Monday, August 31, 2015

The Placing of the Cincture (Sash) of the Most Holy Mother of God

Commemorated on August 31

The Placing of the Venerable Belt of the Most Holy Theotokos in a church of Constantinople’s Chalcoprateia district took place during the reign of the emperor Theodosius the Younger. Before this the holy relic, entrusted to the Apostle Thomas by the Mother of God Herself, was kept by pious Christians at Jerusalem after Her Dormition. During the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise (886-911), his wife Zoe was afllicted with an unclean spirit, and he prayed that God would heal her.

The empress had a vision that she would be healed of her infirmity if the Belt of the Mother of God were placed upon her. The emperor then asked the Patriarch to open the coffer. The Patriarch removed the seal and opened the coffer in which the relic was kept, and the Belt of the Mother of God appeared completely whole and undamaged by time. The Patriarch placed the Belt on the sick empress, and immediately she was freed from her infirmity. They sang hymns of thanksgiving to the Most Holy Theotokos, then they placed the venerable Belt back into the coffer and resealed it.

In commemoration of the miraculous occurrence and the twofold Placing of the venerable Belt, the Feast of the Placing of the Venerable Belt of the Most Holy Theotokos was established. Parts of the holy Belt are in the Vatopedi monastery on Mt. Athos, in Trier monastery, and in Georgia.


Ever-Virgin Theotokos, protectress of mankind, / you have given given your people a powerful legacy: / the robe and sash of your most honored body which remained / incorrupt throughout your seedless childbearing; / for through you time and nature are renewed! / Therefore we implore you: “Grant peace to your people and to our souls great mercy!”


Today your flock celebrates the enshrinement of your precious sash, / and it earnestly cries out to you: / “Rejoice, O Virgin, boast of all Christians!”


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Sunday, August 30, 2015

St Arsenius I, Archbishop of Serbia

Commemorated on August 30

The Synaxis of Serbian Hierarchs celebrates archpastors of the Serbian Church of the thirteenth—fourteenth centuries. The majority of them have individual days of celebration in addition to this general commemoration. St Arsenius I is commemorated on October 28. 


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Saturday, August 29, 2015

St Anastasius of the Strumitza Eparchy

The New Martyr Anastasius, a Bulgarian, was born in 1774 in the Strumnitsk diocese, in the village of Radovicha. His parents gave him over to military studies. When the youth was twenty years old, he happened to be with his teacher in Thessalonica. The master wanted to sell some Turkish clothes without paying the customary duty. He told his disciple to dress himself as a Turk and go into the city. The collectors of the duty stopped him and demanded the written receipt of duty payment. The youth answered that he was a Turk. Then the collectors demanded that he recite the salutation with the Moslem prayer. The youth became confused and quiet. They ordered him to appear before the commander, who in interrogating the martyr suggested that he become a Moslem. The youth refused, and they led him away to the chief tax-collector.

The official tried at first to flatter, then to threaten the martyr, who admitted his civil guilt, but would not agree to betray the holy Faith. The tax-collector made this known to the mufti, who in turn answered, “You have in one hand the sword, in the other the law, use what you wish.”

He knew that by law the tax-collector ought to collect the tax from the youth, but then by judgment of the mufti he would not be a follower of Mohammed, armed with a sword. When he had received such an answer, the commander of the haraje sent the youth to the local mullah together with five Turks, who were obliged to testify that the Christian had blasphemed the Moslem religion.

To the accusations of blasphemy against Mohammed by these witnesses, the youth honestly answered that he did not blaspheme him, but he would allow having shown disrespect to Moslem customs. They subjected him to torture and condemned him to hanging. Along the way, they continued to urge the martyr to renounce his faith, but bleeding and exhausted, he fell upon the wayside and died on August 29, 1794.


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Friday, August 28, 2015

Moses the Black of Scete

August 28

Saint Moses, who is also called Moses the Black, was a slave, but because of his evil life, his master cast him out, and he became a ruthless thief, dissolute in all his ways. Later, however, coming to repentance, he converted, and took up the monastic life under Saint Isidore of Scete. He gave himself over to prayer and the mortification of the carnal mind with such diligence that he later became a priest of exemplary virtue. He was revered by all for his lofty ascetical life and for his great humility. Once the Fathers in Scete asked Moses to come to an assembly to judge the fault of a certain brother, but he refused. When they insisted, he took a basket which had a hole in it, filled it with sand, and carried it on his shoulders. When the Fathers saw him coming they asked him what the basket might mean. He answered, "My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and I am come this day to judge failings which are not mine." When a barbarian tribe was coming to Scete, Moses, conscious that he himself had slain other men when he was a thief, awaited them and was willingly slain by them with six other monks, at the end of the fourth century. He was a contemporary of Saint Arsenius the Great (see May 8).

Apolytikion of Moses the Ethiopian in the First Tone
Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Moses, 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 of Moses the Ethiopian in the Third Tone
O all-blest and righteous Father Moses, thou didst drive away the passions' darkness, being richly illumined with light divine; and with thy vigilant prayers, thou didst wither up the wanton pride of the flesh, and didst mount on high to the citadel above, where do thou continually entreat Christ God to grant great mercy unto us.



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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Martyrs Adrian and Natalia of Nicomedia

Commemorated on August 26

The Martyrs Adrian and Natalia were married in their youth for one year prior to their martyrdom, and lived in Nicomedia during the time of the emperor Maximian (305-311). The emperor promised a reward to whomever would inform on Christians to bring them to trial. Then the denunciations began, and twenty-three Christians were captured in a cave near Nicomedia.

They were tortured, urged to worship idols, and then brought before the Praetor, in order to record their names and responses. Adrian, the head of the praetorium, watched as these people suffered with such courage for their faith. Seeing how firmly and fearlessly they confessed Christ, asked: “What rewards do you expect from your God for your suffering?” The martyrs replied: “Such rewards as we are not able to describe, nor can your mind comprehend.” St Adrian told the scribes, “Write my name down also, for I am a Christian and I die gladly for Christ God.”

The scribes reported this to the emperor, who summoned St Adrian and asked: “Really, have you gone mad, that you want to die? Come, cross out your name from the lists and offer sacrifice to the gods, asking their forgiveness.”

St Adrian answered: “I have not lost my mind, but rather have I found it.” Maximian then ordered Adrian to be thrown into prison. His wife, St Natalia, knowing that her husband was to suffer for Christ, rejoiced, since she herself was secretly a Christian.

She hastened to the prison and encouraged her husband saying: “You are blessed, my lord, because you have believed in Christ. You have obtained a great treasure. Do not regret anything earthly, neither beauty, nor youth (Adrian was then 28 years of age), nor riches. Everything worldly is dust and ashes. Only faith and good deeds are pleasing to God.”

On the pledge of the other martyrs, they released St Adrian from prison to tell his wife about the day of his execution. At first St Natalia thought that he had renounced Christ and thus had been set free, and she did not want to let him into the house. The saint persuaded his wife that he had not fled from martyrdom, but rather had come to give her the news of the day of his execution.

They tortured St Adrian cruelly. The emperor advised the saint to have pity on himself and call on the gods, but the martyr answered: “Let your gods say what blessings they promise me, and then I shall worship them, but if they cannot do this, then why should I worship them?” St Natalia did not cease to encourage her husband. She asked him also to pray to God for her, that they would not force her into marriage with a pagan after his death.

