The Feast of St John Chrysostom: November 13/26

As we celebrate the feast of the great Church Father, St John Chrysostom, we greet our brother Kevin-John on his name day, and thank him for his labours, serving as a reader for our community, and always being there to offer help and assistance whenever anything is needed. He is always a great support for the clergy, and no request is ever too much. May God bless him, and grant him ‘Many Years!’

The Canon of the Hierarch, the Acrostic Whereof Is:
“I Hymn Thee, The Golden Mouth of The Spirit,”
by Theophanes, in Tone VIII

Ode I, Irmos: The wonderworking staff of Moses, * striking and dividing the sea in the figure of a cross, * once drowned Pharaoh the pursuing charioteer, * while it saved the fleeing people of Israel * as they fled on foot, * chanting a hymn unto God.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

As a most fervent preacher of repentance, O father Chrysostom, pray to God that I may be able to repent with all my heart, and beg thou that, through thy suffering, the wounds of mine ancient transgressions may be healed.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Receiving all the effulgence of the Holy Spirit, O venerable father, thou wast revealed to be a most radiant pillar going before the Church and guiding it, and a luminous cloud overshadowing the councils of the Orthodox, O all-blessed one.

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

A teacher ordained by Christ, with golden tongue and a divinely wise mind thou didst abundantly pour forth divine doctrines; for thou wast revealed to be a river of God full of the waters of the Spirit, O divinely revealed Chrysostom.

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

All-adorned with divers forms of grace, O divinely joyous and blessed one, thou hast given birth to the Word of the Father Who, in His great compassion, and in a manner past understanding and all telling, assumed flesh; and thou didst remain an undefiled Virgin.

Ode III, Irmos: O Christ fortify me on the rock of Thy commandments, * Thou who in the beginning didst establish the heavens with understanding * and didst establish the earth upon the waters, * for there is none holy save Thee, O only Lover of mankind.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Enriched by the mind of Christ, by thy pure life thou didst become an aid, the explication and enabling of the salvation of all, O divinely inspired Chrysostom, pouring forth salvific teachings.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Made rich by the immaterial treasures of the Spirit, thou didst draw forth an ever-flowing stream of doctrines from the wellsprings of salvation, O venerable father, watering all of the Churches therewith.

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

With the most-wise tilling of thy discourses thou didst clear the stony fields of men’s souls, O wise and God-pleasing Chrysostom, rendering them fertile, and watering them with heavenly showers.

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

There was no blemish or defilement within thee, O Virgin, and thou wast revealed to be a habitation transcending the beauties of heaven; for in thee all the holiness of the virtues abided, O all-immaculate one.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sessional Hymn, in Tone VIII, Spec. Mel. “Of the Wisdom …”: In a godly manner thou didst draw forth a wealth of knowledge of the ineffable wisdom, gathering in the waters of Orthodoxy for all, which divinely gladden the hearts of the faithful and drown, as is meet, the thoughts of infidels. Wherefore, through the sweat of piety, thou didst show thyself to be an invincible champion of the Trinity, O John Chrysostom. Entreat Christ God, that He grant remission of sins unto those who with love celebrate thy holy memory.

Glory …, in Tone VIII & same melody:

Having come to know the wisdom which is from on high and the grace of words from God, thou didst shine forth upon all like gold in the crucible, preaching the Holy Trinity in Unity, and shooting down the delusion of avarice with the arrows of thy words. Wherefore, having zealously reproved the empress, thou didst put to shame the alien thinking of Arius, O John Chrysostom. Entreat Christ God, that He grant remission of sins unto those who with love celebrate thy holy memory.

Now & ever …, Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. in Tone VIII:

Pondering the flames and burning of Gehenna, and the weeping and lamentation therein, the exceedingly accursed and most bitter separation, as well as the inheritance of the saints and their joyous assembly, O my soul, restrain thyself and give utterance to sighs; strive to erase the record of thy many debts with tears of compunction, having the pure Mother of God as thine unashamed companion. For, it is for her sake that remission of sins hast been granted to those, who in an Orthodox manner, glorify her as the Theotokos.

Ode IV, Irmos: Thou, O Lord, art my strength and Thou art my power, * Thou art my God and Thou art my joy, * Thou Who, while never leaving the bosom of Thy Father, * hast visited our poverty. * Therefore with the Prophet Habbakuk I cry unto Thee, * ‘Glory to Thy power, O Lover of mankind!’

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Christ Who, in that He is good, exerciseth forethought for all in His providence, hath given thee to us, O all-blessed John Chrysostom, as another peer of the apostles, a proclaimer of the heavenly liturgy, and a divine expounder of celestial mysteries.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Let us honour the golden John Chrysostom of golden eloquence, who hath rendered all things golden through the golden lustre of his teachings, and hath illumined the world with his tongue, which shineth brighter than gold, is full of light and poureth forth divine grace.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Thou wast wholly the habitation of God; thou wast shown to be wholly the instrument of the Spirit, sounding forth a divinely inspired hymn of every virtue and the cause of salvation, and revealing the beauty of the kingdom of heaven, O all-blessed John Chrysostom.

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

Thou didst proclaim the compassion of God, setting forth examples of repentance, and most excellently instructing us how to avoid evils, O most blessed, most perfect and most honored father Chrysostom, pouring forth excellent teachings on good works.

