Saints Calendar

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  • Beginning of the Indiction
    All day

    Beginning of the Church Year (Indiction)

    For the maintenance of their armed forces, the Roman emperors decreed that their subjects in every district should be taxed every year. This same decree was reissued every fifteen years, since the Roman soldiers were obliged to serve for fifteen years. At the end of each fifteen-year period, an assessment was made of what economic changes had taken place, and a new tax was decreed, which was to be paid over the span of the fifteen years. This imperial decree, which was issued before the season of winter, was named Indictio, that is, Definiton, or Order. This name was adopted by the emperors in Constantinople also. At other times, the latter also used the term Epinemisis, that is, Distribution (Dianome). It is commonly held that Saint Constantine the Great introduced the Indiction decrees in A.D. 312, after he beheld the sign of the Cross in heaven and vanquished Maxentius and was proclaimed Emperor in the West. Some, however (and this seems more likely), ascribe the institution of the Indiction to Augustus Caesar, three years before the birth of Christ. Those who hold this view offer as proof the papal bull issued in A.D. 781 which is dated thus: Anno IV, Indictionis LIII -that is, the fourth year of the fifty-third Indiction. From this, we can deduce the aforementioned year (3 B.C.) by multiplying the fifty-two complete Indictions by the number of years in each (15), and adding the three years of the fifty-third Indiction. There are three types of Indictions:

    1) That which was introduced in the West, and which is called Imperial, or Caesarean, or Constantinian, and which begins on the 24th of September;

    2) The so-called Papal Indiction, which begins on the 1st of January;

    3) The Constantinopolitan, which was adopted by the Patriarchs of that city after the fall of the Eastern Empire in 1453.

    This Indiction is indicated in their own hand on the decrees they issue, without the numeration of the fifteen years. This Indiction begins on the 1st of September and is observed with special ceremony in the Church. Since the completion of each year takes place, as it were, with the harvest and gathering of the crops into storehouses, and we begin anew from henceforth the sowing of seed in the earth for the production of future crops, September is considered the beginning of the New Year. The Church also keeps festival this day, beseeching God for fair weather, seasonable rains, and an abundance of the fruits of the earth. The Holy Scriptures (Lev. 23:24-5 and Num. 29:1-2) also testify that the people of Israel celebrated the feast of the Blowing of the Trumpets on this day, offering hymns of thanksgiving. In addition to all the aforesaid, on this feast we also commemorate our Saviour’s entry into the synagogue in Nazareth, where He was given the book of the Prophet Esaias to read, and He opened it and found the place where it is written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, for which cause He hath anointed Me…” (Luke 4:16-30).

    It should be noted that to the present day, the Church has always celebrated the beginning of the New Year on September 1. This was the custom in Constantinople until its fall in 1453 and in Russia until the reign of Peter I. September 1 is still festively celebrated as the New Year at the Patriarchate of Constantinople; among the Jews also the New Year, although reckoned according to a movable calendar, usually falls in September. The service of the Menaion for January 1 is for our Lord’s Circumcision and for the memorial of Saint Basil the Great, without any mention of its being the beginning of a new year.

    Apolytikion of Beginning of the Indiction in the Second Tone

    Creator of the universe, setting times and seasons by Your sole authority, bless the cycle of the year of Your grace, O Lord, guarding our rulers and Your nation in peace, at the intercession of the Theotokos, and save us.

    Kontakion of Beginning of the Indiction in the Fourth Tone

    You who created all things in Your infinite wisdom, and set the times by Your own authority, grant Your Christian people victories. Blessing our comings and goings throughout this year, guide our works according to Your divine will.


    Synaxis of the Recovery of the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of Miasenae

    The Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos of Miasenae is celebrated today because of the wonder that was wrought when her holy icon, which was cast into the lake call Zaguru in order to prevent it from being desecrated by the Iconoclast, miraculously arose intact from the depths of the lake after many years.

    Apolytikion of Synaxis of the Recovery of the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos in the Grave Tone

    Rejoice, thou who art full of grace, O Virgin Theotokos, haven and protection of the race of man; for the Redeemer of the world became incarnate of thee; for thou alone art both mother and virgin, ever blessed and glorified. Intercede with Christ God that peace be granted unto all the world.


    Jesus (Joshua) of Navi

    Joshua of NaviJesus (Joshua) of Navi was born of the tribe of Ephraim in Egypt, in the seventeenth century before Christ. When he was eighty-five years of age, he became Moses’ successor. He restrained the River Jordan’s flow and allowed the Israelites to cross on foot. He caused the sun to stop in its course when he was waging war against the Amorites. He divided the Promised Land among the Twelve Tribes of Israel and governed them for twenty-five years. He wrote the Old Testament book that bears his name, and having lived 110 years in all, he reposed in the sixteenth century before Christ. His name means “God saves.”

    Apolytikion of Jesus of Navi in the Second Tone

    As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophet Joshua, O Lord, through him we beseech Thee to save our souls.

    Kontakion of Jesus of Navi in the Fourth Tone

    At thy prayer, the sun stood still, O righteous Jesus; for thou rightly wast adorned both with the likeness and the name of Him at Whose death the sun grew dark. Ever entreat Him to save us who honour thee.


    Symeon the Stylite

    Symeon the Stylite of the Mountain

    Our righteous Father Symeon was born about the year 390 in a certain village named Sis, in the mountain region of Cilicia and Syria. Having first been a shepherd, he entered the monastic discipline at a young age. After trying various kinds of ascetical practices, both in the monastery and then in the wilderness, he began standing on pillars of progressively greater height, and heroically persevered in this for more than forty years; the greater part of this time he spent standing upright, even when one of his feet became gangrenous, and other parts of his body gave way under the strain. He did not adopt this strange way of life out of vainglory, a charge that some of his contemporaries made against him at the first: because he was already famous for his asceticism and holiness before ascending his first pillar (in Greek, style, whence he is called “Stylite”), many pious people came to him wishing to touch his garments, either for healing or for a blessing; to escape the continual vexation they caused, he made a pillar about ten feet high, and then higher and higher, until the fourth and last was about fifty feet high. The Church historian Theodoret of Cyrrhus, an eyewitness of his exploits who wrote of him while Symeon was yet alive, called him “the great wonder of the world.” God gave him the grace to persevere in such an astonishing form of asceticism that multitudes came to see him from Persia, Armenia, South Arabia, Georgia, Thrace, Spain, Italy, Gaul, and the British Isles. Theodoret says that he became so famous in Rome that the Nomadic Arabs by the thousands believed in Christ and were baptized because of him; the King of Persia sent envoys to inquire into his way of life, and the Queen asked to be sent oil that he had blessed. He also was a great defender of sound doctrine, and confirmed the Orthodoxy of the Holy Council of Chalcedon for many who had been beguiled by the teachings of the Monophysites, including the Empress Eudocia, widow of Theodosius the Younger. After a life of unheard-of achievements and struggles, he reposed in peace at the age of sixty-nine, in the year 459.

    Apolytikion of Righteous Symeon the Stylite in the First Tone

    Thou becamest a pillar of patience and didst emulate the Forefathers, O righteous one: Job in his sufferings, Joseph in temptations, and the life of the bodiless while in the body, O Symeon, our righteous Father, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

    Kontakion of Righteous Symeon the Stylite in the Second Tone

    Thou soughtest the heights, though parted not from things below; thy pillar became a chariot of fire for thee. Thou becamest thereby a true companion of the angelic host; and together with them, O Saint, thou ceaselessly prayest Christ God for us all.


    The 40 Holy Ascetic Virgin Martyrs of Thrace and their Teacher Ammon the Deacon


    Also celebrated today are:

    The Martyrs Calliste and Siblings: Euodus and Hermogenes


  • Martyr Mamas
    John the Abstainer, Patriarch of Constantinople
    All day

    Saint Mammas, the Martyr

    Saint Mammas was from Gangra of Paphlagonia. He was born in prison, where his parents were suffering for Christ’s sake and ended their lives. He was named Mammas because, after he had long remained without speaking, he addressed his foster mother Ammia as “mamma.” He contested for Christ about the year 275.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    Your Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for You received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from You, our immortal God. For since he possessed Your strength, he cast down the tyrants and completely destroyed the demon’s strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our soul, since You are merciful.

    Kontakion (Third Tone)

    With the staff bestowed on you by God, O holy Great Martyr, shepherd us your people in green and life-giving pastures; swiftly crush with godly power unseen and wild beasts underneath the feet of them that praise you with longing; for in dangers we all have you, O Mamas, as our fervent protector and help.


    John the Abstainer, Patriarch of Constantinople

    Saint John became Patriarch during the reign of Tiberius, in the year 582, governed the Church for thirteen years and five months, and reposed in peace in 595. It was during this Patriarch’s reign, in the year 586, that the title “Ecumenical Patriarch,” not used before this, came to be instituted.

    Apolytikion of John, Patriarch Of Constantinople in the Fourth Tone

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


    Also Celebrated Today:

    • Paul, Patriarch of Constantinople
    • Ammon & Aeithalas the Martyrs of Thrace
    • Cosmas the Hermit
  • Theoctistus & Euthymius
    Hieromartyr Anthimos
    All day

    Holy Father Theoctistus and his fellow struggler Euthymius the Great

    St Theoctistus, a monk at the Palestinian lavra of Pharan, embraced a more severe life in the wilderness with his friend St Euthymius the Great. They founded a monastery, of which Theoctistus was the Abbot. He reposed in deep old age in 451 AD.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    In holiness consecrated to God from your youth, O wise Theoctistus, you hated attachment to all things vain and corruptible. Hence, while shining brightly in divine prayer and stillness, you were a strict trainer of God-bearing monastics. And now, O blessed Father, guide us who come to you.

    Kontakion (First Tone)

    You preserved the dignity of your soul free of every stain, which as God’s creature, you wholly dedicate to the Lord, O righteous one; and divinely enlightened, you rose to the pinnacle of true godliness, O godly Theoctistus, confirming your name in very deed.


    Anthimus, Bishop of Nicomedea

    After the death of the 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia, their Bishop Anthimus fled to a certain village to care for his remaining flock. The Emperor Maximian sent men in search of him. When they found him, he promised to show Anthimus to them, but first took them in as guests, fed them, and only then made himself known to them. Amazed at his kindness, the soldiers promised him to tell Maximian that they had not found him. But Anthimus went willingly with them, and converting them by his admonitions, baptized them on the way. He boldly confessed his Faith before Maximian, and after frightful tortures was beheaded in the year 303 or 304.

    Apolytikion of Hieromartyr Anthimus in the Fourth Tone

    As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, thou foundest discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision. Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, thou didst also contest for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Anthimus . Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.

    Kontakion of Hieromartyr Anthimus in the Fourth Tone

    Among God’s priests wast thou distinguished for fervour; and in completing well thy course as a Martyr, thou didst quench all the power of idolatry; for thou wast the champion of thy flock; hence, it crieth unto thee now mystically, as it showeth thee honour: Deliver us from perils by thy prayers, O godly-minded and glorious Anthimus.


