Friday, April 30, 2010

Quotes from St. Justin Popovich on the Papacy and the Apostolicity of the Church

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Fresco from Decani Monastery of Christ appearing to the Apostles after the Resurrection (taken from:

I've been wanting to include various quotes from our Righteous Father Justin Popovich for a while, but for one reason or another, I haven't gotten to. However, the announcement that I saw today (see:, that on May 2nd he will officially be proclaimed a Saint by the Serbian Orthodox Church, gives me an extra incentive to do so. May we all have his blessing!
Quotes from St. Justin Popovich on the Papacy
"In the history of the human race there have been three principal falls: that of Adam, that of Judas, and that of the pope.

The principal characteristic of falling into sin is always the same: wanting to be good for one's own sake; wanting to be perfect for one's own sake; wanting to be God for one's own sake. In this manner, however, man unconsciously equates himself to the devil, because the devil also wanted to become God for his own sake, to put himself in the place of God. And in this self-elevation he instantly became devil, completely separated from God, and always in opposition to Him.

Therefore, the essence of sin, of every sin (svegreha), consists of this arrogant self-aggrandizement. This is the very essence of the devil himself, of Satan. It is nothing other than one's wanting to remain within one's own being, wanting nothing within one's self other than oneself. The entire devil is found here: in the desire to exclude God, in the desire to always be by himself, to always belong only to himself, to be entirely within himself and always for himself, to be forever hermetically sealed in opposition to God and everything that belongs to God.

And what is this? It is egotism and self-love embraced in all eternity, that is to say: it is hell. For that is essentially what the humanist is - entirely within himself, by himself, for himself, always spitefully closed in opposition to God. Here lies every humanism, every hominism. The culmination of such satanically oriented humanism is the desire to become good for the sake of evil, to become God for the sake of the devil. It proceeds from the promise of the devil to our forefathers in Paradise—that with his help, "they would become as gods" (Gen. 3: 5). Man was created with theanthropic potential by God who loves mankind, so that he might voluntarily direct himself, through God, toward becoming God-man, based on the divinity of his nature. Man, however, with his free will sought sinlessness through sin, sought God through the devil. And assuredly, following this road he would have become identical with the devil had not God interceded in His immeasurable love of mankind and in His great mercy.

By becoming man, that is to say God-man, he redirected man toward the God-man. He introduced him to the Church which is his body, to the reward (podvig) of theosis through the holy mysteries and the blessed virtues. And in this manner he gave man the strength to become "a perfect man, in the measure of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13), to achieve, that is, the Divine destiny, to voluntarily become God-man by grace.

The fall of the pope is a consequence of the desire to substitute man for the God-man...In the kingdom of humanism the place of the God-man had been usurped by the Vicarius Christi, and the God-man has thus been exiled to Heaven. This surely results in a peculiar deincarnation of Christ the God-man, does it not?

Through the dogma of infallibility the pope usurped for himself, that is for man, the entire jurisdiction and all the prerogatives which belong only to the Lord God-man. He effectively proclaimed himself as the Church, the papal church, and he has become in her the be-all and end-all, the self-proclaimed ruler of everything. In this way the dogma of the infallibility of the pope has been elevated to the central dogma (svedogma) of the papacy. And the pope cannot deny this in any way as long as he remains pope of a humanistic papacy."
(From "Reflections on the Infallibiity of European Man" in Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ, Belmont, MA: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1994, Asterios Gerostergios, ed.; from:
"In Western Europe, Christianity has been gradually metamorphosed, to humanism. Over a long period of time and with perseverance, the Divine-Human [God-man] has steadily been diminishing. He has been changed, He has been narrowed down and finally reduced to a mere man: to the “infallible” man in Rome and the equally "infallible" men in London and Berlin.

This is how Papism came into being, by stripping Christ of everything, just as Protestantism similarly did, by asking little of Christ, and quite often, nothing at all.

Both in Papism and in Protestantism, man has replaced the Divine-Human Christ, both as the highest value and the highest criterion.

Painstaking and deplorable changes to the Divine-Human's work and teachings have been accomplished. Papism has steadily and persistently been striving to substitute the Divine Man with a mortal man, until finally, in its dogma defining the infallibility of (a mere mortal) the pope, the Divine-Human Christ was once and for all substituted by an ephemeral, "infallible" man; because thanks to this dogma, the pope was decisively and clearly pronounced as being something superior – not only to all men, but even to the holy Apostles, the holy Fathers, and the holy Ecumenical Councils. With this kind of deviation from the Divine-Human Christ, from the ecumenical Church which is the Divine-Human’s organism, Papism outdid even Luther, the founder of Protestantism.

Therefore, the first radical protest that was voiced in the name of humanism but against the Divine-Human Christ and his Divine-Human organism—the Church—should be sought in Papism, not in Lutheranism. Papism is in fact the first and the oldest form of Protestantism."

The Apostolicity of the Church
"The holy apostles were the first god-men by grace. Like the Apostle Paul each of them, by his integral life, could have said of himself: "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2:20). Each of them is a Christ repeated; or, to be more exact, a continuation of Christ. Everything in them is theanthropic because everything was recieved from the God-man. Apostolicity is nothing other than the God-manhood of the Lord Christ, freely assimilated through the holy struggles of the holy virtues: faith, love, hope, prayer, fasting, etc. This means that everything that is of man lives in them freely through the God-man, thinks through the God-man, feels through the God-man, acts through the God-man and wills through the God-man. For them, the historical God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the supreme value and the supreme criterion. Everything in them is of the God-man, for the sake of the God-man, and in the God-man. And it is always and everywhere thus. That for them is immortality in the time and space of this world. Thereby are they even on this earth partakers of the theanthropic eternity of Christ.

This theanthropic apostolicity is integrally continued in the earthly successors of the Christ-bearing apostles: in the holy fathers. Among them, in essence, there is no difference: the same God-man Christ lives, acts, enlivens and makes them all eternal in equal measure, He Who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Through the holy fathers, the holy apostles live on with all their theanthropic riches, theanthropic worlds, theanthropic holy things, theanthropic mysteries, and theanthropic virtues. The holy fathers in fact are continuously apostolizing, whether as distinct godlike personalities, or as bishops of the local churches, or as members of the holy ecumenical and holy local councils. For all of them there is but one Truth, one Transcendent Truth: the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Behold, the holy ecumenical councils, from the first to the last, confess, defend, believe, announce, and vigilantly preserve but a single supreme value: the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The principal Tradition, the transcendent Tradition, of the Orthodox Church is the living God-man Christ, entire in the theanthropic Body of the Church of which He is the immortal, eternal Head. This is not merely the message, but the transcendent message of the holy apostles and the holy fathers. They know Christ crucified, Christ resurrected, Christ ascended. They all, by their integral lives and teachings, with a single soul and a single voice, confess that Christ the God-man is wholly in His Church, as in His Body. Each of the holy fathers could rightly repeat with St. Maximus the Confessor: "In no wise am I expounding my own opinion, but that which I have been taught by the fathers, without changing aught in their teaching."

