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Iconography and Hand painted icons


Panagia Prousiotissa saves Agrinio and Messolonghi from the spanish flu pandemic on 1918

Κοίμησιν τῆς Θεοτόκου _Dormition of the Mother of God_ Успение Богородицы_72895. bΜονή της Χώρα, ΚωνσταντινούποληApodosis (Leavetaking ) of the Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos
Synaxis of Panagia Proussiotissa (Mother of God of Proussa) in Evrytania, Greece (c. 829–842
Panagia of Charos ( of Death), Lipsi
Panagia Dinious in Euboea
Panagia Malamatenia in Tinos
Panagia Theomana in Nea Kio, Argolida
Miraculous Panagia Faneromeni
Panagia Eloni in Arcadia
Panagia Lessiniotissa in Etoloakarnania
The Festival of Saint Agatha in Stamna of Aitolia

Commemorated on August 23

“Remain with us, our comfort, our sole joy in this world.
O Mother leave us not orphans…”

Today the wind feels sweeter on our tired faces, the trees become greener, the August waves are cooling down in the sea. Everything celebrates and rejoices. Oh! What kind of death is that, which fills the Universe and our hearts with the joy of immortality! And the hymn writer, chants very beautifully today: ‘’ You gave birth yet preserved your virginity. You fell asleep in death yet did not desert the world’’ (Fotis Kontoglou)

Watch over us, O Queen, the dwelling-place of our Lord. Lead and govern all our ways as thou wilt. Save us from our sins. Lead us into the calm harbour of the divine will. Make us worthy of future happiness through the sweet and face-to-face vision of the Word made flesh through thee…”

Panagia Prousiotissa saves Agrinio and Messolonghi from the Spanish flu on 1918

Παναγίας ΠρουσιώτισσαςPanagia-Prousiotissa-palaia-2011 (1)In 1918, in the deadliest pandemic in history, the Spanish flu infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed an estimated 20 to 50 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans.

It didn’t take long for this indiscriminate killer to reach Agrinion in Greece, a town of 15000 (today it hosts a population of 95,000) located a few miles south of Evritania.

The panic-stricken town was burying 40 to 50 people a day. Most of the deceased were buried by hired workers who pulled the bodies on carriages to the cemetery in the absence of their fear-stricken relatives and not always in the presence of a priest, who under the circumstances would read a brief prayer at best.

Conditions were even worse in the neighboring towns of Mesologgi and Aitoliko. Medical Science once again was paralyzed and incapable of defending the infected masses from this deadly disease.

There was despair and hopelessness everywhere, and the disheartened masses were counting their days and expecting the worst. During such crucial times, the only refuge is in the Divine, but the daily spectacle of dead corpses and cries of despair weaken the faith of the average unseasoned believer, often characterized by an infantile and inorganic faith. But there also were those faithful “who held fast to His Name” (Rev. 2:13), in season and out of season: the blessed yeast, those who had the name of the Lord and His Most Holy Mother on their lips from sunrise to sunset. These were the blessed grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the pious souls who had lived through another intercessory miracle of the Panagia Prousiotissa 64 years prior. These pious elders reminded the priests and the lay officials of the miraculous salvific intervention of the Panagia when the Pandemic of Cholera (1854) had decimated the residents of this area. This was enough to spark everyone’s faith and they all agreed that the presence of the icon of the Panagia was their only hope. Yet no one dared to go and make this request to the abbot of the Monastery of Prousa. They were all convinced that this pandemic was God’s way of purifying the wickedness of his children who went astray from God’s will, and as children of wrath, they further considered themselves too sinful and polluted to touch the Megalochari, the “One of Great Grace”. In the aftermath of heated deliberations, they chose a three-member committee to convene with the ascetical Metropolitan Ambrosios of Nafpaktos to petition the transfer of the Holy Icon to the city of Agrinion.

The first committee resigned the next day, and a second committee thus reluctantly made it to Nafpaktos. The holy Metropolitan reminded the members of this committee about the seriousness of this mission and the importance of repentance and spiritual preparation prior to this holy endeavor. After the Metropolitan’s handwritten permission and blessing the men of the committee exited the Metropolis with a troubled and compunctionate heart. Instead of heading toward the mountains, they instinctively changed direction and found themselves on the benches of a nearby sand beach of Nafpaktos. They needed a brief retreat of inner peace and solitude to contemplate and enter the deep heart, to carefully search for any impediments and past spiritual dark spots that would render them unworthy to approach the Spotless one. They were torturing themselves for hours with humble thoughts of penitent self- accusation.

Yes, the Metropolitan gave his blessing, but are they worthy to draw near the Panagia (the All- Holy)? Is she going to accept their petition? Is she going to intercede on behalf of such sinners who have the audacity to intervene for the plight of their city?

A day later, on the 22 of October, after an exhausting and prayerful journey, the three elderly “ambassadors” entered the doors of the Monastery [after having handed the Metropolitan’s letter to the doorkeeper] and rushed and knelt before the Holy Virgin to thank her for giving them the strength to complete this journey (in the midst of this real pandemic). In a few minutes, the talanton (alarm) of the monastery summoned its prayer warriors in the Catholicon (main church of the monastery). Elder Constantine began the canon of the Paraklesis/Supplication to the Panagia, while the three Agrinian ambassadors remained on their knees, shedding tears of repentance.

In the morning, a Doxology was offered, and so in the evening, an all-night Supplicatory Vigil. The preparation and transfer of the Holy Icon was scheduled on the morning of the 24th after the Orthros service. The great news of this Litany (Holy Journey) had reached the faithful of Agrinion, the night before, it spread like fire; and after a Paraklesis at the Metropolis of Agrinion thousands of people from the city and all the surrounding areas -disregarding all fear of the killer flu- hurried through the goat paths and treacherous ravines to welcome the Panagia and to participate in this most solemn litany. They journeyed through the night, and the following morning an army in excess of 5,000 prayer warriors, full of tears and contrition, met the Panagia at the highest peak of the Arapokefala Mountains. According to the testimony of those present and still alive, the contrition during that event was unimaginable. There, on the top of the mountain, the priests began the first Great Paraklesis to the Queen of Heaven with thousands of the penitent and tearful faithful, praying on their knees.

