Monday, April 30, 2012

James the Apostle & brother of St. John the Theologian

April 30

James was one of the Twelve, like his brother John (celebrated on Sept. 26), whom the Lord called "Sons of Thunder," because they became great preachers and because of their profound theology. It was the Saint's boldness in preaching the Gospel that Herod Agrippa, the son of Aristobulus and grandson of Herod the Great, could not endure, and so he took him into custody during the days of the Passover, and slew him with the sword (Acts 12: 1-2); and thus he drank the cup of which the Saviour had spoken to him prophetically (Matt. 20:23). As for Herod, the following year he went down to Caesarea, and, as the Acts of the Apostles records: "Upon a set day, Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration" to the elders of Tyre and Sidon; and the flatterers that surrounded him "gave a shout, saying, 'it is the voice of a god, and not of a man.' And immediately an Angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory; and like his grandfather (see Dec. 29) "he was eaten of worms and gave up the spirit" (Acts 12:21-23)

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

Kontakion in the Second Tone
The voice of thy God thou heardest when it called to thee, O glorious James; hence, casting off thy father's love, thou together with John thy brother didst run straightway to Christ the Lord, and with him was granted to see the Lord's most divine Transfiguration.


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

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday of the Holy Myrrhbearing Women with the Noble Joseph

Commemorated on April 29

Today we commemorate the Holy Myrrh-bearing women Sts Mary Magdalene (July 22), Mary the wife of Clopas, Joanna (June 27), Salome, mother of the sons of Zebedee (August 3), Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus (June 4). Also St Joseph of Arimathea (July 31), and Nicodemus.

The holy right-believing Queen Tamara of Georgia is commemorated twice during the year: on May 1, the day of her repose, and also on the Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing Women.

Synaxis of all Saints of Thessalonica.

St Seraphim Bishop of Phanar (December 4, 1610)

New Martyr Elias Ardunis (January 31, 1686)

New Martyr Demetrius of the Peloponnesos (April 13, 1803)

Troparion - Tone 2

The Noble Joseph, When he had taken down Your most pure Body from the tree, Wrapped it in fine linen and anointed it with spices, And placed it in a new tomb. But You did rise on the third day, O Lord, Granting the world great mercy.

Troparion - Tone 2

The angel came to the myrrhbearing women at the tomb and said: Myrrh is meet for the dead; But Christ has shown Himself a stranger to corruption! So proclaim: the Lord is risen, Granting the world great mercy!

Kontakion - Tone 2

You did command the myrrh-bearers to rejoice, O Christ! By Your Resurrection, You did stop the lamentation of Eve, O God! You did command Your apostles to preach: The Savior is Risen!


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

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Martyrs Dada, Maximus and Quinctilian at Dorostolum

Commemorated on April 28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 27, 2012

Symeon the Holy Martyr

April 27

Symeon was a first cousin of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was the son of Clopas (or Cleopas, also called Alphaeus), the brother of Joseph the Betrothed. He became the second Bishop of Jerusalem, as a successor to James the Brother of God. He ended his life when he was crucified during the reign of Trajan, in 107, at the age of 120.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
We sacredly acclaim thee as Jesus Christ's kinsman, and as His steadfast Martyr, O all-lauded Hierarch. For bravely hast thou destroyed all deception and kept the faith. Hence, O Symeon, we keep thy holy remembrance on this festive day; and by thy prayers, we are granted the pardon of grievous sins.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Since the church hath Symeon, the God-proclaimer, as a great and shining star, she is now guided by his light as she doth cry out in joy today: Rejoice, O ven'rable summit of martyred Saints.



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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mark the Apostle & Evangelist

April 25

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

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

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
O Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark, intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.

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


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

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Venerable Alexius the Recluse of the Kiev Far Caves

Commemorated on April 24

Saint Alexius, Hermit of Caves, lived a life of asceticism in the Near Caves of the Kiev Caves monastery during the thirteenth century. His relics were uncovered after 1675. The memory of St Alexius is celebrated on April 24, because his relics rest beside the relics of St Sava of Caves. His memory is also celebrated on the Synaxis of the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves (September 28) and on the Synaxis of all the Wonderworkers of the Kiev Caves (Second Sunday of Great Lent).


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

Monday, April 23, 2012

George the Great Martyr & Triumphant

April 23

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Thomas Sunday

April 22

Though the doors were shut at the dwelling where the disciples were gathered for fear of the Jews on the evening of the Sunday after the Passover, our Saviour wondrously entered and stood in their midst, and greeted them with His customary words, "Peace be unto you." Then He showed unto them His hands and feet and side; furthermore, in their presence, He took some fish and a honeycomb and ate before them, and thus assured them of His bodily Resurrection. But Thomas, who was not then present with the others, did not believe their testimony concerning Christ's Resurrection, but said in a decisive manner, "Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe." Wherefore after eight days, that is, on this day, when the disciples were again gathered together and Thomas was with them, the Lord Jesus came while the doors were shut, as He did formerly. Standing in their midst, He said, "Peace be unto you"; then He said to Thomas, "Bring hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not unbelieving, but believing."