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

After God, we have acquired thee as our intercessor; for thou wast the Mother of God, the Creator and Fashioner, Who took upon Himself our guise, saving it from corruption and death, and glorifying it with divine glory, O all-immaculate one.

Ode V, Irmos: O Light never-waning, * why hast Thou turned Thy face from me * and why hath the alien darkness surrounded me, * wretched though I be? * But do Thou guide my steps I implore Thee * and turn me back towards the light of Thy commandments.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

We all know thee to be the most radiant beacon of the Church, saving the souls of all, rescuing them from the jaws of death, and guiding them to everlasting life, O ever-hymned father.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Protected by the armor of piety and with great courage of soul, thou dost rend asunder the hordes of the heretics, O thrice-blessed and most sacred one; and, rejoicing, thou dost most radiantly unite the choirs of the Orthodox in the bond of the Spirit.

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

Thy cheeks, full of divine scents like phials of perfume, gladden the whole world with noetic fragrance through the distilled mystagogy of thine understandings and the beauty of thy words, O all-wise one.

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

Conceiving God, thou hast given birth to the Lord, Creator and Fashioner, O pure one. All mankind blesses thee, and the intelligent ranks of the bodiless ones glorify thee as the Mother of God.

Ode VI, Irmos: Cleanse me, O Saviour, * for many are mine iniquities; * lead me up from the abyss of evils I pray Thee, * for unto Thee have I cried, * and Thou hast hearkened unto me, * O God of my salvation.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

As a rich bestower of discourse, thou hast enriched the whole world with spiritual wisdom; for rich grace poured forth through thy lips from on high, O hierarch.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Thy sound hath gone forth into all the earth like lightning, O Chrysostom, and the power of thy words hath sounded in all the ends of the world like a blaring trumpet.

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

Clad in a robe of the virtues woven from on high, O all-blessed one, and arrayed in the beauty of thy discourses, thou wast revealed to be the glorious confirmation of the truth.

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

The Lover of mankind, Who beareth all things by His omnipotent power arrayed Himself in the weak flesh He received from thee, O all-immaculate Virgin, for the benefit of mankind.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion, in Tone VI, Spec. Mel. “He Who fulfilled His providence concerning us …”: From the heavens hast thou received grace, * and by thy lips thou dost teach all to worship the One God in Trinity, * O John Chrysostom, all blessed righteous one. ** Rightly do we acclaim thee, for thou art a teacher revealing things divine.

Ikos: I bend my knee before the Creator of all, I stretch forth my hands to the pre-eternal Word, seeking the gift of discourse, that I may hymn the saint whom He Himself hath magnified; for through His prophet He Who liveth forever doth say: I glorify those who glorify me with faith. He Who in ancient times raised up Samuel hath now glorified a hierarch; for, having invested well the talant with which he was entrusted, he hath brought it to the King, for which cause the Transcendent One hath exalted him. I beg that the Word impart unto me his grace, unworthy as I am, that I may be able to hymn him with piety. For he is the teacher of the ends of the world, revealing things divine.

Ode VII, Irmos: Once in Babylon the fire stood in awe * of God’s condescension; * for which sake the youths in the furnace, * dancing with joyous steps as in a meadow, chanted: * O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Probing the depths of the abyss of goodness and compassion, thou didst show thyself to be the surety of salvation for those who fervently repent and cry aloud to the Lord with all their soul: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Thou settest aright every thought by thy teachings, O Chrysostom, and healest spiritual infirmities, as one most compassionate; and thou chantest in gladness to those who run well the race: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

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

As elect, venerable, guileless, a priest of the Most High, splendidly arrayed in righteousness, O thou who art most noetically rich, thou hast been exalted, crying out with gladness: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

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

O most pure one, thou didst conceive Him Who is God and Lord over all, Whose good pleasure it was to save the human race from corruption and death. Hymning Him as is meet, we cry: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Ode VIII, Irmos: In his wrath the Chaldean Tyrant made the furnace blaze, * with heat fanned sevenfold for the servants of God; * but when he perceived that they had been saved by a greater power * he cried aloud to the Creator and Redeemer; * ‘ye children bless, ye priests praise, * ye people, supremely exalt Him throughout all ages’.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Using thy discourses with knowledge, O Chrysostom, we learn what is precious in theology; we bear as fruit the profit of good things and escape the harm of evil. For thou hast been the common cause of our salvation, crying aloud: Supremely exalt Christ throughout the ages!

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

As thou hast most compassionate boldness, with thy merciful and sympathetic love pray to the Master on our behalf, O father Chrysostom; for we, the faithful, set thee before the Saviour as our mediator and intercessor, as one who prayeth fervently for us, O divinely wise and all-blessed hierarch John.

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

Thou didst reprove the youthful opposition, headstrong thought and injustice of the rulers, O venerable one, interceding fervently for the oppressed; and in thy loving conduct thou wast a father for orphans, widows and the poor, crying: Supremely exalt Christ throughout the ages!

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

O Virgin, the divinely eloquent prophets foretold thy supra-natural and wondrous birthgiving by means of bodily forms, divers indistinct images, and significant symbolic phenomena; wherefore, in gladness we piously hymn thee, supremely exalting Christ throughout all ages.

