. For the Son of God becomes the son of the Virgin, and Gabriel proclaims the grace. Wherefore, we also cry out with him, "Hail, O full of grace, the Lord is with you."

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 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Martyr Stephen of Kazan

The Holy Martyr Stephen of Kazan was a Tatar. For more than twenty years, he suffered from a weakness of the legs. After the capture of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible (1552), he believed in Christ and received healing. The saint was baptized by Archpriest Menignus of the Moscow cathedral, who had brought a letter from Metropolitan Macarius to the Russian army.

After the Russian army withdrew from Kazan, the Tatars chopped the martyr Stephen into pieces, scattered his body and plundered his house, because he remained faithful to Christ.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Friday, March 21, 2014

St Cyril the Bishop of Catania

Commemorated on March 21

Saint Cyril was born in Antioch. He was a disciple of the Apostle Peter (June 29, January 16), who installed him as Bishop of Catania in Sicily. St Cyril wisely guided his flock; he was pious, and the Lord granted him the gift of wonderworking. By his prayer the bitter water in a certain spring lost its bitterness and became drinkable. This miracle converted many pagans to Christianity. St Cyril died in old age and was buried in Sicily.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Martyr Diodorus the Presbyter and Martyr Marianus the Deacon with those with them at Rome

Saints Diodorus the presbyter and Marianus the deacon suffered martyrdom with Sts Chrysanthus and Daria.

In a cave near the place of execution, Christians began to gather to honor the anniversary of the saints’ martyrdom. They celebrated Church services and partook of the Holy Mysteries. Learning of this, the pagan authorities sealed the entrance to the cave, and those within received the crown of martyrdom.

Two of these martyrs are known by name: the Presbyter Diodorus and the Deacon Marianus.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cyril, Patriarch of Jerusalem

March 18

This Saint was born in 315, and succeeded Maximus as Archbishop of Jerusalem in 350. He was zealous for the Orthodox Faith, and was a defender of the poor. He was exiled three times by the Arian Emperors Constantius and Valens. But after their death, he was recalled to his throne; he reposed in peace in 386. Of his writings, the most prominent are his catechetical lectures, which are considered the most ancient systematic summary of Christian teaching. Before Saint Cyril, there had been two dioceses, one of Jerusalem, and one of Holy Sion; under Saint Cyril, they were united into one bishopric. See also May 7.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
A model of faith and the image of gentleness, the example of your life has shown you forth to your sheep-fold to be a master of temperance. You obtained thus through being lowly, gifts from on high, and riches through poverty. Cyril, our father and priest of priests, intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.

Kontakion in the First Tone
Thy speech inspired of God hath enlightened thy people to honour the One God, undivided in essence, yet known and distinguished in His Three Persons, the Trinity. Wherefore, with great joy we keep thy holy remembrance, and we have thee as our intercessor, wise Cyril, to pray unto God for us.



SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hieromartyr Gabriel the Lesser

Commemorated on March 17

Saint Gabriel the Lesser was a major figure in the eighteenth-century Georgian Church. Few details of his life are known, but it is evident that the education he received was quite good for the period. Striving toward the monastic life but still living in the world, Gabriel tried in every way to close himself off from the vanity of the world. He kept a small sewing shop in Tbilisi and distributed most of his profits to the poor.

One day St. Gabriel abandoned his business and set off for the Davit-Gareji Wilderness, where he was tonsured a monk.

St. Gabriel occupied much of his time with writing, and his works left a significant mark on the spiritual literature of Georgia. He compiled several collections of patristic writings, and he also wrote original works of a theological nature. His original writings include An Explanation of the Hierarchical Liturgy, which describes in detail the meaning of every part of the service, Spiritual Stories of the Pious, The Life and Labors of Venerable Schemamonk Onisphore, A Short Story of Porphyry, and writings on the Nomocanon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council.