And Thomas, beholding and examining carefully the hands and side of the Master, cried out with faith, "My Lord and my God." Thus he clearly proclaimed the two natures - human and divine - of the God-man (Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-29).

This day is called Antipascha (meaning "in the stead of Pascha," not "in opposition to Pascha") because with this day, the first Sunday after Pascha, the Church consecrates every Sunday of the year to the commemoration of Pascha, that is, the Resurrection.

Apolytikion in the Grave Tone
Whilst the tomb was sealed, Thou, O Life, didst shine forth from the grave, O Christ God; and whilst the doors were shut, Thou didst come unto Thy disciples, O Resurrection of all, renewing through them an upright Spirit in us according to Thy great mercy.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
With his searching right hand, Thomas did probe Thy life bestowing side, O Christ God; for when Thou didst enter whilst the doors were shut, he cried out unto Thee with the rest of the Apostles: Thou art my Lord and my God.


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

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Holy Martyrs Isaac, Apollos and Quadratus of Nicomedia

Commemorated on April 21

The Holy Martyrs Isaac, Apollos and Quadratus were pagans who served at the court of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They were among the spectators who witnessed the sufferings of the Holy Great Martyr George (April 23).

His faith, valor and miracles caused them to believe in Christ. The saints openly declared themselves Christians, and reproached the emperor for his impiety and cruelty. They were sentenced to death. The martyr Quadratus was beheaded with a sword, and the martyrs Apollos and Isaac perished by starvation (+ 303).


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

Friday, April 20, 2012

Renewal Friday: Theotokos of the Lifegiving Font

Outside of Constantinople, towards the district of the Seven Towers, there was in ancient times a very large and most beautiful church named in honour of the Theotokos; it had been built about the middle of the fifth century by the Emperor Leo the Great (also called "Leo of Thrace," he is commemorated on Jan. 20). Before he became Emperor, he had encountered there a blind man, who being tormented with thirst asked him to help him find water. Leo felt compassion for him and went in search of a source of water but found none. As he became downcast, he heard a voice telling him there was water nearby. He looked again, and found none. Then he heard the voice again, this time calling him "Emperor" and telling him that he would find muddy water in the densely wooded place nearby; he was to take some water and anoint the blind man's eyes with it. When he had done this, the blind man received his sight. After Leo became Emperor as the most holy Theotokos had prophesied, he raised up a church over the spring, whose waters worked many healings and cured maladies by the grace of the Theotokos; from this, it came to be called the "Life-giving Spring." The Church of Christ celebrates the consecration of this church on this day.

After the fall of the imperial city, this church was razed to the ground and the materials from it were used for building the mosque of Sultan Bayezid. Nothing remained of that church's ancient beauty, except for a small and paltry chapel, almost completely buried in the ruins. This chapel had twenty-five steps going down into it, and a transom window on the roof, wherefrom it received a little light. Toward the western side of the chapel was the aforementioned holy Spring, fenced about with a railing, and with fish swimming in it. Such was the condition of the Spring until 1821. Then even that little remnant was destroyed, occasioned by the uprising of the Greek nation against the Ottoman Empire; the sacred Spring was buried with it and disappeared altogether.

But in the days of Sultan Mahmud, when those subject to him were rejoicing in their freedom to practice their religion, permission was sought by the Orthodox Christian community to rebuild at least part of the chapel. Thus the work was begun on July 26, 1833. When the excavation had been made, and the foundations of the ancient church were found, there was rebuilt -- by a later writ of permission from the Sultan -- not merely a chapel of the holy Spring, but another new church, constructed upon the foundations of the ancient one. The building of this spacious, beautiful, and most majestic temple began on September 14, 1833, and the work was completed on December 30, 1834. On February 2, 1835, the Ecumenical Patriarch Constantine II, serving the Liturgy together with twelve hierarchs and a great company of clergy, as well as a boundless multitude of Christians, performed the consecration of this sacred church and dedicated it to the glory of the Mother of God. On September 6, 1955, however, it was desecrated and destroyed again by the Moslem Turks; it has been restored again, but not to the former magnificence.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
As a life-giving fount, thou didst conceive the Dew that is transcendent in essence, O Virgin Maid, and thou hast welled forth for our sakes the nectar of joy eternal, which doth pour forth from thy fount with the water that springeth up unto everlasting life in unending and mighty streams; wherein, taking delight, we all cry out: Rejoice, O thou Spring of life for all men.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
O Lady graced by God, you reward me by letting gush forth, beyond reason, the ever-flowing waters of your grace from your perpetual Spring. I entreat you, who bore the Logos, in a manner beyond comprehension, to refresh me in your grace that I may cry out, "Hail redemptive waters."