Ode IX, Irmos: Heaven was stricken with awe, * and the ends of the earth were filled with amazement, * for God hath appeared in the flesh, * and thy womb was rendered more spacious than the heavens. * Wherefore, the ranks of men and of angels * magnify thee as the Theotokos.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Truly delighting in the life for which thou didst struggle as far as thou wast able, O divinely eloquent father, and having excelled on earth by thine angelic life and acquired the tongue of Christ and a mouth of tranquillity, pray thou that those who truly bless thee with faith may be saved.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Thy words are the words of life, O thrice-blessed one, bringing life everlasting; for Christ hath shown thee to be a flowing wellspring, a river pouring forth torrents of divine teachings, a true stream of sweetness and brook of remission, and a radiant preacher of repentance.

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

Thou hast been shown to be a most splendid mediator between God and mortals, O most radiant one; for thou wast revealed to be a divinely luminous lamp of grace and divine understanding and a teacher of almsgiving. Wherefore, O Chrysostom, with heartfelt love we now magnify thee as is meet.

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

O pure and exceedingly glorious Birthgiver of God, save those who hymn thee with love, mercifully silencing the tumult of temptations; for, having given birth unto God, thou doest all things whatsoever thou dost desire, and dost accomplish unhindered what thou dost will, O Virgin. Wherefore, we all magnify thee.

Troparion of the saint, in Tone VIII: Grace shining forth from thy mouth like a beacon hath illumined the universe, * and disclosed to the world treasures of uncovetousness, * and shown us the heights of humility; * but while instructing by Thy words, O Father John Chrysostom, ** intercede with the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls.

Saints of the Day

Today, we celebrate the feasts of two more of the saints of Egpyt: St John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria, and St Neilos the Faster of Sinai.

Saint John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria, was born on Cyprus in the seventh century into the family of the illustrious dignitary Epiphanius. At the wish of his parents he entered into marriage and had children. When the wife and the children of the saint died, he became a monk. He was zealous in fasting and prayer, and had great love for those around him.

His spiritual exploits won him honor among men, and even the emperor revered him. When the Patriarchal throne of Alexandria fell vacant, the emperor Heraclius and all the clergy begged Saint John to occupy the Patriarchal throne.

The saint worthily assumed his archpastoral service, concerning himself with the moral and dogmatic welfare of his flock. As patriarch he denounced every soul-destroying heresy, and drove out from Alexandria the Monophysite Phyllonos of Antioch.

He considered his chief task to be charitable and to give help all those in need. At the beginning of his patriarchal service he ordered his stewards to compile a list of all the poor and downtrodden in Alexandria, which turned out to be over seven thousand men. The saint ordered that all of these unfortunates be provided for each day out of the church’s treasury.

Twice during the week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, he emerged from the doors of the patriarchal cathedral, and sitting on the church portico, he received everyone in need. He settled quarrels, helped the wronged, and distributed alms. Three times a week he visited the sick-houses, and rendered assistance to the suffering. It was during this period that the emperor Heraclius led a tremendous army against the Persian emperor Chosroes II. The Persians ravaged and burned Jerusalem, taking a multitude of captives. The holy Patriarch John gave a large portion of the church treasury for their ransom.

The saint never refused suppliants. One day, when the saint was visiting the sick, he met a beggar and commanded that he be given six silver coins. The beggar changed his clothes, ran on ahead of the Patriarch, and again asked for alms. Saint John gave him six more silver coins. When, however, the beggar sought charity a third time, and the servants began to chase the fellow away, the Patriarch ordered that he be given twelve pieces of silver, saying, “Perhaps he is Christ putting me to the test.” Twice the saint gave money to a merchant that had suffered shipwreck, and a third time gave him a ship belonging to the Patriarchate and filled with grain, with which the merchant had a successful journey and repaid his obligations.

Saint John the Merciful was known for his gentle attitude towards people. Once, the saint was compelled to excommunicate two clergymen for a certain time because of some offense. One of them repented, but the other fellow became angry with the Patriarch and fell into greater sins. The saint wanted to summon him and calm him with kind words, but it slipped his mind. When he was celebrating the Divine Liturgy, the saint was suddenly reminded by the words of the Gospel: “If you bring your gift to the altar and remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar … first, be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt. 5:23-24). The saint came out of the altar, called the offending clergyman to him, and falling down on his knees before him in front of all the people he asked forgiveness. The cleric, filled with remorse, repented of his sin, corrected himself, and afterwards was found worthy to be ordained to the priesthood.

There was a time when a certain citizen insulted George, the Patriarch’s nephew. George asked the saint to avenge the wrong. The saint promised to deal with the offender so that all of Alexandria would marvel at what he had done. This calmed George, and Saint John began to instruct him, speaking of the necessity for meekness and humility. Then he summoned the man who insulted George. When Saint John learned that the man lived in a house owned by the church, he declared that he would excuse him from paying rent for an entire year. Alexandria indeed was amazed by such a “revenge,” and George learned from his uncle how to forgive offenses and to bear insults for God’s sake.

Saint John, a strict ascetic and man of prayer, was always mindful of his soul, and of death. He ordered a coffin for himself, but told the craftsmen not to finish it. Instead, he would have them come each feastday and ask if it was time to finish the work.