    Also Celebrated Today:

    • Polydorus the Martyr of New Ephesus
    • Translation of the relics of St. Nectarius the Wonderworker, Bishop of Pentopolis
    • Chariton the Martyr
    • Phoebe the Deaconess
  • Prophets Moses the Godseer & Aaron
    Anthimus of Coroucle in Cephallenia
    Martyr Babylas
    All day

    Moses the Prophet & Godseer

    Prophet Moses-whose name means “one who draws forth”, or “is drawn from”, that is, from the water-was the pinnacle of the lovers of wisdom, the supremely wise lawgiver, the most ancient historian of all. He was of the tribe of Levi, the son of Amram and Jochabed (Numbers 26:59). He was born in Egypt in the seventeenth century before Christ. While yet a baby of three months, he was placed in a basket made of papyrus and covered with pitch, and cast into the streams of the Nile for fear of Pharaoh’s decree to the mid-wives of the Hebrews, that all the male children of the Hebrews be put to death. He was taken up from the river by Pharaoh’s daughter, became her adopted son, and was reared and dwelt in the King’s palace for forty years. Afterward, when he was some 60 years old, he fled to Madian, where, on Mount Horeb, he saw the vision of the burning bush.

    Thus, he was ordained by God to lead Israel and bring it out of the land of Egypt. He led Israel through the Red Sea as it were dry land and governed the people for 40 years. He wrought many signs and wonders, and wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, which are called the Pentateuch. When he reached the land of Moab, he ascended Mount Nabau, on the peak called Phasga, and there, by divine command, he reposed in the sixteenth century before Christ, having lived for some 120 years. The first two Odes of the Old Testament, “Let us sing to the Lord” and “Attend, O heaven, and I will speak”, were written by him. Of these hymns, the first was chanted by the shore of the Red Sea as soon as the Israelites had crossed it; the second, in the land of Moab, a few days before his repose. The Holy High Priest Aaron was the elder brother of the Holy Prophet Moses. He was appointed by God to serve as the spokesman of Moses before the people, and also before Pharaoh, in Egypt. Afterwards, in the wilderness, he was called to the ministry of the high priesthood, as narrated in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers in the Old Testament. The name Aaron means “enlightened”.

    Dismissal Hymn (Third Tone)

    As we celebrate the memory of Your Prophets Moses and Aaron, O Lord, through them we beseech You to save our souls.

    Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

    With the divine and righteous Moses and Aaron, the Prophets’ choir today rejoices with gladness, seeing their prophecy fulfilled now in our midst; for Your Cross, O Christ our God, whereby You have redeem us, shine in the sight of all as the end and fulfilment of that which they foretold in ancient times. By their entreaties, have mercy upon us all.


    Babylas the Holy Martyr

    Saint Babylas was the twelfth Bishop of Antioch, being the successor of Zebinus (or Zebinas); he was beheaded during the reign of Decius, in the year 250, and at his own request was buried in the chains with which he was bound. The Emperor Gallus (reigned 351-354) built a church in his honour at Daphne, a suburb of Antioch, to put an end to the demonic oracles at the nearby temple of Apollo. When Julian the Apostate came in 362 to consult the oracle about his campaign against the Persians, the oracle (that is, the demon within it) remained dumb until at last, answering Julian’s many sacrifices and supplications, it told him, “The dead prevent me from speaking.” It told Julian to dig up the bones and move them. Julian, then, in the words of Saint John Chrysostom, “leaving all the other dead, moved only that Martyr.” He commanded the Christians to take away Saint Babylas’ bones, which they did with great solemnity and triumph. When this had been done, a thunderbolt fell from heaven destroying with fire the shrine of Apollo, which Julian did not dare rebuild. Saint John Chrysostom preached a sermon on this within a generation after.

    Apolytikion of Hieromartyr Babylas in the Fourth Tone

    As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, thou foundest discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision. Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, thou didst also contest for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Babylas. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.

    Kontakion of Hieromartyr Babylas in the Fourth Tone

    In thy heart, O Babylas, thou sacred Martyr, thou didst set the mighty works of faith and keptest them secure; hence, thou didst not fear the tyrant’s rage. Keep us as well, O good servant of Christ our God.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    • Our Righteous Father Anthimus of Coroucle in Cephallenia
    • Hermione the Martyr, daughter of St. Philip the Deacon
    • Anthimos the new ascetic
  • Prophet Zacharias
    Hieromartyrs Urban, Theodore, Medimnos & 77 Companions at Nicomedea
    All day

    Holy Prophet Zacharias, Father of the Venerable Forerunner

    Holy Prophet Zachariah and the Righteous Elizabeth were the parents of the holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John. They were descended from the lineage of Aaron: St Zachariah, son of Barach, was a priest in the Jerusalem Temple, and St Elizabeth was the sister of St Anna, the mother of the Most Holy Theotokos. The righteous spouses, “walking in all the commandments of the Lord” (Luke 1:6), suffered barrenness, which in those times was considered a punishment from God.

    Once, during his turn of priestly service in the Temple, St Zachariah was told by an angel that his aged wife would bear him a son, who “will be great in the sight of the Lord” (Luke 1:15) and “will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias” (Lk 1:17). Zachariah doubted that this prediction would come true, and for his weakness of faith, he was punished by becoming mute. When Elizabeth gave birth to a son, she announced through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that his name was John, although no one in their family had this name. They asked Zachariah and he also wrote the name John down on a tablet. Immediately the gift of speech returned to him, and inspired by the Holy Spirit, he began to prophesy about his son as the Forerunner of the Lord.

    When King Herod heard from the Magi about the birth of the Messiah, he decided to kill all the infants up to two years old at Bethlehem and the surrounding area, hoping that the new-born Messiah would be among them. Herod knew about John’s unusual birth and he wanted to kill him, fearing that he was the foretold King of the Jews. However, Elizabeth hid herself and the infant in the hills. The murderers searched everywhere for John. Elizabeth, when she saw her pursuers, began to implore God for their safety, and immediately the hill opened up and concealed her and the infant from their pursuers.

    In these tragic days St Zachariah was taking his turn at the services in the Temple. Soldiers sent by Herod tried in vain to learn from him the whereabouts of his son. Then, by command of Herod, they murdered this holy prophet, having stabbed him between the temple and the altar (Matthew 23:35). St Elizabeth died 40 days after her husband, and St John, preserved by the Lord, dwelt in the wilderness until the day of his appearance to the nation of Israel.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    In the vesture of a priest, according to the Law of God, you offered Him well-pleasing whole-burnt offerings, as it befitted a priest, O wise Zacharias. You were a shining light, a seer of mysteries, bearing in yourself clearly the signs of grace; and in God’s temple, O wise Prophet of Christ God, you were slain with the sword. Hence, with the Forerunner, make entreaty that our souls find salvation.

    Kontakion (Third Tone)

    On this day the Prophet and venerable priest of the Most High, even Zacharias, the father of the Forerunner, has now mixed for us the draught of virtue and set the table of his sacred memory nourishing all the faithful; for this cause do we extol him as a most godly initiate of grace divine.

  • Miracle of Archangel Michael
    Martyr Calodote
    All day

    The Commemoration of the Miracle Wrought by Archangel Michael in Colossae (Chonae)

    This feast commemorates the miracle that Archangel Michael wrought when he delivered from a church and holy spring named after him from destruction. The church was built by a man of the city of Laodicia in gratitude to God for healing his mute daughter. Archangel Michael appeared to this man in a dream and revealed to him that his daughter would receive the gift of speech after drinking from the water of the spring. The girl actually did receive healing and began to speak. After the miracle, the father and his daughter and all their family were baptized. In fervent gratitude, the father built the church in honour of Archangel Michael. Not only did Christians begin to come to the spring for healing, but also pagans. In so doing, many of the pagans turned from their idols and were converted to the faith in Christ.

     At the church, a certain pious man by the name of Archippus served for 60 years as church custodian. By his preaching and by the example of his saintly life he brought many pagans to faith in Christ. With the general malice of that time towards Christians, and especially against Archippus, the pagans thought to destroy the church in order to prevent people from coming to that holy place of healing, and at the same time kill Archippus. Toward this end they made a confluence of the Lykokaperos and Kufos Rivers and directed its combined flow against the church. St. Archippus prayed fervently to Archangel Michael to ward off the danger. Through his prayer, the Archangel appeared at the temple and with a blow of his staff, opened a wide fissure in a rock, and commanded the rushing torrents of water to flow into it. The temple remained unharmed. Seeing such an awesome miracle, the pagans fled in terror. Archippus and the Christians gathered in church glorified God and gave thanks to the holy Archangel Michael for the help. The name of the place where the rivers plunged into the fissure was changed from Colossae to “Chonae”, which means “plunging” or “funnels” in Greek.

     Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    O Commanders of the Heavenly Host, we the unworthy beseech you, that through your entreaties you will fortify us, guarding us in the shelter of the wings of your ethereal glory, even as we fervently bow before you crying, “Deliver us from all danger, as Commanders of the Powers on high!”

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    O Michael, who stands altogether radiant before the Trinity together with all the heavenly Hosts, and with them cries aloud the song inspired of God, “As you pass throughout the earth by God’s command and are made wondrous with exceedingly great marvels, cease not to intercede for us all”.

  • The Forefeast of the Nativity of the Theotokos
    Martyr Sozon
    All day

    The Forefeast of the Nativity of the Theotokos

    Apolytikion of Theotokos’ Nativity Forefeast in the Fourth Tone

    From the root of Jesse and the loins of David the King, Mariam, the child of God, is born for our sake this day. Hence, all creation exulteth on its renewal. Both Heaven and the earth rejoice together now. Praise her, O ye tribes of nations here below. The righteous Joachim rejoiceth, and Anna keepeth feast, crying out: The barren beareth the Theotokos, the nourisher of our life.

    Kontakion of Theotokos’ Nativity Forefeast in the Third Tone

    On this day the Virgin and Theotokos Mary, the bridal chamber of the Heavenly Bridegroom, by the will of God is born of a barren woman. Being prepared as the chariot of God the Word, she was pre-ordained for this, since she is the divine gate and the true Mother of Life.


    Sozon The Martyr

    The Martyr Sozon, a native of Lykaonia, was a shepherd. He read the Holy Scriptures attentively, and he loved to share his knowledge about the One God with other shepherds. He brought many to the faith in Christ and to Baptism.

    One night, as he sat under an oak tree, he had a vision foretelling his martyrdom for Christ. He went to the city of Cilician Pompeiopolis, where a festal pagan celebration was being prepared for a golden idol, standing in a pagan temple. Unseen by anyone, St Sozon went into the pagan temple and broke off the idol’s hand and smashed it, gaving the gold to the poor. The missing hand of the idol caused an uproar and commotion in the city. Many were under suspicion, and were subjected to interrogation and torture. Not wanting to be the cause of suffering for other people, St Sozon went to emperor Maximian (284-305 AD) and confessed that he broke the hand of the idol. “I did this”, he said, “so that you might see the lack of power of your god, which offered me no resistance. It is not a god, but a deaf and dumb idol.

