Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A miracle and the life of Sts. Kosmas and Damian the Unmercenaries of Rome, and Elder Joseph of Vatopedi

Icon of Sts. Kosmas and Damian the Unmercenaries (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)
   
"The miracle which I experienced
Since 2003 I suffered a lot from my stomach. The doctors gave me various medicines but again the pain was the same. In 2004 they gave me a referral and I had a CAT scan. The scan showed that I had something in my stomach. Something like an orange. Again they loaded me with other medicines, but the pain continued. In June 2005 my condition worsened. The doctor gave me a referral to get a gastroscope examination. From June 20th of 2005, from Divine illumination, I said to myself: "From ancient times, all those treating wounds annointed with olive oil for healing, why don't I drink some myself every morning, one spoon of an olive oil soup?"

I began to drink too. July 1st arrived, a Saturday, the feast of the Holy Unmercenaries [Sts. Cosmas and Damian of Rome], and from the morning I was in terrible pain. I took courage and went out to the neighborhood bakery to buy a prosphoro, which I had ordered, for Church on Sunday. I returned and lied down in bed. The whole day rolled by in pain. I had no spirit, nor could I eat anything. I said to my wife: "Tomorrow don't wait for me to go to Church together, I'm in a lot of pain. If you can, go by yourself."

Lying in my bed I felt that I had a heavy orange made of iron inside my stomach. It would move when I turned left or right, and when I was on my back it would cut my breath from the weight. In the evening I prepared for sleep. I went to the icon corner for the traditional evening prayer and before saying "Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers...", I called upon the help of the Holy Unmercenaries. I did not ask them to make me well, but I said:

'My Holy Unmercenaries and wonderworkers, show me what I should do, because I'm suffering a lot and my responsibilities in the home are great (I have a handicapped and paraplegic child, who had Meningitis at age two).

Detail of fresco of St. Kosmas the Unmercenary (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)
   
When I finished my prayers I went to my bed to lie down. I looked at the clock and it read 10:58. I closed my eyes for a little and I saw that I found myself on a surgical bed and next to me were two doctors with their white aprons as if poking in the area of my stomach. I noted however, that the doctors, among their white aprons, also wore epitrachilia [the stole of the Orthodox Priesthood]. I was terrified and I fell out of my bed. I opened my eyes and I looked at the clock which read 11:02PM. Only four minutes had passed since when I lied down. I crossed myself and closed my eyes and tried to sleep.
Again I saw that I was in a surgical bed as before, the same scene, with the two doctors above me.

The first was tall with a short beart and the second was shorter, older with a long beard, who was helping the first doctor. The two wore epitrachilia among their white aprongs.

The taller doctor who was above me did something on top of my stomach, and I only felt the beating of his fingers.

Shortly, as he was finished, he pointed at me with his right forefinger and said:
'The oil, however, you will drink.'

I wondered, how did the doctor know that I drink oil? I never told this to anyone. Having fallen asleep I woke up at 5AM and had nothing, no discomfort in my stomach.

When I understood this, and my Wife woke up, I told her: 'Get up and let's go to Church, I have nothing, the Holy Unmercenaries healed me.'

We went to Church and I thanked the Saints for my healing. From then until today (May 2008) I have absolutely nothing. Glory to You O God.

According to my humble opinion, the doctor whose fingers where beating on top of my was St. Cosmas (one of the Holy Unmercenaries), and his helper must have been Elder Paisios (the recently reposed Athonite Monk who is buried at the Monastery of St. John the Theologian, Souroti, Thessaloniki). I had the privilage to meet him in life and to receive his Blessing.


Picture of Elder Paisios the Athonite (taken from: http://www.rel.gr/photo/displayimage.php?album=3&pos=16)
   
Thank you for your patience and for listening to me.
With reverence and appreciation,
PANAGIOTIS KOUSOUTZIS
(SYNTAXIOUCHOS
Papakyriazis 17
Tel 2310 / 813557
Thessaloniki)
(translated from: http://orthodox-world.pblogs.gr/2008/04/to-thayma-poy-ezhsa-dihghsh-thaymatos-twn-agiwn-anargyrwn.html)

Icon of Sts. Kosmas and Damian (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)

THE HOLY MARTYRS COSMAS AND DAMIAN - July 1st
Cosmas and Damian were unmercenary physicians and miracle-workers. These two saints were brothers, were born in Rome and as children were baptized and brought up in the Christian spirit. They possessed abundant grace from God to heal men and livestock from every disease and suffering, usually by the laying on of hands. They sought no reward for their efforts. They only required of the infirm to believe in Christ the Lord. Inheriting a large estate, they charitably distributed it to the needy and to those in want. At that time, Emperor Galerius reigned in Rome. As a persecutor of Christianity, he summoned these two holy brothers before him shackled in chains. After a prolonged interrogation the emperor ordered them to deny Christ and to offer sacrifices to the idols. Cosmas and Damian not only did not heed the emperor but also counseled him to abandon the dead idols and to recognize the One True God. "Our God is not created but He is the Creator of all, but your gods are the imaginations of man and the work of the hands of artists. If you did not have artists to make your gods, you would have no one to worship." After working a miracle upon the emperor himself-for they miraculously cured him from a grave infirmity - the emperor proclaimed his faith in Christ and released the holy brothers in peace. Cosmas and Damian continued to glorify God and to heal the sick and were themselves, glorified by the people on all sides. Envious of their glory, a certain doctor who, at one time was their teacher, and with the pretext to gather healing herbs, led them into the mountain and stoned them to death. They suffered honorably for the Faith of Christ in the year 284 A.D. Their memory remains eternal in the Church on earth and their souls took up habitation in the Kingdom of the Lord to live eternally in glory and in joy. (taken from the Prologue of Ochrid of St. Nikolai at: http://www.westsrbdio.org/prolog/prolog.htm)
   

And finally on a side note, today, July 1st 2009, Elder Joseph of Vatopedi reposed in the Lord. He was born also on July 1st 1921, and the Holy Unmercenaries proved to be his patrons and protectors throughout his life (ultimately taking him on their feast). He was a disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast, and after his death, he went to the Skete of the Holy Unmercenaries, and later became the abbot of Vatopedi Monastery. For a short video of Elder Joseph speaking, along with an English translation under the information to the right, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmwCsQVQUfU&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eagiooros%2Enet%2Fforum%2Fviewtopic%2Ephp%3Ff%3D4%26t%3D10192&feature=player_embedded
   
May Sts. Kosmas and Damian the Unmercenaries intercede with the Lord for his repose, and for the healing of our souls and bodies!
   