Among the brothers at his monastery, St. Gabriel was distinguished by a remarkable capacity for love and a fervent desire to help others: he helped all, cared for all, and encouraged all. During the Great Fast in 1802, a certain archdeacon came from Tbilisi to Davit-GarejiMonastery, desiring to draw closer to the ascetic way of life. After some time, however, he became anxious to see his family and decided to return home. St. Gabriel accompanied him on his way, but the two men were suddenly assailed by Dagestanis, and the holy father was killed. The brothers carried his relics back to the monastery and buried them there with great honor.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

2nd Sunday of Great Lent: St Gregory Palamas

Commemorated on March 16

This Sunday was originally dedicated to St Polycarp of Smyrna (February 23). After his glorification in 1368, a second commemoration of St Gregory Palamas (November 14) was appointed for the Second Sunday of Great Lent as a second “Triumph of Orthodoxy.”

Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica, was born in the year 1296 in Constantinople. St Gregory’s father became a prominent dignitiary at the court of Andronicus II Paleologos (1282-1328), but he soon died, and Andronicus himself took part in the raising and education of the fatherless boy. Endowed with fine abilities and great diligence, Gregory mastered all the subjects which then comprised the full course of medieval higher education. The emperor hoped that the youth would devote himself to government work. But Gregory, barely twenty years old, withdrew to Mount Athos in the year 1316 (other sources say 1318) and became a novice in the Vatopedi monastery under the guidance of the monastic Elder St Nicodemus of Vatopedi (July 11). There he was tonsured and began on the path of asceticism. A year later, the holy Evangelist John the Theologian appeared to him in a vision and promised him his spiritual protection. Gregory’s mother and sisters also became monastics.

After the demise of the Elder Nicodemus, St Gregory spent eight years of spiritual struggle under the guidance of the Elder Nicephorus, and after the latter’s death, Gregory transferred to the Lavra of St Athanasius (July 5). Here he served in the trapeza, and then became a church singer. But after three years, he resettled in the small skete of Glossia, striving for a greater degree of spiritual perfection. The head of this monastery began to teach the young man the method of unceasing prayer and mental activity, which had been cultivated by monastics, beginning with the great desert ascetics of the fourth century: Evagrius Pontikos and St Macarius of Egypt (January 19).

Later on, in the eleventh century St Simeon the New Theologian (March 12) provided detailed instruction in mental activity for those praying in an outward manner, and the ascetics of Athos put it into practice. The experienced use of mental prayer (or prayer of the heart), requiring solitude and quiet, is called “Hesychasm” (from the Greek “hesychia” meaning calm, silence), and those practicing it were called “hesychasts.”

During his stay at Glossia the future hierarch Gregory became fully embued with the spirit of hesychasm and adopted it as an essential part of his life. In the year 1326, because of the threat of Turkish invasions, he and the brethren retreated to Thessalonica, where he was then ordained to the holy priesthood.

St Gregory combined his priestly duties with the life of a hermit. Five days of the week he spent in silence and prayer, and only on Saturday and Sunday did he come out to his people. He celebrated divine services and preached sermons. For those present in church, his teaching often evoked both tenderness and tears. Sometimes he visited theological gatherings of the city’s educated youth, headed by the future patriarch, Isidore. After he returned from a visit to Constantinople, he found a place suitable for solitary life near Thessalonica the region of Bereia. Soon he gathered here a small community of solitary monks and guided it for five years.

In 1331 the saint withdrew to Mt. Athos and lived in solitude at the skete of St Sava, near the Lavra of St Athanasius. In 1333 he was appointed Igumen of the Esphigmenou monastery in the northern part of the Holy Mountain. In 1336 the saint returned to the skete of St Sava, where he devoted himself to theological works, continuing with this until the end of his life.

In the 1330s events took place in the life of the Eastern Church which put St Gregory among the most significant universal apologists of Orthodoxy, and brought him great renown as a teacher of hesychasm.

