Thursday, April 30, 2009

St. Argyre the New Martyr

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

The tomb of St. Argyre the Neomartyr in the garden of the church of St. Paraskevi, Chaskioi (or Haskoy) (taken from:
The following life of the Saint is taken from:
"On the 30th of April, we commemorate the holy New-martyr Argyre of Prusa
ARGYRE, the golden Martyr of Christ, was from Prusa, and the daughter of pious parents. She possessed both a beautiful face and the fear of God. In time the blessed maiden wed. But, the newlywed caught the covetous eyes of a certain Turk in the neighborhood who fell in love with her. He schemed to bring her over to fulfill his wicked intention. Since he was unable to persuade her he slandered her to the judge of Prusa, pretending that she declared a willingness to become a Moslem. The judge immediately imprisoned the Saint. Argyre’s husband considered it more favorable to have the case transferred to the court at Constantinople. However the Saint’s accuser also appeared there and falsely charged her, maintaining the same allegations against the Martyr. Argyre affirmed that she had no knowledge of ever uttering a word denying the Faith, and stated she was a Christian and a Christian she would die. Consequently, by the judge’s order, they beat the Saint and afterwards confined her to prison. Eventually they conducted a second examination, and again they smote, punished, and jailed Argyre. These events occurred repeatedly throughout the next seventeen years. O, her courageousness!
The marble plaque on the tomb of St. Argyre, with the inscription to the right (in Greek) (taken from:
Even inside the prison the Saint met with constant troubles and insults from the Turkish women inmates who were in detention because of their criminal actions. The devil incited them to harass Argyre through excessive affliction and torments. Nevertheless, the ever-memorable one withstood everything magnanimously, by the love and yearning she possessed for her Bridegroom Christ.

The interior of the church of St. Paraskevi, Haskoy (taken from:
Perhaps you wonder whether this was all? But in addition to this, she herself subjected her body to fasting, bore every trial and underwent hardships just as the other multitudes of Christian women who were also prisoners with the Saint in that very jail. The heart of blessed Argyre was filled with exceeding joy and such thankfulness, since she was imprisoned for Christ that she thought discomforts were conveniences. Such was the case that when the pious Christian, Manolis, the maker of fishing nets, succeeded in having the charge against her withdrawn so she could be at liberty, Argyre did not assent to the reprieve but regarded the prison to be the king’s palace, Thus, incarcerated and in bonds for Christ, she ended her life receiving the imperishable crown of martyrdom in the year 1725.
Procession with the holy relics of St. Argyre, April 30th in Chaskioi (taken from:
Then the Christians took possession of her holy relics and buried her in a place called Haskoy. At the uncovering of her relics after three years her sacred body was discovered whole and intact, emitting an unspeakable fragrance. O, the wonder! The priests and Christians received it with great devotion and placed her within the Church of Saint Paraskevi by permission of the then most holy Patriarch Paisios. To this day, her hallowed relics exist and are venerated by patriarchs, archbishops, notable people, and all Orthodox Christians, to the glory of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen."

The new chapel of St. Argyre the New Martyr in Panagiouda, Lesvos (taken from:
Though April 5th is considered the day she surrendered her soul to God, April 30th, as the date of the removal of her holy relics, is more widely celebrated. Because she refused to defile her sacred marriage, and because she was martyred so young, she is a patron saint and protector of both marriage, and the youth.

The holy icon of St. Argyre the Neomartyr with scenes from her life. According to the author of the source site (, when the people of Panagiouda were in the process of building the above chapel of the Saint, St. Argyre appeared in a dream to the priest, Fr. Theologos Sakales, and told him: "When you make my icon for my chapel, don't make it like this one here, but depict me holding the two stefana (crowns) of marriage." True to her guidance, the icon above depicts St. Argyre holding both the Holy Cross of a martyr and the marriage crowns as a defender and patron saint of marriage.
Apolytikion of St. Argyre in the Fourth Tone (amateur translation)
You put to shame tyrants in tortures, O pure one, you were shown forth, O much-suffering one, as strong as a diamond, o glorious martyr of Christ, you showed forth in struggles for Christ the Savior, love and zeal and unquenchable longing, Who worthily glorified you, O Argyre.
For the full account of the life, the service and the paraklesis to the Saint (in Greek), see:,, and, respectively.
St. Argyre the New Martyr (Icon courtesy of used with permission)
St. Argyre the New Martyr, the Protector of Marriage (source)  
Christ is Risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sts. Jason and Sosipater the Apostles of the Seventy

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Sts. Jason and Sosipater the Apostles - Commemorated on April 29th (or in some places, April 28th); the two icons are from their church in Kerkyra, and are from the 1600's. (Icons taken from:

"The Apostle Jason was from Tarsus (Asia Minor). He was the first Christian in the city. The Apostle Sosipater was a native of Patra, Achaia. He is thought to be the same Sosipater mentioned in Acts 20:4. They both became disciples of St Paul, who even called them his kinsmen (Rom 16:21). St John Chrysostom (Homily 32 on Romans) says that this is the same Jason who is mentioned in Acts 17:5-9. St Jason was made bishop in his native city of Tarsus, and St Sosipater in Iconium. They traveled west preaching the Gospel, and in 63[AD] they reached the island of Kerkyra [Corfu] in the Ionian Sea near Greece.

There they built a church in the name of the Protomartyr Stephen and they baptized many. The governor of the island learned on this and locked them up in prison, where they met seven thieves: Saturninus, Iakischolus, Faustianus, Januarius, Marsalius, Euphrasius and Mammius. The Apostles converted them to Christ. For their confession of Christ, the seven prisoners died as martyrs in a cauldron of molten tar, wax and sulfur.

