2/15 September: The Feast of St Mamas

At the end of a beautiful day, this evening’s vespers, honouring the Holy Great-Martyr Mamas, were chanted before his holy icon, with the candlelight light revealing the holy youth riding to his passion and martyrdom in the city of Cappadocian Caesarea.

The young martyr rides willingly to his torturers on the back of a lion, after a mountainside life of peace and fellowship with the wild animals with whom the fearless relationship of Adam in paradise had been restored, such was the sanctity and purity of the young orphan – still a teenager when he was martyred for his immovable and unswerving faith in Christ.

What lessons St Mamas can teach not only our children and young people, but those of us beyond our youthful years, but still so weak and imperfect in faith.

Such inspiring faith in one so young led to great love and devotion for St Mamas across the Orthodox world, particularly in Cyprus. His holy skull was brought to Langres, in the Champagne region of France by the barbarian Crusaders who sacked the Imperial City in 1204, so that devotion to him was also known in the mediaeval west.

May St Mamas inspire us, intercede for us, and protect us by his prayers.

Happy Feast!

The Holy Great Martyr Mamas was born in Paphlagonia, Asia Minor in the third century of pious and illustrious parents, the Christians Theodotus and Rufina. The parents of the saint were arrested by the pagans for their open confession of their faith and locked up in prison in Caesarea in Cappadocia.

Knowing his own bodily weakness, Theodotus prayed that the Lord would take him before being subjected to tortures. The Lord heard his prayer and he died in prison. Saint Rufina died also after him, after giving birth to a premature son. She entrusted him to God, beseeching Him to be the Protector and Defender of the orphaned infant.

God heard the dying prayer of Saint Rufina: a rich Christian widow named Ammia reverently buried the bodies of Saints Theodotus and Rufina, and she took the boy into her own home and raised him as her own son. Saint Mamas grew up in the Christian Faith. His foster mother concerned herself with the developing of his natural abilities, and early on she sent him off to study his grammar.

The boy learned easily and willingly. He was not of an age of mature judgment but distinguished himself by maturity of mind and of heart. By means of prudent conversations and personal example young Mamas converted many of his own peers to Christianity.

The governor, Democritus, was informed of this, and the fifteen-year-old Mamas was arrested and brought to trial. In deference to his illustrious parentage, Democritus decided not to subject him to torture, but instead sent him off to the emperor Aurelian (270-275). The emperor tried at first kindly, but then with threats to turn Saint Mamas back to the pagan faith, but all in vain. The saint bravely confessed himself a Christian and pointed out the madness of the pagans in their worship of lifeless idols.

Infuriated, the emperor subjected the youth to cruel tortures. They tried to drown the saint, but an angel of the Lord saved Saint Mamas and bade him live on a high mountain in the wilderness, not far from Caesarea. Bowing to the will of God, the saint built a small church there and began to lead a life of strict temperance, in exploits of fasting and prayer.

Soon he received a remarkable power over the forces of nature: wild beasts inhabiting the surrounding wilderness gathered at his abode and listened to the reading of the Holy Gospel. Saint Mamas nourished himself on the milk of wild goats and deer.

The saint did not ignore the needs of his neighbours. Preparing cheese from this milk, he gave it away freely to the poor. Soon the fame of Saint Mamas’s life spread throughout all of Caesarea.

The governor sent a detachment of soldiers to arrest him. When they encountered Saint Mamas on the mountain, the soldiers did not recognize him, and mistook him for a simple shepherd. The saint then invited them to his dwelling, gave them a drink of milk and then told them his name, knowing that death for Christ awaited him. The servant of God told the servant of the Emperor to go on ahead of him into Caesaria, promising that he would soon follow. The soldiers waited for him at the gates of the city, and Saint Mamas, accompanied by a lion, met them there.

Surrendering himself into the hands of the torturers, Saint Mamas was brought to trial under a deputy governor named Alexander, who subjected him to intense and prolonged tortures. They did not break the saint’s will, however. He was strengthened by the words addressed to him from above: “Be strong and take courage, Mamas.”

When they threw Saint Mamas to the wild beasts, these creatures would not touch him. Finally, one of the pagan priests struck him with a trident. Mortally wounded, Saint Mamas went out beyond the city limits. There, in a small stone cave, he gave up his spirit to God, Who in the hearing of all summoned the holy Martyr Mamas into His heavenly habitation. He was buried by believers at the place of his death.