About the year 1330 the learned monk Barlaam had arrived in Constantinople from Calabria, in Italy. He was the author of treatises on logic and astronomy, a skilled and sharp-witted orator, and he received a university chair in the capital city and began to expound on the works of St Dionysius the Areopagite (October 3), whose “apophatic” (“negative”, in contrast to “kataphatic” or “positive”) theology was acclaimed in equal measure in both the Eastern and the Western Churches. Soon Barlaam journeyed to Mt. Athos, where he became acquainted with the spiritual life of the hesychasts. Saying that it was impossible to know the essence of God, he declared mental prayer a heretical error. Journeying from Mount Athos to Thessalonica, and from there to Constantinople, and later again to Thessalonica, Barlaam entered into disputes with the monks and attempted to demonstrate the created, material nature of the light of Tabor (i.e. at the Transfiguration). He ridiculed the teachings of the monks about the methods of prayer and about the uncreated light seen by the hesychasts.

St Gregory, at the request of the Athonite monks, replied with verbal admonitions at first. But seeing the futility of such efforts, he put his theological arguments in writing. Thus appeared the “Triads in Defense of the Holy Hesychasts” (1338). Towards the year 1340 the Athonite ascetics, with the assistance of the saint, compiled a general response to the attacks of Barlaam, the so-called “Hagiorite Tome.” At the Constantinople Council of 1341 in the church of Hagia Sophia St Gregory Palamas debated with Barlaam, focusing upon the nature of the light of Mount Tabor. On May 27, 1341 the Council accepted the position of St Gregory Palamas, that God, unapproachable in His Essence, reveals Himself through His energies, which are directed towards the world and are able to be perceived, like the light of Tabor, but which are neither material nor created. The teachings of Barlaam were condemned as heresy, and he himself was anathemized and fled to Calabria.

But the dispute between the Palamites and the Barlaamites was far from over. To these latter belonged Barlaam’s disciple, the Bulgarian monk Akyndinos, and also Patriarch John XIV Kalekos (1341-1347); the emperor Andronicus III Paleologos (1328-1341) was also inclined toward their opinion. Akyndinos, whose name means “one who inflicts no harm,” actually caused great harm by his heretical teaching. Akyndinos wrote a series of tracts in which he declared St Gregory and the Athonite monks guilty of causing church disorders. The saint, in turn, wrote a detailed refutation of Akyndinos’ errors. The patriarch supported Akyndinos and called St Gregory the cause of all disorders and disturbances in the Church (1344) and had him locked up in prison for four years. In 1347, when John the XIV was replaced on the patriarchal throne by Isidore (1347-1349), St Gregory Palamas was set free and was made Archbishop of Thessalonica.

In 1351 the Council of Blachernae solemnly upheld the Orthodoxy of his teachings. But the people of Thessalonica did not immediately accept St Gregory, and he was compelled to live in various places. On one of his travels to Constantinople the Byzantine ship fell into the hands of the Turks. Even in captivity, St Gregory preached to Christian prisoners and even to his Moslem captors. The Hagarenes were astonished by the wisdom of his words. Some of the Moslems were unable to endure this, so they beat him and would have killed him if they had not expected to obtain a large ransom for him. A year later, St Gregory was ransomed and returned to Thessalonica.

St Gregory performed many miracles in the three years before his death, healing those afflicted with illness. On the eve of his repose, St John Chrysostom appeared to him in a vision. With the words “To the heights! To the heights!” St Gregory Palamas fell asleep in the Lord on November 14, 1359. In 1368 he was canonized at a Constantinople Council under Patriarch Philotheus (1354-1355, 1364-1376), who compiled the Life and Services to the saint.


O light of Orthodoxy, teacher of the Church, its confirmation, / O ideal of monks and invincible champion of theologians, / O wonder-working Gregory, glory of Thessalonica and preacher of grace, / al-ways intercede before the Lord that our souls may be saved.


Now is the time for action! / Judgment Judgment is at the doors! / So let us rise and fast, / offering alms with tears of compunction and crying: / “Our sins are more in number than the sands of the sea; / but forgive us, O Master of All, / so that we may receive the incorruptible crowns.”


Holy and divine instrument of wisdom, / joyful trumpet of theology, / together we sing your praises, O God-inspired Gregory. / Since you now stand before the Original Mind, guide our minds to Him, O Father, / so that we may sing to you: “Rejoice, preacher of grace.”