And from the immortal proclamation of St. John of Damascus there resounds the universal confession of all the holy fathers who were glorified by God: "Whatever has been transmitted to us through the Law, and the prophets, and the apostles, and the evangelists, we receive and know and esteem highly, and beyond that we ask nothing more… Let us be fully satisfied with it, and rest therein, removing not the ancient landmarks (Prov. 22:28), nor violating the divine Tradition." And then, the touching, fatherly admonition of the holy Damascene, directed to all Orthodox Christians: "Wherefore, brethren, let us plant ourselves upon the rock of faith and the Tradition of the Church, removing not the landmarks set by our holy fathers, nor giving room to those who are anxious to introduce novelties and to undermine the structure of God's holy ecumenical and apostolic Church. For if everyone were allowed a free hand, little by little the entire Body of the Church would be destroyed."

The holy Tradition is wholly of the God-man, wholly of the holy apostles, wholly of the holy fathers, wholly of the Church, in the Church, and by the Church. The holy fathers are nothing other than the "guardians of the apostolic tradition. " All of them, like the holy apostles themselves, are but "witnesses" of a single and unique Truth: the transcendent Truth of Christ, the God-man. They preach and confess it without rest, they, the "golden mouths of the Word." The God-man, the Lord Christ is one, unique, and indivisible. So also is the Church unique and indivisible, for she is the incarnation of the Theanthropos Christ, continuing through the ages and through all eternity. Being such by her nature and in her earthly history, the Church may not be divided. It is only possible to fall away from her. That unity and uniqueness of the Church is theanthropic from the very beginning and through all the ages and all eternity.

Apostolic succession, the apostolic heritage, is theanthropic from first to last. What is it that the holy apostles are transmitting to their successors as their heritage? The Lord Christ, the God-man Himself, with all the imperishable riches of His wondrous theanthropic Personality, Christ—the Head of the Church, her sole Head. If it does not transmit that, apostolic succession ceases to be apostolic, and the apostolic Tradition is lost, for there is no longer an apostolic hierarchy and an apostolic Church.

The holy Tradition is the Gospel of the Lord Christ, and the Lord Christ Himself, Whom the Holy Spirit instills in each and every believing soul, in the entire Church. Whatever is Christ's, by the power of the Holy Spirit becomes ours, human; but only within the body of the Church. The Holy Spirit—the soul of the Church, incorporates each believer, as a tiny cell, into the body of the Church and makes him a "co-heir" of the God-man (Eph. 3:6). In reality the Holy Spirit makes every believer into a God-man by grace. For what is life in the Church? Nothing other than the transfiguration of each believer into a God-man by grace through his personal, evangelical virtues; it is his growth in Christ, the putting on of Christ by growing in the Church and being a member of the Church. A Christian's life is a ceaseless, Christ-centered theophany: the Holy Spirit, through the holy mysteries and the holy virtues, transmits Christ the Savior to each believer, renders him a living tradition, a living life: "Christ who is our life" (Col. 3:4). Everything Christ's thereby becomes ours, ours for all eternity: His truth, His righteousness, His love, His life, and His entire divine Hypostasis.

Holy Tradition? It is the Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man Himself, with all the riches of his divine Hypostasis and, through Him and for His sake, those of the Holy Trinity. That is most fully given and articulated in the Holy Eucharist, wherein, for our sake and for our salvation, the Savior's entire theanthropic economy of salvation is performed and repeated. Therein wholly resides the God-man with all His wondrous and miraculous gifts; He is there, and in the Church's life of prayer and liturgy. Through all this, the Savior's philanthropic proclamation ceaselessly resounds: "And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Mt. 28 20): He is with the apostles and, through the apostles, with all the faithful, world without end. This is the whole of the holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church of the apostles: life in Christ = life in the Holy Trinity; growth in Christ = growth in the Trinity (cf. Mt. 28: 19-20).

Of extraordinary importance is the following: in Christ's Orthodox Church, the Holy Tradition, ever living and life-giving, comprises: the holy liturgy, all the divine services, all the holy mysteries, all the holy virtues, the totality of eternal truth and eternal righteousness, all love, all eternal life, the whole of the God-man, the Lord Christ, the entire Holy Trinity, and the entire theanthropic life of the Church in its theanthropic fullness, with the All-holy Theotokos and all the saints.

The personality of the Lord Christ the God-man, transfigured within the Church, immersed in the prayerful, liturgical, and boundless sea of grace, wholly contained in the Eucharist, and wholly in the Church—this is holy Tradition. This authentic good news is confessed by the holy fathers and the holy ecumenical councils. By prayer and piety holy Tradition is preserved from all human demonism and devilish humanism, and in it is preserved the entire Lord Christ, He Who is the eternal Tradition of the Church. "Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh" (I Tim. 3 16): He was manifest as a man, as a God-man, as the Church, and by His philanthropic act of salvation and deification of humanity He magnified and exalted man above the holy cherubim and the most holy seraphim."
(Originally published in Orthodox Life, vol. 31, no. 1 (Jan.-Feb., 1981), pp. 28-33. Translated by Stephen Karganovic from: The Orthodox Church & Ecumenism (in Serbian), by Archimandrite Justin (Popovich) (Thessalonica: Chilandar Monastery, 1974), pp. 64-74;
Picture of our Righteous Father Justin Popovich (to be canonized on May 2nd and to be celebrated on June 1/14; for more on his life see: from:
Apolytikion of the Holy Fathers in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
(chanted on the Feasts of the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils)
You are greatly glorified, O Christ our God, who established our Fathers as luminaries upon the earth, and through them led us all to the true Faith. O most compassionate, glory to You.

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 28, 2010

Patristic Commentary on the Song of Solomon - Part I

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

The Risen Christ greeting St. Mary Magdalene, telling her: "Do not hold me" (Icon courtesy of used with permission)
The Song of Songs, or Song of Solomon is an incredible book that is often unappreciated or misinterpreted. I hope to have a series of posts (though not necessarily in order) including some interpretations of the Fathers on this grace-filled, prophetic and spiritually uplifting book.

St. Gregory Dialogos, in his lengthy introduction to this great book, makes it evidently clear that though most of the book utilizes very vivid imagery, all of it is only meant to express divine eros and truth; this has nothing to do with carnal love:

"We must transcend this language that is typical of the passions so as to realize that virtuous state in which we are unable to be influenced by the passions. As the sacred writings employ words and meanings, so a picture employs colors and subject matter; it is excessively foolish to cling to the colors of the picture in such a way that the subject painted is ignored. Now if we embrace the words that are expressed in exterior terms and ignore their deeper meanings, it is like ignoring the subject depicted while focusing upon the colors alone...

When we listen to language belonging to the human way of life, we must distance ourselves from ordinary men lest by listening to what is said in a human way, we perceive nothing about the divinity that we ought to be hearing. Paul did not desire his disciples to be ordinary men when he said to them, "For when envy and contention are among you, are you not ordinary men?" (1 Cor 3:3-4) The Lord as well did not consider his disciples to be ordinary men when he said, "Who do men say that the Son of Man is?" (Mt 16:13) When they told him what ordinary men had said, he immediately added, "Who do you say that I am?" (Mt 16:15) Now by saying "men" first and then adding "you," he distinguished between ordinary men and his disciples; to be sure, by teaching them divine things he was making them superior to ordinary men. The apostle states, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed away." (2 Cor 5:17) We are aware that in our resurrection the body is joined to the spirit in such a way that everything which was controlled by the passions is taken up into the power of the spirit. And so it is fitting for someone who follows God to imitate his own resurrection every day. At the time of anyone's resurrection there will be nothing that is able to be influenced by the passions in his body. And so, let such a one at the present time have nothing that is able to influenced by the passions in his heart. Let such a one also be a new creation according to the interior man and trample whatever is uttered from the past, examining the language of former times solely for the fuel of his renewal."