Icon of the Holy Unmercenaries, Sts. Kosmas and Damian (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)
   
Apolytikion of the Holy Unmercenaries in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Sainted Unmercenaries and Wonder Workers, regard our infirmities; freely you have received, freely share with us.
   
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Having received the grace of healing, ye extend health to those in need, O glorious and wonderworking physicians. Hence, by your visitation, cast down the audacity of our enemies, and by your miracles, heal the world.
(hymns above taken from: http://goarch.org/chapel/saints_view?contentid=186)
   
Icon of the Holy Unmercenaries, Sts. Cosmas and Damian, with scenes from their lives (http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/3anargyroi.jpg)
   
Additional apolytikion specific to Sts. Kosmas and Damian the Unmercenaries of Rome - 4th Tone
Ως θείοι θεράποντες, και ιατήρες βροτών, ανάργυρον βλύζετε, την θεραπείαν ημίν, Ανάργυροι ένδοξοι, όθεν τους προσιόντας, τη σεπτή υμών σκέπη, ρύσασθε νοσημάτων, και παθών ανιάτων, Κοσμά και Δαμιανέ, Ρώμης βλαστήματα.
(http://www.agiooros.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=10188)

   
(amateur translation)
As divine healers and physicians of mortals, freely you pour forth healing for us, O glorious Unmercenaries, therefore for those who take refuge in your sacred protection, deliver from sicknesses and incurable passions, Kosmas and Damian, offspring of Rome.
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

The Holy Belt (Zoni) of the Theotokos, and Vatopedi Monastery

Icon of the Most-Holy Theotokos holding her Sacred Belt (Zoni) (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)

The following is from a pilgrim's guide to the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos, and tells about a great treasure of Orthodoxy that has survived to our days: the Holy Zoni of the Theotokos (translated commonly as "Belt", "Sash", "Cincture", and below as "Girdle". However, this final term, as used throughout the following excerpt, may possibly be confused with a separate relic of the Theotokos, her "Esthitos", which is more of a garment or robe as opposed to her belt. Each treasure is remembered on a separate feast day, July 2nd for the Robe of the Theotokos and August 31st for her Belt, but the common Apolytikion mentions both, as both were present in Constantinople and preserved the faithful for centuries.)
Detail from an icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. Panagia is shown being brought to heaven, as she hands her Holy Zoni to St. Thomas (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)

The Treasures of the Monastery - THE HOLY GIRDLE [as mentioned above, every instance of "Girdle" in the article refers to the Zoni, or "Belt" of the Theotokos] OF OUR LADY
The Girdle of the Blessed Virgin Mary, today divided into three pieces, is the only remaining relic of her earthly life. According to tradition, the girdle was made out of camel hair by the Virgin Mary herself, and after her Dormition, at her Assumption, she gave it to the Apostle Thomas. During the early centuries of the Christian era it was kept at Jerusalem and in the 4th century we hear of it at Zela in Cappadocia. In the same century, Theodosius the Great brought it back to Jerusalem, and from there his son Arcadius took it to Constantinople. There it was originally deposited in the Chalcoprateion church, whence it was transferred by the Emperor Leo to the Vlachernae church (458). During the reign of Leo VI ‘the Wise’ (886-912), it was taken to the Palace, where it cured his sick wife, the Empress Zoe.

[The following is a more detailed account of this healing, which is recounted on August 31st. The Placing of the Venerable Belt of the Most Holy Theotokos in a church of Constantinople's Chalcoprateia district took place during the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Younger. Before this the holy relic, entrusted to the Apostle Thomas by the Mother of God Herself, was kept by pious Christians at Jerusalem after Her Dormition. During the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise, his wife Zoe was afflicted with an unclean spirit, and he prayed that God would heal her.

The empress had a vision that she would be healed of her infirmity if the Belt of the Mother of God were placed upon her. The emperor then asked the Patriarch to open the coffer. The Patriarch removed the seal and opened the coffer in which the relic was kept, and the Belt of the Mother of God appeared completely whole and undamaged by time. The Patriarch placed the Belt on the sick empress, and immediately she was freed from her infirmity. They sang hymns of thanksgiving to the Most Holy Theotokos, then they placed the venerable Belt back into the coffer and resealed it. (taken from: http://www.antiochian.org/node/19337)] She, as an act of thanksgiving to the Mother of God, embroidered the whole girdle with gold thread, giving it the appearance which it bears today.

In the 12th century, in the reign of Manuel I Comnenus (1143-1180), the Feast of the Holy Girdle on 31 August was officially introduced; previously it had shared the Feast of the Vesture of the Virgin on 1 July. The Girdle itself remained in Constantinople until the 12th century, when, in the course of a defeat of Isaacius by the Bulgar King Asan (1185), it was stolen and taken to Bulgaria, and from there it later came into the hands of the Serbs. It was presented to Vatopaidi by the Serbian Prince Lazarus I (1372-1389), together with a large piece of the True Cross. Since then it has been kept in the sanctuary of the katholikon. Under Turkish rule, the brethren of the Monastery took it on journeys to Crete, Macedonia, Thrace, Constantinople and Asia Minor, to distribute its blessing, to strengthen the morale of the enslaved Greeks and to bring freedom from infectious diseases.

Picture of the Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos (taken from: http://www.mountathos.gr/active.aspx?mode=en{bd411147-5023-4059-9fe0-465e1657a77a}View)
  
The miracles performed by the Holy Girdle throughout the ages are innumerable. The following are a few examples:
At one time, the inhabitants of Ainos called for the presence of the Holy Girdle and the Vatopaidi monks accompanying it received hospitality at the house of a priest, whose wife surreptitiously removed a piece of it. When the fathers embarked to leave, although the sea was calm, the ship remained immobile. The priest’s wife, seeing this strange phenomenon, realised that she had done wrong and gave the monks the piece of the Girdle, whereupon the ship was able to leave immediately. It was because of this event that the second case was made. The piece in question has been kept in this down to the present.

During the Greek War of Independence of 1821, the Holy Girdle was taken to Crete at the request of the people of the island, who were afflicted by the plague. When, however, the monks were preparing to return to the Monastery, they were arrested by the Turks and taken off to be hanged, while the Holy Girdle was redeemed by the British Consul, Domenikos Santantonio. From there the Girdle was taken to Santorini, to the Consul’s new home. News of this quickly spread throughout the island. The local bishop informed the Vatopaidi Monastery and the Abbot, Dionysios, was sent, in 1831, to Santorini. The Consul asked the sum of 15,000 piastres to hand over the Girdle, and the people of the island, with touching eagerness, managed to collect together the money. Thus the Holy Girdle was bought back and Abbot Dionysios returned it to Vatopaidi.