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

2nd Saturday of Great Lent: Memorial Saturday

Commemorated on March 15

Saturday is the day which the Church has set aside for the commemoration of faithful Orthodox Christians departed this life in the hope of resurrection to eternal life. Since the Divine Liturgy cannot be served on weekdays during Great Lent, the second, third, and fourth Saturdays of the Fast are appointed as Soul Saturdays when the departed are remembered at Liturgy.

In addition to the Liturgy, kollyva (wheat or rice cooked with honey and mixed with raisins, figs, nuts, sesame, etc.) is blessed in church on these Saturdays. The kollyva reminds us of the Lord’s words, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).The kollyva symbolizes the future resurrection of all the dead. As St Simeon of Thessalonica (September 15) says, man is also a seed which is planted in the ground after death, and will be raised up again by God’s power. St Paul also speaks of this (I Cor. 15:35-49).

It is customary to give alms in memory of the dead in addition to the prayers we offer for their souls. The angel who spoke to Cornelius testifies to the efficacy of almsgiving, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God” (Acts 10:4).

Memorial services for the dead may be traced back to ancient times. Chapter 8 of the Apostolic Constitutions recommends memorial services with Psalms for the dead. It also contains a beautiful prayer for the departed, asking that their voluntary and involuntary sins be pardoned, that they be given rest with the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles in a place where sorrow, suffering, and sighing have fled away (Isaiah 35:10). St John Chrysostom mentions the service for the dead in one of his homilies on Philippians, and says that it was established by the Apostles. St Cyprian of Carthage (Letter 37) also speaks of our duty to remember the martyrs.

The holy Fathers also testify to the benefit of offering prayers, memorial services, Liturgies, and alms for the dead (St John Chrysostom, St Cyril of Jerusalem, St John of Damascus, etc.). Although both the righteous and those who have not repented and corrected themselves may receive benefit and consolation from the Church’s prayer, it has not been revealed to what extent the unrighteous can receive this solace. It is not possible, however, for the Church’s prayer to transfer a soul from a state of evil and condemnation to a state of holiness and blessedness. St Basil the Great points out that the time for repentance and forgiveness of sins is during the present life, while the future life is a time for righteous judgment and retribution (Moralia 1). St John Chrysostom, St Gregory the Theologian, and other patristic writers concur with St Basil’s statement.

By praying for others, we bring benefit to them, and also to ourselves, because “God is not so unjust as to forget your work and the love which you showed for His sake in serving the saints...” (Heb. 6:10).


Only Creator, with wisdom profound, You mercifully order all things, / and give that which is needed to all men: / Give rest, O Lord, to the souls of Your servants who have fallen asleep, / for they have placed their trust in You, our Maker and Fashioner, and our God.


With the saints give rest, O Christ, to the souls of Your servants, / where there is neither sickness nor sorrow, and no more sighing, / but life everlasting.



SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Friday, March 14, 2014

St Euschemon the Confessor and Bishop of Lampsacus

Saint Euschemon the Confessor, Bishop of Lampsakos, lived in Asia Minor on the coastal region of the Dardanelles peninsula, and was known for his virtuous and ascetic life. He suffered for the holy icons under the iconoclast emperor Theophilus (829-842), and having been imprisoned, he was sent into exile and died.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Martyr Alexander of Macedonia

The Holy Martyr Alexander was a presbyter in the city of Pidna, not far from Thessalonica. The saint converted many pagans to Christianity by his preaching. During the persecution against Christians under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311), St Alexander was subjected to fierce tortures, and then beheaded.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Venerable Sophronius the Recluse of the Kiev Caves

Saint Sophronius the Hermit of the Caves was an ascetic of the Far Caves (the Theodosiev Caves), during the thirteenth century. The saint wore a hairshirt and a heavy iron belt, and read through the entire Psalter every day.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Monday, March 10, 2014

St John of Khakhuli the Oqropiri, also called Chrysostom

Commemorated on March 10

In the second half of the 10th century King Davit Kuropalates founded Khakhuli Monastery in the historical region of Tao, at the gorge of the Khakhuli River, where it joins the Tortumi River.