As we are in the Paschal season, I include with a short quote from St. Ambrose of Milan in which he interprets the following verses in the light of Christ's Resurrection:

"Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, and come with me.

See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.

Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land."
(Song of Songs 2:10-12)

“Arise, come, my dearest one.” that is, arise from the pleasures of the world, arise from earthly things and come to me, you who still labor and are burdened, because you are anxious about worldly things.

Come over the world, come to me, because I have overcome the world. Come near, for now you are fair with the beauty of eternal life, now you are a dove, that is, you are gentle and mild, now you are filled entirely with spiritual grace...

“Winter is now past”; that is, [Pascha] has come, pardon has come, the forgiveness of sins has arrived, temptation has ceased, the rain is gone, the storm is gone, and the affliction. Before the coming of Christ it is winter. After his coming there are flowers. On this account he says, “The flowers appear on earth.” Where before there were thorns, now flowers are there. “The time of pruning has come.” Where before there was desert, the harvest is there. “The voice of the dove is heard in our land.”
-St. Ambrose of Milan, "On Isaac, of The Soul"

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 Miracle at Carthage

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Russian icon which depicts the passage of the soul through the toll-houses to reach Christ (

The Synaxarion of April 28th records the following miraculous story from Carthage, Africa (amateur translation from the Greek):

When the emperor of Constantinople was Herakleios I (610-641), Niketas the patrician, the following miracle occurred in Africa. An officer of the royal army was in Carthage. However, because a plague struck the city, he took his wife and left for an area outside the city, where his house was, supposedly to escape death. In reality, however, he left because the devil urged him to sin. Unable to scatter his carnal thoughts, he was convinced to commit adultery with the wife of his gardener. Not long after his fall, he because seriously ill from an inguinal hernia, which in the end led him to death...

Three hours, however, after his burial, they heard cries from the tomb:
“Have mercy on me! Have mercy on me!” They ran and lifted the stone covering the grave. And what did they see then! The soldier was alive! Alive, but speechless. This strange occurrence reached the ears of Thalassios, the Patriarch of Alexandria, who hastened to this place to console the wretched soldier.

Four days passed. Then the soldier's voice returned and he began to relate what had happened: “A short time before my soul left my body, I saw a few dark beings surrounding me, terrible to the sight. Afterwards I saw two beautiful youths approach me. They were angels! As soon as they came close, my soul was filled with joy. They took me with them and we began to ascend to heaven. In our aerial journey we every so often met at the toll-houses, those dark ones, who scrutinized every sin of mine. One toll-house was of lies, another of wrath, another of greed...The angels, of course, overcame them, showing my good deeds. When however he reached the gate of heaven, we met a whole rank of toll-houses, the sin of lust. These showed the adultery which I had done a short time before. And thus I was defeated! They seized me and dragged me to the depths of the earth. There the souls of sinners are tried with such a martyrdom, that the tongue of man cannot relate them. As I began to wail there below, the those two youths appeared again before me. “Have mercy on me”, I entreated them, crying, “and give me time to repent”. Then the one turned and said to the other: “Do you take responsibility for him? Should we give him time to repent?” “Let's give it to him”, replied the other. They took me then and brought me to the tomb. There I found that my body had become as slime and sludge, and because of this I didn't want to go inside it. The angels, however, said: “It's impossible for you to repent another way, except with your body, because with this you sinned”. Then I entered my body. And this gave me life and I began to cry out.”

There the soldier finished his story. And having lived forty days further in starvation, with lamentations and wailing, he fell asleep again.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins (
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!

Quote on Mid-Pentecost, by St. Theophan the Recluse

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Icon of Christ preaching at Mid-Pentecost (
"On Mid-Pentecost we hear the call of the Lord: "whosoever thirsteth, let him come to Me and drink" (John 7:37). If this is so, then let us all run to Him. Whatever you thirst for - so long as it is not contrary to the spirit of the Lord - you will find relief in Him. If you thirst for knowledge, run to the Lord, for He is the one and only light, enlightening every man. If you thirst for cleansing from sin and quenching of the flames of your conscience, run to the Lord, for He tore asunder the handwriting of our sins upon the Cross. If you thirst for peace in your heart, run to the Lord, for He is the treasury of all good, Whose abundance will teach you to forget all deprivations and despise all earthly good, so as to be filled with Him alone. If you need strength, He is almighty. If you need glory, His glory surpasses the world. If you desire freedom, He gives true freedom. He will resolve all of our doubts, loose the bonds of our passions, dispel all our troubles and difficulties, will enable us to overcome all obstacles, temptations and intrigues of the enemy, and will make smooth the path of our spiritual life. Let us all run to the Lord!"
-St. Theophan the Recluse

For more on the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, 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!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Selected Hymns from the Fourth Sunday of Pascha: the Sunday of the Paralytic

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Christ healing the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda (Icon courtesy of used with permission)

Selected Hymns from the Fourth Sunday of Pascha: the Sunday of the Paralytic

Two Idiomel Stichera of the Paralytic. Tone 1.
Compassionate Christ, who fashioned humankind with your immaculate hand, you came to heal the sick. You raised the Paralytic at the Sheep Pool through your word; you cured the pain of the woman with the issue of blood; you had pity on the possessed daughter of the woman of Canaan; and you did not despise the request of the Centurion. Therefore we cry: All-powerful Lord, glory to you! (Twice)

An unburied corpse, the Paralytic, when he saw you, cried out, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, for my bed has become for me a tomb. What does life hold for me? I cannot crave the Sheep Pool, for I have no one to put me in when the waters are stirred up. But I come to you, the source of healing, that I may cry with all: All-powerful Lord, glory to you!’

Doxastikon of the Stichera
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Tone 5.
Jesus went up to Jerusalem, to the Sheep Pool, called by the Jews Bethesda, having five porches. For in these lay a great multitude of the sick. For an Angel of God would come at from time to time, stir it up and grant strength to those who approached with faith. And the Lord, seeing a man who had been sick for many years, said to him, ‘Do you want to be made whole?’ The sick man answered, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up. I have spent all my livelihood on physicians, and it has not been granted me to find mercy’. But the physician of souls and bodies said to him, ‘Take up your bed and walk, while proclaiming my power and my great mercy in the ends of the earth.’

Doxastikon of the Liti
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Tone 5. Composition of Koumoulas.
A man was lying in sickness at the Sheep Pool, and seeing you, Lord, he cried out, ‘I have no one when the water is stirred up to put me in it. While I am moving forward another gets there before me and receives the healing, while I lie sick’. And at once the Saviour, moved with compassion, says to him, ‘For your sake I have become man, for your sake I have clothed myself in flesh, yet you say ‘I have no one’? Take up your bed, and walk!’ All things are possible for you, all things obey you, all things are subject to you; remember us all and have mercy, O Holy One, as you love humankind.

Kontakion. Tone 3. Today the Virgin.
By your divine presence, O Lord, raise my soul, grievously paralysed by sins of every kind and by unnatural deeds, as you also raised the Paralysed Man of old, that saved I may cry to you: O merciful Christ, glory to your might.