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

Thursday, April 19, 2012

St George the Confessor and Bishop of Antioch, in Pisidia

Commemorated on April 19

Saint George the Confessor, Bishop of Antioch in Pisidia, lived during the Iconoclast period. In his youth he became a monk, was known for his holiness of life and was made bishop of Antioch in Pisidia.

St George was at Constantinople during the iconoclastic persecution under Emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820). He denounced the Iconoclast heresy at a Council of bishops, calling on the emperor to abandon it. When St George refused to remove the icons from the church, as ordered by the emperor's decree, he was exiled to imprisonment (813-820).


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

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Martyr Acindynus of Nicomedia

Commemorated on April 18

The Holy Martyrs Acindynus, Victor, Zoticus, Zeno, Severian and Caesarius suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) when he began a fierce persecution against Christians. One of the first to suffer was the holy Great Martyr and Victory-Bearer George (April 23). St George's unshakable faith and bravery during his suffering led many pagans to Christ.

The saints were struck with astonishment that St George suffered no harm from the wheel of torture, and they declared in the hearing of all that they also believed in Christ. At the judge's order, the holy martyrs were beheaded at Nicomedia in 303.


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

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bright Tuesday

Commemorated on April 17

Commemoration of Sts Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesbos (also April 9).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St Raphael is tall, middle-aged, and has a beard of moderate length. His hair is black with some grey in it. His face is majestic, expressive, and filled with heavenly grace. St Nicholas is short and thin, with a small blond beard. He stands before St Raphael with great respect. St Irene usually appears with a long yellow dress reaching to her feet. Her blonde hair is divided into two braids which rest on either side of her chest.

Sts Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene (and those with them) are also commemorated on Bright Tuesday. Dr. Constantine Cavarnos has given a detailed account of their life, miracles, and spiritual counsels in Volume 10 of his inspirational series MODERN ORTHODOX SAINTS (Belmont, MA, 1990).

The Appearance of the Iveron (Portaitissa) Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos on Mt. Athos.

This icon was the property of a pious widow who lived in the area of Nicea in Asia Minor during the time of the iconoclastic emperor Theophilus (829-842). When the emperor's men arrived there to find and destroy every holy icon, this faithful widow threw the wonderworking icon of the Theotokos into the sea. Then she beheld a strange wonder. The icon stood upright on the water and traveled westward across the waves in this position.

After a time the icon arrived in front of the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos. A certain holy hermit named Gabriel received it in his arms from the water, and he gave it to the monks. They built a little church for the icon near the gate of the monastery, and they placed the icon there. From that time it was called the Portaitissa.

Since then the Most Holy Theotokos has worked many miracles through her holy icon. She has cured those who were possessed by demons, healed those who were lame, and given sight to the blind. At the same time, she has protected the monastery from every danger and saved it from invasions of foreigners. Among those who received benefit from the Portaitissa was a Russian princess, the daughter of Tsar Alexei Michailovitch (1651).

The icon arrived at the Holy Mountain on Bright Tuesday 1004. Therefore, the Iveron Monastery celebrates this bright festival even to the present day. The Divine Liturgy takes place in the church by the sea, where holy water gushed up when the monk Gabriel took the icon from the sea.

The Iveron (Portaitissa) Icon is also commemorated on March 31.

Vimatarissa Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, Vatopedi Monastery Mt. Athos.

The Martyrs of St David of Garesja Monastery in Georgia in 1616 (also April 4).

The Venerable Patapius, Nikon and Hypomone.

These saints struggled in a cave where the monastery of St Patapius was built (in the metropolis of Corinth). There the skulls of St Patapius the New and St Hypomone are treasured, and also the jaw of St Nikon the New. These holy relics were placed in silver reliquaries by the Most Reverend Metropolitan Panteleimon (Karanikola).

St Patapius is also commemorated on December 8.

St Sava, deacon of Vatopedi Monastery (tenth century).


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

Monday, April 16, 2012

Martyr Irene of Corinth

Commemorated on April 16

The Holy Martyr Leonidas and the Holy Martyrs Charissa, Nike, Galina, Kalisa (Kalida), Nunekhia, Basilissa, and Theodora suffered at Corinth in the year 258. They threw them into the sea, but they did not drown. Instead, they walked upon the water as if on dry land, singing spiritual hymns. The torturers overtook them in a ship, tied stones around their necks and drowned them.


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

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Apostle Trophimus of the Seventy

Commemorated on April 15

Saint Trophimus was one of the Seventy Apostles, whom the Lord Jesus Christ sent to proclaim the good news of the Gospel (Luke. 10:1-24).

St Trophimus hailed from the city of Edessa. His name is mentioned in the Acts of the Holy Apostles (Acts 20:4) and in St Paul's second Epistle to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:20). He was a disciple and companion of the Apostle Paul, sharing with him all the sorrows and persecution.