The executioner ordered the hands and the legs of the saints to be broken on the anvil. St Natalia, fearing that her husband would hesitate on seeing the sufferings of the other martyrs, asked the executioner to begin with him, and permit her to put his hands and legs on the anvil herself.

They wanted to burn the bodies of the saints, but a storm arose and the fire went out. Many of the executioners even were struck by lightning. St Natalia took the hand of her husband and kept it at home. Soon an army commander asked the emperor’s approval to wed St Natalia, who was both young and rich. But she hid herself away in Byzantium. St Adrian appeared to her in a dream and said that she would soon be at rest in the Lord. The martyr, worn out by her former sufferings, in fact soon fell asleep in the Lord.


Your holy martyrs Adrian and Natalia, 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!


Martyr of Christ, Adrian, / you kept the words of your godly and devoted wife Natalia in your heart. / With her you accepted every kind of suffering and obtained the crown of victory!


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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

St Epiphanius, Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint Epiphanius, Patriarch of Constantinople, occupied the cathedra from 520 to 535. He died peacefully in the year 535.


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Monday, August 24, 2015

Icon of the Mother of God of St Peter of Moscow

Commemorated on August 24

The Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Of St Peter” was so called because it was painted by St Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow (+ December 21, 1326) while he was igumen of the Ratsk monastery near Volhynia. During a visit to the Ratsk monastery by St Maximus, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia (+ December 6, 1306), St Peter gave him this icon as a gift. The Metropolitan took it to Vladimir at Klyazma, where his cathedral was then located.

Upon the death of St Maximus, the igumen Gerontius, who wished to become the new metropolitan, intended to take this icon to Patriarch Athanasius of Constantinople (October 24). The journey of Igumen Gerontius was delayed, however, by a terrible storm at sea. During this storm, the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to him and said: “The office of bishop will not be conferred upon you, but rather on the one who painted My Icon.”

When he came before Patriarch Athanasius, St Peter was already in Constantinople and had been consecrated as Metropolitan. The Patriarch gave the icon to St Peter with the words: “Take the holy icon of the Mother of God, which you painted with your own hands, for this reason the Ever-Virgin Herself has granted you this gift, and She foretold your path.”

St Peter took the icon to Vladimir, and when the metropolitan cathedral was transfered to Moscow in the year 1325, the icon was placed in the Dormition Cathedral above the table of oblation.


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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Help and Forgiveness

Dear friends,

I was recently notified by someone in an e-mail that they saw something unseemly on my site.  What had happened was that under my section "Orthodox Blogs", I had a list of blogs there, many of which are now not tended to or defunct.  One such blog seems to have been taken over by some kind of pornography, displaying a picture representing the site I had not seen.

To make a long story short, when I finally located the problem, I removed the site but accidentally removed the whole section "Orthodox Blogs" as well!  I was quite saddened by this because I cannot remember all the blogs I had listed there. 

If you link here and suddenly find that your blog, formerly listed is not on the list, please let me know so I can re-add you.  Again, my apologies.

In Christ,


12th Sunday of Matthew

August 23

Tone of the week: Tone Three

First Eothinon

Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Let the Heavens rejoice; let earthly things be glad; for the Lord hath wrought might with His arm, He hath trampled upon death by death. The first-born of the dead hath He become. From the belly of Hades hath He delivered us, and hath granted great mercy to the world.

Seasonal Kontakion in the Second Tone
Neither the grave nor death could contain the Theotokos, the unshakable hope, ever vigilant in intercession and protection. As Mother of life, He who dwelt in the ever-virginal womb transposed her to life.


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Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Synaxis of the Icon of the Mother of God of Prusa

August 22

The wonderworking icon of the Mother of God of Prusa was saved from destruction at the hands of the Iconoclasts in the ninth century, when a certain nobleman of Prusa (near Constantinople) brought it secretly to Greece. There he lost the icon, but it miraculously appeared in a cave in the area of Litza and Agrapha, where the monastery and the shrine of the icon are presently found. The feast today was established in commemoration of the many signs and healings that the holy Theotokos has wrought through the icon.

Apolytikion of Icon of Prusa in the First Tone
O Lady, by thine icon of Prusa, thou art shown forth * as the great protectress of Greece and a worker of dread wonders; * for thou grantest sight unto the blind, * O thou all-spotless Virgin Mariam; * thou dost cast out wicked demons and healest all * that flee unto thee while crying: * Glory unto thy childbirth without seed. * Glory to Him that hath made thee wondrous. * Glory to Him that worketh such manner of marvels through thee.

Kontakion of Icon of Prusa in the Third Tone
We observe the joyous feast * of thy pure icon with longing, * since it hath been shown to be * our strength and shelter in suff'rings; * thou hast proved our ready helper * in all misfortunes; * for this cause, O Virgin Mother of God our Saviour, * we extol thy mighty marvels * with faith, O thou who * didst bear the God of all things.


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Friday, August 21, 2015

Venerable Ephraim the Disciple of Abramius, Archimandrite and Wonderworker of Smolensk

Saint Ephraim was the disciple of St Abramius of Smolensk. He compiled the Life of St Abramius, which provides many details about education in the remote northwestern part of Russia in those days.


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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Afterfeast of the Dormition of the Mother of God

Commemorated on August 20

 The Church continues to honor the passage of the Most Holy Theotokos from death to life. Just as Christ once dwelt in the virginal womb of His Mother, now He takes Her “to dwell in His courts.”


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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Andrew the General & Martyr & his 2,593 soldiers

August 19

During the reign of Maximian, about the year 289, Antiochus the Commander-in-Chief of the Roman forces sent Andrew with many other soldiers against the Persians, who had overrun the borders of the Roman dominion. Saint Andrew persuaded his men to call upon the Name of Christ, and when they had defeated the Persians with unexpected triumph, his soldiers believed in Christ with him. Antiochus, learning of this, had them brought before him. When they confessed Christ to be God, he had Andrew spread out upon a bed of iron heated fiery hot, and had the hands of his fellow soldiers nailed to blocks of wood. Antiochus then commanded some thousand soldiers to chase the Saints beyond the borders of the empire. Through the instructions of Saint Andrew, these soldiers also believed in Christ. At the command of Antiochus, they were all beheaded in the mountain passes of the Taurus mountains of Cilicia.

Apolytikion of Great Martyr Andrew Stratelates 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.



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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

St John the Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint John V was Patriarch of Constantinople from 669-674. He lived during the reign of the emperor Constantine Pogonatos (668-685).


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Monday, August 17, 2015

St Tbeli Abuseridze

Commemorated on August 17

The holy Father Tbeli Abuseridze lived and labored in the 13th century. His father John, the archduke of Upper Atchara, perished in a battle with the Turks. After Tbeli’s mother was widowed, she was tonsured a nun and given the name Katherine. Tbeli’s brothers, Abuseri and Bardan, were also well-known figures in their time.

St. Tbeli received an education befitting his noble rank and succeeded in fully developing his natural abilities.

St. Tbeli left an indelible mark on the history of Georgian culture as a hymnographer, an astronomer, an expert in sacred music, and a scholar of diverse interests. We know from his works that he built a church in honor of St. George in the village of Khikhani (in upper Atchara), and it has been suggested that he composed most of his works, including a chronicle of his own ancestry, in that village. He had seven children whom he brought there, and at the end of his chronicle he left a second testament, commanding that his family’s future generations be brought there as well.