The Ikos.
You grasp the ends of the earth in the hollow of your hand, Jesu, God without beginning with the Father, Master of all things with the Holy Spirit; you appeared in flesh, healing diseases and banishing sufferings, giving light to the blind, and with a divine word you raised up the Paralysed Man, ordering him to walk quickly and to take up on his shoulders the bed which had borne him; therefore with him we all sing praises and cry out: O merciful Christ, glory to your might.

Doxastikon of the Praises
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Tone 8.
O Lord, the pool did not cure the Paralysed Man, but your word renewed him, nor did his sickness of so many years hinder it, for the force of your voice was shown to be sharper; and he cast off the weight so hard to carry and carried the burden of his bed as a witness to the multitude of your mercies; glory to you.
All texts and translations are copyright to Archimandrite Ephrem © ( and

Christ healing the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda (

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 23, 2010

Introduction from "The Passion of St. George" by St. Theodore Bishop of Ancyra

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

St. George the Great Martyr, the Trophy-bearer and Wonderworker (

Introduction from "The Passion of St. George" by St. Theodore Bishop of Ancyra (Commemorated on June 7th)
The Encomium which the blessed Abba Theodotus, Bishop of Ancyra in Galatia, pronounced on the day of the glorious commemoration - which is the twenty-third of the month Pharmuthi - of Saint George, the martyr of Diospolis of [p. 275] Palestine, the sun of the truth, the star of the morning, the mighty man of the Galileans from Melitene and the valiant soldier of Christ; and he showed forth his family relationships and the mighty conflicts which he endured, and the honours which he received in heaven; in the peace of God, Amen.

"It is meet and right and fitting for our souls, O holy beloved, that we should commemorate the sufferings and honourable contests of the saints, and more especially of Saint George the mighty, the most excellent and honourable athlete and warrior - whose festival we celebrate to-day in this glorious commemoration - who has shown himself to us approved by God and loveworthy before men, by reason of the righteous deeds which he displayed, through which he was worthy of being called into the healthful sufferings of Christ and of bearing wounds in his body for Christ's sake. He was perfect in great endurance, and mighty valour, and a pure heart, and in giving up his entire will to God through the great zeal which he had in his heart towards God, and in the fear of Him which he had within him, which bore fruit plentifully to Him a hundredfold, sixtyfold, and thirtyfold. Moreover, he forsook his own will, and the multiplying of his great wealth, and his servants, and all his riches, and hearkened unto the voice of God, and took up his cross, and walked after our Lord Jesus, following after Him with an upright heart. On this account he received so great an honour from Christ that He spake to him with an oath, saying, "Among all the martyrs who have existed there shall not be one like unto thee in heaven, neither shall there be any like unto thee for ever."*** He burned with the Holy Spirit and [p. 276] performed his daily life witrh zeal that he might be among those that are chosen and that benefit out souls. In short, he performed the whole will of God and put himself beyod the reach of every thought which could offend the soul. He lived in the service of God, and was remote from the vain sights of this life which are like dreams and which pass away quickly like shadows. For this reason he longed for heaven, remembering what the blessed Paul said, "If ye be risen with Christ, seek after the things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God," and "Remember the things which are above and not those which are upon earth." Neither his father's rank of Count, nor the high birth of his mother, nor the glory of his soldierhood could overcome the decision of the truly noble and holy Saint George, neither could any one of these lead him astray or seduce him to forsake his piety and firm decision and perfect faith. The grace of God perfected him in every thing concerning which he was anxious, and he feared God who watched over him, and God strengthened him on every side, like a precious stone of admant, that he might never be moved. On this account when the time of persecution came, the heart of the holy Saint George was ready, and when God called him into the holy contest he was prompt to obey. Moreover, he went to the holy contest and marched through it by himself; and when they tortured him he became valiant, and was firm and resisted his enemies. He fought with impious governors and received the crown incorruptible for ever, and an imperial sceptre and royal throne from the true and holy Bridgreoom our Lord jesus Christ. And not only himself, but multitudes of souls received crowns through him during the seven years in which they tortured him. If God in His true knowledge permit us, we hope to make manifest to you in this encomium the exalted honours of Saint George, the valiant athlete and soldier of Christ, the holy and noble man of Melitene. For the subject under discussion weighs upon us and compels us to show you everything truly. My heart rejoices greatly within me [p. 277] this day and urges me to speak more especially in honour of Saint George the great luminary, whose festival is celebrated today throughout the whole world. To him the Lord testified by oath, saying, "I swear by Myself and by my Holy Father, and the Holy Spirit, that among all those born of women there is not one like unto John the Baptist, and that in the whole Army of Martyrs there is not one like unto thee, neither shall there be one like unto thee for ever. For thou shalt be more exalted than they all in the kingdom of heaven, and they all shall call thee, "George the beloved of God the Highest."*** I am afraid, O my beloved, to begin to speak in honour of this great illuminator and warrior, for I know the poverty of my intellect and the feebleness of my halting speech and that I shall not attain to the measure of his exalted and excellent contest. But I hope and trust that the Lord will send me the rays of the light of that valiant man to illuminate my heart and to quicken my halting tongue, that I may speak a few words in his honour to a Christ-loving congregation. and since the description of the honour of this valiant man, O beloved, is above the conception of every man upon earth, more especially of my humble tongue, I, who desire to speak in honour of holy Saint George, the valiant martyr, need wisdom from the Lord and a celestial tongue that I may not omit anything of the mighty and exalted contests of that noble and valiant man, which he fought before all people through his great endurance and bravery. And also, he is honourworthy for each deed of valour which he wrought with great sufferings and a great number of contests: and if the Lord permit we will set before you a few of them. But meanwhile we will set before you the qualities of which we have spoken of this brave soldier of Christ, Saint George. And what are these qualities ? His upright and unwavering faith in God; his certain hope; his sincere love; his compassion for every one and the whole human race; his gentleness to all creatures, both great [p. 278] and small; his benignity; his goodness; his zeal; his patient endurance of the cares of this life; his good disposition and the joy of his soul; the blamelessness of his heart; his taking his stand at the tribunal boldly; his freedom of speech before the governors, entirely without shame or fear of man, as David the Psalmist said, "I will speak thy testimonies before kings, and will not be ashamed;" his patient endurance of tortures with great joy of heart; and the other sufferings which he bore for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. Of these contests we will set forth a few before you, as we promised to do in the beginning of the preface: the contests about which he heard that blessed voice of the Lord, saying, "As My Father has appointed Me a kingdom, so also will I appoint you who stand with Me in My temptation an unending and indestructible kingdom for ever." And again, "Ye shall eat and drink with Me in my kingdom." By reason of the words full of joy and every happiness Saint George was especially ready for the strife: and the remembrance of those good things made suffering light to him. He bore every thing with a ready will, for he was gladly prompt in every thing. Nothing stood in the way of his rigid resolution to suffer, for the sufferings of this world prepared him for the good things of the world to come, and patient endurance prepared for him the crown incorruptiblefor ever in heaven. We have extended our preface until now, O beloved, and have not as yet set forth before you the glorious and marvelworthy sufferings of Saint George the athletic martyr of Christ who warred and fought against impiety. But now we will proclaim to you the things which we have set down, together with those which we shall say after them..."