St Trophimus is also commemorated on January 4.


Together let us honor the threefold choir of Christ's Apostles, Aristarchus, Pudens and the holy Trophimus. Like rivers filled with the wisdom of God They poured out the water of the Word for all the world. Through their intercessions, O Christ our God, have mercy on us!


Apostles of Christ and laborers of the Savior, You are the light of the world. Intercede for us who praise your holy memory, And pray that we may be saved.


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

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Holy Saturday

April 14

On Saturday, the high priests and Pharisees gathered together before Pilate and asked him to have Jesus' tomb sealed until the third day; because, as those enemies of God said, "We suspect that His disciples will come and steal His buried body by night, and then proclaim to the people that His resurrection is true, as that deceiver Himself foretold while He was yet alive; and then the last deception shall be worse than the first." After they had said these things to Pilate and received his permission, they went and sealed the tomb, and assigned a watch for security, that is, guards from among the soldiers under the supervision of the high priests (Matt. 27:62-66). While commemorating the entombment of the holy Body of our Lord today, we also celebrate His dread descent with His soul, whereby He destroyed the gates and bars of Hades, and made His light to shine where only darkness had reigned (Job 3 8 : 17; Esaias 49:9; 1 Peter 3:18-20); death was put to death, Hades was stripped of all its captives, our first parents and all the righteous who died from the beginning of time ran to Him Whom they had awaited, and the holy angelic orders glorified God for the restoration of our fallen race.

Apolytikion in the Second Tone
The noble Joseph, taking Thine immaculate Body down from the Tree, and having wrapped It in pure linen and spices, laid It for burial in a new tomb.

When Thou didst descend into death, O Life Immortal, then didst Thou slay Hades with the lightning of Thy Divinity. And when Thou didst also raise the dead out of the nethermost depths, all the powers in the Heavens cried out: O Life-giver, Christ our God, glory be to Thee.

Unto the myrrh-bearing women did the Angel cry out as he stood by the grave: Myrrh-oils are meet for the dead, but Christ hath proved to be a stranger to corruption.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
He Who enclosed the deeps is now seen dead; and the immortal One is laid in a tomb enclosed in a shroud with myrrh. Women, too, come to anoint Him, weeping bitterly and lamenting: "This Sabbath is blessed above all others, for Christ, having fallen asleep, will rise on the third day."


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

Friday, April 13, 2012

Holy Friday

April 13

When Friday dawned, Christ was sent bound from Caiaphas to Pontius Pilate, who was then Governor of Judea. Pilate interrogated Him in many ways, and once and again acknowledged that He was innocent, but to please the Jews, he later passed the sentence of death against Him. After scourging the Lord of all as though He were a runaway slave, he surrendered Him to be crucified.

Thus the Lord Jesus was handed over to the soldiers, was stripped of His garments, was clothed in a purple robe, was crowned with a wreath of thorns, had a reed placed in His hand as though it were a sceptre, was bowed before in mockery, was spat upon, and was buffeted in the face and on the head. Then they again clothed Him in His own garments, and bearing the cross, He came to Golgotha, a place of condemnation, and there, about the third hour, He was crucified between two thieves. Although both blasphemed Him at the first, the thief at His right hand repented, and said: "Remember me, O Lord, when Thou comest in Thy Kingdom," to which our Saviour answered, "Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." As He hung upon the Cross, He was blasphemed by those who were passing by, was mocked by the high priests, and by the soldiers was given vinegar to drink mixed with gall. About the ninth hour, He cried out with a loud voice, saying, "It is finished." And the Lamb of God "Which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29) expired on the day when the moon was full, and at the hour when, according to the Law, was slain the Passover lamb, which was established as a type of Him in the time of Moses.

Even lifeless creation mourned the death of the Master, and it trembled and was altered out of fear. Yet, even though the Maker of creation was already dead, they pierced Him in His immaculate side, and forthwith came there out Blood and Water. Finally, at about the setting of the sun, Joseph of Arimathea came with Nicodemus (both of them had been secret disciples of Jesus), and they took down the all-holy Body of the Teacher from the Cross and anointed it with aromatic spices, and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. When they had buried Him in a new tomb, they rolled a great stone over its entrance.

Such are the dread and saving sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ commemorated today, and in remembrance of them, we have received the Apostolic commandment that a fast be observed every Friday.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
When the glorious disciples were enlightened at the washing of the feet, then Judas the ungodly one was stricken and darkened with the love of silver. And unto the lawless judges did he deliver Thee, the righteous Judge. O thou lover of money, behold thou him that for the sake thereof did hang himself; flee from that insatiable soul that dared such things against the Master. O Thou Who art good unto all, Lord, glory be to Thee.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Come, let us all praise Him Who was crucified for us. Mary beheld Him on the Tree and said, "Though You endure even the Cross, You are my Son and my God."