Saint John was persuaded to accompany the governor Nicetas on a visit to the emperor in Constantinople. While on his way to visit the earthly king, he dreamed of a resplendent man who said to him, “The King of Kings summons you.” He sailed to his native island of Cyprus, and at Amanthos the saint peacefully fell asleep in the Lord (616-620).

Saint Neilos the Ascetic of Sinai, a native of Constantinople, lived during the V century and was a disciple of Saint John Chrysostom, who exerted a tremendous influence upon their lives and their spiritual struggles.1 After receiving a fine education, the Saint was appointed to the important post of prefect of the capital while still a young man. During this period, Neilos was married and had children, but the couple found courtly life distasteful.

About the year 390, by mutual consent, they decided to abandon the world and entered monasteries. Neilos’s wife and daughter went to one of the women’s monasteries in Egypt, while he and his son Theódoulos went to Mount Sinai, where they settled in a cave, which they dug out with their own hands. For forty years this cave served as the abode of Saint Neilos. By fasting, vigil, and prayer, he attained a high degree of spiritual perfection. People began coming to him from every occupation and social rank, from the Emperor down to the farmer, and all of them received counsel and comfort from the Saint.

On Sinai, Saint Neilos wrote many soul-profiting works to guide Christians on the path of salvation. In one of his letters there is an angry denunciation of the Emperor Arkadios, who had unjustly exiled Saint John Chrysostom. The ascetical writings of Saint Neilos are widely known: they are perfectly executed in form, profoundly Orthodox in content, and are clear and lucid in expression. His Ascetic Discourse is found in Volume I of the English Philokalia.

Saint Neilos suffered many misfortunes in the wilderness. Once, Saracens captured his son Theódoulos, whom they intended to offer as a sacrifice to their pagan gods. By the Saint’s prayers the Lord rescued Theódoulos, and his father found him with the Bishop of Emessa, who had ransomed the young man from the barbarians. This bishop ordained both of them as presbyters. After ordination they returned to Sinai, where they lived as ascetics together until Saint Neilos reposed. His holy relics were transferred to Constantinople in the reign of Justin II (565-578), and were placed in the church of the Holy Apostles.

The Greek Philokalia has a quote from Saint Neilos beneath his icon: “The state of prayer is a passionless, settled disposition of the soul which, by supreme love, transports the wisdom-loving mind to spiritual heights.” (See the English Philokalia, 153 Sections. Concerning Prayer, # 53).

Source: https://www.oca.org/


1 In earlier editions of the Synaxaristes and the Menaion, it was erroneously stated that Saint Neilos lived during the reign of Emperor Maurikios (582-602). This was corrected in later editions, since he was a disciple of Saint John Chrysostom, and was esteemed by Emperor Arkadios because of his virtues.

The Feast of the Holy Great-Martyr Menas

11/24 November

Dear brothers and sisters,

If we ask people to name the greatest glories and treasures of Egypt, most (even Orthodox Christians) will name the Sphynx, the Great Pyramid, the Valley of the Kings and the mask of Tutankhamen, yet how many will stop and reflect that the greatest treasures are not the relics of Pharaonic Egypt, but the saints who made Egypt the great light of the ancient Christian world?

Sanctified by the ministry of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist, Mark, the founder of the Apostolic See of Alexandria, Egypt became a mother of martyrs such as St Catherine and St Varus, the great monastic saints, headed by St Anthony the Great, and the spiritual giants among the Holy Fathers, Athanasius and Cyril.

Today, we celebrate one of the most beloved Egyptian saints, the Holy Great-Martyr Menas, a wonderworker who continues to pour forth miracles upon the faithful. The treasure we call Menas is far greater than any gilded death mask or mausoleum built to house a royal corpse, and St Menas not only lives in Christ, but cares for us, intercedes for us, and defends us in our earthly lives.

As they sought to imitate life even in their funerary rites, the pharaohs’ paraphernalia of death arranged around their mummified remains brought them nothing and led them nowhere, as they sought to evade the clutches of death with an earthbound delusional view of the future-life.

In contrast, St Menas, stripped for torture, willingly embraced death-in-Christ, knowing that this was the gateway to eternal life with his Lord and Saviour, where he had no needs of the chariots, rotting loaves of bread, amphorae of wine and oil, and jars of honey that surrounded the lifeless mummies of the pharaohs.

St Nikolaj Velimirović summarises the life and passion of the Great-Martyr for us:

Menas was an Egyptian by birth and a soldier by profession. As a true Christian, he was not able to witness the abominable sacrificial offerings to the idols and left the army, the town, the people and everything else, and went to a deserted mountain, for it was easier for him to live among the wild beasts than with pagans. One day Menas clairvoyantly discerned a pagan celebration in the town of Cotyaeus. He descended into the town and openly declared his faith in Christ the Living God. He denounced idolatry and paganism as falsehood and darkness. Pyrrhus, eparch of that town, asked Menas who he was and where he was from. The saint replied: “My fatherland is Egypt, my name is Menas. I was an officer, but witnessing the worship of idols, I renounced your honours. I now come before you all to proclaim my Christ as the true God, that He may proclaim me as His servant in the Heavenly Kingdom.” Hearing this, Pyrrhus subjected St. Menas to severe tortures. They flogged him, scraped him with iron claws, burned him with torches, and tortured him by various other means, and finally beheaded him with the sword. They threw his body into a fire so that Christians would not be able to retrieve it, but Christians recovered several parts of his body from the fire nevertheless. They reverently buried those remains, which were later transferred to Alexandria and buried there, where a church was built over them. St. Menas suffered in about the year 304 and went to the Kingdom of Christ. He was and remains a great miracle-worker, both on earth and in heaven. Whoever glorifies St. Menas and invokes his help with faith, receives his help. The saint has often appeared as a warrior on horseback, arriving to help the faithful or punish the unfaithful.”

