Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Saint Georgi of Sofia “the Newest” Bulgarian Confessor Christian saint martyred 1534 AD during reign of Turkish Sultan Selim in Medieval Serdika (Sofia)

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

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With a soul wounded by the love of your God, the wise George the Glorious, he preached to the ungodly, Christ God, trampled with his feeth, the Turkish heresy; and when he adorned himself with the crown of martyrdom, you ascended to the heavenly multitudes: ask Christ God to preserve your homeland, this city (Sofia) and the people who always worship your deeds.

On 26-th of May the Bulgarian Orthodox Church celebrates the memory of one of the great Bulgarian Martyr saints Saint Georgi the Newest.
С~тый Геԝ̀ргїй Софїѝскїй Новѣ̀йшїй) St. Georgi (The Bulgarian equivalent name of George) is one of the 3 saints holding the name Georgi which has confessed Christianity refused to accept islam and accepted Martyrdom for Christ in period of 1396 till year 1530 and one of the 9 famous Sofia city saints. Saint Georgi of Sofia the Newest was named after the highly venerated in Bulgarian just like in whole Christian world saint George.

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St. Georgi was born in the city of Medieval Sofia (Sredetz), fortress of Serdika today’s Sofia in a family of Ivan and Maria – a wealthy and society recognized family of that time. He has born after a fervent and lengthly prayers of his parents who couldn’t have children for a long time and has been given a kid by the prayers of Saint Great Martyr George
It is important to say Georgi (the newest) celebrated on 26-th of May is a different saint from St. Georgi called “the new” whose memory in the Church is commemorated on 11-th of February.

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Miracle making icon of saint Georgi Sofiyski (currently in the Church in yard of Alexandrovska Hospital Sofia)

The young Georgi quickly learned to write and read, a skills that only the most educated people usually coming from noble families could do. His favourite activity
in his free time when he was not in help of his parents was reading the Holy Scriptures.
He was grown by his parents in Christian goodness and fervency for the Christian faith.

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Aged 25 he orphaned as his beloved father passed away to Christ. Georgi posessesed an extraordinary beauty, sharp mind and virtues, seeing the young man in his grief the local Turkish authorities tried as they usually do to attract the youngster to the islamic faith to make their way to interact with Georgi and do their business easier and most importantly have Georgi in their auhotirities congregation consisting only of people belonging to the islam as it was up to the Ottoman Turkish consistution law of the day.

To attract Georgi, turks first tried with hypocritical kindness and a care for the young to help him raise in the power of authorities of the city, not succeeding with that they have, they have forcefully wrapper the Muslim turban on his head and proclaimed him officially Muslim. Feeling offended by the ungodly deed of this enemies of Christ, immediately the saint throw the imposed turban on the ground and trampled on it.
The enraged muslim crowd seing his public offence for the prophet Muhammed handed him over to the Qadi in the court.

Neither the seductive promises of high office nor the cruel tortures could break the unshakable firmness of his Christian faith. The judge ordered that his body be cut into strips from head to toe and that the wounds received be scorched with dirty candles, which made the martyr’s body so hot that his face could not be seen. But all efforts were in vain.

The final verdict of the judge followed – Georgi to be hanged on the main barn in the city of Sofia, where there was a furnace for melting iron and copper ore. The execution command also stated that his body should remain on the gallows for three days in order to begin to decay, so that the faith of the Christians in the incorruptible relics of the saints and in the resurrection of the dead to be refuted and hence disgrace christianity. However, exhausted from his suffering mrtr. Georgi died at the hands of the executioners before they managed to hang him. To fulfill the command turks, anyhow hung him on a rope to show the sentence has been successfully carried out.

For three days the body hung on the gallows without any sign of decomposition, and on the contrary, an unusual fragrance of the holy relics of the martyr wafted through the barn. His mother sat under the gallows and grieving his beloved son hugged her son’s legs, staying next three three days to her son. The hanging took place on May 26, 1530 (according to other document sources in 1534). Thus on 26th of may the Church set a service in memoriam.

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5-th Century Church of Rotonda St. George Centre of Sofia

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Saint Georgi Sofiyski / Saint George of Sofia the Newest grave near Rotonda Church Saint George in City Center of Sofia, Bulgari

After the expiration of the sentence, the kadi handed over the body of the martyr to be buried in a Christian way, and the burial was solemnly performed by the then Metropolitan of Sofia Jeremiah in the church “St. the great martyr George the Victorious ”. Now these relics are in obscurity. The mother of the martyr died on the 40th day of George’s death and was buried at her son’s feet.

These events took place during the reign of Sultan Suleiman I Kanuni (the Legislator) also known as Suleiman the Magnificent. This “Golden Age” for the Ottoman Empire was a time of unheard of atrocities against Christians in the territory of the empire and very difficult times for the Bulgarian people. The reign of Suleiman I and his father Selim I was a time of obscurantism and severe persecution of the Christian population, a time during which many Christian new martyrs on Balkans had the courage to defend their faith.

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The capture, trial and torture of St. George of Sofia The latest took place near the then Sofia. Today the place is located in the yard of the famous Alexandrovska Hospital which was a King’s hospital during the times of Kingdom of Bulgaria after liberation took place from the Turks in 1878 y.. The exact location where martyrdom occured is between street St. Georgi Sofiyski ”and“ Pencho Slaveykov ”Blvd.

There was a large stone cross with an inscription on the site, which a few years after 1944, due to the risk of being destroyed, was collected by Sofia priests and is still preserved in the altar of the church “St. Georgi Pobedonosets ”on Blvd. Partriarch Euthymius”. Until the 1940s, a liturgical procession was held from the place of death of the saint to the Rotunda on May 26.
Nowadays happily, the old Lithia tradition is being renewed and a small Lithia is conducted by Bulgarian Orthodox Christian clergy and layman.

In the garden next to the building of the Second Surgical Clinic there was a stone cross, which indicated the place and history of the martyrdom of the saint, and today a temple was built in honor of the saint.

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source: Lives of the Saints. Synodal Publishing House, Sofia, 1991, edited by Parthenius, Bishop of Lefkada and Archimandrite Dr. Athanasius (Bonchev).

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HOLY MARTYR GEORGE OF SOFIA THE NEWEST, PRAY GOD FOR US!

17th of May Saint Martyr Nikolay Sofiiski (Nikolas of Sofia) – Bulgarian Martyr Confessor saint from the XV century

Friday, May 21st, 2021

Saint Confessor Nikolay Sofijski (Nikolay of Sofia) Short Biography

 

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St. Nikolay (Nicolas) of Sofia has been born in Ioannina (city now in territory of Greece). He was a pious and with his honorable craft of shoemaking going through the stormy sea of life. When he arrived in Sofia (Serdica / Sredetz), one of the main cities of the Ottoman Empire of that time, a long remain of the glorious past when even the righteous emperor Constantine The great was considering to set as a capital of the Eastern empire either Constantinople today's Istanbul in Turkey or Sofia (Fortress of Serdika).

