Today, the Orthodox Church is commemorating the Holy Virgin Martyr Agatha of Palermo in Sicily! 
The Holy Virgin Martyr Agatha was the fifteen-year-old daughter of rich and respected Christian parents from the city of Palermo (formerly Panormos) in Sicily. During the persecution under the emperor Decius (249-251), the city prefect of Catania, Quintianus, having heard about Agatha’s wealth and beauty, sent his soldiers after her to bring her to trial as a Christian.
At Catania they housed the saint with a certain rich woman, who had five daughters. They all attempted to tempt St Agatha with fine clothes, amusements and entertainment, urging her to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, but the saint disdained all these things. The more they tried to move her, the more resolute she became. She prayed that she might soon face martyrdom.
During her interrogation under Quintianus, the holy martyr was swayed neither by the flattery, nor by the threats, and she was subjected to cruel torments. They also tried to remove her breasts with metal tongs, and when this failed, they used knives.
The holy Apostle Peter appeared to her in prison and healed her wounds. St Agatha was led to torture again, and Quintianus was astonished to see her completely healed, with no trace of cutting. Then the torture began once more.
At this moment an earthquake took place in the city, and many buildings were destroyed. Among those killed were two of Quintianus’s advisors. The terrified inhabitants rushed to Quintianus, demanding an end to Agatha’s tortures. Fearing a revolt by the people, Quintianus sent St Agatha back to prison. There the martyr, offering thanks to God, peacefully surrendered her soul to the Lord.

Today, the Orthodox Church is commemorating the Holy Virgin Martyr Agatha of Palermo in Sicily!

The Holy Virgin Martyr Agatha was the fifteen-year-old daughter of rich and respected Christian parents from the city of Palermo (formerly Panormos) in Sicily. During the persecution under the emperor Decius (249-251), the city prefect of Catania, Quintianus, having heard about Agatha’s wealth and beauty, sent his soldiers after her to bring her to trial as a Christian.

At Catania they housed the saint with a certain rich woman, who had five daughters. They all attempted to tempt St Agatha with fine clothes, amusements and entertainment, urging her to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, but the saint disdained all these things. The more they tried to move her, the more resolute she became. She prayed that she might soon face martyrdom.

During her interrogation under Quintianus, the holy martyr was swayed neither by the flattery, nor by the threats, and she was subjected to cruel torments. They also tried to remove her breasts with metal tongs, and when this failed, they used knives.

The holy Apostle Peter appeared to her in prison and healed her wounds. St Agatha was led to torture again, and Quintianus was astonished to see her completely healed, with no trace of cutting. Then the torture began once more.

At this moment an earthquake took place in the city, and many buildings were destroyed. Among those killed were two of Quintianus’s advisors. The terrified inhabitants rushed to Quintianus, demanding an end to Agatha’s tortures. Fearing a revolt by the people, Quintianus sent St Agatha back to prison. There the martyr, offering thanks to God, peacefully surrendered her soul to the Lord.

Today, with great joy, the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates Saint Anthony the Great!
Anthony was an Egyptian and was born about the year 250 A.D. in the village of Koman near Herculea. Following the demise of his noble and wealthy parents, he divided the inherited estate with his sister, who was a minor, and provided for her with some relatives. Anthony distributed his half of the estate to the poor and, he, in his twentieth year, dedicated himself to the ascetical life for which he yearned from his childhood. In the beginning Anthony lived a life of asceticism in the proximity of his village but, in order to flee the disturbances of people, he withdrew into the wilderness on the shore of the Red Sea, where he spent twenty years as a recluse not associating with anyone except with God through constant prayer, reflection and contemplation, patiently enduring unspeakable temptations from the devil. His fame spread throughout the entire world and many disciples gathered around him whom he placed on the path of salvation by his example and words. During the eighty-five years of his ascetical life, only twice did he go to Alexandria. The first time to seek martyrdom during the time of the persecution of the Church and, the second time at the invitation of St. Athanasius, in order to refute the accusation of the Arians: supposedly that he, too, was an adherent of the Arian heresy. Anthony died in the one-hundred fifth year of his life, leaving behind an entire army of his disciples and imitators. Even though Anthony was not a scholar, nevertheless, he was a counselor and teacher of the most learned men of that time, as was St. Athanasius the Great. When certain Greek philosophers tempted him with literary wisdom, Anthony shamed them with the question: “Which is older, the understanding or the book? Which of these two was the cause of the other?” Ashamed, the philosophers dispersed for they perceived that they only had literary knowledge without understanding and Anthony had understanding. Here is a man who attained perfection in as far as man, in general, can attain on earth. Here is an instructor to instructors and a teacher to teachers, who, for a full eighty five years perfected himself and only in that way was he able to perfect many others. Filled with many years of life and great works, Anthony died in the Lord in the year 335 A.D.
(From “The prologue of Ochrid”, by St. Nikolai Velimirovic)