Picture of the Holy Belt of the Theotokos in its reliquary, treasured at the Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos (taken from: http://vatopaidi.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/a-pilgrim%e2%80%99s-guide-to-the-great-and-holy-monastery-of-vatopaidi-8/)
  
What had happen with the priest’s wife of Ainos was repeated in the case of the Consul’s wife. She too, un beknown to her husband, cut off a small piece of the Holy Girdle before it was handed back to the Abbot Dionysios. Within a very short period her husband died suddenly and her mother and sister became gravely ill. In 1839, she wrote to the Monastery asking that representatives should be sent to take possession of the piece which she had removed.

In 1864, the Holy Girdle was taken to Constantinople, since there was a cholera epidemic among the inhabitants. As soon as the ship bearing it approached the harbour, the cholera ceased and none of those already suffering from it died. This strange miracle excited the curiosity of the Sultan, who had the Girdle brought to the Palace so that he could reverence it.

During the time when the Holy Girdle was at Constantinople, a Greek of Galata asked that it should be taken to his house, since his son was seriously ill. When, however, the Holy Girdle arrived at his house, his son was already dead. The monks, however, did not give up hope. They asked to see the dead boy, and as soon as the Girdle was placed on him, he was raised from the dead.

In 1894, the inhabitants of Madytos in Asia Minor sought that the Holy Girdle should be taken there because a plague of locusts was destroying their trees and crops. When the ship carrying the Girdle came into the harbour, the sky was filled with clouds of locusts, which then began to fall into the sea, so that it was difficult for the vessel to anchor. The people of Madytos, seeing the miracle, kept up a constant chant of Kyrie eleison from the shore.

Down to our own times, the Holy Girdle has continued to work many miracles, particularly in the case of infertile women, who, when they request it, are given a piece of cord from the case holding the Girdle and, if they have faith, become pregnant." (taken from: http://vatopaidi.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/a-pilgrim%e2%80%99s-guide-to-the-great-and-holy-monastery-of-vatopaidi-8/)
  

For more info on the Monastery of Vatopedi, see: http://www.mountathos.gr/active.aspx?mode=en{bd411147-5023-4059-9fe0-465e1657a77a}View, or the following blog which gives much information about the Monastery: http://vatopaidi.wordpress.com/. Specifically, this blog has over 40 posts telling of miracles from the Theotokos and her Holy Belt. These are in Greek, however, with the heading ΘΑΥΜΑΤΑ ΤΗΣ ΑΓΙΑΣ ΖΩΝΗΣ.

For a thorough account of the Agia Zoni, specifically during its time on the island of Santorini, see the following account (in Greek): http://www.phys.uoa.gr/~nektar/orthodoxy/history/mat8aios_mhndrinos_eyresis_timias_zwnhs_santorinh.htm.

Finally, for information of the Robe of the Theotokos, which is celebrated on July 2nd, see an earlier post: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2008/12/most-holy-robe-of-theotokos.html.

Another icon of the Most-Holy Theotokos and her Precious Belt, painted in the Monastery of Vatopedi (taken from: http://vatopaidi.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/%ce%bc%ce%af%ce%b1-%ce%b5%cf%80%ce%af%cf%83%ce%ba%ce%b5%cf%88%ce%b7-%cf%83%cf%84%ce%bf-a%ce%b3%ce%b9%ce%bf%ce%b3%cf%81%ce%b1%cf%86%ce%b5%ce%af%ce%bf-%cf%84%ce%b7%cf%82-%ce%bc%ce%bf%ce%bd%ce%ae%cf%82/)

Ήχος πλ. δ.
Θεοτόκε αειπάρθενε των ανθρώπων η σκέπη, Εσθήτα και Ζώνην του αχράντου σου Σώματος, κραταιάν τη Ποίμνη σου περιβολήν εδωρήσω, τω ασπόρω Τόκω σου άφραρτα διαμείναντα. Επί σοι γαρ και φύσις καινοτομείται και χρόνος, διο δυσωπούμεν σε, ειρήνην τη ποίμνη σου δώρησαι, και ταις ψυχαίς ημών το μέγα έλεος.
(taken from the full text in Greek of the Placing of the Zoni of the Theotokos, on August 31st: http://www.gerontas.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1170&Itemid=158)
  
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
O Ever-Virgin Theotokos, shelter of mankind, thou hast bestowed upon thy people a mighty investure, even thine immaculate body's raiment and sash, which by thy seedless childbirth have remained incorrupt; for in thee nature and time are made new. Wherefore, we implore thee to grant peace to the world, and great mercy to our souls.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Thy precious sash, O Theotokos, which encompassed thy God-receiving womb, is an invincible force for thy flock, and an unfailing treasury of every good, O only Ever-virgin Mother.
Hymn after the Orthros Gospel - 2nd Tone
Παντάνασσα Δέσποινα, ρύσαι λαόν σου και ποίμνην εκ πάσης βλάβης, δυνάμει και χάριτι της παντίμου θείας σου Ζώνης ην εν πίστει και πόθω δοξάζομεν.
----------------------------------------------------------
O Lady and Queen of all, deliver your people and flock from every danger, by the power and grace of your all-precious, divine Belt, which we with faith and longing glorfy.
(preliminarily translated from the full text in Greek of the Placing of the Zoni of the Theotokos, on August 31st: http://www.gerontas.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1170&Itemid=158)

Most-Holy Theotokos, save, help and protect us all! Amen!

Monday, June 29, 2009

St. Michael Paknanas the New Martyr

Icon of St. Michael Paknanas the Neomartyr, the Gardener (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)
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"Neomartyr Michael Paknanas was less than twenty years old, and he worked as a gardener in Athens in the [late 18th century]. The Turks, who enslaved Greece at the time, were trying to convince him to become a Muslim. When flattery and wealth failed to persuade him, they put to use some of their more convincing standard missionary work by torturing the teenager. When all the tortures proved to be futile, the executioner was preparing to behead the young man, but at the same time he was feeling some compassion for him. So he began cutting his neck slowly with the sword by administering very light blows, while asking the martyr to reconsider. The martyr's response? "I told you, I am a Christian. I refuse to become a Muslim." The ax-man strikes with another light blow to make some more blood flow, to possibly convince him. The martyr repeats, "I told you, I am a Christian. Strike with all your might, for the faith of Christ." This totally aggravated the executioner. He did exactly that, and St. Michael was sent to the heavenly mansions.

