< 2019 >
  • Unmercenaries Cosmas & Damian
    All day

    The Holy Martyrs, Wonderworkers and Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian were born at Rome, brothers by birth, and physicians by profession. They suffered at Rome in the reign of the emperor Carinus (283-284 AD). Brought up by their parents in the rules of piety, they led strict and chaste lives, and they were granted by God the gift of healing the sick. By their generosity and exceptional kindness to all, the brothers converted many to Christ. The brothers told the sick, “It is not by our own power that we treat you, but by the power of Christ, the true God. Believe in Him and be healed”. Since they accepted no payment for their treatment of the infirm, the holy brothers were called “unmercenary physicians”.

    Their life of active service and their great spiritual influence on the people around them led many into the Church, attracting the attention of the Roman authorities. Soldiers were sent after the brothers. Hearing about this, local Christians convinced Sts. Cosmas and Damian to hide for a while until they could help them escape. Unable to find the brothers, the soldiers arrested instead other Christians of the area where the saints lived. Sts. Cosmas and Damian then came out of hiding and surrendered to the soldiers, asking them to release those who had been arrested because of them.

    At Rome, the Saints were imprisoned and put on trial. Before the Roman emperor and the judge they openly professed their faith in Christ God, Who had come into the world to save mankind and redeem the world from sin, and they resolutely refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. They said, “We have done evil to no one, we are not involved with the magic or sorcery of which you accuse us. We treat the infirm by the power of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and we take no payment for rendering aid to the sick, because our Lord commanded His disciples, ‘Freely have you received, freely give’” (Matt 10: 8).

    The emperor, however, continued with his demands. Through the prayer of the holy brothers, imbued with the power of grace, God suddenly struck Carinus blind, so that he too might experience the almighty power of the Lord, Who does not forgive blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mt. 12: 31). The people, beholding the miracle, cried out, “Great is the Christian God! There is no other God but Him!” Many of those who believed besought the holy brothers to heal the emperor, and he himself implored the saints, promising to convert to the true God, Christ the Saviour, so the saints healed him. After this, Sts. Cosmas and Damian were honourably set free, and once again they set about treating the sick.

    But what the hatred of the pagans and the ferocity of the Roman authorities could not do, was accomplished by black envy, one of the strongest passions of sinful human nature. An older physician, an instructor, under whom the holy brothers had studied the art of medicine, became envious of their fame. Driven to madness by malice, and overcome by passionate envy, he summoned the two brothers, formerly his most beloved students, proposing that they should all go together in order to gather various medicinal herbs. Going far into the mountains, he murdered them and threw their bodies into a river.

    Thus these holy brothers, the Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian, ended their earthly journey as martyrs. Although they had devoted their lives to the Christian service of their neighbours, and had escaped the Roman sword and prison, their teacher treacherously murdered them. The Lord glorifies those who are pleasing to God. Now, through the prayers of the holy martyrs Cosmas and Damian, God grants healing to all who with faith have recourse to their heavenly intercession.

    The Unmercenary Sts Cosmas and Damian of Rome should not be confused with the Unmercenary Sts Cosmas and Damian of Asia Minor (commemorated November 1), or the Unmercenary Sts Cosmas and Damian of Arabia (commemorated October 17).

    Dismissal Hymn (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

    Sainted Unmercenaries and Wonder Workers, regard our infirmities; freely you have received, freely share with us.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    Having received the grace of healing, you extend health to those in need, O glorious and wonderworking physicians. Hence, by your visitation, cast down the audacity of our enemies, and by your miracles, heal the world.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Constantine the New Martyr of Cyprus
    Aaron and Julius the Martyrs of Caerelon
    Germanus, Bishop of the Isle of Man

  • Robe of the Theotokos
    All day

    Deposition of the Precious Robe of the Theotokos in Vlachernae

    During the reign of Leo the Great (457-474 AD) two patricians and brethren on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land lodged with an old widow, a Christian of Jewish descent. Seeing the many miracles wrought at a small shrine in her house, they pressed her until she revealed to them that she had raiment of the most Holy Theotokos kept in a small coffer. Our Lady had had two virgins in her lifetime who attended upon her; before her Holy Dormition, she gave each of them one of her divine garments as a blessing. This old widow was of the family of one of those two virgins, and it had come through the generations into her hands. With the permission of God, that this holy relic might be had for the profit of many, the two men took the garment by stealth and brought it to Vlachernae near Constantinople, and building a church in honour of the Apostles Peter and Mark, they secretly enshrined the garment therein.

    But here again, because of the multitude of miracles that were worked, it became known to the Emperor Leo, and a magnificent church was built, as some say, by that same Leo, but according to others, by his predecessors Marcian and Pulcheria, and enlarged by Leo when the holy raiment was found. The Emperor Justin the Younger completed the church, which the Emperor Romanus IV Diogenes raised up immediately again after it had burned in 1070. It burned again in 1434 AD, and from that time it remained a small house of prayer together with the renowned holy spring. After the seventh century, the name Vlachernae was given to other churches and monasteries by their pious founders out of reverence for this famous church in Constantinople. In this church John Catacuzene was crowned in 1345 AD; also, the Council against Acindynus, the follower of Barlaam, was convoked here.

    Dismissal Hymn (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

    O Ever-Virgin Theotokos, shelter of mankind, you have bestowed a mighty in vesture upon you people, even your immaculate body’s raiment and sash, which by your seedless childbirth have remained incorrupt; for in your nature and time are made new. Therefore, we implore you to grant peace to the world, and great mercy to our souls.

    Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

    O godly shelter that covers all mankind, the sacred robe that covered your sacred body you have bestowed on all the faithful graciously, O pure Virgin, as a robe of divine incorruption. As we celebrate with love its august deposition, we cry to you with fear, O graced of God: Rejoice, O modest one, boast of the Christian race.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem
    Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos of the Orphan


  • Martyr Hyacinth & Companions
    All day

    Hyacinth the Martyr of Caesarea and Theodotos and Theodota the Martyrs

    The Martyr Hyacinth, who was from Caesarea of Cappadocia, was the chamberlain of the Emperor Trajan. On being constrained by the Emperor to partake of the sacrifices offered to idols and not wishing to do so, he was shut up in prison without food, where he gave up his spirit to God in the year 108 AD.

    Apolytikion of Martyr Hyacinth and Companions in the 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 of Martyr Hyacinth and Companions in the Fourth Tone

    Like a fragrant hyacinth of the Church of Christ, O all-blessed Hyacinth, you radiate grace to the ends of the world. By the brilliance of your confession of faith, you were illustrious in contest in emulation of God the Word and you ever illumine those who acclaim you.


    Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople

    Saint Anatolius was a priest from Alexandria, who had been ordained deacon and perhaps also priest by Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria. In 449, at the Robber Council of Ephesus, Saint Cyril’s infamous successor, the violent Dioscorus, unlawfully deposed Flavian, the Patriarch of Constantinople and opponent of the Monophysite Eutyches; Flavian, from the beatings which he received, died soon after. Dioscorus, thinking that the priest Anatolius would support him, consecrated him Patriarch of Constantinople in Saint Flavian’s stead. After he had been consecrated by Dioscorus-who at that time had not yet been deposed-Anatolius united with the Orthodox; before the Council of Chalcedon in 451, he held a council of the Bishops in Constantinople, at which the Orthodox “Tome” of Pope Leo (see Feb. 18), which Dioscorus had not allowed to be read at the Robber Council, was read and approved; and at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, he condemned Nestorius, Eutyches, and, for his unlawful actions, Dioscorus. Saint Anatolius reposed in the year 458. Some ascribe to this Anatolius the hymns of Vespers and the Praises in the Octoechos that are labeled Anatolian Stichera; but others (which may be more correct), to another with the same name, who was from the Monastery of Studium, and a disciple of Saint Theodore the Studite, whose epistle to this Anatolius is still extant.

    Apolytikion of Anatolius, 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. Anatolios, our father and priest of priests, intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.

    Kontakion of Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople in the Third Tone

    Ever bearing in thy soul the shining heavenly Dayspring, which illuminated thee with a divinely-taught wisdom, thou didst shine as a bright beacon of Orthodoxy, scattering the night of heresy and delusion. Anatolius, our Father, we therefore laud thee as a great light of the Faith.


    Translation of the Holy Relics of our Father Among the Saints Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow

    Today we also commemorate the translation of the holy and incorrupt relics of Saint Philip from the Monastery of Solovki, where he was Abbot, to the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow, his Metropolitan throne. This came to pass in 1652, some eighty years after his martyric death in Tver. (See also Jan. 9 and Oct. 5.)

    Apolytikion of Holy Relics of Saint Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    O Successor of first prelates, pillar of Orthodoxy, champion of truth, new confessor, Saint Philip, thou didst lay down thy life for thy flock. Wherefore, since thou hast boldness with Christ, pray for the suffering Russian land and them that worthily honour thy holy memory.

    Kontakion of Holy Relics of Saint Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow in the Third Tone

    Let us praise most wise Philip, guide and teacher of Orthodoxy, herald of truth, emulator of Chrysostom, lamp of Russia, who fed his children spiritually with the food of his words; for by chanting praise with his tongue, he taught us to chant with our lips as an initiate of the grace of God.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Gerasimos the Holy Martyr of Karenesi


  • Andrew of Crete
    All day

    Saint Andrew of Crete Author of the Great Canon

    Saint Andrew, although born in Damascus of Asia Minor in 669 AD, and grew up in the city of the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord, yet he is closely associated with the island of the heroes, of Crete. His parents, George and Gregoria, being devout Christians, infused the soul of their son with the commandments of God. His Christian education bestowed Saint Andrew with the required qualities of distinction. He was tonsured a monk at a young age and later distinguished himself as patriarchal notary in Jerusalem.

    At the age of 25, he was ordained Deacon by the Patriarch of Constantinople George. Saint Andrew looked upon the city of Jerusalem and upon Constantinople as the beacons of universal education and as sources of theological thought. His presence could not go unnoticed, and his prudence and vigour were soon recognised by the Patriarch of Jerusalem who included him in the delegation to the sixth Ecumenical Synod in Constantinople in 680 AD. That Synod convened in order to examine the issue of Monophysitism – Monothelitism. The works lasted for approximately a year and meetings totalled eighteen. Saint Andrew exhibited strategic qualities in defending Orthodox faith and defeated the cause of the heretics. By the end of the Synod the disparities between the parties had been dissolved.

    At the age of 51, Saint Andrew was appointed Archbishop of Crete. As chief administrator on ecclesiastical matters on the island he assumed the responsibility of organising the Church of Crete. During his office he prompted philanthropy, erected churches and charitable institutions. Saint Andrew comforted and encouraged his flock during harsh times. He distinguished himself as an orator and great hymnographer. Today, approximately 100 canons and numerous troparia of the saint are preserved. Being extremely sensitive and receptive to social problems, he would travel to Constantinople to consult with the head of the Church. During one of his trips, the saint passed away on board ship on his way back to Crete. He was buried in the Church of Agia Anastasia on the island of Chios in 740 AD. Our church celebrates his memory on July 4 every year.

    It is customary in Crete to praise a person who exhibits valour all his life. The valiant never perish, we believe. They are always contemporary and an inspiration to all those who dare stand up against the enemy to defend our priceless and perennial heritage. It is high time to rally our forces, assume initiative to claim what is rightfully ours. It is our destiny to defend our beliefs and come out victorious, in spite of the fact that we are always outnumbered by the numerous enemies.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence; your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you. Hierarch Father Andrew, entreat Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    You sounded forth divine melodies like a trumpet, and were a bright lamp for the world. You shone with the light of the Trinity, O righteous Andrew. Therefore we cry to you: Ever intercede for us all!


    Holy Royal Martyrs of Russia

    russian_royal_familyTsar Nicholas II was the son of Alexander III, who had reposed in the arms of Saint John of Kronstadt. Having been raised in piety, Tsar Nicholas ever sought to rule in a spirit consonant with the precepts of Orthodoxy and the best traditions of his nation. Tsaritsa Alexandra, a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria of England, and a convert from Lutheranism, was noted for her piety and compassion for the poor and suffering. Their five children were beloved of all for their kindness, modesty, and guilelessness.

    Amidst the political turmoil of 1917, Tsar Nicholas selflessly abdicated the throne for what he believed was the good of his country. Although he had abdicated willingly, the revolutionaries put him and his family under house arrest, then sent them under guard to Tobolsk and finally Ekaterinburg. A letter written from Tobolsk by Grand Duchess Olga, the eldest of the children, shows their nobility of soul. She writes, “My father asks that I convey to all those who have remained devoted to him … that they should not take vengeance on his account, because he has forgiven everyone and prays for them all. Nor should they avenge themselves. Rather, they should bear in mind that this evil which is now present in the world will become yet stronger, but that evil will not conquer evil, but only love shall do so.”

    After enduring sixteen months of imprisonment, deprivation, and humiliation with a Christian patience which moved even their captors, they and those who were with them gained their crowns of martyrdom when they were shot and stabbed to death in the cellar of the Ipatiev house in Ekaterinburg in 1918.

    Together with them are also commemorated those who faithfully served them, and were either slain with them, or on their account: General Elias Tatishchev; Prince Basil Dolgorukov; the physician Eugene Dotkin; the lady-in-waiting Countess Anastasia Hendrikova; the serving-maid Anna Demidova; the cook John Kharitonov; and the sailors Clement Nagorny and John Sednev.

    Apolytikion of Royal Martyrs of Russia in the First Tone

    Most noble and sublime was your life and death, O Sovereigns; wise Nicholas and blest Alexandra, we praise you, acclaiming your piety, meekness, faith, and humility, whereby ye attained to crowns of glory in Christ God, with your five renowned and godly children of blest fame. O Marytrs decked in purple, intercede for us.

    Kontakion of Royal Martyrs of Russia in the Third Tone

    Royalty and martyrdom were joined together, O blest ones, in your death for righteousness and right belief, O wise Sovereigns, Nicholas and Alexandra, with your five children. Hence, Christ God hath deemed you worthy of thrones in Heaven; and with twofold crowns of glory, ye reign for ever, adorned with grace divine.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Martha, mother of St. Symeon Stylites the Younger
    Asclepias the Wonderworker
    Michael Choniates, Metropolitan of Athens


  • Athanasios of Mount Athos
    All day

    Saint Athanasios of Athos, in Holy Baptism named Abraham, was born in the city of Trebezond. He was orphaned at an early age, and being raised by a certain good and pious nun, he imitated his adoptive mother in the habits of monastic life, in fasting and in prayer. Doing his lessons came easily and he soon outpaced his peers in study.

    After the death of his adoptive mother, Abraham was taken to Constantinople, to the court of the Byzantine emperor Romanus the Elder, and was enrolled as a student under the renowned rhetorician Athanasios. In a short while the student attained the mastery of skill of his teacher and he himself became an instructor of youths. Reckoning as the true life that of fasting and vigilance, Abraham led a strict and abstinent life, he slept little and then only sitting upon a stool, and barley bread and water were his nourishment. When his teacher Athanasios through human weakness became jealous of his student, blessed Abraham gave up his teaching position and went away.

    During these days there had arrived at Constantinople Saint Michael Maleinos (commemorated July 12), igumen of the Kyminas monastery. Abraham told the igumen about his life, and revealed to him his secret desire to become a monk. The holy Elder, discerning in Abraham a chosen vessel of the Holy Spirit, became fond of him and taught him much in questions of salvation. One time during their spiritual talks his nephew, Nicephorus Phocas, a military officer and future emperor, visited Saint Michael. Abraham’s lofty spirit and profound mind impressed Nicephorus, and all his life he regarded the saint with reverent respect and with love. Abraham was consumed by his zeal for the monastic life. Having forsaken everything, he went to the Kyminas monastery and, falling down at the feet of the holy igumen, he begged to be received into the monastic life. The igumen fulfilled his request with joy and tonsured him with the name Athanasios.

    With long fasts, vigils, bending of the knees, with works night and day Athanasios soon attained such perfection, that the holy igumen blessed him for the exploit of silence in a solitary place not far from the monastery. Later on, having left Kyminas, he made the rounds of many desolate and solitary places, and guided by God, he came to a place called Melanos, at the very extremity of Athos, settling far off from the other monastic dwellings. Here the monk made himself a cell and began to live an ascetical life in works and in prayer, proceeding from exploit to exploit towards higher monastic attainment.