Christians soon began to receive help from him in their afflictions and sorrows. Saint Basil the Great speaks thus about the holy Martyr Mamas in a sermon to the people: “Remember the holy martyr, you who live here and have him as a helper. You who call on his name have been helped by him. Those in error he has guided into life. Those whom he has healed of infirmity, those whose children were dead he has restored to life, those whose life he has prolonged: let us all come together as one, and praise the martyr!”

The New Church Year

THE SYNAXARION FOR 1/14 SEPTEMBER, THE NEW INDICTION, NAMELY THE NEW YEAR

Bless us for the Indiction of the New Year,

O Thou Who art both Ancient and for mankind New,

namely Thee, O Christ.

 
We should know, brethren, that the Holy Church of God celebrates today the Indiction, for three reasons.
 
First, because it is the new year, and many of the old Romans honored it from ancient times. In Latin the word Indiction means “boundry.”
 
Second, the Church celebrates because on this day our Lord Jesus Christ went to the Synagogue of the Jews, and was given the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, as Luke the Evangelist writes (Lk. 4). And when the Lord opened the scroll – O the wonder! – He found that place, namely the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah, in which it says the following words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” When the Lord read these words, He rolled up the scroll and gave it to the attendant. Then He sat down and said to the people: “Today the words of this prophecy have been fulfilled in your hearing.” Hearing this, the people were astounded by these graceful words which came out of His mouth, as Luke the Evangelist writes.
 
There is also a third reason why the Church remembers the Indiction today, and celebrates the beginning of the new year: that is, in the hymns and prayers which we offer to God on this feast, we ask that God be gracious to us and bless the new year, and that He grant it prosperity and full of all the physical good things. And that He illumine our intellects, that we pass the entire year in purity and with a good conscience, and that we be well pleasing to God by keeping His commandments, so that by this we may acquire eternal heavenly good things.

Dear brothers and sisters, greetings for the beginning of the Church year as we celebrate the New Indiction, wondering what the next year will bring for us 

When we began the last Church year in Cardiff, we were worshipping in the refectory of Newman Hall, though we had to retreat to Llanelli and travel to Cardiff each Sunday within a few weeks, before moving into St John’s during Advent. 

In Cheltenham, we now wait to see whether it will be possible to continue using the Lady Chapel of All Saints, Pittville, having enjoyed the support and hospitality of Father Robert and his parish, not to mention the Bishop of Ebbsfleet. After the uncertainty and irregularities of the last year, we look forward to re-establishing parish life, with the hope that I may be soon freed from secular work so that there is sufficient time for parish ministry. This is very much needed for our faithful in Gloucestershire.

In Cardiff, the last Church year brought us new parishioners from the West of England, and we pray that the New Indiction will see the further growth of our parish. However, the most important aspect of the past year was the spiritual maturation of the community in the face of adversity and in reaction to the partial loss of our religious freedoms. The privations of lockdown saw a spiritual flowering, which bore great spiritual fruit.  

What we had taken for granted was no longer possible, and everything that we were able to do in limited circumstances made the continuation of spiritual life precious and the of the utmost important. 

The Lord provided for us in abundance, and we pray for that abundance to continue. 

However, using the language of earthly needs, the liturgical texts for the New Year warn us that this abundance is a recognition and reward for our faithfulness. 

In the first verse of ‘Lord, I have cried’, we pray, 

“Having prayerfully learned the all-glorious and divine teaching of Christ, let us each and every day cry out to the Creator: Our Father, Who dwellest in the heavens, give us our daily bread, and overlook our transgressions.” 

… but, we must be praying this as devoted children of the Heavenly Father, living in Faith, righteousness and the fear of God.  

How can we meaningfully pray for God’s blessing at the beginning of this Church Year if we neglect Faith; if we forget prayer; if we reject fasting; if we fail to try and make the Gospel the meaning of lives; if we fail to pursue peace and righteousness; if we live in impurity, rather than striving for purity; if love, mercy and forgiveness are absent from us, our families and homes? Furthermore, how can we pray this of we live without the Church, which prays not ‘My Father’, but ‘Our Father’. 

The second vesperal Old Testament reading, from Leviticus, counters any idea that we can presume the fulfilment of our prayer without actively living the spiritual life. 

“… I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass; and your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.” 

Even before we look to the fruits of earthly abundance, the first place that must yield fruit and increase is in our souls and spiritual lives, and we must struggle to cultivate spiritual fruit, and NOW is the time to labour in the garden of our souls, so that the Lord’s material promises and gifts may be mirrored by a season of grace, inner-growth, spiritual-fruits and abundance. 