After this Great Supplication, the holy Journey of the Prousiotissa continued, with thousands of her devoted children chanting and praying through the mountainous paths. Twenty-four hours later, they reached the village of Prostova and prayed a Paraklesis service at the village church.

In the evening hours of the same day, when the procession had reached the city limits of Agrinion, the entire city suddenly became deserted. Only a few teenagers remained behind to man the bell towers and to continually ring the bells expressing the city’s inexpressible joy. This holy procession was now directed towards the city center, to the Church of the Holy Trinity, for a Doxoloxy and Great Paraklesis for the quick dismissal of this menacing pandemic. When the Mother of God entered the church, priests took turns to offer Paraklesis for the groups of people who took turns to enter the temple all through the night. Those properly prepared partook of the Holy Mysteries during the morning Liturgy.

Shortly after the entrance of the Megalochari into the city, a huge health restoration was at hand. The effects of this evil disease vanished. Dozens of the infected and up to now bedridden were rising at once and, fully healed, were heading towards Holy Trinity to offer their Mother of mercy their thankful tears.

Παναγία Θεοτόκος_Virgin Mary Panagia_Mother of God_Божией Матери Икона_Собор Богородичных Икон–Byzantine Orthodox Icon_29718 (2)The city of Agrinion was miraculously saved and freed from this pandemic which unfortunately continued its deadly course in all the surrounding areas. The deaths in Mesologgi and Aitoliko were so many that there were not enough priests to pray the funeral service for the deceased. Both of these cities sent committees to request the immediate transfer of the Prousiotissa to their city; meanwhile in Agrinion, there was a feud as to which city would be visited first- not to mention that the Agriniotes were reluctant to let Panagia’s saving grace depart until every one of the residents had venerated the Holy Icon of the Mother of God, and then not until a great Doxology had been offered to her. The intervention of the abbot and some of the more sober citizens kept the altercation from turning violent, but as the negotiations progressed the Agriniotes were increasing their demands. They now demanded that their Holy visitor must be liturgized in every one of the city churches. Thus, on October 27 the compunctionate service for the Processional Litany was chanted at the centrally- located church of The Holy Trinity and afterwards a holy procession with thousands of people moved through the main streets of the city and headed towards the old church of Saint Christophoros located on a hill at the outskirts of Agrinion. Another great Paraklesis was prayed, and afterward Abbot Constantine offered a sermon and explained that this tribulation was connected to the abandonment of the Faith of our fathers. The miraculous intercession of the Panagia absolved the Agrioniotes from this disciplinary punishment of God, but this comes with the condition and the responsibility to amend their evil ways and to return to the path of repentance. The parishioners were venerating the Holy Virgin for 24 hours; and after this the Icon spent another five days in the major parishes of Agrinion, St. Dimitrios and Life-Giving Spring, where the entire population confessed and received Holy Communion [all from the same Holy Chalice and Lavida-Holy Spoon]. Life in Agrinion was back to normal. The disease was eradicated for good and everyone was glorifying God and His Holy Mother.

A few miles way, the picture in Mesologgi and Aitoliko appeared more than dismal; corpses, cries and hopelessness filled the air. A committee received a mandate from Metropolitan Ambrosios to process the Prousiotissa to Mesologgi, and the official letter was taken to Agrinion. On the morning of November 1st our Holy Icon was set to reach Mesologgi via train. The news of her arrival sent spiritual chills up the spines of hundreds of believers, who ignored the torrential rain and kept vigil all night at the train station. These lovers of the Theotokos ignored and dismissed the scientific knowledge of the city officials and of the medical doctors and scientists, who were insisting that unless the crowds return to their homes the deaths in the city would triple! The faithful held their ground, and the waited with great patience. As the train approached they began to chant a Paraklesis, and they then formed a procession to welcome the Panagia into their city. Soon enough the Holy Mother interceded for another great miracle, witnessed by all residents of Mesologgi.

During the midnight vigil a powerful gust of wind uprooted dozens of trees in the city, but it also blew away all infectious viral agents in Mesologgi thus far responsible for the untimely death of 30 to 40 people on a daily basis.

On the morning of November 2, 1918, there was not a single death in this city. Its grateful residents came and fell before Panagia and Her Holy Icon with unprecedented devotion, chanting Her Paraklesis and offering all that was precious to them-gold rings, silver ornaments and other gifts-as a token of their appreciation to the almighty Mother of the Almighty God.

In the meantime dozens were still dying daily in the neighboring city of Aitoliko. The Holy Icon was now prepared to leave Mesologgi to continue Her healing work at Aitoliko. The entire city, led by Mayor Constantine Staramos and its priests and theologians, gathered around the train station to honor and thank the ultra-fighting commander [ti eipermaho stratigo] for granting them victory over this menacing pandemic. The day-by-day events of this miraculous divine intervention were recorded by the ever-memorable High School principal of Agrinion, Mr. George Pastras.

This miracle of the Panagia Prousiotissa is celebrated every year on August 23 ( on the leavetaking of the Dormition) in the Church of The Holy Trinity in Agrinion, where a replica of the Holy Icon has been kept since 1918 to remind all generations of the love of our Panagia for all mankind, and particularly those who listen to and obey her Son.
Translated, edited and adapted by CZ – Assisted by Peter Howe
http://www.saintnicodemos.com/

λιτανεια848f04cf47b4508980099Our Lady is like the brightest star , St John of Kronstadt
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/our-lady-is-like-the-brightest-star-st-john-of-kronstadt/

The Most Holy Mother of God prays for us ceaselessly. She is always visiting us. Saint Niphon Bishop of Constantiane
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2020/03/06/the-most-holy-mother-of-god-prays-for-us-ceaselessly-she-is-always-visiting-us-saint-niphon-bishop-of-constantiane/

The prayer rule of St. Seraphim of Sarov
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/the-prayer-rule-of-st-seraphim-of-sarov/

Παναγια Πορταιτισσα_Icon-of-The-Mother-of-God-of-Iveron-Panagia-PortraitissaiKORNOFOLIA-2Apolytikion for Afterfeast of the Dormition in the First Mode

In giving birth, thou didst preserve thy virginity; in thy dormition, thou didst not forsake the world, O Theotokos. Thou wast translated unto life, since thou art the Mother of Life; and by thine intercessions dost thou redeem our souls from death.

