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Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tremithus

December 12, 2009 Leave a comment

St. Spyridon of Tremithus was born toward the end of the third century on the island of Cyprus. He was a shepherd, and had a wife and children. He was generous with all he owned, meeting the needs of his neighbors and the homeless. For this, the Lord rewarded him with the gift of wonderworking. He healed those who were incurably sick and cast out demons. After the death of his wife, during the reign of Constantine the Great (306-337), he was made Bishop of the city Tremithus on the island of Cyprus. As a bishop, St. Spyridon continued to be a shepherd and also minister to the needs of those entrusted to his care. He was especially known for his deeds of charity.

Bishop Spyridon was one of the many saints (along with St. Nicholas of Myra) who were present at the great First Ecumenical Council in the year 325 A.D. The meeting was called because a leader in the church, named Arius, was teaching doctrine that contradicted the teachings of the Apostles. While St. Spyridon was there, he entered into a discussion with a Greek philosopher who believed that Arius was correct in his beliefs. This is a portion of what St. Spyridon said to him:

“Listen, philosopher, to what I tell you. There is one God Who created man from dust. He has ordered all things, both visible and invisible, by His Word and His Spirit. The Word is the Son of God, Who came down upon the earth on account of our sins. He was born of a Virgin, He lived among men, and suffered and died for our salvation, and then He arose from the dead, and He has resurrected the human race with Him. We believe that He is one in essence with the Father, and equal to Him in authority and honor. We believe this without any sly rationalizations, for it is impossible to grasp this mystery by human reason.”

St. Spyridon was able to defend the faith so clearly and simply that this philosopher changed his mind, agreed with the Saint and later received Holy Baptism. Then the philosopher turned to his companions and said, “Listen! Until now my rivals have presented their arguments, and I was able to refute their proofs with other proofs. But instead of proofs from reason, the words of this Elder are filled with some sort of special power, and no one can refute them, since it is impossible for man to oppose God. If any of you thinks as I do now, let him believe in Christ and join me in following this man, for God Himself speaks through his lips.”

During his time at this important council, St. Spyridon explained the unity of the Holy Trinity in a remarkable way. He took a brick in his hand and squeezed it. At that instant flames shot up from it, water dripped on the ground, and only dust remained in the hands of the wonderworker. There was only one brick,” St. Spyridon said, “but it was composed of three elements. In the Holy Trinity there are three Persons, but only one God.”

It is plain to see why St. Spyridon became known as a wonderworker. Here are just some of the many things that happened during his lifetime:

  • Through his prayers, drought was replaced by abundant rains, and endless rain was replaced by fair weather.
  • Through his prayers, the sick were healed and demons cast out.
  • A woman once came to him with a dead child in her arms, asking him to intercede for her. He prayed, and the infant was restored to life. The mother was so overcome with joy that she collapsed onto the ground, dead. But through the prayer of the saint, she was restored to life.
  • Another time,  St. Spyridon was hurrying to save a friend who had been falsely accused and sentenced to death. The saint came upon a stream that was flooded and he couldn’t cross it. So he commanded the water: “Halt! For the Lord of all the world commands that you permit me to cross so that a man may be saved.” God answered his prayer and the water level went down so that he could cross the stream. The judge who had condemned St. Spyridon’s friend was so amazed by the miracle that had occurred that he received St. Spyridon with honor and set his friend free.
  • On another occasion, he went into an empty church and ordered that the candles be lit, and then he began the service. When he said, “Peace be unto all,” both he and the deacon heard from above the resounding of a great multitude of voices saying, “And with thy spirit.” This choir was majestic and more sweetly melodious than any human choir. To each petition of the litanies, the invisible choir sang, “Lord, have mercy.” Attracted by the church singing, the people who lived nearby hurried toward the church. As they got closer and closer, the wondrous singing filled their ears and gladdened their hearts. But when they entered the church, they saw no one but Bishop Spyridon and several church servers, and they no longer heard the singing which had greatly astonished them.