***For further revealations surrounding these statements by Christ, see the full Encomium linked-to above, or the following post:

St. George the Great Martyr and Trophy-bearer (

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 22, 2010

Role of St. George in the life of St. Theodore Sykeote

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

St. George the Great Martyr, "The Dragon-slayer" (

St. George the Great Martyr played a pivitol role in the life of St. Theodore Sykeote, a 6th Century Saint who is commemorated on April 22nd. A fairly extensive life of the Saint from the OCA site is available here:, while the following are excerpts from the translated primary source of the Saint's life. May St. George and St. Theodore intercede for us all and help us!

“When her full time was accomplished, Mary bore the servant of God; and after some days had passed, she carried him, as is the custom among Christians, to the Holy Church of the Orthodox and showed him to the priests who baptized him in the name of the Holy Trinity and named him 'Theodore', thus showing by this name that he would be the 'gift of God'. When the child was about six years old, his mother wanted him to enter the Emperor's service in the capital, so she made ready for him a gold belt and expensive clothes and everything else necessary, and then she prepared herself for the journey. On the night when she intended to start, God's holy martyr, St. George, appeared to her and said, 'What is this plan, lady, which you have made for the boy? do not labour in vain, for the King in heaven has need of him'. And in the morning she arose and related her vision and wept saying, 'Assuredly death has drawn near to my boy'. After this she abandoned her journey. She wore herself away with increasing care of her son, and when he was eight years old she gave him to a teacher to be taught his letters. By the grace of God he was quicker at learning than all the other boys and made great progress

“He was beloved by all and in his daily life became known to all for his virtues; for when he played with the others he always beat them, but no oath or blasphemy nor any unfitting word ever escaped his lips, nor did he allow the others to use one. And whenever any dispute arose in their games, he at once withdrew and through his actions put an end to it...

“When he came out of school he went up the rocky hill which lay near the village. Here there was a shrine dedicated to the martyr St. George. The Saint would guide him to the spot appearing visibly before his eyes in the form of a young man. Entering the shrine Theodore would sit down and busy himself with the study of the Holy Scriptures; and after midday he went back to the school and returned home in the evening. When his mother inquired why he had not appeared at dinnertime, he tricked her saying either that he had not been able to say his lesson and was therefore kept in*; or that he had a pain in his stomach and therefore had no appetite. So she again sent word to the master to send him home with the others, and he replied that since he had received her message he always did send him away with the others. Then she found out that he went up to the shrine and so she sent some of her servants to fetch him, and they brought him down to her. She threatened him and told him to come straight home from school to her; but he continued to act as he had been accustomed to do. His mother was very troubled about him, but in spite of all her threats and advice she was quite unable to make him change his fixed purpose, or to break the rules of abstinence which he had prescribed for himself.

“When he was about twelve years old an epidemic of bubonic plague fell upon the village and it attacked him along with the others so that he came near to dying. They took him to the shrine of St. John the Baptist near the village and laid him at the entrance to the sanctuary, and above him where the cross was set there hung an icon of our Saviour Jesus Christ. As he was suffering great pain from the plague suddenly drops of dew fell upon him from the icon, and immediately by the grace of God, freed from his suffering, he recovered and returned to his home.

“As Theodore was sleeping at night with his mother and the women who lived with her, Christ's martyr, George, came to him, and, steeping all the others in deep slumber, woke him up. The first few nights he came in the form of the Stephen whom we have already mentioned, and later, in his own person, and said to him, 'Get up, master Theodore, the dawn has risen, let us go and pray at the shrine of St. George'. Theodore got up readily and with great joy and the Saint led him away from the house up to his shrine, while it was still dark, so that the boy beheld some of the temptations caused by the demons, for the wicked demons, the enemies of truth, appeared on either side of him in the semblance of wolves and other wild beasts, and with gaping mouths they rushed upon him as though to kill him, in order that they might cause him through fear to give up his good purpose. But Christ's martyr took hold of him and, like a man wielding a sword, chased them from him, so that Theodore was no whit alarmed by the sight of the wild beasts but became even more zealous and never missed his visits to the shrine.

“When he began to adopt this habit, his mother and the women sleeping with her would wake up in the morning, and not seeing him in his bed they suspected that he had crept out and was spending the nights in the martyr's shrine; and they wondered how it was, since he slept between them, that he got out so successfully without anybody noticing it. They were afraid he might be devoured by some beast, since a fierce wolf, which carried off children, had lately been haunting the neighbourhood; so they tried to coax him not to go up to the shrine, at least before sunrise, as it was a wild, and fearsome place. However, the boy would not be persuaded and when awakened by the martyr at the appointed hour he went off to the shrine. When the women did not find him in bed in the morning, they became very angry and sent servants who brought him back dragging him by the hair. His mother whipped him and tied him to the bed with his arms behind his back, and gave him no food.

“That night God's holy martyr, George, appeared to Theodore's mother and the other women, girt with a sword, which he drew as he came towards them saying threateningly, 'Now I shall cut off your heads because you ill-treat and punish the boy and prevent his coming to me'. On their swearing solemnly that they would never do it again, he took back his threat and disappeared.

“The women woke up from fright and loosed the boy and comforted him, imploring him not to be angry with them for their mistakes. They asked him how he dared go up to the shrine before dawn, to which he replied, 'First I went up with Stephen and afterwards with a very handsome and fine young man'. So they concluded that that must be the martyr they had seen in their dream, and yielding to the martyr's urgency they no longer tried to force the boy but said, 'God's will be done ! '

“Theodore had a tiny sister called Blatta who sympathized with him and loved him dearly. Her heart was set on doing God's will and often she went up with Theodore to the shrine in the daytime, and she tried to imitate him in every act of self denial...

“Now when the devil, the enemy of truth, saw that Theodore was industriously acquiring the spiritual weapons of virtue against him, he determined to destroy him. Accordingly one day he assumed the appearance of one of Theodore's school fellows, Gerontius by name, and took him and led him up to the cliffs of a place called Tzidrama, and, setting him on a lofty crag of the cliffs there, put the temptation to him which was put to our Saviour, and said. 'If you are willing, master Theodore, to display your powers of conquest, display them here and jump down from this cliff.' But Theodore looked at the height which was really great and said to Gerontius, 'It is high and I am afraid'. The devil said to him, 'In the eyes of all the boys you are considered braver than I, and you outshine me, but in this matter I am no coward and will throw myself down'. The boy answered him, 'Don't do it! You may lame yourself, or even be killed'. As the other asserted he could do the feat without any danger, Theodore finally said to him, 'If you will, then I will too'. So the devil standing with him on the rock jumped down, and alighting on his feet shouted up to the boy Theodore, saying 'See, I have done it! If you dare, come down too, that I may see your bravery: if you can, as in all else, distinguish yourself in this test too'. Whilst the boy stood debating within himself full of fear at this utterly useless ordeal, and staggered at the boldness of the supposed Gerontius, who had never previously been so bold, George, the martyr of Christ, suddenly appeared and taking Theodore by the hand, led him away from the place, saying, 'Come, follow me, and do not listen to the tempting of him who is seeking your soul; for he is not Gerontius but the enemy of our race'. And so saying the holy martyr brought him to his oratory.

