Friday, February 27, 2009

Oi Agioi Fanentes (The Holy Revealed Saints): Sts. Gregory, Theodore and Leon

Photo of the Monastery of the Agioi Fanentes (The Holy Revealed Saints Gregory, Theodore and Leon), Sami, Kefalonia (taken from:, where there is a small video in Greek about the Saints)

Saints Gregory, Theodore and Leon, served as soldiers in the Roman army in the 4th century AD. Believing vigorously in the truths of the Gospel, under the heretical emperor Constantius they left the army so that they would not be forced to profess the Arian heresy. Leaving the island of Sicily, they fled to an area now called Sami on the island of Kefalonia, where the athletes and soldiers of Christ remained until the end of their lives in asceticism.

Many years after their Dormition, their sacred remains were revealed in a miraculous manner. A rich ruler of the island named Michael was afflicted with leprosy, and the Saints appeared to him in the form of Angels, and revealed to him that he would receive healing by finding their remains. He went to the indicated, secluded place, and found the unburied, incorrupt (after hundreds of years), and fragrant bodies of the three Saints. He embraced them and received complete healing. Out of gratitude he build a church and monastery in their name (Agion Fanenton, which means the Holy Revealed Ones) where their Relics remained until they were removed by the Latins during Frankish rule (sometime between 9th-14th centuries).

The transfer of the Relics of the Agioi Fanentes back to Greece, February 1st 2009 (

The missing holy relics of these three saints, were finally located on the 30th of January 2009 in Church of the Prophet Zacharius in Venice. A small portion of the Relics was given to the Holy Metropolis of Kefalonia. On February 1st 2009, these Relics were transferred back to Greece (temporarily to the church of St. George Vouliagmenis, and then to the pilgrimage in Kefalonia).

The memory of the Holy Revealed Saints Gregory, Theodore and Leon, the Confessors of Orthodoxy who lived in asceticism on the island of Kefalonia is celebrated on the Sunday of All Saints (the Sunday after Pentecost) by the Orthodox Church. February 1st might also be considered a feast of theirs commemorating the transfer of their relics back to Kefalonia.
(translated and summarized from, and other sources)

For video of the Holy Relics of the Agion Fanenton visiting the church of St. Barbara, Patras, and the Paraklesis service, see:

Icon of the Agioi Fanentes (The Holy Revealed Saints): Sts. Gregory, Theodore and Leon from the Church of the Most-Holy Theotokos, Sami, Kefalonia (taken from:
Απολυτίκιον. Ηχος δ'. Ὁ ὑψωθεὶς ἐν τῷ Σταυρῷ.
Τούς κεκρυμμένους ἐπί πλείονα χρόνον, ἀναφανέντας τῷ σεπτῷ Οἴκῳ τούτῳ, Γρηγόριον, Θεόδωρον καί Λέοντα, τούς μεγαλομάρτυρας καί πιστούς ἀριστέας, πάντες εὐφημήσωμεν καί θερμῶς εκβοῶμεν καί ανυμνοῦντες κράζομεν ἀεί, χαίρετε μαρτύρων τό καύχημα.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone (amateur translations below)
Those who were hidden for many years, are once again revealed in this sacred House, Gregory, Theodore and Leon, the great martyrs and faithful servants, let us all praise them and fervently cry out and ever hymn them crying, hail the boast of martyrs.

Κοντάκιον τῶν Ἁγίων Φανέντων. Ἐπεφάνης σήμερον.
Ἐν ψαλμοῖς ὑμνήσωμεν, ὀρθοδοξίας, τρεῖς ἀστέρας λάμποντας, ἀναφανέντας θαυμαστῶς, καὶ γηθοσύνως δοξάσωμεν, τὸν ἐν Μονάδι, Θεὸν τὸν Τρισήλιον.

Ὁ Οἶκος.
Τὸν θησαυρὸν τῶν ἁπάντων σφοδρῶς ἀγαπήσαντες, καὶ διδαχὰς τοῦ Κυρίου τηρήσαντες πάσας, τῆς πίστεως ἐδείχθησαν ἀριστεῖς φαεινότατοι, οἱ πιστοὶ ὁπλῖται. Ἐπουρανίων οὖν στρατιῶν κοινωνούς, Γρηγόριον, Θεόδωρον καὶ Λέοντα, ἱκετεύσωμεν οἱ πόθῳ τιμῶντες τὴν πανθαύμαστον αὐτῶν πολιτείαν τε καὶ εὔρεσιν, ὅπως παντοίων ὁ Σωτὴρ κινδύνων ἡμᾶς ῥύσῃ, οὐρανοδρόμον τε ἀναδείξῃ τὸν βίον, ἵνα ἀεὶ δοξάζειν ἀξιωθῶμεν, τὸν ἐν Μονάδι Θεὸν τὸν Τρισήλιον.