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

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Holy Thursday

On the evening of this day, which was the eve of the feast of unleavened bread (that is, the Passover), our Redeemer supped with His twelve disciples in the city. He blessed the bread and the wine, and gave us the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist. He washed the feet of the disciples as an example of humility. He said openly that one of them was about to betray Him, and He pointed out the betrayer by revealing that it was he "that dippeth his hand with Me in the dish." And after Judas had straightway gone forth, Jesus gave the disciples His final and sublime instructions, which are contained in the first Gospel Reading of the Holy Passion (John 13:31-18:1 known as the Gospel of the Testament). After this the God-man went forth to the Mount of Olives, and there He began to be sorrowful and in anguish. He went off alone, and bending the knees He prayed fervently. From His great anguish, His sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground. As soon as He had completed that anguished prayer, lo, Judas came with a multitude of soldiers and a great crowd; on greeting the Teacher guile-fully with a kiss, he betrayed Him.

The Lord Jesus was then apprehended and taken prisoner to the high priests Annas and Caiaphas. The disciples were scattered, but Peter, who was more fervent than the others, followed Him even into the court of the high priest, but in the end denied thrice that he was His disciple.

Then our divine Teacher was brought before the lawless Sanhedrin and was interrogated concerning His disciples and His teaching. The high priest adjured Him before God that He tell them whether He was truly the Christ. And having spoken the truth, He was judged guilty of death, supposedly as one who had blasphemed. Then they spat in His face, beat Him, smote Him with the palms of their hands, and mocked Him in every way, throughout the whole night until the morning.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
When the glorious disciples were enlightened at the washing of the feet, then Judas the ungodly one was stricken and darkened with the love of silver. And unto the lawless judges did he deliver Thee, the righteous Judge. O thou lover of money, behold thou him that for the sake thereof did hang himself; flee from that insatiable soul that dared such things against the Master. O Thou Who art good unto all, Lord, glory be to Thee.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Taking the Bread into his hands, the betrayer stretcheth them forth secretly and receiveth the price of Him that, with His own hands, fashioned man. And Judas, the servant and deceiver, remained incorrigible.


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

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Holy Wednesday

April 11

Two women - say the more discerning interpreters of the Gospel - anointed the Lord with myrrh; the one, a long time before His Passion; the other, a few days before. One was a harlot and sinner; the other, chaste and virtuous. The Church commemorates this reverent act today. While mentioning herein the person of the harlot, it also mentions Judas' betrayal; for, according to the account in Matthew, both of these deeds took place two days before the Passover, on Wednesday.

That woman, then, anointed Jesus' head and feet with very precious myrrh, and wiped them with the tresses of her hair. The disciples, especially the avaricious Judas, were scandalized, supposedly because of the waste of the myrrh, which could be sold for a great price and given to the poor. The Lord Jesus reproved them and told them not to trouble the woman. Indignant, Judas went to the high priests, who were gathered in the court of Caiaphas and were already taking counsel against Jesus. On agreeing with them to betray his Teacher for thirty pieces of silver, Judas sought from that time opportunity to betray Him (Matt. 26:14-16). Because the betrayal took place on Wednesday, we have received the tradition from Apostolic times to fast on Wednesday throughout the year.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Though I have outdone the harlot in sin, yet I have offered You no shower of tears. Rather, I fall before You fervently kissing Your spotless feet, praying silently that, as Master, You will remit my debts as I cry: "Savior, free me from the foulness of my deeds!"


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

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Holy Tuesday

Today we bring to mind the parable of the ten virgins, which our Saviour related as He was coming to His Passion. This parable teaches us that the accomplishment of the great work of virginity should not make us careless in other matters, especially in almsgiving, wherewith the lamp of virginity is made radiant. Furthermore, it teaches us that we should not be remiss about the end of our life, but should be prepared for it at every moment, like the wise virgins, so that we may meet the Bridegroom, lest He come suddenly and the doors of the heavenly bridechamber be shut, and we also, like the foolish virgins, hear that dread sentence: "Amen, I say unto you, I know you not" (Matt. 25:1-13).

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Soul, mindful of your final hour, and dreading the fate of the fig tree, cultivate with diligence the talent you were given. Endure, be vigilant, and say: "May we not be shut out of the bridal chamber!"


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

Monday, April 09, 2012

Holy Monday

The holy Passion of our Saviour begins today, presenting Joseph the all-comely as a prefiguring of Christ. He was the eleventh son of Jacob, and his first son by Rachel; because he was so beloved of his father, his own brethren came to envy him and cast him into a pit. Later they sold him to foreigners for thirty pieces of silver, who later sold him again in Egypt. Because of his virtue, his master gave him much authority in governing his house; because he was fair of countenance, his master's wife sought to draw him into sin with her; because of his chastity, he refused her, and through her slanders was cast into prison. Finally, he was led forth again with great glory and was honoured as a king. He became lord over all Egypt and a provider of wheat for all the people. Through all this, he typifies in himself the betrayal, Passion, death, and glorification of our Lord Jesus Christ (see Gen., chapters 37, 39 41).

