Wednesday, December 31, 2008

St. Agapit (Agapitus) the Righteous Healer and Unmercenary of the Kiev Caves


St. Agapit the Righteous Unmercenary of the Kiev Caves (

St. Agapit of the Kiev Caves - Commemorated on June 1 (text taken from:
"This holy Unmercenary Physician was born at Kiev. He was a novice and disciple of St Anthony of the Caves, and lived during the eleventh century. If any of the monastic brethren fell ill, St Agapitus came to him and selflessly attended to the sick one. He fed his patient boiled herbs which he himself prepared, and the person recovered through the prayers of the saint. Many laymen also turned to the monastic physician with the gift of healing.

In Kiev at this time was an experienced Armenian physician, who was able to diagnose the nature of the illness and even accurately determine the day of death just by looking at a patient. When one of these doomed patients turned to St Agapitus, the grace-bearing healer gave him some food from the monastery trapeza (dining area), and the patient became well. Enflamed with envy, the physician wanted to poison St Agapitus, but the Lord preserved him, and the poison had no effect.

St. Agapit the Righteous Unmercenary of the Kiev Caves (
St Agapitus healed Prince Vladimir Monomakh of Chernigov, the future Great Prince of Kiev (1114-1125), by sending him boiled herbs. The grateful prince went to the monastery and wanted to see his healer, but the humble ascetic hid himself and would not accept gifts.

When the holy healer himself became sick, that same Armenian physician came to him and after examining him, he said that he would die in three days. He swore to became an Orthodox monk if his prediction were not fulfilled. The saint said that the Lord had revealed to him that He would summon him only after three months.

St Agapitus died after three months (on June 1, not later than 1095), and the Armenian went to the igumen of the Caves monastery and received monastic tonsure. "It is certain that Agapitus was a saint of God," he said. "I well knew, that it was impossible for him to last three days in his sickness, but the Lord gave him three months." Thus did the monk heal sickness of the soul and guide to the way of salvation."

St. Agapit the Righteous Unmercenary of the Kiev Caves (
Troparion of St. Agapit the Righteous of the Kiev Caves - Tone 5

O righteous Agapit, you healed the infirm with edible herbs, and with humility like Anthony the Great.
So doing, you brought the unbelieving physician to the Faith, guiding him on the path of salvation. Heal our infirmities and pray to Christ our God for those who sing to you!
Troparion - Tone 5
You proclaimed your faith as a good physician. You rebuked the Armenian and brought him to piety. When dying you asked God for life, and by this wonder brought him to Christ. Now standing joyfully before the Lord Pray for us, O righteous one!
St. Agapit the Righteous Unmercenary of the Kiev Caves (
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

The Feast of Christ's Circumcision


Tomorrow (January 1st), besides being for many the first day of the New Year (while the ecclesiastical New Year's Day is considered September 1st), are celebrated two great feasts of the Orthodox Church (the feasts of Christ's Circumcision and of St. Basil the Great). See below for St. Nikolai's account of the Circumcision of Christ (taken from:

Icon of Christ's Circumcision and of St. Basil the Great - both celebrated January 1st (icon taken from:

"The eighth day following His birth, the Divine Child was presented in the Temple and circumcised according to the Law existing in Israel since the time of Abraham. On this occasion, He was given the name Jesus [“Jesus” means “he who saves” (], which the Archangel Gabriel announced to the All-Holy Virgin Mary. The Old Testament circumcision was the proto-type of the New Testament baptism. The circumcision of our Lord shows that He received upon Himself the true body of man and not just seemingly, as was later taught of Him by heretics. Our Lord was also circumcised because He wanted to fulfill the entire Law which He Himself gave through the prophets and forefathers. In fulfilling the written Law, He replaced it with Baptism in His Holy Church as was proclaimed by the Apostle Paul: "For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation" (Galatians 6:15). (In the cycle of the liturgical calendar of the Church, this Feast of the Lord's Circumcision has neither a Forefeast nor an Antefeast)."

For more on St. Basil, one of the great Saints and Fathers of our Church, see: , , , ,

Apolytikion of Christ's Circumcision in the First Tone
Our human form hast Thou taken on Thyself without change, O greatly-compassionate Master, though being God by nature; fulfilling the Law, Thou willingly receivest circumcision in the flesh, that Thou mightest end the shadow and roll away the veil of our sinful passions. Glory be to Thy goodness unto us. Glory be to Thy compassion. Glory, O Word, to Thine inexpressible condescension.

Apolytikion of St. Basil the Great in the First Tone
Your voice resounded throughout the world that received your word by which, in godly manner, you taught dogma, clarified the nature of beings, and set in order the character of people. Venerable father, Royal Priesthood, intercede to Christ God to grant us great mercy.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Now the Lord of all that is doth undergo circumcision, in His goodness cutting off the sins and failings of mortals. He this day doth give salvation unto the whole world; and the hierarch and bright daystar of the Creator now rejoiceth in the highest, Basil the wise and divine initiate of Christ.
(taken from: on January 1st)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Sunday after Christ's Holy Nativity, and Christ in Egypt

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

The Sunday after Christmas, the Church honors a few of the members of Christ's family (the Virgin Mary is specifically honored the day after Christmas by herself). These include St. Joseph the Betrothed of the Theotokos who protected Christ and His mother, St. Iakovos (Jacob), the Lord's Brother (from St. Joseph's previous marriage), who traveled with the family to Egypt, and the Prophet David, one of Christ's ancestors. Here is a reading about this feast on the Sunday after Christmas (from
Christ, being carried by St. Joseph the Betrothed, and the Theotokos fleeing to Egypt, and the people greeting them while the demons are fleeing (taken from:
"On the Sunday that falls on or immediately after the twenty-sixth of this month, we make commemoration of Saints Joseph, the Betrothed of the Virgin; David, the Prophet and King; and James, the Brother of God. When there is no Sunday within this period, we celebrate this commemoration on the 26th.

Saint Joseph (whose name means "one who increases") was the son of Jacob, and the son-in-law - and hence, as it were, the son - of Eli (who was also called Eliakim or Joachim), who was the father of Mary the Virgin (Matt. 1:16; Luke 3:23). He was of the tribe of Judah, of the family of David, an inhabitant of Nazareth, a carpenter by Trade, and advanced in age when, by God's good will, he was betrothed to the Virgin, that he might minister to the great mystery of God's dispensation in the flesh by protecting her, providing for her, and being known as her husband so that she, being a virgin, would not suffer reproach when she was found to be with child. Joseph had been married before his betrothal to our Lady; they who are called Jesus' "brethren and sisters" (Matt. 13:55-56) are the children of Joseph by his first marriage. From Scripture, we know that Saint Joseph lived at least until the Twelfth year after the birth of Christ (Luke 2:41-52); according to the tradition of the Fathers, he reposed before the beginning of the public ministry of Christ.