Once famed for its holiness and academic activity, today Khakhuli Monastery is a Turkish possession and has become a tourist site. Nevertheless, the Georgian nation continues to be illumined by its grace and the radiance of the Georgian faithful who labored there.

A contemporary of King Bagrat III (975-1014), St. John of Khakhuli was a highly educated theologian, translator, and calligrapher. He has been called “Chrysostom” since he, like the beloved archbishop of Constantinople, delivered his sermons with extraordinary eloquence.

Some sources claim that St. John was first consecrated bishop of Bolnisi and later transferred to the Khakhuli diocese. It is generally agreed, however, that he left Khakhuli around the year 1019 and traveled to Mt. Athos with Arsen of Ninotsminda and John Grdzelisdze.

One Georgian manuscript, however, suggests that St. John was not a bishop at that time, and this has baffled Church historians to this day. In this manuscript it is written: “Pray for the blessed monk John Grdzelisdze and his spiritual son John Chrysostom, who labored to write this holy book.”

While laboring on Mt. Athos, St. John faithfully assisted St. Ekvtime of the Holy Mountain, and these spiritual brothers became close friends.

The countless good works he performed from the bishop’s throne, the title “Chrysostom,” and the many important writings accredited to him attest to the piety, wisdom, and patriotism of St. John of Khakhuli. It is written in The Life of Giorgi of the Holy Mountain that St. John reposed on Mt. Athos.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Sunday, March 09, 2014

1st Sunday of Great Lent: Sunday of Orthodoxy

Commemorated on March 9

Originally, the Prophets Moses, Aaron, and Samuel were commemorated on this Sunday. The Alleluia verses appointed for today’s Liturgy reflect this older usage.

Today we commemorate the “Triumph of Orthodoxy,” the restoration of the holy icons in the reign of the holy Empress Theodora (February 11).


We venerate Your most pure image, O Good One, / and ask forgiveness of our transgressions, O Christ God. / Of Your own will You were pleased to ascend the Cross in the flesh / to deliver Your creatures from bondage to the enemy. / Therefore with thanksgiving we cry aloud to You: / You have filled all with joy, O our Savior, / by coming to save the world.


 No one could describe the Word of the Father; / but when He took flesh from you, O Theotokos, He accepted to be described, / and restored the fallen image to its former beauty. / We confess and proclaim our salvation in word and images.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Saturday, March 08, 2014

1st Saturday of Great Lent: The Miracle of the Boiled Wheat

Commemorated on March 8

Today we remember the miracle of St Theodore and the boiled wheat. Fifty years after the death of St Theodore, the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), wanting to commit an outrage upon the Christians during the first week of Great Lent, commanded the city-commander of Constantinople to sprinkle all the food provisions in the marketplaces with the blood offered to idols. St Theodore appeared in a dream to Archbishop Eudoxius, ordering him to inform all the Christians that no one should buy anything at the marketplaces, but rather to eat cooked wheat with honey (kolyva).

In memory of this occurrence, the Orthodox Church annually celebrates the holy Great Martyr Theodore the Recruit on the first Saturday of Great Lent. On Friday evening, at the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts following the prayer at the ambo, the Canon to the holy Great Martyr Theodore, composed by St John of Damascus, is sung. After this, kolyva is blessed and distributed to the faithful. The celebration of the Great Martyr Theodore on the first Saturday of Great Lent was set by the Patriarch Nectarius of Constantinople (381-397).

The Troparion to St Theodore is quite similar to the Troparion for the Prophet Daniel and the Three Holy Youths (December 17, Sunday Before Nativity). The Kontakion to St Theodore, who suffered martyrdom by fire, reminds us that he also had faith as his breastplate (see I Thessalonians 5:8).

Saint Theodore the Recruit is also commemorated on February 17.


Great are the accomplishments of faith, / For the Holy Martyr Theodore rejoiced in the flames as though at the waters of rest, / Offering himself as sweet bread to the Trinity. / So by his prayers, O Christ God, save our souls!