When Nikolay came to Sofia, he was immediately recognized by the Turkish authorities and rich people of the city  and to have him part of their "nobel" turkish society and enrich the city ruleship, the Turkish tried to push Nikolay to accept Islam. 
Once a time Turkish invited Nikolay, put a somniferous herb in his offered drink and once he fall asleep without his knowledge they have circumcised him according to Islamic tradition observance. 
Once awaken Nikolay realised what has been done to him and fall in a deep regret and mourned over the abuse of his body which according the Christian faith is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Once he started appearing on the streets of Sofia, Turkish immediately invited him to attend the mosque considering him already a muslim due to the circumcision ritual commited on him. 
He firmly rejected the offer publicly, considering himself a Christian as he never publicly resigned his Christian faith and never ever wanted to be muslim and never ever has attended another temple apart from the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church he belonged to.
Facing the rejection, the powerful of the day turks cannot believe their eyes as they already thought Nikolay accepted the fact he is already a muslim, not understanding that for a Christian the temporary flesh is nothing but a temporary hut and the Spiritual and Eternal Soul and The Spirit of God which enlightens it as well as the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven is everything. The turks thouhgt over it fleshly, thinking that having a sign of circumcision already puts a person belonging to his faith, not knowing that the the first desciples of Christ, the most holy apostles as belonging to the Jewish faith had their circumcision themselves, and this circumcision never ever hindered their faith in the Resurrected Messiah Jesus Christ.

Immediately facing the rejecting the Turks, arrested him as a traitor of their faith and put him into a harsh torments.

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Combined icon with the living of saint Nikolay of Sofia

Putting him on trial In the local court, the judge announced his opinion that Nikolay doesn't hold a fault, neither against Islam neither against the claimants.
Nevertheless the crowd put Nikolay outside of Sofia (in a similar way the Jews resurrected Christ outside of the city of Jerusalem) in Sofia's near region called "Yuch Bunar", translated from Turkish as the  ("The Tree Wells"), there they stoned to death on 17th of May year 1555 A.D., (the stoning a transgressor of the Islamic law, tradition is still followed by some countries even today, for example I heard similar cases do happen still in Saudi Arabia for sinners against islamic law).

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Saint Nikolay icon in his traditional Bulgarian clothes wear (Nosia)
holding his shoemaking instrument

His holy body has been moved to the graveyear called (Търница) Térnitza and has been burned – and the dust has been scattered through the four directions of the world North, East, South, West following islamic tradition and in attempt to completely irradicate the memory of the saint in the relatives and the living Christians of that time.  Even though due to the request of Matey Gramatik (Mathew the Gramatik – translated as Chronicler / Annalist), a boy managed to collect little burned part remains of the relics and a pious christian, secretly made a burial prayer for his Soul (Опело – called Opelo in the Slavonic Eastern Orthodox Church) according to the Christian tradition and buried him with honor.

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Soon after the martyrdom of saint Nikolay the New, the Metropolitan of Sredetz Iakov (Jacob), announced the canonization of st. Nikolay on a specially summoned for the consideration of saintship of St. Nikolay, a Local Church Metropolitan Council. Jacob received parts from holy relics (parts of the skull and the bones) of st. Nikolay, that has been secretly kept by a faithful Christians till then and placed the new received saint relics and placed them together in the ark (coffin) with the incorruptable holy relics of Saint King Stephan Milutin at that time located in Church of St. Archangel Michaelsee my previous article pilgrimage to the incorruptable Holy relics of Saint Stephan Milutin in Cathedral Saint Nedelya, Sofia Bulgaria. Later parts of the holy relics has been housed in in a Wood maden Church.

 

The grave of saint Nikolay of Sofia is one of the few known graves of Bulgarian saints. Today, it is situated in the city center of Sofia capital city of Bulgaria in the district "Три кладенци" / "The Three Wells". Three hundred meters from there (in the tiny park like garden between the streets of "Pirotska" and "Opalchenska") lays a Beatiful Majestic Church, dedicated to the Holy Martyr st. Nikolay Sofijski. The Church of Saint Nicolas of Sofia is one of the biggest Cathedral Churches in Bulgaria (it is second by size in city of Sofia). The Temple has been rised following a project of architecture created by Anton Tornyov after the Liberation of Bulgarian following the Russian/Bulgarian-Turkish war on 3-rd of December 1900. Church saint Nikolay Sofijski has been consecrated by Metropolitan Partenij (Parthenius of Sofia was a senior Bulgarian clergyman and church figure, Metropolitan of Sofia from 1892 to 1918. Metropolitan Parthenius is an exceptional clergyman who has left a lasting mark in the history of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.).

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Church of Saint Nikolay of Sofia in Sofia Bulgaria (corner of street "Opalchenska" and "Pirotska").


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Church Nikolay Sofijski view to Iconostasis Church interior

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Church dome paintings of St. Nikolay Sofijski

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Iconostasis of the Church (notice the beatiful flower forms curved wood)

In the beginning of XXth century in 1870s on the exact place of the grave of the saint has been built a small chapel in his memoriam. It is situated in a small yard on today's Street of "Tzar Simeon / King Simeon" it is opened for pilgrim visitors everyday in the early afternoon every working day. 
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The Chapel entrance door 

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A Heavenly beauty roman like chapel

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The Chapel on the grave of Saint Nikolas of Sofia, built on the place called "Terniza" (Tzar Simeon Street), where on 17-th of May, year 1555 A.D. where remains of the saint has been burned by turks – photo by Martin Mitov (C) 

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The Grave of Saint Nikolay of Sofia (View to Alter dedicated to the matryr saint)


The holy relics of Saint Nikolay the new are now preserved in his Church  and are brought for veneration by believers and pilgrims on each 16 and 17 of May and sometimes in a Church feasts of a higher importance.

Each 17-th of May in Sofia it is a tradition for clirics (clergy) to gather together with pilgrims and layman for a Lithia with the holy relics of saint Nikolay from the Church to the chapel, and for the following two days 18, 19th of May his holy relics are publicly displayed for veneration.

Sofia's mediaval historian and clergyman deacon Matey Gramatik (upmentioned), was a comtemporary of the saint and eyewitness of his martyrdom and death, soon after wrote his Church service and Biography (Saint Living). Today the original manuscript is preserved in the the Library of the church "St. Martyr Nikolai Novi Sofiyski" in Sofia.

Let by the holy prayers of Saint Nikolay Sofijski our homeland Bulgaria is given peace prosperity in The Hope, Faith and Love and every Good and firmness in the True faith given by Christ the Holy Eastern Orthodox faith. Let by his Holy prayers God gives peace and love to everyone in the world and grant, repentance for us the lost and spiritually poor and "fatherless" children of the 21st century.

Why does Orthodox Christian priests and monks wears long beards and why Roman Catholics does not

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

A really Long bearded Orthodox Christian Priest

One might question why does Orthodox Christian priests wear beards? and why does the long beards of our Orthodox priests makes differences with the Roman Catholics?

Here are the few reasons:

1. Long beards wearing's tradition among Orthodox Christian priests and monks comes after Christ

Christ himself had a beard as it was normal and considered proper for a man to wear long beard.

The fact that our Lord Jesus Christ had a long beard himself can clearly be observed on all our Orthodox Christian icons:
The Lord Jesus Christ Sinai monastery ancient icon Pantocrator from the 6th century

The Lord's Pantecrator Icon (Pantocrator / Pantecrator ) from the 6th century

2. Long beards priest wearing comes as a natural tradition from the Old Testament's times and the tradition of early Church

If one reads thoroughfully the old testament, he will find out that even from Moses and Aaron and onwards the tradition is the same.
All the Godly man and the priests had their long beards unshaved as a mark for their belongship and dedication to God.
To generalize the long beards wearing is according to ancient old testamential ancient tradition.
The long beards tradition as an ancient Jewish religion (Old testamental) tradition can still be clearly observed in Jewish rabbis (nowdays the jewish priests), who still wears their beards long, like for example you can see in the picture below:

Jewish Rabbi weiss picture
A modern day Jewish Rabbi notice the beard 🙂

The long beards tradition later was adopted by Muslims when Islam emerged as a religion and more specificly by the muslim priests the Hodjas:

Sait Muslim Hodja Picture

One very interesting historical source of information which proofs that the ancient Church's priests had the tradition not to cut their beards is given by the historian Egezit who writes in his Chronicles that st. Apostle James, the head of the Church in Jerusalem, never cuts his hair.