The child of God and ancestor of God, David, the great Prophet after Moses, sprang from the tribe of Judah. He was the son of Jesse, and was born in Bethlehem (whence it is called the City of David), in the year 1085 before Christ. While yet a youth, at the command of God he was anointed secretly by the Prophet Samuel to be the second King of the Israelites, while Saul - who had already been deprived of divine grace - was yet living. In the thirtieth year of his life, when Saul had been slain in battle, David was raised to the dignity of King, first, by his own tribe, and then by all the Israelite people, and he reigned for forty years. Having lived seventy years, he reposed in 1015 before Christ, having proclaimed beforehand that his son Solomon was to be the successor to the throne.

The sacred history has recorded not only the grace of the Spirit that dwelt in him from his youth, his heroic exploits in war, and his great piety towards God, but also his transgressions and failings as a man. Yet his repentance was greater than his transgresssions, and his love for God fervent and exemplary; so highly did God honour this man, that when his son Solomon sinned, the Lord told him that He would not rend the kingdom in his lifetime "for David thy father's sake" (III Kings 12:12). Of The Kings of Israel, Jesus the Son of Sirach testifies, "All, except David and Hezekias and Josias, were defective" (Ecclus. 49:4). The name David means "beloved."

His melodious Psalter is the foundation of all the services of the Church; there is not one service that is not filled with Psalms and psalmic verses. It was the means whereby old Israel praised God, and was used by the Apostles and the Lord Himself. It is so imbued with the spirit of prayer that the monastic fathers of all ages have used it as their trainer and teacher for their inner life of converse with God. Besides eloquently portraying every state and emotion of the soul before her Maker, the Psalter is filled with prophecies of the coming of Christ. It foretells His Incarnation, "He bowed the heavens and came down" (Psalm 17:9), His Baptism in the Jordan, "The waters saw Thee, O God, The waters saw Thee and were afraid" (76:15), His Crucifixion in its details, "They have pierced My hands and My feet .... They have parted My garments amongst themselves, and for My vesture have they cast lots" (21:16, 18). "For My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink" (68:26), His descent into Hades, "For Thou wilt not abandon My soul in Hades, nor wilt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption" (15:10) and Resurrection, "Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered" (67:1). His Ascension, "God is gone up in jubilation" (46:5), and so forth.

As for James, the Brother of God, see October 23."

St. Joseph the Betrothed of the Theotokos holding Christ (taken from:
Apolytikion in the Second Tone

O Joseph, proclaim the wonders to David, the ancestor of God. Thou hast seen a Virgin great with child; thou hast given glory with the shepherds; thou hast worshipped with the Magi; and thou hast been instructed through an Angel. Entreat Christ God to save our souls.
(taken from:
Besides honoring the Most-Holy Theotokos for giving birth to Christ on December 26th, the Church also commemorates the flight into Egypt, when Christ escaped from Herod's persecution of the male children. These 14,000 slain infants are commemorated as martyrs for Christ on December 29th, and an account can be seen here:

St. Nikolai in the Prologue mentions some traditions about Christ and His family's stay in Egypt that are very interesting. They are taken from a few of the "Reflection" sections on some days after Christmas:

"A story of the Divine Christ-child: When the holy family fled before Herod's sword to Egypt, robbers leapt out on the road with the intention of stealing something. The righteous Joseph was leading the donkey, on which were some belongings and on which the Most-holy Theotokos was riding with her Son at her breast. The robbers seized the donkey to lead it away. At that moment, one of the robbers approached the Mother of God to see what she was holding next to her breast. The robber, seeing the Christ-child, was astonished at His unusual beauty and said in his astonishment: ``If God were to take upon Himself the flesh of man, He would not be more beautiful than this Child!'' This robber then ordered his companions to take nothing from these travelers. Filled with gratitude toward this generous robber, the Most-holy Virgin said to him: ``Know that this Child will repay you with a good reward because you protected Him today.'' Thirty-three years later, this same thief hung on the Cross for his crimes, crucified on the right side of Christ's Cross. His name was Dismas, and the name of the thief on the left side was Gestas. Beholding Christ the Lord innocently crucified, Dismas repented for all the evil of his life. While Gestas reviled the Lord, Dismas defended Him, saying: This man hath done nothing amiss. (Luke 23:41). Dismas, therefore, was the wise thief to whom our Lord said: Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23:43). Thus the Lord granted Paradise to him who spared Him in childhood."

Icon of the Holy Dismas, the Good Thief on the Cross, who repented and was the first to gain Paradise (taken from:
"A story of the Divine Christ-child: Both great prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, prophesied that the Lord would come to Egypt and that His presence would shake the pagan temples and destroy the idols. Isaiah wrote: Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at His presence (Isaiah 19:1, cf. Jeremiah 43:12-13). When the divine refugees came to the city of Hermopolis (Cairo), they approached a pagan temple, and all the idols in that temple suddenly fell down and were shattered. St. Palladius writes of this in his Lausiac History: ``We saw the pagan temple there, in which all the carved idols fell to the ground at the coming of the Savior.'' In a certain place called Sirin there were 365 idols. When the Most-holy Virgin entered that temple with the Divine Child in her arms, all these idols fell down and were shattered. All the idols throughout Egypt fell in the same manner. The Holy Prophet Jeremiah, living in Egypt in old age, had prophesied to the pagan priests of Egypt that all the idols would fall and all the graven images would be destroyed at the time when a Virgin Mother with a Child, born in a manger, would come to Egypt. The pagan priests remembered well this prophecy. In accordance with it, they carved out a representation of a Virgin as she lay on a bed and, next to her in a manger, her young Child wrapped in swaddling clothes; and they venerated this representation. King Ptolemy asked the pagan priests what this representation meant, and they replied that it was a mystery, foretold by a prophet to their fathers, and that they were awaiting the fulfillment of this mystery. And, indeed, this mystery was fulfilled, and revealed not only in Egypt but also in the entire world.
The Tree of the Virgin Mary from Matarea (or Matariya) (taken from:, and the description is as follows: "The Tree of the Holy Virgin at Matariya, where the Holy Family found shade under a sycamore tree. At that spot Jesus created a well, blessed it, and drank from it. Mary also bathed Jesus from the water of it and in the place where she poured out the water grew a balsam tree. The tree is now used for the preparation of the chrism or holy Myron.")

