Iconography and Hand painted icons

The Conception of the Most-holy Theotokos by Saint Anna and Prophetess Hannah the mother of the Prophet Samuel

The Conception by Righteous Anna of the Most Holy Mother of God
Prophetess Hannah the mother of the Prophet Samuel

Commemorated on December 9

Hymn of Praise
by St. Nikolai Velimirovic
The Conception of the Most-holy Theotokos by Saint Anna

O Most-glorious God, wonderful and marvelous,
Kind and merciful toward all creation,
The proud dost Thou overturn, the humble dost Thou raise;

Thou Who dost extinguish, Thou Who makest to live,
According to Thy plan, O Creator, Thou canst do all,
According to Thy plan, eternal and divine.

With Thy blessing, the fertile earth brings forth fruit;
By Thy holy word, Thou settest a seal upon the barren.
From one who gives birth, Thou canst take away,
And for the barren one, Thou canst bring forth good fruit.

Thou madest fertile the barren Anna;
Thou didst grant her a holy and noble daughter.
That which was the subject of mockery, Thou didst crown with glory;
The dream of a childless woman Thou didst openly surpass.
The aged woman prayed; her prayer Thou didst accept.

The seal of barrenness Thou didst remove from her body;
Her dead body Thou didst fill with life;
Thou gavest her a Virgin, wondrous in beauty,
And a daughter was born, the Most-holy Virgin,
A Daughter, a Mother, and the Mother of God!

According to Thy plan, O Creator, Thou canst do all,
According to Thy plan, eternal and divine.

ΑΝΝΑ ΣΑΜΟΥΗΛ_Анны, матери пророка Самуила0_dc1f5_f7101177_orig

Saint Hannah, Mother of the Prophet Samuel

Hannah was the wife of Elkanah from Ramathaim Zophim or Arimathea (I Samuel 1:1-2). Hannah had not given birth to any children because she was barren, and this caused her to weep and grieve bitterly. But the Merciful God showed pity on her and removed her barrenness because of her ceaseless sighs and prayers. Hannah bore a son, Samuel, and dedicated him to God from his childhood. Samuel was a great leader of the nation of Israel and a prophet, who anointed two kings, Saul and David. St. Hannah sang a hymn of thanksgiving to God, a hymn wonderful both in its wisdom and its beauty, which is used even to this day in the services of the Church (I Samuel 2:1).

The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič for Old Calendar date December 9 , and New Calendar date December 22.


The Song of Righteous Hannah (1 Kg./1 Sam. 2:1-10)

Άννας προσευχή_ _ благовестие Анне _m7Wga0eh3pc1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.

2 There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.

3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.

4 The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.

5 They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.

6 The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.

7 The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.

8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them.

9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.

10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.

Troparion — Tone 4

Today the bonds of barrenness are broken, / God has heard the prayers of Joachim and Anna. / He has promised them beyond all their hopes to bear the Maiden of God, / by whom the uncircumscribed One was born as mortal Man; / He commanded an angel to cry to her: / “Rejoice, O full of grace, / the Lord is with you!”

Kontakion — Tone 4

Podoben: “Today You have shown forth…” / Today the universe rejoices, / for Anna has conceived the Theotokos through God’s dispensation, / for she has brought forth the one who is to bear the ineffable Word!



What our part should be: take on the history of mankind, and carry them on our shoulders in an act of mercy and of love. Let us be those who bring the world to the perfect beauty God has willed for it! Anthony Bloom Metropolitan of Sourozh

Γέννηση του Χριστού_ Рождество Христово_ the-n-ΝΑΟΣ ΑΓ ΣΕΡΑΦΕΙΜ ΣΑΡΩΦ ΣΑΝΤΑ ΡΟΖΑ ΚΑΛΙΦΟΡΝΙΑ

Miracles of Christ on the Sabbath Day
Anthony Bloom Metropolitan of Sourozh
9 December 1979

In the name, of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

Time and again we read in the Gospel of the anger which the Lord Jesus Christ provoked by performing an act of mercy, a miracle of healing on a Sabbath day. And we cannot help asking ourselves a question: Why did He do it so constantly, so persistently, with such insistence? Could it be to challenge those who surrounded Him? Could it be to provoke them? Could it be simply a pedagogical action?