Today, with great joy, the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates Saint Anthony the Great!

Anthony was an Egyptian and was born about the year 250 A.D. in the village of Koman near Herculea. Following the demise of his noble and wealthy parents, he divided the inherited estate with his sister, who was a minor, and provided for her with some relatives. Anthony distributed his half of the estate to the poor and, he, in his twentieth year, dedicated himself to the ascetical life for which he yearned from his childhood. In the beginning Anthony lived a life of asceticism in the proximity of his village but, in order to flee the disturbances of people, he withdrew into the wilderness on the shore of the Red Sea, where he spent twenty years as a recluse not associating with anyone except with God through constant prayer, reflection and contemplation, patiently enduring unspeakable temptations from the devil. His fame spread throughout the entire world and many disciples gathered around him whom he placed on the path of salvation by his example and words. During the eighty-five years of his ascetical life, only twice did he go to Alexandria. The first time to seek martyrdom during the time of the persecution of the Church and, the second time at the invitation of St. Athanasius, in order to refute the accusation of the Arians: supposedly that he, too, was an adherent of the Arian heresy. Anthony died in the one-hundred fifth year of his life, leaving behind an entire army of his disciples and imitators. Even though Anthony was not a scholar, nevertheless, he was a counselor and teacher of the most learned men of that time, as was St. Athanasius the Great. When certain Greek philosophers tempted him with literary wisdom, Anthony shamed them with the question: “Which is older, the understanding or the book? Which of these two was the cause of the other?” Ashamed, the philosophers dispersed for they perceived that they only had literary knowledge without understanding and Anthony had understanding. Here is a man who attained perfection in as far as man, in general, can attain on earth. Here is an instructor to instructors and a teacher to teachers, who, for a full eighty five years perfected himself and only in that way was he able to perfect many others. Filled with many years of life and great works, Anthony died in the Lord in the year 335 A.D.

(From “The prologue of Ochrid”, by St. Nikolai Velimirovic)

Today, on the third day of the Nativity of our Lord, we commemorate the Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen!
The Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen was the eldest of the seven deacons, appointed by the Apostles themselves, and therefore he is called “archdeacon.” He was the first Christian martyr, and he suffered for Christ when he was about thirty. In the words of Asterias, he was “the starting point of the martyrs, the instructor of suffering for Christ, the foundation of righteous confession, since Stephen was the first to shed his blood for the Gospel.”  Filled with the Holy Spirit, St Stephen preached Christianity and defeated Jewish teachers of the Law in debate. The Jews maligned St Stephen, saying that he had uttered blasphemy against God and against Moses. St Stephen came before the Sanhedrin and the High Priest to answer these charges. He gave a fiery speech, in which he recounted the history of the Jewish nation, and denounced the Jews for persecuting the prophets, and also for executing the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ (Acts ch. 7).  During his speech, St Stephen suddenly saw the heavens opened and Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of God. The Jews shouted and covered their ears, and rushed at him. They dragged him out of the city and stoned him, but the holy martyr prayed for his murderers. Far off on the heights stood the Mother of God with the holy Apostle John the Theologian, and She prayed fervently for the martyr. Before his death St Stephen said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. O Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” Then he joyfully gave up his pure soul to Christ.  The body of the holy Protomartyr Stephen, left to be eaten by beasts, was secretly taken up by the Jewish teacher Gamaliel and his son Habib, who buried Stephen on his estate. They both believed in Christ, and later received holy Baptism.  St Stephen is also commemorated on August 2 (Translation of his relics) and on September 15 (Uncovering of his relics in the year 415).