    The enemy of mankind tried to arouse in Saint Athanasios hatred for the place chosen by him, and assaulted him with constant suggestions in thought. The ascetic decided to suffer it out for a year, and then wherever the Lord should direct him, he would go. On the last day of this year’s length of time, when Saint Athanasios set about to prayer, a heavenly light suddenly shone upon him, filling him with an indescribable joy, all the thoughts dissipated, and from his eyes welled up graced tears. From that moment Saint Athanasios received the gift of tenderness , and he became as strongly fond of the place of his solitude as he had formerly loathed it. During this time Nicephorus Phocas, having had enough of military exploits, remembered his vow to become a monk and from his means he besought Saint Athanasios to build a monastery, i.e., to build cells for him and the brethren, and a church where the brethren could commune of the Divine Mysteries of Christ on Sundays.

    Tending to shun cares and worries, Saint Athanasios at first would not agree to accept the hateful gold, but seeing the fervent desire and good intent of Nicephorus, and discerning in this the will of God, he set about the building of the monastery. He erected a large church in honour of the holy Prophet and Forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist, and another church at the foot of a hill, in the name of the Most Holy Theotokos. Around the church were the cells, and a wondrous monastery arose on the Holy Mountain. In it were a trapeza (dining area), a hospice for the sick and for taking in wanderers, and other necessary structures.

    Brethren flocked to the monastery from everywhere, not only from Greece, but also from other lands, simple people and illustrious dignitaries, desert-dwellers having laboured in asceticism for long years in the wilderness, igumens from many monasteries and hierarchs wanting to become simple monks in the Athos Lavra of Saint Athanasios. The saint established at the monastery a cenobitic monastic Rule on the model of the old Palestinian monasteries. Divine services were served with all strictness, and no one was so bold as to talk during the services, nor to come late or leave the church without necessity.

    The Heavenly Patroness of Athos, the All-Pure Mother of God Herself, was graciously disposed towards the saint. Many times he was privileged to see Her with his own eyes. By God’s dispensation, there once occurred such a hunger, that the monks one after the other quit the Lavra. The saint remained all alone and, in a moment of weakness, he also considered leaving. Suddenly he beheld a Woman beneath an ethereal veil, coming to meet him. “Who are you and where are you going?” She asked quietly. Saint Athanasios from an innate deference halted. “I am a monk from here”, Saint Athanasios replied, and spoke about himself and his worries.

    “Would you forsake the monastery which was intended for glory from generation to generation, just for a morsel of dry bread? Where is your faith? Turn around, and I shall help you”. “Who are you?” asked Athanasios. “I am the Mother of the Lord”, She answered, and bid Athanasios to strike his staff upon a stone. From the fissure there gushed forth a spring of water, which exists even now, in remembrance of this miraculous visitation.

    The brethren grew in number, and the construction work at the Lavra continued. Saint Athanasios, foreseeing the time of his departure to the Lord, prophesied about his impending end and besought the brethren not to be troubled over what he foresaw. “For Wisdom disposes otherwise than as people judge”. The brethren were perplexed and pondered the words of the saint. After giving the brethren his final guidance and comforting all, Saint Athanasios entered his cell, put on his mantiya and holy kukolion (head covering), which he wore only on great feasts, and emerged after prolonged prayer. Alert and joyful, the holy igumen went up with six of the brethren to the top of the church to inspect the construction. Suddenly, through the imperceptible will of God, the top of the church collapsed. Five of the brethren immediately gave up their souls to God. Saint Athanasios and the architect Daniel, thrown upon the stones, remained alive. All heard the saint call out to the Lord, “Glory to You, O God! Lord, Jesus Christ, help me!” The brethren with great weeping began to dig out their father from the rubble, but they found him already dead.

    Dismissal Hymn (Third Tone)

    The Angels’ ranks were awed by your life in the flesh, how, though corporeal, and clad with earthly clay, you set forth with courage to invisible wars and wrestling and boldly smite the hordes of the demons with mortal wounds. Therefore, Christ rewarded you with abundant gifts in return. Entreat Him that our souls find salvation, O most renowned Father Athanasios.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    You took on yourself with faith the yoke of your Christ, while bearing your cross upon your shoulders as a true and unrivalled emulator of His dread Passion and sharer of His great glory, partaking of divine and unending joy, O Athanasios.


    Uncovering of the Holy Relics of Our Righteous Father Sergius of Radonezh

    Our righteous Father Sergius was born in Rostov, north of Moscow, about the year 1314. Named Bartholomew in Baptism, he was brought up in Radonezh, and at the death of his parents he withdrew to the wilderness to become a monk. It is notable that without having been trained in a monastery, he was of such a spiritual stature as to be able to take up the perilous eremitical life from the beginning, without falling into delusion or despondency. When he had endured with courage the deprivations of the solitary life, other monks began to come to him, for whom he was made abbot against his will. On the counsel of Philotheus, Patriarch of Constantinople, he organized his monks according to the cenobitic life, appointing duties to each. While Anthony and Theodosius of Kiev, and the other righteous Fathers before Sergius, had established their monasteries near to cities, Sergius was the leader and light of those who went far into the wilderness, and after his example the untrodden forests of northern Russia were settled with monks. When Grand Duke Demetrius Donskoy was about to go to battle against the invading Tartars, he first sought the blessing of Saint Sergius, through whose prayers he was triumphant. Saint Sergius was adorned with the highest virtues of Christ-like humility and burning love for God and neighbour, and received the gift of working wonders, of casting out demons, and of discretion for leading souls to salvation. When he served the Divine Liturgy, an Angel served with him visibly; he was also vouchsafed the visitation of the most holy Theotokos with the Apostles Peter and John. He was gathered to his Fathers on September 25, 1392. At the recovery of his holy relics on July 5, 1422, his body and garments were found fragrant and incorrupt. His life was written by the monks of Epiphanius, who knew him.

    Apolytikion of Relics of Saint Sergius of Radonezh in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    Thou didst receive Christ in thy soul from thy youth, O Saint, and above all didst desire to be quit of the turmoil of the world. Thou didst courageously settle in the wilds, and there thou didst raise children of obedience, fruits of humility. Thus, as an abode of the Trinity, thou didst enlighten with thy miracles all who came to thee with faith, and didst grant healings abundantly to all. O our Father Sergius, pray to Christ our God that He save our souls.

    Kontakion of Relics of Saint Sergius of Radonezh in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    Having risen from the earth, thou didst shine today like the sun; for thy precious and incorrupt relics were found like a fragrant flower, shining with a multitude of miracles, and pouring various healings on all the faithful, and gladdening thy chosen flock, which thou didst gather so wisely and tend so well. And now as thou standest in the presence of the Trinity, pray for them and for all Orthodox Christians to be granted victory over their enemies, that we all may cry to thee: Rejoice, O divinely wise Sergius.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Kyprianos the New Martyr of Koutloumousiou Monastery
    Righteous Father Lampadus the Wonderworker


  • Sisoes the Great
    All day

    Saint Sisoes the Great (+429 AD) was a solitary monk, pursuing asceticism in the Egyptian desert in a cave sanctified by the prayerful labours of his predecessor, Saint Anthony the Great (commemorated January 17). For his sixty years of labour in the desert, Saint Sisoes attained to sublime spiritual purity and he was granted the gift of wonderworking, so that by his prayers he once restored a dead child back to life.

    Extremely strict with himself, Abba Sisoes was very merciful and compassionate to others, and he received everyone with love. To those who visited him, the first of all always taught humility. When one of the monks asked how he might attain to a constant remembrance of God, Saint Sisoes remarked, “That is no great thing, my son, but it is a great thing to regard yourself as inferior to everyone else. This leads to the acquisition of humility”. Asked by the monks whether one year is sufficient for repentance if a brother sins, Abba Sisoes said, “I trust in the mercy of God that if such a man repents with all his heart, then God will accept his repentance in three days”.

    When Saint Sisoes lay upon his deathbed, the disciples surrounding the Elder saw that his face shone like the sun. They asked the dying man what he saw. Abba Sisoes replied that he saw Saint Anthony, the prophets, and the apostles. His face increased in brightness, and he spoke with someone. The monks asked, “With whom are you speaking, Father?” He said that angels had come for his soul, and he was entreating them to give him a little more time for repentance. The monks said, “You have no need for repentance, Father”. Saint Sisoes said with great humility, “I do not think that I have even begun to repent”.

    After these words the face of the holy abba shone so brightly that the brethren were not able to look upon him. Saint Sisoes told them that he saw the Lord Himself. Then there was a flash like lightning, and a fragrant odour, and Abba Sisoes departed to the Heavenly Kingdom.

    Dismissal Hymn (First Tone)

    You proved to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Sisoes, 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 thee with faith. Glory to Him that has given you strength. Glory to him that has crowned you. Glory to Him that works healings for all through you.

    Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

    In your struggles, you were as an earthly Angel, shining light upon the minds of all the faithful ceaselessly with your divine signs; and for this cause, righteous Sisoes, we honour you faithfully.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Holy Apostles Archippus, Philemon and Onesimus
    Loukia the Virgin-martyr, Rixios and the 24 Companion Martyrs
    Juliana the Virgin-martyr


  • Kyriaki the Great Martyr
    All day

    Saint Kyriake was the daughter of Christian parents, Dorotheus and Eusebia. She was given her name because she was born on Sunday, the day of the Lord (in Greek, Kyriake). She contested in Nicomedia during the reign of Diocletian, in the year 300. After many bitter torments she was condemned to suffer beheading, but being granted time to pray first, she made her prayer and gave up her holy soul in peace.

    Apolytikion of Great Martyr Kyriake in the Fourth Tone

    O Lord Jesus, unto Thee Thy lamb doth cry with a great voice: O my Bridegroom, Thee I love; and seeking Thee, I now contest, and with Thy baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; for Thy sake I die, that I may live in Thee: accept me offered out of longing to Thee as a spotless sacrifice. Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since Thou art great in mercy.

    Kontakion of Great Martyr Kyriake in the Second Tone

    The Martyr of Christ hath called us all together now to praise and acclaim her wrestlings and her godly feats; for possessed of manliness of mind, she hath proved to be worthy of her name, being lady and mistress of her mind and the passions of unseemliness.


    Thomas the Righteous of Malea

    Saint Thomas, though wealthy in material goods, though illustrious for the military trophies he had won in wars against the barbarians, forsook all that he had that he might gain Christ, and was led by a pillar of fire to Mount Maleon. By divine grace he wrought wonders, cast out demons, gave sight to the blind, caused springs of water to gush forth, healed many, and while in prayer appeared as a pillar of fire. The century in which he lived is not known.

    Apolytikion of Thomas of Malea in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    The image of God, was faithfully preserved in you, O Father. For you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By Your actions you taught us to look beyond the flesh for it passes, rather to be concerned about the soul which is immortal. Wherefore, O Holy Thomas, your soul rejoices with the angels.

    Kontakion of Thomas of Malea in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    Leaving the army that is earthly and corruptible, thou didst ascend into the mountain of unceasing prayer, joining battle with the spirits of nether darkness. And since thou didst overcome thy fleshless enemies, thou was brought to thine eternal King in victory; hence we cry to thee: Rejoice, O Thomas of godly mind.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Akakios of Sinai
    Willibald, Bishop of Eichst

  • Martyr Prokopios
    All day

    Theodosia, the fanatical pagan mother of Prokopios, who loathed Christians, did all in her power to raise her son a pagan, and she was successful. In his youth, Prokopios was a typical pagan. Yet, God had other plans for this young man. His daily contact with Christians, from whom he heard many astonishingly beautiful things about Christ and His Holy Apostles, slowly interested him in the faith he up to then had despised. He began to see that the Christians, though lacking beautiful temples embellished with statues and decorous splendour, possessed another kind of beauty not to be found in any other religion or philosophical system. They possessed the truth, indeed, the ultimate truth about God, man, salvation, and eternal life.

    With the passing of time, he was baptised to live ever after as a very devout Christian. Thus, by the grace of Almighty God, a former typical pagan had now been transformed to an ideal Christian. In fact, this is how Eusebios, a noted church historian and contemporary of Prokopios, described the saint and his martyrdom.

    “He was a man so filled with divine grace that he had devoted himself to chastity and the practice of all virtues. He had reduced his body until he had given it, so speak, the appearance of a corpse, but his soul drew from the word of God so great a vigour that the body itself was refreshed by it”.

    Studying on the Divine Word so filled his being that he remained absorbed in it day and night without fatigue. Filled with goodness and gentleness, regarding himself as the least of men, he edified everyone by his discourses. The Word of God was his sole study, and he had but little knowledge of profane science, Born at Aelia (the pagan name of Jerusalem), he had taken up his residence at Scythopolis to Caesarea.

    He had scarcely passed the city gates when he was conducted into the presence of the governor, and even before he had had a taste of chains or prison walls, he was urged by the judge, Flavian, to sacrifice to the gods. But he, in a loud voice, proclaimed that there were not several gods, but one alone, the creator and author of all things.

    This answer made a vivid impression on the judge. Finding nothing to say in reply, he tried to persuade Prokopios, at least, to sacrifice to the emperors. This martyr of God spurned his entreaties. ‘Listen,” he said, ‘it is not good to have several masters; let there be one chief, one king”‘. At these words, as though he had uttered insults against the emperors, the judge ordered him to be executed.

    They cut off his head, and he passed happily to eternal life on the eighth day in the month of July. This was the first martyrdom that took place in Caesarea. And so a beautiful soul, that for years served as an ideal example of Christian virtue, through a tragic death, inherited the Kingdom of God’s elect in 303 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 You 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)

    Devoutly aflame with godly zeal for Christ your Lord, and armed with the strength and power of the precious Cross, you cast down headlong thy foes’ exalted pride, O Procopios, exalting Christ’s holy Church, advancing in faith and shedding light on us.


    Appearance of the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of Kazan

    In Kazan, in 1579, the nine-year old Matrona, whose parents’ home had burned down in a fire, had a dream in which she beheld an icon of the Theotokos and heard a voice commanding her to recover this icon from the ashes of the ruined house. The icon was found wrapped in an old piece of cloth under the stove, where it may have been hidden during the Tartar invasions. The icon was finally brought to the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Theotokos, where it became renowned for the healings that the Mother of God wrought through it for the blind; hence the custom of praying before this holy icon for help in blindness and eye diseases. Tsar Ivan the Terrible had a convent built at the place of the icon’s discovery; this, however, was destroyed by the Bolsheviks after the Revolution, and a factory was built in its stead. The feast was established in 1595. The icon of Kazan is one of the most beloved icons of the Mother of God in Russia.

    Apolytikion of Icon of the Theotokos of Kazan in the Fourth Tone

    O Fervent intercessor, Mother of the Lord Most High, thou prayest for all to thy Son, Christ our God, and thou causest all to be saved who have recourse to thy powerful protection. O Sovereign Lady and Queen, help and defend all of us who in troubles and trials, in pain and burdened with many sins, stand before thy most pure icon in thy presence, and pray to thee with compunction of soul, contrition of heart, and with tears, and who have unflagging hope in thee. Grant to all what is good for us, deliverance from all evil, and save us all, O Virgin Theotokos, for thou art a divine protection to thy servants.

    Kontakion of Icon of the Theotokos of Kazan in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    Let us run, O ye peoples, to that quiet and good haven, to the speedy helper, to the ready and warm salvation, to the Virgin’s protection. Let us hurry to prayer and hasten to repentance; for the most pure Theotokos poureth out of us unfailing mercy, anticipateth our needs with her help, and delivereth from great disasters and evils her upright and God-fearing servants.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Theophilos the Myrrhbearer of Pantokrator Monastery

  • Pancratios of Sicily
    All day

    The Holy Hieromartyr Pancratios, Bishop of Tauromenium in Sicily

    This Saint, who was a contemporary of the Apostles, had Antioch as his homeland, where he was guided to the Faith of Christ by Peter, the Chief of the Apostles. Later, he came to Sicily, where he brought many to the Faith, and was finally put to death by the pagans.