The details of his life are scant, but the details of his countless miracles may fill volumes of books, ever growing in length through the continued outpouring of grace, with the miracle of St Menas’s before the Battle of El-Alamein in 1942 changing the direction of the Second World War in North Africa, and ending the threat of the Axis powers in North Africa.

In the words of the Synaxarion:

““In June 1942, during the North-Africa campaign that was decisive for the outcome of the Second World War, the German forces under the command of General Rommel were on their way to Alexandria, and happened to make a halt near a place which the Arabs call El-Alamein after Saint Menas. An ancient, ruined church there was dedicated to the Saint; and there some people say he is buried. Here the weaker Allied forces including some Greeks confronted the numerically and militarily superior German army, and the result of the coming battle seemed certain. During the first night of engagement, Saint Menas appeared in the midst of the German camp at the head of a caravan of camels, exactly as he was shown on the walls of the ruined church in one of the frescoes depicting his miracles. This astounding and terrifying apparition so undermined German morale that it contributed to the brilliant victory of the Allies. The Church of Saint Menas was restored in thanksgiving and a small monastery was established there.”

How many Allied soldiers owe their lives to the miraculous intercession and intervention of St Menas will never be known.

On this feast, our Cardiff and Cheltenham communities received a great blessing with the ordination of Deacon Mark, named for the Holy Apostle Mark, another treasure of the Church in Egypt. It is my firm conviction that the Great-Martyr has gifted us many things, including our Deacon, and we were blessed with an offer of a home after losing use of the University Church after a week of prayer to St Menas!

I pray that we will continue to be blessed and aided by Menas, Great-Martyr and treasure of Egypt, and greet you all on this feast, especially our friends in Egypt, and our Cypriot brothers and sisters who have great devotion to St Menas.

We also congratulate Father Deacon Mark on this second anniversary of his ordination, commending him to the protection of the Holy Great-Martyr Menas.

We pray that God will grant him many, blessed years!

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

The Feast of St Demetrios

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings to you, as we celebrate the feast of the Holy Great-Martyr, Demetrios, whose relics still stream myron in the city of Thessaloniki, and are visited and venerated by the faithful from all corners of the world.

St Demetrios is one of those saints who is loved and venerated not only by Orthodox Christians, but even by Muslim Turks. During the Ottoman centuries, the Muslims of Thessaloniki visited his church (turned into a mosque) to venerate his relics, knowing the generosity of the Great-Martyr in hearing the prayers of all who sought his intercession, and Muslims in Turkey still venerate him and visit his holy spring/ayazma in Istanbul.

Below his life, from the Orthodox Church of America, the akathist to the Great-Martyr is appended.

Happy Feast!

The Great Martyr Demetrios the Myrrh-gusher of Thessaloniki was the son of a Roman proconsul in Thessaloniki. Three centuries had elapsed and Roman paganism, spiritually shattered and defeated by the multitude of martyrs and confessors of the Savior, intensified its persecutions. The parents of Saint Demetrios were secret Christians, and he was baptized and raised in the Christian Faith in a secret church in his father’s home.

By the time Demetrios had reached maturity and his father had died, Emperor Galerius Maximian had ascended the throne (305). Maximian, confident in Demetrios’s education as well as his administrative and military abilities, appointed him to his father’s position as proconsul of the Thessaloniki district. The young commander’s principal duties were to defend the city from barbarians and to eradicate Christianity. The Emperor’s policy regarding Christians was expressed simply: “Put to death anyone who calls on the name of Christ.” The Emperor did not suspect that by appointing Demetrios he had provided him with the opportunity to bring many people to Christ.

Accepting the appointment, Demetrios returned to Thessaloniki and confessed and glorified our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of persecuting and executing Christians, he began to teach the Christian Faith openly to the inhabitants of the city and to overthrow pagan customs and the worship of idols. The compiler of his Life, Saint Simeon Metaphrastes (November 9), says that because of his teaching zeal he became “a second Apostle Paul” for Thessaloniki, particularly since “the Apostle to the Gentiles” founded the first community of believers in the city (1 Thess. and 2 Thess.).

The Lord also destined Saint Demetrios to follow Saint Paul on the path to martyrdom. When Maximian learned that the newly-appointed proconsul was a Christian, and that he had converted many Roman subjects to Christianity, the Emperor’s rage knew no bounds. Returning from a campaign in the area of the Black Sea, the Emperor decided to lead his army through Thessaloniki, determined to massacre the Christians.