    I wanted to smash it all into pieces, so that people would no longer worship the work of men’s hands”. The emperor in a fitful rage commanded that St Sozon be tortured mercilessly. They hung him up and struck him with iron claws, and then they put iron boots in which there were nails on his feet and took him through the city. They again suspended him and beat him with iron rods until his bones broke. In these terrible torments, St Sozon gave up his spirit to God. By decree of the emperor, slaves lit a fire to burn the body of the martyr, but suddenly lightning flashed, it thundered loudly, and rain poured down over the fire. Christians took the martyrs body by night and buried it. Many of the sick were healed at his grave and at the place where he had the vision. A church was built in memory of the sufferings of the holy martyr.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    Your Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for You received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from You, our immortal God. For since he possessed Your strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ powerless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since You are merciful.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    As we come together on this day, let us acclaim with a great voice Sozon, the true and God-bearing Martyr, the approved athlete of godliness, the divine initiate of grace, the most bountiful bestower of healings; for he intercedes with God for us all.


    Also Celebrated Today:

    • Kassiani the Hymnographer
    • Euodos and Onesiphoros, Apostles of the 70
    • John the Wonderworker of Novgorod
    • John and Sergios, Bishops of Lerna
  • Nativity of the Theotokos
    Sophronios, Bishop of Iberia
    All day

    The establishment of four major feast days to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary took place in the days of the apostolic era and have a significance in the Greek Orthodox Church which has remained unaltered through nearly twenty centuries of Christianity. The mother’ of the Son of God is honoured on March 25, the day of Annunciation when the Archangel Gabriel told Mary she was to become the mother of Jesus Christ; the Repose of the blessed Virgin Mary on August 15; on November 21, the Entrance of the Blessed Theotokos to the Temple; and on February 2 when the Mother of God brought the infant Jesus to the temple for presentation forty days after His birth.

    A fifth day of commemoration is celebrated on September 8, honouring the Virgin Mary on the day of her birth. This day was set aside by the Orthodox Church in the early first century, but not observed until the eighth century when Pope Sergios saw fit to join with the Orthodox during his reign which extended from 687 to 701 AD. All of Christendom agreed on the date that the Virgin Mary was born, but for some reason the date was not an official feast day in the Roman sector for more than a third of the length of existence of the Christian Church. The lack of communication between East and West ended in the Schism of 1054, a break which now appears to be an ever-narrowing gap, hopefully to be closed in a reunion upon which the Mother of God is sure to smile.

    The familiar story of Mary’s birth has had variations in splinter groups of Christianity, but there is no doubt that her birth came about as an act of God. Her parents, Joachim and Anna, were childless and were fast approaching the years which would place Anna beyond the age of childbearing. Perhaps it was because of the intensity of their prayers that a child be born to them that their prayers were not only answered, but their child would, in turn, bear a child ordained by God as his Son. No one who calls himself a Christian can accept the virgin birth as anything but an act of God.

    Although Mary is known as the mother of God, she has been accorded numerous titles in the Orthodox Church of which few are aware. They include, in addition to Mary, Mother of God: The Repose (Koimesis) of the Blessed Virgin, Mary Pantanissa, Mary of Tinos, Mary of Malcheon, and Mary Vlacherne (just to mention a few of the many honours applied to her name). Considered the Mother of Mothers and the Mother of all Mankind, she is venerated in a manner which helps to sanctify the role of motherhood and the preservation of the family as the only hope for civilisation. In an age of equal rights, the God-given right to motherhood, which is the mainstay of Christianity, is lost in a cloud of other ‘rights’ that have no meaning in the presence of God. Those who clamour for those ‘rights’ are not aware that there is no inferiority in women, proof of which is an approach to God and a reading of the Bible as a stronger document than any constitution.

    It is regrettable that the immaculate conception, not to be confused with the virginal birth of the Saviour, is a concept of the Mother of God which the Roman Church assumed in 1854 AD and with which the Orthodox Church is in total disagreement. This concept holds that Mary was born without the stain of original sin brought upon all mankind by Adam and Eve. But the Orthodox position holds that since Jesus Christ is God, he is, therefore the only one who is without the original stain. The point could be argued endlessly; but in spite of dogmatic differences, there is no lessening in the adoration of Mary as the Mother of God. There can be no doubt that she was made pure on the day of the Annunciation when told by Gabriel she was going to be the Virgin Mother of the Messiah. The Orthodox position stems from the concept that if the immaculate conception is taken literally, then Mary would assume the stature of goddess alongside God. The popularity of the name of Mary attests to the glorification of the Virgin Mary. The Greek Orthodox can feel exultation from calling out the name “Panagia” which means ‘All-Holy’ and is the Greek word for the most sacred figure in Christianity, aside from the Son she mothered.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    Your Nativity, O Virgin, has proclaimed joy to the whole universe! The Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, has shone from You, O Theotokos! By annulling the curse, He bestowed a blessing. By destroying death, He has granted us eternal Life.

    Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

    By your Nativity, O Most Pure Virgin, Joachim and Anna are freed from barrenness; Adam and Eve, from the corruption of death. And we, your people, freed from the guilt of sin, celebrate and sing to you, “The barren woman gives birth to the Theotokos, the nourisher of our life!”

  • Synaxis of the Holy Ancestors of God
    Martyr Severian
    All day

    The Holy and Righteous Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna

    So much attention is paid by Christians to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, sanctified in every conceivable way, that there is a tendency to overlook her parents. Commemorated the day after the commemoration of their daughter, who is remembered on other days as well, Joachim and Anna were the parents of a flesh-and-blood human being they called Mary and, therefore, the grandparents of a flesh-and-blood human being, in form at least, who died to save the world.

    Considered in this light, this couple is appreciated most by the grandfathers and grandmothers of the world.

    The spiritual beauty of St Anna is expressed in the Bible, equalled by that of her devoted husband, the too lightly regarded Joachim. Since there is no greater part of the divine plan of the universe than motherhood, it follows that St. Anna is given individual honour with an observance of a feast day in her name on July 26. This in no way diminishes the image of her husband St Joachim.

    Shrouded by twenty centuries of legend, close scrutiny by biblical scholars has cleared away legend and established a more accurate and factual account, however meager, of Sts Joachim and Anna. There is no denying the word of the Apostle James, who saw fit to go to great lengths to glean facts about the parents of Mary which he describes in a letter that somehow failed to find official acceptance.

    Conflicting views notwithstanding, it is definitely known that St Anna was of the prestigious Hebrew tribe of Levi and that she was the daughter of the high priest Nathan, wed to a namesake Mary. This high priest had two daughters besides the Mary who mothered Anna. They were called Sovin and Anna, both of whom became mothers in Bethlehem, but Anna was married in Galilee where Mary, the Theotokos, was born. There is no denying Joachim was favored of God, who answered his prayer that a child be born to the barren union with Anna. The answer was Mary, of course, and thereafter was set in motion the world’s greatest faith, so overwhelming that St Joachim fades from view in misty swirls that surround the sweet mysteries of Christianity. It is enough to know St Joachim was the father of Mary, the mother who bore Jesus Christ, the divine Saviour who changed the course of world history and set it on another path which, if followed, leads to eternal life.

    The fact that God moves in a mysterious way was evident when Joachim and Anna prayed for a child they knew not whether they were being granted a son or a daughter so they had no knowledge of what lay in store for them and for the world. The Apostle James has quoted an angel of the Lord as saying to Anna, “the Lord has heard your prayer, and you shall conceive and bring forth, and your seed shall be spoken of in all the world”. There was no mention of the sex of the child as the Apostle James goes on to say that Anna accepted with the words, “As the Lord my God lives if I beget male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it shall minister holy things to him all the days of its life”. The use of the word “it” indicates Anna may have had premonitions but certainly no advance notice that ‘it’ was to be ‘she’, who in turn knowingly brought forth the Son of God. Indeed God does move in a mysterious way.

    The Greek Orthodox Church has a hymn which sings gloriously, “As we celebrate the remembrance of your righteous grandparents, through them we beseech you, O Lord, to save our souls”.

    There can be no more touching tribute than to be sung in praise and prayer in the sacred music of the Church. Another hymn contains the words, “Anna rejoices now that she is loosed from the bonds of barrenness, as she nourisheth the most pure one, calling all to praise him who has given the world her who alone is Mother, yet has known no man”.

    The names of Joachim and Anna are an integral part of the Divine Liturgy, always mentioned in the prayerful conclusion of services with the words, “May the risen Christ, our true God, with the prayers of his pure and holy Mother, the power of the precious and life-giving Cross, the protection of the spiritual powers of Heaven … the holy and righteous ancestors Joachim and Anna … and all the saints whose memory we celebrate have mercy on us and save us”.

    Dismissal Hymn (First Tone)

    Since you were righteous under the law of grace, O Joachim and Anna, for our sake you gave birth to the God-given Infant. The divine Church today therefore feasts radiantly, joyfully celebrating your honourable memory and giving glory to God Who has raised up a horn of salvation from the house of David!

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    Now Anna is no longer barren and nurses the All-Pure One! She rejoices and calls us to sing a hymn of praise to Christ Who gave mankind the only Ever-Virgin Mother!


    Severian the Martyr of Sebastia

    Saint Severian, a senator from Sebastia, was both an illustrious man of wealth and a fearless Christian. Because he encouraged the holy Forty Martyrs of Sebastia to stand fast in their confession, he was given over to terrible torments, and received his own crown during the reign of Licinius and Lysius the Duke, about the year 315.


    Afterfeast of the Nativity of the Theotokos

    Apolytikion of Afterfeast of the Nativity of the Theotokos in the Fourth Tone

    Your birth, O Theotokos, brought joy to the whole world, for from you dawned the sun of righteousness, Christ our God. Freeing us from the curse, He gave us His blessings. Abolishing death, He granted us eternal life.


    Also Celebrated Today:

    • Theophanes the Confessor
    • Memory of the Third Holy Ecumenical Council in Ephesus
  • Martyrs Menodora, Metrodora & Nymphodora
    Empress Pulcheria
    All day

    The Holy Virgins Menodora, Metrodora and Nymphodora, the Martyrs

    The Holy Virgins Menodora, Metrodora and Nymphodora (305-311 AD), were sisters from Bithynia (Asia Minor). Distinguished for their special piety, the sisters wanted to preserve their virginity and avoid worldly associations. They chose a solitary place for themselves in the wilderness and spent their lives in deeds of fasting and prayer. Reports of their holy lives soon spread, since healings of the sick began to occur through their prayers. Governor Frontonus, who gave orders to arrest the sisters and bring them before him, governed the Bithynia region at that time. At first, he tried to persuade them to renounce Christ, promising great honours and rewards. However, the holy sisters steadfastly confessed their faith before him, rejecting all the suggestions of the governor, and told him that they did not value temporal earthly blessings, and that they were prepared to die for their Heavenly Bridegroom.