A source of confirmation that the long hear and beards wearing was an established tradition that dates back to the old testament is found in the old testament in (Ezekiel 8:3)

Here is what exactly we read there:

He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head.
The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem,
to the entrance to the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood.

3. Long hair and beards wearing by the Monks


Hieromonk_Sergij_Monk_Pomorie
An interesting fact is why does the Monks and novice neophyte lay brothers also stick to the ancient tradition.
It appears long hair and beards wearing traces back to the holy life of the ascetics of the deserts (e.g. the hermits).

The reason why ascetics did not shaved their hairs or bears as a way to avoid vanity and therefore this old hermitage practice has also had a spiritual reason.

4. The Nazarite old testament tradition

In the old testament in Numbers 6:1-21, we read about the term nazarite which means consecrated / separated

Each boy or man who was to become a Nazarine has been devoted to God for a certain period of time or in some cases for his all life, one of the many conditions for one to be a nazarite is not to shave his beard or hair.
One can read about this in the old testament in Leviticus 21:5

Leviticus 21:5
"They shall not make baldness upon their head,
neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard nor make any cuttings in their flesh."

There are some other prohibitions relating to Nazarite's one of the most notable ones is found in Numbers 6:4:

All the days of his Naziriteship shall he eat nothing that is made of the grape-vine,
from the pressed grapes even to the grapestone.

One example for people who gaves vow to become temporary Nazarites is found in 1 Maccabees 3:49 (this book is only available in the Orthodox Holy Bible).
One of the most important figure in Christianity that used to be Nazarite is Samson, his life can be read in the old testament in Judges 13 – 16

As we read in Judges , Samson's great God given power consituted in a prohibition to shave his hair and not to drink wine.

5. Reason why Roman Catholic Priests and monks abandoned the ancient tradition of wearing long hairs and beards

In the early Roman Empire it was a customfor a men to shave. The "enlightened" Romans believed that only the barbarians did not shaved themselves, and as you can imagine Jewish people and early Christians were of course considered to be barbarians, e.g. being unshaved was a sign for a cultural inferiorness in according to Romans comprehension.

The long hairs and beards tradition in the Western Church has started disappearing and consequentially completely lost with the Tyranny of Charlemagne at the end of the eight century.
With his massive 'barbarian' inferiority complex, it was his desire in all things to imitate pagan classical Rome.
It was therefore under him that Western clergy were ordered to shave regularly.
For example at the Council of Aachen (816), it was stipulated that priests and monks were to shave every two weeks.

By the beginning of the 11th century the tradition of wearing long beards was already completely torned apart and almost all the Roman Catholic clergy was regularly shaving.

In the sixteenth century beardlessness for Roman Catholic clergy was enforced by further canons,
which appear to have been dropped since the Second Vatican Council.

6. Why does protestants does not wear beards

As we all know protestant Church denominations has emerged as schismatics from Roman Catholic church and therefore mostly the influence they had was from Roman Catholics which already had the tradition within their clergy to regularly shave, thus pastors shaving was completely out of question and never come to an established reality among the Protestant Church pastors.

7. Is the Orthodox Christian layman obliged to wear beards

Absolutely not! The layman within the Orthodox Church can choose for themselves, if they want to wear their hair and beard and through that possess an image physically similar to Christ.
In my view it's more righteous for us the layman to wear our hairs and beards as I personally believe long hair and beards demonstrates mans dignity and God's dedication, but this is my own private opinion.
At many cases wearing beards or long hairs is an obstacle for a good integration in nowdays society, so if wearing a beard or hair as laymans does become an obstacle for our normal daily lifes then I believe cutting a long beard or hair is perfectly acceptable.
Moreover even the Orthodox Christian priests are not enforced to wear beards and in some cases where the priest's wife is against the beardness the Orthodox priest is allowed to shave himself, though as a matter of fact having a completely shaved priests in our Orthodox Churches is rare and less common today.

In conclusion wearing of beard and long hair by Orthodox Christna clergy, has come from the desire to physically resemble Christ.
This physical resemblance is a symbol of the spiritual resemblance of Christ's humility, which is the ultimate aim of our life.

Little known facts about the dedication to Saint Martyr George The Glory-Bringer and his veneration across contries and religions

Saturday, May 8th, 2021

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  • Largest part of body holy relics of the saints are kept in the town of Lod city 15 km (9.3 mi) southeast of Tel Aviv in the Central District of Israel. Back in the history due to the emerging veneration for saint George by both Christians and Muslims the town was temporary holding the name Georgioupolis, while his head relics is kept in Rome. There is a coptic monastery in Cairo pretending to hold personal belongings of saint George. In Saint Catherine Monastery (Mount of Sinai) are kept the three fingers of the arm of st. George. Churches dedicated to the saint started being built across the Roman empire even in the fourth century quite soon after his martyrdom, highest concentration of monasteries in his honor were born in Palestine. Biographics (Living) of saint George are written by the Byzantine authors saint Andreas of Cretes (written in 8-th century), Arcadius of Cyprus, Teodoris Quaestor, saint Gregory of Cyprus, saint Saint Symeon the Metaphrast (written 10th century).


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Saint Simeon Metaphrast (μεταφράξειν – translator and a historian of Byzantine empire passed on to Christ, 960 year famous for collecting and systemizing biographies of many saints, his works are important source of history on Byzantine empire)

  • Hundreds of Apocrypths are dedicated to the glorious living of the saint and his amazing miracles, written mainly in Latin, Greek, Syrac, Arabian, Coptic, Ethiopian and other multitude of other languages. The most famous apocrypha on saint is so called "Greek Vienna's Palimpsest" (5th century). as well as the "The Deeds of Saint George" (from 6-th century., as well as "The Martyrdom of George" etc. The Apocrypha's text are evidently full of hyperbolas and many unhistorical facts different from the true living facts of the saint. The fallacies and apocryphas have been condemned by the Decretum Gelasianum ( thought to be Decretal of the prolific Pope Gelasius I, bishop of Rome 492–496 ) as heretical and blemish for the memory of the saint.


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The miracle of Saving the Princess from the Dragon (one of the many apocryphas tradition about st. George) – Depiction Decani Monastery Serbia

  • Saint great martyr George together with The Holy Theotokos Mother Mary is a protector of Georgia (the country near Russia and not the State of the US :)).


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Georgian Metal carved ancient icon of saint George

In Georgia the local verbal tradition assigns a family relation with the first missionary and Baptizer of Georgia saint Nino. The first Church dedicated to saint George in Georgia is built in year 335 ! by King Mirian on the burial place of Saint Nino. In 1098 year saint George has been proclaimed protector of England, after appearing in a vision to the participants to Crusades of that time. One hundred years later during reign of Richard the Lion Heart the status of protector of the Army becomes an official in the West. In year 1222 The Synod of Oxford decides, that saint George is to be venerated throughout the whole kingdom of England on 23 of April (old style calendar) – 6th of May in the current Gregorian public calendar we use – still venerated on the same date in Bulgaria even to this day, while the remembrance day of the saint has been publicly proclaimed as labor free.