Learning of this, Saint Demetrios ordered his faithful servant Lupus to give his wealth to the poor saying, “Distribute my earthly riches among them, for we shall seek heavenly riches for ourselves.” He began to pray and fast, preparing himself for martyrdom.

When the Emperor came into the city, he summoned Demetrios, who boldly confessed himself a Christian and denounced the falsehood and futility of Roman polytheism. Maximian ordered Demetrios to be thrown into prison. An Angel appeared to him, comforting and encouraging him.

Meanwhile the Emperor amused himself by staging games in the circus. His champion was a German by the name of Lyaeos. He challenged Christians to wrestle with him on a platform built over the upturned spears of the victorious soldiers. A brave Christian named Nestor went to the prison to Saint Demetrios, his instructor in the Faith, asking for his blessing to fight the barbarian. With the blessing and prayers of Saint Demetrios, Nestor defeated the fierce German and hurled him from the platform onto the spears of the soldiers, just as the murderous pagan would have done with the Christian. The enraged commander ordered the execution of the holy Martyr Nestor (October 27) and sent a guard to the prison to kill Saint Demetrios. At dawn on October 26, 306 soldiers appeared in the Saint’s underground prison and ran him through with lances. His faithful servant, Saint Lupus, gathered up the blood-soaked garment of Saint Demetrios he took the imperial ring from his finger, a symbol of his high status, and dipped it in the blood. With the ring and other holy things sanctified the blood of Saint Demetrios, Saint Lupus began to heal the infirm. The Emperor ordered his soldiers to arrest and kill him.

The body of the holy Great Martyr Demetrios was cast out for wild animals to devour, but the Christians took it and secretly buried it in the earth.

During the reign of Saint Constantine (306-337), a church was built over the grave of Saint Demetrios. A hundred years later, during the construction of a majestic new church on the old spot, the incorrupt relics of the holy martyr were uncovered. Since the seventh century a miraculous flow of fragrant myrrh has been found beneath the crypt of the Great Martyr Demetrios, so he is called “the Myrrh-gusher.”


Akathist to St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-streamer
written by the former bishop of Thessaloniki, St. Athanasios Patelarios, of Crete

In the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

Kontakion 1: O faithful, let us praise with hymns and divine praises the Myrrhstreamer, who deposed the cruelty of the tyrant, and conquered the audacity of Lyaios, and preached Christ as God clearly, and let us cry out to him: Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Ikos 1: Angels were astonished in heaven, beholding the godless rage of the tyrant (3), and as you were put to death by his decree, O Demetrios, we cry out to you thus:

Rejoice, the sacred pinnacle of martyrs,
Rejoice, the joyous radiance of Saints.
Rejoice, for you were placed in a pit as one condemned,
Rejoice, for you ascended to Heaven as one without a body.
Rejoice, dweller in the ranks of the Angels,
Rejoice you who bore the tortures of the tyrant.
Rejoice, for you despised the wiles of the enemies,
Rejoice, for your soul now dwells in Heaven.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 2: The divine Nestor, beholding himself in manliness, approached the king with boldness: “Your exceeding danger appears as an abomination to my soul. For I will put to death the godless Lyaios, crying out: Alleluia.

Ikos 2: Having godly knowledge, O Demetrios the boast of martyrs, you said to the tyrant: “From soulless matter [i.e. idols], how is possible to give birth to God? Speak to me.” To [the Martyr], the faithful who honor God cry out with fear:

Rejoice, the most-radiant lamp of Thessaloniki,
Rejoice, for you overcame Lyaios in victory.
Rejoice, you who pours forth divine myrrh from your grave,
Rejoice, you who bears divine zeal in your heart.
Rejoice, for your blood was a purifying bath,
Rejoice, for through you there is blotting out of sins.
Rejoice, you who deposed the delusion of the idols,
Rejoice, you who censured the mania of tyrants.
Rejoice, for you healed the passion of hemorrhage,
Rejoice, you who offered your soul from its depths.
Rejoice, for you delivered Marinon from leprosy,
Rejoice, for your beloved Istron you sent.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 3: Power from heaven then strengthened Nestor to fight, and he took up arms against the utterly strong Lyaios, and with swift hand, he struck him down as dead, and therefore cried out to the Savior, chanting: Alleluia.

Ikos 3: Having the divine desire to obtain the body of Demetrios, the pious Emperor [Justinian] went., but as [St. Demetrios] did not desire this, fire came forth from his grave threatening death. And he said to him such words in fear:

Rejoice, the unemptying river of wonders,
Rejoice, the irrevocable icon of traumas.
Rejoice, for you did not offer your Relic to him who sought it,
Rejoice, for you grant sanctification to those who venerate you.
Rejoice, for you summoned fire from your divine grave,
Rejoice, for you censured the mania of the tyrant.
Rejoice, for you deposed the worship of the idols,
Rejoice, for your body was pierced with spears.
Rejoice, for your blood was given as drink to the godless,
Rejoice, for you sanctified the whole world with your body.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 4: Having godless confusion and evil thoughts, the senseless king was enraged, beholding the Martyr not preaching the delusion of the idols. We, beholding the unjust slaughter of the Saint at his hands, cry out: Alleluia.