Apolytikion of Icon of Prusa
First Tone

O Lady, by thine icon of Proussa, thou art shown forth as the great proctectress of Greece and worker of dread wonders, for thou grantest sight unto the blind, O thou all-spotless Virgin Mariam; thou dost cast out wicked demons and healest all that flee unto thee while crying: Glory unto thy childbirth without seed. Glory to Him that hath made thee wonderous. Glory to Him that worketh such manner of marvels through thee.

Kontakion of Icon of Prusa
Third Tone

We observe the joyous feast * of thy pure icon with longing, * since it hath been shown to be * our strength and shelter in suff’rings; * thou hast proved our ready helper * in all misfortunes; * for this cause, O Virgin Mother of God our Saviour, * we extol thy mighty marvels * with faith, O thou who * didst bear the God of all things.

Troparion of the of the Mother of God of PRUSA — Tone 1

By thine icon of Prusa thou art protectress of the land of Greece/ and a worker of wondrous signs, O Immaculate Virgin Mary./ For thou dost grant sight to the blind, thou dost cast out demons and strengthen paralytics, O good one./ And thou dost save from dangers all who hasten to thee./ Glory to thy seedless childbirth; glory to Him Who has made thee wonderful;/ glory to Him Who works such wonders through thee.

Troparion of the Mother of God of PRUSA — Tone 1

By thine icon of Prousa thou art shown forth as the great protectress of Greece and a worker of dread wonders All-Pure Virgin Mariam; for thou grantest sight unto the blind, thou dost cast out wicked demons and healest all that flee unto thee while crying: Glory unto thy childbirth without seed. Glory to Him that hath made thee wondrous. Glory to Him that worketh such manner of marvels through thee.

Apolytikion for Saint George in the Fourth Mode

Liberator of captives, defender of the poor, physician of the sick, and champion of kings, O trophy-bearer, Great Martyr George, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Seasonal Kontakion in the Second Mode

Neither the grave nor death could contain the Theotokos, the unshakable hope, ever vigilant in intercession and protection. As Mother of life, He who dwelt in the ever-virginal womb transposed her to life.


The true Church always will be persecuted. They who want to be saved will be saved with illnesses and afflictions. The way in which the persecutions will occur will be very sly and it will be very difficult for one to foresee the persecutions. Saint Seraphim οf Viritsa

St. Seraphim of Vyritsa

Commemorated on April 3

Counsels and
Prophecies οf Saint Seraphim οf Viritsa

St. Seraphim of Vyritsa always recommended his spiritual children to sprinkle raw and cooked food with holy Theophany water, which, according to him, “consecrates everything all on its own.” Whenever anyone fell seriously ill, St. Seraphim would bless them to take a tablespoonful of holy water hourly. He used to say that there are no better remedies than holy water and holy oil.

Many times we become sick because we do not pray before beginning our food and we do not seek from God to bless it. In olden times everything people did they did with prayer. They prayed when they plowed the earth, in the sowing they prayed; they also prayed when they harvested the fruits. We today do not know who produces these things we are eating, and many times we do not know who is cooking our food. These people may be cursing and blaspheming, when they are cooking it. For this reason it would be good before eating our food to throw some holy water on it.
All these things which we use for food are God’s gifts to people. Through them all of nature and the noetic world of angels serve man. For this reason each time we sit down to eat, we should pray with much diligence.

Many spiritual children Vyritsa elder advised as often as possible to read the prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian, “O Lord and Master of my life …” “In this prayer, the whole essence of Orthodoxy, the whole Gospel. She we ask the Lord for help to acquire the properties of the new man,” — said the priest.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brother …” Sin condemnation Seraphim called one of the greatest spiritual ills of our time! “We have the right to judge but yourself. Even arguing about any man, we have unwittingly condemn it,” — said Vyritsa elder. He particularly recalled the inadmissibility of condemnation of the priesthood: “Personal human weakness can not take away the grace of ordination. During the sacraments the priest is only an instrument in God’s hands. Invisibly all sacraments makes Christ himself. Whatever sinful father, even if he is prepared to fire gehenna only light through it, we can get permission from our own sins. “

Father Seraphim himself many times used to say that he always felt the presence of his protector, the venerable Seraphim of Sarov. He faithfully followed this saint’s example in his life, as we will realize from the following narration.


ΣΕΡΑΦΕΙΜ ΒΙΡΙΤΣΑ_Σεραφείμ Βίριτσα_Saint Seraphim of Vyritsa_Преп. Серафим, Вырицкий__αγ.σεραφ.βιριτσα εικ. 19

Neither the individual fates of men nor the fate of Russia itself were hidden from the great Elder. He knew of the coming great war, and openly warned of the dangers approaching the Fatherland. With the beginning of the Great Patriotic War [i.e. World War II], Fr. Seraphim took on a new great ascetic struggle, many days of prayer upon a rock, like unto that of St. Seraphim of Sarov. Here is what his relatives tell of this: “In 1941, Grandfather was already almost 76, and could barely get around unassisted. In the garden behind the house, there was a granite boulder behind a small apple tree. On that rock, Fr. Seraphim would offer up his prayers to the Lord. Supporting his arms, or often simply carrying him, people would bring him out there. An icon was affixed to the little apple tree, and Grandfather would stand on his hurt knees on the rock and raise his arms toward Heaven. How difficult that was for him! It was impossible to look upon it all without crying… Fr. Seraphim prayed for as long as he had the strength – sometimes an hour, sometimes two, and sometimes several hours at a time. And he did so day in and day out, throughout the long and exhausting years of war.”

In Vyritsa itself, and as the Elder had prophesied, not one house was destroyed, and not one single person was killed.

There will come a time when not the persecutions but money and the goods of this world will take people far from God. Then many more souls will be lost than in the time of the persecutions. On the one hand, they will be putting gold on the domes and will put the crosses on them and on the other hand everywhere evil and falsehood will reign. The true Church always will be persecuted. They who want to be saved will be saved with illnesses and afflictions. The way in which the persecutions will occur will be very sly and it will be very difficult for one to foresee the persecutions. Dreadful will be that time; I pity those who will be living then.