“One day when Theodore was staying in the chapel of St. George his mother and his mother's mother came up to him and with much coaxing tried to force him to come down home saying that they expected the visit of some important friends. But the boy could not be persuaded by them to go down, for he fulfilled literally the words of holy scripture which says, 'The friendship of this world is emnity with God, and whoever would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God.' [Jam 4:4] and 'No one can serve God and Mammon.'[Luke 16:13] He also regarded the wealth of the world as nought and wishing to get rid of it, he unbuckled his gold belt, took off his necklace and the bracelet from his wrist and threw them down in front of the women saying, 'You suspect that these things may get lost and it is because of them you trouble me. Take them then and begone! for I will not leave this place.' And the women took them and went as they could not persuade him. For all his thoughts were towards the Lord Whom he imitated and in Whose footsteps he followed; he fled from his parents and ran to God; he gave up wealth and houses in order to be rewarded a hundredfold and inherit eternal life, [Luke 18:29] as the Lord who has promised this says: 'He that wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me !' [Mat 16:24]

“For the boy nobly mortified his body, keeping it under and wearing it down, as though it were some alien thing which warred against his soul; and on his forehead he bore the Cross; and just as Peter and James and John and the rest of the apostles 'left all and followed Jesus' [Luke 5:11] so this boy likewise believed in the witness of the Scriptures and sought earnestly to mould his life thereon...

“After the feast of holy Easter a man appeared in the oratory one day with his only son who was troubled by an unclean spirit; and the man, emboldened by faith, besought the virtuous boy, Theodore, to heal his son. But the virtuous child of Christ did not know what he ought to do for him and indeed was greatly perplexed, for he was so young. But the father of the demoniac gave him a little whip and said to him with tears, 'Dear master, servant of Christ, take this and rebuke my child and beat him and say, "Come out, come out from this boy, you unclean demon, in the name of my Lord"'

The righteous boy did as he was told; and the demon was disturbed and began to disparage him and to call him an impostor, and if Theodore said anything to him the devil just repeated the same words, and for two days he gave him no answer at all. Then on the third day Theodore, the child of Christ, did as he had done before with the boy and the demon, now disturbed again, began to cry out; 'I am coming out, boy, I am coming out, I will not resist you, give me one hour!' Then Theodore moved away to the altar and the demon shouted out, 'Oh, the violence of the Nazarene who excites these forces against us ! for ever since He came down upon the earth He wins men against us, and now He has given authority to the son of the harlot to cast us out. Woe is me, wretch that I am, to be expelled by such a child! for I cannot withstand the grace which has been sent down upon him from heaven. Woe will come upon our kind from this harlot's action, because he will drive out many of us from men. But the dreadful thing for me is that he has made a beginning with me and I dare not return to my father the Devil, after being expelled by such a child. For if it had been done by an old man, my shame would not be great; accursed be the day on which you were born!' Whilst he was speaking Theodore, the child of God, took some oil from the lamp and touched the boy's head and with the sign of the Cross rebuked the demon saying, 'Come out then, you most wicked spirit, and do not talk so much nonsense!' And the demon with a shriek cast down the boy at his feet and went out of him. And the boy that was healed lay like a corpse, so that Theodore was in much concern and thought that he was dead. But the father said to him, 'Give him your hand, master, and raise him up. And immediately the boy came to himself and stood up, and through the grace of God Theodore restored him to his father in complete health. And this became known throughout all the neighbourhood so that all gave glory to God who bestows wisdom and grace even upon children...

“So then Theodore, the most holy servant of God, was deemed worthy of the priesthood by our Saviour God at the age of eighteen, and with godly wisdom he strove to show himself like unto a prudent man in accordance with the Lord's appointment, praised be His name.* Thus he left his parental home which was built upon sand and all the earthly things therein, resolving within himself never to set foot in it again and in full assurance of faith he devoted himself body and so and with a sincere heart to God.

“He founded his dwelling on the hallowed spot which was literally and figuratively made of rock [Matt 7:24-25], where there stood the revered oratory of the holy and glorious martyr George, in order easily to repel the attacks of alien winds* and to ward off the uprising of the flood, that came like waters in their wake. And thus with his faith firmly based on the rock of Christ and with the help of the holy martyr commemorated in the oratory he spent his time on all the God-inspired Scriptures deeming them to be the sources of eternal life. Most often did he ponder over the holy Gospel and he was continually pricked in heart, especially when he considered the descent from heaven of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, His incarnation and life on earth, and how He deigned to suffer and be crucified in Jerusalem, and to be buried and to rise again. Through marvelling and wondering that these things should have taken place on earth, he was seized with the desire to travel and to worship at the holy places of the Christ which His immaculate feet had trodden, and also because of the words of the prophet Zecharias, 'Every race and every tribe shall be accursed which goeth not up to worship them'. [Zech. 14:17]...

“Through the grace bestowed on him by God Theodore continued to work many miracles against every kind of illness and weakness, but especially did he make supplications to God for aid against unclean spirits; hence, if he merely rebuked them, or even sent them a threat through another, they would immediately come out of people. Some persons were so profoundly impressed by these miracles that they left their homes, journeyed to him, and entering upon a life of contemplation Joined the monastery; others again who had obtained healing would not leave him but stayed with him, giving him such service as he needed.

“Now since the oratory of the holy martyr George was small* and could not contain those who recited the offices as well as those who stayed with the Saint and others* who came up to pray, he built on its right hand side a very fine house (dedicated to Michael, the holy commande-in-chief of the angels) which was comfortable both in winter and summer; on its left it had a small oratory dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and one on the right dedicated to the most blessed Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary. In this house he ordained that the community of Brothers should officiate in order that both those who were waiting either to be healed of an illness, or for the expulsion of evil spirits, and those who had come up to pray, might rest awhile in the hallowed church of the Archangel which was open day and night, and listen to the service and join in the prayers and find healing.

“At that time Tiberius of pious memory was ruling over the empire, and after appointing Maurice, the Chartularius, as general he sent him to the East to the Persian war to fight against them. And after Maurice had defeated them he was , ordered by the Emperor to return to the capital. As he was passing through the districts of Galatia he heard talk about the servant of Christi (These were the days of the blessed man's abstinence and' he was in seclusion in his cave.)

“Maurice went up with his brother Peter and his attendants and fell at the Saint's feet and begged him to pray for them that their journey to the Emperor might have a happy issue. The blessed and glorious man bade him stand up and prayed to God for him, as if by divine revelation he said to Maurice, 'My son, if you bear in mind to pray to the holy martyr George, you will shortly learn to what glorious post in the Empire you are called; only, when you reach those heights be sure to remember the needs of the poor'. When Maurice asked to know precisely what dignity he meant to which he should be called, the Saint led him apart from his companions and told him plainly that he would become emperor.

“After Maurice and all the men with him had received the Saint's blessing he left with joy and reached Constantinople.

“And according to the Saint's prophecy Maurice succeeded to the imperial throne on the death of Tiberius, and remembering Theodore's words he sent him a letter asking him to pray for him and for his Empire that it might be preserved in T peace and untroubled by enemies and bade him make any request he liked.