Who taught these very simple but profound words to the teenage martyr? Who else but the Holy Spirit? "Strike with all your might, for the faith of Christ," was the most elegantand apropos response, superior to all the rhetorical abilities of Demosthenes, Socrates and Plato put together, and all the words of the greatest preachers. This most eloquent rhetoric is the work of the Holy Spirit. The confessors and the martyrs make up the spinal cord of our Church. The blood of the martyrs is the greatest proof that Christ is not an idea. Christ did not come to bring us a book. Christ is real." (excerpt taken from the following article on Christian Martyrdom: http://www.saintnicodemos.org/articles/christianmartyrdom.php; for a more thorough account online, see: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/06/saint-michael-paknanas-gardner-from.html)
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Some additional informtion
St. Michael was a parishoner at the church of Panagia Vlasarou, which today is in ruins (see the following link for a photo: http://www.geocities.com/gnwrizontas_tin_athina5/thiseion/P9260169_BLASSAROUa.swf) Also, as he was martyred, he was tied to a pillar of the Temple of the Olympian Zeus in Athens. Today the following inscription there bears witness to this neomartyr's martyrdom: «1771 Ιουλίου 9 απεκεφαλίσθη ο Πακνανάς Μιχάλης» (July 9th 1771 Michael Paknanas was beheaded.) Though he was martyred on July 9th, his feast day is celebrated on June 30th. Finally, because he was a gardner and recommended [σύστηνε?] a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, he has been called a patron saint of dieticians and nutritionists, in addition to gardeners. (translated from: http://misha.pblogs.gr/2008/07/giortazei-o-athhnaios-neomartys-mihahl-o-khpoyros.html) May St. Michael the Neomartyr intercede for us all!
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Icon of St. Michael Paknanas the New Martyr of Athens (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_30_june_michael_pacnanas.htm)
Apolytikion for a Martyr in the Fourth ToneThy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

The holy, glorious and all-praised Princes of the Apostles, Peter and Paul


Icon of Sts. Peter and Paul embracing with the love of Christ (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)

Sts. Peter and Paul the Apostles - June 29
Reading:

The divinely-blessed Peter was from Bethsaida of Galilee. He was the son of Jonas and the brother of Andrew the First-called. He was a fisherman by trade, unlearned and poor, and was called Simon; later he was renamed Peter by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who looked at him and said, "Thou art Simon the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas (which is by interpretation, Peter)" (John 1:42). On being raised by the Lord to the dignity of an Apostle and becoming inseparable from Him as His zealous disciple, he followed Him from the beginning of His preaching of salvation up until the very Passion, when, in the court of Caiaphas the high priest, he denied Him thrice because of his fear of the Jews and of the danger at hand. But again, after many bitter tears, he received complete forgiveness of his transgression. After the Resurrection of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit, he preached in Judea, Antioch, and certain parts of Asia, and finally came to Rome, where he was crucified upside down by Nero, and thus he ascended to the eternal habitations about the year 66 or 68, leaving two Catholic (General) Epistles to the Church of Christ.

The Martyrdom of St. Peter the Apostle (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s1711/s1711006.jpg)  
Fresco of St. Peter the Apostle (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)

Paul, the chosen vessel of Christ, the glory of the Church, the Apostle of the Nations and teacher of the whole world, was a Jew by race, of the tribe of Benjamin, having Tarsus as his homeland. He was a Roman citizen, fluent in the Greek language, an expert in knowledge of the Law, a Pharisee, born of a Pharisee, and a disciple of Gamaliel, a Pharisee and notable teacher of the Law in Jerusalem. For this cause, from the beginning, Paul was a most fervent zealot for the traditions of the Jews and a great persecutor of the Church of Christ; at that time, his name was Saul (Acts 22:3-4). In his great passion of rage and fury against the disciples of the Lord, he went to Damascus bearing letters of introduction from the high priest. His intention was to bring the disciples of Christ back to Jerusalem in bonds. As he was approaching Damascus, about midday there suddenly shone upon him a light from Heaven. Falling on the earth, he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" And he asked, "Who art Thou, Lord?" And the Lord said, "I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest; it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." And that heavenly voice and brilliance made him tremble, and he was blinded for a time. He was led by the hand into the city, and on account of a divine revelation to the Apostle Ananias (see Oct. 1), he was baptized by him, and both his bodily and spiritual eyes were opened to the knowledge of the Sun of Righteousness. And straightway- O wondrous transformation! - beyond all expectation, he spoke with boldness in the synagogues, proclaiming that "Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 9:1-21).

Fresco depicting Saul persecuting the Church, Christ appearing to him, and him being led blind to the Damascus (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s1634/s1634006.jpg)
  
As for his zeal in preaching the Gospel after these things had come to pass, as for his unabating labors and afflictions of diverse kinds, the wounds, the prisons, the bonds, the beatings, the stonings, the shipwrecks, the journeys, the perils on land, on sea, in cities, in wildernesses, the continual vigils, the daily fasting, the hunger, the thirst, the nakedness, and all those other things that he endured for the Name of Christ, and which he underwent before nations and kings and the Israelites, and above all, his care for all the churches, his fiery longing for the salvation of all, whereby he became all things to all men, that he might save them all if possible, and because of which, with his heart aflame, he continuously traveled throughout all parts, visiting them all, and like a bird of heaven flying from Asia and Europe, the West and East, neither staying nor abiding in any one place - all these things are related incident by incident in the Book of the Acts, and as he himself tells them in his Epistles.

  
His Epistles, being fourteen in number, are explained in 250 homilies by the divine Chrysostom and make manifest the loftiness of his thoughts, the abundance of the revelations made to him, the wisdom given to him from God, wherewith he brings together in a wondrous manner the Old with the New Testaments, and expounds the mysteries thereof which had been concealed under types; he confirms the doctrines of the Faith, expounds the ethical teaching of the Gospel, and demonstrates with exactness the duties incumbent upon every rank, age, and order of man. In all these things his teaching proved to be a spiritual trumpet, and his speech was seen to be more radiant than the sun, and by these means he clearly sounded forth the word of truth and illumined the ends of the world. Having completed the work of his ministry, he likewise ended his life in martyrdom when he was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero, at the same time, some say, when Peter was crucified.
(texts above taken from: http://goarch.org/chapel/saints_view?contentid=103)

Fresco of St. Paul (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)
   
Apolytikion of Sts. Peter and Paul the Holy Apostles - 4th Tone
Preeminent Apostles and teachers of the universe, intercede with the Master of all, to grant peace to the whole world, and great mercy to our souls.

Kontakion - 2nd Tone
You have taken to yourself, O Lord, the pinnacles of Your Disciples, those unerring theologians and preachers, to enjoy Your blessings and repose. For You accepted their labors and their death as being higher than any whole-burnt offering, for only You know what is in the heart.