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  • In 14th century he is proclaimed a protector of England. In the beginning of 20th century the creator of the Scout Movement Lord Baden-Powell choose saint George for a protector of the Scouts. Saint George is considered protector of Moscow and Catalonia, until 18th century he was officially venerated as a protector of Portugal. In Greece he is venerated as agios Georgios, in Russia he is venerated under alternative names Jurij / Yurij (Юрий) and Egorij (Егорий). In year 1030 Grand prince of Kiev Yaroslav established in Kiev and Novgorod monasteries in honour of saint George (Yuriev Monastery) and gives an order the remembrance of saint George to be considered throughout Russian on 26th of November. The saint has been commonly depicted in Kings coins and seals. In Islam Saint George is famous under the name Djordjis (Djordjic).


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  • His Living is translated in Arabian in the beginning of 8th century and through Arabian-Christians becomes popular among Arabian-muslims. In Arabian apocrypha text his biography is included in "The History of Prophets and Kings" from the 10-th century, where he is presented as a pupil of one of the apostles of Isa Īsā ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary). In the Islamic apocrypha st. George is said to have been put to tortures, but even though killed multiple times he always have been resurrected by Allah as a faithful servent. In some Arabian icons on the horse of saint George there is a small human figure with a muslim clothes and a water vessel at hand.


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  • The iconography depicts also the miracle in Ramela that happened during a Church being built in dedication of Saint George, where one of the bought from far a stone pillar for the Church by a poor widow has been transferred by saint George miraculously via the sea by his all powerful prayer and placed to be the second Church holder right sight holder as well as the miracle when a Saracen Muslim soldier shoot towards the icon depiction of st George as an attempt to show that the saint icon is nothing more than a painted tree and immediately onwards his hand started unbearable hurting.


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Saint George's (Aravijska)'s Miracle Making icon of Holy Mount Athos Zographous Monastery St. Mrtr. George the GloryBringer

  • The healing of the unberable came only after a Christian priest give the adive to the soldier to light up a sanctuary lamp in front of the same icon of saint George and to annoint himself with the oil from the burning chancel-lamp. After the miraculous healing the soldier confessed to be Christian and has been immediately punished with a maryrdom death. The name of the martyr is not preserved but the miraculous event is depicted on the arabian ancient icons.


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Saint George the glorybringer in Church of saint George village Zlatolist (Bulgaria)

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The Famous Miracle making icon of saint George from Hadji-Dimovo Monastery Bulgaria

  • Another interpretation of why there is depiction of a figure on the backside of the horse of saint George is the so called "Miracle of saint George with the Paphlagonian" that is connected with my homeland Bulgaria. The history says a young-man of Paphlagonia, who has been taken as acaptive by the bulgarians and given as a slave to a wealthy bulgarian nobleman from Preslav. Once when the slave was carrying vessel with a hot water to his master towards the second floor of the house, out of nowhere appeared saint George, he put him backwards on his horse and bring him back to Paphlagonia. In Paphlagonia at this time his parents were already serving a Memorial service for the forgiveness of the sins of their boy thinking he has been already killed in captivity. Being reunited with his parents the youngster thought he has been dreaming to see his parents again out of a sudden and what show him that the miracle translation of the boy from one location back to his parents was a reality was the vessel with water which was still held in his hand, thus as a remembrance of the miracle the boy is depicted on the back of saint George's horse.

 

There is much more to be said about this glorious saint, as there is plenty of miracles and stories monasteries and Churches events and venerations facts over the last 21 centuries in which the East and The World become Christian,  but as the Gospel says it looks all the books on the world written won't be able to contain it.

Christ is Risen – Truly He is Risen – Happy Easter !

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

admin

One more year the Holy Fire has descended and we have been blessed to great Each other with the All Joyful Paschal Greeting !

Христос възкресе! Воистина възкресе! (Hristos vozkrese! Voistina vozkrese!)


Христос Воскресе – Воистину Воскресе! Христос възкресе! Воистина възкресе! (Hristos vozkrese! Voistina vozkrese!)
Христос васкрсе! Ваистину васкрсе! (Hristos vaskrse! Vaistinu vaskrse!)
Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! 

Christus ist auferstanden! Er ist wahrhaftig auferstanden!Christ is Risen ! Truly He is Risen !

For complete list of Paschal Greeting as a referrence to get idea how other weird languages sound like and how it is used in the major Eastern Orthodox Churches all around the world check out my previous article Christ is Risen Eastern Orthodox Resurrection Paschal Greeting in Different Languages

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Lazarus Sunday – The Resurrection from the Death of Lazarus in the fourth day as a proof for the Mass Coming Resurrection

Monday, April 26th, 2021

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Ancient Miracle Making Icon of Lazarus Resurrected in the 4th day after being in the grave by Christ –  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Lazarus Sunday is one the a moveable feast in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Church set it to always be on the 6th Saturday of the Great Lent.
I decided to write few lines about Saint Lazarus because he is one of my favourite saints and because I hope anyone could benefit spiritually by this.

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The name Lazarus stems from the Latinised form of the Aramic: אלעזר, Elʿāzār, cf. Heb. Eleazar —"God helped")

The raising of Lazarus at Bethany – today the West Bank town of Al-Eizariya, which translates to "the place of Lazarus" – is the climactic narrative: exemplifying the power of Jesus "over the last and most irresistible enemy of humanity: death. For this reason, it is given a prominent place in the gospel. The feast of Resurrection of Lazarus is a great feast of importance for both us the Eastern Orthodox Christistians as well as Roman Catholics.

Back in the days when I first read about Lazarus while reading the bible for a first time I've been completely wonderstruck, reading that a man who was in the grave for 4 days could come back to life. Perhaps the resurrection of Lazarus story described was a major building block which give me  enormous joy and same time fear and hope on God's mercy towards man. Of course reading about the Resurrection that is expecting each and every of us was mostly scareful especially when I remembered all my bad innumerous sins and transgressions but same time it filled me with joy that after all the life we live now is not meaningless, but after death bed another never ending life in a never dying new resurrected bodies is awaiting each human some of is to be living in never ending joy in the new body and some to be living in a new body holding the dark landmarks of their unrepented sins for eternity (the hell) about which we are constantly warned  …

The Bible story of Lazarus brings me back in the days, whenI personally have experienced "a spiritual" resurrection when 15 years ago God by his great mercy has given me the gift of faith not because I have done something but because I was in suffer and obviously he had pity on my pain and answered my call for help. Have to say It was not me that have done something special besides a whole hearted prayers to Jesus Christ to show me if he really exists and imy promise that I will serve him if he is really God and not a history fiction. The following uneartly Joy and Peace I have received as a Gift from God while being in that desperated state I would not forget my whole life. In that very moments back in the distant 2006 I still remember I was amazed on the difference of being with God feeling his presence in your soul and the emptiness of feeling alone in a cold and dark universe that doesn't care. The moment I received the grace of God not because of me but because of his great mercy was a moment of immerse joy that was consuming all the earthly suffering and cares. The "feeling" if it at all can be named a feeling was exactly like you have been death in spirit all your life or at least a big part of your life and suddenly you come to live and have breath.

It took me a harsh battle to find out where is Christ's Church and if really there is a Church as described in the Holy Bible (Jesus Christ promised a Church) and I was not aware where this Christ Church is even though I have been blessed to have live in a Eastern Orthodox country.  During 2006 – 2007 I have to read many many books and have the chance to meet many people in Varna's Spiritual Educational Center Saint Archangel Michail and the key person Borislav Avramov who played and continues to play a main role for the existence of the center. I've the chance to meet many other good people who already have been Christians for many days and lived in the Church,as well as many other dedicated Christians who were orthodox but did not fully lived according to Church teaching. A key role in my development as a realized Christian played the monks from Pomorie Monastery Saint Great Martyr George who I have the chance by God's providence to visit many times. They have corrected many of my erronical understanding of Christianity which has been there due to my only source for Christian living examples was books and Internet. My knowledge and understanding on Christianity, Mysterious and Truths revealed by Christ hence was chaotical mixed up (as i had red too many books without any systematics, including many non-canonical books like the The Ethiopian Book of Enoch and many non-canonical books and ancient writtings which included a lot misfacts and heretisms.  This all has led me to choose to become an Eastern Orthodox Christian being convinced by the historical facts about the Church which are still being lived to this very date in the Mystery life of the One Holy Eastern Orthodox Church.