"A story of the Divine Christ-child: When the Most-holy Virgin, with her Divine Child and the righteous Joseph, drew near to the city of Hermopolis [Cairo], they saw a tree before the gate of the city. The travelers from afar were weary from their journey and approached this tree to rest a while, even though the tree was very tall and did not offer adequate shade. The Egyptians called this tree ``Persea'' and worshiped it as a god, for they believed that some divinity was hidden in the tree. In reality, an evil spirit dwelt in this tree. As the holy family approached the tree, the tree shook fiercely, and the evil spirit, terrified by the approaching Christ-child, fled. Then the tree bent its top down to the ground and worshiped its Creator like a rational creature. Thus the bent tree cast a great shadow, under which the weary travelers rested. From that day, the tree received miraculous healing powers from Christ the Lord to heal every infirmity of men. Afterward, the holy sojourners went to the village of Matarea. Near the village they saw a fig tree, and, while Joseph went into the village on business, the Most-holy Virgin took refuge under the fig tree with the Lord. And, oh, what a miracle: the tree lowered its crown down to the ground to create a shadow for the travelers, and its lower half split open in such a way that the Mother with the Child could enter and rest. And what is even more miraculous: a living spring of water suddenly opened up near the fig tree. Joseph found a hut in the vicinity, where they settled. There they lived and drank water from that miraculous spring. This was the only spring of living water to be found in Egypt, for all the other water in Egypt comes from the Nile River, which branches off into innumerable canals. And thus, like brought forth like: the Lord Jesus, the Immortal and Heavenly Spring of living water, by His presence called forth this spring of living water from the earth."
(taken from numerous pages from:

Icon of Christ "Angel of Great Counsel", surrounded by angels (Icon courtesy of used with permission)
Doxastikon of the Praises for the Sunday after Christmas - Plagal of the 4th Tone
Blood and fire and a cloud of smoke, portents on earth that Joel foresaw: blood, the incarnation; fire, the divinity; and the cloud of smoke, the Holy Spirit that came upon the Virgin and filled the world with fragrance. Great is the mystery of Your becoming human! Glory to You, O Lord.
(taken from:
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

On the Nativity of Christ: the Catechesis of St. Theodore

Christ is born! Glorify Him!
The following is the Catechesis 32 from St. Theodore the Studite, titled: "On the Nativity of the Saviour and the vigorous pursuit of our ascetic life", as translated by Fr. Ephraim and taken from: . It is traditionally read after the First of the Royal Hours for Christmas.
Detail of the Infant Christ and the Theotokos from a fresco of the Holy Nativity of Christ from Decani Monastery (taken from:
St. Theodore the Studite - CATECHESIS 32: "On the Nativity of the Saviour and the vigorous pursuit of our ascetic life.
Brethren and Fathers, already the Manifestation of God is near and the day of joy is at the doors; for it is a great joy, such as has not been since time began, that the Son of God has come to us, not through riddles and symbols, as he appeared of old to the fathers, but by coming to live with us and manifesting himself in his own person through his birth from a Virgin. There has been nothing more blest than this in generations of generations, nothing more wonderful among all the wonders that God has done since time began. For this reason Angels are proclaiming the good tidings of the mystery and a star revealing that the heavenly has been brought to birth on earth; for this reason Shepherds are running to see the salvation that has been proclaimed, and Magi are bringing gifts fit for a king; for this reason a new song is being sung for new events, because God, who is glorified in the highest, has appeared as peace on earth. And the Apostle bears witness when he says, For he is our peace, who has made both one, breaking down the middle wall of partition, the hostility between us, in his flesh. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both to God in one body through the Cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. This is what the prophets and the just since time began desired to see, but did not see except through faith; while we have both seen and our hands have touched, as it is written, concerning the Word of life, and this life has been revealed, and we have received sonship. But what shall we give in return for all that the Lord has given to us? Already holy David anticipated and cried out the answer. I shall take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. So then let us rejoice, brethren, because we have been granted to give the Lord a return for all that he has given us. And what is this return? The cross-bearing way of life that we have taken on, and the confession in which we stand and we boast in our hope of the glory of God. And this is confessedly a witness. Meanwhile it is not for us to feast for just one day, but throughout our life; just as those who are governed by the flesh and in thrall to the passions are unable to feast, even if they seem to feast, nor are they at liberty, for they are slaves of the passions sold under sin. Indeed it is written, Everyone who sins is a slave of sin; but the slave does not abide in the house for ever. The son abides for ever. Since then we too have been granted to have been called sons according to grace, we remain in the house for ever, if we hold firm the beginning of our undertaking to the end. And so, empowered by the Holy Spirit, let us still hold to our monastic state, and let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, to obedience, to humility, to meekness, and let us be eager for everything which is of the best, not weakening in our resolve, but straining ever more and more, and the more so as we see the day drawing near. For the great and manifest day of the Lord is drawing near, on which the judge of all will be revealed and will appear in the glory in which he appeared to the Apostles at his divine Transfiguration, as he brings and judges every creature and rewards each according to its work. But may it be given to us too, with all the saints, to see him looking upon us with a kindly face and taking us into the kingdom of heaven, by the grace and pity and love for mankind of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom are due glory, honour and worship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always and to the ages of ages. Amen."
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Sunday before Christ's Nativity: St. John Chrysostom of the Genealogy of Christ


For the past forty days we are called by our Church to prepare for Christ's Nativity. On the Sunday before Christmas, the Genealogy of Christ from the first chapter of St. Matthew is read as one of many preparations for us before Christ's Holy Birth. Below are excerpts from the commentary of St. John Chrysostom on this section of the Holy Gospel.