Oikos
Expand my tongue, O Savior; widen my mouth, and filling it, prick my heart; so that I may follow what I say, and what I impart, accomplish first; for great is he, it says, who puts to practice what he preach. Yet, if I say, but do not do, I am rendered but a cymbal peal. Hence, grant me say the necessary, and practice what is excellent, for only You know what is in the heart.
   
Icon of Sts. Peter and Paul embracing (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)
   
Stichera for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul - Tone 2. Model Melody. By Andrew of Crete.
With what garlands of praise should we bind the brows of Peter and Paul? Separated in body, united in the Spirit, the leaders of God’s heralds; the one as chief of the Apostles, the other as having toiled more than the rest; for with diadems of immortal glory he has indeed fittingly crowned them, Christ our God, who has great mercy.



Prosomia.
With what beauties of hymnody should we sing the praise of Peter and Paul? The wings of the knowledge of God, who flew through the ends of the earth and were lifted up high to heaven; the hands of the Gospel of grace, the feet of the truth of the proclamation, the rivers of wisdom, the arms of the Cross, through which he has cast down the arrogance of demons, Christ our God, who has great mercy.


With what spiritual songs should we praise Peter and Paul? The unblunted mouths of the dread sword of the Spirit that slaughter godlessness; the radiant ornaments of Rome; the delights of the whole inhabited world; the reasoning tablets, written by God, of the New Testament, which in Sion Christ proclaimed, who has great mercy.
(previous three hymns taken from: http://www.anastasis.org.uk/29_june.htm)
   
Sts. Peter and Paul the Apostles, with scenes from their lives (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s1711/s1711007.jpg)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sts. Cyrus and John the Holy Unmercenaries

Icon depicting the saints celebrated on January 31st (Sts. Cyrus, John, Athanasia, Theodota, Theoktista, Eudoxia, Claudius and Diodorus) (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_31_jan_claudius_diodorus_cyrus_john_athanasia_theodota_theoctista_eudoxia.htm)
  
SAINTS CYRUS AND JOHN, THE UNMERCENARY SAINTS AND MIRACLE-WORKERS (whose martyrdom, along with Sts. Athanasia, Theoktisti, Theodoti, and Eudokia, is celebrated on January 31st, and who are additionally celebrated at the transfer of their relics on June 28th)
These charitable and glorious saints were not blood brothers but were brothers in the spirit. At first, Cyrus lived in Alexandria, and as a physician he healed people by the power of Christ and by his knowledge of medicine. Learning that sickness mostly befalls man because of sin, Cyrus always directed the sick to purify their souls from sin through repentance and prayer and, thereby restore health to the body. When Diocletion's persecution against Christians began, Cyrus withdrew to Arabia where he received the monastic tonsure. He became as famous in Arabia as he was in Alexandria, so that people there also resorted to him for assistance.

  
Hearing about Cyrus, John, then a Roman officer in Edessa, came to Arabia to see him. Upon meeting, they loved one another as a brother loves a brother and remained together to live a life of asceticism.

  
At that time, a certain Christian woman named [Athanasia], together with her three daughters, was tortured by the persecutors in the town of Canopus. Hearing of this, Cyrus and John came to Canopus to encourage the mother and her daughters not to abandon the Faith. And truly, thanks to the counsel of these saints, [Athanasia] endured all tortures and, with her daughters, was martyred for Christ. The daughters of [Athanasia] were named: St. Theoctista, age 15; St. Theodota, age 13; and St. Eudocia, age 11. The tormentors then captured Cyrus and John, who, after imprisonment and torture were beheaded in the year 311 A.D. Numerous miracles were wrought by these martyrs, both during their lives and after their deaths. Their relics were translated to Rome during the reign of Emperor Arcadius. These saints are invoked for assistance during the Blessing of Water, in the Sacrament of Holy Unction and especially by those suffering from insomnia.


Fresco showing Sts. Athanasia, Theoktisti, Theodoti, and Eudokia, who were martyred along with Sts. Cyrus and John (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_31_jan_athanasia_theodota_theoctista_eudoxia.htm)
  
June 28 commemorates the translation of their relics from Canopus to Menuthis and the numerous miracles which occurred over their relics. St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, prayed fervently to God to destroy the idolatrous impurity in the town of Menuthis where a pagan temple was located and where the power of the demons ruled. An angel of God appeared to the patriarch and told him that Menuthis would be cleansed of its impurity if he translated the relics of Saints Cyrus and John to that town. The patriarch did this immediately. He translated the relics of the martyrs to Menuthis and built a church there in honor of Saints Cyrus and John. Ammonius, the son of Julian the mayor of Alexandria, was healed of scorfula; a Theodore healed of blindness; Isidore of Menuthis was cured of a decaying disease of the liver; the wife of Theodore from poisoning, a Eugenia of dropsy as well as many other people were healed of various diseases and torments by the relics of these saints. This all occurred in the year 412 A.D. (texts above taken from the Prologue of Ochrid by St. Nikolai, http://www.westsrbdio.org/prolog/prolog.htm, from January 31st and June 28th)

Fresco from Decani Monastery depicting St. Sampson (June 27th) and the martyrdom of Sts. Cyrus and John (taken from: http://www.srpskoblago.org/Archives/Decani/exhibits/Menologion/June/CX4K3555_l.html)
  
Their tomb became a renowned shrine in Egypt, and a place of universal pilgrimage. It was found in the area of the modern day resort near Alexandria named Abu Kyr. (taken from: http://goarch.org/chapel/saints_view?contentid=409)
  

  
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Since Thou hast given us the miracles of Thy holy Martyrs as an invincible battlement, by their entreaties scatter the counsels of the heathen, O Christ our God, and strenghten the faith of Orthodox Christians, since Thou alone art good and the Friend of man.
  
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Second Tone
With a great voice, O ye faithful, let us hymn the great physicians of the world, the pair beloved of Christ, the luminaries who are radiant with the beams of healing; and as we stand in their temple, we cry out: Cyrus and John, the bestowers of miracles and healers of the ailing, shine forth to the ends of the world.
  