The prison guard [named Anthony], after witnessing their martyrdom, declared himself a Christian. For this they cut off his left hand, then both feet and finally his head. The governor ordered the Apostles Jason and Sosipater to be whipped and again locked up in prison.

The church of Sts. Jason and Sosipater on Kerkyra (supposedly the sole church of Byzantine architecture on the island). Here are preserved relics of Sts. Jason and Sosipater, and I believe also the tomb of the martyred prison guard, St. Anthony, honored as one of the first martyrs of the island (picture taken from:
When the daughter of the governor of Kerkyra (Korfu), the maiden Kerkyra, learned how Christians were suffering for Christ, she declared herself a Christian and gave away all her finery to the poor. The infuriated governor attempted to persuade his daughter to deny Christ, but St Kerkyra stood firm against both persuasion and threats. Then the enraged father devised a terrible punishment for his daughter: he gave orders that she be placed in a prison cell with the robber and murderer Murinus, so that he might defile the betrothed of Christ.

But when the robber approached the door of the prison cell, a bear attacked him. St Kerkyra heard the noise and she drove off the beast in the name of Christ. Then, by her prayers, she healed the wounds of Murinus. Then St Kerkyra enlightened him with the faith of Christ, and St. Murinus declared himself a Christian and was executed.

The governor gave orders to burn down the prison, but the holy virgin remained alive. Then on her enraged father's order, she was suspended upon a tree, choked with bitter smoke and shot with arrows. After her death, the governor decided to execute all the Christians on the island of Kerkyra. The Martyrs Zeno, Eusebius, Neon and Vitalis, after being enlightened by Sts Jason and Sosipater, were burned alive.
Icon of St. Kerkyra (taken from:
The inhabitants of Kerkyra, escaping from the persecution, crossed to an adjoining island. The governor set sail with a detachment of soldiers, but was swallowed up by the waves. The governor succeeding him gave orders to throw the Apostles Jason and Sosipater into a cauldron of boiling tar. When he beheld them unharmed, he cried out with tears, "O God of Jason and Sosipater, have mercy on me!"
Having been set free, the Apostles baptized the governor and gave him the name Sebastian. With his help, the Apostles Jason and Sosipater built several churches on the island, and increased the flock of Christ by their fervent preaching. They lived there until they reached old age."

The famous Monastery of Osiou Louka in Boiotia, Greece, which treasures the holy skulls of Sts. Jason and Sosipater (picture taken from:
"In the ancient city of Corfu, a church from the first centuries, built in their honour and bearing inscriptions that mention the Saints by name, verifies the historical account concerning them."

Icon of Sts. Jason and Sosipater (taken from:
Apolytikion for the Holy Apostles in the Third Tone
O Holy Apostles, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Second Tone
Being illuminated with the teachings of Paul, ye became luminaries unto the whole world, O thrice-blessed ones; for ye ever shine upon the world with miracles, O Jason, thou fountain of healings, and Sosipater, thou glory of the Martyrs of Christ. O God-bearing Apostles, ye protectors of them that be in need, entreat God that our souls be saved.
Christ is Risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Sunday after Pascha: St. Thomas Sunday

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Icon of "Antipascha" (the Feast celebrated the Sunday after Pascha), or Christ appearing to His Disciples through closed doors, and St. Thomas putting his finger in the Lord's side. (Icon courtesy of , used with permission)

Reading (from

"Though the doors were shut at the dwelling where the disciples were gathered for fear of the Jews on the evening of the Sunday after the Passover, our Saviour wondrously entered and stood in their midst, and greeted them with His customary words, "Peace be unto you." Then He showed unto them His hands and feet and side; furthermore, in their presence, He took some fish and a honeycomb and ate before them, and thus assured them of His bodily Resurrection. But Thomas, who was not then present with the others, did not believe their testimony concerning Christ's Resurrection, but said in a decisive manner, "Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe." Wherefore after eight days, that is, on this day, when the disciples were again gathered together and Thomas was with them, the Lord Jesus came while the doors were shut, as He did formerly. Standing in their midst, He said, "Peace be unto you"; then He said to Thomas, "Bring hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not unbelieving, but believing."

And Thomas, beholding and examining carefully the hands and side of the Master, cried out with faith, "My Lord and my God." Thus he clearly proclaimed the two natures - human and divine - of the God-man (Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-29).

This day is called Antipascha (meaning "in the stead of Pascha," not "in opposition to Pascha") because with this day, the first Sunday after Pascha, the Church consecrates every Sunday of the year to the commemoration of Pascha, that is, the Resurrection."

For more on St. Thomas the Apostle, see:

For St. John Chrysostom's Commentary on this Gospel reading, see:

For a homily by St. Gregory the Great, see:

For a homily by St. John of Kronstadt, see:

Apolytikion of Antipascha in the Grave Tone
Christ our God, You are the Life that dawned from the grave, though the tomb was sealed. Through closed doors You came to the Apostles. You are the Resurrection of all. And, You renewed us through them with an upright spirit, according to Your great mercy.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Thomas examined Your life-giving side with his probing right hand, O Christ our God. As You entered, though the doors were closed, he cried out to You, with the other Apostles "You are my Lord and my God."
The Ikos.
Who then preserved the Disciple’s palm unmelted when it approached the fiery side of the Lord? Who gave it daring, and gave it strength to handle bone of flame? Only that side which was handled; for had not the side given the power, how could a hand of clay have handled wounds which had shaken things above and things below? This grace was given Thomas, to handle it and to cry out to Christ, ‘You are my Lord and my God’.
(taken from Fr. Ephraim Lash at:
Christ is Risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