St. Tbeli contributed immensely to the life of Gelati Academy. Historians believe it was there that he received the broad education that allowed him to express himself in so many different fields. St. Tbeli’s collection of hymns to St. John the Baptist, St. John the Theologian, and St. John Chrysostom reveals his true piety and talent as a writer of the Church. The profound theological ideas, the symbolic and mystical comprehension of phenomena, the “knowledge of the visible” and “comprehension of the invisible” evident in this work paint St. Tbeli as one equally endowed as both a scholar and a theologian.

St. Tbeli was fascinated by the science of chronology, and he compiled a work called Chronicles: Complete Commentaries and Rules to address some of the problems related to chronology. Combining a solid understanding of astronomy and history, this work conveys the cosmic meaning of the Julian calendar and Christian eschatology. St. Tbeli’s famous hagiographical work The New Miracle of Great-martyr George contains valuable historical information about the Abuseridze family’s efforts to revive Georgian culture during the ancient feudal epoch.

While pursuing his literary and scholarly interests, St. Tbeli also labored as a holy and God-fearing pastor. (Scholars believe that the saint was a bishop of Tbeti, from which he received his appellation Tbeli.) The Georgian Apostolic Church has numbered our Holy Father Tbeli Abuseridze among the saints in recognition of the countless good deeds he performed on behalf of the Church and its people.


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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Martyr Christopher of Guria, Georgia

Commemorated on August 16

It is commonly believed that St. Christopher Guruli was martyred, but little information exists about him to prove this. Christopher’s name has been preserved in the nation’s memory, and he is commemorated in the Church calendar.

The Georgian ancestry of Holy Martyr Christopher is indicated by his appellation, “Guruli,” which means “from the province of Guria (in western Georgia).” From this, Church historians have been led to believe that Holy Martyr Christopher labored in Georgia.


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Friday, August 14, 2015

Icon of the Mother of God of Narva

The Narva Icon of the Mother of God became famous in the year 1558, when the Russian army attacked the city of Narva. In one of the houses where Russian merchants had once lived, drunken Germans grabbed an icon of the Mother of God that had been left behind. Mocking the holy thing, they threw it into a fire under a kettle, in which they were brewing beer. Flames shot out from the kettle and engulfed the roof of the house.

At that very moment a storm blew up, and spread the fire throughout all the city. Taking advantage of the confusion, the Russian army advanced and took the city. The Wonderworking Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, and an icon of St Nicholas, were found in the ashes unharmed.


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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Icon of the Mother of God “of the Seven Arrows”

Commemorated on August 13

The “Seven Arrows” Icon of the Mother of God depicts the Virgin’s heart pierced by seven arrows. For a long time the icon was located at the belltower stairway entrance of a church in honor of the Apostle John the Theologian (near Vologda). Since it was face downwards, they mistook the icon for an ordinary board and walked on it. Then a cripple in the city of Kadnikova had a vision that he would receive healing after praying before this icon. They served a Molieben before the newly-discovered icon, after which the sick one became well. The icon was especially glorified in 1830 during a cholera epidemic at Vologda.


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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Martyrs Pamphilus and Capiton


The Martyrs Pamphilus and Capiton were beheaded by the sword in the area of Oliurea near Constantinople.


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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Virgin Marty Susanna, Martyr Gaius the Pope of Rome, Martyr Gabinus the Presbyter, Martyr Maximus the Brother of Gabinus and Father of Susanna, Martyr Claudius and his wife and children at Rome, Martyr Praepedigna and her husband and children at Rome, Martyr Alexander, Martyr Cutias

Commemorated on August 11

The Holy Martyr Susanna the Virgin was the daughter of Presbyter Gavinius and a niece of the Holy Bishop Caius of Rome (283-296). She was raised in strict Christian piety and in her youthful years dedicated herself to God. The family of the saint was related to the emperor Diocletian (284-305), who heard reports of her virtue and beauty.

Having decided to give St Susanna in marriage to his co-emperor Maximian (305-311), Diocletian sent his own kinsman, the dignitary Claudius, to the priest Gavinius, and then his own brother Maximus. Both of them, together with the wife of Claudius Prepedigna and her sons Alexander and Cythius, accepted Baptism after conversation with the pious family. Having learned that the entire family of his relatives had been converted to Christianity, Diocletian sent them into exile.

Soon they burned the martyrs at Ostia, not far from Rome, and threw the ashes into the sea. They took the holy virgin Susanna to the palace, and the empress tried to persuade her to submit. But the empress, secretly a Christian, supported the martyr in her intention to preserve her virginity for the sake of the Lord. She explained to the emperor about the virgin's unwillingness to enter into marriage with a pagan. Diocletian gave permission to his co-ruler to defile the holy virgin, but an angel defended her.

Macedonius began to urge the martyr to offer sacrifice to the idols. "I offer myself in sacrifice to my Lord," she answered. Then Macedonius cut off the martyr's head. The empress secretly buried the body of the saint. The room where the murder occurred was consecrated into a church by the holy Bishop Caius. Soon the father of St Susanna, Presbyter Gavinius, accepted a martyr's end, as did St Caius in the year 296.


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Monday, August 10, 2015

Afterfeast of the Transfiguration of our Lord

Commemorated on August 10

The hymns of Vespers remind us that the Transfiguration is not merely a historical event, but something which also has implications for us. Those who “desire to see and hear things past understanding” must ascend from earthly concerns to “the height of the contemplation of the virtues.” This may be achieved by “directing our minds to heavenly things” and by “being formed anew in piety into the image of Christ.”


You were Transfigured on the Mount, O Christ God, / Revealing Your glory to Your disciples as far as they could bear it. / Let Your everlasting Light shine upon us sinners! / Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O Giver of Light, glory to You!


On the Mountain You were Transfigured, O Christ God, / And Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it; / So that when they would behold You crucified, / They would understand that Your suffering was voluntary, / And would proclaim to the world, / That You are truly the Radiance of the Father!


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Sunday, August 09, 2015

Holy New Martyr Ignatius (Bazyluk)

Commemorated on August 9

The holy New Martyr Ignatius (Bazyluk) was born in Poland sometime in 1860s, and received the name Jacob at his Baptism. Very little is known of his early life or where he was born, but in the period between the First and the Second World Wars he was a monk at St Onuphrios Monastery in Jabłeczna. At his tonsure he received the monastic name Ignatius.

Father Ignatius was one of the oldest monks in the monastery, and he fulfilled the obedience of ringing the bells for church services.

In September of 1939, the monastery buildings were occupied by German soldiers, and they confiscated the monastery’s food supplies and livestock. In spite of this, the monks did not close the monastery, but wrote a letter of protest to the commander of the occupying army. This had no effect whatsoever upon the Germans.

On the night of August 9-10, 1942 the guards set fire to the monastery, destroying the inner section. The monks fled from the buildings and gathered in the courtyard. The Germans would not allow the fire to be put out, and they threatened to shoot the monks.