Today, on the third day of the Nativity of our Lord, we commemorate the Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen!

The Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen was the eldest of the seven deacons, appointed by the Apostles themselves, and therefore he is called “archdeacon.” He was the first Christian martyr, and he suffered for Christ when he was about thirty. In the words of Asterias, he was “the starting point of the martyrs, the instructor of suffering for Christ, the foundation of righteous confession, since Stephen was the first to shed his blood for the Gospel.”

Filled with the Holy Spirit, St Stephen preached Christianity and defeated Jewish teachers of the Law in debate. The Jews maligned St Stephen, saying that he had uttered blasphemy against God and against Moses. St Stephen came before the Sanhedrin and the High Priest to answer these charges. He gave a fiery speech, in which he recounted the history of the Jewish nation, and denounced the Jews for persecuting the prophets, and also for executing the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ (Acts ch. 7).

During his speech, St Stephen suddenly saw the heavens opened and Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of God. The Jews shouted and covered their ears, and rushed at him. They dragged him out of the city and stoned him, but the holy martyr prayed for his murderers. Far off on the heights stood the Mother of God with the holy Apostle John the Theologian, and She prayed fervently for the martyr. Before his death St Stephen said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. O Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” Then he joyfully gave up his pure soul to Christ.

The body of the holy Protomartyr Stephen, left to be eaten by beasts, was secretly taken up by the Jewish teacher Gamaliel and his son Habib, who buried Stephen on his estate. They both believed in Christ, and later received holy Baptism.

St Stephen is also commemorated on August 2 (Translation of his relics) and on September 15 (Uncovering of his relics in the year 415).

Today, we joyfully commemorate St. Nicholas the Wonderworker!

Fear of God drives all fear from the hearts of men. In every great hierarch of the Orthodox Church, we see meekness and fearlessness wonderfully united. St. Nicholas grabbed the sword of the executioner and pulled it away so that innocent men would not be beheaded. St. Chrysostom reproached the Empress Eudoxia for her misdeeds without consideration for the u npleasantness and danger to his own life, to which he was exposed as a result. And there are many, many other examples similar to this: Emperor Valentinian the Elder, upon hearing of Ambrose’s stern criticism of him, said: “I knew of your fearlessness; that is why I helped you to be chosen as bishop. Correct our faults as the Law of God teaches, and heal our unrighteousness.” When Valentinian the Younger, at the instigation of his mother Justina, an Arian, ordered that the cathedral church in Milan be yielded to the heretics, Ambrose shut himself in the church with the faithful and would not come out for three days. He sent a message to the emperor and empress that, if they desired his death, he was prepared at any moment “here in the church to be run through either by the sword or spear.” Hearing this, the emperor and empress withdrew their decree. When a riot occurred in Thessalonica, at which time about seven thousand people were beheaded by the decree of Emperor Theodosius the Great, Ambrose became so enraged at the emperor that, when the emperor visited Milan and wished to enter the church, the saint forbade him. The emperor said to Ambrose: “Even David sinned and was not deprived of God’s mercy.” To this the bishop replied: “As you have imitated David in sin, imitate him also in repentance.” The emperor was ashamed, turned back and repented bitterly of the sin he had committed. (From the “Prologue from Ochrid”, by St. Nikolai Velimirovic)

He is the Patron Saint of the Greek Navy and the beloved Saint of many Orthodox believers in the world, especially the seamen. He’s also venerated by Catholic and Anglican believers.

Have a blessed Feast! Many years to all of you that have the Saint’s name!