  • St. Spyridon was known to many for his generous hospitality to strangers, just as Abraham in the Old Testament [read Genesis 18:1-16]. One time, at the start of the Great Fast, a stranger knocked at his door. Seeing that the traveler was very exhausted, St. Spyridon said to his daughter, “Wash the feet of this man, so he may recline to dine.” But since it was Lent, they did not have the kinds of food in the house to provide a big feast. His daughter replied that there was no bread or flour in the house. Then St. Spyridon, apologizing to his guest, asked his daughter to take some meat from their pantry and cook it. After seating the stranger at table,  St. Spyridon began to eat, urging that man to do the same. When the latter refused, calling himself a Christian, the saint instructed, “It is not proper to refuse this, for the Word of God proclaims, ‘Unto the pure all things are pure’.”
  • The saint was known for his charity and generosity. After gathering the harvest, it was his custom to take some of it to those who had no money or food, and some of it to those who owed money to other men. He did not set aside any for himself, but simply showed these people the door to his storeroom, so that they could come and get provisions anytime. In this way, each could take as much as he needed when he had a need, and could later pay it back in the same way, without records or accountings.


  • St. Spyridon understood the command to love your enemies. There were some thieves who planned to steal his sheep. They broke into the sheepfold(a place where a shepherd could keep his sheep safe and protected. Sometimes the walls were built with large stones and there was a gate) at night, but once inside they were tied up by some invisible power. When morning came, the saint went to his flock and, seeing the tied-up robbers, he prayed and then untied them. He spoke to them for a long while and he encouraged them to leave their path of sin and earn money by working hard (instead of stealing sheep). Then he gave them one of the sheep and said kindly, “Take this for your trouble, so that you did not spend a sleepless night in vain.”
  • In the city of Alexandria in Egypt, there were many, many idols and pagan temples. The Patriarch there was very concerned about this and called a special meeting of the bishops to discuss what to do about it. Through their prayers, all the idols fell down – except one. This particular idol was greatly worshiped by the pagans there. It was shown to the Patriarch in a vision that this idol could only be broken by St. Spyridon of Tremithus. The Council sent a message to the saint and urged him to come to Alexandria. St. Spyridon set sail and, the moment the ship touched shore and the saint stepped out on land, the idol in Alexandria with all its offerings turned to dust. This was then reported to the Patriarch and all the bishops.

St. Spyridon lived his earthly life in righteousness and sanctity, and prayerfully surrendered his soul to the Lord. His relics repose on the island of Corfu, Greece, in a church named after him. St. Spyridon is believed to have saved this island when the Turks attacked it in 1716.

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Categories: Lives of Saints

Saint Philofthea of Argesh

December 8, 2009 1 comment

Saint Philothea (Philofthea) of Argesh was born in Trnovo, the old capital of Bulgaria, around 1206. Her father was a farmer, and her mother was from Wallachia. She died when Philothea was still a child, and her father remarried.

The child was often punished by her stepmother, who accused her of being disobedient, and of giving their possesions away to the poor. Her father chastised her for this, but Philothea continued to attend church services and to do good to others, just as her mother had taught her. As she grew older, she was adorned with the virtues of prayer, virginity, and almsgiving.

St Philothea used to bring food to her father, who was out working in the fields. Not all of the food reached him, however, because the girl would give some of it to the poor children begging in the street. When he complained to his wife that she did not prepare enough food for him, she replied, “I send you plenty of food. Ask your daughter what she does with it.”

Becoming angry with Philothea, her father decided to spy on her to see what happened to the food. From a place of concealment, he saw her giving food to the poor children who came to her. In a violent rage, he took the axe from his belt and threw it at the twelve-year-old girl, hitting her in the leg. The wound was mortal, and she soon gave her pure soul into God’s hands.

The man was filled with fear and remorse, and tried to lift his daughter’s body from the ground, but it became as heavy as a rock. Then the wretch ran to the Archbishop of Trnovo to confess his sin and explain what had happened. The Archbishop and his clergy went with candles and incense to take up the martyr’s body and bring it to the cathedral, but even they were unable to lift it.