    Apolytikion of Hieromartyr Pancratios 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 Pancratios. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.

    Kontakion of Hieromartyr Pancratios in the Third Tone

    He that breathed with tongues of fire upon the holy Apostles gave thee, O Pancratios, the selfsame mystical graces; as the heir and true disciple of Simon Peter, thou didst shine upon the West with the saving Gospel and with blood didst seal thy preaching both as a hierarch and faithful Martyr of Christ.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Dionysios the Orator
    Metrophanes of Mount Athos
    Patermuthius the Monk
    Euthymios of Karelia
    Methodios the Hieromartyr, Bishop of Lampis
    Michael Paknanas the Gardener

  • 45 Martyrs of Nikopolis, Armenia
    All day

    The Forty-five Martyrs of the Armenian City of Nicopolis suffered during the reign of the emperor Licinius (311-324 AD), then a coregent with Constantine the Great. Licinius fiercely persecuted Christians and in his Eastern half of the Empire he issued an edict to put to death anyone who would not consent to return to paganism. When the persecutions began at Nicopolis, more than forty of the persecuted of Christ decided to appear voluntarily before their persecutors, to confess openly their faith in the Son of God and accept martyrdom. The holy confessors were headed by Leontius, Mauricius, Daniel, Anthony, and Alexander, and were distinguished by their virtuous life.

    The procurator of the Armenian district, Licius, before whom the holy confessors presented themselves, was amazed at the directness and bravery of those who voluntarily doomed themselves to torture and death. He tried to persuade them to renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, but the saints remained steadfast They refuted all the arguments of the governor, pointing out to him all the falseness of faith in the vile and vice-filled pagan gods, leading those that worship them to ruin. The procurator gave orders to beat the confessors about the face with stones, and then shackle and imprison them.

    In prison the saints rejoiced and sang the Psalms of David. St Leontius inspired and encouraged the brethren, preparing them to accept new tortures for the true Faith, and telling them of the bravery of all those formerly that had suffered for Christ In the morning, after repeated refusals to offer sacrifice to the idols, the saints were again given over to torture. St Leontius, seeing the intense suffering of the martyrs and worrying that some of them might falter and lose faith, prayed to God that there might be a quick end of the matter for all.

    When the holy martyrs sang Psalms at midnight, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to them, and the prison blazed with light. The angel declared to the martyrs that their contest was near its end, and their names already were inscribed in Heaven. Two of the prison guards, Meneus and Virilades, saw what was happening and believed in Christ On the following morning, the governor decided to put the martyrs of Christ to death. After beastly tortures, they burned them in a fire, and threw their bones in a river. Pious people found the relics, gathered them up, and saved them. Later on, when freedom had been given to the Church of Christ, a church was built on this spot in the name of the holy 45 Martyrs.

    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 (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

    For love of Christ our God, you endured many torments valiantly, destroying polytheistic idolatry, O Martyrs of Nikopolis; and by Christ’s mighty power, you destroyed all the error of wicked godlessness. Teach us with faith and boldness to cry aloud: Alleluia.


    Deposition of the Precious Robe of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Moscow

    After the Crucifixion of our Lord, His most precious robe was obtained by lot by a certain Elioz, a Georgian soldier who took part in the execution. He in turn brought it to Georgia where it remained until that land was overrun by the Persians. Shah Abbas, seeking to establish good relations with Tsar Michael Feodorovich, sent the Robe to Moscow as a gift for the Tsar and Patriarch Philaret. This took place in March of 1625, and was appointed to be celebrated on this day in July.

    Apolytikion of Robe of Christ in Moscow in the Fourth Tone

    On this day let us the faithful run to the divine and healing robe of our Saviour and God, Who was pleased to wear our flesh and pour out His holy Blood on the Cross, whereby He hath redeemed us from slavery to the enemy. Wherefore, we thankfully cry to Him: By Thy precious robe save and defend Orthodox Christians, and bishops, and cities, and all men everywhere, and save our souls, for Thou art the Friend of man.

    Kontakion of Robe of Christ in Moscow in the Fourth Tone

    Thou hast bestowed upon all men, O Master, Thy precious robe as a divine treasure, as a garment of incorruption, healing, and salvation, for thereby wast Thou pleased to clothe the holy and life-giving flesh of Thine Incarnation. Receiving this relic with faith, we joyfully celebrate this glorious occasion, and praising Thee with fear and love as our Benefactor, we cry to Thee, O Christ: In Thy great mercy, keep Orthodox Christians and their pastors and all Thy people in peace.


    Righteous Father Anthony of the Kiev Caves

    Saint Anthony, who was born in the province of Chernigov, was tonsured in the Monastery of Esphigmenou on the Holy Mountain, Athos, from whence he was sent by his abbot to Kiev to plant the monastic life in 1013, two years before the death of Saint Vladimir, Great Prince of Kiev. Dwelling at first as a hermit, the Saint gradually drew to himself others wishing to emulate his way of life. When the number of the brethren grew, a wooden church in honour of the Dormition of the Theotokos was built, thus laying the foundation of what was to become the renowned Kiev Caves Lavra. Refusing the abbotship, Saint Anthony entrusted this to his disciples, first to the blessed Barlaam, then to Saint Theodosius (See May 3), and his whole life struggled as a cave-dwelling hermit. He reposed in peace in 1073 at the age of ninety.

    Apolytikion of Anthony of the Kiev Caves in the Fourth Tone

    Having left the turmoil of the world, thou didst follow Christ according to the Gospel by renouncing the world; and having lived a life equal to the Angels, thou didst attain to the quiet haven of Holy Mount Athos. Thence, with the blessing of the fathers, thou camest to the mountain of Kiev, and living there an arduous life, thou didst illumine thy fatherland. And showing a multitude of monastics the path that leadeth to the Heavenly Kingdom, thou didst bring them to Christ. Pray to Him, O Saint Anthony, that He save our souls.

    Kontakion of Anthony of the Kiev Caves in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    Surrendering thyself to God Whom thou didst love from thy youth above all, O Saint, thou didst lovingly follow Him with thy whole soul. And counting the material things of the world as a vanity, thou didst make a cave in the earth, where thou didst fight the good fight against the wiles of the invisible enemy, and like a brilliant sun thou didst illumine all the ends of the earth. Thence thou didst pass rejoicing to the heavenly palaces. And now as thou standest with the Angels before the Master’s throne, remember us who honour thy memory, that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, O Anthony our Father.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Our Holy Father Gregory, Bishop of Assa
    10,000 Fathers martyred in Egypt
    Apollonios the Martyr
    Parthenios and Eumenios of Koudoumas


  • Great Martyr Euphemia
    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.


    The All-Praised Olga, Equal-to-the-Apostles, Princess of Kiev

    Saint Olga, renowned for her wisdom and sobriety, in her youth became the wife of Igor, Great Prince of Kiev, who ruled during the tenth century. After her husband’s death, she herself ruled capably, and was finally moved to accept the Faith of Christ. She traveled to Constantinople to receive Holy Baptism. The Emperor, seeing her outward beauty and inward greatness, asked her to marry him. She said she could not do this before she was baptized; she furthermore asked him to be her Godfather at the font, which he agreed to do. After she was baptized (receiving the name of Helen), the Emperor repeated his proposal of marriage. She answered that now he was her father, through holy Baptism, and that not even among the heathen was it heard of a man marrying his daughter. Gracefully accepting to be outwitted by her, he sent her back to her land with priests and sacred texts and holy icons. Although her son Svyatoslav remained a pagan, she planted the seed of faith in her grandson Vladimir (see July 15). She reposed in peace in 969.

    Apolytikion of Olga, Equal to the Apostles in the First Tone

    Giving thy mind wings with the knowledge of God, thou didst soar beyond visible creatures, seeking the God and Creator of all things; and having found Him, thou didst receive rebirth by baptism. Since thou dost enjoy the Tree of Life, thou remainest incorrupt for all eternity, O ever-glorious Olga.

    Kontakion of Olga, Equal to the Apostles in the Fourth Tone

    Let us offer praise to God, our Benefactor, Who hath greatly glorified divinely-wise and ven’rable and sacred Olga, that by her prayers He grant our souls the forgiveness of trespasses.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Nektarios the New Martyr
    Nicodemos the New Martyr of Mt. Athos

  • Martyrs Proklos & Hilarios, St. Paisios the Athonite
    All day

    The Holy Martyrs Proklos and Hilarios were natives of the village of Kallippi, near Ancyra, and they suffered during the time of a persecution under the emperor Trajan (98-117 AD). Saint Proklos was put under arrest first Brought before the governor Maximus, he fearlessly confessed his faith in Christ The governor decided to compel the saint to submit himself to the emperor and offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. During his tortures, the martyr predicted to Maximus that soon he himself would be compelled to confess Christ as the true God. They forced the martyr to run after the chariot of the governor, heading towards the village Kallippi. Exhausted, Saint Proklos prayed that the Lord would halt the chariot. The chariot halted by the power of God, and no force could move it from the spot. The dignitary sitting in it became petrified. The martyr told him that he would remain unmoving until he would sign a document with a confession of Christ Only after this could the chariot continue on its way with the governor.

    The humiliated pagan took fierce revenge on Saint Proklos. He commanded that Proklos be led out beyond the city, tied to a pillar and shot with arrows. The soldiers, leading Saint Proklos to execution, told him to give in and save his life, but the saint said that they should follow their orders. Along the way to the place of execution, they met Hilarios, the nephew of Saint Proklos, who with tears embraced his uncle and confessed himself a Christian. The soldiers seized him, and he was thrown into prison. The holy Martyr Proklos prayed for his tormentors and surrendered his soul to God beneath a hail of arrows.

    Saint Hilarios was brought to trial and, with the same courage as Saint Proklos, confessed himself a Christian. After tortures he was sentenced to death. They tied the martyr’s hands and dragged him by his feet through the city, wounded and bloody, and then they beheaded him three days after the death of his uncle, the holy Martyr Proklos. Christians buried them together in a single grave.

    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)

    As kinsmen, you proved to be of like spirit in your life and of one accord in all things, O renowned Martyr Proklos and godly-minded Hilarios; for having yourselves become images of the Passion of Christ, ye were counted worthy of glory, and ye grant divine forgiveness unto all.

    St. Paisios the Athonite

    Our venerable and God-bearing Father Paisios of Mount Athos or Paisios the New, of the Holy Mountain (July 25, 1924 – July 12, 1994), also known as Elder Paisios (Greek: Γέροντας Παΐσιος ο Αγιορείτης), was a monastic of Mount Athos. An ascetic, he was known by his visitors for his gentle manner and acceptance of those who came to receive his advice, counsel, and blessing. His words of counsel continue to be published. Elder Paisios was canonized on January 13, 2015, by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
    The Church commemorates St. Paisios on July 12.
    Arsenios Eznepidis was born on July 25, 1924, to pious parents in the town of Farasa, Cappadocia of Asia Minor, shortly before the population exchange between Greece and Turkey following the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922. Arsenios’ name was given to him by St. Arsenios the Cappadocian, who baptized him, named the child for himself and foretold Arsenios’ monastic future. Very shortly after his baptism the young Arsenios and his family were forced to leave Asia Minor in accordance the peace Treaty of Lausanne. St. Arsenios guided his flock along a 400-mile trek to Greece. The Eznepidis family finally settled in the town of Konitsa in Epirus in northwestern Greece. As he had prophesied, St. Arsenios reposed forty days after the group settled in Greece, leaving, as his spiritual heir, the infant Arsenios. Arsenios grew up in Konitsa and learned carpentry after completing intermediate public school.
    During the civil war in Greece following World War II, Arsenios served as a radio operator. While concerned about his compatriots who had family, he didn’t worry for himself because he was single and had no children. He was noted for his bravery, self-sacrifice and moral righteousness. After the civil war ended, he wanted to enter a monastic life, but had to consider his sisters, who were as yet unmarried. By 1950, he had provided for his sisters’ future and was free to begin his monastic vocation.
    He arrived on Mount Athos in 1950, first to Fr. Kyril, the future abbot of Koutloumousiou Monastery, and then to Esphigmenou Monastery. In 1954, Arsenios, having been a novice for four years, was tonsured a monk and was given the name Averkios. He was a conscientious monk, finding ways to both complete his obediences (which required contact with others) and to preserve his silence, so as to progress in the art of prayer. He was always selfless in helping his brethren. He was unwilling to rest while others worked (though he may have already completed his own obediences) as he loved his brothers greatly and without distinction. In addition to his ascetic struggles and the common life in the monastery, he was spiritually enriched through the reading of soul-profiting books. In particular, he read the lives of the Saints, the Gerontikon, and especially the Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian.
    Soon after his tonsure, monk Averkios left Esphigmenou and joined the then idiorhythmic brotherhood of Philotheou Monastery, where his uncle was a monk. He placed himself under obedience to the Elder Symeon, who gave him the Small Schema in 1956, with the new name Paisios. Fr. Paisios dwelt deeply on the thought that his own spiritual failures and lack of love were the cause of his neighbor’s shortcomings, as well as of the world’s ills. He harshly accused himself and pushed himself to greater self-denial and more fervent prayer for his soul and for the whole world. He also cultivated the habit of seeking the “good reason” for a potentially scandalous event and for people’s actions. In this way he preserved himself from judging others. For example, pilgrims to Mt. Athos who had been scandalized by the strange behavior and stories told by a certain monk would when they met Elder Paisios, asked him what was wrong with the monk. He warned them not to judge others, and that this monk was actually virtuous and was simply pretending to be a fool when visitors would come, so as to preserve his silence.
    In 1958, Elder Paisios was asked to spend some time in and around his home village so as to support the faithful against the proselytism of Protestant groups. He greatly encouraged the faithful there, helping many people. Later, in 1962, he visited Sinai where he stayed for two years. During this time he became beloved of the Bedouins who benefited both spiritually as well as materially from his presence. The Elder used the money he received from the sale of his carved wooden handicraft to buy them food.
    In 1964, on his return to Mt. Athos, Elder Paisios took up residence at the Skete of Iviron before moving to Katounakia at the southernmost tip of Mt. Athos for a short stay in the desert there. The Elder’s failing health may have been part of the reason for his departure from the desert. In 1966, a part of his lungs was removed during an operation. It was during this time of hospitalization that his long friendship began with the young sisterhood of St. John the Theologian in Souroti, just outside of Thessaloniki. During his operation he greatly needed blood and it was then that a group of novices from the monastery donated blood to save him. Elder Paisios was most grateful, and after his recovery, he did whatever he could, materially and spiritually, to help them build their monastery.
    In 1968, he resided at the Monastery of Stavronikita helping with its spiritual as well as material renovation. While there he had the blessing of being in contact with the ascetic Elder Tikhon who lived in the Hermitage of the Holy Cross, near Stavronikita. Elder Paisios stayed by his side until his repose, serving him selflessly as his disciple. It was during this period that Elder Tikhon clothed Fr. Paisios in the Great Schema. According to the wishes of the Elder, Fr. Paisios remained in Elder Tikhon’s hermitage after his repose. Fr. Paisios stayed there until 1979, when he moved to his final home on the Holy Mountain, the hermitage Panagouda, which belongs to the Monastery of Koutloumousiou.
    It was at Panagouda that Elder Paisios’ fame as a God bearing elder grew, drawing to him the sick and suffering people of God. He received them all day long, dedicating the night to God in prayer, vigil, and spiritual struggle. His regime of prayer and asceticism left him with only two or three hours each night for rest. The self-abandon with which he served God and his fellow man, his strictness with himself, the austerity of his regime, and his sensitive nature made him increasingly prone to sickness. In addition to respiratory problems, in his later days he suffered from a serious hernia that made life very painful. When he was forced to leave the Holy Mountain for various reasons (often due to his illnesses) he would receive pilgrims for hours on end at the women’s monastery at Souroti. The physical effort which this entailed in his weakened state caused him such pain that he would turn pale. He bore his suffering with much grace, confident that, as God knows what is best for us, it could not be otherwise. He would say that God is greatly touched when someone who is in great suffering does not complain, but rather uses his energy to pray for others.
    In addition to his other illnesses he suffered from hemorrhaging which left him very weak. In his final weeks before leaving the Holy Mountain, he would often fall unconscious. On October 5, 1993, the Elder left his beloved Holy Mountain for the last time. Though he had planned on being off the mountain for just a few days, while in Thessaloniki he was diagnosed with cancer that needed immediate treatment. After the operation he spent some time recovering in the hospital and was then transferred to the monastery at Souroti. Despite his critical state he received people, listening to their sorrows and counseling them.
    After his operation, Elder Paisios had his heart set on returning to Mt. Athos. His attempts to do so, however, were hindered by his failing health. His last days were full of suffering, but also of the joy of the martyrs. On July 11, 1994, he received Holy Communion for the last time. The next day, Elder Paisios gave his soul into God’s keeping. He was buried, according to his wishes, at the Monastery of St. John the Theologian in Souroti. Elder Paisios, perhaps more than any other contemporary elder, captured the minds and hearts of the Greek people. Many books of his counsels have been published, and the monastery at Souroti has undertaken a great work, organizing the Elder’s writings and counsels into impressive volumes befitting his memory. Thousands of pilgrims visit his tomb each year.
    Elder Paisios was glorified on January 13, 2015, by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. He is commemorated each year on July 12.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Our Holy Father Michael of Maleinus
    Veronica, the woman with the issue of blood who was healed by Jesus
    Andre the Commander and his Companion Martyrs
    Gerasimos of Byzantium and Akakios the young ascetic


  • Synaxis of Archangel Gabriel
    All day

    Synaxis of Archangel Gabriel

    It is believed that the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel was transferred to this day from March 26 so that it could be celebrated more festively than in the period of the Great Fast; and, in fact, all the miracles of the Archangel are celebrated on this feast day, which has been listed here in the church books since the ninth century.