Icon of Christ "Emmanuel", which means "God with us" (Icon courtesy of used with permission)
The Sunday before Christ's Nativity: St. John Chrysostom of the Genealogy of Christ
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.
Do ye indeed remember the charge, which we lately made you, entreating you to hearken unto all the things that are said with all silence, and mystical quietness? For we are to-day to set foot within the holy vestibule, wherefore I have also put you in mind of the charge.
Since, if the Jews, when they were to approach “a mountain that burned, and fire, and blackness, and darkness, and tempest;” —or rather when they were not so much as to approach, but both to see and to hear these things from afar;—were commanded for three days before to abstain from their wives, and to wash their garments, and were in trembling and fear, both themselves and Moses with them; much more we, when we are to hearken to such words, and are not to stand far from a smoking mountain, but to enter into Heaven itself, ought to show forth a greater self-denial; [φιλοσοφαν.] not washing our garments, but wiping clean the robe of our soul, and ridding ourselves of all mixture with worldly things. For it is not blackness that ye shall see, nor smoke, nor tempest, but the King Himself sitting on the throne of that unspeakable glory, and angels, and archangels standing by Him, and the tribes of the saints, with those interminable myriads.
For such is the city of God, having “the Church of the first-born, the spirits of the just, the general assembly of the angels, the blood of sprinkling,” whereby all are knit into one, and Heaven hath received the things of earth, and earth the things of Heaven, and that peace hath come which was of old longed for both by angels and by saints.
Herein standeth the trophy of the cross, glorious, and conspicuous, the spoils won by Christ, the first-fruits of our nature, the booty of our King; all these, I say, we shall out of the Gospels know perfectly. If thou follow in becoming quietness, we shall be able to lead thee about everywhere, and to show where death is set forth crucified, and where sin is hanged up, and where are the many and wondrous offerings from this war, from this battle.
Thou shalt see likewise the tyrant here bound, and the multitude of the captives following, and the citadel from which that unholy demon overran all things in time past. Thou wilt see the hiding places, and the dens of the robber, broken up now, and laid open, for even there also was our King present.
But be not thou weary, beloved, for if any one were describing a visible war, and trophies, and victories, wouldest thou feel no satiety at all; nay, thou wouldest not prefer either drink or meat to this history. But if that kind of narrative be welcome, much more this. For consider what a thing it is to hear, how on the one side God from Heaven, arising “out of the royal thrones, leaped down” unto the earth, and even unto hell itself, and stood in the battle array; and how the devil on the other hand set himself in array against Him; or rather not against God unveiled, but God hidden in man’s nature.
And what is marvellous, thou wilt see death destroyed by death, and curse extinguished by curse, and the dominion of the devil put down by those very things whereby he did prevail. Let us therefore rouse ourselves thoroughly, and let us not sleep, for lo, I see the gates opening to us; but let us enter in with all seemly order, and with trembling, setting foot straightway within the vestibule itself.
2. But what is this vestibule? “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham..."
Think not, therefore, it is of small things thou art hearing, when thou hearest of this birth, but rouse up thy mind, and straightway tremble, being told that God hath come upon earth. For so marvellous was this, and beyond expectation, that because of these things the very angels formed a choir, and in behalf of the world offered up their praise for them, and the prophets from the first were amazed at this, that “He was seen upon earth, and conversed with men (Baruch iii. 37).” Yea, for it is far beyond all thought to hear that God the Unspeakable, [Or Unapproachable ἀπρσιτο] the Unutterable, the Incomprehensible, and He that is equal to the Father, hath passed through a virgin’s womb, and hath vouchsafed to be born of a woman, and to have Abraham and David for forefathers. But why do I say Abraham and David? For what is even more amazing, there are those women, whom we have lately mentioned.
3. Hearing these things, arise, and surmise nothing low: but even because of this very thing most of all shouldest thou marvel, that being Son of the Unoriginate God, and His true Son, He suffered Himself to be called also Son of David, that He might make thee Son of God. He suffered a slave to be father to Him, that He might make the Lord Father to thee a slave.
Seest thou at once from the beginning of what nature are the Gospels? If thou doubt concerning the things that pertain to thee, from what belongs to Him believe these also. For it is far more difficult, judging by human reason, for God to become man, than for a man to be declared a Son of God. When therefore thou art told that the Son of God is Son of David and of Abraham, doubt not any more that thou too, the son of Adam, shall be son of God. For not at random, nor in vain did He abase Himself so greatly, only He was minded to exalt us. Thus He was born after the flesh, that thou mightest be born after the Spirit; He was born of a woman, that thou mightest cease to be the son of a woman.
Wherefore the birth was twofold, both made like unto us, and also surpassing ours. For to be born of a woman indeed was our lot, but “to be born not of blood, nor of the will of flesh, nor of man,” but of the Holy [Spirit], (John i. 13). was to proclaim beforehand the birth surpassing us, the birth to come, which He was about freely to give us of the Spirit. And everything else too was like this. Thus His baptism also was of the same kind, for it partook of the old, and it partook also of the new. To be baptized by the prophet marked the old, but the coming down of the Spirit shadowed out the new. And like as though any one were to place himself in the space between any two persons that were standing apart, and stretching forth both his hands were to lay hold on either side, and tie them together; even so hath He done, joining the old covenant with the new, God’s nature with man’s, the things that are His with ours.
Seest thou the flashing brightness of the city, with how great a splendor it hath dazzled thee from the very beginning? how it hath straightway shown the King in thine own form; as though in a camp? For neither there doth the king always appear bearing his proper dignity, but laying aside the purple and the diadem, he often disguises himself in the garb of a common soldier. But there it is, lest by being known he should draw the enemy upon himself; but here on the contrary, lest, if He were known, He should cause the enemy to fly from the conflict with Him, and lest He should confound all His own people: for His purpose was to save, not to dismay.
4. For this reason he hath also straightway called Him by this title, naming Him Jesus. For this name, Jesus, is not Greek, but in the Hebrew language it is thus called Jesus; which is, when interpreted into the Greek tongue, “A Saviour.” And He is called a Saviour, from His saving His people.
Seest thou how he hath given wings to the hearer, at once speaking things familiar, and at the same time by these indicating to us things beyond all hope? I mean that both these names were well known to the Jews. For, because the things that were to happen were beyond expectation, the types even of the names went before, in order that from the very first all the unsettling power of novelty might be taken away. Thus he is called Jesus, who after Moses brought the people into the land of promise. Hast thou seen the type? Behold the truth. That led into the land of promise, this into heaven, and to the good things in the heavens; that, after Moses was dead, this after the law had ceased; that as a leader, this as a King.
However, lest having heard the word Jesus, thou shouldest by reason of the identity of the name be perplexed, he hath added, “Jesus Christ, Son of David.” But that other was not of David, but of another tribe.
5. But wherefore doth he call it a “book of the generation of Jesus Christ,” while yet this book hath not the birth only, but the whole dispensation? Because this is the sum of the whole dispensation, and is made an origin and root of all our blessings. As then Moses calleth it the book of heaven and earth, (Gen. ii. 4) although he hath not discoursed of heaven and earth only, but also of all things that are in the midst thereof; so also this man hath named his book from that which is the sum of all the great things done. For that which teems with astonishment, and is beyond hope and all expectation, is that God should become man. But this having come to pass, all afterwards follows in reasonable consequence.
6. But wherefore did he not say, “the Son of Abraham,” and then “the Son of David?” It is not, as some suppose, that he means to proceed upward from the lower point, since then he would have done the same as Luke, but now he doth the contrary. Why then hath he made mention of David? The man was in the mouths of all, both from his distinction, and from the time, for he had not been so very long since dead, like Abraham. And though God made promises to both, yet the one, as old, was passed over in silence, while the other, as fresh and recent, was repeated of all. Themselves, for instance, say, “Doth not Christ come of the seed of David, and out of Bethlehem, the town where David was?” (John vii. 42) And no man called Him Son of Abraham, but all Son of David; and that because this last was more in the recollection of all, both on account of the time, as I have already said, and because of his royalty. On this principle again all the kings whom they had in honor after his time were named from him, both by the people themselves and by God. For both Ezekiel (Ezek. xxxiv. 23, 24; xxxvii. 24, 25; Jer. xxx. 9; Hos. iii. 5) and other prophets besides speak of David as coming and rising again; not meaning him that was dead, but them who were emulating his virtue. And to Hezekiah He saith, “I will defend this city, for mine own sake and for my servant David’s sake.” (2 Kings xix. 34) And to Solomon too He said, that for David’s sake He rent not the kingdom during his lifetime. (1 Kings ii. 11, 12, 13). For great was the glory of the man, both with God and with men.
On account of this he makes the beginning at once from him who was more known, and then runs up to his father; accounting it superfluous, as far as regards the Jews, to carry the genealogy higher up. For these were principally the persons held in admiration; the one as a prophet and a king, the other as a patriarch and a prophet.
7. “But whence is it manifest that He is of David?” one may say. For if He was not sprung of a man, but from a woman only, and the Virgin hath not her genealogy traced, how shall we know that He was of David’s race? Thus, there are two things inquired; both why His mother’s genealogy is not recited, and wherefore it can be that Joseph is mentioned by them, who hath no part in the birth: since the latter seems to be superfluous, and the former a defect.
Of which then is it necessary to speak first? How the Virgin is of David. How then shall we know that she is of David? Hearken unto God, telling Gabriel to go unto “a virgin betrothed to a man (whose name was Joseph), of the house and lineage of David.” (Luke i. 27) What now wouldest thou have plainer than this, when thou hast heard that the Virgin was of the house and lineage of David?
Hence it is evident that Joseph also was of the same. Yes, for there was a law, which bade that it should not be lawful to take a wife from any other stock, but from the same tribe. And the patriarch Jacob also foretold that He should arise out of the tribe of Judah, saying on this wise: “there shall not fail a ruler out of Judah, nor a governor out of his loins, until He come for whom it is appointed, and He is the expectation of the Gentiles.” (Gen. xlix. 10).
“Well; this prophecy doth indeed make it clear that He was of the tribe of Judah, but not also that He was of the family of David. Was there then in the tribe of Judah one family only, even that of David, or were there not also many others? And might it not happen for one to be of the tribe of Judah, but not also of the family of David?”
Nay, lest thou shouldest say this, the evangelist hath removed this suspicion of thine, by saying, that He was “of the house and lineage of David.”
And if thou wish to learn this from another reason besides, neither shall we be at a loss for another proof. For not only was it not allowed to take a wife out of another tribe, but not even from another lineage, that is, from another kindred. So that if either we connect with the Virgin the words, “of the house and lineage of David,” what hath been said stands good; or if with Joseph, by that fact this also is proved. For if Joseph was of the house and lineage of David, he would not have taken his wife from another than that whence he himself was sprung.
“What then,” one may say, “if he transgressed the law?” Why, for this cause he hath by anticipation testified that Joseph was righteous, on purpose that thou mightest not say this, but having been told his virtue, mightest be sure also that he would not have transgressed the law. For he who was so benevolent, and free from passion, as not to wish, even when urged by suspicion, to attempt inflicting punishment on the Virgin, how should he have transgressed the law for lust? he that showed wisdom and self-restraint beyond the law (for to put her away, and that privily, was to act with self-restraint beyond the law), how should he have done anything contrary to the law; and this when there was no cause to urge him?