(the service of the Agion Fanenton in Greek is available here:

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
In psalms let us hymn the three shining stars of Orthodoxy, who shone again wondrously, and together we glorify the Three-sun God in Unity.

The treasure of that which is greatly loved by all, and teachers of the Lord who have kept all things well, they were shown to be most radiant and faithful soldiers of the faith. For these soldiers, Gregory, Theodore and Leon, were communicants of the things above. We entreat them and with fervor honor their most-wondrous life and the finding of their relics, that the Savior of all may deliver us from all danger, and show us the way to heaven in life, that we may ever worthily glorify, the Three-sun God in Unity.

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

St. Photini the Great-Martyr and Those With Her

Christ talking to St. Photini at Jacob’s Well, detail from fresco from the Protaton, Mount Athos, by Manuel Panselinos (taken from

On February 26th we celebrate the Great-Martyr, and Equal-to-the-Apostles, St. Photini, together with her family martyred with her. St. Photini was the Samaritain Woman who spoke to Christ at Jacob's Well (told in John 4, and celebrated the Fifth Sunday of Pascha).

Here is a quote from St. John Chrysostom's Commentary of the Gospel of St. John:

"'The woman then left her water pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a Man which told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ?'

[1.] We require much fervor and uproused zeal, for without these it is impossible to obtain the blessings promised to us. And to show this, Christ at one time saith, “Except a man take up his cross and follow Me, he is not worthy of Me” ( Matt. x. 38 ); at another, “I am come to send fire upon the earth, and what will I if it be already kindled?” ( Luke xii. 49 ); by both these desiring to represent to us a disciple full of heat and fire, and prepared for every danger. Such an one was this woman [St. Photini]. For so kindled was she by His words, that she left her water pot and the purpose for which she came, ran into the city, and drew all the people to Jesus. “Come,” she saith, “see a Man which told me all things that ever I did.”

Observe her zeal and wisdom. She came to draw water, and when she had lighted upon the true Well, she after that despised the material one; teaching us even by this trifling instance when we are listening to spiritual matters to overlook the things of this life, and make no account of them. For what the Apostles did, that, after her ability, did this woman also. They when they were called, left their nets; she of her own accord, without the command of any, leaves her water pot, and winged by joy performs the office of Evangelists. And she calls not one or two, as did Andrew and Philip, but having aroused a whole city and people, so brought them to Him.

Observe too how prudently she speaks; she said not, “Come and see the Christ,” but with the same condescension by which Christ had netted her she draws the men to Him; “Come,” she saith, “see a Man who told me all that ever I did.” She was not ashamed to say that He “told me all that ever I did.” Yet she might have spoken otherwise, “Come, see one that prophesieth”; but when the soul is inflamed with holy fire, it looks then to nothing earthly, neither to glory nor to shame, but belongs to one thing alone, the flame which occupieth it."
(St. John Chrysostom: Homily XXXIV. - John iv. 28, 29:

She left her sinful life and immediately preached Christ to her family and community. After Pentecost, she, her five sisters (Anatole, Phota, Photis, Paraskevi, & Kyriaki) and her two sons (Victor, who later was renamed by Christ "Photinos", and Joses) were baptized. They became great preachers of Christ in many different places, including Smyrna in Asia Minor, Carthage in North Africa, and finally in Rome, where they stood up to the Emperor Nero's endless tortures (including beatings, poisonings, blindings, imprisonment, temptations, crucifixion, burning in a furnace, etc.), all while managing to convert one of his Dukes (St. Sebastian), his daughter (St. Anthousa), and his magician (St. Theoklitos), who all were martyred and are celebrated also on this day. Their entire Martyrion is found in the Neon Eklogion by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, and most of the important details can be found in various places online (, and are very powerful and moving.

St. Photini and her family in prison, and the martyrdom of her sons, Sts. Photinos and Joses (source)
St. Photini is considered a Patron Saint for those repentant and those suffering carnal temptations, for those with physical or spiritual blindness, and for those suffering diseases of the head and trembling disorders. The people of Smyrna in Asia Minor have great love and devotion to the Saint, so much so that they constructed her magnificent Metropolis Church in only 40 days. She has worked and continues to work endless miracles throughout the world by the Grace of Christ.