 “I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time; and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid…” 

With prayerful zeal, attentiveness and watchfulness, guided by Faith and clothed in humility, let us set out upon the path of the new year seeking to love, obey and serve God, the giver of all good things. 

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark 

Today in Cardiff

Dear brothers and sisters,

It was wonderful to look out of the sanctuary after proskomedia and see so many new faces today, together with the latest parishioners and friends who have returned from their summer travels in Russia, Ukraine and beyond.

At the same time, we missed some of our parishioners who are unwell, sending them our greetings and assuring them of our prayers!

Our kliros was buoyant and the singing bright, the number of confessions and communions spiritually encouraging, and our antidoron was stretched to the limits at the kissing of the Cross.

During the litia after Liturgy, we prayed for the soul of the newly departed handmaiden of God, Svetlana, and ask your continued prayers for the repose of her soul; we blessed Phanouropita and even began the preparations for a St Nicholas Day baptism – and all of this before lunch and the parish meeting.

Father Deacon Mark will publish the meeting minutes in due course, but we warmly congratulate Norman John on his election as starosta, after much support, coaxing and nomination by our parishioners, who  were unanimous in approving his election. We wish him, and Georgina who will help him in her usual selfless way, Many Years and God’s blessing in fulfilling this obedience.

In reporting to the meeting as rector, I was keen to recognise the spiritual growth of the parish since our last parish meeting, shortly before the first lockdown, and for those who were not at the meeting I will venture a few observations.

Sadly, there are those whom we have not seen since the first lockdown, but – amazingly – we now have a committed procession of people week by week, making their way from Bath and Avon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, faithfully supporting the parish and contributing greatly to parish life: singing, serving, sanitising St John’s and performing other welcome obediences.

Without exception, they all settled into parish-life without stopping to take a breath, and it is now very strange when they are unable to be with us. At the same time, our local parishioners have shown great warmth and openness, in welcoming and including our new parish family members from across the Severn. What a blessing it is to be the rector of such a parish.

Thanks are due to parishioners for their gifts of wine, incense, icons, garden produce and pryanik. It was rather like the end of the Christmas Vigil!

Your prayers are asked for those about to travel – for Olga and Andrew, and for Elena; for Subdeacon Peter who is sick, and for the Archimandrite Mefody, Svetlana, and Igor– all newly departed.

Finally, may I remind all in church that whilst lunch is being uncovered and refreshments prepared, the thanksgiving prayers are being offered. All who have received Holy Communion should be present for them, unless they have an obedience that requires them to be in the kitchen or at the table. In this case, they should be prayed at home.

I look forward to us celebrating our first Liturgy of the Church Year, next Sunday, after the beginning of the New Indiction on Tuesday. Before then, we will gather for compline on Saturday at 16:30, at which time confessions will be heard.

May God bless you all, and protect our faithful brothers and sisters on their travels.

In Christ – Fr Mark

Clarification regarding suspension and on-line prayers

Dear brothers and sisters,

After some confusion regarding the suspension of clerics, and their subsequent activities, it seems necessary to clarify the situation.

A cleric who is suspended is banned for all ministry in whatever rank of the clerical order they occupy.

If they serve under this suspension, this disobedience is a sin, and one in which the faithful must not participate.

It does not matter whether a banned cleric serves in a temple or private space, with broadcast and inclusion of others on-line via social media. Not being physically present, but taking part on-line, makes no difference. A ban is a ban, and no faithful of our parishes may have any liturgical interaction with a banned cleric.

This is very difficult, as some of our faithful now feel very isolated, having been accustomed to on-line akathist hymns, memorial services and molebny, that have preserved parish life, and have been a great consolation during lockdown and the uncertainty of the last year and a half.

However, for rebellion against the order and peace of the Church, for creating discord and division, clergy in Colchester and Cheltenham are suspended.

The faithful may not pray with them if they are disobeying the suspension, and their suspensions may only be lifted by His Grace, Bishop Irenei.

Let us all pray for peace and reconciliation, and let us be careful in not being drawn into the rebellion that has occured.

Spasi Gospodi – Fr Mark

Praying on 9/11: Eternal Memory

When the world saw the horror of two passenger planes purposely ploughed into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Centre, few could have been prepared for the horror when those towers disintegrated and collapsed, sending a deadly tide of masonry and dust through the surrounding streets.