The Archbishop realized that St Philothea did not wish to remain in her native land, so he began to name various monasteries, churches, and cathedrals to see where she wished to go. Not until he named the Monastery of Curtea de Argesh in Romania were they able to lift her holy relics and place them in a coffin. The Archbishop wrote to the Romanian Voievode Radu Negru, asking him to accept the saint’s relics.

The Archbishop and his clergy carried the holy relics in procession as far as the Danube, where they were met by Romanian clergy, monastics, and the faithful. Then they were carried to the Curtea de Argesh Monastery.

Many people have been healed at the tomb of St Philothea in a small chapel in the belltower behind the monastery church, and those who entreat her intercession receive help from her. Each year on December 7 there is a festal pilgrimage to the Monastery, and people come from all over Romania. The relics of St Philothea are carried around the courtyard in procession, and there are prayers for the sick. Many times the relics have been responsible for bringing rain to a drought stricken area of Romania.

The holy Virgin Martyr Philothea is venerated in Romania, Bulgaria, and throughout the Orthodox world.

Categories: Lives of Saints

A Brief Life Of Saint NECTARIOS Metropolitan Of Pentapolis, Wonderworker Of AEGINA

November 10, 2009 Leave a comment

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St. Nectarios, earthly name was Anastasios, as he was called, was from a very poor family in nineteenth century Selybria, in Thrace. He attempted to board a ship to Constantinople to find work, but he had no money for a ticket. The engines of the ship roared, yet it would not move until young Anastasios was permitted aboard. En route, the sea once raged, but Anastasios dipped his cross, which contained a piece of the True Cross, into the water three times, praying “Silence! Be still.” The waters became still, but he lost his cross. As the ship continued, a loud continuous knocking was heard from beneath the ship. When they arrived at their destination, the sailors found the cross stuck to the bottom of the ship, as if the holy Cross of our Lord led the ship… When he was 29 years of age, he became a monk on the island of Chios. The patriarch sent him to study theology in Athens, and he was ordained Priest Nektarios (when you become a monk your name is changed), and later the Bishop of Pentapolis.

However, owing to jealousy and alleged improprieties, he was removed from office, only to be rejected again in Athens and island of Euboiea. He suffered as a pauper, but he persevered, and his integrity and his wisdom shone through. The people of Euboiea embraced him. He became the Dean of the School of Theology in Athens in 1910 and helped begin a convent and became a spiritual father with healing powers for many throughout Greece. Ten years later, he was taken from Aegina to a hospital ward in Athens for the poor and incurable. He gave up his spirit there, and they prepared him for burial. His sweater was placed on the nearby bed of a paralytic, who suddenly regained his strength and walked. The room, which has since become a chapel, was filled with a beautiful fragrance for many days after his repose in the Lord our God. Healings are seen throughout the world to this day by the saint’s holy prayers. He is considered the patron saint of those with cancer, heart trouble, arthritis, for those who are seeking a job, and epilepsy.

St. Nectarios lived from 1846 until 1920. On November 9th, (1920) St. Nectarios reposed in the Lord. The Feast day for St. Nectarios is 9 November.

Professor John E. Rexine, of Colgate University wrote the following:

“Widely known among the Orthodox as a great miracle-worker, particularly as a healer of every sort of disease, St. Nectarios was a many-sided personality. He was a prolific writer, theologian, philosopher, moralist, educator, poet, ascetic and mystic.”

Categories: Lives of Saints

Saint Cosmas Of Aitolos- Teachings

November 7, 2009 Leave a comment

GetImageDetail.asp“Among the religious figures who have appeared among the Greeks during the past two centuries, none has been as universally acclaimed as Cosmas of Aitolos (1714-1779). In addition to being given the tile “Equal to the apostles,’ he is numbered among the “Teachers of the Nation”.

The following are the Apolytikion, Kontakion, and Megalynarion to St. Cosmas, and his feast day is commemorated in the Orthodox Church on August 24th.