8. Now that the Virgin was of the race of David is indeed from these things evident; but wherefore he gave not her genealogy, but Joseph’s, requires explanation. For what cause was it then? It was not the law among the Jews that the genealogy of women should be traced. In order then that he might keep the custom, and not seem to be making alterations from the beginning, and yet might make the Virgin known to us, for this cause he hath passed over her ancestors in silence, and traced the genealogy of Joseph. For if he had done this with respect to the Virgin, he would have seemed to be introducing novelties; and if he had passed over Joseph in silence, we should not have known the Virgin’s forefathers. In order therefore that we might learn, touching Mary, who she was, and of what origin, and that the laws might remain undisturbed, he hath traced the genealogy of her espoused husband, and shown him to be of the house of David. For when this hath been clearly proved, that other fact is demonstrated with it, namely, that the Virgin likewise is sprung from thence, by reason that this righteous man, even as I have already said, would not have endured to take a wife from another race.
There is also another reason, which one might mention, of a more mystical nature, because of which the Virgin’s forefathers were passed over in silence; but this it were not seasonable now to declare, because so much has been already said.
9. Wherefore let us stay at this point our discourse concerning the questions, and in the meanwhile let us retain with accuracy what hath been revealed to us; as, for instance, why he mentioned David first; wherefore he called the book, “a book of the generation;” on what account he said, “of Jesus Christ;” how the birth is common and not common; whence it was that Mary was shown to be from David; and wherefore Joseph’s genealogy is traced, while her ancestors are passed over in silence.
For if ye retain these things, ye will the more encourage us with respect to what is to come; but if ye reject and cast them from your mind, we shall be the more backward as to the rest. Just as no husbandman would care to pay attention to a soil which had destroyed the former seed.
Wherefore I entreat you to revolve these things. For from taking thought concerning such matters, there springs in the soul some great good, tending unto salvation. For by these meditations we shall be able to please God Himself; and our mouths will be pure from insults, and filthy talking, and reviling, while they are exercising themselves in spiritual sayings; and we shall be formidable to the devils, while arming our tongue with such words; and we shall draw unto ourselves God’s grace the more, and it will render our eye more piercing. For indeed both eyes and mouth and hearing He set in us to this intent, that all our members may serve Him, that we may speak His words, and do His deeds, that we may sing unto Him continual hymns, that we may offer up sacrifices of thanksgiving, and by these may thoroughly purify our consciences.
For as a body will be more in health when enjoying the benefits of a pure air, even so will a soul be more endued with practical wisdom when nourished in such exercises as these. Seest thou not even the eyes of the body, that when they abide in smoke they are always weeping; but when they are in clear air, and in a meadow, and in fountains and gardens, they become more quicksighted and more healthy? Like this is the soul’s eye also, for should it feed in the meadow of spiritual oracles, it will be clear and piercing, and quick of sight; but should it depart into the smoke of the things of this life, it will weep without end, and wail both now and hereafter. For indeed the things of this life are like smoke. On this account also one hath said,“My days have failed like smoke.” (Ps. cii. 3) He indeed was referring to their shortness of duration, and to their unsubstantial nature, but I would say that we should take what is said, not in this sense alone, but also as to their turbid character.
For nothing doth so hurt and dim the eye of the soul as the crowd of worldly anxieties and the swarm of desires. For these are the wood that feedeth this smoke. And as fire, when it lays hold of any damp and saturated fuel, kindles much smoke; so likewise this desire, so vehement and burning, when it lays hold of a soul that is (so to speak) damp and dissolute, produces also in its way abundance of smoke. For this cause there is need of the dew of the Spirit, and of that air, that it may extinguish the fire, and scatter the smoke, and give wings to our thoughts. For it cannot, it cannot be that one weighed down with so great evils should soar up to heaven; it is well if being without impediment we can cleave our way thither; or rather it is not possible even so, unless we obtain the wing of the Spirit.
Now if there be need both of an unencumbered mind, and of spiritual grace, that we may mount up to that height; what if there be none of these things, but we draw to ourselves whatever is opposite to them, even a satanical weight? how shall we be able to soar upwards, when dragged down by so great a load? For indeed, should any one attempt to weigh our words as it were in just balances; in ten thousand talents of worldly talk he will scarcely find an hundred pence of spiritual words, or rather, I should say, not even ten farthings. Is it not then a disgrace, and an extreme mockery, that if we have a servant, we make use of him for the most part in things necessary, but being possessed of a tongue, we do not deal with our member so well even as with a slave, but on the contrary make use of it for things unprofitable, and mere makeweights? And would it were only for makeweights: but now it is for what are contrary and hurtful and in no respect advantageous to us. For if the things that we spoke were profitable to us, they would assuredly be also pleasing to God. But as it is, whatever the devil may suggest, we speak it all, now laughing, and now speaking wittily; now cursing and insulting, and now swearing, lying, and taking false oaths; now murmuring, and now making vain babblings, and talking trifles more than old wives; uttering all things that are of no concern to us.
For, tell me, who of you that stand here, if he were required, could repeat one Psalm, or any other portion of the divine Scriptures? There is not one.
And it is not this only that is the grievous thing, but that while ye are become so backward with respect to things spiritual, yet in regard of what belongs to Satan ye are more vehement than fire. Thus should any one be minded to ask of you songs of devils and impure effeminate melodies, he will find many that know these perfectly, and repeat them with much pleasure.
10. But what is the answer to these charges? “I am not,” you will say, “one of the monks, but I have both a wife and children, and the care of a household.” Why, this is what hath ruined all, your supposing that the reading of the divine Scriptures appertains to those only, when ye need it much more than they. For they that dwell in the world, and each day receive wounds, these have most need of medicines. So that it is far worse than not reading, to account the thing even“superfluous:” for these are the words of diabolical invention. Hear ye not Paul saying, “that all these things are written for our admonition”? (1 Cor. x. 11)
And thou, if thou hadst to take up a Gospel, wouldest not choose to do so with hands unwashed; but the things that are laid up within it, dost thou not think to be highly necessary? It is because of this, that all things are turned upside down.
For if thou wouldest learn how great is the profit of the Scriptures, examine thyself, what thou becomest by hearing Psalms, and what by listening to a song of Satan; and how thou art disposed when staying in a Church, and how when sitting in a theatre; and thou wilt see that great is the difference between this soul and that, although both be one. Therefore Paul said, “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1 Cor. xv. 33) For this cause we have need continually of those songs, which serve as charms from the Spirit. Yes, for this it is whereby we excel the irrational creatures, since with respect to all other things, we are even exceedingly inferior to them.
This is a soul’s food, this its ornament, this its security; even as not to hear is famine and wasting; for “I will give them,” saith He, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but a famine of hearing the word of the Lord.” (Amos viii. 11)
What then can be more wretched? when the very evil, which God threatens in the way of punishment, this thou art drawing upon thine head of thine own accord, bringing into thy soul a sort of grievous famine, and making it the feeblest thing in the world? For it is its nature both to be wasted and to be saved by words. Yea, this leads it on to anger; and the same kind of thing again makes it meek: a filthy expression is wont to kindle it to lust, and it is trained to temperance by speech full of gravity.
But if a word merely have such great power, tell me, how is it thou dost despise the Scriptures? And if an admonition can do such great things, far more when the admonitions are with the Spirit. Yes, for a word from the divine Scriptures, made to sound in the ear, doth more than fire soften the hardened soul, and renders it fit for all good things.
11. In this way too did Paul, when he had found the Corinthians puffed up and inflamed, compose them, and make them more considerate. For they were priding themselves on those very things, touching which they ought to have been ashamed, and to have hid their face. But after they had received the letter, hear the change in them, of which the Teacher himself hath borne witness for them, saying on this wise: for “this very thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge.” (2 Cor. vii. 11) In this way do we bring to order servants and children, wives, and friends, and make our enemies friends.
In this way the great men too, they that were dear to God, became better. David, for instance, after his sin, when he had had the benefit of certain words, then it was that he came unto that most excellent repentance; and the apostles also by this mean became what they did become, and drew after them the whole world.
“And what is the profit,” one may say,“when any one hears, but doeth not what is said?” No little will the profit be even from hearing. For he will go on to condemn himself, and to groan inwardly, and will come in time also to do the things that are spoken of. But he that doth not even know that he hath sinned, when will he cease from his negligence? when will he condemn himself?
Let us not therefore despise the hearing of the divine Scriptures. For this is of Satan’s devising; not suffering us to see the treasure, lest we should gain the riches. Therefore he saith that the hearing the divine laws is nothing, lest he should see us from the hearing acquiring the practice also.
Knowing then this his evil art, let us fortify ourselves against him on all sides, that being fenced with this armor, we may both abide unconquered ourselves, and smite him on the head: and thus, having crowned ourselves with the glorious wreaths of victory, we may attain unto the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might for ever and ever. Amen.
(Note: hosted by a non-Orthodox site:
May God prepare us, great sinners that we may be, to partake of his Holy Nativity!
Icon of Panagia and Christ "Gorgoipikoos" ("Quick-to-hear"), surrounded by Holy Prophets***(see below) who foresaw Christ and the Theotokos (Icon courtesy of used with permission)
***The following are the Prophets shown with symbols of their prophecies, from what I can discern (from the very top, working clockwise around). Hopefully there will be another post discussing the prophecies of the Theotokos and Christ more fully and correctly:
The Patriarch Jacob (holding an orb with Christ in the center), The Prophet Isaiah (with the flaming coal that touched his lips), The Prophet Aaron (with the rod that budded), The Prophet Solomon (with a bed?), The Prophet Jeremiah (with what appears to be a stone?), The Prophet Abbakum (or Habbakuk) (with a mountain overshadowed by dense forest), The Prophet Gideon (with the dewy fleece), The Prophet Ezekiel (with the door that was shut), The Prophet Moses (with the burning bush), and The Prophet Daniel (with the stone / uncut mountain?).
Apolytikion for the Forefeast of Christ's Nativity in the Fourth Tone
Be thou ready, Bethlehem, Eden hath opened unto all. Ephratha, prepare thyself, for now, behold, the Tree of life hath blossomed forth in the cave from the Holy Virgin. Her womb hath proved a true spiritual Paradise, wherein the divine and saving Tree is found, and as we eat thereof we shall all live, and shall not die as did Adam. For Christ is born now to raise the image that had fallen aforetime.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
On this day the Virgin cometh to a cave to give birth to God the Word ineffable, Who was before all the ages. Dance for joy, O earth, on hearing the gladsome tidings; with the Angels and the shepherds now glorify Him Who is willing to be gazed on as a young Child Who before the ages is God.
(The hymns above were taken from:
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Gerontissa Nantieznta (Hope) of Sevastopol: a Spiritual Daughter of St. Luke of Simferopol