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The Resurrection of Lazarus is described in the Holy Bible's Gospel of John Book
 

Chapter 11

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1. Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.

(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.

His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?

Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.

10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.

13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.

18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.

30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.

31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.

32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.

34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.

48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,

50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;

52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.

54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.

55 And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.

56 Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?

57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

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Saint Lazarus original Burial Place in Tomb Bethany Israel (The Tomb of Saint Lazarus in Bethany and the House of Martha and Mary is a famous pilgrimage location for Christians even day)
 

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The Resurrection of the Righteous Lazarus by Christ in the home of Simon the Lepper. 
Fresco of homilies of saint Gregory The Theologian of Nazianzus (Nizianzin)

Chapter 12 
1. Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.

There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.

Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

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Sixth Century icon of Resurrection of Lazarus Sant Apollina Nuovo Ravenna

By raising Lazarus from the Death in such a manner in a public before the crowd of hundreds or hundred of thousands of people's eyes. Jesus clearly show he is the Master of Death and Life and the Only Begotten son.
Which was the ultimate proof for the Jews that Christ is the true expected Messiah described in old testament prophetic books. 
According to Jewish tradition the death bodies were lade in stone engraved tombs to preserve the bodies, as Jews (The Pharisees) the larger part of Jews has hold the believe for the Ultimate resurrection of the Death where they will be resurrected to live an ever lasting life with God the creator of all things. To preserve the body and keep it in a good shape s special oilment ritual has been conducted by every jew, more pompose for the rich and very simple for the poor pretty much like the funerals we organize today. Except that we Christians lay the death body in the ground and not in a tomb but in same way we believe in the Mass coming resurrection of the death (even though most of us has forgotten that).

Even today as we are in the situation of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemicsm, still jews continue the tradition to have multile attended funerals this year 2021 in February there was a big scandal in the news about all famous Jewish ultra orthodox Rabbi Rabbi Meshulam Dovid Soloveitchik whose funeral was attended by estimated 10000.

So it is no strange if Lazarus funeral has been attended by many thousands as well especially if we consider the fact that at the time of Resurrection of Lazarus Jesus was so famous that everywhere he goes he was followed by large crowds of people waiting for a healing a word a blessing to see the Messiah.

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The apostolic nature of Lazarus' appointment was given by the Church tradition, which says the bishop's omophorion was presented to Lazarus by the Virgin Mary, who had woven it herself. Such apostolic connections were central to the claims to autocephaly made by the bishops of Kition – subject to the patriarch of Jerusalem – during the period 325 – 431. The church of Kition was declared self-governing in 431 AD at the Third Ecumenical Council.

According to tradition, Lazarus never smiled during the thirty years after his resurrection, worried by the sight of unredeemed souls he had seen during his four-day stay in Hell. The only exception was, when he saw someone stealing a pot, he smilingly said: "the clay steals the clay."

In 890, a tomb was found in Larnaca bearing the inscription "Lazarus the friend of Christ". Emperor Leo VI of Byzantium had Lazarus' remains transferred to Constantinople in 898. The transfer was apostrophized by Arethas, bishop of Caesarea, and is commemorated by the Eastern Orthodox Church each year on October 17.

Lazarus_Tomb_in_St_Lazarus_Church_in_Larnaca,_Cyprus

In recompense to Larnaca, Emperor Leo had the Church of St. Lazarus, which still exists today, erected over Lazarus' tomb. The marble sarcophagus can be seen inside the church under the Holy of Holies.

After the sacking of Constantinople by the Franks during the Fourth Crusade in 1204, the Crusaders carried the saint's relics to Marseille, France as part of the booty of war. From there, "later on, they disappeared and up to the present day they have not been traced."

In the 16th century, a Russian monk from the Monastery of Pskov visited St. Lazarus's tomb in Larnaca and took with him a small piece of the relics. Perhaps that piece led to the erection of the St. Lazarus chapel at the Pskov Monastery (Spaso-Eleazar Monastery, Pskov),where it is kept today.

On November 23, 1972, human remains in a marble sarcophagus were discovered under the altar, during renovation works in the church of Church of St. Lazarus at Larnaka, and were identified as part of the saint's relics.

In June 2012 the Church of Cyprus gave a part of the holy relics of St. Lazarus to a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church, led by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, after a four-day visit to Cyprus. The relics were brought to Moscow and were given to Archbishop Arseniy of Istra, who took them to the Zachatievsky monastery (Conception Convent), where they were put up for veneration.

Let by the Holy Prayers of Saint Lazarus God have mercy on the world and us the sinners and grant us salvation and grace to live out trough this temporary life!

The Great Canon of of Saint Andrew of Crete important repentance landmark in the Great Lent Church time

Monday, April 19th, 2021


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The Great Canon and Great example of Repentance

Every year the Great Lent, in the Orhodox Church an important part of the Fasting time and Church faithful meeting for the Services is the reading of the so called "Great Canon" .
Canon of Repentance  was composed in the distant seventh century by a notable saint in the Church saint Andrew of Crete (Greek: Ἀνδρέας Κρήτης, c. 650 – July 4, 712 or 726 or 740), also known as Andrew of Jerusalem.
He was an 8th-century bishop, theologian, homilist, and hymnographer. He is highly venerated in our One Holy Eastern Orthodox and considered in saint in the Catholic Church as well.

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His life's most important work The Great Canon prayed in singing form during every Great Lent period in the Church since then and is example for Christians for how a repentance's set stone should be set and which are the main positive and negative personages we know from the holy bible scriptures.  The Great Canon is known well and sung often by dedicated Christians even in their home in or outside of the great lent period.
The canon expresses the overall understanding of the Church through times for good and bad examples of how a man should live, if he wants to have a good life in Christ and what he should abstain and not do if he wants to accept in deed and "utilize" so to say the Salvation given by Christ on the Cross.

The Great Canon was composed by saint Adnrew in the Seventh Century ! And preserved its preserved its form and content up to this very day. 
It is  lenghtly one as it is a Church services that lasts sometimes from 1 hour 50 minutes hour or even up to 2 hours 50 hours if performed with a  Bishop or a Metropolitan. The Saint Andrews Canon is red every day in the First week during first of Great Lent divided by IV parts on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

Great Canon Content

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Great Canon text consists of four parts, each divided into nine odes like any other regular church canon.
There are slight differences between the odes of the two compositions. In the Great Canon, there is a greater number of troparia (songs sung in honour of a Biblical major event, a saint veneration song or other song with content to glorify the miracles of Christ).
A common remembering part of the Canon heard is the begging "Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
At the refrain "Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me," a full prostration (a bow to the ground). is performed Also, some of the odes have additional refrains and troparia to the author of the canon, St. Andrew of Crete, and Saint Mary of Egypt who spend 47 years hermit life in the desert and is one of the greatest models of repentance in Christian history.