The Holy Five New Martyrs of Samothrace

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Icon of the Holy Five Neomartyrs of Samothrace: Sts. Emmanuel, George, Michael, Theodore, and another St. George (taken from:
   On the Sunday after Pascha (the Sunday of St. Thomas), we celebrate the memory of the Holy Five Neomartyrs of Samothrace: Sts. Manuel, Theodore, George, George the younger, and Michael. The text is translated (preliminarily) and summarized from:απριλιου.
The return of some Holy Relics and Implements of Martyrdom of the Holy Neomartys of Samothrace (returned by a family who moved back to the island after living in the United States, who gave the Relics to the church of St. Anastasia in Makri) (taken from:
These New Martyrs were from Samothrace, with the exception of St. Michael who was from Cyprus. During the Greek Revolution of 1821, the island of Samothrace was occupied by the Turks, who came from Avydo and Tenedos and murdered the Christians inhabitants, while many women and children were taken as slaves to the East and Egypt. Then afterwards, the four martyrs along with St. Michael (who denied his faith and converted out of fear), were sold throughout various places in Turkey. When Greece was liberated, the Five New Martyrs returned to Samothraki and followed the Christian life.
At the time, the one appointed to the position of kadi in Makri was a tough man named Aptourrachman, who was inhuman and a zealot for Islam. In the year 1836, he captured the Martyrs and imprisoned and tortured them. Despite the terrible tortures, the Martyrs confessed their faith in Christ. The Kadi then wrote to Constantinople to his boss Vasaf, who was a secret secretary of Sultan Mahmoud, informing him about the Martyrs who denied the religion of Mohammed. The decision came back as a conviction. The first to be martyred was St. Michael, the oldest, who was cut to pieces with their swords. Sts. Theodore and George were hanged and so received the wreath of struggle. The much-suffering St. Manuel was thrown on iron hooks and was pinned in the shape of the Cross. They cast the blessed young St. George on the hooks similarly, but oh the miracle! The nails bent and did not at all pin the body of the Saint. After this they threw him on an iron awl and dropped him so that his body would be nailed. In this way the martyr St. Manuel shortly delivered his holy soul into the hands of God, while the martyr St. George stayed riveted for twenty-four hours in unbearable pain. These Turks, when they saw that he was still alive after so long, shot him in the head, and thus ended the life of this glorious martyr. Christians, having received the authorization, buried the remains of the Holy Martyrs at the place of their martyrdom.

Purportedly a picture of the church of the Dormition of the Theotokos, Chora, Samothrace (taken from:
The five Holy Skulls of the Neomartyrs of Samothrace are treasured in the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Chora, Samothrace. As mentioned, their feast is celebrated on the Sunday of Antipascha (the Sunday of St. Thomas, the first Sunday after Pascha), because they were martyred on April 6th, which was the Monday of St. Thomas week. May the Holy Five Neomartyrs of Samothrace intercede for all of us and help us, as we honor them in the continued Light of Christ's Holy and Glorious Resurrection!
The Relics and Implements of Martyrdom (iron spike and nail) from the Holy Five Neomartyrs of Samothrace, from the Church of St. Anastasia in Makri (taken from:

Ἀπολυτίκιον. Ἦχος α’. Τῆς ἐρήμου πολίτης.Σαμοθράκης λαμπτῆρες καὶ τῆς Μάκρης ἀγλάισμα, Νεομάρτυρες θεῖοι ἀληθῶς ἀνεδείχθητε, ἀθλήσαντες στερρῶς ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ, καὶ λύσαντες τὴν πλάνην τοῦ ἐχθροῦ, Μανουὴλ σὺν Θεοδώρω καὶ Μιχαήλ, καὶ οἱ διττοὶ Γεώργιοι, δόξα τῷ ἐνισχύσαντι ὑμᾶς, δόξα τῷ στεφανώσαντι, δόξα τῷ χορηγούντι δι' ὑμῶν, ἠμὶν χάριν καὶ ἔλεος.
Apolytikion of the Holy Five Neomartyrs of Samothrace - 1st Tone (amateur translation)
O lamps of Samothrace and adornment of Makri, you were shown forth truly as divine Neomartyrs, you struggled steadfastly for Christ and destroyed the fallacy of the enemy, Manuel with Theodore and Michael, and dual Georges, glory to Him Who strengthened you, glory to Him Who crowned you, glory to Him who bestows on us through you grace and mercy.
Christ is Risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Synaxis of the Holy Kollyvades Fathers

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Detail of fresco of Christ's Holy Resurrection (taken from:

On the Saturday of Bright Week, a service has been written to commemorate all of the Saintly Holy Fathers of the so-called "Kollyvades" movement. These were monastics primarily from Mount Athos who taught adherence to Holy Orthodox dogma and tradition amid waves of westernism and secularism during the years of the Turkish occupation of Greece. The ranks of such Holy Fathers include some of the Church's most beloved Saints: St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, St. Makarios (Notaras) of Corinth, St. Nektarios of Pentapolis, St. Kosmas Aitolos, St. Sabbas of Kalymnos, St. Athanasius of Paros, St. Paisios Velitchovsky, St. Nicholas Planas, and so many more. The following quote (from discusses the Holy Mountain and the Kollyvades:

"In the mid 18th century a grave theological debate developed all over the Holy Mountain in connection with the issues of the holding of memorial services for the departed, frequency of Holy Communion, and other matters relating to the exact observance of Orthodox tradition. The starting-point for this prolonged controversy was the building of the kyriakon at the Skete of St Anne (1754). The question arose as to whether the commemoration of the founders and benefactors should be held on Saturday or Sunday, and with what frequency the monks should receive Holy Communion. The debate divided the monks, and those who insisted that the memorial services should be held on Saturdays were mockingly dubbed 'kollyvades'. It seems, however, that, behind their apparent obstinacy, they had a profound knowledge of church tradition and fought hard for its authenticity and for its purification from adulteration. Thus the name of 'kollyvas' became a title of honour and the movement was responsible for a profitable and beneficial regeneration and renewal. Indeed, this devout movement was led by three saints: Makarios Notaras, Nicodemus the Athonite, and Athanasios of Paros, and they numbered among their supporters and sympathisers distinguished scholars such as Neophytos Kafsokalyvitis, Christophoros Artinos, Agapios of Cyprus, Iakovos the Peloponnesian, Pavlos the hermit, Theodoritos of Esphigmenou, and a number of others. Some of them chose voluntary exile and took refuge in mainland Greece or the islands, where they founded scores of monasteries, of which a fair number survive today. Thus we see Makarios Notaras on Chios, Niphon on Skiathos, Dionysios of Skiathos on Skyros, Ierotheos on Hydra, with numerous disciples and friends of that Athonite tradition which has nourished monks and saints. The monasteries which they founded were noted for their vigour and service. The Ecumenical Patriarchate by decisions of the Holy Synod finally put an end to the 'kollyvades' issue, by ruling that memorial services could be held as circumstances demanded and that Holy Communion, with the proper preparation, could be received frequently, and that the life of the substance, and not the aridity of the form, was to be adhered to.

Sts Nicodemus the Athonite, Makarios Notaras, and Athanasios of Paros are the typical representatives of the renascence on the Holy Mountain, and of the spirit which prevailed. They were the authors of widely circulating books which had their effect on the souls of the enslaved Greeks, and their works continue to be re-issued even today. The seal was set on the Athonite theological spirit of the time by the publication of the 'Philokalia of the Ascetic Fathers' (1785), a publication which was a landmark in theological literature.

In a difficult period such as that of Turkish rule, the Holy Mountain kept its lamp perpetually burning, and was able, moreover, to hand on the flame to the peoples of the Balkans and the North. Thus the exchange of visits and the sojourn of many on the Holy Mountain of Athos gave rise to an important spiritual and cultural movement. The quiet of Mount Athos acted as a school of superior philosophy in which not only asceticism and vigilance, but also study in its rich libraries, the translation of rare texts, concern for art, and the transmission of a spirit of service and self-sacrifice were cultivated. The work of the starets Paisios Velitskovski, the reformer of monasticism in Romania and Russia, after his departure from Athos, was particularly inspired. Similar work was carried out by his disciple the Blessed Goergios of Tsernika († 1806) in the monasteries of Moldavia, where hundreds of monks were his spiritual children, by the Blessed Sophronios Vratsis († 1813) in Bucharest, while the Blessed Antypas († 1882) from Moldavia went to Jassy and finally reached the Monastery of Varlaam in Finland. The Russian Saint Siluan the Athonite († 1938) continues to teach through his much-translated biography by Archimandrite Sophronios († 1993) even after his blessed death. Yet again the illuminating influence of the universality of the Holy Mountain is apparent.

The Athonite monastic community has never kept the fragrance of the blossoming of its virtues all for itself. In spite of the harshness of enslavement to the Turks, penury, the difficulties in travelling and the many perils, the Athonite monk in his humble cap went everywhere in the Greek world, to bring the sober preaching of salvation, of redemption, of consolation, of support, and of hope - fiery missionaries like Cosmas of Aetolia, who crowned his long preaching mission with martyrdom, the Blessed Anthimos Kourouklis, who travelled the islands and built churches and monasteries, the Blessed Makarios Notaras, who on the islands of the Aegean created real centres of refreshment and aspiration, while similar work was carried out by his companion Blessed Athanasios of Paros, Arsenios of Paros, and Savvas of Kalymnos, to name but a few. The Ecumenical Patriarch Gregory V the Martyr and the company of glorious latter-day Athonite martyrs still teach more strikingly today after their martyr's end and strengthen the hearts of the people.

In our own century the Holy Mountain has continued its hidden service to mankind which makes known the lofty spirituality and life of Orthodoxy and its benign influence beyond its boundaries by continuing to produce ascetics and figures of great spiritual and theological stature. In a world which thirsts and seeks in anguish for authenticity, discipline and truth, it gives its testimony of the experience of the Orthodox spiritual life and the salvation of the soul. The many young pilgrims today may not always be fired with enthusiasm, but they are set thinking by this way of life of asceticism, abstinence, simplicity, and quiet of the monks. Thus often a pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain is a turning-point in their lives. The humility and sanctity of Mount Athos play a role of spiritually alerting the Church and the people."
(taken from:

The Holy Kollyvades Fathers, according to the author of their service, includes the Righteous Fathers St. Makarios of Corinth, St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, Niphon the Sanctified, St. Nikephoros of Chios, Gregory Gravanos, Silvester of Kaisareia, St. Paisios Velichkovsky, Cyril of Paros, Ierotheos from the Peloponese, St. Anthimos from Kephalonia, Parthenios o Skourtos, Auxentios from Andros, St. Kosmas Aitolos, St. Arsenios of Paros, St. Nektarios of Pentapolis, St. Sabbas of Kalymnos, St. Nicholas Planas, Parthenios of Chios, Sts. Parthenios and Evmenios of Crete, etc.

Note: I'm not sure if some of those in the above list are canonized yet (the ones I am sure of, I've mentioned as such). I also am not sure if the text has been officially approved for use in church or not, so consult the appropriate church leaders for a blessing first. May Christ have mercy on us and save us, through the prayers of our righteous and God-bearing Fathers!

 Icon of the Synaxis of the Holy Kollyvades Fathers (taken from:
Apolytikion (in Greek) of the Holy Kollyvades Fathers (taken from:

Apolytikion of the Holy Kollyvades Fathers - 1st Tone (amateur translation)
Let us honor the choir of Kollyvades Fathers, ministers of the Holy Spirit, stewards of grace, they taught to us the Gospel of Christ in evil times, and as very bright stars, they delivered souls from the darkness of error. Rejoice o Godly band, rejoice boast of the nation, rejoice torches of truth and expounders of the faith.