I believe that there is a great deal more in His action. The Lord created the world in six days; on the seventh day He rested of His toils and labours. But what happened to the world then? The seventh day was the day when the world came into the hands of man to be brought to its fulfilment and to its completeness; the seventh day, the Sabbath of the Lord is the day of man. The whole of human history falls in that day. But God did not leave man to work alone as the Lord Jesus Christ says in the Gospel, as reported by Saint John, My Father still works, He shows His work to His Son for Him to fulfil them. And in another passage He teaches us, He tells us that His judgment is true because it is not His judgment; He hears the words of the Father and that is the judgment He pronounces.

And so, history is the day of man, but man is called to be guided by the wisdom, by the love of God. It is because we are so often seeking for our own ways, it is because we do not ask ourselves what is God’s way in one situation or the other that the world has become so ugly, and so frightening, and so tragic. There is a Hebrew poem that describes the misery of this world into which man does not bring the love of God; it says, Man has ceased to believe in God and love has departed this world. Men have hanged themselves in forests, have drowned themselves in lakes, in rivers. Heaven is no longer mirrored in the lakes, in the woods; the bird does no longer sing songs of paradise, and the Prophet himself on his pedestal has become a mere statue.

Is this not what we have become? Not statues but so much alike the wife of Lot who turned back and who became a statue of salt. We have remained salt and yet we are petrified, immobile, we do not fulfil on earth this function of ours. And Christ shows us, by working His miracles, His acts of love and of compassion on Sabbath day, time and again, He Who is the only true man, the only man who is in total, ultimate oneness with God, what our part should be: take on the history of mankind, take every situation in which we or others find themselves, and carry them on our shoulders in an act of mercy and of love. A Western writer has said that a Christian is the one to whom God has committed the care of His world and of other people. Are we discharging this basic central commission of ours, do we care? We may care with tenderness, we may care sternly, but we must care. And then, this seventh day when God in His mercy and love has committed this world to our care, still can become the day of the Lord. And the City of man which is been built without God, which so often is like the Tower of Babel, may still unfold and attain the greatness and the holiness of the City of God in which the Lord Jesus Christ, true God but also true Man, is called to be a citizen, the heart of it, but also one of us.

Is not this call great enough? Is not God’s faith in us sufficiently inspiring? Are we going to defeat His hope, to reject His love for ourselves or for others? Or are we going to learn from the ways in which Christ fulfils His human vocation in the day of the Lord, shall we not learn from Him and together with Him build the world which God has dreamed, has willed and is still loving in his distress and so often in our betrayal of Him!

Let us learn to love one another actively, bear one another’s burdens, listen to the Living God when He speaks, listen with all our energy, look into His ways and be those who fulfil His will and bring the world to the perfect beauty He has willed for it! Amen.


Gospel of St. Luke (Luke 13:10-17)

Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.” The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound-think of it-for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath? And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.

Kontakion of the Forefeast
Tone 3

On this day the Virgin Maid * goes to the grotto to give
birth * to the pre-eternal Word * in an ineffable manner. *
Dance for joy, all the inhabited earth, on hearing. * Glorify
along with Angels and with the shepherds * Him who
willed that He appear as * a newborn Child, * the preeternal

St. Marcellina, the elder Sister of St. Ambrose of Milan

St. Marcellina , the elder Sister of St. Ambrose of Milan, (c. 327 – 397)
Commemorated on July 17