A basic distinguishing feature of the Great Canon is its extremely broad use of images and subjects taken both from the Old and New Testaments. As the Canon progresses, the congregation encounters many biblical examples of sin and repentance. The Bible (and therefore, the Canon) speaks of some individuals in history in a positive light, and about others in a negative one—the penitents are expected to emulate the positive examples of sanctity and repentance, and to learn from and avoid the negative examples of sin, fallen nature and pride. However, one of the most notable aspects of the Canon is that it attempts to potray the Biblical images in a very personal way to every penitent: the Canon is written in such form that the faithful identify themselves with many people and events found in the Bible.
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The earliest manuscript we know of attesting to the Great Canon (with a slightly different order of troparia and a shorter composition) is the Studite Triodion of the middle of the second half of the ninth century, stored in the library of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg.
This manuscript has the Canon in hits original place in the services of Great Lent – at Matins of Thursday in the fifth week (when the life of St. Mary of Egypt is read). 
Only later does it also appear at Compline of the first four days of the first week.

The Canon is a soul-piercing, heartfelt lament of the righteous for his sins. The very beginning: “Where shall I begin to weep for the action of my wretched life? What first-fruit shall I offer, O Christ, in this my lamentation? (Ode 1)—attunes the soul for mourning and repentance, for the “wounding of the heart.”

The author of the Canon laments not only for himself, but for all mankind that has sinned. He recalls every transgression, every fall, from Adam to the New Testament. The majority of the Canon—eight odes—consists of Old Testament examples. St. Andrew doesn’t just recall the sins of the forefathers, but he experiences them as his own: “I have rivaled in transgression Adam the first-formed man, and I have found myself stripped naked of God” (Ode 1).

The transgressions of the forefathers become prototypes of the passions that torment a man: “Instead of the visible Eve, I have the Eve of the mind: the passionate thought in my flesh” (Ode 1). Or another example: “To whom shall I liken thee, O soul of many sins? Alas! To Cain and to Lamech. For thou hast stoned thy body to death with thine evil deeds, and killed thy mind with thy disordered longings (Ode 2: “See now, see”). Here St. Andrew follows St. Maximus the Confessor, for whom Cain is “the acquisition, the law of the flesh,” rising up against Abel, that is, the mind, according to the symbolic interpretation, and killing him. This is what St. Maximus writes: “Had Abel kept guard over himself and had he not gone out with Cain into the field, that is, into the plain of natural contemplation, before attaining dispassion, then Cain, who is and is called the law of the flesh would not have risen up and killed him” (Ad Thalassium 49).

If in the Canon St. Andrew recalls examples of Old Testament and New Testament righteousness, then it is first of all in order to reproach his soul for sloth and for sinfulness and to call it to imitation, for example: “O miserable and wicked soul, imitate the righteous and pure mind of Joseph; and do not live in wantonness, sinfully indulging thy disordered desires” (Ode 5).

The Canon is a broad historical panorama outlining the history of human sin and human righteousness, of the rejection and acceptance of God. The contents of the Canon are deeply Christ-centered, with heartfelt appeals to Christ in every ode, for example: “May the Blood from Thy side be to me a cleansing fount, and may the water that flows with it be a drink of forgiveness. May I be purified by both, O Word, anointed and refreshed, having as chrism and drink Thy words of life” (Ode 4). The only way of purification for St. Andrew is in Christ, through sobriety, feat (podvig), and all time giving and living all for God.

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The Great Canon of St. Andrew is, undoubtedly, based on a robust Patristic foundation, with quotes from St. Meletius of Sardis, St. Ephraim of Syria, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Maximus the Confessor. And the merit of St. Andrew of Crete is that he was able to synthesize their experience and imprint it into the Canon.

What is given to us in the Canon of Repentance of St. Andrew of Crete is the Biblical, ecclesiastical, truly universal experience of repentance, of the stinging of the heart, of the excruciating removal of the old, dead man and the putting on of the New Adam, in Christ Jesus, our Lord, to Whom glory is unto the ages of ages.

Saint Martyr Antepas of Pergamum mentioned in the Book of Revelation of saint John the Apostle – 4th Sunday of Great Lent saint John the Climacus

Sunday, April 11th, 2021

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Saint Antepas of Pergamum

Saint Martyr Antepas commemoration in the One Holy Eastern Orthodox Church is on 11 of April. The veneration of this saint in the past centuries was great in both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Western Church (The Roman Catholic Church), especially before the great schism in 1054. Saint Antepas was well known among people in the medieval times for being a saint invoked in troubles with a toothache and all kind of teech diseases which were a true plague in the prior ages as people did not have much knowledge on how to heal or recover teeths and usually in case when someone got a tooth ache the ultimate solution to remove the teeth. 

His Vitae (Living) is mostly interesting as he is a saint according to Orthodox Church tradition that was one of the spiritual titans in the first century, where the church was mainly troubled by persecusion by the jews who refused Christ as Messiah, by the pagan crowds and starting from second part of I-st century officially persecuted by the Roman Empire authorities. In this bloody century for the Church where martyrs lay down the foundation of the Church many saints become a victims of jewish fanatism and pagans atrocities. Saint Antepas is one of those saints who at that time was a bishop of the Church of Pergamum mentioned in the Prophetic boof The Book of Reveletaion (the last book) of the Holy Bible book cannon that is included in every (protestant, anglican, orthodox, catholic Holy Bible). Saint John the Apostle the author of Book Revalation has been exiled on mount Paphos (today Cyprus) at time of Martyrdom of Saint Antepas. St. John the Apostle while being in the cave exiled, received in a vision by Christ the revelation of the furute things to come before the end of the world and antichrists false messiah appearance. Before his revelation it is not known whether saint John knew physically his brethren in Christ antipas but this hypothesis is little likely as appearance the book of Revelation has been revealed to John in a single vision by The son of God Jesus Christ where in mystical vision in which the merits and the deficiency of the Church has been presented of the 7 Churches of Asia Minor present at the first century in the world. The Church of Pergamum was one of the Seven Churches of which the Revelation speaks which surrounded by all kind of uncleanness, idolatry and satanic deeds of the Pergamum people and this diseases partially started even plaguing members of the Church who with time had fallen away from faith due to their sinful deeds and undesire for repentance. The book of Revelation mentions the martyrdom of Antepas as a truthful witness of Christ who steadily kept the faith in the Risen Christ enduring martyrdom. "I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.". Book of Revelations 2:13.
The spiritual State of the Church of Pergamum is described as follows,

"I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth." Rev. 2:13

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Saint Antepas was a missionary bishop who lived in time of Roman Emperor Domition II-nd, By the Revelations book we found out that in the 1st century the Pergamum Church Bishop has been a pious saintly man firm in his faith. The Church tradition's memory give us a little more details on the Martyrdom of Antepas. 

According to tradition and history. The citizens of Pergamum (Pergam) were fanatic admirers of their pagan idols and spend their life in all kind of wickedness. Those who observed their lives got the impression that among them really lives satan himself. Among such uncleanness Antepas has been a true headlight in the dark night or like a rose among prickles, showing path to salvation through the three Christian main viritues of Faith, Pope and Love. Even though Antepas witnessed people ungodliness, he did not embarass from the malice of pagans, but on the contrary good heartedly and with a diligence performed his Christian obligations of a shepherd and preacher, revealing deceptions of idolatries and advised them to turn better for their good to the Truthful one God the creator and Ruler of Universe who has send his Only Begotten son to Cross on Golgotha to suffer for the sins of man and return the fallen man to the Holy Trinity God the Father the Son and the Holy spirit and by his suffering showing us the narrow but straight way to heaven of the Suffering by accepting one's personal Cross uniting and nailing it to Christ's cross by handing over all one's life to Christ.