APOLYTIKION

By teaching the Divine Faith, thou hast richly adorned the Church and become a zealous emulator of the Apostles; for having been lifted up by the wings of divine love, that hast spread far and wide the message of the Gospel. O glorious Cosmas, entreat God that He grants us His great mercy.


KONTAKION

Having led an irreproachable life on Athos, like Moses thou hast been deemed worthy of God’s manifestation; wherefore truly thou dost gladden the Church exceedingly by thy deeds and thy God-inspired words, O Father Cosmas, having contended for which, thou hast been adorned with a double crown.


MEGALYNARION

Rejoice thou emulator of the Apostles, teacher and luminary of the Church; rejoice thou divine cultivator of piety, associate of Martyrs and peer of Angels.



GOD

It is proper to begin our teaching with God, and when we finish it to thank God – not that I am worthy to mention and utter the name of God, but I am sure that God suffers me to do so through His great and infinite compassion.

God, the all-good and most merciful, my brethren, is one, and whoever says that there are many Gods is a devil.

He is triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; yet one nature, one glory, one kingdom, one God. He is all light, all joy, all compassion, all love. This All-holy Trinity we pious Orthodox Christians glorify and worship.

He is the true God, and all other so-called gods are demons. And it is not we along that believe, glorify, and worship the Holy Trinity, but angels, archangels, and all the heavenly hosts, as numerous as the stars of the heavens and the grains of the sand of the sea unceasingly praise in hymns and worship and glorify this All-holy Trinity.

Again, out of their love for the Holy Trinity men and women as numerous as the stars of the heavens and the grains of the sand of the sea spilt their blood, and as many renounced the world and went to the deserts and led a life of spiritual endeavor, and still as many lived in the world with temperance and virginity, fasting, prayer, almsgiving and other practices; and all went to Paradise and rejoice forever.


LOVE

If we want to fare well in this life and to go to Paradise, and to call our God love and father, we must have two loves: the love for God and the love for our neighbor.

It is natural for us to have these two loves, and contrary to nature not have them. Just as a swallow needs two wings in order to fly in the air, so we need these two loves, because without them we cannot be saved. Let us have love for God and for our fellow men. Then God comes and brings us joy and implants the eternal life in our hearts, and we fare well in this life and also go to Paradise, there to rejoice forever.

Fortunate is the man who has these two loves in his heart, that for God and that for his brethren. He surely has God; and whoever has God has every blessing and does not bear to commit sin. Again, wretched is the man who does not have these two loves. Surely he has the devil and evil, and always sins.

God, my brethren, asks us to have these two loves. As He Himself says in His Holy Gospel: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets.” Through these two loves all the Saints of our Church, men and women, attained sainthood and won Paradise. Whoever has blessed love, firstly for God and secondly for his fellow Christian, becomes worthy of receiving the Holy Trinity in his heart. If you wish to be saved, seek no other thing here in this world as much as love.

Know my brethren that love has two characteristics, two gifts. One of them is to strengthen man in what is good and the other is to weaken him in what is evil. I have a loaf of bread to eat; you do not have. Love tells me: Do not eat it alone, give some to your brethren and you eat the rest. I have clothes; love tells me: Give one garment to your brother and you wear the other one. I open my mouth to accuse you, to tell you lies, to decieve you; but at once I remember love and it deadens my mouth, and does not allow me to tell you lies. I stretch out my hands to take what belongs to you, your money, all your possessions. Love does not allow me to take them.

Do you see, my brethren, what gifts love has? Those of you who earn your bread by means of your toil and sweat should rejoice, because that bread is blessed; and if you give a little of it as alms it is reckoned as much. But those who live by means of injustice and grasping should mourn, for what you thus acquire is cursed; and if you give alms out of these they do not benefit you at all, being fire that consumes you.

The Martyrs won Paradise through their blood; the Ascetics, through their ascetic life. Now you, my brethren, who have children, how will you win Paradise? By means of hospitality, by giving to your brothers who are poor, blind, or lame.