Sts. Cyrus and John the Unmercenaries (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s0928/s0928006.jpg)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Appearance of the Holy Tikhvin Icon of the Theotokos

Service before the Holy Tikhvin Icon of the Theotokos (taken from: http://www.visionsofjesuschrist.com/weeping408.htm)


The Appearance of the Holy Tikhvin Icon of the Theotokos - Commemorated on June 26
"According to ancient tradition, the wonderworking icon of Tikhvin is one of several painted by St Luke the Evangelist. The icon was taken from Jerusalem to Constantinople in the fifth century, where it was enshrined in the Church of Blachernae, which was built especially for this purpose.
In 1383, seventy years before the fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Turks, fishermen on Lake Ladoga in the principality of Novgorod the Great witnessed the icon miraculously hovering over the lake's waters amidst a radiant light. According to an early sixteenth century Russian manuscript, "The Tale of Miracles of the Icon of the Tikhvin Mother of God," the Theotokos herself decided that her image should leave Constantinople, perhaps in anticipation of the impending fall of the Byzantine Empire.
Shortly after its miraculous appearance, the icon was discovered in several neighboring towns, including the village of Motchenitsy on the bank of the Tikhvinka River, before it finally appeared near the town of Tikhvin. A wooden church dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos was built on the site of the icon's final resting place. Miraculously, the icon survived a number of fires.

In the early sixteenth century, through the zeal of Great Prince Basil Ivanovich, a stone church was built to replace the original wooden structure. In 1560, by order of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, a men's monastery was established near the church and enclosed with a stone wall.


The Tikhvin Cathedral of Dormition (taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tixvin-uspenskijsobor.jpg)
In 1613-1614, the Swedish army, having seized Novgorod, made several attempts to destroy the monastery. The countless prayers offered to the Theotokos before the icon were heard, and the monastery was spared. On one occasion, after monks had been alerted to the approaching Swedish army, they decided to flee and to take the icon with them. But the monks soon discovered that they could not remove the icon from its shrine. Seeing this as a sign of the Theotokos' protection, the monks decided not to abandon the monastery, begging the Theotokos to spare them and their beloved spiritual home. To their amazement, a large Muscovite army appeared to defend the monastery.

When the Swedes encountered the army, they retreated immediately. Word of this miracle spread rapidly, and imperial emissaries soon visited the monastery. Accompanied by a copy of the wonderworking icon, they set off for the village of Stolbovo, 33 miles from Tikhvin, where they concluded a peace treaty with the Swedes on February 10, 1617. Afterwards, the copy of the icon was taken to Moscow and enshrined in the Kremlin's Dormition Cathedral. Later, the same icon was placed in the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) cathedral in Novgorod at the request of the city's faithful, who also found themselves under attack by the Swedes. Once again, through the intercession of the Theotokos, the city was spared.

Over the centuries, the icon's fame spread far and wide. Copies of the wonderworking icon began to adorn churches throughout the land. Some of these copies also proved to be sources of miracles, and it was not uncommon to find the faithful praying before the icon to seek healing for children who were ill.

No fewer than 24 processions with the icon were celebrated each year at the Tikhvin Monastery, where the icon was enshrined. A decorative cover, or "riza," adorned the icon, exposing only the faces and hands of the Holy Virgin and Christ child. Numerous precious stones studded the riza, and many of the faithful, desiring to express thanksgiving for prayers answered through the Theotokos' intercession, affixed precious jewelry to the riza.

Most miraculous is the fact that the icon was preserved from destruction or sale after the Russian Revolution, which ushered in a 74-year persecution of the Church. During the 1920s, the communist government demanded that the Russian Orthodox Church turn over countless icons and other precious liturgical items, which through the nationalization of private property were considered the property of "the people." Many of these sacred items were sold, allegedly to raise money to feed the Russian and Ukrainian population which was afflicted by famine.

During the World War II German occupation, the Nazis removed the icon from the Tikhvin Monastery, from where it was taken to Pskov and subsequently to Riga, Latvia. When the city was evacuated, Bishop John [Garklavs] of Riga, in whose care the icon was placed, took the icon to Bavaria, where it was venerated by Orthodox faithful who had been displaced because of the war. While Soviet agents had spotted the icon,

Bishop John was permitted to take the icon to the United States in 1949, under the pretext that the icon in his care was a reproduction, the work of a simple monk, and that it was of little historic or monetary value. Shortly after his arrival in the United States, Bishop John, who was later elevated to the rank of Archbishop, was elected to oversee the Diocese of Chicago, and the icon was regularly displayed and venerated in Chicago's Holy Trinity Cathedral. Bishop John frequently took the icon on pilgrimage to various places throughout the United States and Canada. After his retirement in the late 1970s and death on Palm Sunday in 1982, Archpriest Sergei Garklavs, Bishop John's adopted son, became the caretaker of the icon. In 2003, over a decade after the fall of communism and the resurrection of the Russian Orthodox Church, the decision was made to return the precious icon to its original home.

The icon began its year-long journey to Russia at the 99th annual Pilgrimage to St Tikhon Monastery, South Canaan, Pennsylvania, May 23-26, 2003. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, together with members of the Holy Synod of Bishops and guest hierarchs, greeted the icon, which was available for veneration by the faithful.

The icon follows the "Hodigitria" model and is similar in style to the ancient Iveron icon of Our Lady. It differs in that the Christ child's legs are crossed, while the sole of His foot is turned to the viewer. Several historic sources note that several other Hodigitria icons of the Theotokos had been brought to Russia in the 1380s, during the rule of the saintly prince Demetrius Donskoy. -- Archpriest John Matusiak" (taken from: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=101821 )
Here is a PDF file of the Akathist to the Holy Tikhvin Icon of the Theotokos: http://www.oca.org/PDF/Music/Akathists/tikhviniconakathist.pdf.
The holy, miraculous Tikhvin Icon of the Theotokos (taken from: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=101821)
Apolytikion of the Holy Tikhvin Icon of the Theotokos in the Fourth ToneToday thy most venerable icon, O Lady, hath shone in Heaven upon us like a most brilliant sun, enlightening the world with rays of mercy, which great Russia and America received from on high most reverently as a divine gift, and they glorify thee, O Mother of God, as the Queen of all, and joyfully magnify Christ our God Who was born of thee. Pray to Christ, O our Lady and Queen, O Theotokos, that He keep all Christians unharmed by all assaults of the enemy, and that He save them that venerate His divine image and thy pure icon with faith, O Virgin who knewest not wedlock.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth ToneLet us run, O ye peoples, to the Virgin Queen, the Theotokos, thanking Christ our God; and gazing tenderly at her miraculous icon, let us fall down and cry to her: O Lady Mary, having visited this land by the wonderous appearance of thy venerable icon, keep all Christians in peace and prosperity, and make them heirs of the heavenly life; for to thee we cry with faith: Rejoice, O Virgin, salvation of the world.
+++
Most-Holy Theotokos, save us!

A short story of St. Porphyrios...