“The blessed man sent the most blessed Philoumenus, the abbot, to the Emperor and also wrote a letter in order to secure some small gift of food for the monastery to meet the needs of the poor who looked to them for support. On receiving the letter the Emperor made a grant to the monastery of 200 modii of corn annually, and sent it to him together with a chalice and a paten.

(The fame of Theodore spreads ever more widely and the monastery continuously gains new recruits.)

“When the blessed man saw the vast crowds that assembled and realized that the chapel of St. George was too small, he gave the rest of the money he had inherited to build a church worthy of the holy martyr George with three apses and an oratory on the right dedicated to the holy martyr Plato.*

“A trench was being dug for the foundations of the building which was to be set apart for the catechumens and dedicated to the holy martyrs Sergius and Bacchus. This lay higher up the hill. The workmen had blasted several rocks with fire and vinegar and then rolled them down (the land being uncultivated and rocky), when they happened to come across one enormous rock which they got out and tried to roll down into the garden behind the apse: but it stuck in one place and could not be moved in any way. After a large number of workmen had tried hard for a long time and yet could not move it, the servant of God hearing about it came to the place, touched the rock and said, 'Blessed Lord, move it away from here further down, for we need this space', and at once at his words it moved and began rolling down at a violent pace. Now right in its course stood an apple tree, and as it was likely to be caught by the rock the blessed man was grieved at heart and cried out, 'Go to one side of the tree and do not do it any harm !' And immediately, like an intelligent person, the rock bent aside from its attack on the tree, and passed it by without hurting it...

“He therefore laid the matter of his resignation before St. George in prayer and besought God that he might without condemnation deliver up his bishopric. He received assurance that his request was granted. So he summoned a meeting of the clergy and landowners of the town. They had refused to listen to his protests, he said, and had persisted in making him their bishop, though he knew that he was unfitted for the government of the church. 'And now this is the eleventh year that I have troubled you and been troubled by you, I beseech you, therefore, choose for yourselves a shepherd in whom you may find satisfaction, one who can take charge of your affairs.' As for himself, henceforth he was no longer their bishop, but as a humble monk he was returning to the monastery in which he had vowed to serve his Lord all the days of his life. Bidding them farewell he set out for the capital of the province, Ancyra, taking with him John, the archdeacon of his monastery.

“And that night a man of the city saw, in a dream, how a bright and radiant star, casting its light over the city and standing above the church, moved away and was taken from them and then could scarcely be seen far away in the distance. When he saw this, he understood that it had its fulfilment in the holy man's departure from the city...

“A wrestler, wrought upon by an unclean spirit, suffered terribly in his head and all his limbs and came to the Saint for healing. Theodore prayed over him and gave him wine and oil: 'Go, my son,' he said, 'to your home and when you lie down to sleep on your bed in the evening anoint yourself with the wine and oil and whatever you see in a dream come and tell me.' The next day the wrestler returned and said that in his sleep he had seen a young man wearing a cloak and 'coming to me, as it seemed, from your holiness: he seized me by the hair of my head and drew me to himself and immediately all the pain was drawn off from my joints and bones and from all my limbs and through my hair there came forth, as it were, a violent wind'. The man was cured and Theodore explained to him that the young man whom he had seen in his sleep was Christ's glorious martyr, George...

“A woman who had suffered for ten years from an issue of blood came for the Saint's blessing, bringing an alabaster box with myrrh in it. Round Theodore she saw a great press of people and secretly mixed with the throng hoping to pour the myrrh on his feet. Knowing this, the Saint gathered his feet up underneath him and called out to her: 'Cease, woman; what do you intend to do? This is a grievous thing which you have planned to do to me', and in fear the woman gave him the myrrh and besought him to pray for her. And he prayed and said to her, 'The Lord Jesus Christ, Who knoweth secrets, will give effect to the mediation of the holy martyr George according to your faith and He will fulfil your request'. And immediately through God's grace the flow of blood was stayed and, declaring to all the miracle, she glorified God....

“The blessed man greatly longed to find some relics of the glorious and victorious martyr George, and prayed to the latter to satisfy this longing. Now Aemilianus, the very holy bishop of Germia, had a piece of the martyr's head and one finger of a hand and one of his teeth and another small piece. So the martyr appeared to the bishop and exhorted him to give these relics to his servant Theodore for the church that the latter had built in his honour. The bishop sent to the monastery to the servant of God and invited him to come and offer up prayers in the venerable church of the Archangel in order that he might welcome him and give him the much-desired relics of the martyr. Theodore was filled with joy by this promise and left the monastery and went to the town of Germia and offered up prayer in the church of the Archangel. The very holy bishop, Aemilianus, welcomed him warmly, and then conducted him to the monastery of the Mother of God, called of Aligete.

“At that time there was a great drought in the metropolis of Pessinus and the fruits of the trees and crops were withering. Consequently when the men of that metropolis heard that the servant of God, Theodore, was the guest of the Bishop Aemilianus in the monastery of Aligete, they hastened to him. Their headmen (domestikoi) and the clergy and a goodly number of the people came to this monastery of the Mother of God-a distance of some fifteen miles-and after receiving permission from the Bishop Aemilianus they took the servant of Christ and led him to their own city in order that they, too, might entertain him and that by his prayers their country might obtain rain from heaven. Now there was a garden about six miles from their city, and in this garden was a swarm of locusts which were ruining all the young vegetables. When the owner of the garden heard of the inspired man's approach he ran a distance of three miles from his garden to meet him, and falling at his feet, told him of the damage which the locusts had done to his garden. Theodore said to him, 'Go, son, and bring me some water in a pot'. So the man ran and fetched some water from the river close at hand and brought it to him. After the servant of God had blessed the water, he gave it to him, saying, Go back and water the four corners of your garden with this and the Lord will fulfil thy desire'. The man returned to his garden with all speed, and did this; and when he returned to the spot which he had watered first, he did not find a single locust. He went out again in the evening and found in the same way that all the locusts had vanished, so he filled his hands with all kinds of vegetables and went out in great haste to find Theodore whom he recognized as in very truth a worker of miracles.

“Now the procession from the city had met Theodore some three miles beyond the city walls. Whilst he was entering the city with the procession, the owner of the garden came up and fell at his feet and offered him the vegetables he was carrying proclaiming the wonder worked for him. When the Saint had entered the city the most blessed metropolitan George went to greet him and received him with joy; and Theodore, the servant of Christ, bade him announce a religious procession for the morrow. When the morning came the whole town was gathered together in the principal [Katholikon] of the Holy Wisdom. After offering up prayer the blessed Theodore and the metropolitan George with all the people marched in procession, singing a litany, to the venerable church of the Holy Hosts of Angels outside the walls. And there they read the Gospel and returned again in procession, singing a litany, to the church of the Holy Wisdom. The saintly man at the desire of the metropolitan celebrated Communion, at the same time beseeching the merciful God to send down rain upon their country. After all had partaken and had sat down to a feast, the sky became overcast and that same day rain fell so heavily over the whole of their land that for two or three days there were streams of water and the land to the west of the town was impassable owing to the flooding of the river; and they all rejoiced and glorified God Who shewed kindness to His creatures at the request of His servants. And so, escorted by the metropolitan and the citizens, the holy and blessed Theodore left the city and went back to the Bishop Aemilianus; from him he received the relics of the holy martyr George, which had endured much suffering, and after embracing him and taking his leave he quickly reached his holy monastery with great joy...