For the full service text (in Greek) of the Synaxis of the Holy Kollyvades Fathers, see:, and

Christ is Risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

St. George, the Protector of the Holy Monasteries of Zographou and Xenophontos

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

St. George the Great Martyr and the Monastery of Zographou on Mount Athos (taken from:
The following is the account of three miraculous icons of St. George the Great-martyr and Trophy-bearer present at Zographou (or Zograf) Monastery, and one at Xenophontos Monastery on Mount Athos. They are the two monasteries that are dedicated to St. George on the Holy Mountain. The accounts are taken from For the Glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: A History of Eastern Orthodox Saints, Translations from the Great Synaxarites, by Michael James Fochios. May St. George, who continues to work so many miracles throughout the world, intercede for all of us and help us!
The Holy Monastery of Zographou (or Zograf) on Mount Athos (taken from:
"In the year 919, three brothers - Moses, Aaron, and Vasilios - went to Mount Athos to become monks. They built three tents in a large valley near the river. They also built a small church near there, but were skeptical about what saint to name the church after. They prepared the board on which the icon of the patron saint of the church was to be painted, however, they did not paint the icon because they could not decide to which saint the church should be dedicated. When the monks went to the church the next morning, they found that an icon of Saint George had been painted on the board. The icon was painted in an ancient style. The miracle showed the brothers that God wanted their church dedicated to Saint George.

Procession in the Holy Monastery of Zographou with an icon of St. George (taken from:
The institution which the brothers had established was named the Monastery of Zographos, or the Monastery of the Painter because of the icon's miraculous appearance.
The following is considered to be the history of this icon before its appearance in the Monastery of Zographos. This icon was originally in the Monastery of Phanouel, located in Lidan. From the time that Evstratios was the abbot of this monastery, the icon had performed many miracles. One day in the presence of the monks, the icon came off the piece of wood on which it had been painted and disappeared from their sight. The monks were extremely saddened by this event and felt that God had forsaken them. Then, the Abbot Evstratios saw Saint George before him and the Saint told him not to weep for him for he was on Mount Athos. The abbot told the other brothers of his vision. Evstratios left the monastery and after going to Jerusalem, he embarked on his journey to Mount Athos. After searching in many of the monasteries for the icon, he finally came upon the Monastery of Zographos. When he entered the church, he saw the icon hanging without anything supporting it. Evstratios remained at that monastery until his other brothers came to see the miracle.

The miraculous, "acheiropoietos" (not made by human hands) icon of St. George the Great-martyr in Zographou Monastery (taken from:
That icon performed the following miracle. Bishop Vothenon visited the monastery and began to question the events without faith. Pointing to the icon, he laughed and said, "Is this the miraculous icon?" He placed his finger on the icon and there it stuck. To this day, visitors to the monastery can still see the finger hanging on the icon.
A close-up of the above icon of St. George. A small piece of the doubting hierarch's finger can still be seen attached to St. George's face (taken from:
[The second miraculous icon of St. George at Zographou Monastery]
This icon was found in the harbor of the Monastery of Vatopedion. Later it was discovered that the icon had originally come from Arabia. The abbots of the different monasteries began to argue as to whom the icon belonged. They decided to place the icon on the back of a donkey. The onager was left on the cross roads between Mount Athos and Salonika. It was agreed that whichever monastery the donkey went to could rightfully claim the icon. The donkey proceeded to the Monastery of Zographos. After the donkey arrived there, it died. The icon was placed on the left pillar of the church, opposite the other miraculous icon of Saint George.

The miraculous icon of St. George, originally from Arabia, and to the right, an ornate kollyva made by the fathers to honor St. George (taken from:
[The third miraculous icon of St. George at Zographou]
On the third pillar of the Church of Saint George of the Monastery of Zographos hangs a third icon of the Saint. This icon had belonged to the ruler of Moldavia (Rumania), Stephen. When ever he went into battle, Stephen would carry this icon with him. After capturing Constantinople, the Turks came to the land ruled by Stephen. He decided to fight the Turks inside the walls of the city. He saw a vision of Saint George which told him that the Saint would help him to be victorious. After the battle, Stephen took the icon to the Monastery of Zographos and gave a great deal of money for the purpose of beautifying this holy place.

The Miraculous Icon of Saint George in the Monastery of Xenophontos on Mount Athos
During the Iconoclast Period, several soldiers had taken an icon of Saint George and thrown it into a fire with other icons. When the fire had died, some bystanders saw that it had not consumed the icon of Saint George, but had damaged only a small portion of it. One soldier ran his sword into the face of the Saint. Blood emerged from this spot. The soldiers were so frightened that they ran. Some Iconodules who witnessed this miracle, took the icon to protect it from the soldiers in case they returned.
The wondrous icon of St. George at Xenophontos Monastery, where the icon bled having been pierced (source)
They took it to the shore and placed it into the water. Then they prayed to the Saint to guide his icon to a place where it would continue to perform miracles. The icon landed at the Monastery of Xenophone on Mount Athos. The blood stains and the burnt clothing of the Saint can still be seen on the icon.
(taken from:

Late 12th century portable mosaic icon of St. George the Great-martyr from the Monastery of Xenophontos, Mount Athos (I don't think this is the miraculous icon mentioned above, but is nonetheless a priceless treasure of the Monastery) (taken from:
Doxastikon of the Praises for the feast of St. George - Plagal of the 1st Tone
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
Spring is here: come, let us be merry. And Christ’s resurrection has shone brightly: come, let us be joyous. The memory of the prize-winning Martyr has come upon us, gladdening the faithful. Therefore, come all who are fond of feasts, let us celebrate it mystically. For as a good soldier, he stood up manfully against the tyrants and put them utterly to shame, and thus emulated the Passion of Christ the Savior. He had no mercy on the clay vessel of his own body, but rather taking it naked he reforged and exchanged it by means of tortures. Unto him let us cry aloud: O victorious Martyr, earnestly entreat for the salvation of our souls.
(text taken from Fr. Seraphim Dedes at:
Christ is Risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