To the commemoration of Patriarch Joseph is added also the narration concerning the fig tree, which on this day was cursed and subsequently dried up because of its unfruitfulness. It portrayed the Jewish synagogue, which had not produced the fruit demanded of it, that is, obedience to God and faith in Him and which was stripped of all spiritual grace by means of the curse (Matt. 21:18-20).

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Behold the Bridegroom cometh in the middle of the night, and blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching; and again unworthy is he whom He shall find heedless. Beware, therefore, O my soul, lest thou be borne down with sleep, lest thou be given up to death, and be shut out from the Kingdom. But rather rouse thyself and cry: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou, O our God; by the protection of the Bodiless Hosts, have mercy on us.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Jacob mourned the loss of Joseph, while the noble one rode in a chariot, honored as royalty. For having spurned the enticements of the Egyptian woman, he was in turn glorified by Him who knows the hearts of men and bestows an incorruptible crown.


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

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Palm Sunday

April 08

On Sunday, five days before the Passover of the Law, the Lord came from Bethany to Jerusalem. Sending two of His disciples to bring Him a foal of an ass, He sat thereon and entered into the city. When the multitude there heard that Jesus was coming, they straightway took up the branches of palm trees in their hands, and went forth to meet Him. Others spread their garments on the ground, and yet others cut branches from the trees and strewed them in the way that Jesus was to pass; and all of them together, especially the children, went before and after Him, crying out: "Hosanna: Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord, the King of Israel" (John 12:13). This is the radiant and glorious festival of our Lord's entry into Jerusalem that we celebrate today.

The branches of the palm trees symbolize Christ's victory over the devil and death. The word Hosanna means "Save, I pray," or "Save, now." The foal of an ass, and Jesus' sitting thereon, and the fact that this animal was untamed and considered unclean according to the Law, signified the former uncleanness and wildness of the nations, and their subjection thereafter to the holy Law of the Gospel.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
As by baptism we were buried with Thee, O Christ our God, so by Thy Resurrection we were deemed worthy of immortal life; and praising Thee, we cry: Hosanna in the highest; blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Second Tone
In Heaven, He is seated upon a Throne and on earth He rides upon a foal. O Christ our God, accept the praise of the Angels and the hymn of the Children who cry out to You, "Blessed are You who comes to recall Adam."


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

The Last interview with the Great Byzantologist Sir Steven Runciman

From here.


(Issue 4, DEC. 2000 - MAR. 2001) 

An interview conducted by the magazine PEMPTOUSIA with the great Byzantologist Sir Steven Runciman at the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopedi, on  14/7/2000, where he was hosted during his three-day stay on Mount Athos for the arrival of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who was to inaugurate the new sacristy of the monastery and the holy community of Mount Athos.
PEMPTOUSIA: When did you first come to Mount Athos? 

Sir Steven Runciman: In 1936 it so happened that I was traveling on a ship towards Kavala, which approached one of the shores of Athos. The monks approached us in boats intending to help us. I could have got off on the shore, but the ship's captain insisted that we continue our course towards Kavala, and so he stopped me. I got very angry at him and talked back to him in perfect Greek. You see, when I get angry, I speak perfect Greek... In 1952 I visited Mount Athos for the first time, very briefly. A second time followed that same decade, but I was upset because everything seemed to be in a state of deterioration. Later, it was wonderful to see the live renewal when I returned here; it is now a great joy and satisfaction for me to be here, because this fact restores trust in the God-friendly human nature.  

P.: What exactly was the motive which lead you concern yourself for the greatest part of your life with the study of Byzantine civilization?  

S.S.R.: Various reasons drove me to it. When I was 7-8 years old, I started learning Ancient Greek because I liked the classical Greek language. At the same time I was quite captivated by the Middle Ages and almost nobody was interested in medieval Greece. And so I decided to make Medieval Hellenism my main interest: Greece and the neighboring Balkan states, as well as the Crusades, which were utterly destructive, resulting in the devastation of the Eastern Roman state and the enslavement of Eastern Christianity.  

P.: Had you met anyone in particular who helped you specialize in Byzantine Studies?  