Αμβρόσιος με τα αδέρφια του, Αγία Μαρκελίνα και Σάτυρο_St Ambrose Bishop of Milan_Свт. Амвросий Медиоланский_10015SHE was eldest sister to SS. Ambrose and Satyrus, and after the death of her father, who was prefect of the Gauls, removed to Rome with her pious mother and brothers. She was discreet beyond her years, and from her cradle sought with her whole heart the only thing for which she was created and sent into the world. Being charged at Rome with the education of her two brothers, she inspired them, by words and example, with an ardent thirst of virtue. She taught them that nobleness of blood cannot enhance merit, nor make men more illustrious unless they despise it; and that learning is an unpardonable crime and folly, if by it a man should desire to know every thing that is in heaven and earth but himself; for with the true knowledge of ourselves are all our studies to begin and end, if we desire to render them in any degree advantageous to ourselves. She kindled in their tender breasts a vehement desire, not of the show of virtue, but to become truly virtuous. In her whole conduct all her view was only the glory of God. The better to pursue this great end she resolved to renounce the world; and on Christmas-day, in 352, she put on the religious habit, and received the veil from the hands of St. Liberius the Pope of Rome (August 27 ), in St. Peter’s church, in presence of an incredible multitude of people. The pope, in a short discourse on that occasion, exhorted her frequently to love only our Lord Jesus Christ, the chaste spouse of her soul, to live in continual abstinence, mortification, silence, and prayer, and always to behave herself in the church with the utmost respect and awe. He mentioned to her the page of Alexander the Great, who, for fear of disturbing the solemnity of a heathenish sacrifice by shaking off his hand a piece of melted wax that had fallen upon it, let it burn him to the bone.      1

  Marcellina in her practice went beyond the most perfect lessons. She fasted every day till evening; and sometimes passed whole days without eating. She never touched any fare but what was of the coarsest kinds, and drank only water. She never laid herself down to rest till quite overcome with sleep. The greater part both of the day and night she devoted to prayer, pious reading, and tears of divine love and compunction. St. Ambrose advised her in the decline of her life to moderate her austerities, but always to redouble her fervour in tears and holy prayer, especially in reciting often the psalms, the Lord’s prayer, and likewise the creed, which he calls the seal of a Christian, and the guard of our hearts. She continued at Rome after the death of her mother, living not in a nunnery but in a private house with one fervent virgin, the faithful companion of all her holy exercises. St. Ambrose died in 397. She survived him, though it is uncertain how long. Her name is mentioned in the Roman and other Martyrologies on the 17th of July.

See St. Ambrose, l. 3, de Virgin, c. 1, 2, 3, 4, t. 2, p. 1741, and Ep. 20 et 22, ed. Ben and Cuper the Bollandist, t. 4, Julij, p. 231.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.


Abba said: “Our fathers practised continence and poverty and detachment from all things up to the time of their death. But we have stuffed our stomachs and moneybags full.”

He also said: “Our fathers made it their business to avoid distractions to the soul. But in our days we have them aplenty, as well as our manual work”

Abba Athanasius also told us this about himself:

“I was wondering once about what was worth striving for and what was not. And I went into an ecstasy, and someone came to me and told me to follow him. He led me into a place full of light and glory and set me in front of a doorway, the like of which it is beyond my power to describe, for we could hear inside a countless multitude praising God. We knocked on the door and someone inside heard us and called out:

“‘What do you want?’

“‘We want to come in,’ said my guide.

“‘No one who lives carelessly can enter here. But if you want to come in, go back and strive to be able to count all the vanities of the earth as nothing worth.’

John Moschus. “Spiritual meadow”. 130. The teachings of Athanasius and his wonderful vision.


Kontakion of Ambrose, Bp. Of Milan
Third Tone

Flashing lightning-like with godly doctrines, thou, O Ambrose, dravest off the darkness of the impious error of Arius; and working wonders and signs by the Spirit’s might, thou, O good shepherd, didst heal divers sufferings. Righteous Father, thou initiate of sacred mysteries, entreat Christ God to grant great mercy unto us.

Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Mediolanum (Milan), A pillar of truth, a light of piety.

Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Mediolanum (Milan)

Commemorated on December 7

The judgement of the Lord is never hypocritical. In His own time, He judges everything righteously, and will reward everyone according to his deeds. Our main endeavor, as long as we remain in this life, is to endure everything, to humble ourselves, and to implore the Lord for His help and His mercy, and all will be well.
St. Ambrose of Milan

Hymn of Praise
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
Saint Ambrose, bishop of Milan

Αμβρόσιος Μεδιολάνων_St Ambrose Bishop of Milan_Свт. Амвросий Медиоланский_αμβροσιοσ μεδιολανων 3Ambrose, converted late in life,
Ambrose, soon consecrated,
A pillar of truth, a light of piety,
A soldier of Christ, a persecutor of impiety,
He divinely served the Church of God,
And the Church repaid its shepherd.

In hymns and with love, the Church glorifies him,
And angels are among those who glorify him.

The Church glorifies him as a father,
As a shepherd, and as a miracle-worker;
And as a wise man equal to Solomon,
The whole universe recognizes him,
The invisible as well as the visible,
And to the Living God it renders praise.

Thee, O God, we also glorify,
And to Thy power we bow down–
To Thy might and Thy mercy,
Eternal justice, wondrous wisdom.

Most beautifully Thy glory shone
Through Thy wonderful St. Ambrose.
O how merciful art Thou, O God,
O how wondrous art Thou in Thy saints!


Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Mediolanum (Milan)
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Αμβρόσιος με τα αδέρφια του, Αγία Μαρκελίνα και Σάτυρο_St Ambrose Bishop of Milan_Свт. Амвросий Медиоланский_10015This great holy father of the Orthodox Church was of eminent birth. His father was the imperial deputy of Gaul and Spain and was a pagan by faith, but his mother was a Christian. While he was still in the cradle, a swarm of bees settled on him, poured honey onto his lips, and flew away. And while still a child, he extended his hand and spoke prophetically: “Kiss it, for I will be a bishop.” After his father’s death, the emperor appointed him as his representative in the province of Liguria, of which Milan was the chief city. When the bishop of Milan died, a great dispute arose between the Orthodox Christians and the Arian heretics concerning the election of a new bishop. Ambrose entered the church to maintain order, this being his duty. At that moment, a child at its mother’s bosom exclaimed: “Ambrose for bishop!” All the people took this as the voice of God, and unanimously elected Ambrose as their bishop, contrary to his will. Ambrose was baptized, passed through all the necessary ranks and was consecrated to the episcopacy, all within a week. As bishop, Ambrose strengthened the Orthodox Faith, suppressed the heretics, adorned churches, spread the Faith among the pagans, wrote many instructive books, and served as an example of a true Christian and a true Christian shepherd. He composed the famous hymn “We Praise Thee, O God.” This glorious hierarch, whom men visited from distant lands for his wisdom and sweetness of words, was very restrained, diligent and vigilant. He slept very little, labored and prayed constantly, and fasted every day except Saturday and Sunday. Therefore, God allowed him to witness many of His miracles and to perform miracles himself. He discovered the relics of the Holy Martyrs Protasius, Gervasius, Nazarius and Celsus (October 14). Meek toward lesser men, he was fearless before the great. He reproached Empress Justina as a heretic, cursed Maximus the tyrant and murderer, and forbade Emperor Theodosius to enter a church until he had repented of his sin. He also refused to meet with Eugenius, the tyrannical and self-styled emperor. God granted this man, so pleasing to Him, such grace that he even raised the dead, drove out demons from men, healed the sick of every infirmity, and foresaw the future. Ambrose died peacefully on the morning of Pascha in the year 397 A.D.

The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič for Old Calendar date December 7 , and New Calendar date December 20.

Troparion of St. Ambrose Tone 1

O Ambrose, wonderworker and champion of the Church,/ Godbearing Hierarch:/ thou didst work miracles by thy faith and love for God;/ therefore we the earthborn glorify thee and cry out:/ Glory to Him Who has glorified thee; glory to Him Who has crowned thee;/ glory to Him Who through thee works healings for all.