    Apolytikion of Synaxis of Archangel Gabriel in the 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 of Synaxis of Archangel Gabriel in the Fourth Tone

    As thou beholdest the glory of God in Heaven, and on earth dost bestow grace from on high, O leader of Angels, wise Gabriel, minister of the glory of God, and divine defender of the world, save and keep them that cry to thee: Be thyself our helper, and no one can be against us.


    Stephen of Mar Sabbas Monastery

    According to some, the Saint Stephen celebrated today was a nephew of Saint John of Damascus, different from the one celebrated on October 28, who later also became a Bishop.

    Apolytikion of Righteous Stephen in the 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 Stephanos, 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 of Righteous Stephen in the Third Tone

    Since thou wast a man of prayer and an ascetic, O Stephen, thou wast pleasing to the Lord, Who crowned thy labours with wonders; having sought the light of Heaven throughout thy whole life, thou dost now rejoice on high, chanting with the Angels. Hence we honour thee with longing, O righteous Father, as an initiate of God.


    Holy Martyr Golinduc

    Saint Golindoux was a Persian, living in the reign of Chosroes II, King of Persia (590-628), and of Maurice, Emperor of New Rome (582-602). Moved by a divine revelation to become a Christian, she was betrayed to Chosroes by her husband and was cast into a dungeon called Oblivion for eighteen years, withstanding all attempts to make her deny Christ, and preserved by the grace of God. Set at liberty through the visitation of an Angel, she went to Jerusalem, and then to Constantinople, where she fell asleep in peace. She was called Mary in holy Baptism.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Marcian the Martyr of Iconium
    Serapion the Martyr

  • Hellius & Nikodimos of Mount Athos
    All day

    Saints Hellius of of the Holy Mountain of Athos

    Saint Hellius lived and died in the 4th Century. Given over at childhood to a monastery, he was raised in piety, temperance and chastity. Having grown up, he set out into the Egyptian desert, where by incessant ascetic deeds he attained great proficiency in the spiritual life. He was endowed with the gift of clairvoyance, and he knew all the thoughts and disposition of the monks conversing with him. Great faith, simplicity of soul and deep humility allowed Saint Hellius to command wild animals. One time, when the monk carried a heavy load to the desert monastery and had become very tired, he prayed and called a wild donkey to himself and placed his burden on it.

    The donkey meekly carried the load to the place and was set free to return to the wilderness. Another time, when Saint Hellius needed to cross over a river and there was no boat, he called forth a crocodile from the water and, standing on its back, he happily crossed to the opposite shore. One of the young novices of the monastery, whom Saint Hellius visited, asked him to take him along into the far desert. Saint Hellius warned the youth about the great work, exploits and temptations which inevitably beset all the hermits, but since the novice continued fervently to ask, he took him along. On the first night the novice, frightened by terrible visions, in trembling ran to the cave to Saint Hellius. The monk comforted and calmed him down and ordered him to return. Having secured the cave with the Sign of the Cross, the monk said that the young hermit should not fear, since these apparitions would appear no more. Trusting the word of the saint, the novice decided to remain in solitude and afterwards attained such perfection, that he was granted, like his teacher Hellius, to receive food from an angel. In extreme old age Saint Hellius peacefully settled into the Heavenly mansions.


    Saint Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain of Athos

    Saint Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain of Athos (1749-1809 AD) and Saint Makarios of Corith (1731-1805 AD) compiled the Philokalia in the eighteenth century. The Philokalia is a collection of texts written between the fourth and fifteenth centuries by Church Fathers of the Orthodox Christian Church. The word “Philokalia” means love of the beautiful, the exalted, and the excellent. Saints Nikodimos and Makarios collected the text with the view to instruct others in purification, illumination, and perfection. These writings show the way to awaken and develop attention and consciousness through prayer, and constitute “a mystical school of inward prayer.”


    Our Holy Father Joseph the Confessor, Archbishop of Thessalonica

    Saint Joseph was the brother of Saint Theodore the Studite (see Nov. 11). He also is called Studite, especially when he is mentioned together with his brother. According to Codinus, both of them composed the canons of the Triodion during the reign of Leo the Armenian, while in the Church of Saint Romanus (see Nov. 18); he is not to be confused with Saint Joseph the Hymnographer (Apr. 3). When Saint Joseph became Archbishop of Thessalonica, he was exiled thrice because of his godly zeal for the holy icons, suffering many hardships, imprisonments in dark dungeons, hunger, thirst, and every tribulation, in the midst of which he departed unto eternal life in 833.

    Apolytikion of Joseph the Confessor 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 Joseph. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.

    Kontakion of Joseph the Confessor in the Second Tone

    The divinely-sounded harp of thy teachings hath glorified the Saviour’s majesty, and proclaimed to all the clarity of true doctrine and the honour that is due unto the august icons, O wise Joseph, thou glory of the Fathers.


    Aquila the Apostle among the 70

    Saint Aquila, who was from Pontus of Asia Minor, was a Jew by race and a tent-maker by trade. In the year 52 he and his wife Priscilla were in Corinth when Saint Paul first came there. They gave him hospitality, and the Apostle remained with them for many days, himself working at the same trade as they (Acts 18:2-3). And having believed in Christ through Paul, they followed him from that time on, working together with him and suffering perils with him for the sake of the preaching of the Gospel, as he himself testifies concerning them in his Epistle to the Romans, saying: “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus: who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the nations” (Rom. 16:3-4). When and where they reposed is unknown.

    Apolytikion of Aquila of the 70 in the Third Tone

    O Holy Apostle Aquila, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.

    Kontakion of Aquila of the 70 in the Fourth Tone

    Ranked with the Apostles’ choir as their companion, O Apostle wise in Christ, thou madest all the world to shine with thy bright doctrines and miracles, O famed Aquila, while gaining a glorious crown.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Justus the Martyr
    Peter the New Hieromartyr and the four New Martyrs of Melissourgeio Kissamos


  • Martyrs Julitta & Kyrikos
    All day

    The Holy Martyrs Julitta and Kyrikos lived in the city of Iconium in the province of Lykaoneia in Asia Minor. St Julitta was descended from an illustrious family and was a Christian. Widowed early on, she raised her three-year old-son Kyrikos (Quiricus). During the time of the persecution against Christians initiated by the emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD), St Julitta with her son and two trustworthy servants departed the city, leaving behind her home, property, and servants.

    Concealing her noble rank, she hid out first at Seleucia, and then at Tarsus. There around the year 305 AD she was recognized, arrested and brought to trial before governor Alexander. Strengthened by the Lord, she fearlessly answered the judge’s questions, and she firmly confessed her faith in Christ. The governor gave orders to beat the Saint with rods. During her torments, St Julitta kept repeating, “I am a Christian, and will not offer sacrifice to demons”.

    The little boy Kyrikos cried, seeing his mother being tortured, and wanted to go to her. The governor Alexander tried to sit him on his lap, but the boy broke free and shouted, “Let me go to my mother, I am a Christian”. The governor flung the boy from the high tribunal and kicked him down the stone steps. The boy struck his head on the sharp edges and died. The mother, seeing her lacerated son, gave thanks to God that He had permitted her child to be perfected before her, and to receive the unfading crown of martyrdom. After many cruel tortures, they beheaded St Julitta with a sword.

    The relics of Sts Kyrikos and Julitta were uncovered during the reign of St Constantine the Great (commemorated. May 21). In honour of these holy martyrs a monastery was built near Constantinople, and not far from Jerusalem a church was built. In popular custom, Sts Kyrikos and Julitta are prayed to for family happiness, and the restoring of sick children to health.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    Blessed Julitta, Christ God’s rational ewe-lamb, with holy Kyrikos, her three-year-old child, stood at the judgment seat and with authority and great boldness they proclaimed the true Faith of the Christians. In no wise were they afraid of the threats of the tyrants; and now in Heaven, wearing precious crowns, they both rejoice as they stand before Christ our God.

    Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

    As the Martyr of Christ God, the chaste Julitta, in her arms bare Kyrikos, she cried out in the stadium with manful courage and boundless joy: You are the strength of the Martyrs, O Christ my God.


    Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apostles of Kiev

    vladimirGrandson of Saint Olga, Saint Vladimir ascended the throne of Kiev in 980. Though a zealous idolater, he was illumined by the grace of God, accepted the Christian Faith, and completely changed his ways. He was baptized in Cherson in 988, receiving the name Basil; he came forth from the font not only healed of a blindness lately afflicting him, but also from being passionate and warlike, he became meek, peaceable, and exceedingly godly. Whereas his grandmother had refused marriage with the Emperor in Constantinople (see July 11), he married Anna, sister of the Emperors Basil and Constantine, and was accompanied home by priests from Constantinople. Diligently seeking to spread Christianity throughout his realm like a new Constantine, he destroyed the idols (having the chief diety Perun scourged and then cast into the Dnieper River), and summoned all his subjects to Holy Baptism. He reposed in peace in 1015.

    Apolytikion of Vladimir, Equal to the Apostles in the Fourth Tone

    Thou wast like a merchant who seeketh a goodly pearl, O glorious Sovereign Vladimir, sitting on the height of the throne of the mother of cities, God-protected Kiev. Searching and sending to the imperial city to know the Orthodox Faith, thou didst find Christ, the priceless Pearl, Who chose thee as a second Paul, and Who did shake off thy spiritual and bodily blindness in the holy font. Wherefore, we who are thy people celebrate thy falling asleep. Pray that thy land of Russia be saved, and that Orthodox people be granted peace and great mercy.

    Kontakion of Vladimir, Equal to the Apostles in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    Like the great Apostle Paul, O most glorious Vladimir, in thy maturity thou didst forsake all zeal for idols and a childish sophism, and as a full-grown man thou wast adorned with the royal purple of divine Baptism. And now as thou standest in joy in the presence of Christ our Saviour, pray that thy land of Russia be saved, and that Orthodox people be granted peace and great mercy.


  • Martyr Athenogenes of Heracleopolis
    All day

    This Saint was from Sebastia of Cappadocia and , according to the Synaxaristes, became Bishop of Pidachthoa. He and ten of his disciples were tortured and beheaded by the Governor of Philomarchus in the times of Diocletian. There is a second Martyr Athenogenes commemorated today, mentioned by Saint Basil in Chapter 29 of his treatise “On the Holy Spirit”; it is said that as this Athenogenes approached the fire, wherein he was to die a martyric death, he chanted the hymn O Joyous Light in praise of the Holy Trinity (see also 11 March).

    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 contest for the Faith even to blood, O Hieromartyr Athenogenes. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.

    Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

    Having followed the Lord’s teaching, as an eminent shepherd laid down your life for Christ’s sheep, O Hieromartyr Athenogenes. Therefore, we praise you and your ten disciples who suffered with you, guided by the fear of God and your teaching; for the Lord has crowned you as Saints with His life-giving right hand. Pray, then, to Him in behalf of us all.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Julia the Virgin-martyr of Carthage
    1,015 Martyrs in Pisidia
    Helier the Hermit, Martyr of Jersey

  • Great Martyr Marina of Antioch
    All day

    Saint Marina’s father was a pagan in the third century, and her mother died giving birth. Her foster mother taught her about Jesus Christ. The faith took root in Marina, and she vowed to remain a virgin and to one day become a martyr. For this, her father despised her and the pagan ruler of the land, admiring her purity, wanted her for his wife. She refused, and when he demanded that she sacrifice to idols, she responded that his gods were dead, did not breathe, and were unaware of honour or dishonour.

    She was beaten and bloodied by rods, with thorns, and imprisoned. Then she was suspended, and her sides raked with iron nails. She prayed and to her it was as if another person were being tortured. Again imprisoned, the devil tried to frighten her three times. Once as a dragon he attempted to devour her, holding half of her body in his mouth. Praying, she made the sign of the cross and the beast was torn apart and vanished.

    Again, he appeared as a man, black as night. She seized his hair and beat him with a hammer until he left her sight. Again, he grabbed her and threatened to kill her if she would not stop praying. She whipped him, and finally a light appeared from Heaven from a cross. A white dove told her to rejoice for she had vanquished the enemy, and she was completely healed.

    The next day, when she would not admit that the pagan gods had healed her, she was burned with torches and then they attempted to drown her in a cauldron. When she prayed, an earthquake hit and a dove landed on her head with a crown in its beak. A voice said receive from the right hand of the most high this heavenly crown. All heard this voice, and they feared and many believed. Before she was beheaded, she taught those close by and prayed. Then another earthquake knocked all the people to the ground. Again, she heard a voice to take courage, and she forced the executioner to behead her. Her relics are now in a church in Athens, Greece, and her hand is at the monastery of Vatopedi on Mt. Athos.

    Miracles by her Holy Relics have been witnessed by Christians as well as Moslems.

    Dismissal Hymn (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

    O Glorious Marina, once betrothed to the Logos, you relinquished all worldly concerns and brilliantly gave struggle as a virginal beauty. You soundly trounced the invisible enemy who appeared to you, O Champion, and you are now the world’s wellspring of healing grace.

    Kontakion (Third Tone)

    Adorned with the beauty of Purity, O Virgin; crowned with the stigmata of martyrdom; stained with the blood of your struggles; and brilliantly radiant with healing wonders, piously, O Marina, you received the trophy of victory for your struggles.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Veronika and Speratos the Martyrs
    Kenelm, Prince of Mercia


  • Emilianos of Bulgaria
    All day

    The Holy Martyr Emilianos suffered for Christ during the reign of the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363 AD). Julian wanted to restore in the Roman Empire the cult of the pagan gods, and he circulated an edict throughout all the regions, according to which all Christians would be subject to death. The city of Dorostolum, situated on the banks of the River Dunaj (Danube), where Saint Emilianos lived, was governed by an official named Capitolinus. The imperial edict was read in the city square. The people of Dorostolum said that there were no Christians in the city.

    Saint Emilianos was a slave of the local city-head, and he was secretly a Christian. Emboldened by the harsh edict, Saint Emilianos snuck into the pagan temple, he destroyed statues of the idols with a hammer, he overturned the altars and the candle-stands, and then emerged without notice. But soon the pagans discovered, that the pagan-temple was in ruins. An angry crowd began to beat up a certain Christian, who by chance happened by. Saint Emilianos then shouted out loudly, that they should not lay hold of that innocent man, and then he said that he himself had wrecked the pagan-temple.