Your faith in Christ was like a breastplate upon your heart: / With its aid, you overcame the power of the enemy. / Therefore you are crowned in eternity with a heavenly diadem.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Holy 42 Martyrs of Ammoria: Constantine, Aetius (Aetitus), Theophilus, Theodore, Melissenus, Callistus, Basoes and the others with them

March 6

These Martyrs, men of high rank in the Roman (Byzantine) army, were taken captive when the city of Amorion in Phrygia fell to the Moslem Arabs in 838, during the reign of Theophilus the Iconoclast. Among them were Aetius and Melissenus, the generals; Theodore, the chief of the imperial ceremonial bodyguard; Craterus, the eunuch; Callistus, Constantine, Bassoes, and Theophilius, who were military officials; and certain others who held important positions. Because of their experience in war and their virtue, the Moslems did not slay them, but tried by all means to convert them to Islam and have them to fight in their own campaigns. They kept the holy Martyrs shut up in a dark dungeon in the city of Samarra in Syria, threatening and abusing them, making promises of glorious rank and magnificent riches, keeping them in hunger, oppression, and darkness, not for a few weeks, or a few months, but for seven full years. Finally, unable to break the courage and faith of their captives, they beheaded them in the year 845.

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 Fourth Tone
Ye who contended on earth for Christ's glory, and were shown forth as godly crown-bearing Martyrs, have been vouchsafed to dwell in Heaven joyously; for since ye brake all the snares of the enemy's cunning by your suff'rings and the blood of your tortures and woundings, ye ever send down freely from on high loosing of sins unto all them that honour you.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Martyr Onesimus of Isauria

Commemorated on March 5

The Holy Martyr Onesimus (Onisius) lived in Palestine. He was beheaded with the sword for confessing faith in Christ.


Your holy martyrs Conan and Onesimus, O Lord, / Through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God. / For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries, / And shattered the powerless boldness of demons. / Through their intercessions, save our souls!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Gerasimus the Righteous of Jordan

March 4

This Saint, who was from Lycia in Asia Minor, lived there for many years as a hermit, and then went to Palestine. There he built the great Lavra by the Jordan River, where a lion served him with great obedience and devotion. One day the lion came looking for Gerasimus that he might feed him, but his disciples took the lion to the place where they had buried the Saint shortly before. The lion fell at the Saint's grave and, after roaring with grief, died at that very place. Saint Gerasimus reposed in 475.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Gerasimus, 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 Fourth Tone
As a star resplendent with the light of virtues, thou didst make the wilderness of Jordan radiantly shine with beams of sacred celestial light, O righteous Father, God-bearing Gerasimus.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Monday, March 03, 2014

St John (Chrysostom) IV, the Catholicos of Georgia

Commemorated on March 3

The Holy Catholicos John IV (Chrysostom) led the Apostolic Church of Georgia from approximately 980 to 1001.

Catholicos Basil III’s “Story of St. Shio’s Miracles” describes how the hitherto childless parents of St. John prayed at length to St. Shio of Mgvime. After the birth of John, his God-fearing parents sent him to be raised at Shio-Mgvime Monastery.

There he acquired the sanctity and wisdom for which he would later be called “Chrysostom,” meaning “golden mouth” in Greek. By this name he has been known throughout the history of the Georgian Church.

There is yet another John called “Chrysostom” who was also a Catholicos, from 1033 to 1049. This John was a disciple of Holy Catholicos-Patriarch Melchizedek I and his successor as chief shepherd of the Georgian Church.

His life and labors were full of the same holiness as those of the holy catholicos John who is commemorated on this day. For this reason John IV and John V are often erroneously believed to be one and the same person.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Sunday, March 02, 2014

St Sabbatius of Tver

Commemorated on March 2

Saint Sabbatius of Tver pursued asceticism with the blessing of St Arsenius, Bishop of Tver, at a distance 15 versts from Tver. St Sabbatius established a monastery there, known for the strictness and holiness of its rule. Such ascetics as St Joseph of Volokolamsk (September 9) and St Cornelius of Komel (May 19) went there to be instructed in monasticism. The chains found in the cave where St Sabbatius practiced silence testify to his ascetic deeds. He died no later than the year 1434.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)