Today, the Orthodox Church commemorates beloved Saint Stylianos of Paphlagonia, the Patron Saint of Children, both born and unborn, and Orphans.
Saint Stylianus was born in Paphlagonia of Asia Minor sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries. He inherited a great fortune from his parents when they died, but he did not keep it. He gave it away to the poor according to their need, desiring to help those who were less fortunate.
Stylianus left the city and went to a monastery, where he devoted his life to God. Since he was more zealous and devout than the other monks, he provoked their jealousy and had to leave. He left the monastery to live alone in a cave in the wilderness, where he spent his time in prayer and fasting.
The goodness and piety of the saint soon became evident to the inhabitants of Paphlagonia, and they sought him out to hear his teaching, or to be cured by him. Many were healed of physical and mental illnesses by his prayers.
St. Stylianus was known for his love of children, and he would heal them of their infirmities. Even after his death, the citizens of Paphlagonia believed that he could cure their children. Whenever a child became sick, an icon of St Stylianus was painted and was hung over the child’s bed.
At the hour of his death, the face of St. Stylianus suddenly became radiant, and an angel appeared to receive his soul.
Known as a protector of children, St. Stylianus is depicted in iconography holding an infant in his arms. Pious Christians ask him to help and protect their children, and childless women entreat his intercession so that they might have children.
Please beloved Saint Stylianos, pray to God for us the sinners!

Today, the Orthodox Church commemorates beloved Saint Stylianos of Paphlagonia, the Patron Saint of Children, both born and unborn, and Orphans.

Saint Stylianus was born in Paphlagonia of Asia Minor sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries. He inherited a great fortune from his parents when they died, but he did not keep it. He gave it away to the poor according to their need, desiring to help those who were less fortunate.

Stylianus left the city and went to a monastery, where he devoted his life to God. Since he was more zealous and devout than the other monks, he provoked their jealousy and had to leave. He left the monastery to live alone in a cave in the wilderness, where he spent his time in prayer and fasting.

The goodness and piety of the saint soon became evident to the inhabitants of Paphlagonia, and they sought him out to hear his teaching, or to be cured by him. Many were healed of physical and mental illnesses by his prayers.

St. Stylianus was known for his love of children, and he would heal them of their infirmities. Even after his death, the citizens of Paphlagonia believed that he could cure their children. Whenever a child became sick, an icon of St Stylianus was painted and was hung over the child’s bed.

At the hour of his death, the face of St. Stylianus suddenly became radiant, and an angel appeared to receive his soul.

Known as a protector of children, St. Stylianus is depicted in iconography holding an infant in his arms. Pious Christians ask him to help and protect their children, and childless women entreat his intercession so that they might have children.

Please beloved Saint Stylianos, pray to God for us the sinners!

Today the Holy Orthodox Church piously remembers the Holy Great Martyr Catherine of Alexandria! (Note: in some jurisdictions she is commemorated on November 24 and on December 7)

Catherine was the daughter of King Constus. After the death of her father, she lived with her mother in Alexandria. Her mother was secretly a Christian who, through her spiritual father, brought Catherine to the Christian Faith. In a vision, St. Catherine received a ring from the Lord Jesus Himself as a sign of her betrothal to Him. This ring remains on her finger even today. Catherine was greatly gifted by God and was well educated in Greek philosophy, medicine, rhetoric and logic. In addition to that, she was of unusual physical beauty. When the iniquitous Emperor Maxentius offered sacrifices to the idols and ordered others to do the same, Catherine boldly confronted the emperor and denounced his idolatrous errors. The emperor, seeing that she was greater than he in wisdom and knowledge, summoned fifty of his wisest men to debate with her on matters of faith and to put her to shame. Catherine outwitted and shamed them. In a rage, the emperor ordered all fifty of those men burned. By St. Catherine’s prayers, all fifty confessed the name of Christ and declared themselves Christians before their execution. After Catherine had been put in prison, she converted the emperor’s commander, Porphyrius, and two hundred soldiers to the true Faith, as well as Empress Augusta-Vasilissa herself. They all suffered for Christ. During the torture of St. Catherine, an angel of God came to her and destroyed the wheel on which the holy virgin was being tortured. Afterward, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared to her and comforted her. After many tortures, Catherine was beheaded at the age of eighteen, on November 24, 310. Milk, instead of blood, flowed from her body. Her miracle-working relics repose on Mount Sinai.