St. Nicholas Archbishop of Myra the Wonderworker, “I come from very far away—from Lycia’s Myra”

St. Nicholas Archbishop of Myra the Wonderworker

Commemorated 6 December

Άγιος Νικόλαος Μύρων της Λυκίας_Святой Николай Мирликийский_St. Nicholas Archbishop of Myra0_71571_d7d3db49_XXXLThe festivals ought to influence our life, to vivify and kindle our faith in future blessings, and maintain in us a pious and gentle disposition. Yet they are mostly spent in sin and folly and met with unbelieving, cold hearts, often wholly unprepared to feel the great mercies which God has vouchsafed to us through the particular event or person whose festival is celebrated. In asking anything of the Lord, or of His Most-pure Mother, or of the Angels and Saints, it is needful to have such faith as the centurion of Capernaum had. He believed that in the same manner as his soldiers obeyed him and fulfilled his words, so much more, at the Almighty Word of the All-merciful God, his request would be fulfilled. If creatures with their limited powers fulfilled that which He asked them to do, then will not the Master Himself through His Almighty power fulfil the requests of His servants who turn to Him with faith and hope? Will not the Most-pure Mother of God, the Angels and Saints, His true servants mighty through grace and in intercession with God, also fulfil our requests offered with faith, hope, and love? They will indeed; and I believe, with the centurion, that if I pray as I ought, and for what I ought, to any Saint: Grant me this, he will grant it to me; Come to my help, he will come; Do this, and he will do it. This is the simple, firm faith that we must have! If you invoke any saint doubting that he is near you and hears you, and your heart is oppressed and contracted, conquer yourself, or, rather, overcome, with the help of the Lord Jesus Christ, the calumniator (the Devil) nestling in your heart; call upon the saint with the hearty assurance that he is near you in the Holy Spirit and hears your prayer, and you will at once feel relieved.

Saint Nicholas was, and still is, compassionate and merciful to men, by the grace of God. He always was, and still is, ready to hear those who call upon him sincerely, through the same merciful heart which he had during his lifetime, and which he still possesses, by the grace of God. Now, is not the Lord Himself compassionate and merciful, and much more compassionate and merciful? Infinitely more, as He Himself is infinitely greater than Saint Nicholas.
The Angels and the Saints are also near to us in their names, as their names and our faith in them are near to our hearts; for they are nothing else but the breath of God, and are “one spirit with the Lord.”[ Corinthians vi. 17].
What a close connection there is between the Church in heaven and the Church upon earth! What love the Church has! See: she unceasingly remembers, calls upon in prayer, and glorifies the Church in heaven for the great deeds accomplished on earth for God’s sake; she unceasingly prays for the Church upon earth, and intercedes for the departed, in the hope of the resurrection, of the life eternal, and of union with God and the Saints. Her love is immense, grand, divine! Let us enter into the spirit of this love of our Mother, the orthodox Church, and let us be penetrated with the spirit of this love. Let us look upon all our brethren as our own members, upon ourselves and them as members of the one body of the Church, and let us love them actively, as ourselves; then we ourselves shall be living members of the Church in heaven, and she will be our active and speedy helper and intercessor.

Excerpts compiled from: My Life in Christ or Moments of Spiritual Serenity and Contemplation, of Reverent Feeling, of Earnest Self-Amendment, and of Peace in God, St. John of Kronstadt.


Many years have passed since the marvellous miracle which occurred on the feast day of St. Nicholas in the holy monastery of Gregoriou. The well-known monk Hadjigiorgis the fasting One was at that time the novice Gabriel. The fathers were sad because due to bad weather, they ad not been able to fish for food to be offered for the festal dinner. But Gabriel did not despair. His trust and hope was St. Nicholas. He immersed himself in total prayer and supplication. Shortly thereafter, on the eve of the feast, strong waves washed many big, beautiful fish onto the monastery’s shore. As soon as the fathers saw them, they ran to gather hem up in preparation for dinner, glorifying and singing he praises both of Him Who supplies food and of their protector, St. Nicholas.