Even in the most difficult times, he who will occupy himself diligently with the Jesus prayer, ascending with the frequent invocation of the Son of God’s name in ceaseless prayer, will be able to be saved easily.

The Lord can wait even a thousand years for just one person to be saved for the number of angels who fell [i.e. the demons] to be made up.

At least once in our life we must light a candle for those whom we insulted, whom we deceived, whom we stole something from, whom we owed, and we did not pay our debt.

The Lord has the power to show forth workers if we beseech Him. Let’s pray and let’s beg Him and then from the rocks the Lord will show forth His chosen ones.

The Elder used to say, that a time would come when near every believer would be forty unbelievers and they will beg him to save them.

The Orient will be baptized in Russia. The whole heavenly world is praying for the enlightenment of the Orient.

A time will come when there will be a spiritual flowering in Russia. Many churches and monasteries will open, even those of other faiths will come to us in ships to be baptized. But this will not last long – for about fifteen years, then Antichrist will come …

A time will come when Russia will be torn apart. First they will split her up, then they will start to plunder her wealth. The West will in every way try to further Russia’s destruction and hand over her eastern part to China. The Far East will fall into the hands of the Japanese. Siberia will fall to the Chinese, who will start to settle in Russia, marry Russians and eventually, through cunning and craft, occupy all Siberia as far as the Urals. When China tries to go further, the West will oppose it.

Many countries will fall on Russia, but she will survive, though losing a great part of her territory. That war, foretold by the Holy Scriptures, will bring about the unity of mankind. People will understand that it will be impossible to go on, otherwise every living thing will die. They will elect a single government – this will be the antichamber for the reign of Antichrist. Then the persecution of Christians will begin…

The Elder’s spiritual gifts and his gift of consoling people made him known even beyond the city of Saint Peter. People from all parts of Russia would come to Lavra to receive his blessing, to be consoled, and to seek his advice. Father Seraphim would say the following about his own self:
“I am the storage room where people’s afflictions gather.”

They say that at the end of the 20’s decade, a possessed woman visited the elder. Father Seraphim took a little oil from the vigil lamp that burned before the Panaghia’s icon and anointed her with it. Immediately the demon left the woman.

***

Miracles οf Saint Seraphim οf Viritsa

One day a woman and her blind daughter went to see Fr Seraphim. When they entered his cell, the woman knelt before the Elder, received his blessing and with tears begged him to help her daughter. Fr Seraphim prayed. He took oil from the vigil lamp which burned before the icon and anointed the child’s eyes with it. Then he told the mother to cover the child’s eyes with a handkerchief and to not take it off until the following night. The next night the child received her sight.

ΣΕΡΑΦΕΙΜ ΒΙΡΙΤΣΑ_Σεραφείμ-Saint Seraphim of Vyritsa_Преп. Серафим, Вырицкий__7c205y_92f012c6

One day a Russian lieutenant and his platoon took over an alcohol factory in Germany. There were many wells full of alcohol. Everyone rejoiced and wanted to try it. Suddenly, a general appeared and ordered the men to immediately fire on all the wells and disappeared. When the war ended the lieutenant returned home, he saw a monk’s photo among his mother’s icons. In it he recognized the general who had given the order to fire at the wells. He asked who this was and his mother told him it was her spiritual father, Hieromonk Fr Seraphim. “During all the time of the war, he was praying for you,” his mother told him. “I had asked him to pray for you so that they didn’t kill you.” The lieutenant was shocked to hear this because later on he learned that the wells contained methyl alcohol and everyone who would have drunk from the wells would have surely died.”

A girl’s mother had cancer and was in hospital. She was in a room together with other patients and was waiting for an operation. Very rarely would a person come out alive from the room. The daughter went to see Fr Seraphim but he was ill and was not receiving visitors that day. The Elder’s helper told her to write down her problem on a little piece of paper. Afterwards the nun gave the girl a prosfora from the Elder and told her that Fr Seraphim wanted her to share it with everyone who was in the same hospital room together with her mother. When the girl did that which the Elder had commanded, the following occurred. Examinations were done again and the doctors did not find cancer cells in any of the people in the room. It was truly a miracle. Everyone who ate of the “bread of life”, which the Elder sent them, returned to their homes healthy. The girl’s mother lived to the age of 83 years.

from Life–Miracles–Prophecies of Saint Seraphim of Viritsa: The New Saint of the Orthodox Russian Church, 1866–1949. Orthodox Kypseli Publications, 2005

Troparion tone 4

As a bright star of the Russian land thou didst shine forth from Vyritsa, O venerable father Seraphim; and guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, thou hast illumined our country with the light of thy miracles. Thus we flee to thy relics for refuge crying out with compunction: Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved!

Magnification

We magnify thee, O venerable father Seraphim; and we venerate thy holy memory, instructor of monastic and conversor with the angels!


The Miracle of the Monks in the Caucasus. A single saint is an extraordinarily precious phenomenon for all mankind. By the mere fact of their existence – unknown, maybe to the world but known to God – the saints draw down on the world…

Ασκητες_asketesaΕρημίτης_Hermit_отшельник- еремит_i_058d7b0ad0e7851492On Saturday of Cheese Fare Week we commemorate all the Saints, both Fathers and Mothers of the Lord, known by name and unknown, “who brightly shone forth living ascetically”.

Verses
To the souls of the Righteous, whose memory abideth
Forever, do I offer these my words as abiding oblations

“I saw in Egypt,” testifies Rufinus, “fathers who live on the earth but lead a heavenly life … new prophets, of whose worth there is the testimony of their gift of signs and miracles. None of them is anxious over food and clothing, for they know that after all these things do the Gentiles seek (Matt. 6:32). They seek justice and the Kingdom of God, and all this, according to the promise of the Savior, will be added to them. Their faith is such that it can move mountains. Thus certain of them by their prayers stopped river torrents that were about to inundate neighboring villages, crossed over Waters as on dry land, subdued wild beasts, and performed numberless miracles; so that there is no doubt that it is by their virtues that the world stands.” “The heavens, speckled with a multitude of stars, are not as bright,” says Chrysostom, “as the Egyptian desert, which displays everywhere the huts of monks … It is better than paradise, where we see in human form numberless choirs of angels, throngs of martyrs, assemblies of virgins; we see the whole tyranny of the devil overthrown, and the Kingdom of Christ shines.”