A few of the monks were able to escape, but St Ignatius ran to the bell tower and began ringing the bell to warn the residents of the area of the danger. He was attacked and beaten to death by some of the soldiers.
Residents of Jabłeczna arrived at the monastery to help, and they were also detained. The Germans forced the monks to dig graves, and then they shot everyone in the courtyard. There were no survivors. St Ignatius was buried in the monastery cemetery, but his holy relics were later transferred to the St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

Saint Ignatius is regarded as one of the martyrs of Chelm and Podlasie. He is commemorated on August 9, the date of his martyrdom, and on March 20, the date of his glorification by the Orthodox Church of Poland in 2003.


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Saturday, August 08, 2015

Icon of the Mother of God of Tolga

Commemorated on August 8

The Tolga Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos appeared on August 8, 1314 to the Rostov hierarch Prochorus (Tryphon in schema). Going about his diocese, the saint visited the environs of White Lake and from there traveled along the banks of the Rivers Sheksna and Volga, to Yaroslavl. Having stopped with the approach of night 7 versts distant from Yaroslavl, at the right bank of the Volga River there flows opposite into it the River Tolga.

At midnight, when everyone was asleep, the saint awoke and saw a bright light illuminating the area. The light proceeded from a fiery column on the other bank of the river, to which there stretched a bridge. Taking up his staff, the saint went across to the other bank, and having approached the fiery column, he beheld on it the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, suspended in the air. Astonished at the miracle, the saint prayed for a long time, and when he went back, he forgot to take his staff.

The next day, after serving Matins, when St Prochorus was preparing to continue his journey by boat, they began to search for his staff, but they were not able to find it anywhere. The saint then remembered that he had forgotten his staff on the other side of the river, where he had gone across on the miraculous bridge. He then revealed what had occurred, and sent servants across on a boat to the other shore. They came back and reported that in the forest they had seen an icon of the Mother of God suspended in the branches of a tree, next to his bishop’s staff.

The saint quickly crossed over with all his retinue to the opposite shore, and he recognized the icon that had appeared to him. Then after fervent prayer before the icon, they cleared the forest at that place, and put down the foundations of a church. When the people of Yaroslavl learned of this, they came out to the indicated spot. By midday the church was already built, and in the evening the saint consecrated it in honor of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos, and having installed the icon there he established a Feast on the day of its appearance. St Prochorus later built the Tolga monastery near this church. St Prochorus died on September 7, 1328.

The Tolga Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is also commemorated on July 18.


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Friday, August 07, 2015

St Theodora of Sihla

Commemorated on August 7

Saint Theodora, one of Romania’s greatest female ascetics, was born in the village of Vanatori, Neamts in the first half of the seventeenth century, and was the daughter of Stephen Joldea and his wife.

In her youth, St Theodora went through a great trial in her family. Her sister, Marghiolita, had a tragic death. The event affected her deeply. At this point, the thought of retreating from the world blossomed in her heart. She wished to atone for her parents, for her sister, for herself. But her grieving parents did not agree to her decision, since she was now their only child. They entreated her, and, at the proper time, they married her to a young man from Ismail, who was working in their parts, and who often went to venerate the holy sites. After entering into a lawful marriage, they lived together in her husband’s house.

St Theodora and her husband did not have any children. Therefore, she and her husband decided to enter the monastic life. Her husband went to the Skete of Poiana Marului, where he was tonsured with the name Eleutherius. He was also ordained to the holy priesthood.

Theodora also received the monastic tonsure in the Skete of Poiana Marului. In just a few short years, she advanced in obedience, prayer, and asceticism, acquiring the grace of unceasing prayer of the heart.

When her skete was destroyed by the Turks, she fled to the Buzau Mountains with her Spiritual Mother, Schemanun Paisia. They lived for several years in fasting, vigil and prayer, enduring cold, hunger, and demonic temptations. When her Spiritual Mother fell asleep in the Lord (between 1670-1675), St Theodora was led by God to the mountains of Neamts. After venerating the wonderworking Neamts Icon of the Mother of God (June 26) in the monastery, she was told to seek the advice of Hieromonk Barsanuphius of Sihastria Skete. Seeing her desire for the eremetical life, and recognizing her great virtues, he gave her Holy Communion and assigned Hieromonk Paul as her Father Confessor and spiritual guide.

Fr Barsanuphius advised Theodora to go and live alone in the wilderness for a year. “If, by the grace of Christ, you are able to endure the difficulties and trials of the wilderness, then remain there until you die. If you cannot endure, however, then go to a women’s monastery, and struggle there in humility for the salvation of your soul.”

Fr Paul searched in vain for an abandoned hermitage where St Theodora might live. Then they met an old hermit living beneath the cliffs of Sihla. This clairvoyant Elder greeted them and said, “Mother Theodora, remain in my cell, for I am moving to another place.”

Fr Paul left Theodora on Mount Sihla, blessing her before he returned to the skete. St Theodora lived in that cell for thirty years. Strengthened with power from on high, she vanquished all the attacks of the Enemy through patience and humility. She never left the mountain, and never saw another person except for Fr Paul, who visited her from time to time to bring her the Spotless Mysteries of Christ and the supplies she needed to survive.

St Theodora made such progress in asceticism that she was able to keep vigil all night long with her arms lifted up toward heaven. When the morning sun touched her face, she would eat some herbs and other vegetation to break her fast. She drank rain water which she collected from a channel cut into the cliff, which is still known as St Theodora’s Spring.

When Turks attacked the villages and monasteries around Neamts, the woods became filled with villagers and monastics. Some nuns found St Theodora’s cell, and she called out to them, “Remain here in my cell, for I have another place of refuge.” Then she moved into a nearby cave, living there completely alone. An army of Turks discovered the cave, and were about to kill the saint. Lifting up her hands, she cried out, “O Lord, deliver me from the hands of these murderers.” The wall of the cave opened, and she was able to escape into the woods.

As St Theodora grew old, she was forgotten and there was no one to care for her. Placing all her hope in God, she continued her spiritual struggles, and reached great heights of perfection. When she prayed her mind was raised up to Heaven, and her body was lifted up off the ground. Like the great saints of earlier times, her face shone with a radiant light, and a flame came forth from her mouth when she prayed.

In time her clothes became mere rags, and when her food ran out, she was fed by birds just as the Prophet Elias (July 20) was. They brought crusts of bread to her from the Sihastria Skete. Seeing the birds come to the skete and then fly away with pieces of bread in their beaks, the Igumen sent two monks to follow them. Night fell as they walked toward Sihla, and they lost their way in the woods. They decided to wait for daylight, and began to pray. Suddenly, they saw a bright light stretching up into the sky, and went to investigate. As they approached, they saw a woman shining with light and levitating above the ground as she prayed.

St Theodora said, “Brethren, do not be afraid, for I am a humble handmaiden of Christ. Throw me something to wear, for I am naked.”

Then she told them of her life and approaching death. She asked them to go to the skete and ask for Fr Anthony and the hierodeacon Laurence to come and bring her Communion. They asked her how they could find their way to the skete at night, for they did not know the way. She said that they would be guided to the skete by a light which would go before them.

The next day at dawn, Fr Anthony went to Sihla with the deacon and two other monks. When they found St Theodora, she was praying by a fir tree in front of her cave. She confessed to the priest, then received the Holy Mysteries of Christ and gave her soul to God. The monks buried her in her cave with great reverence sometime during the first decade of the eighteenth century.