“And leaving Amorion he came to Sozopolis; and as he was on the point of entering the church of the Mother of God, behold! there lay a man stricken of palsy by a demon, for the unclean spirit had lain concealed in him for several years and had not shown itself, for the ever-Virgin Mother of God was reserving this great miracle for her servant. At that minute the paralytic suddenly leapt up and began to be tormented and met Theodore with these cries, 'Oh violence, why have you come here, iron-eater, with George the Cappadocian to my open shame? I have lain hidden so many years, and now through you I am found out!' and all who saw it were filled with amazement. But the blessed man rebuked the unclean spirit by prayer and by the sign of the Cross and cured him who had been paralysed.

“Then he entered the venerable church of the all-holy Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, where the God-given myrrh flows, and stretched out his arms, and standing thus in the shape of a cross, he prayed and steadfastly gazed at the miraculous 'Icon of the myrrh' opposite him. By divine working, the myrrh gathered into a bubble and then rained down plentifully upon his eyes and anointed his whole face so that all who witnessed this divine testimony said, 'Verily he is a worthy servant of God'...

“This holy, thrice-blessed and saintly servant and faithful follower of Christ, Theodore, died in the third year [613 CE] of the reign of our pious and Christ-loving Emperor, Heraclius [610-641 AD], and in the first year of the reign of his divinely-protected and divinely-crowned son Heraclius, the new Constantine, the eternal Augusti and Emperors, in the first indiction in the month of April at dawn of the twenty-second day, a Sunday, it being the first Sunday after Easter. [eis ta apolousia]

“May we find mercy at the judgment-seat of Christ our God through the prayers and intercession of this Saint, and may we be deemed worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven together with him and with all those who cherish his memory, to the glory of our Saviour Jesus Christ; with Whom to the Father and to the Holy Spirit be glory both now and for ever and world without end, Amen!”
(excerpts from the full life of the Saint here:

For the life of St. George the Great Martyr, see:
St. Theodore Sykeote, Bishop of Anastasiopolis - Commemorated on April 22nd (

Troparion - Tone 2
You were known to be sanctified from your earliest infancy. You were revealed to be filled with grace. You enlightened the world with miracles and drove away a multitude of demons, holy hierarch Theodore. Therefore, pray to the Lord for us.

Kontakion - Tone 3
Mounting upon the virtues as upon a fiery chariot, you ascended to the heavenly mansions, God-bearing Theodore. You lived with men like an angel, and as a man you joined the angelic choir. Therefore, Venerable Father, you have been shown to be a divine vessel of miracles.

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 21, 2010

Selected miracles of St. George the Trophy-bearer to Muslims

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

The Monastery of St. George Koudounas (amateur translation and summary, along with the miracles below)
This historic Monastery, on Pringkiko (Prince's Island) outside of Constantinople, was according to tradition built by the Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros Phocas. It was later sacked in the Fourth Crusade, and its miraculous icon was lost for many years. Later, St. George appeared to a shepherd in a dream and told him where to find his icon. When he approached the area, he heard the ringing of bells, and having unearthed the icon, found it decorated with bells. This is the source behind the epithet "Koudouna". The Monastery was later attached to Agia Lavra, Kalavryta, and eventually to the Patriarch of Constantinople. The current church was built in 1905.

"The miracles of the Saint are many, not only towards Christians [Romans], who apprached always with great reverence (in the old times there wasn't a Christian family which had not visited Koudouna at least once a year), but towards everyone without exception, who approach his grace with faith. Thus there is a great mass of people who come from other faiths from throughout Turkey. The great iron gate of the Monastery, as we learn from its engraving in Greek and Turkish, was offered from the muslim Rasoul efenti, as a gift of gratitude towards the Saint for the healing of his wife.

"On April 23rd, in other words the day when the Saint is honored and the Monastery celebrates, tens of thousands of pilgrims arrive, not only from Constantinople but from other cities, to venerate the Great Martyr and to seek help in their problems. Roughly all of these pilgrims are from other faiths. Many will return later to thank St. George, who heard their prayer and granted their desire, brining the indispensible oil for his vigil lamp. You hear with feeling how he healed this person's son, how another became a mother after being barren for many years, how a third acquired a house, etc."
(see the following link for the full history of the Monastery in Greek, with many more pictures:

Hieromonk Ephraim of Xenophontos, who has lived for three years at “Koudouna”, is astonished with the faith of the thousands of muslims who visit the monastery. 'These people live with their heart' he affirms and continues: 'Because faith is the sight and the strength of the heart, for this reason they can and they experience our Saints'. Monk Kallinikos of Xenophontos, who serves as a priest, relates: 'We are astonished with that which occurs here. We many times we see the finding of the Lord with the faith of the Roman centurion.' To our question if the Saint responds to the supplications of the thousands of pilgrims, he replied: 'During my three years here, we ourselves are witnesses of miracles, such as the healing of paralytics, mutes, and giving birth to children.'

"We asked the monks at St. George to comment about their stay in Turkey, and they told us: 'All of their behavior is perfect. From the highest ruler, to the lowest, they treat us with such respect that many times we wonder which would be better, to live in Christian Greece or muslim Turkey. We should tell you that we go everywhere with the monastic dress and our experiences have always been positive.'

Thus, therefore, St. George became a place of worship for thousands of atheists, Christians, Jews, and especially Muslims, who with every means come to the island and bring their tamata, and place them at the Saint, as they place their hopes in him. And the Saint shows that he does not judge and 'imparts healing' to every faithful person"

The sick Turkish woman
A Turkish woman from Levkochori had a serious health problem. She had heard a lot about St. George and wanted to come [venerate], but they did not let her come into the Church because she was Turkish. But this didn't deter her from remaining outside the Church the whole night. In the morning they gave her holy oil from the vigil lamp of the Saint and she became well. After this, her husband gave many gifts to the Church.

St. George saves a young Muslim girl
A Muslim woman with her mother were taking a taxi for a long trip. The Muslims, as is well known, respect St. George very much.

On the road the taxi driver abandoned the proper course and began to show a threatening attitude towards the girl—the women apparently were praying—and at some point the taxi driver stopped the car and attempted to rape the girl. Immediately a police officer on horseback appeared, who ordered the taxi driver in a very powerful manner to the nearest police station. He went full of fear with the police man, and the police man on horseback went with him to the station, and issued a complaint for attempted rape. He signed the police book and left. When the taxi driver later came out of the interrogation, they looked in the book and said to him:

“There is no hope for you to escape! Do you know who brought you here?”
Saint George.

NOTE: These and similar miracles and sentiments do not at all vindicate the false religion of islam, nor the terrible actions of some Turks against Christians, but the faith and love of some simple Muslims towards Christ and His Saints. As discussed above, Christ found in the Roman Centurion greater faith than any in Israel. (St. Matthew 8:10) And often, this presence of the Holy Spirit out of love not only acts to heal the bodies of non-Orthodox, but more crucially the souls, as many later embrace the light and are baptized Orthodox (see: May Christ grant us all repentance, that we all may be saved, and come to the knowledge of the Truth! St. George the Trophy-bearer, intercede for us all and help us! Amen!

For more miracles which Christ, the Theotokos and the Saints worked for Muslims, see the following Greek page:

For the life of St. George the Great Martyr, see:

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!