Αγία Σκέπη της Υπεραγίας Θεοτόκου -Покров Пресвятой Богородицы-ikona_pokrov_e30a78e7a5203684c977The Miracle of the Monks in the Caucasus

In the 1960’s, the KGB authorities caught everyone who was hiding there, mostly monks, and sent them to correctional camps.

One experienced officer, a member of the party, was given the task of monitoring a group of monks. He watched the monks from the air on the radio and reported all their movements, and soldiers on the ground surrounded them, pressing them to the steep peak, at which they hoped to overtake and arrest them.

The hunt for the monks has been going on for several days and is drawing to a close. The monks had nowhere to go, they climbed to the very top of the mountain, behind them were soldiers with dogs catching up, and in front of them was a bottomless, steep abyss. The officer’s helicopter hovered right above the monks, the pilot let them know that it was all over. Suddenly, something unusual began to happen below. The monks all at once knelt and prayed for a long time, then they got up and went to the edge of the abyss. “Will they really jump? This is certain death! What? Did they decide to commit suicide? ”The helicopter pilot thought with annoyance.

But at this time one of the monks made the sign of the cross and blessed the abyss with a large cross and with one step, stepped into the gap! But he didn’t fall. For some reason, by some miracle he remained hanging in the air over the abyss and slowly went through the air as if on a path. The other monks followed him and also went through the air one by one, rising up disappeared into the clouds.

This made such a strong impression on the pilot that he even lost control over the airplane fell into the clearing, where he was found and picked up by the soldiers. A few months later, when he recovered, he was called to the special unit for an explanation. Instead of answering, he put a party ticket on the table and asked to be fired. Having retired, this former pilot officer accepted baptism and became a believer.”
https://throughthegraceofgod.wordpress.com/the-miracle-of-the-monks-in-the-caucasus/

Ασκητες_asketes-Ερημίτες_Hermit_отшельник- еремит_dormsabbscribes_i_gerontiko342454354Saint Silouan the Athonite

The saints embrace the whole world with their love.
“A single saint is an extraordinarily precious phenomenon for all mankind. By the mere fact of their existence – unknown, maybe to the world but known to God – the saints draw down on the world, on all humanity, a great benediction from God…”
“Because of these people, I believe the Lord preserves the world, for they are precious in His sight, and God always listens to His humble servants and we are all right because of their prayers.”
“Prayer keeps the world alive and when prayer fails, then the world will perish… ‘Nowadays,’ perhaps you will say, ‘there are no more monks like that to pray for the whole world,’ But I tell you that when there are no more men [or women] of prayer on the earth, the world will come to an end and great disasters will befall.. . . when the earth ceases to produce saints, the strength that safeguards the earth from catastrophe will fail. They have already started.”
(Saint Silouan the Athonite, pg. 222, 223.)

***

Saint Paisios the Athonite

Father Paisios was once asked if it would not be better if he left his monastery to go into the world so that he could better help people.

The army has many divisions and each one fights from its own position; the navy at sea, the airplanes in the air and the army on the land.  A very specialized position is the one of the radio operator.  His main characteristic is that he connects all the army divisions with the headquarters, which send help in case of emergency.  The radio operator must not be close to the combat zone, but higher up in a quiet place, so that he may clearly transmit the messages.  When the soldiers fight and are in danger, they should not say to the radio operator:  “What are you doing up there?  Come and fight with us.”  His duty is to stay where he is and receive orders from headquarters, and keep them up to date regarding the outcome of the combat.

Ερημίτης_ΕΡΗΜΙΤΗς_untitled-6Apolytikion of Holy Protection of the Theotokos in the First Tone

O Virgin, we extol the great grace of thy Protection, which thou didst spread out like a bright cloud beyond all understanding; for thou dost invisibly protect thy people from the foe’s every assault. Since we have thee as our shelter and certain help, we cry to thee with our whole soul: Glory to thy great deeds, O most pure Maid. Glory to thy shelter most divine. Glory to thy care and providence for us, O spotless one.

Apolytikion of Cheesefare Saturday, Fourth Tone

O God of our Fathers, even dealing with according to Thy gentleness: take not Thy mercy from us, but by their entreaties guide our life in peace.

Tone 8 (Repeat: “Come, all faithful …”)

Rejoice, Egypt, land of faith! Rejoice, holy Libya, and the Thebaid chosen by God!
Rejoice, every place and country that have brought forth citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, raising them in abstinence and labor, offering them to God as perfect in love.
They are stars guiding our souls, and by the brightness of their wonders and the miracles they wrought, they have shed their spiritual light over all the earth. O all-blessed fathers, pray for our souls!

Who among men can speak of the perfection of your lives, holy fathers? What tongue can utter the sanctity of your efforts: the sufferings in virtue, the control of the flesh;
the struggles with passions, in vigils, in prayers and in tears? Truly ye were angels while ye lived in the world. Ye laid low the highest powers of evil. Ye performed miraculous and wonderful signs. Therefore pray with us, O most blessed fathers, to gain for our souls eternal joy!

After the 1st reading from the Psalter (16th Kathisma), the Sessional hymns:
(Tone VIII):

Illumined by the brilliant lightning of the Fathers, * let us now enter as if into a beautiful Paradise, * and delight beside the river of sweetness therein. * Beholding with wonder their valor, * let us strive to equal them in the virtues, * crying aloud unto the Savior: * O God, by their intercessions ** make us partakers of Thy heavenly Kingdom.

Glory …,
Wandering as it were among flowers of the virtues * in the meadow of God-bearing ascetics, * we are filled with the breath of sweet fragrance. * For by suffering they became hardened against temptations, * and by abstinence they subjected the flesh to the spirit, * living the life of angels here on earth; ** wherefore they have been deemed worthy of glory.