News of her death spread quickly, and people came from all over to venerate her tomb. Her holy relics remained incorrupt, and many miracles took place before them. Some kissed the relics; others touched the reliquary, while others washed in her spring. All who entreated St Theodora’s intercession received healing and consolation.

St Theodore’s former husband, Hieromonk Eleutherius, heard that she had been living at Sihla, and decided to go there. He found her cave shortly after her death and burial. Grieving for his beloved wife, Eleutherius did not return to his monastery, but made a small cell for himself below the cliffs of Sihla. He remained close to her cave, fasting, praying, and serving the Divine Liturgy. He lived there for about ten years before his blessed repose. He was buried in the hermits’ cemetery and the Skete of St John the Baptist was built over his grave.

St Theodora’s relics were taken to the Kiev Caves Monastery between 1828 and 1834. There she is known as St Theodora of the Carpathians.

Our Venerable Mother Theodora was glorified by the Romanian Orthodox Church in June 1992.


Leaving behind the things of this earth and taking up the yoke of a solitary, / you were made a bride of Christ, O blessed one. / Through fasting, vigil, and prayer / you were granted heavenly gifts and became like the angels. / You overcame human nature and moved to the heavenly places, / leaving us the consolation of your cave and of your holy relics. / Therefore, O holy and most venerable Mother Theodora, / entreat Christ our God to save our souls.


Come, all of you who love Christ, with faith and piety to honor our righteous Mother Theodora, / who labored zealously in Sihla hermitage and became a beacon of hermits. / Let us praise God and honor His righteous servants saying: / Rejoice, most venerable Mother Theodora, the spiritual flower of Moldavia. (Sihla is pronounced SHEE-la)


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2014(with 2013's link here also and further:, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 , 208 and even 2007!):

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Adding of a new site to my blog roll:

I just wanted to bring to your attention the adding of this new site to my blogroll.  I was contacted by Jesse Dominick via e-mail and he wrote me the following:

Dear Sophocles,
I am writing to you on behalf of (, the English version of the website of Sretensky Monastery in Moscow. In case you are not familiar with our site, we strive to keep our readers updated daily on important news concerning the Orthodox Church worldwide, Christian persecution, Christian social issues, etc, as well as to present beneficial spiritual writings, homilies, lives of the Saints, etc.
We hope to share the Orthodox faith with as many as possible, and we are always looking for new ways to develop our site and to reach new readers. We also appreciate the effort of yours and so many other blogs that share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With that in mind, we ask if you would kindly consider adding our site to your blog roll (*or to post a banner linking to our site if there is no blog roll). If you could do this we would be very grateful, and we look forward to continuing to provide timely and soul-profiting works for those both in and outside of the Church.
In Christ,
Jesse Dominick
The link in his correspondence will take you to a Russian version.  At the top, you will see a tab that says "English Version".

The Holy Transfiguration of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ (the Second “Feast of the Savior” in August)

Commemorated on August 6

Discourse on the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ of Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica

For an explanation of the present Feast and understanding of its truth, it is necessary for us to turn to the very start of today’s reading from the Gospel: “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother, and led them up onto a high mountain by themselves” (Mt.17:1).

First of all we must ask, from whence does the Evangelist Matthew begin to reckon with six days? From what sort of day is it? What does the preceding turn of speech indicate, where the Savior, in teaching His disciples, said to them: “For the Son of Man shall come with his angels in the glory of His Father,” and further: “Amen I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death, until they have seen the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Mt.16:27-28)? That is to say, it is the Light of His own forthcoming Transfiguration which He terms the Glory of His Father and of His Kingdom.

The Evangelist Luke points this out and reveals this more clearly saying: “Now it came to pass about eight days after these words, that He took Peter and John and James, and went up the mountain to pray. And as He prayed, His countenance was altered, and His raiment became a radiant white” (Luke 9:28-29). But how can the two be reconciled, when one of them speaks definitively about the interval of time as being eight days between the sayings and the manifestation, whereas the other (says): “after six days?”

There were eight on the mountain, but only six were visible. Three, Peter, James and John, had come up with Jesus, and they saw Moses and Elias standing there and conversing with Him, so altogether there were six of them. However, the Father and the Holy Spirit were invisibly with the Lord: the Father, with His Voice testifying that this was His Beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit shining forth with Him in the radiant cloud. Thus, the six are actually eight, and there is no contradiction regarding the eight. Similarly, there is no contradiction with the Evangelists when one says “after six days,” and the other says “eight days after these words.”

But these twofold sayings as it were present us a certain format set in mystery, and together with it that of those actually present upon the Mount. It stands to reason, and everyone rationally studying in accordance with Scripture knows that the Evangelists are in agreement one with another. Luke spoke of eight days without contradicting Matthew, who declared “after six days.” There is not another day added on to represent the day on which these sayings were uttered, nor is the day on which the Lord was transfigured added on (which a rational person might reasonably imagine to be added to the days of Matthew).

The Evangelist Luke does not say “after eight days” (like the Evangelist Matthew says “after six days”), but rather “it came to pass eight days after these words.” But where the Evangelists seem to contradict one another, they actually point out to us something great and mysterious. In actual fact, why did the one say “after six days,” but the other, in ignoring the seventh day, have in mind the eighth day? It is because the great vision of the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is the mystery of the Eighth Day, i.e., of the future age, coming to be revealed after the passing away of the world created in six days.

About the power of the Divine Spirit, through Whom the Kingdom of God is to be revealed, the Lord predicted: “There are some standing here who shall not taste death, until they have seen the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Mt.16:28). Everywhere and in every way the King will be present, and everywhere will be His Kingdom, since the advent of His Kingdom does not signify the passing over from one place to another, but rather the revelation of its power of the Divine Spirit. That is why it is said: “come in power.” And this power is not manifest to simply ordinary people, but to those standing with the Lord, that is to say, those who have affirmed their faith in Him like Peter, James and John, and especially those who are free of our natural abasement. Therefore, and precisely because of this, God manifests Himself upon the Mount, on the one hand coming down from His heights, and on the other, raising us up from the depths of abasement, since the Transcendent One takes on mortal nature. Certainly, such a manifest appearance by far transcends the utmost limits of the mind’s grasp, as effectualized by the power of the Divine Spirit.

Thus, the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is not something that comes to be and then vanishes, nor is it subject to the sensory faculties, although it was contemplated by corporeal eyes for a short while upon an inconsequential mountaintop. But the initiates of the Mystery, (the disciples) of the Lord at this time passed beyond mere flesh into spirit through a transformation of their senses, effectualized within them by the Spirit, and in such a way that they beheld what, and to what extent, the Divine Spirit had wrought blessedness in them to behold the Ineffable Light.

Those not grasping this point have conjectured that the chosen from among the Apostles beheld the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord by a sensual and creaturely faculty, and through this they attempt to reduce to a creaturely level (i.e., as something “created”) not only this Light, the Kingdom and the Glory of God, but also the Power of the Divine Spirit, through Whom it is meet for Divine Mysteries to be revealed. In all likelihood, such persons have not heeded the words of the Apostle Paul: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love Him. But to us God has revealed them through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Cor.2:9-10).