May we emulate her and her family's glorious example in our sinful lives, as we prepare for Great Lent, Christ's Holy Passion and His Glorious Resurrection.

Icon of selected Saints celebrated on February 26th, including St. Porphyrios of Gaza, St. Photini the Great-Martyr, St. Photo, St. Photis and St. Sebastian the Duke (taken from:
Απολυτίκιο της Αγίας Φωτεινής
Θείω Πνεύματι καταυγασθείσα, και τοις νάμασι, καταρδευθείσα, παρά Χριστού του Σωτήρος, πανεύφημε, της σωτηρίας το ύδωρ κατέπιες, και τοις διψώσι αφθόνως μετέδωσας, Μεγαλομάρτυς και Ισαπόστολε Φωτεινή, Χριστόν τον Θεόν ικέτευε, σωθήναι τας ψυχάς ημών.
Apolytikion of St. Photini in the Third Tone
All illumined by the Holy Spirit, thou didst drink with great and ardent longing of the waters Christ Saviour gave unto thee; and with the streams of salvation wast thou refreshed, which thou abundantly gavest to those athirst. O Great Martyr and true peer of Apostles, Photine, entreat Christ God to grant great mercy unto us.

Ἀπολυτίκιο. Ἦχος α’. Τῆς ἐρήμου πολίτης.
Φωτεινὴν καὶ Φωτίδα καὶ Φωτῶ ἀνυμνήσωμεν, σὺν Ἀνατολὴ Φωτεινὸν τὲ Ἰωσὴν θείοις ἄσμασιν, ὁμοὺ Κυριακὴν Παρασκευήν, τοὺς Μάρτυρας Χριστοῦ περιφανεῖς· θείαν χάριν γὰρ αἰτοῦνται καὶ φωτισμόν, τοὶς πίστει ἀνακράζουσι· δόξα τῷ ἐνισχύσαντι ὑμᾶς, δόξα τῷ στεφανώσαντι, δόξα τῷ ἐνεργούντι δι' ὑμῶν πάσιν ἰάματα.
Another Apolytikion of St. Photini and her Family in the First Tone (amateur translation)
Let us praise Photini and Photis and Photo, with Anatoli, Photinos and Joses with divine songs, with Kyriaki, Paraskevi, the radiant Martyrs of Christ, they seek divine grace and illumination for the faithful who cry out, glory to Him Who strengthened you, glory to Him Who crowned you, glory to Him Who grants to us through you healings for all.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
Photine the glorious, the crown and glory of the Martyrs, hath this day ascended to the shining mansions of Heaven, and she calleth all together to sing her praises, that they might be recompensed with her hallowed graces. Let us all with faith and longing extol her gladly in hymns of triumph and joy.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Meatfare Sunday - The Last Judgment

Icon of the Toll-houses of the Soul the the Divine Judgment of Christ (

Doxastikon of the Aposticha for Meatfare Sunday - Tone 8.
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
Alas, black soul! Till when will you not make an end of evils ? Till when will you lie in idleness? Why do you not think of the fearful hour of death? Why do you not tremble at the dread judgement seat of the Saviour? What defence then will you make, or what will you answer? Your works will be there to condemn you; your deeds will reproach you and condemn you. the time is near at hand, my soul; run, make haste before it is too late, and cry aloud in faith: I have sinned, Lord, I have sinned against you; but I know your compassion, Lover of mankind. Good Shepherd, do not deprive me of a place at your right hand in your great mercy.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Holy Neomartyr St. Theodore the Byzantine


Icon of St. Theodore the Byzantine, the Neomartyr (taken from:

St. Theodore was born in the year 1774 in the city of Neochorion of Byzantium. He had good Christian parents, who were careful in the Christian upbringing of their children, demonstrated by the fact that a brother of St. Theodore, Gregory, later became bishop Adrianoupolis.

From a young age Theodoros wanted to become a painter, and he became a student of a renowned painter who worked in the palace of the sultan in Constantinople. But there he faced unknown pressures, and his spiritual strength at his age was tried, and he ended up converting to Islam. After a few years passed, however, he realized the heavy sin which he fell to. At that time there was a serious epidemic in the city of Constantiniple, and this made him consider death, God, the soul, the other life. Thus the lost sheep sought the road to return. He escaped from the palace with foreign clothing and so they wouldn’t recognize him, he wore a jug on his shoulder, with a [moutzouromeno?] face. He left from the palace and went to sea, where by the will of God, he found a boat heading to the island of Chios, which became for him a place of spiritual regeneration and preparation , of great repentance and his decision to give his life to Christ, whom he unwittingly denied in his childhood.