    They seized him and led him for judgement to Capitolinus. By order of the official, Saint  Emilianos was for a long time beaten mercilessly, and then he was condemned to burning. Thrown into a bon-fire, he did not perish, but rather the flames burnt many of the pagans standing about. When the bon-fire had gone out, Saint  Emilian lay down upon the dying embers and with a prayer gave up his spirit to the Lord. At Constantinople afterwards there was built a church in honour of the holy Martyr Emilianos, where they transferred his relics.

    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 (Third Tone)

    O divine Emilianos, since zeal for God burned within you, you was not afraid of fire, your fellow creature, and servant; fearlessly and of your own will, you went forward and was not consumed therein by the flames’ hot fury, as a sacrifice to Christ God, O glorious martyr; pray that we all may be saved.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Holy Martyrs Paul, Thea and Valentine
    Our Holy Father John, Archbishop of Constantinople
    Stephen, Archbishop of Constantinople
    Theneva of Glasgow


  • Righteous Macrina
    Seraphim of Sarov
    All day

    Macrina the Righteous, sister of St Basil the Great

    Saint Macrina, the elder sister of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, was sought after by many as a bride because of her beauty, wisdom, and illustrious birth, and in tender youth was espoused by her parents to a bridegroom of fitting nobility. When her betrothed died, Macrina refused any other suitors, and devoted herself to a life of virginity, asceticism, and prayer. When her brother Basil returned from a brilliant career in the best schools of Constantinople and Athens, puffed up with not a little youthful pride-for knowledge puffeth up-it was the ardent admonitions and holy example of his blessed sister that persuaded him to turn from seeking worldly glory to the service of God. Saint Macrina founded a convent, where she ended her earthly life in the year 379, and was buried by her brother Gregory, who wrote a moving account of her last days and his grief at seeing such a light pass out of the world.

    Apolytikion of Righteous Macrina in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

    The image of God, was faithfully preserved in you, O Mother. For you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By Your actions you taught us to look beyond the flesh for it passes, rather to be concerned about the soul which is immortal. Wherefore, O Holy Macrina, your soul rejoices with the angels.

    Kontakion of Righteous Macrina in the Fourth Tone

    Since the light of righteousness shone brightly in thee, thou wast an example of the life of piety for all, teaching the virtues to them that cry: Rejoice, Macrina, thou boast of virginity.


    Translation of the Holy Relics of Righteous Seraphim of Sarov

    St Seraphim of SarovThe uncovering of the holy relics of Saint Seraphim of Sarov on July 19, 1903 was attended by many thousands, among them the foremost of the clergy and royalty; the holy Tsar Nicholas II (see July 4) was one of the bearers of the relics in procession, and the Grand Duchess Elizabeth (see July 5) wrote an eyewitness account of the many miracles that took place. Not only had the Saint foretold the coming of the Tsar to his glorification, and that from joy they would chant “Christ is Risen” in summer, but he had also left a letter “for the fourth sovereign, who will come to Sarov.” This was Nicholas II, who was given the letter when he came in 1903; the contents of the letter are not known, but when he had read it, the Tsar and future Martyr, though not a man to show his emotions, was visibly shaken. For the life of Saint Seraphim, see January 2.

    Apolytikion of Relics of Seraphim of Sarov in the Fourth Tone

    Thou didst love Christ from thy youth, O blessed one, and ardently desiring to work for Him alone, thou didst struggle in the wilderness with constant prayer and labour; and having acquired love for Christ with compunction of heart, thou didst prove to be the beloved favourite of the Mother of God. Wherefore, we cry to thee: Save us by thy prayers, O Seraphim, our holy Father.

    Kontakion of Relics of Seraphim of Sarov in the Second Tone

    Having left the beauty of the world and what is corrupt therein, O Saint, thou didst settle in the Monastery of Sarov. And having lived there an angelic life, thou wast for many the way unto salvation. Wherefore, Christ hath glorified thee, O Father Seraphim, and hath enriched thee with the gift of healing and miracles. And so we cry to thee: Rejoice, O Seraphim, our holy Father.


    Dius, Abbot of Antioch

    Saint Dius, who was from Antioch in Syria, later came to Constantinople and established a monastery there, and wrought many wonders. He flourished in the time of Saint Theodosius the Great (379-395).

    Apolytikion of Dius, Abbot of Antioch in the First Tone

    Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonder-worker, O Dius, our God-bearing Father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer thou didst obtain heavenly gifts, and thou healest the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to thee with faith. Glory to Him that hath given thee strength. Glory to Him that hath crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.

    Kontakion of Dius, Abbot of Antioch in the Second Tone

    In God, thou wast armed with purity of heart and soul; and taking in hand unceasing prayer as though a spear, Father Dius, thou didst mightily cut down all the demonic hordes, thou who workest wonders and signs and prayest unceasingly for all of us.


    Saint Theodore, Bishop of Edessa

    Our Father among the Saints Theodore was born in Edessa of Mesopotamia. At the age of about nineteen, he became a monk at the Monastery of Mar Sabbas in Palestine. After he had spent some twenty-four years there, he was chosen to become Bishop of Edessa, about the year 836. The city of Edessa at that time was beleaguered with many heresies, among them the Arian, Nestorian, Eutychian, and Manichean. Wishing to free the Orthodox of Edessa from the injustices of the many heretics, he undertook a journey to Babylon in Persia – that is, Baghdad – to ask the Persian King, who then ruled over all Syria, to use his power to protect the Orthodox of Edessa. When he arrived he learned that the King was gravely sick; but gaining admission to him, the holy Bishop Theodore restored him to health through prayer, and, after speaking to him many days in secret about the dispensation of God, converted him to Christ, baptizing him with the name of John. Returning to Edessa having accomplished his purpose, Theodore later learned by revelation that King John, with his three Arab body-guards who had been baptized with him, had professed their faith openly and received martyrs’ crowns at the hands of the Persian Moslems. This was in the days when the blessed Theodora and her son Michael reigned in Constantinople. Not long thereafter, Theodore retired to the Monastery of Mar Sabbas, and ended his days.

    Apolytikion of Theodore of Edessa in the 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 Theodore, 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 of Theodore of Edessa in the Third Tone

    From the blessed Edessa, thou wentest forth to the desert, but thou wast called back again to tend Christ’s sheep as their shepherd; driving off the wolves of error with thy true doctrines, thou didst make a heathen king a Martyr of Jesus. Hence, O Theodore, we honour thy blest remembrance, O holy Hierarch of Christ.


  • Prophet Elias
    All day

    The Glorious Prophet Elias (Elijah)


    Prophet Elias (Elijah) is venerated as a Saint in the Orthodox Church, because he did not die the death of a mortal but was elevated to Heaven by the hand of God. He is a prefiguration either of Jesus Christ or of St John the Baptist, a point which can be debated but leaves no doubt that Elijah was a man of God much as the mighty Moses. Known as Elias in the Greek and King James versions of the New Testament, Elijah was a major prophet of God who lived in the eighth century B.C. and hailed from Tishbe of Gilead during the reigns of Ahaziah and Ahab, the latter an idolater whom he vehemently denounced.

    The worship of one God had weakened considerably among the tribes of Israel and was further debilitated when the worship of the god Baal was introduced by Jezebel, the wife of Ahab. Jezebel brought forth a procession of idolatrous priests and erected temples to Baal, a god of nature supposedly with greater power than even the omnipotent (All-Powerful) God of Moses. Elijah stormed against the evils of the priests of Baal, who were contaminating the pure worship of God and demoralising the land with their illusions and deceptions and whose princess, Jezebel, was a malefactor of monstrous proportions. He fought the Canaanite god Baal at every turn and strove to revitalise the belief in the one God of the universe, preaching with, an eloquence and passion to those whose faith had waned and bringing many strays back into the fold. He discredited the false prophets of Baal, who turned to the crafty Jezebel for reinforcements and the influence of the throne to turn the tables on this man of God.

    Jezebel intensified her efforts to disprove Elijah, who had correctly predicted a three-year drought which ravaged the land, ruining the crops and decimating the herds. He greeted this renewed assembly of priests of Baal with a derisive challenge to test the powers of God and those of Baal, a challenge which the haughty queen accepted, much to her later regret. The test to decide which was the greater comprised a placing of sacrifices at two altars, one to Baal and the other to God. When all was in readiness each side would call for fire to be ignited, the winner being the one whose fire lit first.

    Queen Jezebel herself appeared at the altar of Baal, and her priests were given the first opportunity to call forth the power to light the fire. They appealed to Baal, first in a reverent tone and then with increasing irritation until at last they gave up in disgust. Then the patient Elijah stepped forward and at his first prayer the fire burst forth, following which the onlookers, realising the truth at last, swooped down on the false priests and killed them all. A further demonstration of the power of the Lord came when Elijah called for an end to the drought and a heavenly rain descended, ending a three-year dry spell that had parched the land.

    Thereafter Elijah went to Mt. Sinai, where God had spoken to Moses, and on that holy spot he heard the words of God just as Moses had. He descended with instructions from God himself, among which was the instruction to appoint as his successor a man named Elisha, who later became a prophet of God in his own right. Elijah discovered that God was not necessarily a clap of thunder, a bolt of lightning, or a rumble in the hills, but he could be “a still, small voice.”

    Elijah stood up to King Ahab and Queen Jezebel on many questions other than the worship of false gods, on one occasion daring to challenge the right of kings to do anything they chose without being guilty. This immunity from God’s law was used to seize the vineyards of Naboth, killing the owner in the process. Elijah dared to tell him that he was not above God’s law and would, therefore, be punished by the Lord.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    The incarnate Angel, the Cornerstone of the Prophets, the second Forerunner of the Coming of Christ, the glorious Elias (Elijah), who from above, sent down to Elisha the grace to dispel sickness and cleanse lepers, abounds therefore in healing for those who honour him.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    O Prophet and foreseer of the great works of God, O greatly renowned Elias (Elijah), who by your word held back the clouds of rain, intercede for us to the only Loving One.


    Mother Maria Skobtsova, New-Martyr of France

    Saint Maria Skobtsova of Paris lived a life devoted to serving the poor and the marginalized. She was born Elizaveta Pilenko in 1891 in Riga, Latvia to devout Russian Orthodox parents. Her father died when she was fourteen, and her grief led her to atheism. As a young teenager, she became involved in the socialist and intellectual circles in St Petersburg. By eighteen, she was a published poet, and married to a Bolshevik. Her desire to actively serve the needy – more than simply discuss social change – led her back to a faith in Christ. She then became the first woman accepted to study at the all-male Theological Academy of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg.

    After the Bolshevik Revolution, she was elected Mayor of Anapa but had to flee Russia and arrived in Paris in 1923. St Maria was inspired to devote her life completely to serving the poor after her daughter Nastia died of meningitis in 1926. Her second marriage ended in 1932, and Metropolitan Eulogy tonsured her a nun with the name Maria, and blessed her to live a “monasticism in the world” devoted to social service.

    Initially devoted to the Russian emigres in Paris, she founded a sanatorium, and homes to serve single mothers, families, and single men. By 1937, 120 dinners were served each day. Much of the work she did herself: begging for food, cooking the soup, and even embroidering the icons for their chapel.

    By 1942, St Maria’s work turned to assisting the Jewish population. She helped Father Demetri Klepinin issue fake baptismal certificates for Jews that came to their aide. After a mass arrest, 12,884 Jews were taken to a sports stadium before being taken to Auschwitz. St Maria spent three days visiting the prisoners, taking them food, and even rescuing some of the children by smuggling them out in trash cans. She also aided Jews in escaping to the free south of France, unoccupied by the Nazis.

    St Maria was arrested in February 1943 and was sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany. For two years, she raised the spirits of her fellow prisoners, helping them remember their human dignity. St Maria led discussion groups on literature, history, and theology, despite her weakening health. On March 31, 1945, a short time before the camp was rescued, St Maria was taken to the gas chambers; some prisoners say she took the place of a fellow Jewish prisoner.

    On January 18, 2004, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate recognized Mother Maria Skobtsova as a saint along with her three fellow workers who also died in German concentration camps: her son Yuri, Fr. Dimitri Klepinin, and Ilya Fondaminsky.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Synaxis of the Russians who were perfected in France: Protopresbyter Alexios Mednedkov, Presbyter Dimitrii Klepinin, Mother Maria Skobtsova, her son Yuri Skobtsov, and Ilia Fondaminskii

  • Symeon the Fool for Christ & John
    All day

    Monks Symeon, Fool-for-Christ, and his Fellow-Ascetic John were Syrians, and they lived in the sixth century at the city of Edessa. From childhood, close ties of friendship bound them. The older of them, Symeon, was unmarried and lived with his aged mother. John, however, although he was married, lived with his father (his mother was dead) and with his young wife. Both friends belonged to wealthy families. When Symeon was 30 years old, and John 24, they made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross of the Lord. On the journey home, the friends spoke of the soul’s path to salvation. Dismounting their horses, they sent the servants on ahead with the horses, while they continued on foot.

    Passing through Jordan, they saw monasteries on the edge of the desert. Both of them were filled with an irrepressible desire to leave the world and spend their remaining life in monastic struggles. They turned off from the road, which their servants followed to Syria, and they prayed zealously that God would guide them to the monasteries on the opposite side. They besought the Lord to indicate which monastery they should choose, and they decided to enter whichever monastery had its gates open. At this time, the Lord informed Igumen Nikon in a dream to open the monastery gates, so that the sheep of Christ could enter in. In great joy the comrades came through the open gates of the monastery, where they were warmly welcomed by the Igumen, and they remained at the monastery. In a short while, they received the monastic tonsure.

    After remaining at the monastery for a certain time, Symeon desired to intensify his efforts, and to go into the desert to pursue asceticism in complete solitude. John did not wish to be left behind by his companion, and he decided to share with him the work of a desert-dweller. The Lord revealed the intentions of the companions to Igumen Nikon, and on that night when Saints Symeon and John intended to depart the monastery, he himself opened the gates for them. He prayed with them, gave them his blessing, and sent them into the wilderness.

    When they began their life in the desert, the spiritual brothers at first experienced the strong assaults of the devil. They were tempted by grief over abandoning their families, and the demons tried to discourage the ascetics, subjecting them to weakness, despondency, and idleness. The brothers Symeon and John remembered their monastic calling, and trusting in the prayers of their Elder Nikon, they continued upon their chosen path. They spent their time in unceasing prayer and strict fasting, encouraging one another in their struggle against temptation.

    After a while, with God’s help, the temptations stopped. God told the monks that Symeon’s mother and John’s wife had died, and that the Lord had vouchsafed them the blessings of Paradise. After this, Symeon and John lived in the desert for 29 years, and they attained complete dispassion (apathia) and a high degree of spirituality. St Symeon, through the inspiration of God, considered that now it was proper for him to serve people. To do this, he must leave the desert solitude and go into the world. St John, however, believing that he had not attained such a degree of dispassion as his companion, decided not to leave the wilderness.

    The brethren parted with tears. Symeon journeyed to Jerusalem, and there he venerated the tomb of the Lord and all the holy places. By his great humility, the holy ascetic entreated the Lord to permit him to serve his neighbour in such a way that they should not acknowledge him. St Symeon chose for himself the difficult task of foolishness for Christ. Having come to the city of Emesa, he stayed there and passed himself off as a simpleton, behaving strangely, for which he was subjected to insults, abuse, and beatings. In spite of this, he accomplished many good deeds. He cast out demons, healed the sick, delivered people from immanent death, brought the unbelieving to faith, and sinners to repentance.

    All these things he did under the guise of foolishness, and he never received praise or thanks from people. St John highly esteemed his spiritual brother. When one of the inhabitants of the city of Emesa visited him in the wilderness, asking for his advice and prayers, he would invariably direct them to “the fool Symeon”, who was better able to offer them spiritual counsel. For three days before his death, St Symeon ceased to appear on the streets, and he enclosed himself in his hut, where there was nothing except for bundles of firewood. Having remained in unceasing prayer for three days, St Symeon fell asleep in the Lord. Some of the city poor, his companions, had not seen the fool for some time. They went to his hut and found him dead.