    In a rage, the governor took out his wrath on St Menodora, the eldest of the three. The Saint bravely endured the torments and finally, cried out, “Lord Jesus Christ, joy of my heart, my hope, in peace receive my soul!” With these words, she gave up her spirit to God. Four days later, they brought Metrodora and Nymphodora to the court. They put before them the battered body of their elder sister to frighten them. The virgins wept over her, but they remained steadfast. Then they subjected St Metrodora to torture. She died, crying out with her last breath to her beloved Lord Jesus Christ. Then they turned to Nymphodora and laid the battered bodies of her elder sisters in front of her. Governor Frontonus hoped that this sight would intimidate the young virgin.

    Pretending that her youth and beauty charmed him, he began amiably to urge her to worship the pagan gods, promising great rewards and honours. St Nymphodora rebuffed his words, and shared the fate of her older sisters. She was tortured to death with blows from iron rods.

    The bodies of the holy martyrs were to be burned, but a strong rain extinguished the blazing fire, and lightning felled Frontonus and his servant. Christians took up the bodies of the holy sisters and reverently buried them at the so-called Warm Springs at Pythias (Bithynia). Part of the relics of the holy martyrs are preserved at Mount Athos in the Protection cathedral of the St Panteleimon Russian monastery, and the hand of St Metrodora is at the monastery of the Pantocrator.

    Dismissal Hymn (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

    In you the image was preserved with exactness, O Mother; for taking up your cross, you followed Christ, and by your deeds you teach us to overlook the flesh, for it passes away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal. Therefore, O righteous Menodora, your spirit rejoices with the Angels.

    Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

    You put the foe to flight with all his devices, when you contended for the Trinity bravely, as sisters bound in spirit with a sacred love. Therefore you are gone to dwell with the five prudent virgins in that fair and glorious bridal chamber in Heaven; and, O prize-winners, you now stand before the King of all with the Angels in endless joy.


    Afterfeast of the Nativity of the Theotokos

    Apolytikion of Afterfeast of the Nativity of the Theotokos in the Fourth Tone

    Your birth, O Theotokos, brought joy to the whole world, for from you dawned the sun of righteousness, Christ our God. Freeing us from the curse, He gave us His blessings. Abolishing death, He granted us eternal life.

  • St Theodora the Martyr of Alexandria
    All day

    St Theodora and her husband lived in Alexandria. Love and harmony ruled in their family, and this was hateful to the enemy of salvation. Goaded on by the devil, a rich man was captivated by Theodora’s youthful beauty and began with all his abilities to lead her into adultery, but for a long time he was unsuccessful. Then he bribed a woman of loose morals, who led the unassuming Theodora astray by saying that a secret sin, which the sun does not see, is also unknown to God.

    Theodora was unfaithful to her husband, but soon came to her senses and realizing the seriousness of her fall, she became furious with herself, slapping herself on the face and tearing at her hair. Her conscience gave her no peace, and Theodora went to a renowned Abbess and told her about her transgression. The Abbess, seeing the repentance of the young woman, spoke to her of God’s forgiveness and reminded her of the sinful woman in the Gospel, who washed the feet of Christ with her tears and received from Him forgiveness of her sins. In hope of the mercy of God, Theodora said, “I believe my God, and from now on, I shall not commit such a sin, and I will strive to atone for my deed”. At that moment St Theodora resolved to go off to a monastery to purify herself by labour and by prayer. She left her home secretly, and dressing herself in men’s clothes, she went to a men’s monastery, since she feared that her husband would find her in a women’s monastery.

    The Abbott of the monastery, in order to test the resolve of the newcomer, would not even bless her to enter the courtyard. St Theodora spent the night at the gates. In the morning, she fell down at the knees of the Abbott, and said her name was Theodore from Alexandria, and entreated him to let her remain at the monastery for repentance and monastic labours. Seeing the sincere intent of the newcomer, the Abbott consented. Even the experienced monks were amazed at Theodora’s all-night prayers on bended knee, her humility, endurance and self-denial. The Saint laboured at the monastery for eight years. Her body, once defiled by adultery, now became a vessel of the grace of God and a receptacle of the Holy Spirit.

    Once, the Saint was sent to Alexandria to buy provisions. After blessing her for the journey, the Abbott indicated that in case of a delay, she should stay over at the Enata monastery, which was on the way. Also staying at the guesthouse of the Enata monastery was the daughter of its Abbott. She had come to visit with her father. Attracted by the comeliness of the young monk, she tried to seduce Theodora into the sin of fornication, not knowing that it was a woman standing before her. Meeting with refusal, she committed sin with another guest and became pregnant. Meanwhile, the Saint bought the food and returned to her own monastery. After a certain while, the father of the shameless girl, realizing that a transgression happened, began to question his daughter about the father of the child. The girl indicated that it was the Theodora. The father at once reported it to the Superior of the monastery where St Theodora laboured in asceticism. The Abbott summoned the Saint and repeated the accusation. The Saint firmly replied, “As God is my witness, I did not do this”. The Abbott, knowing of Theodora’s purity and holiness of life, did not believe the accusation.

    When the girl gave birth, the Enata monks brought the infant to the monastery where the ascetic lived, and began to reproach its monks for an unchaste life. However, this time even the Abbott believed the slanderous accusation and became angry with the innocent Theodora. They entrusted the infant into the care of the Saint and threw her out of the monastery in disgrace. The Saint humbly submitted to this new trial, seeing in it the expiation of her former sin. She settled with the child not far from the monastery in a hut. Shepherds, out of pity, gave her milk for the infant, and the Saint herself ate only wild vegetables. Bearing her misfortune, the holy ascetic spent seven years in banishment. Finally, at the request of the monks, the Abbott allowed her to return to the monastery with the child, and in seclusion she spent two years instructing the child.

    The Abbott received a revelation from God that the sin of the Theodora was forgiven. The grace of God dwelt upon Theodora, and soon all the monks began to witness to the signs worked through the prayers of the Saint. Once, during a drought, all the wells dried up. The Abbott said to the brethren that only Theodora would be able to reverse the misfortune. Having summoned the Saint, the Abbott bade her to bring forth water, and the water in the well did not dry up afterwards. The humble Theodora said that the miracle was worked through the prayer and faith of the Abbott.

    Before her death, St Theodora shut herself in her cell with the child and instructed him to love God above all things. She told him to obey the Abbott and the brethren, to preserve tranquillity, to be meek and without malice, to avoid obscenity and silliness, to love non-covetousness, and not to neglect their communal prayer. After this, she prayed and, for the last time, she asked the Lord to forgive her sins. The child also prayed together with her. Soon the words of prayer faded from the lips of the ascetic, and she peacefully departed to a better world.

    The Lord revealed to the Abbott the spiritual accomplishments of the Saint, and her secret. The Abbott, in order to remove any dishonour from the deceased, in the presence of the Abbott and brethren of the Enata monastery, told of his vision and uncovered the bosom of the Saint as proof. The Enata igumen and brethren shrank back in terror at their great transgression. Falling down before the body of the Saint, with tears they asked forgiveness of St Theodora. News of StTheodora reached her former husband. He received monastic tonsure at this same monastery where his wife had been, and the child, raised by the nun followed in the footsteps of his foster-mother. Afterwards, he became Abbott of this very monastery.

    Dismissal Hymn (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

    In you the image was preserved with exactness, O Mother; for taking up your cross, you followed Christ, and by your deeds you teach us to overlook the flesh, for it passes away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal. Therefore, O righteous Theodora, your spirit rejoices with the Angels.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    With fasting you consumed your body utterly; with vigilant prayer you entreated your Fashioner that you should receive the complete forgiveness of the your sins; which receiving in truth, you marked out the path of repentance for us all.

  • Martyr Autonomos of Italy
    Julian the Martyr
    Agirus, the Hieromartyr of Cornoutus, Bishop of Iconium
    Daniel of Thassos
    Hieromartyr Agirus of Cornoutus
    All day

    Hieromartyr Autonomos was a Bishop in Italy. During the time of the persecution against Christians under emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD), St Autonomos left his own country and resettled in Bithynia, in the locality of Soreus with a man named Cornelius. St. Autonomos did his apostolic duty with zeal and converted to Christ so many pagans that a large Church was formed, for which he consecrated a temple in the name of Archangel Michael. For this church, the Saint at first ordained Cornelius as Deacon, and then Presbyter. Preaching about Christ, St. Autonomos visited also Lykaonia and Isauria. Emperor Diocletian gave orders to arrest St Autonomus, but the Saint withdrew to Claudiopolis on the Black Sea. In returning to Soreus, he had the Priest Cornelius ordained Bishop. St Autonomus then went to Asia, and when he had returned from there, he began to preach in the vicinity of Limna, near Soreus.

    Once, the newly converted destroyed a pagan temple. The pagans decided to take revenge on the Christians. Seizing their chance, the pagans rushed upon the church of the Archangel Michael when St Autonomus was serving Divine Liturgy there. After torturing St Autonomuo they killed him, reddening the altar of the church with his blood. Deaconess Maria removed the body of the holy martyr from beneath a pile of stones and buried it.

    During the reign of St Constantine the Great, a church was built over the tomb of the Saint. In 430 AD, a Priest had the old church pulled down not realizing that the martyr’s body was buried beneath it, and rebuilt the church in a new spot. However, after 60 years the relics of the Saint were found incorrupt, and a church was built in the name of the Hieromartyr Autonomos.

    Dismissal Hymn (Second Tone)

    O wise one, you initiated solemnly in matters divine, O Martyr, blessed Autonomos. You were made a pleasing sacrifice when you drank the cup of Christ; and while standing before Him now, you ceaselessly pray to Him for all of us.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    O Holy Martyr Autonomos, you served the Holy Mysteries faithfully and became an acceptable oblation while partaking of the Cup of Christ, do not cease to intercede for us all!

  • Forefeast of the Exaltation
    Temple of the Resurrection
    Cornelios the Centurion & Martyr
    Aristides the Philosopher
    All day

    Forefeast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross

    Apolytikion of Forefeast of the Exaltation in the Second Tone

    We offer Thee in mediation the life-giving Cross which, of Thy goodness, Thou hast given unto us, the unworthy, O Lord. Save Thy hierarchs and Thy flock, and grant Thou peace through the Theotokos, O only friend of man.


    The Consecration of the Church of the Holy Resurrection (Holy Sepulchre)

    The church that is honoured far above all others is that of the Holy Resurrection, which Saint Constantine the Great constructed at the place of Golgotha, where our Saviour was crucified and buried. For a long time this place had been purposely buried beneath the earth by the Jews and heathen; furthermore, during the reign of Hadrian (117-138), a temple dedicated to Aphrodite was built over the site so that this sacred place might be even further desecrated and fall into utter oblivion. It was here that the Cross was hidden. However, at the command of the pious Emperor Constantine, excavations were made and the tokens of the saving Passion were found. It was here, then, that the very great and magnificent temple named in honour of Christ God’s Resurrection-the Anastasis-was built under the supervision of the blessed Helen, while Dracilian was Eparch of Palestine and Macarius was Archbishop of Jerusalem. It was the latter, also, who exalted the venerable Cross and performed the consecration of this temple in the year 336.