Νικόλαος Μύρων της Λυκίας_Святой Николай Мирликийский_St. Nicholas Archbishop of Myra_78_B_8bit_PE-IC27-DS2-Q1“What are you doing?” he asked. “Is this all the wheat you have? No more?”
The fathers replied that this was all they had indeed, and: that they were unable to buy any more because of the Occupation. It should be noted that 10,000 okas’ weight of J wheat were needed a year for the monastery’s survival, and they could not buy even one oka of it.
The unknown priest took a few wheat kernels in his hand, 1 blessed them and threw them on top of the rest of the wheat. I He blessed the four points of the horizon, the monastery, and the sea, and then was about to leave.
“Where do you come from?” the fathers asked him. “Stay J to have some bread and olives!”
“I come from very far away—from Lycia’s Myra,” he said and departed.
One of the brothers had in the meantime gone for some food to offer their visitor, but the elder who was the monastery’s actual protector had vanished. The remaining 150 okas of blessed wheat lasted to the end of the year, that is, from the month of December when St. Nicholas appeared to them, until the following July when the new crop came.

From “On the Wondrous Interventions of the Mighty Right Hand of Divine Providence,” An Athonite Geronikon: Sayings of the Holy Fathers of Mount Athos, compiled by Archimandrite Ioannikios Kotsonis, translated from the Greek by sisters of the Holy Monastery of St. Gregory Palamas, published 2003 by Holy Monastery of St. Gregory Palamas in Thessaloniki.

Νικόλαος Μύρων της Λυκίας_Святой Николай Мирликийский _St. Nicholas Archbishop of Myra -Kosovo-i-Decani-_002-680x447

Apolytikion (Fourth Tone)

The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, an icon of meekness, and a teacher of temperance; for this cause, thou hast achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty. O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

At the Apostikha, these Stikhera, in Tone 5: To the melody, “Rejoice…”

Rejoice, O pure mind, 
Undefiled dwelling place of the Trinity, 
The pillar of the Church, the hope of the faithful, and the help of the distressed, 
Star, whose rays of prayers disperse the darkness of temptation and sorrow, 
Calm haven of those surrounded by the storms of life, 
For, all who seek refuge in thee are saved. 
Beseech Christ to grant our souls great mercy.

Rejoice, thou who with divine zeal 
Didst deliver those who, through the slander of evil, 
Were awaiting an unjust death. 
O fountain of Myra overflowing bountifully with myrrh that fills our souls 
Chasing away the foul stench of the passions! 
O sword cutting down the weeds of error 
And fan, blowing away the straw teachings of Arius. 
Beseech Christ to send our souls great mercy.

Glory…, in Tone 6:

O come, all ye who love the feasts of the Church, 
And with songs of praise let us ever glorify 
The adornment of hierarchs and pride of the fathers, 
The fountain of miracles, the great defender of the faithful, 
And let us cry out [to him] with love: 
Rejoice, O guardian of the people of Myra [in Lycia], 
Rejoice, unshakeable pillar [of the Church] and most-honored elder, 
Rejoice, O bright and luminous star, 
Rejoice, for the light of thy miracles illumines the ends of the earth, 
Rejoice, divine joy of those in sorrow and zealous champ’ion of the oppressed. 
And now, O all blessèd Nicholas, 
Cease not to intercede before Christ [our] God 
For those who honor thy joyous and festive memory with faith and love.