There in Chios, in the monastery of St. Makarios, he read many books and saw the love that the saints had for Christ, so much so that they gave their lives for their Savior. «I who denied Him, said Saint Theodore, should die a thousand times to wash away my sin with my blood». And he made his decision.
Icon of St. Makarios of Corinth - April 17 (taken and edited from:

[The St. Makarios mentioned is St. Makarios (Notaras) of Corinth (1731-1805; his feast is celebrated on April 17th) (, a recent church father and a great hierarch and ascetic. He and St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain helped compile the Philokalia, and he was one of the “Kollyvades” movement of Mount Athos to educate the faithful and preserve correct Orthodox teachings. The following is a quote from Dr. Cavarnos on the role St. Makarios played for numerous Neomartyrs of the Church:
“The importance of one having such a spiritual Father was clearly acknowledged by the New Martyrs during the years of the Turkish yoke. This we learn from their lives, and from the lives of the Holy Fathers to whom they fled for comfort prior to their martyrdom, as a fitting preparation. In the life of St. Makarios, Bishop of Corinth, which was written by Athanasios of Paros, we read that many laymen went to him for confession and advice, there being among them many who afterwards courageously went to martyrdom for their Christian faith. Athanasios gives the names of three of them: Polydoros the Cyprian, Theodore the Byzantian, and Demetrios the Peloponnesian. Before going to their martyrdoms, they spent a period of time at the hermitage of St. Makarios on the island of Chios. He, as a wise and experienced trainer of martyrs, as Athanasios calls him, prepared them well for the test of martyrdom—by confession, fasting, prayer, and encouragement. Thusly prepared, they went to martyrdom with exceeding courage and great gratitude to St. Makarios for the good which he had done: that is, in preparing them to receive the crown of martyrdom.” (, for more information on St. Polydoros the Neomartyr, see:, and for St. Demetrios of Peloponnesos, see:]
He followed the spiritual ascesis outlined by St. Makarios, praying with deep compunction to Christ, Panagia, the Holy Martyrs, and especially St. Polydoros, who had recently also given his life for Christ and also was a spiritual child of St. Makarios. St. Theodore also repeated prayers written for him by a fellow monk of his, including the following prayer:
"Lord Jesus Christ, the physician of my miserable soul, do not turn from me the sinner in disgust, but strengthen my weak and hardened heart, and warm it in its love for Your martyrdom. I denied You, my Maker and Benefactor, without being forced by anyone and became a servant of the vile devil and a plaything of demons, and found myself under their authority and subject to their will. Now aided by Your grace and unsurpassable forbearance, which has helped me to flee their traps, help me, who am a miserable and pitiful creature, unworthy of the Orthodox Christian calling, to confess You before rulers and tyrants. Yes, my Lord, yes only-begotten Son of God. Do not turn in disgust from your servant, but accept me in the choir of your martyrs, and find me worthy to gain their forgiveness. Amen." (translated by Nomikos Michael Vaporis in his book: Witnesses for Christ)
He decided to present himself to the Turks and tell them that he had repented, that he who became a Muslim is now a Christian and he had decided to die for his faith. He decided not to appear before the Turkish authorities of Chios so that he would not incriminate all those located in the monastery of St. Makarios. So he went to the nearby island of Mytilene. With him came a monk from the monastery of St. Makarios, who remained in Mytilene until St. Theodore was martyred, and he recorded the events of his martyrdom.

Another icon of St. Theodore the New Martyr of Byzantium with scenes from his life and martyrdom, from Vatopedi Monastery (
Saint Theodore appeared before the Turkish authorities on the Thursday of the First Week of Great Lent, and he related to them that he had a faith that was gold, and the Turks took it and gave him a faith of copper. And now he would give it back that he may take back his first faith. «I am a Christian, he said, and I will die as a Christian».

At first they thought he was mad.