Ikos 4: The ends of the world heard of the murder of Demetrios at the hands of the senseless tyrant, and beholding him dead, they hastened to him, seeing the sacred wonders that he pours forth throughout the whole world, as they honor him, saying:

Rejoice, he who traded the corruptible things for the heavenly,
Rejoice he who deposed the counsels of the evil ones.
Rejoice, you who joined chorus with the bodiless Angels,
Rejoice, you who entered the land of the greatly-suffering Saints.
Rejoice, you who serve together with the spotless Cherubim,
Rejoice, you who walk together with the pure Seraphim.
Rejoice, for you served the Lord of lords,
Rejoice, for you bore within the seat of divine thrones.
Rejoice, the most-fervent fellow servant with the Angels,
Rejoice, the most-wise fellow counselor with the Archangels.
Rejoice, the sacred adornment of the Venerable,
Rejoice, the radiant rejoicing of the Martyrs.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 5: Perceiving Demetrios to be a God-bearer, the most fervent man hastened to be delivered through him from the terrible demon. And having touched his deliverance, he rejoiced in the Lord, crying out: Alleluia.

Ikos 5: Leontios, the son of the Orthodox, formerly saw the unspeakable might of the Martyr, and desiring to come to him, he sought for Istron to hasten to pass by him with his robe, and cried out to him:

Rejoice, he who through his robe worked awesome wonders,
Rejoice, he who did not bear stains of offenses.
Rejoice, for your streams have become our own.
Rejoice, for you drove back the campaigns of barbarians,
Rejoice, for you dwell in the thrones of the Martyrs.
Rejoice, you who drove away the plague from Thessaloniki,
Rejoice, our sun which shines upon the faithful.
Rejoice, he who delivered from idol-mania,
Rejoice, he who delivers all from the bonds of slavery.
Rejoice, he who grants grace to all those who approach him,
Rejoice for you ever dwell with those who praise you.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 6: The deluded became preachers of corruption of souls, as they hastened through Thessaloniki, performing idolatry and preaching atheism everywhere, as the Martyr left the tyrant like a mule, as he said: Alleluia.

Ikos 6: The divine Nestor, shining together with the sacred Demetrios, drove away the darkness of error, for they anathematized the idols steadfastly, and cast them down, while the faithful who were saved cries out to those strugglers:

Rejoice, O Demetrios, the firm support,
Rejoice, O Nestor, the splendid pride.
Rejoice, you who granted strength to Nestor,
Rejoice, you who granted corruption to Lyaios.
Rejoice, you who firstly censured the blind tyrant,
Rejoice, you who secondly kept [St. Demetrios’] example.
Rejoice, he who received death by spears,
Rejoice, he who received incorruptible life through the sword.
Rejoice, he who was murdered in prison like a convict,
Rejoice, he who was preached throughout the world as one immortal.
Rejoice, he who before death worked awesome deeds,
Rejoice, he who after death works wonders.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 7: The holy dyad of Martyrs then passed on from this world, as the sacred Martyrs had greatly endured lawless murder. Therefore, those who behold this are astonished, and cry out to the Lord: Alleluia.

Ikos 7: A new song was found, as we bitterly sing the funeral hymn to Demetrios, for he was slaughtered by a godless tyrant, and did not sacrifice to the idols. We therefore hymn him and fervently cry out:

Rejoice, you who were placed dead in a grave,
Rejoice, you who ride throughout the world as one alive.
Rejoice, for your blood was shown to be a new cleansing bath,
Rejoice, for your soul is mixing with the Angels.
Rejoice, for you are hymned from the ends of the earth,
Rejoice for they draw forth from your fragrant myrrh.
Rejoice, lamp amidst the Martyrs,
Rejoice, ray of godly graces.
Rejoice, you who were dyed with your holy blood,
Rejoice, you who were sanctified in your divine body.
Rejoice, you who received diamond crowns,
Rejoice, for you now dwell in the halls of the ever-memorable.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 8: Beholding a strange wonder, the idols were moved by the bravery of the martyrs. Therefore, he who now dwells on high gives bravery to those who dwell on the earth to take courage, and aim their arrows at the idols. To him we now cry out: Alleluia.

Ikos 8: Having his mind wholly on things above without departing from earth, was the most-pure Martyr, for he clearly conquered the delusion of the idols, and preached Christ with boldness, hearing thus:

Rejoice, for you were killed on behalf of Christ your God,
Rejoice, for you desired the joyous things of Paradise.
Rejoice, for you traveled the upper road to Heaven,
Rejoice, for you inhabit the dwelling-places of the pure.
Rejoice, for you now travel with the Angels,
Rejoice, for you have come to dwell with the Saints.
Rejoice, for you preached your Christ like a holy trumpet,
Rejoice, for you dwell in the spotless mansions of Paradise.
Rejoice, you who put forth myrrh from your godly body,
Rejoice, you who scoffed and the rubbish of the godless,
Rejoice, for you broke asunder the intrigues of rulers,
Rejoice, for you trampled upon the delusion of the idols.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 9: You received every grace from heaven, O Martyr Demetrios, and preached paradoxically that the inaccessible God became man, being the Son of God. Therefore, to Him let us cry: Alleluia.