Photograph of Elder Porphyrios (taken from: http://www.rel.gr/photo/displayimage.php?album=45&pos=34)

"I will tell you one particular story, which shows the grandeur of Elder Porphyrios' soul. Many, many years ago, on the eve of Theophany, * he went according to custom to bless houses with holy water. As he was entering the houses, one after the other, he entered, without realizing it, a house of ill-repute. At the moment when he began to chant "O Lord, save Thy people ..." and to bless, the manageress said to him,

"Don't, don't, it's not right for them to kiss the cross."

Then, Elder Porphyrios replied, "I don't know whether it's not right for them or for you to kiss the cross."

Those women kissed the cross and Elder Porphyrios spoke with them a little. He told them about love towards God, that was his favorite subject.

Seeing the saintly figure of Elder Porphyrios, these women changed inside. Especially when he told them, "Love Christ Who loves you and you'll see how happy you'll be. If only you knew how much Christ loves you. Make an effort to love Him, too."

Elder Porphyrios knew that if those women got to know Christ and to love Him, because knowing leads to loving, then they would abandon the miserable profession that they practiced."
(taken from: http://www.oodegr.com/english/biblia/Porfyrios_Martyries_Empeiries/B5.htm)
  
For more on St. Porphyrios, see: http://orthodoxphotos.com/Orthodox_Elders/Greek/Fr._Porphyrios/index.shtml.
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Evdokimos the Newly-revealed of Vatopedi

St. Evdokimos the Righteous, Newly-revealed, of Vatopedi Monastery, and the finding of his sacred relic - Commemorated on October 5/18 (source)

St. Evdokimos lived as a good servant in the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi. His real name (monastic or baptismal) is unknown, and the name "Evdokimos" ["Good Servant" or "Pleasing One", in Greek] was given after the finding of his Sacred relics. It is also not known in which era he lived, which was his homeland, or what were his ascetical feats. His holy life was only known from the uncovering of his holy relics in the old cemetary of the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos. When the Holy relic was found, it bore a divine fragrance, and the uncovering occured on October 5th 1840. [His holy remains were also found clutching an icon of the Theotokos, seen in the icon below. Also, because the Monasteries of Mount Athos follow the Old Calendar, his feast is celebrated on October 18th in the Monastery of Vatopedi.]

"It is conjectured that he was a holy man who did not desire to be remembered, and so he crept off to hide among the bones of the deceased monks and die."

See the following link for a more detailed account: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/10/saint-evdokimos-newly-revealed-of.html.

The Holy Skull of St. Evdokimos the Righteous of Vatopedi (source)

Icon of St. Evdokimos the Righteous of Vatopedi (source)

Τους ασπαζομένους σου ευλαβώς, σορόν των λειψάνων, και τελούντας σου την φαιδράν, μνήμην περιφρούρει, από πάσης ανάγκης, Ευδόκιμε τρισμάκαρ, αξιοθαύμαστε.
  
Megalynarion of St. Evdokimos the Newly-revealed
Those who piously embrace the treasury of your relics, and joyfully celebrate your memory, shelter from every danger, O Evdokimos thrice-blessed, O most admirable one.
(source)
  
Apolytikion for an Ascetic - Plagal of the 4th Tone
With the rivers of your tears, you have made the barren desert fertile. Through sighs of sorrow from deep within you, your labors have borne fruit a hundred-fold. By your miracles you have become a light, shining upon the world. O Evdokimos, our Holy Father, pray to Christ our God, to save our souls.
(source)

St. Evdokimos of Vatopedi (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sts. Reginus and Orestes the Great Martyrs

Sts. Reginus and Orestes the Great Martyrs, who are celebrated on August 20th (taken from: http://www.pigizois.net/agiologio/pdf/riginos.pdf)

The saints were from the city of Chalcedon in Asia Minor. St. Reginus was a Christian and a soldier in the Roman army, where his Roman name was Vonomelix, which means Reginus, or Riginos in Greek. When he left to join the army, he sold all of his possessions and gave charity to the poor. In the army he lived an ascetical life to conquer his flesh, including strict fasting, eating dry bread only once a day.

Soon his fellow soldiers took notice of his piety, and reported him to the local government leader, Prezentinus the Commander. “Reginus,” he said, “sacrifice to the gods to save your life and be delivered from torture.” St. Reginus immediately responded resolutely “I don’t sacrifice to your false gods, but only to my God I offer a sacrifice of praise, because He is the true God who made heaven and earth, the sea and everything else that exists in it. I sacrifice to my God, who from the beginning created everything and man, and only to This God will I sacrifice. The gods you worship are deaf and speechless idols without breath and life.”



Hearing this strong response of St. Reginus, Prezentinos was filled with anger and with rage he ordered nine soldiers to lay the martyr on the ground and beat him. Lying on the ground, the brave martyr imitated the passion of Christ with patience and steadfastness by enduring the harsh and merciless beating of his fellow soldiers, until his flesh and the ground were made red from the blood of the Christian athlete. The soldiers tired, but the manliness of the struggler of Christ glorified the Lord Who made him worthy to be tortured for His name.

St. Reginus’ tortures did not cease, but the tyrant tried more perilous [ἐπώδυνες] methods. He sent for a brass pan, below which was lit a fire that was left to get very high, and then they laid St. Reginus in naked to be burned. However, the Lord, Who knows how to deliver His servants from the devil’s evil, heard the prayer of the righteous struggler and transformed the fire into dew, while St. Reginus remained unharmed without the smallest mark, like the Three Youths in the Furnace of fire.

This miracle amazed those who were found near that leader. Seeing that he was shamed and defeated by the Saint, Prezentinos began to tempt him, saying “Reginus, sacrifice to the gods and honor them, and I will give you greater honors than before. But if you don’t listen to me, I will throw you into the sea to become food for the fish.” St. Reginus then responded to the tyrant with these words: “Take the honors that you would grant me and the gifts given to you with you to the fires of hell. However much you hope to scare me with the depth of the sea, I don’t count it as anything, because God who preserved Jonah inside the belly of the great fish, He will preserve me too today from the sea. As for your wicked gods, o most-wicked one, I tell you that all of the gods of the nations are demons, which the Lord of the heavens made. ”

Then, the governor was greatly angered, and ordered that a great sack be brought to him, into which they put St. Reginus and they beat him with a lead rod, handed him over to sailors and asked them to go far into the sea and to throw him out of the boat, to become food for the fish. The sailors took their very precious load, proceeded 40 miles into the sea, threw in the sack with St. Reginus and left.