    Taking up the dead body, they carried him without church singing to a place where the homeless and strangers were buried. While they carried the Saint’s body, several of the inhabitants heard a wondrous church singing, but could not understand from whence it came. After St Symeon died, St John also fell asleep in the Lord. Shortly before his death, St Symeon saw a vision of his spiritual brother wearing a crown upon his head with the inscription: “For endurance in the desert”.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    O God of our Fathers, ever dealing with us according to Your gentleness: do not take Your mercy from us, but by their entreaties guide our life in peace.

    Kontakion (Second Tone)

    With faith and love, let us acclaim angelic and God-bearing Symeon who, though in the flesh, appeared as one without flesh and shone supernaturally with virtues; and with him let us praise renowned John, for they intercede with the Lord unceasingly for us all.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Parthenios, Bishop of Arta

  • Mary Magdalene
    Martyr Markella
    All day

    The Myrrh-Bearer Equal to the Apostles, Mary Magdalene

    On the banks of Lake Gennesaret (Galilee), between the cities of Capernaum and Tiberias, was situated the small city of Magdala, the remains of which have survived to our day. Now at this place stands only the small village of Mejhdel. In Magdala sometime formerly the woman was born and grew up, whose name has entered forever into the Gospel account. The Gospel tells us nothing about the youthful years of Mary, but tradition informs us, that Mary from Magdala was young and pretty, and led a sinful life. It says in the Gospels, that the Lord expelled seven devils from Mary. From the moment of healing Mary led a new life. She became a true disciple of the Saviour.

    The Gospel relates that Mary followed after the Lord, when He went with the Apostles through the cities and villages of Judea and Galilee preaching about the Kingdom of God. Together with the pious women — Joanna, wife of Khuza (steward of Herod), Susanna and others, she served Him from her own possessions (Lk 8:1-3) and undoubtedly, shared with the Apostles the evangelic tasks, in common with the other women. The Evangelist Luke, evidently, has her in view together with the other women, stating that at the moment of the Procession of Christ onto Golgotha, when after the Scourging He took on Himself the heavy Cross, collapsing under its weight, the women followed after Him weeping and wailing, but He consoled them. The Gospel relates that Mary Magdalene was present on Golgotha at the moment of the Lord’s Crucifixion. While all the disciples of the Saviour ran away, she remained fearlessly at the Cross together with the Mother of God and the Apostle John.

    The evangelists enumerate among those standing at the Cross moreover also the mother of the Apostle James the Less, and Salome, and other women followers of the Lord from Galilee itself, but all mention first Mary Magdalene; but the Apostle John aside the Mother of God, names only her and Mary Cleopas. This indicates how much she stood out from amidst all the women gathered round the Lord. She was faithful to Him not only in the days of His Glory, but also at the moment of His Extreme Humiliation and Insult. As the Evangelist Matthew relates, she was present at the Burial of the Lord. Before her eyes Joseph and Nikodemos went out to the tomb with His lifeless Body; before her eyes they covered over the entrance to the cave with a large stone, behind which went the Sun of Life…

    Faithful to the Law in which she was trained, Mary together with the other women stayed all the following day at rest, because it was the great day of the Sabbath, coinciding in that year with the Feast of Passover. But all the rest of the peaceful day the women succeeded in storing up aromatics, to go at dawn Sunday to the Grave of the Lord and Teacher and according to the custom of the Jews to anoint His Body with funereal aromatics. It is necessary to suggest that, having agreed to go on the first day of the week to the Tomb early in the morning, the holy women, having gone separately on Friday evening to their own homes, did not have the possibility to meet together with one another on Saturday, and how only at the break of dawn the following day did they go to the Sepulchre, not all together, but each from their own house.

    The Evangelist Matthew writes, that the women came to the grave at dawn, or as the Evangelist Mark expresses, extremely early before the rising of the sun; the Evangelist John, as it were elaborating upon these, says that Mary came to the grave so early that it was still dark. Obviously, she waited impatiently for the end of night, but it was not daybreak when round about darkness still ruled — she ran there where lay the Body of the Lord.

    Now then, Mary went to the Tomb alone. Seeing the stone pushed away from the cave, she rushed away in fear thither where dwelt the close Apostles of Christ – Peter and John. Hearing the strange message that the Lord was gone from the tomb, both Apostles ran to the tomb and, seeing the shroud and winding cloths, they were amazed. The Apostles went and told no one nothing, but Mary stood about the entrance to the gloomy tomb and wept. Here in this dark tomb still so recently lay her lifeless Lord. Wanting proof that the tomb really was empty, she went down to it – and here a strange light suddenly prevailed upon her. She saw two angels in white garments, the one sitting at the head, the other at the foot, where the Body of Jesus had been placed. She heard the question, “Woman, why dp upi weep?”, and she answered them, with the words which she had said to the Apostles, “They have taken my Lord, and I do not know, where they have put Him”. Having said this, she turned around, and at this moment saw the Risen Jesus standing about the grave, but she did not recognise Him.

    He asked Mary, “Woman, why do you weep? Whom do you seek?” She answered thinking that she was seeing the gardener: “Sir, if thou hast taken him, tell where thou hast put Him, and I will reclaim Him.”

    But at this moment she recognised the Lord’s voice, a voice which was known from the day He healed her. This was the voice in those days and years, when together with the other pious women she followed the Lord through all the cities and places where His preaching was heard. She gave a joyful shout “Rabbi” that means Teacher. Respect and love, fondness and deep veneration, a feeling of thankfulness and recognition at His Splendour as great Teacher – all came together in this single outcry. She was able to say nothing more and she threw herself down at the feet of her Teacher, to wash them with tears of joy. However, the Lord said to her, “Touch me not, for I am still not ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and tell them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father and to My God and to your God’”.

    She came to herself and again ran to the Apostles, so as to do the will of Him sending her to preach. Again she ran into the house, where the Apostles stayed still in dismay, and announced to them the joyous message “I have seen the Lord!” This was the first preaching in the world about the Resurrection of Christ. The Apostles were obliged to proclaim the Glad Tidings to the world, but she proclaimed it to the Apostles themselves. Holy Scripture does not tell us about the life of Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection of Christ, but it is impossible to doubt, that if in the terrifying minutes of Christ’s Crucifixion she was the foot of His Cross with His All-Pure Mother and John, undoubtedly, she stayed with them during all the happier time after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. Thus in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles Saint Luke writes: that all the Apostles with one mind stayed in prayer and supplication, with certain women and Mary the Mother of Jesus and His brethren.

    Holy Tradition testifies, that when the Apostles departed from Jerusalem for preaching to all the ends of the earth, then together with them also went Mary Magdalene to preach. A daring woman, whose heart was full of reminiscence of the Resurrection, she went beyond her native borders and set off to preach in pagan Rome. And everywhere she proclaimed to people about Christ and His Teaching, and when many did not believe that Christ is risen, she repeated to them what she had said to the Apostles on the radiant morning of the Resurrection: “I have seen the Lord!” With this preaching she made the rounds of all Italy.

    Tradition relates, that in Italy Mary Magdalene visited the Emperor Tiberias (14-37 AD) and proclaimed to him about Christ’s Resurrection. According to tradition, she took him a red egg as a symbol of the Resurrection, a symbol of new life with the words: “Christ is Risen!” Then she told the emperor about this, that in his Province of Judea was the innocently condemned Jesus the Galilean, an holy man, a maker or miracles, powerful before God and all mankind, executed on the instigation of the Jewish High-Priests and the sentence affirmed by the procurator named by Tiberias, Pontius Pilate.

    Mary repeated the words of the Apostles, that believing in the Redemption of Christ from the vanity of life is not as with perishable silver or gold, but rather the precious Blood of Christ is like a spotless and pure Lamb.

    Thanks to Mary Magdalene the custom to give each other paschal eggs on the day of the Luminous Resurrection of Christ spread among Christians over all the world. On one ancient hand-written Greek ustav, written on parchment, kept in the monastery library of Saint Athanasias near Thessalonika (Solunea), is an established prayer read on the day of Holy Pascha for the blessing of eggs and cheese, in which it is indicated, that the Hegumen (Abbot) in passing out the blessed eggs says to the brethren: “Thus have we received from the holy fathers, who preserved this custom from the very time of the holy apostles, wherefore the holy equal-unto-the-apostles Mary Magdalene first showed believers the example of this joyful offering”.

    Mary Magdalene continued her preaching in Italy and in the city of Rome itself. Evidently, the Apostle Paul has precisely her in view in his Epistle to the Romans (16, 6), where together with other ascetics of evangelic preaching he mentions Mary (Mariam), who as he expresses “has done much for us”. Evidently, she extensively served the Church in its means of subsistence and its difficulties, being exposed to dangers, and sharing with the Apostles the labours of preaching.

    According to Church tradition, she remained in Rome until the arrival of the Apostle Paul, and for two more years still, following his departure from Rome after the first court judgment upon him. From Rome Saint Mary Magdalene, already bent with age, moved to Ephesus where unceasingly laboured the holy Apostle John, who with her wrote the first 20 Chapters of his Gospel. There the saint finished her earthly life and was buried.

    Her holy relics were transferred in the IX Century to the capital of the Byzantine Empire – Constantinople, and placed in the monastery Church of Saint Lazarus. In the era of the Crusader campaigns they were transferred to Italy and placed at Rome under the altar of the Lateran Cathedral. Part of the relics of Mary Magdalene are located in France near Marseilles, where over them at the foot of a steep mountain is erected in her honour a splendid church.

    The Orthodox Church honours the holy memory of Saint Mary Magdalene – the woman, called by the Lord Himself from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.

    Formerly immersed in sin and having received healing, she sincerely and irrevocably began a new life and never wavered from the path. Mary loved the Lord Who called her to a new life. She was faithful to Him not only then – when He having expelled from her the seven demons and surrounded by enthusiastic crowds passed through the cities and villages of Palestine, winning for Himself the glory of a miracle-worker – but also then when all the disciples in fear deserted Him and He, humiliated and crucified, hung in torment upon the Cross. This is why the Lord, knowing her faithfulness, appeared to her first, and esteemed her worthy to be first proclaiming His Resurrection.

    Dismissal Hymn (First Tone)

    When Christ God had been born for our sakes from the Virgin, you faithfully followed Him, keeping His statutes and heeding His sacred laws, O august Mary Magdalene. Hence, as we today observe your holy remembrance, we receive the loosing of our sins and transgressions through you Holy prayers for us.

    Kontakion: (Fourth Tone)

    When God, the Mighty, the Transcendent in essence, came in the flesh into the world, He received you, O Mary, as His true Disciple as was meet. For you had your whole desire and your love set upon Him; therefore, you brought to pass many cures for the ailing; and now translated to the Heavens’ heights, you ever fervently pray for all the world.


    Markella, the Virgin-martyr of Chios


    Apolytikion of Virgin Martyr Markella in the First Tone

    Submitting to the laws of the Lord’s divine teachings, you strove to keep them blamelessly, O Martyr Markella. And fearing the violence of your father, you fled from him and dwelt in the mountains. Pursuing you he found you and slew you, O undefiled bride of Christ. Glory to Him who strengthened you. Glory to Him who crowned you. Glory to Him who works healings for all through you.


  • Prophet Ezekiel
    Hieromartyr Phocas
    Pelagia of Tinos
    All day

    Ezekiel the Prophet

    The Prophet Ezekiel (“God is strong”) was the son of Buzi and a priest by rank. He was taken captive and brought to Babylon during the reign of Jechonias. In the fifth year of this captivity, about 594 or 593 B.C., he began to prophesy. Having prophesied for about twenty-eight years, he was murdered, it is said, by the tribe of Gad, because he reproached them for their idolatry. His book of prophecy, divided into forty-eight chapters, is ranked third among the greater Prophets. It is richly filled with mystical imagery and marvellous prophetic visions and allegories, of which the dread Chariot of Cherubim described in the first Chapter is the most famous; in the “gate that was shut,” through which the Lord alone entered, he darkly foretold of the Word’s Incarnation from the Virgin (44:1-3); through the “dry bones” that came to life again (37:1-14), he prophesied both of the restoration of captive Israel, and the general resurrection of our race.

    Apolytikion of Prophet Ezekiel in the Second Tone

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

    Kontakion of Prophet Ezekiel in the Fourth Tone

    O divine Ezekiel, as God’s true Prophet, thou foretoldest unto all the Incarnation of the Lord, the Lamb of God, the Artificer, the Son of God, the Eternal made manifest.


    Phocas the Holy Martyr, Bishop of Sinope

    This saint 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 the year 102, when he was burned to death in a bath-house. A homily in his honour was composed by Saint John Chrysostom. The translation of his holy relics is celebrated on July 23.

    Apolytikion of Hieromartyr Phocas 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 Phocas. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.

    Kontakion of Hieromartyr Phocas in the Second Tone

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


    The Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos of Pochaev

    The Icon of the Mother of God of Pochaev – Metropolitan Neophytus, a bishop belonging to the see of Constantinople, was travelling through Volhynia in Ukraine where he was given hospitality by a pious woman, Anna Goyskaya. The bishop gave this woman an icon of the holy Theotokos, which began to work miracles, including the healing of her blind brother. In 1597 the icon was given to the monks residing in Pochaev near the border of Galicia, where the Mother of God had appeared in 1340, leaving an imprint of her footprint in the rock, from which a stream gushed forth. In 1675 when the Lavra of Pochaev was besieged by the Moslem Turks, it was saved by the miraculous intervention of the Mother of God through her wonderworking icon. Even though the Lavra of Pochaev came into Uniate hands for over a century, miracles continued to be worked through the holy icon. Since its return to the Orthodox Catholic Church in 1831, the icon has been a grace-bestowing support for Orthodox Christians, especially those in western Ukraine and the Carpathian region.

    Apolytikion of Icons of the Holy Theotokos of Pochaev in the Plagal of the First Tone

    They that pray before thy holy icon, O sovereign Lady, are made worthy of healing, receive the gift of understanding of the true Faith, and repel the attacks of the Hagarenes; likewise for us who fall down before thee, do thou ask for forgiveness of our sins. Enlighten our hearts with devout purpose and raise thy prayer to thy Son for the salvation of our souls.

    Kontakion of Icons of the Holy Theotokos of Pochaev in the First Tone

    Thine icon of Pochaev, O Theotokos, hath been shown to be a source of healing and a confirmation of the Orthodox Faith. Therefore deliver us who flee to it from danger and temptation; preserve thy Lavra unharmed; strengthen Orthodoxy in the neighbouring lands; and loose thy suppliants from sins; for thou canst do whatsoever thou dost will.


    Icon of the Mother of God

    The Icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All That Sorrow” – As with so many other icons of the Theotokos, wonder-working copies of this icon have been found throughout Orthodox Russia, each with its own history and moving collection of miracles. In this icon, the most holy Mother of God is depicted standing full stature sometimes with, sometimes without the Divine Child in her arms; she is surrounded by all manner of the sick and the suffering, to whom Angels of the Lord bear gifts of mercy, consolation, and suitable aid from the most holy Theotokos. The icon “Joy of all that Sorrow” was inspired by the hymn of the same name; see page 222 in Great Compline. Through one copy of this icon, the sister of Patriarch Joachim was healed at the end of the seventeenth century in Moscow, from which time the feast was established. Another copy of the icon was found in Saint Petersburg; on July 23, 1888, during the severe thunderstorm, lightning struck a chapel at a glass factory, burning the interior walls of the church, but leaving the icon unsigned. From the violent disturbance of the air, the icon was knocked to the floor, the poor-box broke open, and twelve copper coins adhered to the icon in various places; afterwards many miracles were worked by the grace of the holy icon.

    Apolytikion of Icon of the Mother of God in the Fourth Tone

    To God’s Birth-giver let us run now most earnestly, we sinners all and wretched ones, and fall prostrate in repentance, calling from the depths of our souls: Lady, come unto our aid, have compassion upon us; hasten thou, for we are lost in a throng of transgressions; turn not thy servants away with empty hands, for thee alone do we have as our only hope.

    Kontakion of Icon of the Mother of God in the Plagal of the Second Tone

    We have no other help, we have no other hope, but thee, O sovereign Lady; do thou help us. In thee do we hope, and of thee do we boast, for we are thy servants. Let us not be put to shame.