HUMILITY

The Christian needs two wings in order to soar upward and attain Paradise: humility and love. When the first order of angels fell from angelic glory and became demons, the other nine orders humbled themselves and worshipped the All-Holy Trinity, and remained in their place and rejoice forever. We, too, my brethren, must reflect what an evil thing pride is – that it cast down the dcvil from angelic glory and he will always burn in Hades – and that humility kept the angels in Heaven, and they rejoice perpetually in the glory of the Holy Trinity. Let us then, my brethren, aviod pride, because it is the first daughter of the devil, is a path that leads to Hades; and let us have humility, because it is angelic, is a path that leads to Paradise.


CONFESSION

If you want cure your soul, you need four things.

  1. The first is to forgive your enemies.
  2. The second is to confess thoroughly.
  3. The third is to blame yourself.
  4. The fourth is to resolve to sin no more.

If we wish to be saved, we must always blame ourselves and not attribute our wrong acts to others. And God, Who is most compassionate, will forgive us.


FASTING

We who are pious Christians must fast always, but easpecially on Wednesday, because the Lord was sold on that day, and on Friday, because He was crucified on that day. Similarly, it is our duty to fast during the Lent seasons, as the Holy Spirit illumined the holy Fathers of the Church to decree, in order to mortify the passions and humble the body. Moreover, if we limt the food we eat, life becomes easier for us. Fast according to your ability, pray according to your ability, give alms according to your ability, and always hold death before the eyes of your mind.


VIRGINITY

Just as we humans prefer gold to sliver, so the Lord indeed likes marriage, but likes virginity more, in order to show you that if you can preserve your viginity and become a monk, or if you are a woman a nun, you are fortunate and thrice blessed, you are free from worldly things, you are like an angel.

However, if you want to preserve your virginity, you must put as the first foundation the non possesion-of-property (Aktemonsyne) and must discipline your body with fasts, prayers, vigils, and hardships in order to humble the flesh. Also, you must flee from the world… There is no other way for the monk to be saved except by withdrawing far from the world.


WOMAN

God created woman equal with man, not inferior. My Christian, you must love your wife as your companion, not consider her as your slave, for she is a creature of God, just as you are. God was crucified for her as much as for you. You call God Father, she calls Him Father, too. Both of you have the same Faith, the same Baptism, the same Book of the Gospels, the same Holy Communion, the same Paradise to enjoy. God does not regard her as inferior to you.


KEEPING SUNDAY

Do not separate yourselves from Christ and from the Church. Do you hear the priest ringing the bells? Rise at once, wash yourselves, and go to church. Attend the Orthros (Matins) attentively and likewise the Divine Liturgy.

We should not work or do business on Sunday. The profit that you gain on Sunday is curse… Keep Sunday as a day dedicated to God.


THE JESUS PRAYER -ALSO KNOWN AS “THE PRAYER OF THE HEART”

This prayer should never be absent from you: Lord Jesus Christ, Son and Logos of the living God, through the Theotokos and all the Saints, have mercy upon me, Thy sinful and unworthy servant.” (This is the actual Jesus Prayer: “O LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY UPON ME, A SINNER.“) Always say this prayer both with your mouth and with your mind, day and night, wherever you may be, whether eating, walking, working, or sitting. Always meditate on it, as it benefits you a great deal., frees you here from every evil, delivers you there from eternal Hell, and renders you worthy of going to Paradise, our heavenly country.


MEDITATION ON DEATH

There is no better teacher than death. Have death before your minds: the time when you will leave this unreal world and will go to the other one, which is eternal.


LIFE AFTER DEATH

We who are pious Christians must henceforth not weep for the dead like the impious and the unbelievers, who do not hope in the resurrection. This world, my brethren, is like a prison. When must man rejoice? When he enters the prison or when he is being liberated from the prison? It seems to me, when enters the prison he must weep and be sad, and when he comes out of the prison he must rejoice. Therefore, my brethren, do not grieve for the dead, but if you love them do what you can for their souls; offer liturgies, memorial services, fasts, prayers, alms.