We entrust to You, loving Master, our whole life and hope, and we beseech, pray, and implore You: Grant us to partake of Your heavenly and awesome Mysteries from this sacred and spiritual table with a clear conscience for the remission of sins, the forgiveness of transgressions, the communion of the Holy Spirit, the inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven, and boldness before You, not unto judgment or condemnation.

Commemorating our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commend ourselves and one another and our whole life unto Christ our God.


Stories of the miracles of St. John the Baptist

Θεοφάνεια_ Theophany_Богоявле́ние-Теофа́ния_Teofanía_ნათლისღება_Boboteaza Greek Byzantine Orthodox Icon1hpE1O9R6bwΟΠΤΙΝΑThe life of the holy old man John and the Cave of Sapsa

There was an old man called John in the monastery of Eustorgius whom the holy Elias, Archbishop of Jerusalem, wanted to put in charge of all the monasteries in Jerusalem. John demurred, saying that he was wanting to travel to Mt Sinai in order to pray there.  The Archbishop urged him to be made an abbot first before going off to wherever he wanted.  The old man still would not agree, but at last the bishop let him go on the strength of a promise that John would accept this responsibility on his return. He thanked the Archbishop and began his journey to Mount Sinai, taking his disciple with him. They crossed the Jordan and had hardly taken one more step when the old man began to feel stiff and shortly afterwards became feverish. The fever increased to such an extent that he was unable to walk, so they went into a little cave that they found, in order to rest.  The fever got so bad that after staying the cave for three days he was still unable to move. The old man then had a dream in which he saw someone standing next to him saying: “Tell me, old man, where are you going?”

To Mount Sinai”, he replied.

No, I beg you, don’t go,” came the answer.

Ιωάννης ο Πρόδρομος _Saint John the Forerunner _ Иоа́нн Предте́ча Икона _ICONS 019 II ΙΙ___20120206_2008323450 (1)The old man would not agree, and the vision faded, but his fever got even worse.  The next night the same person appeared and said “Why do you persist in being punished like this old man? Listen to me and stop trying to go anywhere.”

Who are you,” said the old man

I am John the Baptist,” came the reply, and I warn you, don’t go anywhere, for this narrow cave is greater than Mount Sinai. For the Lord Jesus quite often used to come into this cave when he was visiting me. Promise me that you will stay here and I will restore your health.”

Hearing this the old man freely promised that he would stay in that same cave. His health was immediately restored and there he spent the rest of his life. He made that cave into a church and gathered other brothers about him. The name of that place is Sapsa, and it is watered by the nearby brook Cherith to which Elias was sent in the time of drought from the other side of Jordan.
Excerpts from The Leimonarion, (The Spiritual Meadow) of John Moschus, Chapter I, translated into Latin by Ambrosius Camaldulensis

***

Because of the lack of priests, one young hieromonk was appointed to be an assistant priest in a village parish. But the inclination to the world and life’s pleasures had not yet died in his soul. A temptation would come over him — the desire to have a family.

Once he was invited to a village to baptize a child, born to a young couple.

Entering the house, he witnessed family happiness. His heart began to ache and grieve, and he was filled with envy at the happiness of the young couple. His spirit became so confused that he did not dare to perform the Mystery of the Holy Baptism in such a state.

Άγιος Ιωάννης ο Πρόδρομος_St. John the Baptist_ см. Иоа́нн Предте́чаΠΡΟΔΡΟΜΟΣ 589Saying that he had forgotten the Myrrh, he refused to baptize the child and promised to come back later or to send another priest.

His house was about three kilometers away.

There was a storm in his soul.

He appealed to God, asking for help in this temptation, and began to cry. Then he saw an elder in monastic apparel, with an exhausted, stern face, approaching him. When he reached the hieromonk, he stopped and said:

— How dare you refuse to perform the Mystery? Don’t think that your spiritual and mental dirt can desecrate the Holy Mystery of Baptism. Return immediately and perform the Mystery.

Saying this, the elder became invisible.

The young hieromonk felt that this was St. John the Baptist himself. Amazed by the words and the vision, the hieromonk returned immediately to baptize the infant.

Not even a shadow of the unclean thoughts remained in his soul, and he performed the Mystery of Baptism reverently.

This miraculous appearance of St. John the Baptist and his words confirm the Church’s opinion, that the unworthiness of a priest cannot in any way disturb the fulfillment and great sanctity of all the Church mysteries.
fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/chudesa_e.htm#_Toc75662206

Θεοφάνεια_ Theophany_Богоявле́ние-Теофа́ния_424323-headerSt. John the Baptist heals Saint Conon of Cilicia
Joannes Moschus  ( ca. 550 – 619 AD), Spiritual Meadow

At the monastery of Penthucla was a certain Conon of Cilicia, a priest assigned to [the ministry of] baptism. Since Conon was an old man of high repute, the [monks] appointed him to perform the baptisms. Thus he used to anoint and baptise those who were presented to him for this. But whenever he did anoint a woman, he felt tempted [lit. ‘scandalised’], and because of this, he wanted to leave the monastery. When he was on the point of leaving, St. John [the Baptist] appeared to him and said: ‘Have patience, and I will deliver you from this struggle’.

One day a young woman from Persia came to be baptised. She was attractive, yes exceptionally gorgeous, so that the priest did not have the courage to anoint her with holy oil. Since she stayed there for two days, Archbishop Peter [of Jerusalem] heard about this. He was concerned about what had happened and wanted to designate a woman deacon [διακονον γυναίκα] for this function; but he did not do it, since the place did not permit it.  Father Conon packed his bag, left, and said: ‘I will not stay here any longer.’

Ιωάννης ο Πρόδρομος_St. John the Baptist_ см. Иоа́нн Предте́чаsf-ioan-715362cdfdc3315ca13d35c0155ff622 (1)As he was roaming through the hills, St. John the Baptist appeared to him and said in a soft voice: ‘Go back to your monastery and I will deliver you from your struggle.’ Father Conon answered angrily: ‘Believe me, I will not go back, because you often made a promise and you never kept it.’ Then St. John calmed him and requested that he sit upon a hill. Then St. John took off  [Conon’s] clothes, and marked him three times with the sign of the cross below his navel, saying: ‘Have confidence in me, Father Conon. I wanted you to prove yourself worthy of a reward in regard to this struggle; but since you do not want it, I have nevertheless delivered you from it. But you will not have the reward that would have been coming to you.’