So, with the onset of the Eighth Day, the Lord, taking Peter, James and John, went up on the Mount to pray. He always prayed alone, withdrawing from everyone, even from the Apostles themselves, as for example when with five loaves and two fish He fed the five thousand men, besides women and children (Mt.14:19-23). Or, taking with Him those who excelled others, as at the approach of His Saving Passion, when He said to the other disciples: “Sit here while I go over there and pray” (Mt.26:36). Then He took with Him Peter, James and John. But in our instance right here and now, having taken only these same three, the Lord led them up onto a high mountain by themselves and was transfigured before them, that is to say, before their very eyes.

“What does it mean to say: He was transfigured?” asks the Golden-Mouthed Theologian (Chrysostom). He answers this by saying: “It revealed something of His Divinity to them, as much and insofar as they were able to apprehend it, and it showed the indwelling of God within Him.” The Evangelist Luke says: “And as He prayed, His countenance was altered” (Luke 9:29); and from the Evangelist Matthew we read: “And His face shone as the sun” (Mt.17:2). But the Evangelist said this, not in the context that this Light be thought of as subsistent for the senses (let us put aside the blindness of mind of those who can conceive of nothing higher than what is known through the senses). Rather, it is to show that Christ God, for those living and contemplating by the Spirit, is the same as the sun is for those living in the flesh and contemplating by the senses. Therefore, some other Light for the knowing the Divinity is not necessary for those who are enriched by Divine gifts.

That same Inscrutable Light shone and was mysteriously manifest to the Apostles and the foremost of the Prophets at that moment, when (the Lord) was praying. This shows that what brought forth this blessed sight was prayer, and that the radiance occured and was manifest by uniting the mind with God, and that it is granted to all who, with constant exercise in efforts of virtue and prayer, strive with their mind towards God. True beauty, essentially, can be contemplated only with a purified mind. To gaze upon its luminance assumes a sort of participation in it, as though some bright ray etches itself upon the face.

Even the face of Moses was illumined by his association with God. Do you not know that Moses was transfigured when he went up the mountain, and there beheld the Glory of God? But he (Moses) did not effect this, but rather he underwent a transfiguration. However, our Lord Jesus Christ possessed that Light Himself. In this regard, actually, He did not need prayer for His flesh to radiate with the Divine Light; it was but to show from whence that Light descends upon the saints of God, and how to contemplate it. For it is written that even the saints “will shine forth like the sun” (Mt.13:43), which is to say, entirely permeated by Divine Light as they gaze upon Christ, divinely and inexpressibly shining forth His Radiance, issuing from His Divine Nature. On Mount Tabor it was manifest also in His Flesh, by reason of the Hypostatic Union (i.e., the union of the two perfect natures, divine and human, within the divine Person [Hypostasis] of Christ, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity). The Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon defined this Hypostatic union of Christ’s two natures, divine and human, as “without mingling, without change, without division, without separation.”

We believe that at the Transfiguration He manifested not some other sort of light, but only that which was concealed beneath His fleshly exterior. This Light was the Light of the Divine Nature, and as such, it was Uncreated and Divine. So also, in the teachings of the Fathers, Jesus Christ was transfigured on the Mount, not taking upon Himself something new nor being changed into something new, nor something which formerly He did not possess. Rather, it was to show His disciples that which He already was, opening their eyes and bringing them from blindness to sight. For do you not see that eyes that can perceive natural things would be blind to this Light?

Thus, this Light is not a light of the senses, and those contemplating it do not simply see with sensual eyes, but rather they are changed by the power of the Divine Spirit. They were transformed, and only in this way did they see the transformation taking place amidst the very assumption of our perishability, with the deification through union with the Word of God in place of this.

So also she who miraculously conceived and gave birth recognized that the One born of her is God Incarnate. So it was also for Simeon, who only received this Infant into his arms, and the aged Anna, coming out [from the Jerusalem Temple] for the Meeting, since the Divine Power illumined, as through a glass windowpane, giving light for those having pure eyes of heart.

And why did the Lord, before the beginning of the Transfiguration, choose the foremost of the Apostles and lead them up onto the Mount with Him? Certainly, it was to show them something great and mysterious. What is particularly great or mysterious in showing a sensory light, which not only the foremost, but all the other Apostles already abundantly possessed? Why would they need a transforming of their eyes by the power of the Holy Spirit for a contemplation of this Light, if it were merely sensory and created? How could the Glory and the Kingdom of the Father and the Holy Spirit project forth in some sort of sensory light? Indeed, in what sort of Glory and Kingdom would Christ the Lord come at the end of the ages, when there would not be necessary anything in the air, nor in expanse, nor anything similar, but when, in the words of the Apostle, “God will be all in all” (1 Cor.15: 28)? That is to say, will He alter everything for all? If so, then it follows that light is included.

Hence it is clear that the Light of Tabor was a Divine Light. And the Evangelist John, inspired by Divine Revelation, says clearly that the future eternal and enduring city “has no need of the sun or moon to shine upon it. For the Glory of God lights it up, and the Lamb will be its lamp” (Rev 21:23). Is it not clear, that he points out here that this [Lamb] is Jesus, Who is divinely transfigured now upon Tabor, and the flesh of Whom shines, is the lamp manifesting the Glory of divinity for those ascending the mountain with Him?

John the Theologian also says about the inhabitants of this city: “they will not need light from lamps, nor the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shed light upon them, and night shall be no more” (Rev 22:5). But how, we might ask, is there this other light, in which “there is no change, nor shadow of alteration” (Jas 1:17)? What light is there that is constant and unsetting, unless it be the Light of God? Moreover, could Moses and Elias (and particularly the former, who clearly was present only in spirit, and not in flesh [Elias having ascended bodily to Heaven on the fiery chariot]) be shining with any sort of sensory light, and be seen and known? Especially since it was written of them: “they appeared in glory, and spoke of his death, which he was about to fulfill at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:30-31). And how otherwise could the Apostles recognize those whom they had never seen before, unless through the mysterious power of the Divine Light, opening their mental eyes?

But let us not tire our attention with the furthermost interpretations of the words of the Gospel. We shall believe thus, as those same ones have taught us, who themselves were enlightened by the Lord Himself, insofar as they alone know this well: the Mysteries of God, in the words of a prophet, are known to God alone and His perpetual proximity. Let us, considering the Mystery of the Transfiguration of the Lord in accord with their teaching, strive to be illumined by this Light ourselves and encourage in ourselves love and striving towards the Unfading Glory and Beauty, purifying our spiritual eyes of worldly thoughts and refraining from perishable and quickly passing delights and beauty which darken the garb of the soul and lead to the fire of Gehenna and everlasting darkness. Let us be freed from these by the illumination and knowledge of the incorporeal and ever-existing Light of our Savior transfigured on Tabor, in His Glory, and of His Father from all eternity, and His Life-Creating Spirit, Whom are One Radiance, One Godhead, and Glory, and Kingdom, and Power now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.


You were transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God, / revealing Your glory to Your disciples as far as they could bear it. / Let Your everlasting Light also shine upon us sinners, / through the prayers of the Theotokos. / O Giver of Light, glory to You!


On the Mountain You were Transfigured, O Christ God, / And Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it; / So that when they would behold You crucified, / They would understand that Your suffering was voluntary, / And would proclaim to the world, / That You are truly the Radiance of the Father!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2014(with 2013's link here also and further:, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 , 2008and even 2007!):

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

St Oswald, king and martyr

Commemorated on August 5

Saint Oswald was born around 605, the second of the seven sons of the Anglo-Saxon king Aethelfrith, who was the first ruler to unite the provinces of Bernicia and Deira into the kingdom of Northumbria.