The world will remain haunted by the sight of flames and smoke, and poor terrified people plunging to their deaths, leaving us feeling as impotent as those who looked on, aghast and numb, on 11 September 2001.

We mark the twentieth anniversary of that fateful day, which also saw a third plane attack on the Pentagon, and a fourth plane crash into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, due to the sacrificial action of the passengers that brought about their deaths, but prevented another target being hit.

For us, as Christians, our over-riding duty, on this day, is to pray at every opportunity possible: for the souls of those who died on that horrific day; for those whose catastrophic injuries changed their lives for ever; for the terrified and traumatised; for those who wake up at night, screaming and weeping from their hellish nightmares; for those who continue to treat and care for those whose lives have been affected; for those who mourn, and have to get through this terrible anniversary; for healing and the emotional rebuilding of society and families that will last generations…. and for peace and hope, for today, tomorrow and in the years to come.

This is really a day for few words, but to simply take up our prayer-ropes for all who need our prayers – living and departed – and to simply pray with hope to the Saviour, the Conqueror of Death, and Prince of Peace, “Lord, have mercy.”

 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

(John 14: 27)

The Beheading of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Please remember that tomorrow is the feast of the Beheading of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, and is a day on which we fast in his memory. Wine and oil are permitted, but not fish.

While the birthday of the shameless Herod was being celebrated, the oath he swore to the vile dancer was fulfilled; for the head of the forerunner, having been cut off, was borne, like food, upon a platter, to those reclining there. O abominable feast, unholy act, full of murder! Yet, honouring the Baptist as the greatest born of women, we call him blessed, as is meet.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

The disciple of the most evil devil danced, and received thy head as her reward, O forerunner. O feast full of blood! Better would it have been not to have sworn thine oath, O iniquitous Herod, grandson of lies! For even though thou didst make thy vow, it was not well sworn. Better would it have been to be proved false, than to cut off the head of the forerunner, who spake the truth. Yet, honouring the Baptist as the greatest born of women, we call him blessed, as is meet.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

It was not fitting, O Herod, to condemn to death the denouncer of thine adultery, for the sake of a satanic love and the burning of cruel fornication. It was not fitting for thee to give his most precious head over to a most iniquitous woman because of a vow haplessly made as a condition for her dancing. O how couldst thou have committed such a murder? How is it that the vile dancer was not utterly consumed when she bore it on a platter in the midst of the feast? Yet, honouring the Baptist as the greatest born of women, we call him blessed, as is meet.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

Again Herodias rageth insanely, again is she vexed. O what deceitful dancing, what a feast of deception! The Baptist is beheaded, and Herod is troubled. Through the supplications of Thy forerunner, O Lord, grant peace to our souls.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

While the birthday of the shameless Herod was being celebrated, the oath he swore to the vile dancer was fulfilled; for the head of the forerunner, having been cut off, was borne, like food, upon a platter, to those reclining there. O abominable feast, unholy act, full of murder! Yet, honouring the Baptist as the greatest born of women, we call him blessed, as is meet.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Who doth not call thee blessed, O most holy Virgin? * Who will not hymn thy most pure birthgiving? * For the only-begotten Son Who hath shone forth timelessly from the Father, * came forth, ineffably incarnate, from thee, O pure one; * By nature he is God, by nature for our sakes, he hath become a man * not divided into two Hypostases, * but known in two natures without commingling. * Him do thou beseech, O pure and most blessed one, ** that our souls find mercy!

(Verses on ‘Lord, I have cried…’)

Troparion, tone 2: The memory of the just is celebrated with hymns of praise * but the Lord’s testimony is enough for thee, O Forerunner, * for thou wast shown to be more wonderful than the Prophets * since thou wast granted to baptize in the running waters Him Whom thou didst proclaim. * Then having endured great suffering for the Truth, * Thou didst rejoice to bring, even to those in Hades * the good tidings that God had appeared in the flesh * taking away the sin of the world ** and granting us great mercy.

Kontakion, tone 5: The glorious beheading of the forerunner * was part of God’s dispensation, * that he might proclaim to those in Hades * the coming of the Savior. * Let Herodias, who demanded the iniquitous murder, therefore lament; * for she loved not the law of God nor the age of life, ** but rather this false and transitory one. 