 Gerontissa Nantieznta (Hope) of Sevastopol: a Spiritual Daughter of St. Luke of Simferopol (taken from:
Below is an account by Father Nektarios Antonopoulos, the Abbot of the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ - Sagmata, about his meetings with the Gerontissa (Eldress) Nantieznta on his trips to Simferopol. Fr. Nektarios has written a lot about St. Luke Archbishop of Simferopol, has helped the Monastery of Sagmata become a pilgrimage of St. Luke in Greece, and also has visited the Ukraine many times leading pilgrimages. These are some comments of his about a very spiritual nun who was and remains under the spiritual direction of St. Luke. The text is an amateur translation from: and
"It was June 10th 2000, the eve of the celebration of St Luke the [Surgeon], Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea. I was in the church of the Holy Trinity in Simferopol for the festival Vespers and Matins. Among the thousands of pilgrims I saw an elderly Great-schema nun.

From the first moment I was impressed with her presence and kindness. Her relatives related to me that Gerontissa was a spiritual child of St Luke. I saw her again the following year in Sevastopol. We talked a little more and I began to understand that this was a spiritual treasure, but unfortunately I was unable to stay longer. I bid her farewell, saying that if God wills, next year we will meet at her home.
It was Gerontissa Nantieznta (Hope) from Sevastopol. F