Listen my Christians and be amazed at the great protection which the Lord provides for His own who keep His holy commandments. As soon as the soldiers threw the Saint into the deep ocean, two dolphins came close, raised their fins and took him out safely. When the Saint appeared from afar on the back of a dolphin, this occurrence spread throughout the city like lightening, and a lot of people, including St. Orestes, went to the shore to see the miracle that took place, and they cried out “great is the God of the Christians”. The impious idolater governor, seeing the Saint coming out alive from the sea, thought that he had been saved by magic. The friend of St. Reginus, St. Orestes, preached Christ with boldness, and many from those idolaters believed in Christ. Prezentinos ordered that Sts. Reginus and Orestes be captured, along with many of those who became Christians, and put them in prison until the next day in order to think about which manner of a death sentence he would give them.

In prison, St. Reginus taught the new Christians the truths of the Gospel and strengthened them in the faith and to death, and also for grace of the name of Christ. In this joyous and spiritual gathering in the prison, guided by courage and fervent faith towards the true God, the captives raised fervent prayer to heaven, from which they waited divine strengthening which did not tarry. At dawn when their prayer reached its height, an angel of the Lord came and opened the doors of the prison. The prisoners were freed, and each left for wherever God led him. Sts. Reginus and Orestes and a few others were led by the grace of God to Cyprus, where idolatry was still the governing power, therefore it must have been the 3rd or 4th centuries when these events took place.

When they arrived in Cyprus, this band of faithful servants of Christ visited various places and lived in asceticism far from the world, however whoever would meet with the idolators would be killed by them [ὅσους συναντοῦσαν οἱ εἰδωλολάτρες τοὺς σκότωναν] The brave St. Reginus and his friend St. Orestes chose continue missionary work. They came to the area of Neapolis near Lemesos, and with great boldness preached Christ. Sometime later, they traveled to the village of Fasoula, eight kilometers from Lemesos. In the village was a center of idolatry, as it appears from the old ruins. There the inhabitants of the area tortured them and beheaded them. Some pious Christians who secretly followed what was taking place, went and took the relics of the Martyrs and buried them. Many years passed from then, and idolatry gave up its place to the holy faith of Christ. Then, as presented in the old Synaxarion, the holy Saints appeared in a dream to a pious priest, and showed him the place where their tomb was found. This pious priest searched in the place where the Saints showed him, and found the coffin which housed their remains. On the coffin was engraved the names of the Saints, along with the Synaxarion. This faithful priest, in honor of these Martyrs built an auspicious church in the name of the Saints, and painted the icon which was found in the church.

Today this magnificent church is ruined, but based on the foundations of the ancient church, a two meter wall was built. In this place, every year on the anniversary of the martyrdom of these Saints (August 20th) the community of Fasoulas festally liturgizes , and many faithful attend to honor the memory of the Saints, to thanks them for their wondrous powers which God granted them and which they use to heal the world. Under the edifice of the ancient church exists an unmarked [θολωτὸ] cave where the coffin which housed the relics of the Saints for so long still exists. There are a few stones in the tomb of Saints. These are wonderworking, and when someone places his afflicted limb on the tomb, it is healed.

The Church of Sts. Reginus and Orestes in Apliki Pitsilias, Cyprus (taken from: http://www.pigizois.net/agiologio/pdf/riginos.pdf)
The wonderworking renown of the Saints has passed beyond our island [Cyprus] and has reached England, as we will see in the account of the miracles. Sts. Reginus and Orestes received great honor from the community of Fasoulas, and also from our whole island. This we can see at the gathering of Christians in the Church on the day of their feast. Outside of Fasoulas, the Saints are honored in Apliki of Levkosias and Trimithousa of Pafos where exists a church dedicated to their memory.

With the intercessions of Your Saints Reginus and Orestes, Christ God, have mercy and save our souls. Amen.

(The life above and the hymns below are preliminary, amateur translations, summarized from: http://www.pigizois.net/agiologio/pdf/riginos.pdf; more to come)


Icon of Sts. Reginus & Orestes the Great Martyrs of Cyprus - 20th of August (Icon by Rev. Christopher Klitou, taken from: http://www.christopherklitou.com/icon_20_aug_reginus_orestes_of_cyprus.htm)

ΑΠΟΛΥΤΙΚΙΟΝ - Ήχος δ’ - Ταχύ προκατάλαβεΜαρτύρων σύλλογος νῦν εὐφραίνεται, ἀγγέλων ἄσμα, μεγαλύνομεν τὴν μνήμην ὑμῶν ἅγιοι, ἅπαντες μελωδοῦντες καὶ πιστῶς ἐκβοῶντες, χαίροντες τῆς Τριάδος, Δυὰς μαρτύρων καὶ κλέος Ρηγίνε καὶ Ὀρέστα, ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἀεῖ πρεσβεύετε.
Apolytikion of Sts. Reginus and Orestes – 4th ToneThe choir of Martyrs now rejoices, and with angels’ hymns, we magnify your memory O saints, all who sing and faithfully cry out, praising the Trinity, o Dyad of martyrs and boast Reginus and Orestes, ever intercede for us.

ΚΟΝΤΑΚΙΟΝ - Ήχος δ’ - Ο υψωθείς εν τώ ΣταυρώὩς θησαυρὸν πολυτελὴ ὁ Δεσπότης, καὶ κρήνην βρύουσα κρουνοὺς ἰαμάτων, τοὶς ἐπὶ γῆς παρέσχετο τὰ λείψανα ὑμῶν νόσους μὲν καθαίροντα, πάθημάτων ποικίλων χάριν βραβεύοντα, ταῖς ψυχαῖς ἀεννάως, διὸ συμφώνως Ρηγίνε τὴν ὑμῶν, Ὀρέστα πόθω τελοῦμεν πανήγυριν.

ΜΕΓΑΛΥΝΑΡΙΟΝΧαίροις ἀθλοφόρων ἡ ξυνωρίς, οἱ ἐκ Χαλκηδόνα ἀριστεύσαντες ἱερῶς, Ρηγίνε καὶ Ὀρέστα, ἐχθροῦ τὰς παρατάξεις κατενικήσατε.

Ἕτερον τοῦ Ἁγίου ΡηγίνουἜχων παρρησία πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν τῶν σοὶ πρόστρεχόντων, τί αἰτήματα συμπαθῶς τὰ πρὸς σωτηρία, δίδου τοῖς πρεσβεῖαι Ρηγίνε τῶν Μαρτύρων τὸ ἐγκαλλώπισμα.

Megalynarion of St. ReginusHaving boldness towards God, to those who flee to you, with sympathy, grant their requests towards salvation and your intercessions, O Reginus the boast of Martyrs.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!