Saint Phanourios the Great-Martyr and Newly-Revealed

Here we are again, with the feast of the Holy Great-Martyr Phanourios marking the transition from summer to Autumn, as we enjoy the fruits of the season and make the most of the garden’s last summer-flowers.

I have been looking back at past Facebook posts, including our celebrations for St Phanourios, with the blessing of Phanouropita in the Little Oratory, replete with photographs of the garden Newman Hall as it passes from one season to another.

I will always be indebted to my Greek pupils and their parents, who introduced me to St Phanurios, who suffered so many tortures before his martyrdom, and then re-revealed himself to the faithful after being forgotten for centuries.

How often the saints introduce themselves to us – through an icon; through a chance encounter with their written life; through a conversation with someone; through the desires of one who wishes to share their love for a saint with us.

The saints continue to become loved by other nations, and other local Churches, becoming truly pan-Orthodox in their relationship with the faithful.

During my years in ‘Londonopoulis’, I had the joy of not only coming to ‘meet’ St Phanourios, but also the Great-Martyr Mamas, St Savas the New, the Greek new-martyrs, and so many holy-ones who have been glorified by the Lord in Greece, Cyprus, and in the other lands that were once the Christian Empire.

However, in St Phanourios we see something truly wondrous, with the finding of his icon in the ruins of a church on the island of Rhodes becoming the beginning of an intense spiritual relationship between the whole Hellenic people and the Great-Martyr: a glorious wonder!

We look forward to blessing Phanouropita at the end of our Liturgy on Sunday, when we will beseech the intercessions of St Phanourios, for our communities and the faithful.

Άγιε του Θεού Φανούριε πρέσβευε υπέρ υμών!

Saint of God, Phanourios, pray for us!

The following account of the life of Saint Phanourios was written by St. Nikephoros of Chios and included in the Kollyvades text known as the New Leimonarion.

Synaxarion

On the 27th of August, commemoration is made of the Holy, Glorious, and Great-Martyr Phanourios the Newly-Revealed

Verses: Phanourios bestows light upon all the faithful,Even though he long lay in the darkness of the earth.

From whence Phanourios, the splendid athlete of the Lord and invincible martyr, came, and of what parentage he was, and even in what age he lived and under the reign of which emperors he waged his struggle and fought his fight, we have been unable to ascertain, for the account of his life has been lost owing to the vicissitudes of time, as many other things also have been lost or become obscure or unclear. This only do we know, that when the Hagarenes ruled the renowned island of Rhodes, having conquered it because of our sins, he that became ruler of the island wished to rebuild the ramparts of the city that past sieges had ravaged. On the outskirts of the fortress were several ruined dwellings that had been abandoned by reason of their association with the old fortress, which was located a furlong to the south. From these ruins the Hagarenes were wont to gather stones for their construction.

It so happened that, while excavating and reinforcing that place, they discovered a most beautiful church, which was partly buried in ruins. Excavating as far as the floor of the temple, they found many holy icons, all decayed and crumbling, yet the icon of the holy Phanourios was whole and entire; indeed, it seemed as though it had been painted but that very day. And when this all-venerable temple was uncovered, together with its sacred icons, the hierarch of that place, Nilus by name, a man of great sanctity and learning, came and read the inscription of the icon, which said, “The Holy Phanourios.”

The Saint was depicted upon the icon as follows: He was shown as a young man, arrayed as a soldier, holding a cross in his right hand, and at the upper part of the cross there was a lighted taper. Round about the perimeter of the icon were twelve scenes from the holy one’s martyrdom, which showed the Saint being examined before the magistrate; then in the midst of soldiers, who were beating him about the mouth and head with stones; then stretched out upon the ground while the soldiers flogged him; then, stripped naked while they rent his flesh with iron hooks; then incarcerated in a dungeon; and again standing before the tyrant’s tribunal; then being burned with candles; then bound to a rack; then cast amidst wild beasts; then crushed with a great rock; then standing before idols holding burning coals in his hands, whilst a demon nearby wept and lamented; and finally he is shown standing erect in the midst of a fiery furnace, his hands, as it were, uplifted towards Heaven.

From these twelve scenes depicted upon the icon, the holy hierarch perceived that the Saint was a martyr. Then straightway that good and pious man sent deputations to the rulers of that place, asking that they consign to him that temple for restoration, but this they declined to do. Therefore, the hierarch traveled to Constantinople alone and there obtained a decree empowering him to rebuild the church; thus it was restored to that state in which it can be seen even to this day, outside the city. And it has become the source of many miracles, of which I shall relate one for the profit of many, that all who love and venerate the Saint may rejoice.