(From “Prologue of Ochrid” by St. Nikolai Velimirovic)

Today, our Holy Orthodox Church is commemorating Saint Nektarios of Aegina, the Wonderworker! Let’s take a minute to read about his holy life:
St. Nectarios was born on October 1, 1846, in Selymbria in Thrace to a poor family. At the age of 14 he moved to Constantinople (Istanbul) to work and further his education. In 1866 he left to the island of Chios to take a teaching post. He then became a monk at the age of thirty.
Three years after becoming a monk he was ordained a deacon, taking the name Nectarios. He graduated from the University of Athens in 1885. During his years as a student of the University of Athens he wrote many books, pamphlets, and Bible commentaries.
Following his graduation he went to Alexandria, Egypt, where he was ordained a priest and served the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo with great distinction. In recognition of his piety and brilliance as a preacher, as well as his administrative ability, he was consecrated Bishop/Metropolitan of Pentapolis (an ancient diocese in Cyrenaica, in what is now Libya) by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Sophronios in 1889.
He served as a bishop in Cairo for one year, but was then unjustly removed from his post. This was a result of lies made up by jealous clerics who envied his popularity with the people. Patriarch Sophronios refused to listen to St. Nectarios, who was sent away from Egypt without trial or explanation and was never given an opportunity to defend himself.
After his dismissal, he returned to Greece in 1891 and spent several years as a preacher (1891-1894). He was then appointed director of the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School for the education of priests in Athens, where his service was exemplary for fifteen years. He developed many courses of study and wrote numerous books, all while preaching widely throughout Athens.
In 1904 at the request of several nuns, he established a monastery for them on the island of Aegina. The monastery was named Holy Trinity Monastery.
In December of 1908, at the age of 62, St. Nectarios resigned from his post as school director and withdrew to the Holy Trinity Convent on Aegina, where he lived out the rest of his life as a monk. He wrote, published, preached, and heard confessions from those who came from near and far to seek out his spiritual guidance.
While at the monastery, he also tended the gardens, carried stones, and helped with the construction of the monastery buildings that were built with his own funds. He was also the Metropolitan of the island of Aegina.
St. Nectarios died on the evening of November 9, 1920, at the age of 74, following hospitalization for prostate cancer. His body was taken to the Holy Trinity Convent, where he was buried by a Priest-Monk named Savas, who later painted the first icon of St. Nectarios. The funeral of St. Nectarios was attended by multitudes of people from all parts of Greece and Egypt. 

Many people regarded St. Nectarios as a saint during his lifetime because of his prayerful life, his humility, his purity and other virtues, and his writings, as well as the miracles he performed. St. Nectarios also had the gift of prescience. 
The relics of St. Nectarios were removed from the grave on September 2, 1953, and gave out a beautiful fragrance. Official recognition of Nectarios as a saint by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople took place on April 20, 1961. Thousands of miracles have been attributed to his intercession, particularly cases of cancer or other serious illnesses being cured.

Today, our Holy Orthodox Church is commemorating Saint Nektarios of Aegina, the Wonderworker! Let’s take a minute to read about his holy life:

St. Nectarios was born on October 1, 1846, in Selymbria in Thrace to a poor family. At the age of 14 he moved to Constantinople (Istanbul) to work and further his education. In 1866 he left to the island of Chios to take a teaching post. He then became a monk at the age of thirty.

Three years after becoming a monk he was ordained a deacon, taking the name Nectarios. He graduated from the University of Athens in 1885. During his years as a student of the University of Athens he wrote many books, pamphlets, and Bible commentaries.