St. George the Great-martyr, the Trophy-bearer

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Fresco of St. George the Great Martyr (Icon courtesy of used with permission)

St. George the Great Martyr, the Trophy-bearer - Commemorated on April 23rd (or on Bright Monday if his feast falls during Great Lent)

(The text below is taken and rearranged from:, and the text in brackets from:

The Holy Great Martyr George the Victory-Bearer, was a native of Cappadocia (a district in Asia Minor), and he grew up in a deeply believing Christian family. His father was martyred for Christ when George was still a child. His mother, owning lands in Palestine, moved there with her son and raised him in strict piety. When he became a man, St George entered into the service of the Roman army. He was handsome, brave and valiant in battle, and he came to the notice of the emperor Diocletian (284-305) and joined the imperial guard with the rank of comites, or military commander.

Icon of St. George, and his parents, Sts. Gerontius and Polychronia (taken from:
Of the many miracles worked by the holy Great Martyr George, the most famous are depicted in iconography. In the saint's native city of Beirut were many idol-worshippers. Outside the city, near Mount Lebanon, was a large lake, inhabited by an enormous dragon-like serpent. Coming out of the lake, it devoured people, and there was nothing anyone could do, since the breath from its nostrils poisoned the very air. On the advice of the demons inhabiting the idols, the local ruler came to a decision. Each day the people would draw lots to feed their own children to the serpent, and he promised to sacrifice his only daughter when his turn came. 

St. George the Great Martyr and Trophybearer, with scenes from his martyrdom (source)
That time did come, and the ruler dressed her in her finest attire, then sent her off to the lake. The girl wept bitterly, awaiting her death. Unexpectedly for her, St George rode up on his horse with spear in hand. The girl implored him not to leave her, lest she perish. The saint signed himself with the Sign of the Cross. He rushed at the serpent saying, "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." St George pierced the throat of the serpent with his spear and trampled it with his horse. Then he told the girl to bind the serpent with her sash, and lead it into the city like a dog on a leash. The people fled in terror, but the saint halted them with the words: "Don't be afraid, but trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in Him, since it is He Who sent me to save you." Then the saint killed the serpent with a sword, and the people burned it outside the city. Twenty-five thousand men, not counting women and children, were then baptized. Later, a church was built and dedicated to the Most Holy Theotokos and the Great Martyr George.
St. George with scenes from his life, Kremikovtsi Monastery, Bulgaria (taken from:
The pagan emperor, who did much for the restoration of Roman might, was clearly concerned with the danger presented to pagan civilization by the triumph of the Crucified Savior, and intensified his persecution against the Christians in the final years of his reign. Following the advice of the Senate at Nicomedia, Diocletian gave all his governors full freedom in their court proceedings against Christians, and he promised them his full support. St George, when he heard the decision of the emperor, distributed all his wealth to the poor, freed his servants, and then appeared in the Senate. The brave soldier of Christ spoke out openly against the emperor's designs. He confessed himself a Christian, and appealed to all to acknowledge Christ:

"I am a servant of Christ, my God, and trusting in Him, I have come among you voluntarily, to bear witness concerning the Truth."

"What is Truth?" one of the dignitaries asked, echoing the question of Pontius Pilate.

The saint replied, "Christ Himself, Whom you persecuted, is Truth."

Stunned by the bold speech of the valiant warrior, the emperor, who had loved and promoted George, attempted to persuade him not to throw away his youth and glory and honors, but rather to offer sacrifice to the gods as was the Roman custom.
St. George being taken to prison, from Decani Monastery (taken from:

The confessor replied, "Nothing in this inconstant life can weaken my resolve to serve God." Then by order of the enraged emperor the armed guards began to push St George out of the assembly hall with their spears, and they then led him off to prison. But the deadly steel became soft and it bent, just as the spears touched the saint's body, and it caused him no harm. In prison they put the martyr's feet in stocks and placed a heavy stone on his chest. The next day at the interrogation, powerless but firm of spirit, St George again answered the emperor, "You will grow tired of tormenting me sooner than I will tire of being tormented by you." Then Diocletian gave orders to subject St George to some very intense tortures. They tied the Great Martyr to a wheel, beneath which were boards pierced with sharp pieces of iron. As the wheel turned, the sharp edges slashed the saint's naked body. At first the sufferer loudly cried out to the Lord, but soon he quieted down, and did not utter even a single groan.

St. George being tortured on the wheel, from Decani Monastery (taken from:
Diocletian decided that the tortured one was already dead, and he gave orders to remove the battered body from the wheel, and then went to a pagan temple to offer thanks. At this very moment it got dark, thunder boomed, and a voice was heard: "Fear not, George, for I am with you." Then a wondrous light shone, and at the wheel an angel of the Lord appeared in the form of a radiant youth. He placed his hand upon the martyr, saying to him, "Rejoice!" St George stood up healed. When the soldiers led him to the pagan temple where the emperor was, the emperor could not believe his own eyes and he thought that he saw before him some other man or even a ghost. In confusion and in terror the pagans looked St George over carefully, and they became convinced that a miracle had occurred. Many then came to believe in the Life-Creating God of the Christians. Two illustrious officials, Sts Anatolius and Protoleon, who were secretly Christians, openly confessed Christ. Immediately, without a trial, they were beheaded with the sword by order of the emperor.
St. Anatolius the Commander, martyred along with St. George (April 23rd) (taken from:
Also present in the pagan temple was Empress Alexandra, the wife of Diocletian, and she also knew the truth. She was on the point of glorifying Christ, but one of the servants of the emperor took her and led her off to the palace. The emperor became even more furious. He had not lost all hope of influencing St George, so he gave him over to new and fiercesome torments. After throwing him into a deep pit, they covered it over with lime. Three days later they dug him out, but found him cheerful and unharmed.