King Edwin of Deira refused to accept the Bernician control of both provinces, so he attempted a coup while Aethelfrith was away in the north. Edwin was defeated and driven into exile. When Aethelfrith was killed later, Edwin became King of Northumbria.

Oswald’s mother Acha (Edwin’s sister) fled to Ireland (then called Scotland) with her children. It is believed that during his seventeen years of exile, St Oswald received Christian baptism at Iona and also learned the Gaelic language.

Edwin was killed in 633 while fighting King Penda of Mercia and King Caedwalla of Cwynedd (North Wales). Eanfrith, Oswald’s older brother, returned to paganism and was killed in battle against Caedwalla. Now Oswald had to lead the struggle against the Britons.

In 634 Oswald assembled an army and prepared to meet the forces of Penda and Caedwalla at Heavenfield (Hefenfelth) near the Roman Wall seven miles north of Hexham. On the eve of the battle, St Oswald set up a great wooden cross on the field. With his own hands, the king steadied the cross while his men filled in the hole which had been dug to receive it. Although only a few of his men were Christians, Oswald ordered the army to kneel and pray to the true and living God to grant them victory.

“Let us now kneel down and pray to the omnipotent and only true God, that He will mercifully defend us from our proud enemy,” he told them, “for He knows that we fight in a just war in defense of our lives and our country.”

A modern replica of this cross now stands on the site, near the church of St Oswald.

The night before the battle, King Oswald had a vision of St Columba of Iona (June 9), who stretched his cloak over the sleeping soldiers and promised that the Saxon army would defeat Caedwalla the next day. Following the battle, Oswald established his supremacy in Northumbria and his right to the title of Bretwalda (High King of England). He was godfather to King Cynegils of Wessex at his baptism, and married his daughter  in 635. By 637, Oswald’s authority was recognized by almost everyone.

For the next five years Britain was blessed with a rare period of stability. While governing his earthly realm, St Oswald also labored to attain a heavenly crown and to bring his people into the Kingdom of God. Turning to the Celtic monks of Iona, rather than the Roman clergy at Canterbury, Oswald invited missionaries to proclaim the Gospel to his subjects. The first bishop sent to lead the mission proved unsuitable, for he alienated many people by his harshness. The bishop was recalled, and an ideal candidate was found to replace him.

St Aidan (August 31) was consecrated bishop and sent to Northumbria to take charge of the mission. King Oswald gave him the island of Lindisfarne near the royal residence of Bamburg for his episcopal see. St Aidan also founded the famous monastery on Lindisfarne.

Since Bishop Aidan was not yet fluent in the Anglo-Saxon tongue, St Oswald would accompany him on his missionary journeys. The king translated the bishop’s words and explained the Word of God to his subjects, playing an active role in the evangelization of his kingdom. People flocked to receive baptism, drawn partly by Aidan’s preaching, and partly by King Oswald’s example of godliness and virtue.

St Oswald was a devout and sincere Christian who was often seen sitting with his hands resting palms upwards on his knees in a gesture of prayer. He granted land and money for the establishment of monasteries, and he was famous for his generosity to the poor.

One year, after attending the services of Pascha, King Oswald sat down to a meal with Bishop Aidan. Just as the bishop was about to bless the food, a servant came in and informed the king that a great number of needy folk were outside begging for alms. The king ordered that his own food be served to the poor on silver platters, and that the silver serving dishes be broken up and distributed to them.There is a charming illustration of this incident in the thirteenth century Berthold Missal in New York’s Pierpont Morgan Library (Morgan MS 710, fol. 101v). Aidan, deeply moved by St Oswald’s charity, took him by the right hand and said, “May this hand never perish.” According to tradition, St Oswald’s hand remained incorrupt for centuries after his death. St Bede (May 27) says that the hand was kept in the church of St Peter at Bamburgh, where it was venerated by all. The present location of the hand, if it still survives, is not known.

St Oswald was killed in battle against the superior forces of King Penda on August 5, 642 at a place called Maserfield. He was only thirty-eight years old. Before his death, St Oswald prayed for the souls of his soldiers.This has become almost proverbial: “‘O God, be merciful to their souls,’ said Oswald when he fell.”

Some identify the battle site with Oswestry (Oswald’s tree, or cross) in Shropshire, but this seems an unlikely place for a battle between Mercians and Northumbrians. Others believe that Lichfield is the probable site. Lichfield means “field of the body,” and was founded by Oswald’s brother Oswy. The city was an archbishopric for seventeen years under Offa, who had a particular veneration for St Oswald.

Following the Battle of Maserfield, St Oswald’s body was dismembered, and his head and arms were displayed on poles. Many miraculous healings took place at the site of the battle. This is not surprising, for during his lifetime St Oswald always helped the sick and the needy. Pilgrims took earth from the place where St Oswald fell, and many sick people were healed by mixing some of the dust with water and drinking it.
A year after his death, St Oswald’s arms were brought to Bamburgh by Oswy, and his head was brought to Lindisfarne. There the grief-stricken Bishop Aidan interred it in the monastery church.

According to William of Malmesbury (twelfth century), St Oswald is the first English saint whose relics worked miracles. Portions of his relics were distributed to several churches in England in in Europe. Today St Oswald’s head is in Durham Cathedral in St Cuthbert’s coffin, but the rest of his relics seem to have been lost.

In December of 1069 a clergyman named Earnan had a vision of Sts Cuthbert (March 20) and Oswald. He described the king as being clad in a scarlet cloak, tall in stature, with a thin beard and boyish face. This is recorded by the historian Simeon of Durham.

In the Middle Ages, devotion to St Oswald spread from Britain to Spain, Italy, and Germany. Unfortunately, the fame of this most Christian king is somewhat obscured today, and his popularity diminished after the Norman Conquest in 1066. Before that, the Danish invaders destroyed many Anglo-Saxon political and legal institutions, as well as written records and oral traditions which had been preserved in the monasteries.

Though King Alfred the Great and even William the Conquerer were anxious to link themselves with St Oswald, the kings who reigned after the Conquest were less inclined to associate themselves to St Oswald’s reputation as king. For three centuries the Norman kings of England spoke French, which became the language of the court, and they showed little interest in English history.

There were significant changes to the monastic culture after the Conquest as well. A number of monks were brought over from France, and they began to populate the English monasteries. By this time the English Church had become more solidly allied with Rome, and the old Celtic traditions began to disappear.

St Oswald deserves to be better known, but he has not been completely forgotten. There are over sixty churches dedicated to him in England, and his name is also associated with several place names and holy wells.

St Oswald is also commemorated on June 20 (the Transfer of his Relics).


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2014(with 2013's link here also and further:, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!):

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

7 Holy Youths "Seven Sleepers" of Ephesus-Maximilian, Iamblicus, Martinian, John, Dionysius, Exacustodianus (Constantine) and Antoninus

Commemorated on August 4

The Seven Youths of Ephesus: Maximilian, Iamblicus, Martinian, John, Dionysius, Exacustodianus (Constantine) and Antoninus, lived in the third century. St Maximilian was the son of the Ephesus city administrator, and the other six youths were sons of illustrious citizens of Ephesus. The youths were friends from childhood, and all were in military service together.