Following his graduation he went to Alexandria, Egypt, where he was ordained a priest and served the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo with great distinction. In recognition of his piety and brilliance as a preacher, as well as his administrative ability, he was consecrated Bishop/Metropolitan of Pentapolis (an ancient diocese in Cyrenaica, in what is now Libya) by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Sophronios in 1889.

He served as a bishop in Cairo for one year, but was then unjustly removed from his post. This was a result of lies made up by jealous clerics who envied his popularity with the people. Patriarch Sophronios refused to listen to St. Nectarios, who was sent away from Egypt without trial or explanation and was never given an opportunity to defend himself.

After his dismissal, he returned to Greece in 1891 and spent several years as a preacher (1891-1894). He was then appointed director of the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School for the education of priests in Athens, where his service was exemplary for fifteen years. He developed many courses of study and wrote numerous books, all while preaching widely throughout Athens.

In 1904 at the request of several nuns, he established a monastery for them on the island of Aegina. The monastery was named Holy Trinity Monastery.

In December of 1908, at the age of 62, St. Nectarios resigned from his post as school director and withdrew to the Holy Trinity Convent on Aegina, where he lived out the rest of his life as a monk. He wrote, published, preached, and heard confessions from those who came from near and far to seek out his spiritual guidance.

While at the monastery, he also tended the gardens, carried stones, and helped with the construction of the monastery buildings that were built with his own funds. He was also the Metropolitan of the island of Aegina.

St. Nectarios died on the evening of November 9, 1920, at the age of 74, following hospitalization for prostate cancer. His body was taken to the Holy Trinity Convent, where he was buried by a Priest-Monk named Savas, who later painted the first icon of St. Nectarios. The funeral of St. Nectarios was attended by multitudes of people from all parts of Greece and Egypt.

Many people regarded St. Nectarios as a saint during his lifetime because of his prayerful life, his humility, his purity and other virtues, and his writings, as well as the miracles he performed. St. Nectarios also had the gift of prescience.

The relics of St. Nectarios were removed from the grave on September 2, 1953, and gave out a beautiful fragrance. Official recognition of Nectarios as a saint by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople took place on April 20, 1961. Thousands of miracles have been attributed to his intercession, particularly cases of cancer or other serious illnesses being cured.

Today, the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates Saint Demetrios of Thessalonika, the The Myrrh-Bearer

He is one of the most popular saints in the Orthodox world. He was martyred around the year 306 in Thessalonica (a greek city), and his cult rapidly grew during the Middle Ages, when he was regarded as the first recognized as the patron and protector of the city, militarily as well as spiritually. His feast day is celebrated on October 26. The Serbian Orthodox Church commemorates the Saint as a Mitar having a feast of Mitrovan on November 8.

As the protector of Thessalonica, St. Demetrios has appeared many times, and on many occasions has saved Thessalonica from great calamity. His miracles are without number. The Russians considered St. Demetrios to be the protector of Siberia, which was conquered and annexed to Russia on October 26, 1581.

St. Demetrios is regarded as a protector of the young, and is also invoked by those struggling with lustful temptations.

Apolitikion:

The world hath found in thee, a great defender in times of need, and a victor against the heathen, O Champion. Wherefore as Lyaeus’ disdainfulness thou didst bring down by reassuring Nestor in the stadium, do thou, O holy and Greatmartyr Demetrios, intercede to Christ our God that He may grant unto us great mercy. 

The holy, glorious and right-victorious Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite was baptized by Saint Paul in Athens and is numbered among the Seventy Apostles. His feast day in the Holy Orthodox Church is celebrated on October 3 (New Calendar).
Prior to his baptism, Dionysius grew up in a notable family in Athens, attended philosophical school at home and abroad, was married and had several children, and was a member of the highest court in Greece, the Areopagus. After his conversion to the True Faith, St. Paul made him Bishop of Athens. Eventually he left his wife and children for Christ and went with St. Paul in missionary travel. He travelled to Jerusalem specifically to see the Most Holy Theotokos and writes of his encounter in one of his books. He was also present at her Dormition.Seeing St. Paul martyred in Rome, St. Dionysius desired to be a martyr as well. He went to Gaul, along with his presbyter Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius, to preach the Gospel to the barbarians. There his suffering was equalled only by his success in converting many pagans to Christianity.In the year 96, St. Dionysius was seized and tortured for Christ, along with Rusticus and Eleutherius, and all three were beheaded under the reign of the Emperor Domitian. St. Dionysius’ head rolled a rather long way until it came to the feet of Catula, a Christian. She honorably buried it along with his body. 
Icon by Aggeliki Tseliou ©