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St. Antepas preaching turned quickly many of the pagns to Christ's Church. The pagans lost many of their faithful admirers, worshippers of the idols decreased highly and the toll for the idols as well (monetary funds for the shamans) in Pagan temple decreases. Antipas was blamed for his missionary work and revealing the truth to the blind by envious and hard-hearted, greedy idolatries.

In the same time Domitian being loyal to the Roman gods also proclaimed a persecution announcing christians as enemies of the empire. Attaining bravery by that the pagan priests catched Antepas and brought him before the city ruler, blaming him that he become a reason for the gods to become angry and as a reason for the so-called idols (thought to be gods) to stop caring about Pergamon in which they no longer received the high honor for their service to the idols.

– Is that true? asked the ruler of Pergamon – that you have been not giving veneration to the gods, and you teach the others to despire the gods and not give them honour? 
This is why our city is suffering because the gods has been offended and no longer have mercy and take care about this place and our well being.
Leave out Christianity repent and give obbey our law. If you do not give honor to the idols and continue to despise the gods, we will torture you according to roman law.

Antipas replied:

– I AM CHRISTIAN ! And the unwise king's orded i cannot perform and to the false gods i will not obey.
To give you a concreate and clear answer I tell you, the so called gods are not gods and they have no power to protect the city.
Leave your delusions, repent for the wickedness and believe in Christ, who embodied from Heaven to save all humans.
He is the only true God and he is about to come again in the end of ages to Judge everyone according to their deeds – everyone will either receive a gift or punishment.

 

– What is that new teaching shouted enraged the city ruler. You do obey to some new invented by your own law and reject the ancient worships, given us by the fathers. Leave the new faith and stop venerating for God a man who was crucified shamefully as a villain in times of Pilates.
Obey the king order and live in peacefully. We'll help you everything, we'll love you as our sons, because your advanced age requires it – that we all love you and venerate you as a father.

Antepas replied:
– Nomatter what you tell me – I am not that reckless (foolish) for being lived until the old age and being near end of my earthly days, to leave the true faith and to retreat to the salvational faith. You will not deceive my mind because it is enlightened by the wisdom of the Divine books. If you do not repent and do not stop worshipping your idols and you do not believe in the True God you will perish (both physically and spiritually).

Maddened by raged, the pagans crow did not wanted to hear any more the words of the pious elder – bishop. They captured him and drag him to the pagan temple. There was an idol: a big bull, forged by copper. Heating him up till it become red and they throw in the Bishop Antipas. He did not feared but with joy made the Sigh of the Cross and reverently cry out in prayer:

– Oh God,m who have revealed the secret mystery of our our Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for all the good deeds to me in my life. Thank you, you have granted me in that hour to be written in the list of the martyrs for your teaching. Receive my departering from temporary life my soul and engift it with your Grace.

Enduring peacefully and with firmness the terrible torturs, saint Antepas prayed for his enemies and for the whole world. Gradually his bodily powers weakened and he quitly passed to Christ. 
Christians with great honor and according to Church tradition buried the body of the saint martyr. 
His Holy relics were saved and God has engifted them with the healing power. 

Saint-Martyr-Antipas-of_Pergamum

Fourth Sunday of The Great Lent Sunday of Saint John the Climacus.
Saint John Lestvichnik and his Book a Spiritual Ladder to Heaven (Lestvica)

 

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Fourth Sunday of the Great Lent – Saint John Lestvichnik / John the Climacus and his Ladder to Heaven

This year the second year of the "Coronavirus pandemy" 2021 the 4th Sunday of the Great Lent which every year commemorates the glorious Holy father and "a commander" of the Monks Saint John the Climacus / Saint John The Sinaites / John the Scholastic that lived in the 6th-7th century. He is mostly known in Bulgaria / Russia and the Slavonic Churches as Saint John Lestvichnik.  Saint John was ascetic monk on the mount of Sinai born circa 579 and passed away to Christ year. 649 A.D. He is revered a saint in both Eastern Orthodox Church as well as the Roman Catholic Church and the rest of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, though he is lesser known in the in the Western world .e.g in Roman Catholic Church. Saint John eagered for a higher spiritual life and thus has spend 20 years in the desert in hermitage, studying and practicing the writtings of the holy fathers to advance his spiritual life and attain spiritual perfection by overcoming all the main passions that are a stopper for a man to become fully spiritually enlightened and reach "in the flesh" the kingdom of heaven and become a victor against the evil passions.  

Saint-John-the-Climacus-sveti-Ioan-Lestvichnik-orthodox-icon

A lot can be said about saint John Lestvichnik and his world famous book Lestvica (Ladder ) Κλῖμαξ known in Latin world as Scala Paradisi a ladder of divince ascent.

In Lestvica the later chosen Abbot of Raitha Monastery st. John Lesvichnik describes to brethren monks on how to overcome different temptations and the attached moving passions and is well known in his life time for being a light beam for good truthtful spiritual lifesaint John Lestvichnik. Even Pope Gregory the Great wrote to him recommend himself to his prayers, and sent him a sum of money for the hospital of Sinai, in which the pilgrims were wont to lodge.

In the Book Ladder that should be tabletop book for all Christians,we hear of the ascetic practice of carrying a small notebook to record the thoughts of the monk during contemplation. Some parts of the books sounds scary and completely strange for the modern readers as we're all sunken in comfort and excessness of things.
Κλῖμαξ is mostly known in the Eastern Orthodox Church and highly estimated by anyone who actiively practices orthodoxy for being the best guide for a person to check his current spiritual life.

 

The Ladder describes how to raise one's soul and body to God through the acquisition of ascetic virtues. Climacus uses the analogy of Jacob's Ladder as the framework for his spiritual teaching. Each chapter is referred to as a "step", and deals with a separate spiritual subject. There are thirty Steps of the ladder, which correspond to the age of Jesus at his baptism and the beginning of his earthly ministry. Within the general framework of a 'ladder', Climacus book falls into three sections. The first seven Steps concern general virtues necessary for the ascetic life, while the next nineteen (Steps 8–26) give instruction on overcoming vices and building their corresponding virtues. The final four Steps concern the higher virtues toward which the ascetic life aims. The final rung of the ladder – beyond prayer (προσευχή), stillness (ἡσυχία), and even dispassion (ἀπάθεια) – is love (ἀγάπη).

Let by the prayers of Saint Antepas, Saint John Lesvichnik and Saint John The Apostle, the All Merciful God to have mercy on our Souls and veliver us from temptations and all evils in present and coming and grant peace and relief to all suffering for the truth and enlighten man to turn back in repentance to Christ !
Amen

6 of April Short Living and Death of Saint Methodius a brother of Constantin Cyril – Christian Enlighteners of the Bulgarian and Slavonic Lands

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

Saints_Cyril_and_Methodius_Bulgarian_Enlighteners_Icon_by_Avram_Dichov,_1892

Saint Methodius was the bigger child of the two brothers enlighteners of Bulgarian Lands and the Slavonic nations Saint Cyril (known as The Philosopher) and Saint Methodius born in Thessaloniki
a region of the Byzantine empire. Thessaloniki and its regions according to manuscripts has been mostly inhabited by Slavs at IX century.

In his young age he has chosen to be a Byzantine army man. For 10 years he has been assigned to govern a region of Slavonic lands part of Byzantine Eastern Empire. 
Even though he had been a successful in his worldly career and has been taking a respectful service for the Byzantine Emperor he felt the calling of God, gave up his high position in
aristocracy and entered one of the many monasteries of the empire in mount of Olympus Asia Minor region. Soon after to the same monastery came his younger brother Constantine
Since that moment the two brothers never departed until death of Cyril who died in Rome. And even in his death has been highly venerated by the Pope and considered saint even in
time of his burial at the famous Basillica Church San Clemente where they reside for veneration by Slavs even to this day.