S.S.R.: When I began my studies, the top Byzantologist was professor Bury, an academic who first took up studying classical Greece and then Byzantium. But he was a solitary person and did not desire any students. Furthermore, he did not like the fact that he was forced to make me his student. I had a very hard time meeting him. I first met him at his office in Cambridge. He was the most famous history professor there and he tried very hard to discourage me. In the end, he told me that I would waste my time studying Eastern Europe and the Middle Ages, unless I spoke Slavic languages. It so happened that I already knew Russian. In the end, he was forced to accept me. Despite all this, it was not always easy to approach him. Because of his old age and weakness he was absent from his office. That is why I sent him written notes and questions to his house, but they never reached his hands. Later, someone mentioned to me that Mrs Bury believed that Mr Bury should not be bothered with such things, and so she destroyed everything I sent him. In time, I discovered that every morning he took a walk around Cambridge and I would wait around for him to pass by. In fact, he liked having someone escorting him on his walk. I accompanied him holding a notebook and asking him relevant things. Indeed, he had a clever mind and great knowledge. He almost never needed to go back to texts and studies, because he always knew what to answer. In case he did not remember or did not know he would send me his scientific answer after a while . But unfortunately, he was my first and only tutor. After some time I fell sick and left Cambridge. When I later returned, he had died. From then on, I had to proceed with the subject alone. 

P: What does the average European know today about the Byzantium?

S.S.R.: The average European is starting to learn more, as today there are quite a few Byzantologists. Every year, in Britain, we schedule a Byzantological conference with a great number of interested people taking part. Also, in our universities, the students are showing a growing interest. And on the European continent, in France and Germany, there have always been schools concerned with Byzantium, which were limited I guess, but I am convinced that interest is growing there as well. In America, there is a research institution which is very 'gifted', in Washington DC, in Dumbarton Oaks. This institute was founded by an American millionaire, literally 'in love' with the Church of St Sofia in Constantinople. When I first met her, she was the wife of an American ambassador. Later on, we met in London at a lunch with my parents. She asked me what my profession was, and I answered her 'Byzantologist'. And then she told me that it was something which deeply interested her and she was planning to found this institution in Dumbarton Oaks. For all this I feel that during my long life I have seen Byzantium being considered something like a dark and almost unknown topic, while today, having many students, I am convinced that it will become more and more widely known.   
P.: How do the various people in Europe and America see the Byzantine civilization? 

S.S.R.: For the time being, this civilization has not penetrated their conscience too much. But now, through various universities, it is no longer a subject ignored or scorned. On the contrary, it is something that keeps developing vivaciously while in my years it was almost unknown. This realization pleases me and encourages me for the future.  
P.: How do the people of a Western outlook feel concerning Mount Athos? How do they see it? 

S.S.R.: I think that for them it is a puzzling place, and certainly women do not understand almost anything about Mount Athos. Of course, the visitors who come here return enthusiastic, and you now have Prince Charles as an admirer, who very much desires and is happy to stay with you. 

P.: This is why he recently stayed at Vatopedi for three nights. 

S.S.R.: Yes, he pretended he was stranded because of bad weather on the Mountain. But things were very different. He had told the people on the yacht which transported him to wait for him in Thasos, because he had supposedly seen a big storm. And, indeed, he had a lovely time. 

P.: What do you believe about the presence of Orthodoxy in modern Europe?  

S.S.R.: Sometimes – what can I say – I feel very disappointed from the other Churches of the West. However, I am glad with the thought that within the next 100 years Orthodoxy will be the only historical Church existing. The Anglican Church is in a very bad state. The Roman Catholic Church keeps losing ground. But, fortunately there is the Orthodox Church. The increasing number of people embracing Orthodoxy is impressive, especially in Britain. I believe it offers real spirituality which the other Churches cannot transmit any longer. All this leads me to the conclusion that Orthodoxy will be sustained, in contrast to the others. 

P.: What do you think Orthodoxy could offer a united Europe and generally the whole world?

S.S.R.: I should say that I very much doubt we will ever have a united Europe or world. I believe, however, that it offers a wonderful solution to the problem of unity among the Orthodox peoples, because to start with, it does not project nationalism at all. But also because through it are given wider and more liberal views in comparison to the Roman-Catholic Church. All this fills me with the conviction that Orthodoxy has a certain and very good future ahead of it.

P: Which Byzantine figure do you admire the most and why? 

S.S.R.: This is a very difficult question...! I am interested in so many personalities. But mostly I admire some religious men. Generally, the non-spiritual but important people of  Byzantium are not, generally, for me worthy of admiration. Some of them have certainly offered something. But I believe that some spiritual statures are more admirable. They have offered a lot of things and service to the European civilization. 

P.: In the monastery of Vatopedi, the renown saint and great advocate for Orthodoxy Gregory Palamas, started off as a monk remaining here for three years. The Church and especially the fathers of Mount Athos admire him a lot and highly honor him. What does the West say of him? 

S.S.R.: There still exists a prejudice against the Palamites, those who accept his theology. Personally, I find comfort in his dogmas, despite the fact that others are against it.

P.: Would you support the idea of St Sophia functioning again in the City (Istanbul) as a place of Orthodox worship?

S.S.R.: I would like that a lot, but I doubt that something like that could happen. But it would make me very happy.  

P: What do you think is the quintessence of the Byzantine empire throughout its very long history? 