The holy, glorious and right-victorious Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite was baptized by Saint Paul in Athens and is numbered among the Seventy Apostles. His feast day in the Holy Orthodox Church is celebrated on October 3 (New Calendar).

Prior to his baptism, Dionysius grew up in a notable family in Athens, attended philosophical school at home and abroad, was married and had several children, and was a member of the highest court in Greece, the Areopagus. After his conversion to the True Faith, St. Paul made him Bishop of Athens. Eventually he left his wife and children for Christ and went with St. Paul in missionary travel. He travelled to Jerusalem specifically to see the Most Holy Theotokos and writes of his encounter in one of his books. He was also present at her Dormition.

Seeing St. Paul martyred in Rome, St. Dionysius desired to be a martyr as well. He went to Gaul, along with his presbyter Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius, to preach the Gospel to the barbarians. There his suffering was equalled only by his success in converting many pagans to Christianity.

In the year 96, St. Dionysius was seized and tortured for Christ, along with Rusticus and Eleutherius, and all three were beheaded under the reign of the Emperor Domitian. St. Dionysius’ head rolled a rather long way until it came to the feet of Catula, a Christian. She honorably buried it along with his body.

Icon by Aggeliki Tseliou ©

Commemorated by the Eastern Orthdox Church on September 22 (New Calendar)

Hieromartyr Phocas was born in the city of Sinope. From youth he led a virtuous Christian life, and in his adult years he became Bishop of Sinope. St Phocas converted many pagans to faith in Christ. At the time of a persecution against Christians under the emperor Trajan (98-117), the governor demanded that the saint renounce Christ. After fierce torture they enclosed St Phocas in a hot bath, where he died a martyr’s death in the year 117.

In the year 404, the relics of the saint were transferred to Constantinople (July 22).

The Hieromartyr Phocas is especially venerated as a defender against fires, and also as a helper of the drowning.

Today, the Orthodox Church piously remembers the Beheading of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John (New Calendar)
The Beheading of the Prophet, Forerunner of the Lord, John the Baptist: The Evangelists Matthew (Mt.14:1-12) and Mark (Mark 6:14-29) provide accounts about the martyric end of John the Baptist in the year 32 after the Birth of Christ.
The Beheading of St John the Baptist, a Feast day established by the Church, is also a strict fast day because of the grief of Christians at the violent death of the saint. In some Orthodox cultures pious people will not eat food from a flat plate, use a knife, or eat food that is round in shape on this day.
St. John, pray for us!

Today, the Orthodox Church piously remembers the Beheading of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John (New Calendar)

The Beheading of the Prophet, Forerunner of the Lord, John the Baptist: The Evangelists Matthew (Mt.14:1-12) and Mark (Mark 6:14-29) provide accounts about the martyric end of John the Baptist in the year 32 after the Birth of Christ.

The Beheading of St John the Baptist, a Feast day established by the Church, is also a strict fast day because of the grief of Christians at the violent death of the saint. In some Orthodox cultures pious people will not eat food from a flat plate, use a knife, or eat food that is round in shape on this day.

St. John, pray for us!

Today, the Orthodox Church piously remembers the New-Hieromartyr Cosmas of Aitolia, Equal of the Apostles. (New Calendar)
This extraordinary Saint spent 17 years in monastic life on Mount Athos before seeking permission to labor for the faith as an itinerant preacher. For 20 years he went from town to town, speaking-mostly extemporaneously-to large outdoor crowds. As the Saint himself said:

"If, my brethren, it were possible for me to climb up into the sky, to be able to shout with a great voice, to preach to the entire world that only our Christ is the Son and Word of God, true God and life of all, I would have done it. But because I can’t do such a big thing, I do this small thing. I walk from place to place and teach my brethren as I can, not as a teacher, but as a brother. Only our Christ is a teacher."