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The receiving of Saint Cyril and Methodius in Rome with the Relics of Saint Clement 4th Pope of Rome

The two God chosen man also achieved a glorious deed which was not achieved by anyone before. The creation of the Glagolic Alphabet which become the foundation of the Cyrillic alphabet
currently used of about 300 000 000 people worldwide including by us Bulgarians. The new language was developed to be able to share the high truths of Christ the Gospel and his Church services and books  and 
most impotantly the eternal salvation prepared by God The Holy Trinity The Father the Son and the Holy Spirit for all those who love him and servce him.

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The Holy relics of Saint Cyril in San Clemente Crypt

As knowing the truth about Heaven and Hell and the Heavenly
kingdom they were highly conserned for the high see of Slavs in the Empire who still have been in darkness of idolatry and paganism. Inspired by God they soon creating an Alphabet in which  translated the whole Holy Bible (The Gospel of Christ the Epistle books and Old Testament book  and Church service books translating the Eastern Orthodox Holy Liturgy of Saint John The Crysostom and Saint John The Basil.
in language understandable for the Slavs. The glagolic alphabet has been soon translated to the Cyrillic Alphabet by the 7 pupils of Saint Cyril and Methodius and has been spread in Bulgarian lands first then in Serbia, Kiev
and rest of Slavonic nations.

Saint_Methodius-Archibishop-of-Moravia-and_Pannonia

In Great Moravia a region today situated in Chech Republic the two saint brothers teached and baptized the local Slavs , teaching them the Eternal heavenly truths of the Gospel.
The German clergy envied the two apostle equal mans mission great success and tried to rebaptize and teach the already baptized according to a Roman Rite and spread their own influence pushed by a lust for power.
Hence Methodius (also called by Western histographs Method) has been chased away from Moravia by the German clergy to the nearby Pannonia, where king Kocel  who appreciated St. Methodius great deeds for his people and
not understanding why the German-clergy is chasing such a saintly man has moved him to Rome to Pope Adrian II-nd with an enquiry to ordain him a Bishop. The Pope ordained him almost immediately and accepted St. Methodius
and St Cyrilus with all his clergy in honour, because the 2 saints were bringing a highly esteemed gift the Holy Relics who were attained by them earlier in their Baptizmal Mission to The Hazars (an assignment given to them by the Eastern Byzantine Emperor
and successfully achieved).
During their travel in Herzon the two saints has found the Holy Relics of Saint Clement Ist the 4th Pope of Rome who has been exiled and passed away to Christ as a martyr in Herzon (Today's Crimea) in the distant 2nd century.
After his consecration in Rome saint  Metho has been raised from a simple Gospel preacher to the high clergy rank of Archibishop for Pannonia and Moravia, a region who has been under the rule of the Bishop of Rome.

The fight against the clean life of the saint continued with full power even after his raise to the throne of archibishopship. The envious pseudo spiritual missioners sent by the Pope hungering not for Christ but for earthly power slandered
frequently against Method. to the local prince. because Methodius was publicly rebuke their unclean life being filled with the power of Christ spirit who detests all uncleanness in man. At other times suggested to the pope that Methodius is
against the Western Church and eagers to cut Moravia and Pannonia from the diocese of Rome and give it to the Byzantines. In parallel the German "clergy" was frequetnly sending letters slandering against Methodius accusing him in inobedience to the Eastern Christian Emperor
and the The Great Church of Byzantium the homechurch of st. Cyril and Method. and to whom they were obedient still …
Methodius being already in advanced age had to go everywhere by person and rebuke and testify about himself that all this is a far away from truth. His enemies succeeded eventually and for 2 years and a half he has been thrown in prison without the knowledge of the pope.
Finding out about this ungodly deed of his inobedient power-lust german clergy Pope John VIII issued a special order bulla for the immediate liberation of his archibishop.

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Icon of Saint Cyril and Methodius painting from 1848 y.

Even in this hardships saint Methodius never stopped to preach the Gospel to the Slavs and spread the Good news of Jesus Christ The Son of God enbodiment, life, Crucifix for the sins of all mankind anf Glorious Resurrection through which all those who believe are saved if they persist in the good deeds of Christ and stick to the trutfullness  of the Church of Christ which at the time of St. Cyrilus was before the Great Schism in year 1054, when the Roman Catholics has fallen away from the One Church who kept and preserved the head of the Church Jesus Christ teaching the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church.
Being even in prison Saint Methodius continued to translate The Holy books from Greek to the new language invented and adjusted for the Slavs talk. 
He left us as a heritage the Translation Copy of All Books of Holy Bible except the book of Maccabees which is today only present in the Orthodox Bible and considered one of the non-canonical but God inspired books, as well as the Nomocanon (the book with rules and Church laws of the Church and the clergy).
Nomocanon comes from .(Greek: Νομοκανών, Nomokanōn; from the Greek nomos – law and kanon – a rule). It is  a collection of ecclesiastical law, consisting of the elements from both the Civil law and the Canon law.
Nomocanons even today forms part of the canon law of the Eastern Catholic Churches (through the Eastern Catholic canon law) and of the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Sveti_Sveti-Saints_Kyril-i-Metodij

Saint Methodius the Slav-Bulgarian enlighter passed silently to Christ full of God''s Grace in saintship on 6th of April year 885 A.D. His burial was in Velegrad Chech Republic, and according to the Church tradition about his living  he "lays in the Great Moravian Church in the left side of the wall behind the alter dedicated to the Mother of God the Holy Theotokos Virgin Maria". A church service dedicated to him is still presented in the Bulgarian Church's manuscripts and a copies of it in preservation museums in Russia.

The deeds of Saint Methodius and Saint Cyrilus has a mark on the whole world's events. Even to this day as in Bulgaria, we have a translation of the Bible based on the Cyrillic language named after saint Cyrilus the brother of Methodius based on his started work to translate Glagolic alphabet to Cyrillic, continued by his pupils and fully completed by Saint Clement (Kliment) of Ohrid, who was warmly accepted by Saint Apostle equal King Boris I of Bulgaria. Thanks to him the deeds of Saint Methodius and their pupils and we have the cyrillic alphabet and Bulgarian Orthodox Church and spirituality even today. The deeds of Saint Cyrilus and the Cyrillic are recognizable worldwide in the face of the strange for the Western and the Asians Cyrillic language used by Russians.

Two Saints Cyril and Methodius has were officially proclaimed as a protectors of Europe recently by Pope John Paul II, for a reason as the ex-Pope has seen and experienced the powerness of prayers of the two saints while he was a cardinal in Bulgaria before his raise to the Roman Popeship throne about little know nowadays.

The Memory and veneration of Saint Methodius and Cyrilus logically are mostly observed in Bulgaria logically as Bulgaria was the first Empire country historically to accept the spiritual fruits the new language.  Many Schools and institutions, streets are named after the two saints.
The official Church veneration of St. St. Cyril and Methodius is on 11 in Church and  May in secular tradition. The Bulgarian Orthodox church has established a number of feasts connected to the two saints as they''re the prime patron saints thanks to whose prayers the Bulgarian Church has been established survived through centuries and conitnues its triumphal march towards the kingdom of heaven.

Let by the two saints Methodius and Cyril Bulgaria and Europe have Peace, Faith and Love and Enlightenment about the true teaching of Christ the Holy Orthodoxy!