S.S.R.: I think I would have to give an answer that would take a long time. In brief, the Byzantines always maintained―even if in some cases they did not fully achieve it―a high level of spirituality, and I think that this is probably the quintessence, their most important element. And I would emphasize that it is a broad and free religious state. For example, the Byzantine missions in Europe encouraged the publication of holy texts in the language of the newly formed Christians. Rome would never have done such a thing. This is something, among other things, that I very much admire about the Byzantines. 

P.: We believe that Mount Athos constitutes, in general, the continuation of this Byzantine tradition.

S.S.R.: Certainly. 

P.: And we feel greatly pleased with the progress of modern monasticism on Mount Athos. 

S.S.R.: Certainly the 'revival' of this holy site justifies the hopes of many of us. Here, one feels what Orthodoxy truly meant for the Byzantine leaders and its people. Anyhow, it is undergoing a rebirth here. 

P.: Some claim―and we would like Sir your view as an authority―that Ancient Greece was a glorious and wonderful civilization, which undoubtedly it was, while the Byzantine civilization was a dark period in the Middle Ages which repels them. Can you tell us something in relation to that?

S.S.R.: I always object against this stance! In Byzantium there was high ethos! Regarding Byzantine art there was almost never a correct appreciation of it. I personally believe that some Byzantine mosaics are more precious than all the ancient statues of the classical age. There is a lot of rattle around the Elgin marbles. They don't evoke such an admiration from me; I would prefer older works of art like for example the 'Kores'. I would never desire to own statues of realistic nature, completely human. I would be excited if they had a spiritual dimension in them, like the so expressive (expressionistic) Byzantine creations which are unique and almost unrepeatable. Something which has occurred during my lifetime is the appreciation of the various Byzantine Arts, and the decrease in the exclusive focus on the the Arts of the Golden Age of Athens. 

P: Sir, we thank you very much for your kind disposition to talk to us and we hope that holy providence will grant you more years of life, so that you can transmit your knowledge to the ones that follow in your footsteps, who in their turn will prove that the life and heart of Byzantium was, is and will be Orthodoxy. 

S.S.R.: Yes. Of course, I am already 97 years old and don't know if I can still offer anything else. But I feel revived with this visit of mine to Mount Athos. 

P.: Before we finish, one last question, what did you think of the Vatopedian choir? 

S.S.R.: I liked their chanting. It is distinguished by the lack of worldly music and creates in me a transcendent quality, which should exist in Byzantine music.

P.: We once again thank you for your trouble and your good intent to speak to us, as an expert in Byzantology, about your appreciation towards Orthodoxy as the quintessence of the bright Byzantine civilization. ________________________________________


The eminent Byzantologist Sir Steven Runciman was born on July 7, 1903. He was the grandson of the tycoon Sir Walter Runciman (1847-1937) and son of the politician Sir Walter. He studied in Eton and Trinity College of Cambridge, where he was a student of the famous professor of Modern History and Byzantologist John Bagnell Bury. He taught at this university from 1927 to 1938 and remained an honorary member until his death. He also taught in many universities in America and Europe and in the University of Constantinople from 1942 to 1945, where he taught Byzantine History and Art. He served in many diplomatic positions (an attendant of the British embassy in Sofia and Cairo) and served as a representative of the British Council in Greece from 1945 to 1947. He was a member of the British Academy of Athens, and he has been honored with numerous university degrees. Passing through Greece he had the opportunity to meet, among many others,  Giorgos Seferis, Aggelos Sikelianos and Dimitris Horn.     

This prolific historian wrote many works that quickly became as famous on an academic level as among the vast reading public. His first works are: the Roman Emperor Lekapenos and his Reign (1929), Study on the 10th Century Byzantium, The First Bulgaric State (1930) and Byzantine Civilization (1933), which he wrote when he was a lecturer in Cambridge University. The Middle Ages Manichaeism is a study on dualistic sects during the middle ages. An important work of his is also the three volume History of the Crusades (1951-1954) completing the Sicilian Vespers, a detailed history of the Mediterranean countries and civilizations of that era and the conflicts of the then political and national interests. But just as important other works of his are: The Fall of Constantinople (1965), The Great Church of Christ in Captivity (1968), the Last Byzantine Rebirth (1970), the Orthodox Church and the worldly state (1972), Byzantine Rhythm and Civilization (1975), The Byzantine Theocracy (1977). Many have been translated into Greek. Sir Steven Runciman has through his studies and work revived the Byzantine civilization from scientific indifference and research shunt. Through his work The History of the Crusades he essentially altered the beliefs of the West about the Crusades. The Times newspaper wrote for the great scientist's contribution on the particular subject: “Mapping the Middle Ages period of the endless gap between East and West in the Middle East, Runciman certainly leaned towards the Byzantine side against the prejudice and looting with which the West was occupied”. 
Our country honored him with a gold metal of the city of Athens (1990) and the Onassis prize (1997).

Sir Steven Runciman passed away during the time we were putting together his interview, on November 10, 2000.