    Apolytikion of Temple of the Resurrection in the Fourth Tone

    Thou hast shown the earthly beauty of the holy tabernacle of Thy glory to be like unto the splendour of the heavenly firmament, O Lord. Strengthen it for ever and ever, and accept our prayers which we unceasingly offer therein unto Thee, through the Theotokos, O Thou Who art the Life and Resurrection of all.

    Kontakion of Temple of the Resurrection in the Fourth Tone

    The Church is shown to be a many-lighted heaven that doth shine a guiding light upon all them that do believe; wherein while standing we cry aloud: Do Thou Thyself now establish this house, O Lord.


    Saint Cornelius the Centurion & Martyr

    Soon after the Lord Jesus Christ’s Ascension into Heaven, a centurion by the name of Cornelios settled at Caesarea in Palestine, who had lived previously in Thracian Italy. Although he was a pagan, he distinguished himself by deep piety and good deeds, as the holy Evangelist Luke records in Acts 10:1. The Lord did not disdain his virtuous life and led him to the knowledge of truth through the enlightening light of faith in Christ.

    Once, Cornelios was at prayer in his home. An angel of God appeared to him and said that his prayer had been heard and accepted by God. The angel commanded him to send people to Joppa to Simon, called Peter. Cornelios immediately fulfilled the command. While those people were on their way to Joppa, the Apostle Peter was at prayer, during which time he had a vision three times of a vessel being lowered down to him, filled with all kinds of beasts and fowl. He heard a voice from Heaven commanding him to eat everything. When the Apostle refused to eat anything unclean, the voice said, “What God has cleansed, you must not call common” (Acts 10:15). Through this vision, the Lord commanded Apostle Peter to preach the Word of God to the pagans. When Peter arrived at the house of Cornelius in the company of those sent to meet him, he was received with great joy and respect by the host together with his kinsmen and comrades.

    Cornelios fell down at the feet of the Apostle and requested to be taught the way of salvation. St Peter began to preach about the earthly life of Jesus Christ, about the miracles and signs worked by the Saviour, about His sufferings, His teachings about the Kingdom of Heaven, His death on the Cross, His Resurrection and Ascent into Heaven. By grace, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Cornelios believed in Christ and was Baptised together with all his family. He was the first pagan to receive Baptism. He retired from the world and went preaching the Gospel together with the Apostle Peter, who made him a Bishop.

    When Apostle Peter, together with his helpers Sts Timothy and Cornelios, was in the city of Ephesus, he learned of particularly vigorous idol worship in the city of Skepsis. Lots were drawn to see who would go there, and St Cornelios was chosen. In the city lived a prince by the name of Demetrius, learned in the ancient Greek philosophy, hating Christianity and venerating the pagan gods, in particular Apollo and Zeus. Learning about the arrival of St Cornelios in the city, he immediately summoned him and asked him the reason for his coming. St Cornelios answered that he came to free him from the darkness of ignorance and lead him to knowledge of the True Light.

    The prince, not comprehending the meaning of what was said, became angry and demanded that he answer each of his questions. When St Cornelios explained that he served the Lord and that the reason for his coming was to announce the Truth, the prince became enraged and demanded that Cornelios offer sacrifice to the idols. The Saint asked to be shown the gods. When he entered the pagan temple, Cornelius turned towards the east and uttered a prayer to the Lord. There was an earthquake, and the temple of Zeus and the idols situated in it were destroyed. All the populace, seeing what had happened, were terrified.

    The prince was even more vexed and began to take counsel together with those approaching him, about how to destroy Cornelios. They bound the Saint and took him to prison for the night. At this point, one of his servants informed the prince that his wife and child had perished beneath the rubble of the destroyed temple. After a while, the pagan priest Barbates reported that he heard the voice of the wife and son somewhere in the ruins and that they were praising the God of the Christians. The pagan priest asked that the imprisoned one be released, in gratitude for the miracle worked by St Cornelios, and the wife and son of the prince remained alive.

    The joyful prince hurried to the prison declaring that he believed in Christ and asking him to bring his wife and son out of the ruins of the temple. St Cornelius went to the destroyed temple, and through prayer the suffering were freed. After this the prince, and all his relatives and comrades, accepted Baptism. St Cornelios lived for a long time in this city, converted all the pagan inhabitants to Christ, and made Eunomios a Presbyter in service to the Lord. St Cornelios died in old age as a martyr and was buried not far from the pagan temple he destroyed.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    In your manner a participant, and in your throne a successor of the Apostles, you discovered action an entrance into visions, O Inspired one of God. Therefore directing the Word of truth, you suffered for the faith even to blood. O Bishop and Martyr Cornelios, pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved!

    Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

    The Church has received you as the holy first-fruits of the nations; for you illumine her with your great deeds of godly virtues, O hallowed and sacred initiate, most godly Cornelius.

  • Exaltation of the Holy Cross
    Commemoration of the 6th Ecumenical Council
    All day

    As important as any of the feast days commemorating the exalted saints of the Church is the feast day held annually on September 14 in special tribute to the cross of Jesus Christ, the reproduction of which is worn or displayed in every corner of the earth as a symbol of the mightiest faith in all the universe.

    The two timbers on which the Messiah died to save the world, priceless beyond measure, form the most familiar and beloved symbol in a world full of symbols and emblems. For nearly three hundred years after his death the Cross was buried in obscurity, eventually to be salvaged through the efforts of a devout Byzantine emperor and his mother.

    The Emperor Constantine the Great was not only the first Christian emperor, but, together with his mother, has been honoured with sainthood. His mother is honoured for her determined efforts in the cause of Christianity. It was Constantine who beheld a vision in the sky in which were emblazoned the words ‘en touto Nika’, translating into “In this Sign Conquer,” etched across a brilliant cross of Jesus Christ.

    Ordering that all the shields of his army bear the sign of the Cross, Constantine went on to subdue the enemies of the state and to establish the Christian faith, which has outlived his empire and will endure forever. Helen, the mother of Constantine and a saint of the Church, had the full support of her son when she decided to recover the cross of Christ, and although nearly three hundred years had elapsed since the Crucifixion, she was optimistic in her resolve to find the Cross and return it to the city of Constantinople.

    After months of diligent search, painstakingly following every historic clue as to its whereabouts, Helen and her dedicated group of searchers discovered the Cross on 14 September 325 AD in the vicinity of Golgotha, where it had been buried in the dust of the centuries. On the spot where the Cross was discovered there was found to grow a hitherto unknown flower of rare beauty and fragrance which has been named “Vasiliko” (Basil), meaning the flower of royalty, out of respect to the Dowager Queen who led the expedition.

    This flower, since that memorable day over 1600 years ago, has been the official flower of the Orthodox Christian Church and is in evidence when Clergymen engage in the age-old tradition of blessing homes or the waters on which seamen ply their trade.

    Helen afterwards made countless pilgrimages to the Holy Land and was responsible for the establishment of churches at the sites of the Nativity, Holy Sepulchre, Ascension, and at many other places. For the next three hundred years the Cross stayed in the possession of the Christians in Jerusalem, but after a series of forays the city of Jerusalem was captured by the Persians in 614 AD and the Cross fell into the hands of an enemy that for years prior and since has scoffed at the faith of Jesus Christ.

    Several attempts were made by devout and bold Christians to recover the precious Cross, but they were no match for the Persian hordes. Finally, the Byzantine Emperor Heraklios, in the tradition of his ancestor Constantine, amassed an army of size and equipment to match that of the Persians, and after months of planning, launched an attack on the Holy City – but with no immediate success.

    What the Persians lacked in faith they made up for in numbers of trained warriors who respected nothing but the sword, and because of this relentless defence the tide of battle wavered over an agonising fifteen years until at last the Christian forces broke through the Persian defences and regained control of the Holy City and its priceless treasure. The successful outcome of the campaign is celebrated jointly with the finding of the Cross by St Helen on September 14, and the veneration of the Precious and Life-giving Cross is again celebrated by Christians on the Third Sunday of Lent.

    With the sign of the Cross so much in evidence in the daily life of a Christian, the celebration seems to extend over every minute of every day of every year, but the official days underscore the magnitude of the Cross in the Christian concept. With the perilous conditions prevalent in a land where the fortunes of a menaced society were subject to sudden change and mood, depending on who held the upper hand, the Fathers of the Church decided to divide the Cross into small sections, thereafter to repose in the safety of the great spiritual centres of Constantinople, Mount Athos, Alexandria, Rome, and Antioch.

    Dismissal Hymn (First Tone)

    Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance, granting our rulers to prevail over adversaries, and protecting Your commonwealth by Your Cross.

    Kontakion: (Fourth Tone)

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

  • Strict Fast
    All day

    No additional detail for this event.

  • Nikitas the Martyr
    John the New Martyr of Crete
    Symeon, Archbishop of Thessolonica
    All day

    Holy Great Martyr Nikitas was born and lived on the banks of the Danube River, and suffered for Christ in the year 372 AD. The Christian faith was then already widely spread throughout the territory of the Goths. St Nikitas believed in Christ and accepted baptism from the Gothic Bishop Theophilos, a participant in the First Ecumenical Synod. Pagan Goths began to oppose the spread of Christianity, which resulted in internecine strife.

    After the victory of Fritigern, heading a Christian army and inflicting defeat on the pagan Athanaric, the Christian faith spread among the Goths. The Arian Bishop Ulfilas, the successor to Bishop Theophilos, created a Gothic alphabet and translated into the Gothic language many priestly books. St Nikitas worked intensely among his fellow Goths at spreading Christianity. By his personal example and inspired words, he brought many pagans to the Christian faith. However, after his defeat Athanaric again contrived to gather his own forces, return to his own country and regain his former power. Since he remained a pagan, he continued to hate Christians and persecute them.

    St Nikitas endured many tortures, and died after being thrown into a fire. His body remained unharmed by the fire and was illumined by a miraculous light. By night, a friend of the martyr, a Christian named Marianus, retrieved St Nikitas’ body and buried it in Cilicia. Afterwards, it was transferred to Constantinople. Part of the relics of the Great Martyr Nikitas was later transferred to the monastery of Vysokie Dechani in Serbia. St Nikitas received an unfading crown of glory from Christ in the year 372 AD.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    Your Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for You received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from You, our immortal God. For since he possessed Your strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ powerless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since You are merciful.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    Destroying the might of error by thy firm resolve, and taking the crown of victory through your suffering, O Nikitas, namesake of victory, you rejoice with angel-kind, and with them, O glorious one, you ceaselessly pray to Christ God for us all.

  • Great Martyr Euphemia
    Martyr Meletina
    Dorotheos the Hermit of Egypt
    All day

    Holy Great Martyr Euphemia was the daughter of Christians, the senator Philophronos and Theodosia. She suffered for Christ 304 AD in the city of Chalcedon, on the banks of the Bosphorus opposite Constantinople.

    Chalcedon governor Priscus circulated an order to all the inhabitants of Chalcedon and its surroundings to appear at a pagan festival to worship and offer sacrifice to an idol of Ares, threatening grave torments for anyone who failed to appear. During this impious festival, 49 Christians including the young maiden Euphemia were hidden in one house, where they secretly attended services to the True God. The Christians was soon discovered and brought before Priscus to answer for themselves. For nineteen days, the martyrs were subjected to various tortures and torments, but none of them wavered in their faith or consented to offer sacrifice to the idol.