At that time the isle of Crete had no Orthodox hierarch, but a Latin bishop, for it was ruled then by the Venetians, who had shrewdly refused to permit an Orthodox hierarch to be consecrated whenever one died. This they did with evil intent, thinking that with time they could thus convert the Orthodox to the papal doctrines. If Orthodox men wished to obtain ordination, they had to go to Kythera. It came to pass that there went forth from Crete three deacons, traveling to Kythera to be ordained priests by the hierarch there; and when this had been accomplished, and they were returning to their own country, the Hagarenes captured them at sea and brought them to Rhodes, where they were sold as slaves to other Hagarenes. The newly consecrated priests lamented their misfortune day and night.

But in Rhodes, they heard tell of the great wonders wrought by the Great Martyr Phanourios, and straightway they made fervent supplication to the Saint, beseeching him with tears to deliver them from their bitter bondage. And this they did each separately, without knowing ought of what the others were doing, for they had each been sold to a different master. Now, in accordance with the providence of God, however, they were all three permitted by their masters to go and worship at the temple of the Saint; and, guided by God, they came all together and fell down before the sacred icon of the Saint, watering the ground with the streams of tears, entreating him to deliver them out of the hands of the Hagarenes. Then they departed, somewhat consoled, each to his own master, hoping that they would obtain mercy, which in fact did come to pass; for the holy one had compassion upon their tears and hearkened unto their supplication. That night he appeared to the Hagarenes who were the masters of the captive priests, and commanded them to permit the servants of God to go and worship in his temple lest he bring dreadful destruction upon them. But the Hagarenes, thinking the matter sorcery, loaded them with chains and made their torments more onerous.

Then the Great Martyr Phanourios went to them that night and brought them forth from their bonds, and encouraged them, saying that the following day he would, by all means, free them. He then appeared to the Hagarenes and, reproaching them with severity, said: ‘If by tomorrow you have not set your servants at liberty, you shall behold the power of God!’ Thus saying, the holy one vanished. And, O, the wonder! As many as inhabited those houses all arose blind and paralyzed, tormented with the most dreadful pangs, the least with the greatest. But, though bedridden, with the help of their kinfolk they considered what to do, and finally decided to send for the captives. And when the three priests were come, they inquired of them if they were able to heal them; and they answered: ‘We shall beseech God. Let His will be done.’

But the Saint appeared again to the Hagarenes on the third night and said to them: ‘If ye do not send to my house letters of manumission for the priests, you shall have neither the health, nor the light [of sight] which you desire.’ And when they had again conferred with their kinfolk and friends, each one composed a letter of emancipation for his own slave, which were left before the icon of the Saint. And O, the wonder! Even before the messengers sent to the temple returned, those, who before were blind and paralyzed, were healed; and marveling they set the priests free and dispatched them to their homeland amicably. The priests, though, had a copy of the icon of St. Phanourios painted and took it with them to their own country, and each year the memory of the holy one is piously celebrated amongst them. By the prayers of the Martyr may Christ God have mercy upon us. Amen!

Great-Martyr | Newly-Revealed | Phanourios | Phanouropita | Rhodes

Parish Meeting This Sunday

Dear brothers and sisters,

This Sunday will be the last of the Church year, with the new ecclesiastical year beginning next Tuesday on 1/14 September.

To mark this transition, we will be holding a General Parish Meeting after Sunday’s Liturgy, looking back over the last year and a half as the rector (Hieromonk Mark), parish administrator (Deacon Mark), and treasurer report on various aspects of parish life.

Much has happened since our last parish meeting, with the geographical area in which our parishioners live expanding across the Severn, from where loyal new parishioners now make weekly journeys. Given the distances involved, not everyone will be able to be in church on Sunday, but we nevertheless encourage those unable to attend to raise any subjects they wish to be discussed on the agenda.

We encourage you all to attend the meeting and to give your views and opinions on the matters we need to discuss. It is your parish, and your voice, ideas and opinions count.

We hope that you will be with us on Sunday, when we will have a bring-and-share lunch after Liturgy, and then hold our meeting. So, bring-and-share will obviously mean bringing something to share!

We especially look forward to welcoming more parishioners back from their travels, new friends who have been in touch with us over the past month or two, and hopefully some of our faithful who have not been with us for a while.

May God bless you all!

In Christ – Fr Mark