Saint Sabbas the Sanctified, by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Saint Sabbas the Sanctified

Commemorated on December 5

by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
Saint Sava the Sanctified

Σάββας ο Ηγιασμένος_Saint Sabbas the Sanctified_ св. Савва Освященный_ΣΑΒΒΑςVenerable Sava, chief of monks,
Spiritual commander of Christ’s heroes,
Was glorified by fasting, vigils and meekness,
By prayer and faith and blessed mercy.
You taught the monks to not be concerned with bread;
You entrusted yourself to heaven, with labor and prayer.
You sought neither precedence nor rank of any kind.
Most rarely did you taste of oil and wine.
You kept all the services at the appointed time.
“Let the service be a joy and not a heavy burden,”
St. Sava told the monks,
And he showed this to all by his example.
Like a wise gardener, he enclosed the garden,
And carefully planted many young men.
The young men grew and brought forth fruit:
A regiment of monks, to the glory of Sava.
Fifteen hundred years have passed,
Yet Sava’s spiritual garden still blooms:
One thousand monks, a hundred thousand,
Have been raised up by Sava’s community up to now.
St. Sava, glorious recluse,
O God-pleaser, pray for us also.

The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič for Old Calendar date December 5 , and New Calendar date December 18.

St John the Silent (the Hesychast), disciple of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified.

St John the Silent, the Hesychast (454-558).

Commemorated December 3

Life and Works of St. John the Hesychast

Σάββας ο Ηγιασμένος_Saint Sabbas the Sanctified_ св. Савва Освященный_монастыре преп. Саввы Освященного24St. John was born in the year 454 (according to J.Patrich, January 8,454). He was born in the city of Nicopolis, in Armenia to parents Enkratius and Euphemia, his father Enkratius was a military commander. John loved prayer and solitude, he also had a passion for reading Holy Scripture.

When his parents died he used the inheritance they left him to build a church dedicated to the Most Holy Theotokos. At the age of eighteen he became a monk and began living a strict and resolute life of asceticism, cleansing his heart by his many tears, fasting and prayer and temperance at the church he founded. He lived with ten other young monks, founding a coenobium. All worked physically hard throughout the day, alongside their life of prayer.

When John was twenty eight year old, the people of Colonia requested the Metropolitan of Sebaste to make John their bishop. After his consecration, John continued his strict ascetic life style and influenced his relatives that included his brother Pergamios, an associate of the emperors Zeno and Anastasius, and his nephew Theodore, an associate of the emperor Justinian, to also live as Christians should.

His austere life during this period was influenced by the asceticism of the monks of Syria, Armenia’s neighbour to the south. He refrained from washing himself, so that he would neither display nor see his naked body, thinking that abstinence from washing was one of the greatest virtues. He greatly engaged in fasts and prayers, acted modestly regarding all the demands of the body, and avoided evil thoughts.

Nine years after becoming bishop, his brother-in-law Pasinicus was appointed Governor of the province, and began to trouble the Church over which John presided. He attempted to limit the authority of Church officials, and violated the asylum right of the church precinct, forcibly removing those who sought refuge therein. This situation worsened after the death of John’s sister, Maria.

Eventually, John decided to go to Constantinople, to seek help there on behalf of his church. After he had settled all the affairs of his church, with the help of Euphemius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, he decided to retire to the holy city of Jerusalem where he would live as an anchorite, far from the troubles and evils of the world.

He dismissed the priests and officials in his entourage, giving them the orders he had received from the Emperor, and secretly boarded a ship, sailing for the Holy Land. He arrived in Jerusalem and stayed in the hospice for the old founded by Eudocia outside the Holy City. In this home, which also served as a hostel for the poor and pilgrims, there was a prayer house in honour of the Martyr St. George. After abiding there for some time, a divine revelation led him to the lavra of Savas.

Hiding his episcopal rank, John was accepted into the community as a simple novice.

For the next four years John worked obediently at every task he was assigned under the guidance of igumen St. Savas (head of the monastery, similar to an Abbot). When a guesthouse was built at the Lavra, John served the workers their food and assisted in the construction of the building. He again helped the workers when a cenobitic monastery for novices was built.

But, when St. Savas found John worthy of ordination to presbyter, John was forced to reveal his rank to Patriarch Elias of Jerusalem.