    Also today we celebrate:

    • Pelagia the Righteous of Tinos
    • Trophimos & Theophilios and the 13 others martyred in Lycia
    • St. Anna of Levkadio


  • Martyr Christina of Tyre
    All day

    Saint Christina the Great Martyr of Tyre

    The Martyr Christina lived during the third century. She was born into a rich family, and her father was governor of Tyre. By the age of 11 the girl was exceptionally beautiful, and many wanted to marry her. Christina’s father, however, envisioned that his daughter should become a pagan priestess. To this end he placed her in a special dwelling where he had set up many gold and silver idols, and he commanded his daughter to burn incense before them; two servants attended Christina.

    In her solitude, Christina began to wonder who had created this beautiful world. From her room the stars of the heavens delighted her and she constantly came back to the thought about the Creator of the entire world. She was convinced that the voiceless and inanimate idols in her room could not create anything, since human hands created them. She began to pray to the One God with tears, entreating Him to reveal Himself. Her soul blazed with love for the Unknown God, and she intensified her prayer all the more, and combined it with fasting.

    One time Christina was visited by an angel, who instructed her in the true faith in Christ, the Saviour of the world. The angel called her a bride of Christ and told her about her future suffering. The holy virgin smashed all the idols standing in her room and threw them out the window. In visiting his daughter Christina’s father, Urban, asked her where all the idols had disappeared. Christina was silent. Then, having summoned the servants, Urban learned the truth from them.

    In a rage the father began to slap his daughter’s face. At first, the holy virgin remained quiet, but then she told her father about her faith in the One True God, and that she had destroyed the idols with her own hands. Urban gave orders to kill all the servants in attendance upon his daughter, and he gave Christina a fierce beating and threw her in prison. Having learned about what had happened; St. Christina’s mother came in tears, imploring her to renounce Christ and to return to her ancestral beliefs. However, Christina remained unyielding. On another day, Urban brought his daughter to trial and urged her to offer worship to the gods, and to ask forgiveness for her misdeeds. Instead, he saw her firm and steadfast confession of faith in Christ.

    The torturers tied her to an iron wheel, beneath which they lit a fire. The body of the martyr, turning round on the wheel, was scorched on all sides. They then threw her into prison.

    An angel of God appeared at night, healing her wounds and strengthening her with food. Her father, seeing her unharmed, gave orders to drown her in the sea. An angel sustained the saint while the stone sank down, and Christina miraculously came out of the water and reappeared before her father. In terror, the torturer imputed this to sorcery and he decided to execute her in the morning. That night he himself suddenly died. Another governor, Dion, was sent in his place. He summoned the holy martyr and tried to persuade her to renounce Christ, but seeing her unyielding firmness, he again subjected her to cruel tortures. The holy martyr was for a long while in prison. People began to flock to her, and she converted them to the true faith in Christ. Thus about 300 were converted.

    In place of Dion, a new governor Julian arrived and resumed the torture of the Saint. After various torments, Julian gave orders to throw her into a red-hot furnace and lock her in it. After five days, they opened the furnace and found the martyr alive and unharmed. Seeing this miracle take place, many believed in Christ the Saviour, and the torturers executed St Christina with a sword.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    O Lord Jesus, to You Your lamb cries with a great voice: O my Bridegroom, You I love; 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 You 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)

    O dove of golden wings, you shine like lightning, and flew up to the height of the Heavens, august Christina; therefore, we all celebrate your glorious festival, as we faithfully reverence the worshipful shrine wherein your pure relics are treasured, where you bring forth to all divine cures both for the body and for the soul.


    Boris and Gleb, the Passion-bearers

    The holy Passion-bearers Boris and Gleb, named Romanus and David in sacred Baptism, were the pious sons of the holy Great Prince Vladimir. In 1015 they were slain at the command of their brother Svyatopolk-Saint Boris, on July 24 on the Alta River, near Pereyaslavl, and Saint Gleb, on September 5 on the bank of the Smyadinya River, near Smolensk. Although both had understood their brother’s designs against them, they refused to take up arms against him and bring civil war upon their land, preferring to fulfill the commandment, “Resist not evil” (Matt. 5:39). The holy relics of Saint Boris were then buried in Vyshgorod, to which the holy relics of his brother were transferred five years later. Miracles were worked through the holy relics of the meek and guileless brothers during the consecration in Vyshgorod of a church in their honor on this day in 1021.

    Apolytikion of Holy Martyrs Boris and Gleb in the Second Tone

    O Righteous Passion-bearers and true fulfillers of the Gospel of Christ, Chaste Boris and guileless Gleb, ye did not oppose the onslaughts of your enemy, your brother, who though killing your bodies was unable to touch your souls. Let the evil lover of power mourn therefore, while ye rejoice with the angelic choirs; and as ye stand before the Holy Trinity, pray for the souls of them that honour your memory, that they may be pleasing to God: and by your intercessions, pray that all Orthodox people may be saved.

    Kontakion of Holy Martyrs Boris and Gleb in the Third Tone

    On this day your memory hath shone forth, splendid with glory, O ye noble sufferers and Passion-bearers of Christ God. It hath called us to give glory to Christ our Saviour; wherefore those that draw nigh to the shrine of your relics, do ye swiftly heal as wise and divine physicians, O hallowed Boris and Gleb.


    Also we celebrate today

    • Athenagorus the Apologist
    • Kapiton, Himenaos and Hermogenes, the Martyrs
    • Theophilos the New Martyr of Zakynthos


  • Dormition of St Anna
    All day

    The Dormition of Saint Anna, mother of the Theotokos

    According to tradition, Anna, the ancestor of God, lived for sixty-nine years, and her spouse Joachim, for eighty; according to one account, Saint Joachim died two years before Saint Anna. The Theotokos had been orphaned of both her parents already when she was eleven years of age, when she was living in the Temple. Saint Anna is invoked for conceiving children, and for help in difficult childbirth.

    Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

    O Godly-minded Anna, thou didst give birth unto God’s pure Mother who conceived Him Who is our Life. Wherefore, thou hast now passed with joy to thy heavenly rest, wherein is the abode of them that rejoice in glory; and thou askest forgiveness of sins for them that honour thee with love, O ever-blessed one.

    Kontakion in the Second Tone

    We celebrate now the mem’ry of Christ’s ancestors, while asking their help with faith, that we may all be saved from all manner of tribulation as we fervently cry aloud: Be thou with us, O Lord our God, Whose pleasure it was to glorify them both.


    Also we celebrate today

    • Olympias the Deaconess
    • Eupraxia & Julia the Righteous of Tabenna
    • Gregory Kallidis, Metropolitan of Heraclea
    • Memory of the Fifth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople (553)


  • Martyr of Rome, Paraskevi
    All day

    Paraskeve the Righteous Martyr of Rome

    St Paraskevi was born in Rome about 140 AD of Greek Christian parents. Her father, Agathon was rich and her mother, Politia, had many attributes, the greatest of which was her charitability. Agathon and Politia had been married for many years but they were childless. They prayed to God to bless them with a child which they would raise in a true Christian atmosphere. Their prayers were answered with the birth of a girl and because she was born on the sixth day of the week, they named her Paraskevi, the Greek word for Friday.

    What impressed Paraskevi the most was not her parents’ guidance, but the Christian life which they led. Thus, she knew from a young age, the way of life she would one day lead. She obtained her education from secular books and from the Scriptures. She was also very knowledgeable in the field of philosophy. Bolstered by her Christian upbringing and philosophy, she often conversed with other women about Christianity, trying to strengthen their faith in this new religion.

    Many noblemen wanted to marry this beautiful, educated and rich woman. Her understanding and kindness made her even more desirable, but having a higher goal in life, Paraskevi rejected any marriage proposals.

    When she was 20 years old, both her parents died. Filled with the spirit of Christ and Christian ideals, she sold all her worldly goods and dispersed most of her money among the poor. The remainder was contributed to a community treasury which supported a home for young virgins and widows who had dedicated their lives to the teachings of Christianity. These women had, however, strayed far from the word of the Gospel and, therefore, Paraskevi remained in this home for many years and taught them the true meaning of Christianity.

    This was not enough for her, however, and unprotected she went out to teach the way of Christ, knowing that death was waiting for her at the end of her journey. It was during this period that the Jews and Romans persecuted the new religion with the greatest intensity.

    She left Rome at the age of 30 and began her holy mission, passing through many cities and villages. She was not caught immediately and put to death because Antonius Pius ruled Rome at this time, and he did not execute Christians without a trial. Instead, he protected them against the blind mania of the Jewish and Roman inhabitants. A Christian could only be brought to trial if a formal complaint were lodged against him by another citizen. However, at one time Antonius had to repeal this law because of the many disasters which had befallen Rome, and which were blamed on the Christians.

    Eventually, Antonius heard of St Paraskevi’s holy mission. Upon her return to Rome, several Jews filed complaints about her and Antonius summoned her to his palace to question her. Attracted by her beauty and humility he tried with kind words to make her denounce her faith, even promising to marry her and make her an empress. Angered by her refusal he had a steel helmet, which fitted tightly around her head, lined with nails and placed on her head. It had no effect on the Saint and many who witnessed this miracle converted to Christianity. Hearing of this, Antonius had them put to death.

    Thrown into prison, Paraskevi asked God to give her the strength to face the terror which awaited her. Antonius again continued the torture by having her hung by her hair and her hands and arms burned with torches. The Saint suffered greatly, but had the will not to submit to the pain. Antonius then prepared a large kettle of oil and tar, boiled the mixture and then had Paraskevi immersed in it. Miraculously she stood as if she were being cooled rather than burned. Angered, Antonius thought that she was using magic to keep the contents cool, but the Saint told him that he could test it. She took some of the boiling liquid and threw it in the Emperor’s face. It burned his eyes and blinded him. She stepped out of the kettle and went to Antonius, telling him that only the Christian God could cure him. Immediately, he regained his sight and humbled by the miracle he freed the Saint and ended all prosecution against the Christians throughout the Roman Empire.

    Free now, Paraskevi went forth with greater zeal to accomplish her apostolic mission. As long as Antonius was alive she taught without fear, however the Emperor died at which time Marcus Aurelius came to power. During his reign a pestilence befell Rome and many people died. Once again the Christians were blamed. The Emperor was forced to change the laws dealing with “non-believers”.

    Paraskevi was captured in a city which was ruled by a man called Asclipius. Refusing to sacrifice to the pagan gods, she was thrown into a pit with a large snake. The Saint made the sign of the cross and the snake did not harm her. Asclipius, realising that a great and mighty power guarded Paraskevi, she was again set free to teach others about Christianity.

    She soon arrived at the city in which she would meet her death. Taracius was the ruler here, and he summoned her to the palace for trial. As Antonius, he also ordered his soldiers to prepare a kettle filled with boiling oil and melted tar and the Saint was placed in it. Once again, nothing happened, and many of the onlookers converted to Christianity. Paraskevi was then tied and beaten and afterwards imprisoned and a huge rock placed on her chest. She prayed to Christ to help her be strong.

    The next morning Paraskevi was taken willingly to the Temple of Apollo. Everyone praised Taracius, thinking that he had succeeded in breaking Paraskevi’s faith. However, upon entering the temple, the Saint raised her hand and made the sign of the cross. Suddenly, a loud noise was heard and all the idols in the temple were destroyed. The priests and idolaters dragged her from the altar, beat her, and pushed her out of the temple. The priests demanded that Taracius kill Paraskevi. She was convicted and condemned to death.

    When the Saint was taken out of the city to be beheaded, she asked to be left alone for a few moments so that she might pray for the last time. Afterwards, the soldiers returned and executed the Saint. St Paraskevi is considered to be a healer of the blind, because of the miracle she performed in restoring the sight of Antonius Pius.

    Dismissal Hymn (First Tone)

    Appropriate to your calling, O Champion Paraskevi, you worshipped with the readiness your name bears. For an abode you obtained faith, which is your namesake. Wherefore, you pour forth healing and intercede for our souls.

    Kontakion (Plagal of Fourth Tone)

    O most majestic One, we have discovered your temple to be a spiritual clinic wherein all the faithful resoundingly honour you, O famed and venerable Martyr Paraskevi.


    The Holy Hieromartyrs Hermolaus, Hermippus, and Hermocrates

    Saint Hermolaus and those with him were priests of the Church in Nicomedia, living in hiding after the Emperor Maximian had burnt to death the 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia (see Dec. 28). It was Hermolaus who converted Saint Panteleimon to Christ. When Saint Panteleimon was seized as a Christian and was asked by Maximian who it was that had turned him from the idols, the Saint, enlightened by God that the time of his teacher’s martyrdom also was at hand, revealed to Maximian that it was Hermolaus the priest. Saint Hermolaus was taken with Saints Hermippus and Hermocrates, and when they had confessed Christ to be the only true God, they were beheaded in the year 305. Saint Hermolaus is one of the Holy Unmercenaries.

    Apolytikion of Hermolaus, Hermippus, and Hermocrates in the Fourth Tone

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

    Kontakion of Hermolaus, Hermippus, and Hermocrates in the Third Tone

    O wise Hermolaus with the God-bearing Hermippus, and august Hermocrates, as sacred priests of the Most High, ye who offered the Unbloody Sacrifice rightly were yourselves stained with your own blood as sacrifices offered up to Christ the One God; and now with boldness ye pray that all may be saved.


    Also we celebrate today:

    Prisca the Righteous Martyr
    Moses the Hungarian
    Jacob Netsvetov the Enlightener of Alaska


  • Great Martyr & Healer Panteleimon
    All day

    Saint Panteleimon was born about 284 AD in the city of Nicodemia. His father, Evstorgios, was an idolater while his mother, Evoulis, was a devout Christian. She raised her son, whose real name was Pantoleonta, in the Christian way of life. She passed away while her son was still young.

    Initially Pantoleonta was educated in his native tongue and then in Greek. His father sent him to study under the famous physician, Evfrosinos. Quickly he surpassed the other students. He was handsome, soft spoken, humble and all who spoke with him felt true happiness and peace. Because of these virtues, he became well known in Nicodemia. One day he went with Eufrosinos to the palace and it was here that the ruler, Maximian, first saw him. He instructed Evfrosinos to educate Pantoleonta to the utmost so that he could be appointed royal physician.

    At that time, St Ermolaos, the head of the Church in Nicodemia, lived in a house with other Christians. He watched Pantoleonta every day as he went to his studies and finally asked him about his religion. Pantoleonta told him that while his mother was alive he had been a Christian, but now his father had made him follow the pagans. Ermolaos told him that if he believed with all his heart in the true God he would be able to cure anyone with His help. Pantoleonta acknowledged everything he was told and from that time on, he went to Ermolaos for counsel and began to accept Christ with all his heart.

    Time passed, and one day, with the grace of God, Pantoleonta saved a child from certain death after being bitten by a viper. He needed no further proof that Christ was the true God. Ermolaos baptised Pantoleonta, gave him Holy Communion, and instructed him in the Sacraments of the Holy Church. He remained for seven days with this holy man, and during this time he became completely acquainted with the teachings and practices of the Church.

    Soon, Pantoleonta was working towards his father’s conversion to Christianity. This was finally achieved when he saw his son cure a man of his blindness. By the grace of God, the man regained his sight, not only physically, but also spiritually, for before this time he was an idolater. Pantoleonta took the man and his father to St Ermolaos who baptised them.

    Pantoleonta distributed his wealth among the poor and then proceeded to cure all who came to him. The only payment the St would ask was that the healed person believe that Jesus Christ was their true healer. The other physicians became very envious and wanting to betray the Saint to the Emperor, a group of them went to Maximian and told him that the doctor that he himself had educated was healing Christians and that the idolaters were converting to Christianity. As proof, the blind man who was cured was brought before the Emperor, who tried to convince him that the gods had cured him and not Christ. But it was futile. Maximian realised that everything the doctors had told him was true. He ordered that the man be beheaded. The Saint secretly took the man’s body and buried it in a Christian place.