TEACHING OF THE SCRIPTURES

Heed all the thoughts of the Holy Gospels, because they are all diamonds, treasures, joy, delight, eternal life. The existence of many churches neither preserves nor strengthens our faith to the proper extent and in the proper manner, if those who believe in God are not enlightened by the Old and the New Testament. I have found the words and the commandments of Christ pure, holy, true, splendid, brighter than the sun; and whoever believes in Christ and calls Him God and lives in accordance with His teaching, contained in the Holy Gospels, is fortunate and thrice-blessed. The Holy Spirit illumined firstly the holy Prophets, and they wrote the Divine Scripture; seondly, He illumined the holy Apostles; and thirdly, He has illumined the holy Fathers, and they have explained the books of our Church, in order that we may know how to conduct ourselves. Our Faith has been made secure by wise and learned Saints, who both explained the Holy Scriptures precisely and have enlightened us through their divinely inspired discourses.


Source: Modern Orthodox Saints I, St. Cosmas Aitolos, by (Dr.) Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN GREEK STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., pp.81-94.

The Vine And Its Branches

November 6, 2009 Leave a comment

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from The Spiritual Writings of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk


What the vine and branches are to each other, so are Christ and Christians to one another. The vine and branches are united with each other. So likewise are Christ and Christians spiritually united. The same branches receive their sap from the vine and bear fruit: the same is it with Christians.

They receive life from Christ, Who helps them to lead good lives and do good deeds. While fruit is seen on the branches, yet it is in the vine that finds the cause of the fruit; and like wise when Christians do good deeds, this is credited to Christ, the Son of God. Branches alone without the vine cannot bear fruit; and Christians without Christ can do nothing.

The branches are trimmed (cleansed) in order that they might bring forth better fruit; so likewise Christians are punished at times by the heavenly Father that they might bring better fruit in the form of good deeds. Branches are not especially pleasing to the eye, but inwardly they have good, sweet and pleasant sap, and bear fruit; so is it with Christians; outwardly they are not pleasing to the eye, and scorned, but inwardly are good, and live good lives.

The more the branches are laden with fruit, the more are these branches inclined to the earth. So likewise is it with the Christian. The more good deeds performs, the more humble he becomes. The branches bear fruit for the husband man, and the Christians perform good works for the glory of God, from Whom all good comes. The branch that does not bring forth fruit is cut off from the vine dries up, so likewise is it with a Christian who is cut off from Christ; he loses all his vitality and dies spiritually. The branch that has dried up is not useful and more except to be burned; and so it with a Christian cut off from Christ; he is dried up and left for eternal fire (St. John 15:4).

From this you see, O Christian:


1. What a close union and communion there is between true Christians and their Lord Jesus Christ. He is the vine, and they are the branches.

2. What a great and high dignity there is in this. What is there greater than to have communion with Christ, the Heavenly King?

3. How blessed they must be. If Christ is with Christians, then who can prevail against them? The whole world and hades cannot do anything to a Christian, for Christ is his refuge and strength.

4. Without Christ it is impossible to be benevolent and to do good deeds since branches cannot be fruitful without the vine

5. From here follows that it is necessary first to to be in Christ and so do good works; it is necessary first to become good and then do good deeds. A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit (St. Matthew 7:18).

6. What a sad condition those Christians are in, who by an evil life have fallen away from Christ. For they are like withered branches.

7. Whoever wishes to be saved must turn to the Lord with a pure heart, and must cleanse oneself with repentance and tears, and in such a manner unite with Christ, the True Vine. For without Christ there is no salvation. Christ is Life and Light. He who has departed from Life and Light must then be in death and darkness. Consider this, O Christian, and with tears and repentance wash away your sins, that you may once again be united with Christ – your very life.”


Source: Orthodox Life., Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, N.Y., Issue 5 Number 53, 1958., pp. 15-16

The Holy Great-martyr Demetrius

October 26, 2009 Leave a comment

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Saint Demetrios was born in Thesaloniki, Greece in 270 AD. He came from a wealthy family and because he was athletic in appearance and heroic in spirit, he became a high-ranking officer in the Roman Army at a very young age. (This is why he is depicted in Byzantine icons in military dress, either standing or riding a horse.) He considered himself a soldier of Christ first, and a military soldier second. He spent most of his time as a devout missionary, preaching the Gospel at secret meetings and converting pagans to the Christian faith.