    The governor was in rage and not knowing any other way of forcing the Christians to abandon their faith, sent them for trial to the emperor Diocletian. He kept the youngest, the virgin Euphemia, hoping that she would not remain strong if she were all alone. St Euphemia, separated from her brethren in faith, fervently prayed the Lord Jesus Christ, that He strengthen her in her impending ordeal. Priscus at first urged the saint to recant, promising her earthly blessings, but then he gave the order to torture her.

    The martyr was tied to a wheel with sharp knives, which cut her body. She prayed aloud, and as it happened, the wheel stopped by itself and would not move even with all the efforts of the executioners. An angel of the Lord, came down from Heaven, removed Euphemia from the wheel, and healed her of her wounds. The Saint gave thanks to the Lord with gladness. Not perceiving the miracle that had happened, the torturer ordered the soldiers Victor and Sosthenes to take the Saint to a red-hot oven. However, the soldiers, seeing two fearsome angels in the midst of the flames, refused to carry out the order of the governor and became believers in the God Whom Euphemia worshipped. Boldly proclaiming that they too were Christians, Victor and Sosthenes bravely went to suffering. They were sent to be eaten by wild beasts. During their execution, they cried out for mercy to God, asking that the Lord would receive them into the Heavenly Kingdom. A heavenly Voice answered their cries, and they entered into eternal life. The beasts, however, did not even touch their bodies.

    St Euphemia, cast into the fire by other soldiers, remained unharmed. With God’s help, she emerged unharmed after many other tortures and torments. Ascribing this to sorcery, the governor gave orders to dig out a new pit, and filling it with knives; he had it covered over with earth and grass, so that the martyr would not notice the preparation for her execution. Here also St Euphemia remained safe, easily passing over the pit. Finally, they sentenced her to be devoured by wild beasts at the circus. Before execution, the Saint began to implore that the Lord deem her worthy to die a violent death. However, none of the beasts, set loose at her in the arena, attacked her. Finally, one of the she-bears gave her a small wound on the leg, from which came blood, and immediately the holy Great Martyr Euphemia died. During this time, there was an earthquake, and both the guards and the spectators ran in terror, so that the parents of the Saint were able to take up her body and reverently bury it not far from Chalcedon.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    O Lord Jesus, to You Your lamb cries with a great voice, “O my Bridegroom, I love You; and seeking You, I now contest, and with Your baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Your sake, that I may reign with You; for Your sake I die, that I may live in You, accept me offered out of longing to You as a spotless sacrifice”. Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since You are great in mercy.

    Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

    You strived valiantly in your sacred contest; and even after death, you make us holy with streams of healing, O all-famed Euphemia. For this cause, we venerate your most holy dormition and with faith we stand before your all-venerable relics, that we be freed from illness of the soul and also draw forth the grace of your miracles.

  • Sophia & her three daughters: Faith, Hope, and Love
    Herakleides & Myron
    All day

    These holy Martyrs dwelt in Italy in the reign of Hadrian (117-138). They came of a rich and devout family and their mother Sophia brought them up in the Faith, Hope and Love of the names she had given them. Word of their admirable manner of life reached the Emperor who, hearing they were in Rome, sent soldiers to bring them before him. Considering their tender years, he was amazed at how steadfast in the faith Sophia’s daughters were, and thinking it was only by supporting one another that they were able to hold their own against him, he put them to the question separately.

    Pistis (Faith), who was twelve years old, was brought in first. She boldly dismissed the tyrant’s flatteries and deprecated his shameless deeds and vain plots against the Christians. The infuriated Emperor had her stripped, mercilessly beaten and her breasts torn off, whence milk not blood flowed forth. The other tortures she endured were to no avail, for she was protected by the power of God. When, at last, they came to strike off her head, Sophia encouraged her to accept with joy the death that would unite her to Christ.

    Elpis (Hope), who was ten years old, was brought in next. Confessing Christ as steadfastly as her sister, she was beaten and cast into a raging furnace, but its fire went out on touching her, in whom love of God burnt with a fiercer flame than material fire. After many other tortures, she too died by the sword, giving thanks to God.

    Agape (Love), the third of the sisters, was then summoned before the Emperor whom anger had maddened. She was only nine years old but of the same steadfast mind as her sisters. She was hung on a gallows and chained so tightly that her limbs were broken by the bonds. She was then thrown into a furnace, from which she was delivered by an angel, and finally, beheaded. Sophia rejoiced in spirit to see her daughters so gloriously making their way to the abodes of the righteous but, overwhelmed by earthly sorrow, she gave back her soul to God a few days later at their tomb.

  • Eumenios, Bishop of Gortyna
    Ariadne the Martyr
    All day

    St Eumenios from the time of his youth was noted for his virtuous life and took up the monastic life. He strove to serve the One God and therefore he shunned worldly temptations. Concerned for the salvation of his soul, he distributed all his substance to the poor. By the blessing of God St Eumenios was chosen as Bishop of Gortyna on the island of Crete. The Saint, like a compassionate father, comforted his flock in their sorrows, and cared for the orphaned and indigent. He prayers were so strong before God that once, during a drought, he called forth abundant rain upon the earth. St Eumenios wisely and zealously defended the Orthodox Faith against the Monophysite heresy. For his opposition to the heresy the Saint was banished to the Thebaid, where he died in the seventh century. His body was then transferred and buried in Gortyna and buried at the place called Raxos.

    Dismissal Hymn (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

    You are a guide of Orthodoxy, a teacher of piety and modesty, a luminary of the world, the God inspired pride of monastics. O wise Eumenios, you have enlightened everyone by your teachings. You are the harp of the Spirit. Intercede to Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    Illumined with light from God on high, O blessed one, you shine on us, who lovingly acclaim with hymns your most holy glorious and august repose, O Eumenios; for you ever pray for us, O Father, you faithful Hierarch of the Lord.

  • Martyrs Trophimos, Sabbatios & Dorymedon
    All day

    In 278 AD, during the reign of Probus, Sts Trophimos and Sabbatios came to Antioch, and seeing the city celebrating the festival of Apollo at Daphne lamented the blindness of the people, and presented themselves as Christians to Atticus the Governor. St Trophimos was stripped of his clothing, and was stretched out and beaten until the earth was red with his blood. Then he was hung up, scraped on his sides, and imprisoned in torments. St Sabbatios was tortured so savagely that he gave up his spirit in his sufferings.

    Trophimos was sent to Synnada, wearing iron shoes fitted with sharp iron nails within; he was further tormented without mercy, then cast into prison. Dorymedon, a counsellor, and a pagan, came to the prison and cared for Trophimos. When a certain feast came, Dorymedon was asked why he did not sacrifice to the idols; he proclaimed himself a Christian, for which he was imprisoned, pierced with heated spits, frightfully punished, and finally beheaded with St Trophimos.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    Your Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for You received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from You, our immortal God. For since they possessed Your strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ powerless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since You are merciful.

    Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

    As a mighty river full of the divine gifts of the Holy Spirit’s grace, O valiant athletes of the Lord, you richly water all of the world with the beneficent floods of your miracles.

  • Great Martyr Eustathios, his wife and two children
    New Martyr Hilarion of Crete
    All day

    Holy Great Martyr Eustathios was named Placidas before Baptism. He was a military commander under the emperors Titus (79-81 AD) and Trajan (98-111 AD). Even before he came to know Christ, Placidas did acts of charity, helping the poor and destitute. The Lord deigned not to leave the virtuous pagan remain within the darkness of idol-worship.

    Once while hunting in a forest, he saw a stag, which, while fleeing, would stop now and then to look him, right in the eye. Placidas pursued it on horseback, but could not catch up. The stag leaped over a chasm and stood on the other side facing the saint. Placidas suddenly saw a radiant Cross between its antlers. In surprise, Placidas heard a voice coming from the Cross saying: “Why do you pursue Me, Placidas?” “Who are You, Master?” asked Placidas. In reply, he heard, “I am Jesus Christ, Whom you do not know, yet you honour Me by your good deeds. I have appeared here on this creature for your sake, to capture you in the net of My love for mankind. It is not fitting that one as righteous as you should worship idols and not know the truth. It was to save mankind that I came into the world”. Placidas cried out, “Lord, I believe that You are the God of Heaven and earth, the Creator of all things. Master, teach me what I should do”. Again the divine voice spoke, “Go to the bishop of your country and receive Baptism from him, and he will instruct you”.

    With joy Placidas returned home and told everything to his wife Tatiana. She in turn told him how the evening before in a mysterious dream she had been told, “Tomorrow you, your husband and your sons on the morrow shall come to Me and know that I am the true God. The spouses then proceeded to do as they had been bidden. They hastened to the Christian Bishop, who baptized all their family, and communed them with the Holy Mysteries. Placidas was renamed Eustathios, his wife was called Theopiste, and their children, Agapius and Theopistus.

    On the following day, St Eustathios set out to the place of his miraculous conversion and in fervent prayer he offered up thanks to the Lord for having called him onto the path of salvation. Again, St Eustathios received a miraculous revelation. The Lord Himself foretold his impending tribulations, “Eustathios, you shall suffer many misfortunes, as did Job, but in the end you will conquer the devil”. Soon St Eustathios was plunged into misfortune; all his servants died of the plague and his cattle perished. Brought to ruin, but not despairing in spirit, St Eustathios and his family secretly abandoned their home, to live unknown, humble and in poverty. They went to Egypt to board a ship sailing for Jerusalem. During the voyage, a new woe beset the saint. The ship owner, enchanted by the beauty of Theopiste, cruelly set Eustathios and his children ashore, keeping the wife for himself. In great sorrow, the Saint continued on his way, and new woe beset him. Coming to a tempestuous river, he went to carry his two sons across in turn. When he had brought one across, the other was seized by a lion and carried off into the wilderness. As he turned back towards the other, a wolf dragged that child into the forest.

    Having lost everything, St Eustathios wept bitterly. However, he realized that Divine Providence had sent him these misfortunes to test his endurance and devotion to God. In his inconsolable grief, St Eustathios went on farther, prepared for new tribulations. In the village of Badessos he found work and spent five years in unremitting toil. St Eustathios did not know then that through the mercy of God, shepherds and farmers had saved his sons, and they lived right near him. He also did not know that the impudent shipowner had been struck down with a terrible disease and died, leaving St Theopiste untouched. She lived at the place where the ship landed in peace and freedom. During this time it had become difficult for the emperor Trajan to raise an army for Rome to deal with a rebellion, for the soldiers would not go into battle without their commander Placidas. They advised Trajan to send men out to all the cities to look for him.

    Antiochus and Acacius, friends of Placidas, sought him in various places. Finally, they arrived in the village where St Eustathios lived. The soldiers found Eustathios, but they did not recognize him and they began to tell him of the one whom they sought, asking his help and promising a large reward. St Eustathios, immediately recognized his friends, but did not reveal to them his identity. He borrowed money from one of his friends and fed the visitors. As they looked at him, the travellers noted that he resembled their former commander. When they saw a scar on his shoulder from a deep sword-wound, they realized that it was their friend there before them. They embraced him with tears and told him why they were seeking him.