    Pantoleonta was ordered to appear before the Emperor, who described the charges that were brought before him and ordered Pantoleonta to sacrifice to the gods. The Saint refused. The false-priests and doctors begged the Emperor to execute him so that Christianity would not gain in popularity among the people. Unable to change his beliefs, Maximian ordered that the Saint be tortured. First they tied him to a board and tore his skin with iron claws. Then, the soldiers burned him with their torches. The Saint prayed to God to give him strength to withstand the torture. Next the Saint was taken and placed in a kettle but the tar remained cool around him. The Emperor considered the miracles to be magic tricks performed by Pantoleonta. Continuing with his efforts he had a boulder tied to the Saint and thrown into the sea. The boulder became light and the Saint floated on the water. Maximian still refused to recognise the power of the true God. Next the Saint was placed in the stadium but the wild beasts peacefully walked towards him and licked his feet. The crowd cheered and together praised God and Pantoleonta. Maximian was enraged and had all the animals butchered. The miracle served to honour the Saint and to show others the way of righteousness.

    The Saint was submitted to even more tortures. He was tied to a wheel and then rolled down a hill. The purpose was to tear the Saint’s Body to pieces. Instead, it rolled over several idolaters and killed them. The Saint again suffered no harm.

    Pantoleonta decided to bring St Ermolaos to the people, since his words could convert even more pagans to Christianity. Ermolaos and two other men, Ermocratis and Ermippon, were brought before the Emperor who tried to convince them that they believed in a false God. Unable to make them renounce their faith they were tortured and finally beheaded. The bodies were secretly taken by some Christians and buried with honour.

    The defeated Emperor passed final sentence on the Saint. He was to he beheaded and his body was to he cremated. The Saint was taken and tied to an olive tree. As the soldier raised his sword to behead the Saint, the sword melted as if it were made of wax. The soldiers fell to their knees and admitted their beliefs in Christ. The Saint prayed for them and forgave them for their sins. A voice came from heaven, saying to Pantoleonta that all he had asked for had been granted and that from this time on he would he known not as Pantoleonta, but as Panteleimon (All-merciful). He forced the soldiers to behead him so that he could receive the crown of martyrdom. After kissing the Saint, the soldiers beheaded him. St Panteleimon gave his life for Christ on 27 July 304 AD. It is said that the olive tree to which he was tied, immediately bloomed and brought forth fruit. Hearing of this, the Emperor ordered that the tree be cut down and that the body be burned. The soldiers, however, did not return to the palace. They and other Christians, took the holy body and buried it. The body was anointed with myrrh and buried outside of the city in the Place of the Scholar Adamantinos.

    St John of Damascus informs us that the remains were transported to Constantinople, however, in the 12th century they were removed by the Crusaders. St Panteleimon is often asked by faithful Christians to aid them in times of sickness. He is believed to take special interest in those who are crippled. He is considered equal to the Benevolent Saints Cosmas and Damianos.

    Dismissal Hymn (Third Tone)

    Holy Passion-bearer and healer Panteleimon, entreat the merciful God, to grant our souls forgiveness of transgressions.

    Kontakion (Plagal of Third Tone)

    You emulated the Merciful One, and received from Him the grace of healing, Passion-bearer and healer Panteleimon; by your prayers, heal our spiritual diseases and continually drive away the temptations of the enemy from those who cry out in faith “Save us, O Lord”.


    Also we celebrate today

    Nicholas of Novgorod the fool-for-Christ
    Anthousa the Righteous Confessor
    853 Martyrs of Thrace who were drowned
    Manuel the Righteous

  • Paul of Xiropotamos
    Irene of Chrysovalantou
    All day

    Our Righteous Father Paul of Xeropotamou

    Saint Paul (in the world Procopios) of Xiropotamos (“dry river”), was the son of the Byzantine Emperor Michael Kuropalatos, who later resigned the imperial office and became a monk in a monastery he built. Having received the finest education, Procopios became one of the most learned men of his time. His “Discourse on the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple”, the “Canon to the Forty Martyrs”, the “Canon to the Venerable Cross”, and other works gained him great renown. However, worldly knowledge and honours did not interest him. He exchanged his fine garb for beggar’s rags, and he went to the Holy Mountain (Mt Athos), to Xiropotamos. He built a cell there at the ruins of an old monastery founded by the empress Pulcheria in honour of the Forty Martyrs (commemorated March 9). From Kosmas, a hermit, he received monastic tonsure with the name Paul.

    Out of humility, the Saint did not reveal his erudition to anyone. The fame of Paul’s strict life quickly spread throughout the Holy Mountain. He became called Paul of Xiropotamos, and the monastery where he pursued monasticism, to the present day bears the name Xiropotamos. At that time the emperor Romanos, a relative of Paul, ascended the throne. Through the Protos of the Holy Mountain he requested the Saint to come to Constantinople and planned a splendid reception for him. The humble Paul, not betraying his monastic duty, appeared with a cross and in torn robes amid the courtly splendour and magnificence. St Paul confirmed his fame as a chosen one of God, miraculously healing the grievously ill Romanos by placing his hand on him. However, the vanity of courtly life, promised by the gratitude of the emperor, did not interest the Saint; he returned to the Holy Mountain, having asked the emperor to restore the Xiropotamos monastery.

    In the holy altar in the consecrated cathedral church of the restored monastery, was put a piece of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, given to St Paul by the emperor Romanos. Soon the monastery was filled by many monks, wanting to put themselves under the guidance of St. Paul, but having entrusted the rule of the monastery to one of the brethren, he moved off to the remote wilderness. Disciples, not wanting to leave their Elder, again disturbed his quiet. Then the monk requested of the emperor the means for the building of a new monastery. Thus, the Saint founded a monastery in the name of the holy Great Martyr and Victory-Bearer St George. The first head of the new monastery was St Paul himself, who also brought a piece of the Venerable Wood of the Cross of the Lord there.

    Having been informed in advance by the Lord of his impending end, the Saint summoned the brethren of the Xiropotamos and the new Georgikos monasteries and gave them his final instructions. On the day of his death, St Paul donned the mantle, and read the prayer of St Joannicios, which he said continually, “My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my protection is the Holy Spirit, O Holy Trinity, glory to You”, and he received the Holy Mysteries of Christ.

    St Paul had instructed in his will to bury his body on the peninsula of Pongosa (opposite the Holy Mountain). However, by the will of God the ship was driven to the shores of Constantinople, where the Emperor and Patriarch with the pious took the body of the Saint and solemnly placed it in the Great Church (Hagia Sophia). After the sacking of Constantinople by the Crusaders, the relics of St Paul were taken to Venice.

    Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

    The angel incarnate and the ascetics’ pedestal, the first to build the monastery on the torrent, Paul the glorious above together summons the array of the angel, below he brings together the throng of his disciples to celebrate in song his holy memory.


    Irene the Righteous of Chrysovalantou

    IRENCHRYSaint Irene, who was from Cappadocia, flourished in the ninth century. Because of her great beauty and virtue, she was brought to Constantinople as a prospective bride for the young Emperor Michael (842-867); however, as Saint Joannicius the Great foretold, it was God’s will that she assume the monastic habit instead. She shone forth in great ascetical labours, and suffered many attacks from the demons; while yet a novice, she attained to the practice of Saint Arsenius the Great, of praying the whole night long with arms stretched out towards Heaven (see May 8). God showed forth great signs and wonders in her, and she became the Abbess of the Convent of Chrysovalantou. She was granted the gift of clairvoyance and knew the thoughts of all that came to her. She appeared in a vision to the king and rebuked him for unjustly imprisoning a nobleman who had been falsely accused. Through a sailor from Patmos to whom he had appeared, Saint John the Evangelist sent her fragrant and wondrous apples from Paradise. She reposed at the age of 103, still retaining the youthful beauty of her countenance. After her repose, marvelous healings beyond number have been wrought by her to the present day.

    Apolytikion of Irene Chrysovalantou in the Plagal of the First Tone

    Not a temporal kingdom on earth didst thou obtain, but Christ, thy most comely Bridegroom, vouchsafed thee heavenly crowns, and thou reignest as a queen with Him eternally; for thou didst dedicate thyself unto Him with all thy soul, O Irene, our righteous Mother, thou boast of Chrysovalantou, and mighty help of all the Orthodox.

    Kontakion of Irene Chrysovalantou in the Third Tone

    Leaving all the world behind with its impermanent glory, thou wast wedded unto Christ, the King immortal and holy, bringing Him as precious dowry thy maiden beauty and thy trophies won through abstinence over demons. O Irene, our righteous Mother, entreat thy Bridegroom to show His mercy to us.


    Prochoros, Nicanor, Timon and Parmenas the Apostles of the Seventy

    These Apostles of the Seventy are mentioned in Acts 6:5. Saint Prochoros became Bishop of Nicomedia and reposed in peace. Saint Nicanor was stoned to death in Jerusalem. Saint Timon became Bishop of Bostra in Arabia and ended his life in martyrdom by fire at the hands of the pagans. Saint Parmenas died in peace in Jerusalem.

    Apolytikion of Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon and Parmenas of the Seventy in the Third Tone

    O Holy Apostles, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.

    Kontakion of Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon and Parmenas of the Seventy in the First Tone

    By faith ye were shown forth as the Word’s hallowed deacons, His ven’rable eye-witnesses, and chosen vessels, Nicanor and Prochoros, glorious Timon and Parmenas; hence we celebrate today your sacred memorial, and with joy of heart, we keep the feast now in gladness, whereon we all call you blessed.


  • Martyr Kallinikos of Asia Minor
    Martyr Theodota
    All day

    Holy Martyr Kallinikos of Asia Minor

    Holy Martyr Kallinikos, a native of Cilicia, was a Christian from childhood. Grieving that many misguided people would perish for eternity because they worshiped idols, he went through the cities and villages to proclaim Jesus Christ and His teachings to the pagans, and with the Word of God, he converted many to Christianity.

    In the Galatian city of Ancyra the holy confessor was arrested and brought to trial before a governor named Sacerdonos, a fierce persecutor of Christians. The governor, threatening tortures and death, ordered the saint to offer sacrifice to the idols. The saint fearlessly declared that he was not afraid of martyrdom, since every believer in Christ receives from Him strength in ordeals, and through death inherits an eternal blessed life.

    They cruelly beat the saint with ox thongs and tore at his body with iron hooks, but he endured everything with patience and calm. This aroused still greater fury in Sacerdonos, and he ordered that sandals with sharp nails be placed on the saint’s feet, and that they should drive the martyr with whips to the city of Gangra to be burned.

    The pathway was arduous, and the soldiers who accompanied the condemned man were weak from thirst. In despair, they began to implore the saint to pray the Lord for water. The saint, taking pity on his tormentors, with the help of God caused a miraculous spring of water to gush forth from a stone. The astonished soldiers were filled with sympathy for their rescuer, and they wanted even to set him free. Fear of execution, however, compelled them to bring the martyr farther. In Gangra, St Kallinikos joyfully offered thanks to the Lord, Who had vouchsafed him the crown of martyrdom. He went into the blazing fire and gave up his soul to God. Believers reverently buried his body, remaining unharmed.

    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)

    You rightly inherited delight on high, for you waxed hot with burning love for Christ Your God, O Kallinikos, for Whose sake you courageously brave the fire; as you stand before Him now, cease not interceding with Him for us all.


    Holy Virgin Martyr Theodota

    Concerning Saint Theodota, little is known except that she was a virgin who was horribly tormented and slain for her confession of Christ.

    Kontakion of Virgin Martyr Theodota in the Fourth Tone

    As a mother doth rejoice
    over her children,
    so is Theodota now
    filled with divine and boundless joy
    over the martyrdom she hath borne,
    which is her glory and comfort for evermore.


    Also today we celebrate:

    Theodota the Martyr and her Children
    Constantine III, Patriarch of Constantinople
    Pious King Theodosius the New
    Seraphima the Virgin-martyr of Antioch
    Olaf of Norway

  • Silas & Companions of the 70
    All day

    Silas, Silvan, Crescens, Epenetus and Andronicus the Apostles of the 70

    Saint Silas was a companion and fellow labourer of the Apostle Paul: “And Paul chose Silas and departed…and he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches” (Acts 15:40-41). He later became Bishop of Corinth, and reposed in peace. Saint Silvanos became Bishop of Thessalonica, and also reposed in peace. Saint Crescents, whom Saint Paul mentions in his Second Epistle to Timothy(4:10), became Bishop of Chalcedon, and brought many to the Faith. As for him whom the Apostle of the Nations praises as “my well-beloved Epenetus, the first-fruits of Achaia unto Christ” (Roman 16:5), he became Bishop of Carthage, and after enduring many afflictions from the idolators, and bringing many of them to Christ, he departed to the Lord.

    Apolytikion of Silas, Silvan, Crescens, Epenetus and Andronicus of the 70 in the Third Tone

    O Holy Apostles, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.

    Kontakion of Silas, Silvan, Crescens, Epenetus and Andronicus of the 70 in the Fourth Tone

    Ye have appeared as great and fruit-bearing branches of Christ the Vine, O God-proclaiming Apostles, bearing the virtues in great clusters, wisdom’s fruit, which pour forth upon us all the sweet wine of salvation; which when we receive within, we are drunken with gladness, and celebrate your honoured memory. Pray that our sins be forgiven and we be saved.


    We Also Celebrate Today:

    Julitta of Caesaria

  • Joseph of Arimathea
    Forefeast of the Holy Cross
    All day

    Joseph the Righteous of Arimathea

    Righteous Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. As a member of the Sanhedrin he did not participate in the “counsel and deed” of the Jews in passing a death sentence for Jesus Christ. After the Crucifixion and Death of the Saviour he made bold to go to Pilate and ask him for the Body of the Lord, to Which he gave burial with the help of Righteous Nicodemus, who was also a secret disciple of the Lord.

    They took down the Body of the Saviour from the Cross, wrapped it in a winding-cloth, and placed it in a new tomb, in which no one had ever been buried, in the Garden of Gethsemane, in the presence of the Mother of God and the holy Myrrh-Bearing Women (St Joseph had prepared this tomb for himself). Having rolled a heavy stone before the entrance of the tomb, they departed (John 19:37-42; Matt 27:57-61; Mark 15:43-47; Luke 24:50-56). St Joseph travelled around the world, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. He died peacefully in England.

    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 (Second Tone)

    With far-shining beams, the Cross of Christ goes throughout all the earth bestowing life and grace on all. Let us draw nigh as to a saving beacon in the night of this world; for the Lord, Who was nailed thereto, through it bestows forgiveness on all mankind.


    Eudocimus the Righteous of Cappadocia

    Saint Eudocimus was from Cappadocia, the son of pious and most illustrious parents, patricians in rank. He especially cultivated chastity and mercy, the one by never meeting the gaze of a woman, the other by cheerfully providing the needs of the poor. When he was made military commander of Cappadocia, he continued in his righteous ways, showing mercy and uprightness in all his dealings. Having so lived in piety, quietly and without ostentation, he was called from this life at the age of thirty-three, about the year 840, during the reign of the Iconoclast Theophilus. Not long after his burial, his grave became a fountain of unending miracles, as God revealed the virtue that Eudocimus had striven to hide; when his grave was later opened, his body was found incorrupt. His holy relics were translated to Constantinople.

    Apolytikion of Eudocimus of Cappadocia in the Fourth Tone

    The One that hath called thee from the earth to Heaven to dwell
    preserveth thy body uncorrupted after thy death, O saintly Eudocimus;
    for in living modestly and chastely, O blest one,
    thou didst keep thy flesh free of all stain and defilement;
    with boldness, therefore, pray unto Christ that we may all be saved.

    Kontakion of Eudocimus of Cappadocia in the Third Tone

    Thine august memorial this day hath called us together at the sacred and divine shrine of thy ven’rable relics. Wherefore they that come and worship are all delivered from all harm caused by the demons’ accursed malice, O Eudocimus most blessed, and they are rescued swiftly from every disease.


    Forefeast of the Precious Cross

    Apolytikion of Forefeast of the Holy Cross in the 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 of Forefeast of the Holy Cross in the Second Tone

    With far-shining beams, the Cross of Christ doth go about throughout all the earth, bestowing life and grace on all. Let us draw nigh as to a saving beacon in the night of this world; for the Lord, Who was nailed thereto, through it doth bestow forgiveness on all men.


    We also celebrate today

    Dionysios the Righteous Martyr of Vatopaidi