At one of these meetings, he was captured and placed in front of the Emperor Maximian, who wanted to learn the truth about the conversions. Saint Demetrios proclaimed his faith by saying: “…only in Christ do I believe.” With that proclamation, Maximian ordered that Saint Demetrios be sent to prison and subjected to the cruelest tortures.

Even though Saint Demetrios was imprisoned, he did not stop preaching the gospel to those who came to see him. In jail, he was visited by his follower, Nestoras. Nestoras was a man of small stature and had come to ask for his beloved teacher’s blessing to fight in the upcoming gladiator games. The emperor had decided to use the games as a duel between Christianity and paganism by challenging any Christian to a fight against the athletic giant, Leo.

With the blessing of Saint Demetrios, Nestoras fought and killed Leo. Enraged at the loss of his favorite gladiator, the emperor commanded that Nestoras be beheaded on the spot. Recognizing that Saint Demetrios was the inspiring power behind Nestoras, the emperor ordered that Saint Demetrios be executed by spear on October 26, 306 AD Christians buried the body of Saint Demetrios at the place of his execution and because of the beautiful scent that emanated from his tomb, he was named Mirovlitis or “The Myrrh Gusher”.

The most ancient icons of Saint Demetrios may be found in his temple in Thessaloniki where he is the patron saint. This is not just because he was born and died there, but because the people believe it was his intervention that saved the city during many attacks by Slavic nations, the Bulgarians, Arabs, Saracens and others. Even the liberation of Thessaloniki during the Balkan wars of 1912 coincide with the feast day of Saint Demetrios on October 26th.

Troparion – Tone 3

The world has found you to be a great defense against tribulation
and a vanquisher of heathens, O Passion-bearer.
As you bolstered the courage of Nestor,
who then humbled the arrogance of Lyaios in battle,
Holy Demetrius, entreat Christ God to grant us great mercy.


Categories: Lives of Saints

Saint Paraskeva the New, who have her holy relics in Iasi, Romania

October 14, 2009 Leave a comment

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Inside the Metropolitan Cathedral “Saint Parascheva”, in a silver coffin, lie the relics of Saint Parascheva. She is considered the Patron Saint and Protector of Moldavia and each year, on October the 14th, on the Saint’s Day, hundreds of thousands of people from al over the county and abroad come on a pilgrimage to Iasi to pray by her relics, and to ask the saint to intercede for them and their families. Her holy relics were brought to Iasi in 1641 by Prince Vasile Lupu.

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition there are three different saints known as St. Parascheva.

The first one was born in Rome, in the 2nd century, and is considered a healer and a protector of cattle and crops. She is commemorated on August the 8th. The second one was born in Iconia and she died during the reign of the emperor Diocletian in the 3rd century. Her feast day, October 27th, is observed mostly in Dalmatia. The third one, the one whose relics are sheltered in the metropolitan cathedral in Iasi, Romania, lived around the year 1000 A.D. and is the best known and the most widely revered by Eastern Orthodox Christians. Variations of her name include St. Parascheva of Tirnovo, St. Parascheva the Serbian, St. Parascheva of Belgrade, St. Parascheva the New, St. Parascheva the Young, and St. Parascheva of the Balkans.

St. Parascheva was born at the beginning of the 11th century A.D. into a wealthy, noble, and pious Christian family in the town of Epivat (now in Turkey) on the shores of the Marmara Sea. At the age of ten, while attending the liturgy in the “Church of the Holy Theotokos”, she heard the words, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me.” The words of the Lord had a profound effect on the young girl, and they became the subject of her meditations. The future St. Parascheva began to dress poor people in her expensive clothes – her good deeds later earning her recognition as a patron saint of such trades as spinning, sewing, weaving, and knitting – but her parents objected, finding the girl’s charity more than they could understand or support, and trying to get her to stop. To follow her calling, Parascheva abandoned her wealth and privileges, left her parents, and ran away to Constantinople. There, near relics of saints, she spent her time in prayer, meditating on the words of Christ.