    St Eustathios returned to Rome with them and again became a general. Many new recruits were drafted into the army from all over the empire. He did not know that two young soldiers who served him, and whom he loved for their skill and daring, were actually his own sons. They did not know that they were serving under the command of their own father, or that they were brothers by birth. While on campaign, the army led by Eustathios halted at a certain settlement. The soldier-brothers were talking in their tent. The elder one spoke about his life, how he had lost his mother and brother, and how in a terrifying way he had been parted from his father. The younger brother then realized that before him was his very own brother, and told him how he had been rescued from the wolf. A woman overheard the soldiers’ conversation, since their tent was pitched right next to her house, and this woman realized that these were her sons. Still not identifying herself to them, but not wanting to be separated from them, she went to their commander, St Eustathios, to ask him to take her to Rome with him. She said she had been a prisoner, and wanted to go home. Then she came to recognize the commander as her husband, and with tears, she told him about herself and about the two soldiers who were actually their sons. Thus, through the great mercy of the Lord, the whole family was happily reunited.

    Soon thereafter the rebellion was crushed, and St Eustathios returned to Rome with honour and glory. The emperor Trajan had since died, and his successor Hadrian (117-138 AD) wanted to celebrate the event of victory with a solemn offering of sacrifice to the gods. To the astonishment of everyone, St Eustathios did not show up at the pagan temple. By order of the emperor they searched frantically for him. “Why don’t you want to worship the gods?” inquired the emperor. “You, above all others, ought to offer thanks to them. They not only preserved you in war and granted you victory, but also they helped you find your wife and children”. St Eustathios replied, “I am a Christian and I glorify and give thanks to Him, and I offer sacrifice to Him. I owe my life to Him. I do not know or believe in any other god than Him”.

    In a rage, the emperor ordered him to take off his military belt and brought him and his family before him. They did not succeed in persuading the steadfast confessors of Christ to offer sacrifice to idols. The whole family of St Eustathios was sentenced to be torn apart by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch the holy martyrs. Then the cruel emperor gave orders to throw them all alive into a red-hot brass bull, and St Eustathios, his wife Theopiste, and their sons Agapios and Theopistos endured a martyr’s death. Before being placed in the bull, St Eustathios prayed, “Grant, O Lord, Your grace to our relics, and let him who calls upon us have a place in Your Kingdom. Though he call upon us on a river or on the sea, when he is in danger, we entreat You to come to his aid”.

    Three days later, they opened the brass bull, and the bodies of the holy martyrs were found unscathed. Not one hair on their heads was singed, and their faces shone with an unearthly beauty. Many seeing this miracle came to believe in Christ. Christians then buried the bodies of the Saints in 126 AD.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    Your Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for You received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from You, our immortal God. For since they possessed Your strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ powerless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since You are merciful.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    O blessed one, since you emulated Christ’s sufferings and drank His cup with eagerness, you became a partaker and joint-heir of His glory, O wise Eustathios; and since He is God of all things, He gave you divine power from Heaven’s heights.

  • Quadratus the Apostle
    Prophet Jonah
    All day

    St Quadratus was a Disciple of the Apostles, and became Bishop of Athens. According to the Synaxaristes, he contested for the Christian faith in the year 117 AD, in the reign of Hadrian (117-138 AD), but according to others, in the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD).

    Dismissal Hymn (Third Tone)

    O Holy Apostle Quadratus, intercede with the merciful God that He grant to our souls forgiveness of offences.

    Kontakion (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

    As a most honoured hierarch and athlete of great fortitude, the world offers Apostle Quadratus to You, O Lord most merciful; as with hymns it honours his all-venerable memory, it asks of You through him to grant forgiveness of failings to them that sing his praise.

  • Martyr Phocas, Bishop of Sinope
    Phocas the Cyprian
    Martyrs Isaac & Martinos
    26 Monk-martyrs of Zographou Monastery martyred by the Latins
    All day

    St Phocas was known for the many miracles he worked and for his apostolic zeal in shepherding the flock of Sinope. He contested for the Faith during the reign of the Emperor Trajan, in 102 AD, when he was burned to death in a bath-house. St John Chrysostom composed a homily in his honour. The translation of his holy relics is celebrated on July 23.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, you found discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision. Therefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, you also contested for the Faith even to blood, O Hieromartyr Phocas. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    The Master has established you as a divinely-radiant luminous, and spiritual sun shining upon the multitude of the Church’s faithful, O glorious Martyr Phocas; for He has accepted your life, faith and contests as fragrant myrrh, since He alone is abundant in mercy.

  • Conception of the Forerunner
    Xanthippe & Polyxene
    New Martyr Nicholas
    Newmartyr John of Epiros
    All day

    The Conception of St. John the Baptist

    This came to pass fifteen months before the birth of Christ, after the vision of the Angel that Zacharias, the father of the Forerunner, saw in the Temple while he executed the priest’s office in the order of his course during the feast of the Tabernacles, as tradition bears witness. In this vision, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias and said to him, “Thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John” (Luke 1:13). Knowing that Elizabeth was barren, and that both he and she were elderly, Zacharias did not believe what the Angel told him, although he had before him the example of Abraham and Sarah, of Hannah, mother of the Prophet Samuel, and of other barren women in Israel who gave birth by the power of God. Hence, he was condemned by the Archangel to remain speechless until the fulfilment of these words in their season, which also came to pass (Luke 1:7-24).

    Apolytikion of Conception of the Forerunner in the Fourth Tone

    Rejoice, O thou barren one who hadst not borne until now; for lo, in all truth thou hast conceived the lamp of the Sun, and he shall send forth his light over all the earth, which is afflicted with blindness. Dance, O Zacharias, and cry out with great boldness: The one to be born is the blest Prophet of God Most High.

    Kontakion of Conception of the Forerunner in the First Tone

    Great Zacharias now doth rejoice with resplendence; Elizabeth his glorious yoke-mate exulteth; for she hath conceived divine John the Forerunner worthily, whom the great Archangel had announced with rejoicing, whom, as it is meet, we men revere as a sacred initiate of grace divine.

  • Protomartyr Thekla
    Silouan of Athos
    Coprios the Righteous
    Martyr Stephen
    Theotokos Myrtidiotissis
    All day

    Saint Thekla the Protomartyr & Equal to the Apostles

    Saint Thekla was born in Iconium to wealthy parents. After having heard St. Paul speak when she was eighteen years of age, she decided she must follow Christ and abandon her plans to marry. Her mother and her fiancé were opposed to this decision, and their accusations to the governor landed St. Paul in prison. St. Thekla slipped away from her house to visit St. Paul, having bribed the guards with her gold jewelry to gain entrance.

    At his trial, St. Paul was banished from the city, and Thekla refused to change her mind against the threats from her mother and the governor. She was firm in her conviction to devote herself to Jesus Christ the Bridegroom. Her mother, enraged, persuaded the judge to sentence Thekla to burn to death. Emboldened by her love for Christ, she made the sign of the Cross over the flames and was surrounded by a light, untouched by the flames. Rain, and hail extinguished the fire, and, with thunder, helped to drive away those who wished to put her to death.

    She sought out St. Paul and his companions, including St. Barnabas, who were hiding in a cave near the city, and proceeded to spread the Gospel of Christ with them in Antioch. Throughout her life, she performed many miraculous feats and suffered many tortures to give glory to God. Having retired to a desolate region of Isaurian Seleucia with the blessing of St Paul, Thekla continued to preach God’s word.

    When St Thekla had reached the age of 90, pagans appeared with the purpose of killing her. St Thekla called on Christ, and a large rock split open, covering her. Thereafter, she offered up her soul to the Lord.

    Troparion (Tone 4)

    You were enlightened by the words of Paul, O Bride of God, Thekla,

    And your faith was confirmed by Peter, O Chosen One of God

    You became the first sufferer and martyr among women,

    By entering into the flames as into a place of gladness

    For when you accepted the Cross of Christ,

    The demonic powers were frightened away

    all-praised One, intercede before Christ God that our souls may be saved.

    Kontakion (Tone 8)

    Glorious Thekla, virginity was your splendor,

    The crown of martyrdom your adornment and the faith you trust!

    You turned a burning fire into refreshing dew,

    And with your prayers appeased pagan fury, O First Woman Martyr!


  • Euphrosyne of Alexandria
    Martyr Paphnoutios & 546 Companions in Egypt
    All day

    St Euphrosyne of Alexandria was born at the beginning of the fifth century in the city of Alexandria. She was the only child in her family of famous and rich parents. Since her mother died early, she was raised by her father, Paphnoutios, a deeply believing and pious Christian. He frequented a monastery, the Abbott of which was his spiritual guide.

    When Euphrosyne turned eighteen, her father wanted her to marry. He went to the monastery to his spiritual guide to receive his blessing for the planned wedding of his daughter. The Abbott conversed with the daughter and gave her his blessing, but she yearned for monastic life. She secretly accepted tonsure from a wandering monk, left her father’s house, and decided to enter a monastery in order to lead her life in solitude and prayer. She feared, however, that in a women’s monastery her father would find her. Calling herself the eunuch Smaragdos, she went to the very same men’s monastery, which she had visited with her father since childhood.

    The monks did not recognize St Euphrosyne dressed in men’s garb, and so they accepted her into the monastery. Here in a solitary cell, she spent 38 years in works, fasting and prayer, and attained a high level of spiritual accomplishment. Her father grieved over the loss of his beloved daughter and more than once, on the advice of the Abbott, he conversed with the monk Smaragdos, revealing his grief and receiving spiritual comfort. Before her death, the nun Euphrosyne revealed her secret to her grieving father and asked that no one but he should prepare her body for burial. Having buried his daughter, Paphnutios distributed all his wealth to both the poor and to the monastery, and then he accepted monasticism. For ten years right up to his own death, he laboured in the cell of his daughter.

    Dismissal Hymn (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

    In you the image was preserved with exactness, O Mother; for taking up your cross, you followed Christ, and by your deeds you taught us to overlook the flesh, for it passes away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal. Therefore, O righteous Euphrosyne, your spirit rejoices with the Angels.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    Desiring to reach the life on high, you earnestly spurned every vain and fleeting pleasure here below and lived among men as if a man, O all-famed Euphrosyne, since for Christ your Bridegroom’s sake you forsook a bridegroom that was temporal.

  • Translation of John the Theologian
    All day

    The Falling Asleep of John the Evangelist and Theologian

    According to Church tradition, St John the Apostle was assisted by St Prochoros in writing the Gospel According to St John. St John, “Son of Thunder” (Mark 3:17), was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. John and his brother, the Apostle James, were fishermen by trade, like their father Zebedee. John is believed to be the youngest Apostle and also “the beloved disciple” of Christ (John 13:23; 21:7,20). On the Cross, Jesus entrusted His mother, the Virgin Mary, to John’s care (John 19:26, 27). John was a “pillar” of the church in Jerusalem, and later moved to Ephesus. He served as the leading authority (“Elder,” lit. “presbyter,” in 2 John 1) of Ephesus for the remainder of his ministry. During the reign of the tyrannical Roman Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD), John was exiled to the nearby island of Patmos, where he wrote Revelation (also called the Apocalypse). Upon the Emperor’s death he returned to Ephesus to resume his episcopacy and to write his Gospel.