Father Conon returned to the monastery where he used to baptise. The next morning he anointed and baptised the young woman from Persia without even knowing that she was a woman. He kept this office for twelve years, anointing and baptising, without any movement of the flesh and without noticing any woman. This he continued doing till his death.[2]

Reference
1. Jean Moschus, Pratum Spirituale 3; Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol.87, col. 2853 C.

Apolytikion Saint John the Forerunner. Second Tone

The memory of the just is celebrated with hymns of praise, but the Lord’s testimony is sufficient for thee, O Forerunner; for thou hast proved to be truly even more venerable than the Prophets, since thou was granted to baptize in the running waters Him Whom they proclaimed. Wherefore, having contested for the truth, thou didst rejoice to announce the good tidings even to those in Hades: that God hath appeared in the flesh, taking away the sin of the world and granting us great mercy.


St. Elias had a soul as pure as the morning dew, a body as chaste as a child’s, and a heart and mind as blameless as that of an angel of God. Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Ηλία Προφήτη_Prophet Elijah-Elias_Илия пророк_0459_najmanja-crkva-u-srbiji300313ras-foto-djordje-kojadinovic14_origProphet Elijah the Tishbite, The fiery Prophet, the prince of the Prophets

Commemorated on July 20

Verses
He checked the rain, thrice bringing fire below.
Parting a stream, Elias sped above.
The twentieth by chariot you were taken up.

Prophet Elijah
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Saint Elijah, one who saw God, a miracle-worker and a zealot for faith in God, was born of the tribe of Aaron from the town Tishba for which he was called the Tishbite. When St. Elijah was born, his father Savah saw an angel of God hovering around the child, wrapping the child in fire and giving him a flame to eat. That was a foreshadowing of Elijah’s fiery character and his God-given fiery power. He spent his entire youth in godly thoughts and prayers withdrawing frequently into the wilderness to contemplate and to pray in solitude. At that time the Jewish kingdom was divided into two unequal parts: the kingdom of Judah consisting of only two tribes, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin with their capital in Jerusalem and the kingdom of Israel consisting of the remaining ten tribes with their capital in Samaria. The first kingdom was governed by the descendants of Solomon and the second kingdom was governed by the descendants of Jeroboam, the servants of Solomon. The greatest confrontation that the prophet Elijah had was with the Israelite King Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel. For they, Ahab and Jezebel, worshipped idols and were turning the people away from serving the One and Living God. Before this, however, Jezebel, a Syrian, persuaded her husband to erect a temple to the Syrian god Baal and ordered many priests to the service of this false god. Through great miracles Elijah displayed the power and authority of God: he closed up the heavens, so that there was not any rain for three years and six months; he lowered a fire from heaven and burned the sacrifice to his God which the pagan priests of Baal were unable to do; he brought down rain from heaven by his prayer; miraculously multiplied flour and oil in the home of the widow in Zerepath, and resurrected her son; he prophesied to Ahab that the dogs will lick up his blood and to Jezebel that the dogs will consume her flesh, all of which happened as well as many other miracles did he perform and prophesy. On Mount Horeb, he spoke with God and heard the voice of God in the calm of a gentle breeze. Before his death he took Elisha and designated him as his successor in the prophetic calling; by his mantle he divided the waters of the Jordan river; finally he was taken up into the heavens in a fiery chariot by flaming horses. He appeared on Mount Tabor to our Lord Jesus Christ together with Moses. Before the end of the world St. Elijah will appear again to put an end to the power of the anti-Christ (Revelation, Chapter 11).

***

Ηλία Προφήτη_Prophet Elijah-Elias_Илия пророк_CS4LF4uUcAEK6SCWriting about the life of his sister St. Macrina, St. Gregory of Nyssa hesitates to enumerate her miracles, “that I not be,” says he, “responsible for the sin of unbelief among helpless men.” He calls helpless, those who do not believe. Truly, there is nothing more helpless than a man without faith. The man without faith believes in the power of dead things and dead elements of nature and does not believe in the power of God or in the strength of the men of God. That is spiritual dullness and that dullness is equated with spiritual death. Thus, the living souls believe and the dead souls do not believe. Living souls believe in the powerful miracles of the Prophet Elijah. These miracles give them courage and joy, for they know that they are a manifestation of the might of God. When God manifests His might through lifeless things and elements of nature, why then would He not manifest it through living and holy men? That which especially gives joy to the faithful is that the Prophet Elijah appeared alive on Mount Tabor at the time of the Transfiguration of the Lord. During his life on earth, this great prophet gave proof of the existence of the One and Living God and, after his death, and even after several hundred years, by his appearance on Mt. Tabor, he gave to mankind visible proof of life after death.
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/July20.htm

This man of God sought nothing for himself but sought everything for God. God was everything to him: all glory, all strength, all good. Therefore, God crowned him with immortal glory, awesome might, and treasure which does not decay and which moths do not corrupt. God did not permit Elias to die but took him to heaven as he did Enoch. St. Elias had a soul as pure as the morning dew, a body as chaste as a child’s, and a heart and mind as blameless as that of an angel of God. Therefore, he was and remains a vessel of God’s power. He worked wonders then and works them today.

O Living Lord, the God of Thy Prophet Elias, Who hast adopted us through baptism by Thy holy grace: enkindle also in us the faith and zeal of Thy holy prophet.Ηλία Προφήτη_Prophet Elijah-Elias_Илия пророк_ΗΛΙΑΣ_f313c5833794cedff9ca02d54e8fc64c

Troparion Prophet Elijah, Tone 4

Incarnate Angel and summit of the Prophets,/ second forerunner of the coming of Christ,/ glorious Elijah sent down grace from on high to the Prophet Elisha./ He heals diseases and cleanses the leprous./ He pours healings on all who honor him.

Apolytikion. Tone 4.