To elude her parents, who were traveling from city to city trying to find her, she moved to Chalcedon, and then to the “Church of the Most Holy Theotokos”, in Heraclea Pontica, near the Black Sea. She spent the next five years there, living an austere life of continuous prayer and devotion. During her prayers she received visions of the Holy Virgin Mary and in one of the visions, she was instructed to go to Jerusalem. After spending some time in the city, she joined a convent in the Jordanian desert. A few years later, she returned to Constantinople and then, at the age of twenty-five, moved to the village of Katikratia where, at the “Church of the Holy Apostles”, she lived the remaining two years of her life.

Legend has it that many years later an old sinner was buried near her grave. Parascheva appeared in a dream to a local monk, showed him the place of her burial, and asked him to “take that stinky corpse away from me. I am light and sun, and I cannot bear to have near me darkness and stench.“ The monk, with some local help, began to dig out the place he had seen in his dream and when they found the remains of the Saint, her uncorrupted body was emitting spiritual fragrances. Then they interred the Saint in the “Church of the Holy Apostles”, where she had spent the last years of her earthly existence.

Later on her relics were moved to Tirnovo, in Bulgaria, then to Belgrade, in Serbia, and finally to Constantinople. In 1641, they were given as a gift to the Prince of Moldavia, Vasile Lupu, in recognition of his support for the Ecumenical Patriarchy of Constantinople. Her intact relics have remained in Iasi ever since. She is venerated as the Protector of Iasi and all of Moldavia and each year, hundreds of thousands of Orthodox faithful and hierarchs from many countries gather in Iasi to celebrate her feast day and venerate her holy relics, which continue to work miracles.






Troparion – Tone 4

You are worthy of praise, Paraskeva.
You loved the ascetic and hesychast life.
You ran with longing to your Bridegroom, Christ.
You accepted His good yoke in your tender years, marking yourself with the sign of the Cross.
You fought against impure thoughts;
through fasting, prayer and the shedding of tears you quenched the burning coal of the passions.
Now in the heavenly bridal chamber of Christ,
as you stand together with the wise virgins
intercede for us who honor your precious memory.


REFLECTION

Examples of how the saints themselves reveal their hidden relics to men justify the honor rendered to the relics of the saints-not to mention the miraculous action of these relics, which doubly justifies them. For a long, long time, no one could locate the grave of St. Parasceva. Then it happened that a sailor died, and his body was carelessly laid in the proximity of the saint’s grave. When the body turned into carrion and began to emit an unbearable stench, a monk who lived nearby summoned the peasants to help him bury the corpse. It happened that they buried him in St. Parasceva’s own grave. That night, St. Parasceva appeared in a dream to one of those peasants (George by name) who had buried the corpse. She appeared as a beautiful and exquisitely-adorned queen, surrounded by many glorious soldiers. She said: “George, exhume my relics at once, and lay them in another place; for I can no longer endure the stench from that corpse.” Then she told him who she was, and where she was from. The same night a local peasant woman named Euphemia had the same dream. The next day, the peasants began to dig and in fact found the relics of St. Parasceva. They were extraordinarily fragrant, and soon proved to be miracle-working.
Concerning the relics of St. Gervasius and St. Protasius, St. Ambrose relates how their relics were discovered in a similar manner. One night, two handsome youths and an old man appeared to Ambrose, who was awake. He thought that the old man was the Apostle Paul. While the young men remained silent, the old man spoke to Ambrose concerning them, saying that they were Christ’s martyrs, and that their relics lay in the very place where Ambrose was praying to God at that time. He went on to say that everything else concerning them would be revealed in a book that Ambrose would find in their grave. The following day, Ambrose recounted his vision and began to dig, and found the relics of both men. From the book that he found he learned that their names were Gervasius and Protasius. In the presence of St. Ambrose, a certain blind man named Severus touched these holy relics and immediately received his sight.


Categories: Lives of Saints