Indeed in June of 2002, I visited her residence on the ground floor of an old building. The small apartment consisted of a room connected by a narrow corridor to a small kitchen, small and unadorned [ανήλιο και απεριποίητο?], in a terrible state, as well the rest of apartment. Gerontissa lives with her daughter and granddaughter. The wall above her bed was covered with icons, and in the center was a table with an ever-burning lapada [olive-oil votive lamp].

She welcomed us full of joy: «Welcome! What a great blessing this is, that you came to me the sinner...». She took a single orange from the table and gave it to me.

«I saved it for you.» She continued.

«You know a month ago I was very in very bad shape. I felt my forces starting to leave, my blood pressure fell, and I understood that I would soon be leaving for that Great Journey. The priest came and communed me, but at some point I remembered your words and what you told me when you left.

Then I entreated St. Luke and I told him: «My St. Luke, Fr. Nektarios said that in one month he would come to see me. If you want, let me live until then I can go. Indeed the Saint heard me, my strength returned, my blood pressure rose, and now I am well». I was surprised and somewhat uneasy to hear this, and I said: «But I also wanted to see you alive». Very charismatically she replied. «And I tried to live».

Icon of St. Luke Archbishop of Simferopol the Surgeon (taken from:
I asked her about her life.
«I was born in 1906. I lived through a lot in my life. Poverty, hunger, misery, revolutions, wars...». It's noteworthy that Sevastopol belongs
to those cities which have especially suffered. Shortly after the October Revolution, civil war erupted between «Whites» and «Reds», which took nearly four years. Millions were the dead and many more the other victims and the injured.

The most bloody phase of this war took place in the Crimea. Following the withdrawal of «Whites», the massacres reached their peak. Within one and a half months around 50,000 people were executed. Sevastopol lived through horrific days, and that is why we called the «City of the Hung». The central avenue was full of corpses. They gathered those that they had hung in the streets to terrorize the population, while the town was dominated by posters with the slogan «Death to traitors».

In the Second World War, Sevastopol once again sawthe horrors of war. The location is of strategic importance and the two rivals fought rabidly and had countless deaths. Sevastopol was kept for 249 days and all the while mercilessly bombed. When the fighting stopped, only seven buildings were left standing, the rest of the city had been steamrollered.

The Gerontissa continued: «Since early on we have experienced the horrors of civil war. I was a little girl and then our town lived through many misfortunes. There was a lot of blood spilled then. In the decade of the 1930s I got married and had two girls. Soon the Second World War erupted and my husband left for the front. The Germans arrested him as a prisoner and he was kept for some time in German camps.

After the war the prisoners returned, but not to their homes; they were sent to Siberia. It was an absurd policy of Stalin. Those miserable Russian prisoners who survived the suffering of the German camps, were considered by Stalin to be poisoned by the «miasma of capitalism» and therefore should be subjected to the «detoxification» anti-Capitalist treatment.
So in this way all the soldiers were driven to the gulag camps! I never saw my husband again. With great difficulty I raised my two children. My only consolation and hope was in faith in God. Since I was small I was in the church, and this supported me. Let His name be glorified».

St. Luke Archbishop of Simferopol (
Acquaintance with Saint Luke

I met Saint Luke in 1951 and this acquaintance was the greatest blessing of my life. For ten years I made him the prosphoro [holy bread] for the Divine Liturgy, and I never missed his sermons. Many times I visited his office, and we would talk frequently and often we ate together.