When the emperor Decius (249-251) arrived in Ephesus, he commanded all the citizens to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Torture and death awaited anyone who disobeyed. The seven youths were denounced by informants, and were summoned to reply to the charges. Appearing before the emperor, the young men confessed their faith in Christ.

Their military belts and insignia were quickly taken from them. Decius permitted them to go free, however, hoping that they would change their minds while he was off on a military campaign. The youths fled from the city and hid in a cave on Mount Ochlon, where they passed their time in prayer, preparing for martyrdom.

The youngest of them, St Iamblicus, dressed as a beggar and went into the city to buy bread. On one of his excursions into the city, he heard that the emperor had returned and was looking for them. St Maximilian urged his companions to come out of the cave and present themselves for trial.

Learning where the young men were hidden, the emperor ordered that the entrance of the cave be sealed with stones so that the saints would perish from hunger and thirst. Two of the dignitaries at the blocked entrance to the cave were secret Christians. Desiring to preserve the memory of the saints, they placed in the cave a sealed container containing two metal plaques. On them were inscribed the names of the seven youths and the details of their suffering and death.

The Lord placed the youths into a miraculous sleep lasting almost two centuries. In the meantime, the persecutions against Christians had ceased. During the reign of the holy emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450) there were heretics who denied that there would be a general resurrection of the dead at the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some of them said, "How can there be a resurrection of the dead when there will be neither soul nor body, since they are disintegrated?" Others affirmed, "The souls alone will have a restoration, since it would be impossible for bodies to arise and live after a thousand years, when even their dust would not remain." Therefore, the Lord revealed the mystery of the Resurrection of the Dead and of the future life through His seven saints.

The owner of the land on which Mount Ochlon was situated, discovered the stone construction, and his workers opened up the entrance to the cave. The Lord had kept the youths alive, and they awoke from their sleep, unaware that almost two hundred years had passed. Their bodies and clothing were completely undecayed.

Preparing to accept torture, the youths once again asked St Iamblicus to buy bread for them in the city. Going toward the city, the youth was astonished to see a cross on the gates. Hearing the name of Jesus Christ freely spoken, he began to doubt that he was approaching his own city.

When he paid for the bread, Iamblicus gave the merchant coins with the image of the emperor Decius on it. He was detained, as someone who might be concealing a horde of old money. They took St Iamblicus to the city administrator, who also happened to be the Bishop of Ephesus. Hearing the bewildering answers of the young man, the bishop perceived that God was revealing some sort of mystery through him, and went with other people to the cave.

At the entrance to the cave the bishop found the sealed container and opened it. He read upon the metal plaques the names of the seven youths and the details of the sealing of the cave on the orders of the emperor Decius. Going into the cave and seeing the saints alive, everyone rejoiced and perceived that the Lord, by waking them from their long sleep, was demonstrating to the Church the mystery of the Resurrection of the Dead.

Soon the emperor himself arrived in Ephesus and spoke with the young men in the cave. Then the holy youths, in sight of everyone, lay their heads upon the ground and fell asleep again, this time until the General Resurrection.

The emperor wanted to place each of the youths into a jeweled coffin, but they appeared to him in a dream and said that their bodies were to be left upon the ground in the cave. In the twelfth century the Russian pilgrim Igumen Daniel saw the holy relics of the seven youths in the cave.

There is a second commemoration of the seven youths on October 22. According to one tradition, which entered into the Russian PROLOGUE (of Saints' Lives), the youths fell asleep for the second time on this day. The Greek MENAION of 1870 says that they first fell asleep on August 4, and woke up on October 22.

There is a prayer of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus in the GREAT BOOK OF NEEDS (Trebnik) for those who are ill and cannot sleep. The Seven Sleepers are also mentioned in the service for the Church New Year, September 1.

Troparion - Tone 4

Your holy martyrs, O Lord,
Through their sufferings have received their 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!

Kontakion - Tone 4

Those who renounced the perishing comforts of this world,
Preferring the eternal things of Heaven,
Were incorrupt after death and rose from the dead
And buried the snares of the devils!
O Faithful, let us then honor them, singing a hymn of praise to Christ!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2014(with 2013's link here also and further:, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009,2008 and even 2007!):

Monday, August 03, 2015

Isaacius, Dalmatus, & Faustus, Ascetics of the Dalmation Monastery

August 3

Of these, Saint Isaacius is celebrated also on May 30. He became a monk at an early age and was a worker of every virtue; a zealot for the Orthodox Faith, he was also deemed worthy of the gift of prophecy. The Saint dwelt in a small hut near Constantinople. When Valens the Arian marched against the Goths, who were at the Danube River, this righteous one went out himself to meet the Emperor and, taking in hand the reins of the Emperor's horse, said to him with boldness that God had incited the barbarians to come against him, since he himself had incited many to speak against God in blasphemy, and had driven God's true worshippers out of the divine houses of prayer. Furthermore, he told him, if he ceased fighting

Venerable Isaacius

against God by means of heresy and returned the good shepherds (that is, the Orthodox bishops) to the flock of Christ, he would easily gain the victory over his enemies. However, if he did not desist from these things, nor have God as his ally, at the very outset of the battle both he and his army would certainly be destroyed. "Learn from experience," he said, "that it is hard to kick against the pricks. Thou shalt not return, and this expedition will be destroyed." But the Emperor became angry and had the righteous one locked in prison that he might punish him and put him to death on his return after he conquered the barbarians. But he was utterly defeated and was burned alive in a certain village in the year 378 (Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Eccl. Hist., ch. 4: 31-32). When his surviving soldiers returned from the war, wishing to tempt the Saint, they came to him and said, "Prepare to make thy defense before the Emperor, who is coming to fulfill what he spoke against thee." But the Saint answered, "It has already been seven days that I smelled the stink of his bones, which were burned in the fire." Thus the righteous one was released from prison. All marveled because of his prophecy, and he became even more wondrous by means of the zeal he displayed in behalf of Orthodoxy in 381, when the Second Ecumenical Council was convoked. After this, a monastery was built in Constantinople for him, and he piously shepherded those struggling with him in asceticism. Having served as an example of the monastic life for them, he reposed in peace about the end of the fourth century, leaving Dalmatus as his successor.

As for Saint Dalmatus, he was at first a soldier in the second division of the soldiers known as the Scholarii. Later, however, he forsook all things and taking his son Faustus, went to the above-mentioned monastery of Saint Isaacius, where he donned the monastic habit. Through his virtue he became venerable in the sight of all. He was present at the Third Ecumenical Council that was convoked in Ephesus in 431, and there displayed his zeal for Orthodoxy against Nestorius. The Council elected him Archimandrite of the monasteries in Constantinopie. Having lived for more than eighty years, he reposed in the Lord.

Apolytikion of Righteous Isaacius, Dalmatius, Faustus in the Fourth Tone
O God of our Fathers, ever dealing with us according to Thy gentleness: take not Thy mercy from us, but by their entreaties guide our life in peace.

Kontakion of Righteous Isaacius, Dalmatius, Faustus in the Second Tone
With hymns let us extol Isaacius, Dalmatus, and Faustus as Christ's servants, who shone forth brilliantly in asceticism in the world, and overturned the heresies by faith; for they cry out in behalf of us all.



SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2014(with 2013's link here also and further:, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009,2008 and even 2007!):