By order of the Patriarch, from then on John was permitted to live as a recluse in his cell, he did not attend church and did not come into contact with anybody, except for his attendant. Only on the day of the consecration of the great church of the lavra, dedicated to the Theotokos, to which the Patriarch Elias also came, was John compelled to leave his cell to greet the Patriarch.

John also fled the rebellious community and went forth to the wilderness of Rouba, where he lived in seclusion in a cave for six years, living an extremely ascetic life. Only once every two-three days did he obtain nourishment from melagria, a wild plant consumed by the anchorites, which he would gather with his hoe.

But even in this remote location, he did not exist solely on melagria. Once, before Easter, the old man was visited by someone he did not know, who came with a donkey loaded with loaves of fresh white bread, and other provisions: wine, oil, fresh cheeses, eggs, and a jar of honey. The stranger unloaded the animal and left. John regarded this as an act of Divine Providence.

The new king of the Persians Almandurus raided Arabia and Palestine. This raids incurred on the area in which St. John lived. Surviving a devastating incursion of Saracens only because the Lord sent him a defender: a ferocious lion. When the Saracens tried to harm John, the lion attacked them and scattered them in fright.

After Savas returned to the lavra from his second voluntary exile to Nicopolis (end of 506), establishing the New Laura (507), and starting to build the Monastery of the Cave, he went to John in his cave at Rouba, and persuaded him to return to his cell in the lavra in 509, when John was 56 years old. Back in the lavra, John lived as a hesychast (recluse) in his cell for 48 years, until his death in 559.

When St John reached age seventy, his holy and God-bearing spiritual Father St Sava died. The saint grieved deeply over this, since he was not present at the time. St Sava appeared to him in a vision, and having consoled him, he foretold that there would be much toil ahead in the struggle against heresy. St John even had to leave his solitude to strengthen the brethren in the struggle with the Origenists, for seven months, this was the only interruption to the 48 years of isolation endured by St. John.

by his untiring prayer and humble wisdom, St John acquired the grace of the Holy Spirit. At his prayers, many miracles took place, and he was able to discern the secret thoughts of people. He healed the sick and those possessed by demons. Even during his lifetime he saved those who invoked his name from certain destruction. Once, he scattered fig seeds on barren rock, and a beautiful and fruitful tree sprang up. In time, the tree grew so much that it overshadowed the saint’s cell.

Great in humility, might and divine wisdom, this servant of God entered peacefully into rest in the year 558 at the age of 104.


Hymns of Praise
Saint John the Silent
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

John the Silent, God’s laborer,
Walked through the wilderness as a lonely hermit,
Until someone cried out: “The barbarians are coming!
Behold how the dust rises up on the road!
They are near, very near; rise up, rise!”
“Let them be near, but God is nearer!”
John said to him, and did not move.
And when misfortune sought to overtake him,
A lion appeared, sent by God,
And began to fiercely roar at the enemy.
The horde fled; John did not move.
He competed with the severe wilderness,
He competed with her in stillness,
And in dryness and solitude.

“Pascha is coming, how shall we greet it?
What shall we eat on the feast, Father?”
The disciple asked. And John said to him:
“To every creature, God gives food.”
When the Radiant Feast of Christ dawned,
An angel suddenly appeared as a man before the saint;
Bread, wine and honey he brought.
The disciple, when he beheld the miracle,
Wept at his lack of faith,
And glorified God and God’s saint.

The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič for Old Calendar date December 3, and New Calendar date December 16.


Apolytikion St John the Silent of St Sabbas Monastery, in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

You are a guide of Orthodoxy, a teacher of piety and modesty, a luminary of the world, the God inspired pride of monastics. O wise John, you have enlightened everyone by your teachings. You are the harp of the Spirit. Intercede to Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.

http://www.christusrex.org – Information written by J. Patrich
http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com – Information on Saint John, also for the hymns
http://oca.org – Some information
http://orthodoxwiki.org – some information