St. George put into the pit of lime, and drinking the sorceror's poison (Icon courtesy of used with permission)
They shod the saint in iron sandals with red-hot nails, [“Run, George, towards the object of our desire!” said the Saint, invoking the Lord’s help. And once again he presented himself, whole and radiant with grace, before the tyrant.] and then drove him back to the prison with whips. In the morning, when they led him back to the interrogation, cheerful and with healed feet, the emperor asked if he liked his shoes. The saint said that the sandals had been just his size. Then they beat him with ox thongs until pieces of his flesh came off and his blood soaked the ground, but the brave sufferer, strengthened by the power of God, remained unyielding.

The Flagellation of St. George, from Decani Monastery (taken from:
The emperor concluded that the saint was being helped by magic, so he summoned the sorcerer Athanasius to deprive the saint of his miraculous powers, or else poison him. The sorcerer gave St George two goblets containing drugs. One of them would have quieted him, and the other would kill him. The drugs had no effect, and the saint continued to denounce the pagan superstitions and glorify God as before. When the emperor asked what sort of power was helping him, St George said, "Do not imagine that it is any human learning which keeps me from being harmed by these torments. I am saved only by calling upon Christ and His Power. Whoever believes in Him has no regard for tortures and is able to do the things that Christ did" (John 14:12). Diocletian asked what sort of things Christ had done. The Martyr replied, "He gave sight to the blind, cleansed the lepers, healed the lame, gave hearing to the deaf, cast out demons, and raised the dead." Knowing that they had never been able to resurrect the dead through sorcery, nor by any of the gods known to him, and wanting to test the saint, the emperor commanded him to raise up a dead person before his eyes. The saint retorted, "You wish to tempt me, but my God will work this sign for the salvation of the people who shall see the power of Christ." When they led St George down to the graveyard, he cried out, "O Lord! Show to those here present, that You are the only God in all the world. Let them know You as the Almighty Lord." Then the earth quaked, a grave opened, the dead one emerged from it alive.

St. George raising the dead man (Icon courtesy of used with permission)
Having seen with their own eyes the Power of Christ, the people wept and glorified the true God. The sorcerer Athanasius, falling down at the feet of St George, confessed Christ as the All-Powerful God and asked forgiveness for his sins, committed in ignorance. The obdurate emperor in his impiety thought otherwise. In a rage he commanded both Athanasius and the man raised from the dead to be beheaded, and he had St George again locked up in prison. The people, weighed down with their infirmities, began to visit the prison and they there received healing and help from the saint. A certain farmer named Glycerius, whose ox had collapsed, also visited him. The saint consoled him and assured him that God would restore his ox to life. When he saw the ox alive, the farmer began to glorify the God of the Christians throughout all the city. By order of the emperor, St Glycerius was arrested and beheaded. The exploits and the miracles of the Great Martyr George had increased the number of the Christians, therefore Diocletian made a final attempt to compel the saint to offer sacrifice to the idols. They set up a court at the pagan temple of Apollo. On the final night the holy martyr prayed fervently, and as he slept, he saw the Lord, Who raised him up with His hand, and embraced him. The Savior placed a crown on St George's head and said, "Fear not, but have courage, and you will soon come to Me and receive what has been prepared for you." In the morning, the emperor offered to make St George his co-administrator, second only to himself. The holy martyr with a feigned willingness answered, "Caesar, you should have shown me this mercy from the very beginning, instead of torturing me. Let us go now to the temple and see the gods you worship." Diocletian believed that the martyr was accepting his offer, and he followed him to the pagan temple with his retinue and all the people. Everyone was certain that St George would offer sacrifice to the gods. The saint went up to the idol, made the Sign of the Cross and addressed it as if it were alive: "Are you the one who wants to receive from me sacrifice befitting God?" The demon inhabiting the idol cried out, "I am not a god and none of those like me is a god, either. The only God is He Whom you preach. We are fallen angels, and we deceive people because we are jealous." St George cried out, "How dare you remain here, when I, the servant of the true God, have entered?" Then noises and wailing were heard from the idols, and they fell to the ground and were shattered.
St. George destroying the idol through his prayers, and saving the princess from the dragon, from Decani Monastery (taken from:
There was general confusion. In a frenzy, pagan priests and many of the crowd seized the holy martyr, tied him up, and began to beat him. They also called for his immediate execution. The holy empress Alexandra tried to reach him. Pushing her way through the crowd, she cried out, "O God of George, help me, for You Alone are All-Powerful." At the feet of the Great Martyr the holy empress confessed Christ, Who had humiliated the idols and those who worshipped them.

St. Alexandra the Empress, the wife of Diocletian who was converted through St. George's martyrdom (April 21st) (Icon courtesy of used with permission)
Diocletian immediately pronounced the death sentence on the Great Martyr George and the holy Empress Alexandra, who followed St George to execution without resisting. Along the way she felt faint and slumped against a wall. There she surrendered her soul to God. St George gave thanks to God and prayed that he would also end his life in a worthy manner. At the place of execution the saint prayed that the Lord would forgive the torturers who acted in ignorance, and that He would lead them to the knowledge of Truth. Calmly and bravely, the holy Great Martyr George bent his neck beneath the sword, receiving the crown of martyrdom on April 23, 303.