Soon, however, they understood that he was speaking seriously, and was determined to face death, to keep the faith. They tried to persuade him to return by promises and threats. They imprisoned him. They allowed wild Turks to come night and day to the prison to torture him, as much and as terrible as they could. But he remained unshaken. He prayed and kept his faith. And God gave him courage and strength.
At that time there was a certain youth from Thessaloniki named George, who somewhat doubted what he read about the Great Martyrs of Christianity, that they were able to withstand such fearsome tortures (such as his patron Saint, St. George the Great-martyr). Yet, he heard that St. Theodore had recently been imprisoned for his faith, and so he sought an excuse to be temporarily put into prison to witness a true Orthodox Martyr in person. This George had his faith greatly strengthened by St. Theodore, and the former also offered him words of consolation and encouragement.
When the Turkish authorities saw that they would not be able to change the mind of the Saint, they decided to execute him by hanging. Local Christians brought him Holy Communion at his request, and he was taken out of the prison on the Saturday of the First Week of Great Lent, while he chanted "Ti Ypermacho..." ("O Champion General...", the Kontakion from the Akathist of the Theotokos). He was hung outside of the fort of Mytilene, somewhere near where today is the 5th Primary School. On the 17th of February of the year 1795 St. Theodore delivered his soul to God, who gave his life by a horrific death as a martyr.

The Holy Relic of the Saint remained hanging for three days by the order of the Turks. Then with the permission of the Turkish authorities fifty of the foremost faithful of Mytilene received the Saint’s body and buried it in the courtyard of Panagia Chrysomallousis. After three years, when they disinterred the Remains of the Saint, they saw with surprise and admiration that the body had been preserved intact by the Grace of God. They received it with much devotion, and buried it in the Crypt of the Metropolis Cathedral of St. Athanasios in Mytilene, where it remained until 1832. (See a subsequent post for the account of the uncovering of St. Theodore's relics, and his miraculous deliverance of Mytilene from the plague:

Currently the Holy Relics of St. Theodore the Byzantine are in the Nave of the Metropolis Church of St. Athanasios in Mytilene, where they are venerated by the faithful. The Saint is considered the Patron Saint of the people of Mytilene, foremost because of his deliverance of the people from a great plague (celebrated separately on the Sunday of the Paralytic, after Pascha), and for the many miracles he continues to work for those who seek his help with faith in Christ. One final note, a list of Orthodox Patron Saints online mentions that St. Theodore the Byzantine is also a great help in carnal warfare and for chastity. (

(This was translated and excerpted from, O Agios Theodoros o Byzantinos: Poliouchos Mytilinis by Sotiriou, and Witnesses for Christ: Orthodox Christian Neomartyrs of the Ottoman Period 1437-1860 (, the latter of which is an excellent compilation of the lives of so many Orthodox Neomartyrs from many different countries and centuries, all translated into English. It is very highly recommended.)

Icon of the Neomartyr St. Theodore the Byzantine, with scenes from his life (taken from:

Troparion of St. Theodore the Byzantine - Tone 1
Thou wast offered to God as a precious gift through thy labours in conflict, and didst become a blameless and acceptable offering. O blessed Theodore we praise thy struggles; we give glory to God who has strengthened thee, O much-afflicted one, against all thine enemies, visible and invisible.
Kontakion - Tone 4
Thy contest has arisen like a bright morning star and has inspired us to glorify Christ. He has shown thee forth as one steadfast in struggle, O Martyr Theodore.
Megalynarion (amateur translation)
Let us the faithful praise the pearl of Jesus in odes and hymns, Christ's bright star of the neomartyrs, Theodore the new, the boast of the faithful.

(the full service of St. Theodore the Byzantine the New Martyr (in Greek) was written by Sts. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain and Nikephoros of Chios, and is available here:,,
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

The Second Sunday of Triodion - The Prodigal Son

Icon of the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Icon courtesy of used with permission)

"[The Parable of the Prodigal Son] has been called, and justly so, the Gospel of the Gospels, and it was a wise man who said that even if the Gospels were to be lost, and only the parable of the prodigal son were to remain, that alone would suffice to reveal God's infinite love for man." 
Fr. Antonopoulos, Return: Repentance and confession, Return to God and to His Church

Doxastikon of the Praises from the Sunday of the Prodigal Son - Tone 6.
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
Loving Father, I have gone far from you, but do not forsake me, nor declare me unfitted for your Kingdom. The all-evil enemy has stripped me naked and taken all my wealth. I have squandered like the Profligate the graces given to my soul. But now I have arisen and returned, and I cry aloud to you, ‘Make me as one of your hired servants, you who for my sake stretched out your spotless hands on the Cross, to snatch me from the fearsome beast and to clothe me once again in the first robe, for you alone art full of mercy.

Beautiful Orthodox icon of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The repenting son is depicted among the swine to the bottom right, and Christ is shown as the Merciful Father, Who descended from His Throne in Heaven, coming to earth to save the Prodigal, along with all of repenting Mankind (

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!