Ikos 9: O Martyr Demetrios, you showed the many words of the orators of the tyrants to be foolish, for they were astonished at how you strongly condemned the delusion of the idols. We, being astonished at this paradox, cry out to you:

Rejoice, the rose of virginity,
Rejoice, the pinnacle of continence.
Rejoice, you who lived purely before you were killed,
Rejoice, you who after you were killed were led towards God.
Rejoice, in whom the light of God was planted,
Rejoice, in whom the grace of the Trinity made its dwelling.
Rejoice, the length and breadth of the pious,
Rejoice, the sharp sword against the faithless.
Rejoice, you who shine with the rays of the sun,
Rejoice, you who drive away the mania of the tyrant.
Rejoice, tree bearing the fruits of many graces,
Rejoice, for you bore the shoots of many victories.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 10: Saving the Orthodox from the delusion of the godless idols, you came straightaway, O Martyr, and you preached the Lord as perfect God to the deluded and idiotic tyrant, crying out to him: Alleluia.

Ikos 10: You are the shelter of the Martyrs, O Champion and Martyr, and all those who take refuge in you, for you revealed the Maker of heaven and earth to all, and deposed the tyrant and the idols. We therefore cry out to you:

Rejoice, the deliverance for those in sickness,
Rejoice the savior of the continuously hemorrhaged.
Rejoice, you who sow grace among all those who hymn you,
Rejoice, for you are a pillar of graces.
Rejoice, divine power, the casting-down of idols.
Rejoice, pure dwelling-place of God,
Rejoice, chaste type of Christ.
Rejoice, for your blood became as a new baptism,
Rejoice, for your body received death.
Rejoice, bridge leaving those who die from earth to heaven,
Rejoice, for you are a guide to the faithful.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 11: We your servants all offer funeral hymns at your grave, O Martyr, shedding tears and offering odes and psalms to you, for we are not at all worthy of what has been accomplished through, as befits your grave, but we cry out to the Savior: Alleluia.

Ikos 11: Your grave, O Martyr, has been shown to be light-bearing, shining forth with grace like light. For all those who approach are suddenly granted joy and health, while we who approach you cry out these:

Rejoice, you who preserved your Church unharmed,
Rejoice, you who trampled upon the wiles of the evil one.
Rejoice, for you drove back the nation of the Slavs,
Rejoice, for you trampled upon the rule of the idols.
Rejoice, you who uprooted the pride of the barbarians,
Rejoice, you who cast out the conceit of the tyrants.
Rejoice, you who preserved your city unharmed,
Rejoice, you who shook up the delusion of the godless one.
Rejoice, you who punished Onesiphoros for his theft,
Rejoice you who uprooted the danger of the idols from the earth.
Rejoice, the sure consolation of those who take refuge in you,
Rejoice, the salvation of the souls of those who approach you.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 12: Bearing grace from above, O Demetrios, you drove out all the campaigns of the enemies. You preached Christ upon the heard as a steadfast hoplite of grace, and you cast down the idols, as you chant along with everyone: Alleluia.

Ikos 12: We hymn the wonder that you worked, O Martyr, as your city was preserved victorious, as you appeared as a god to the faithless, sending forth Angels speedily, saying: “Drive them far away from the city”, therefore we cry out:

Rejoice, for at your will your city was saved,
Rejoice, for through your strength the enemy was cast down.
Rejoice, you who met Achilleos in your flight,
Rejoice, you who sent out Nestor with your strength.
Rejoice, you who drown Lyaios in blood,
Rejoice, you who raged against the faithless in spirit.
Rejoice, you who strengthens your city through your presence,
Rejoice, for if you left her, your city would be lost.
Rejoice, you whose grave is beloved by hymnologists,
Rejoice, you who put to death falsehood through your might.
Rejoice, you who grants to us a sea of graces,
Rejoice, you who sows the mercy of your myrrh within all.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 13: O pair of Martyrs, who preached Christ as the surpassing Word before all, (3) receive these funeral hymn and odes, and deliver us from every danger, and the coming trial through your prayers, those who cry out to the Lord: Alleluia.

Ikos 1: Angels were astonished in heaven, beholding the godless rage of the tyrant (3), and as you were put to death by his decree, O Demetrios, we cry out to you thus:

Rejoice, the sacred pinnacle of martyrs,
Rejoice, the joyous radiance of Saints.
Rejoice, for you were placed in a pit as one condemned,
Rejoice, for you ascended to Heaven as one without a body.
Rejoice, dweller in the ranks of the Angels,
Rejoice you who bore the tortures of the tyrant.
Rejoice, for you despised the wiles of the enemies,
Rejoice, for your soul now dwells in Heaven.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 1: O faithful, let us praise with hymns and divine praises the Myrrhstreamer, who deposed the cruelty of the tyrant, and conquered the audacity of Lyaios, and preached Christ as God clearly, and let us cry out to him: Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

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!”

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!

10 August: the feast of St Laurence of Rome

As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Martyr and Archdeacon, St Laurence of Rome, let us pray for the deacons of our diocese.

As a parish we continue to experience the great blessing of having a deacon dedicated to the well-being and life of the faithful of our community, assisting the priest, and aiding all who need help.

Let us read the words of St Ambrose, who wrote of Laurence as an ideal example of the diaconal ministry, and pray the canon to the saint.Continue reading