    St John is the first of only three saints in history to be named by the Church “the Theologian”, because of the profundity of his Gospel, which has been called “the spiritual Gospel”. The new Testament contains four other books attributed to John: three letters (1, 2, and 3 John, written about 90 AD, and the Book of Revelation, written about 95 AD).

    St John the Apostle was almost one hundred years old when he died, about 96-100 AD.

    Dismissal Hymn (Second Tone)

    Beloved Apostle of Christ our God, hasten to deliver a defenseless people. He who allowed you to recline on His breast, receives you as you bow before Him. Implore Him, John the Theologian, to disperse the persistent threat from the heathens, entreating for us peace and great mercy.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    Who shall declare declare your greatness, O virgin Disciple, for you pour forth wonders and are a source of healings, and pray for our souls as Theologian and friend of Christ.


    Also Celebrating Today:

    Removal of the Honorable Head of Apostle Andrew the First-Called
  • Martyr Kallistratus & Companions
    All day

    Saint Kallistratus the Martyr and his 49 Companions

    St Kallistratos was a native of Carthage. Neochoros, an ancestor of St Kallistratos, has served under the emperor Tiberius in Palestine, under the command of Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea, and was a witness to the suffering on the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, His voluntary death and glorious Resurrection. St Kallistratos’ father was a Christian, and he raised his son in faith and piety. Also like his father, he became a soldier and excelled among his pagan military comrades by his good conduct and gentle disposition.

    At night when everyone slept, he usually stayed up at prayer. Once, a soldier sleeping nearby heard St Kallistratos invoking the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he reported this to the military commander, who in turn summoned Kallistratos, interrogated him and wanted to make him offer sacrifice to idols. To this, the Saint answered firmly with a resolute refusal. The military commander gave orders to beat the Saint and then, covered with wounds, to drag him over sharp stones. The beating and the torments did not sway the firm will and brave endurance of the sufferer. The torturer then gave orders to sew up the Saint in a leather sack and drown him in the sea. By Divine Providence, however, the sack struck a sharp rock tearing it, and he, carried by dolphins, came to dry land unharmed. Viewing such a miracle, 49 soldiers came to believe in Christ. Then the military commander threw St Kallistratos together with the believing soldiers into prison. Before this, all of them were subjected to innumerable floggings.

    In jail St Kallistratos continued to preach the Word of God to the soldiers and he bolstered their spirits for martyrdom. Summoned again to the military commander, the sufferers firmly confessed their faith in Christ, after which they bound them hand and foot and threw them into a dam. However, there their bonds broke, and with bright faces, the holy martyrs stood in the water, rejoicing in their Baptism, which coincided with the act of martyrdom.

    Above them were beautiful bright crowns, and all heard a voice, “Be brave, Kallistratos, with your company, and come rest in the eternal habitations”. At the same time, the earth shuddered and an idol standing nearby fell down and smashed. Seeing this, another 135 soldiers also believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. The military commander, fearing a mutiny in the army, did not put them on trial, but again imprisoned St Kallistratos with the others, where they fervently prayed and gave thanks to the Creator, for giving them power to endure such sufferings. At night, they cut the martyrs to pieces with swords by order of the military commander. The 135 soldiers who remained alive buried their holy relics. Later, a church was built on the spot of their sufferings, as St Kallistratos had foretold.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    Your Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for You received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from You, our immortal God. For since they possessed Your strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ powerless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since You are merciful.

    Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

    O all-wise and godly Saints, today the whole Church, showing honour to you all, you now sing your praise in spirit; for you contested for Her, O right-victorious Martyrs of Christ our God.


    Also Celebrating Today:

    • Mark, Aristarchos, and Zenon, Apostles of the 70
    • Akylina the New Martyr of Thessaloniki
    • Gideon the Righteous
  • Chariton the Confessor
    All day

    Saint Chariton the Confessor

    St Chariton the Confessor suffered at Iconium during one of the persecutions against Christians under the emperor Aurelian. The grace-bearing example of the holy Protomartyr Thekla (commemorated September 24) encouraged him in his confessor’s deed. She being a native of his city, whose memory he in particular deeply venerated. St Chariton bravely denounced the pagan gods and staunchly confessed faith in the One True God, Christ the Saviour. The holy Confessor underwent fierce tortures but, through the Providence of God, he remained alive. When the persecution abated, the Saint was set free from prison and he dedicated all his life to the service of the Lord.

    Journeying to Jerusalem on pilgrimage to the holy places, he fell into the hands of robbers. They tied him up and threw him in a cave, intending to kill him later, and they hastened away on business. The Saint prayed fervently in expectation of death. He gave thanks to God and entreated him to do with him according to His will. At this time a snake crawled into the cave and began to drink wine from a vessel setting there, poisoning it with its deadly venom. Returning to the cave, the robbers drank the poisoned wine and they all perished. St Chariton gave thanks to God and began his ascetic struggles at the place of his miraculous rescue. He distributed the plundered gold of the robbers to the poor, and in the robbers cave he built a church, around which in time there formed a monastery, the renowned Pharan Lavra in Palestine.

    St Chariton compiled a strict rule for his monastery. Yearning for solitude, the monk went farther into the desert, but there also he did not reject those who sought his spiritual guidance, and he founded the monasteries Jericho and the Souka, named the “Old Lavra”. At the end of his life, St Chariton struggled in a cave on a hill near the Souka monastery, but he did not cease to provide guidance for all three of the monasteries he founded.

    According to Tradition, St Chariton compiled the office of taking monastic vows. The Saint died in extreme old age and was buried, in accord with his last wishes, in the Pharan monastery in the church, built on the site of the robbers’ cave.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

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

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    Delighting in abstinence, O godly-minded one, and reining in the desires of your flesh, you were seen to be increasing in faith. And you blossomed forth like the tree of life in the midst of Eden, O all-blessed and most sacred Chariton.


    Baruch the Prophet

    The Prophet Baruch was the son of Nerias, and the disciple of the Prophet Jeremias ( Jer. 39:12; 43:4 LXX). The extant prophetical book that he wrote is divided into five chapters; it was composed in the fifth year of the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews during the years of Sedekias, 583 B.C. The prophetic lection that is read on the eve of the Feast of Christ’s Nativity, which bears Jeremias’ name, is taken from the prophecy of Baruch (Bar. 3:35-4:4). His name means “blessed.”

    Apolytikion of Prophet Baruch in the Fourth Tone

    Thou didst foretell the Lord’s divine Incarnation when thou didst cry out to the whole world, O Prophet: This is our God, there shall be none compared to Him; He was seen upon the earth, being born of a Virgin: He hath shone upon our souls the divine light of knowledge. And He doth grant salvation unto all who sing thy praise, O divinely-inspired Baruch.

    Kontakion of Prophet Baruch in the Second Tone

    As thou was vouchsafed the shining rays of prophecy, thou also wast bound to Jeremias as his friend, and foretoldest of the Word’s self-abasement for our refashioning, O all-lauded Prophet Baruch. Entreat Him to save us all, who honour thee.


    Also Celebrating Today:

    • Our Righteous Father Alkeisonus, Metropolitan of Nicopolis; Old Epirus
    • Neophytos & Auxentios the Martyrs of Cyprus
    • Wenceslaus the Martyr, Prince of the Czechs
  • Hermit Kyriakos
    All day

    Saint Kyriakos the Hermit of Palestine

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

    Dismissal Hymn (First Tone)

    You proved to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Kyriakos, our God-bearing father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer obtained heavenly gifts, and you healed the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to you with faith. Glory to Him that has given you strength. Glory to him that has crowned you. Glory to Him that works healing for all through you.

    Kontakion (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

    The sacred lavra rightly honour you at all times as a sure helper and support and mighty champion, and it annually observes your holy memory. And since you, O righteous Kyriakos, possesses boldness with the Lord, protect us from our enemies, that we may cry to you, “Rejoice, O thrice-blessed father”.

    Also Celebrating Today:

    • Martyr Petronius
    • Theophanes the Merciful of Gaza
    • Dionysios I, Patriarch of Constantinople
    • Malachi the New Righteous Martyr of Lindos
  • Gregory the Enlightener of Armenia
    All day

    Hieromartyr Gregory, Equal of the Apostles and Enlightener of Armenia

    Hieromartyr Gregory, Enlightener of Great Armenia, was born in 257 AD. He was descended from the line of the Parthian Arsakid emperors. The father of St Gregory, Anak, in striving after the Armenian throne, had murdered his kinsman, the emperor Kursar, in consequence of which all the line of Anak was marked for destruction.

    A certain relative saved Gregory: he carried off the infant from Armenia to Caesarea Cappadocia and raised him in the Christian faith. At maturity, Gregory married, had two sons, but soon was left a widower. Gregory raised his sons in piety. Orthanes became a priest and Arostanes accepted monasticism and went off into the wilderness. In order to atone for the sin of his father, who had murdered the father of Tiridates, Gregory entered into the service of the latter and was a faithful servant to him. Tiridates loved Gregory like a friend, but he was intolerant of the Christian confession of faith. After ascending the Armenian throne, he began to demand that St Gregory renounce the Christian Faith. The steadfastness of the Saint embittered Tiridates, and he gave his faithful servant over to cruel tortures. They suspended the sufferer head downwards with a stone about his neck, for several days they choked him with a stinking smoke, they beat and ridiculed him, and forced him to walk in iron sandals inset with nails.

    At the time of this suffering St Gregory sang Psalms. In prison, the Lord healed all his wounds. When Gregory again stood before the emperor cheerful and unharmed, he was astonished and gave orders to repeat the torments. St Gregory endured them, not wavering, with all his former determination and bearing. They then poured hot tin over him and threw him into a pit filled with vipers. The Lord, however, saved His chosen one, and the snakes did him no harm. Pious women fed him with bread, secretly lowering it into the pit. A holy angel, appearing to the martyr, invigorated his powers and encouraged his spirit. Thus, it went on for fourteen years. During this time, the emperor Tiridates wrought yet another evil deed by martyring the holy virgin St Ripsima, the aged Abbess Gaiana, and another 35 virgins from one of the Asia Minor monasteries.

    Dismissal Hymn (Third Tone)

    You sowed the knowledge of God in the hearts of the faithful, by the example of your life and faith. Made radiant by the wounds of martyrdom, You shed light on all. O Hierarch Gregory, pray to Christ our God to grant us great mercy!

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    Let us, the faithful, praise the holy Hierarch Gregory. He is a shepherd, a teacher and an enlightener. He is an athlete for the Truth, and he intercedes with Christ God that our souls may be saved!


    Also Celebrated Today:

    • Mardonios & Stratonikos the Martyrs