He helped us a lot, as long as the whole world. He often stayed hungry so that others could eat. But while St. Luke seemed austere, he actually wasn't. When you approaching him you saw a sweet man, full of love.

All of us loved him and we thought of him as our father. Although the situation was difficult - the Church was under persecution and we were at risk of losing our jobs - we ran to be close to him and to listen to the sermons. And when the Divine Liturgy was finished, we did not leave, but we waited for him and then followed him up to his house.
 When we would reach his home, he turned around full of love and blessed us.

When my daughter was small, she had a problem with appendicitis and the doctors had recommended surgery. I went to St. Luke, he examined her and told us: «No, do not do surgery, there is nothing». Indeed, since then it did not bother her again.

I remember that I saw him a few days before his dormition. He was in his bed, very weak, and he couldn't speak well. He only whispered something to me and I received his blessing. I was present at his funeral. The two evenings when his body remained in the church I was there and I read the psalter. The second evening, as I read the psalter, I saw him in front of me, very much alive. He sat down not too far away at a table. I was speechless.

Photograph from the Funeral of St. Luke Archbishop of Simferopol (taken from:

On the day of the funeral there was a great battle with the police, and we were not allowed either to bring the Relic along the main road or to sing. We will not forget the following amazing fact: When we were having the argument with the police over his coffin, there appeared in the sky thousands of doves which circled and chirped. Everyone followed St. Luke on the main road to the cemetery.

This took approximately three and a half hours. All this time we were chanting «Holy God...» and the doves followed us. When we arrived at the cemetery, the doves sat on the roof of the church. After we finished and started to leave, the doves flew away chirping, and no one ever saw them again. There were thousands of doves and this made a great impression. This was even striking to the «atheists».

All of his spiritual children were convinced that they were near a Saint. We had no doubt, and anything that we asked of in prayer us, he gave to us. Since then he has sometimes visited us. The last time he did I noticed that his robe had few sludges on it. I cleaned it and said said to him: «My Master, [Despota or Vladyka, the proper way to address to a hierarch] how did you get dirty? Next time, be more careful...»

The exhortation of Christ came to my mind, how we must become like children and admire their simplicity and directness.

The Tonsure
«I was tonsured in 1997. For a long time I wanted to become a nun, but was not provided with the opportunity. Eventually, my desire was made known to the Metropolitan, Lazarus, who gave me the blessing to be tonsured. I didn't go to a monastery, because there is none nearby. Furthermore I am very advanced in age, and so I decided to stay here. I split the room in the middle with my daughter (and showing me her bed and icons, she continued) from here is the monastery, and (showing the bed of her daughter across) there is the world.

My day passes with my prayer. What else should I do? I am a nun. Before, all day I would read many Paraklesis [Supplications services] and Xairetismoi [Salutations services] to the Panagia. Now I see almost nothing, nor do I hear well. My daughter reads to me, and the rest of the time I do the komposchoini [prayer rope]. I did the same at night, because I cannot sleep much. I pray: «Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me the sinner».

I pray to our Master for priests, for our monks and for the whole world. I also pray for you that God keeps you well.

She stopped for a moment and then continued: «You know, today I am very happy but also very sad. Tomorrow is the Ascension and our Christ will leave us. I am glad that he will ascend into the heavens, but again I am sorry that he leaves ... I wanted Him to stay!.

But whatever happens I will leave myself, I am now useless. I shouldn't weary them and pester them».

Some time past.

In October 2003 we visited again with a group of children from the Diocese of Thebes and Levadeia. The small room was packed, and most could not even fit in the room, but remained in the corridor. The Gerontissa's joy was very great «What a great joy you've given me. So many people came to me! Thank you for remembering me. You came to me like little birds from heaven, like angels».

Among the other incidents mentioned, the following two stories show what a great heart Gerontissa has. «A few years ago went with my daughter to church. On the road we found a small, destitute [ρακένδυτο?] child. We asked him where he was from and where he was staying. The child was abandoned, and he had neither parents nor home. I told him: «Do you want to come to stay with us?»

He accepted, and so we took the boy home and kept him for three to four years. Later, some relatives of his from Vynitsa were found from very far from here, and they took the child with them.

Unfortunately now we have no contact with the child. They didn't take our phone number and haven't sent us a letter. Never mind, may things go well with the child, as God keeps him well. We could do this and we did».

We admired her nobility. The soul which knows how to love, to offer and to sacrifice does not complain for any ingratitude, or require any permanent dependency from others [ούτε απαιτεί την μόνιμη εξάρτηση του άλλου?].

The second incident is similar.

«One relative of ours was pregnant. Because stumbled financially, she decided to have an abortion.

We entreated her not to do so. She was adamant. She said that she would not be able to raise it. I fell to her feet, and I begged her with tears, saying that she would be committing a crime, she would be killing a human being. She did not change her mind, and then I said that since she could not raise it, she should give it to me, I will adopt it and will raise it. This convinced her. The child was born and we brought her home. Today she is 14 years old».

She appears to be a very good and willing girl, who lives as a gift of the love of her holy grandmother. The remarkable thing is that Gerontissa Nantieznta is not only not rich, but gets a pension of hunger [παίρνει σύνταξη πείνας, government subsidy for food?]. Only six euro per month and a similar amount from her daughter.
Thus little Anna grew up in Gerontissa's house.

The money is not enough to live, but the Gerontissa is totally devoted [απόλυτα παραδομένη?] to the will of God.
We sat close to her for over an hour. Her smile was constant on her lips and her words were an outpouring of joy. We did not hear any complaints, only glorification of God. Her countenance was filled with love and kindness.

Her eyes could see little, but the eyes of her soul were wide open. In her hands continuously spun the komposchoini and every so often she would whisper the Jesus Prayer [«Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me the sinner»].

As we were leaving she filled us with prayers: «Go in prayer of God and the Panagia. May your guardian angel be with you. May St. Luke be near you. Write me your names and your city, that I may pray for all of you and your families. Now that you are leaving, I will do the Paraklesis to the Panagia Odigitria ["The Directress"] that she might guide you, and go on the road before you».

Icon of Panagia and Christ "Odigitria" ("The Directress") (Icon courtesy of used with permission)

...She asked her daughter to help her outside to bid us farewell. She sat at the door and with tears in her eyes she crossed us and continued prayers. «May your guardian angel be with you. May Panagia the Odigitria be your guide».

One hour near her was a taste of Paradise."

St. Luke Archbishop of Simferopol, intercede for us all and help us!
Most-Holy Theotokos, save us!
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!