St. George raising the dead man, and being beheaded, icons by Alevizakis (source)

St. George being sentenced by Diocletian and being beheaded, from Decani Monastery (taken from:
[Carrying out the Saint’s desire, his servant took his precious relics back to his country, to Lydda (Diospolis) in Palestine, where innumerable miracles were worked in the great church that was built in his honor.]
The burial of St. George (Icon courtesy of used with permission)
The pagan era was coming to an end, and Christianity was about to triumph. Within ten years, St Constantine (May 21) would issue the Edict of Milan, granting religious freedom to Christians.

The tomb of St. George the Great-Martyr, as it exists today in Lydda, Palestine (taken from:
[The veneration of Saint George enjoyed enormous popularity throughout the Christian world, both East and West. He was chosen to be the protector of countries like Georgia and England; thousands of churches have been dedicated to him and every Christian soul sees in him the incarnation of the virtues of valor, patience in affliction and trust in the help of grace that Christ, the Leader in battle, has enjoined on all the soldiers enrolled in His army of devotion.]

St George went on to become a talented officer and to amaze the world by his military exploits. He died before he was thirty years old. He is known as Victory Bearer, not only for his military achievements, but for successfully enduring martyrdom. As we know, the martyrs are commemorated in the dismissal at the end of Church services as "the holy, right victorious martyr...."

St. George the Great Martyr and Trophy-bearer, with scenes from his life and martyrdom - 13th century icon from St. Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai (
St George was the patron saint and protector of several of the great builders of the Russian state. St Vladimir's son, Yaroslav the Wise (in holy Baptism George), advanced the veneration of the saint in the Russian Church. He built the city of Yuriev [i.e., "of Yurii." "Yurii" is the diminutive of "George", as "Ivan" is of "John"], he also founded the Yuriev monastery at Novgorod, and he built a church of St George the Victory Bearer at Kiev. The day of the consecration of St George's Church in Kiev, November 26, 1051 by St Hilarion, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus, has entered into the liturgical treasury of the Church as a special church feastday. Yuriev Day is beloved by the Russian people as an "autumn Feast of St George." The name of St George was also borne by the founder of Moscow, Yurii Dolgoruky (+ 1157), who was the builder of many churches dedicated to St George, and the builder of the city of Yuriev-Polsk. In the year 1238 the heroic fight of the Russian nation against the Mongol Horde was led by the Great Prince Yurii (George) Vsevolodovich of Vladimir (February 4), who fell at the Battle at the Sita River. His memory, like that of Igor the Brave, and defender of his land, was celebrated in Russian spiritual poems and ballads. The first Great Prince of Moscow, when Moscow had become the center of the Russian Land, was Yurii Danilovich (+ 1325), the son of St Daniel of Moscow, and grandson of St Alexander Nevsky. From that time St George the Victory Bearer, depicted as a horseman slaying the serpent, appeared on Moscow's coat of arms, and became an emblem of the Russian state. This has strengthened Russia's connections with Christian nations, and especially with Iberia (Georgia, the Land of St George)."

St. George the Great Martyr and Trophy-bearer (
Many of those associated with or converted by St. George's love for Christ and steadfastness in martyrdom are also celebrated as Saints. His father, St. Gerontius, was a Christian martyr whose feast is on November 4th (see the icon above). The fellow soldiers converted and baptized by St. George include the martyrs Sts. Protoleon, Victor, Akindynos, Zotikos, Zenon, Christopher, Severian, Theonas, Kaisarios and Anthony, and are celebrated on April 20th. St. Alexandra, the wife of Diocletian who was converted by St. George, along with her servants Sts. Apollo, Isaakios and Kodratos are celebrated as martyrs on April 21st. St. Polychronia, the mother of St. George, the martyrs Sts. Anatolius the Commander, Protoleon and Athanasius the former Sorcerer who were converted by St. George, and St. Glykerius whose ox was healed are commemorated along with St. George on April 23rd. Finally, the fellow prisoners of St. George and martyrs Sts. Eusebius, Neon, Leon, Longinus and another four others with them are honored on April 24th. How truthfully St. Seraphim put it, when he said: "Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a thousand souls around you shall be saved"! Thus it is clear why the Synaxarion of St. George says that he played such an important role in the life of the Church of Constantinople that his feast extended from April 20th to April 24th (απριλιου), most likely also to honor all those martyred with him for Christ.

12th Century mosaic icon of St. George the Great Martyr, from Xenophontos Monastery (
It continues that since the 4th century there are churches dedicated to St. George in Syria, and in Egypt there were 40 churches and 3 monasteries in his honor, along with countless others in Greece, and in all Orthodox countries throughout the whole world. May St. George the Great-martyr, the Trophy-bearer, the Victorious, the Wonderworker intercede for all of us and help us!

Great cavalcade of military great martyrs of Christ on horseback, being led by Archangel Michael the Taxiarch, then St. Constantine the Great seeing the vision of the Precious Cross, followed by St. George, St. Demetrios, and the rest of the great martyrs (source)

For more information on St. George and the Monasteries of Zographou and Xenophontos on Mount Athos, see:

For the role of St. George in the life of St. Theodore Sykeote, see:

For some of the many Epithets which the faithful have given to the Saint, see:

For a story of St. George's help (among other Saints) in healing a small boy, see:

For various miracles of St. George the Great Martyr for Muslims, see:
For the Akathist to St. George the Trophy-bearer in English see here:
Apolytikion of St. George the Great-martyr in the Fourth Tone
Liberator of captives, defender of the poor, physician of the sick, and champion of kings, O trophy-bearer, Great Martyr George, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Cultivated by God, you became manifest as an honorable tiller gathering for yourself the sheaves of virtue. For you sowed with tears but reaped with gladness; in the contest you competed with your blood and came away with Christ. By your intercessions, O Holy One, all are granted forgiveness of sins.

St. George the Great Martyr and Trophy-bearer, with scenes from his life (

Christ is Risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!