The angel embodied, the Prophets’ foundation, the second forerunner of the coming of Christ, Elias the glorious, by sending down grace from on high to Elissaios drives out diseases, cleanses lepers; and so he overflows with healings for those who honour him.

stichera Tone 1

Elias, blest by God, of old you saw the enlightening presence of God, not in a earthquake, but in a light breeze. Borne on a four-horse chariot, you rode to heaven in a wondrous way, O God-inspired. (Twice)

Burning with divine zeal, Elias, you slew the priests of shame with the sword; with your tongue you ordered the heaven not to rain; you filled Elissaios by the gift of your mantle with a double share of inspired grace. (Twice)

Glory. Tone 6.

Prophet, herald of Christ, you are never parted from the throne of Greatness, and you ever stand beside each one who is weak; as you minister in the highest, you bless the inhabited world, everywhere glorified. Ask mercy for our souls.

Kathisma. Tone 8.
The Wisdom and Word.

As Prophet of the true divine light you cast down the prophets of falsehood, by this rebuking Achab who transgressed the law and teaching him not to worship Baal, and by your prayer asking for streams from on high, glorious Elias; therefore you were taken up, a charioteer of the air, in a fiery chariot to the Lord; and so we cry to you: Intercede with Christ God to grant forgiveness of offences to those who feast with love your holy memory.

Ode 7. A bush burning with fire.

A mild and gentle breeze, not a mighty wind, nor earthquake, nor fearsome fire, revealed the Lord to you Elias, zealous for God almighty. And so to Jesus, the gentle, we sing: Blessed is the God of our Fathers.

Like the great Moses you were found worthy of the manifestation of God and of prophecy, inspired Elias, anointing prophets and kings; and as you contemplated Christ’s glory on Thabor you cried out: Blessed is the God of our Fathers.

Ode 8. The Chaldean tyrant.

With a living word you shut up heaven from giving rain; now with your spiritual word open to me, I beg, the gates of repentance, holy Prophet, sending to my soul showers of compunction, and save me as I cry out: Priests bless, people highly exalt Christ to the ages.

Ode 9. Heaven was amazed.

You were counted worthy to see God in a light breeze, as far it is possible to see him, having before made your body light by an ascetic life, glorious Prophet; therefore I implore you that, lightening the grossness of my mind by your prayers, you would shine on me with divine beams of repentance.


Saint Marina the Great Martyr, Marina from Andros.

Holy Great Martyr Marina

(Feast Day – July 17)

The Miracles of St. Marina in Andros, Greece (Greek)

Μαρίνα Άνδρου_Marina of Antioch in Pisidia_св Марина великомученица Антиохийская_წმიდა დიდმოწამე მარინე_234512In October of 2000, a family from Limasol, Cyprus, named Vassiliou received the following miracle.

In Greece they are well known from the televised requests they made in order to find a donor for their young boy Andrea, who suffered from leukemia. The donor was indeed found and the parents began preparing for their trip to Houston, Texas in the U.S.A where the bone marrow transplant was going to be performed. Meanwhile, they also prayed and begged Jesus Christ to save their boy.

Before they left for the U.S.A the parents heard of St. Marina’s miracles and they called the monastery of St. Marina located on the island of Andros in Greece to ask for her blessing. The Elder of the monastery, Archimandrite Fr. Cyprianos, promised that he would pray to St. Marina. He also wished the parents for St. Marina to be with Andrea in the operating room, to help him. With Elder Cyprianos’ blessing and with strong faith that St. Marina would help indeed, the Vassiliou family went to the U.S.A.

After the necessary pre-operation tests that Andrea had to undergo, he was taken to the operating room. A short time before the operation was to begin, a woman came to see the surgeon who would be operating on Andrea. She said that she was Andrea’s doctor and asked to be allowed to observe the operation. The conversation that ensued proved that the woman was indeed a doctor. However, the surgeon replied that ‘outside’ doctors were not permitted to be present in the operating room and that his medical teams’ policy was that no doctor other than those on the team be involved in such delicate operations. The persistence of the woman however, convinced the surgeon to allow her in the operating room. But before, he asked her to leave her coordinates [presumably, credentials] at the administration desk. The unknown doctor did as told and then entered the operating room with the surgeon. During the operation, she gave several directions regarding the progress of the procedure. The operation went well and in the end the surgeon thanked the woman and exited the operating room.

Andrea’s parents immediately went to inquire about the outcome of the surgery and the surgeon replied that all had gone very well, adding that he could not understand why they had brought Andrea to him when they had such a fine doctor. The parents were surprised and responded that they had not brought any doctor with them. The surgeon insisted, however. He also told them that when he came out of the operating room Andrea’s doctor had remained there for a little longer with the rest of the operating team and therefore, she would probably still be around. He recommended that they look for her. The search, however, proved pointless, as the “woman doctor” was nowhere around. The Vassiliou couple then concluded that it must have been a doctor from Greece or Cyprus who had decided to travel to the U.S.A and contribute to the delicate operation. They expressed the wish to know who she was so that they may be able to thank her, and at the surgeon’s recommendation they then went to the administration desk to ask for her coordinates.

ΜΑΡΙΝΑ ΜΕΓIt was with utter surprise that they read that the unknown woman had signed with the name “Marina from Andros”. Tears of gratefulness and joy filled their eyes as they recalled that the Elder at the monastery had said to them that he wished Andrea to have St. Marina in the operating room to help him. Andrea’s parents shared with the media their joy both for the successful operation and Andrea’s recovered health and for the miracle they received. The Vassiliou family made the vow that the entire family will be present at the saint’s monastery every year on the saint’s feast day (July 17) and Elder Cyprianos reports that the family has been making the annual trip from Limassol to Andros every summer to thank Saint Marina for saving Andrea. 

Miracles performed by the Saints have never ceased to take place in the Orthodox Church. With these miracles, may our Lord Jesus Christ help us build our faith.

The telephone number to St. Marina Monastery on Andros is 2282024074.ΣΤΑΥΡΟΣHymns to Saint Marina
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

O Lord Jesus, unto Thee Thy lamb doth cry with a great voice: O my Bridegroom, Thee I love; and seeking Thee, I now contest, and with Thy baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; for Thy sake I die, that I may live in Thee: accept me offered out of longing to Thee as a spotless sacrifice. Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since Thou art great in mercy.