St. Cosmas should be a model and inspiration for Orthodox Christians today; he was a true missionary, motivated by an overwhelming love for God and souls-as he himself taught:

"Let us have love for God and for our fellow men. Then God comes and brings us joy and implants eternal life in our hearts."

Orthodoxy in the west is very much in need of missionaries like this one (and others-notably Sts. Herman and Innocent of Alaska). The righteous ones of God are the only ones that, by their Christ-like and self-sacrificing lives, can set the whole “tone” for our missionary labors, starting with absolute abandonment of self, personal ambition, comfort, and security to the care of an all-wise Christ.
May God soon send more laborers like St. Cosmas into His vineyard!

Today, the Orthodox Church piously remembers the New-Hieromartyr Cosmas of Aitolia, Equal of the Apostles. (New Calendar)

This extraordinary Saint spent 17 years in monastic life on Mount Athos before seeking permission to labor for the faith as an itinerant preacher. For 20 years he went from town to town, speaking-mostly extemporaneously-to large outdoor crowds. As the Saint himself said:

"If, my brethren, it were possible for me to climb up into the sky, to be able to shout with a great voice, to preach to the entire world that only our Christ is the Son and Word of God, true God and life of all, I would have done it. But because I can’t do such a big thing, I do this small thing. I walk from place to place and teach my brethren as I can, not as a teacher, but as a brother. Only our Christ is a teacher."

St. Cosmas should be a model and inspiration for Orthodox Christians today; he was a true missionary, motivated by an overwhelming love for God and souls-as he himself taught:

"Let us have love for God and for our fellow men. Then God comes and brings us joy and implants eternal life in our hearts."

Orthodoxy in the west is very much in need of missionaries like this one (and others-notably Sts. Herman and Innocent of Alaska). The righteous ones of God are the only ones that, by their Christ-like and self-sacrificing lives, can set the whole “tone” for our missionary labors, starting with absolute abandonment of self, personal ambition, comfort, and security to the care of an all-wise Christ.

May God soon send more laborers like St. Cosmas into His vineyard!

Today the Orthodox Church piously commemorates Saint Bogolep, the Child Schema-monk of Cherny Yar!

He was born in 1660 at Moscow. In 1662 a deadly pestilence spread about in Russia. The child fell ill, and the pestilence afflicted him in the legs. He became lame, but continued to walk to church.

Once during his illness the child saw a wandering monk who visited at their home. The angelic garb so impressed the child, that he began to implore his parents to sew him such clothing and permit him to receive monastic tonsure. The holy child proclaimed: "You will see for yourselves, when you tonsure and grant me the angelic garb, I shall be well." The parents consented. The child was invested in the schema with the name Bogolep (the Russian version of the Greek name Theoleptos, meaning “similar to God”).

On the next day the child schemamonk was completely healthy, his face was clear and there remained no trace of the illness. But on the third day there was a new illness, he developed a fever, and it struck down the child. He died on August 1, 1667.

The simple life of the holy Schemamonk Bogolep, full of the mysteries of God, illustrates the words of the Savior concerning children: “Let the children come unto Me and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter therein. And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them” (Mark 10: 14-16).

We pray to St. Bogolep for children, and also for protection against lightning.

Today the Orthodox Church piously remembers beloved St. Paraskevi, the patron saint for health of the eyes! (July 26/August 8)
Parasceva was born in Rome of Christian parents and from her youth was instructed in the Faith of Christ. With great fervence, St. Parasceva endeavored to fulfill all the commandments of God in her life. Believing strongly and living according to her faith, Parasceva directed others on the path [of salvation] with the help of the True Faith and pious living. When her parents died Parasceva distributed all of her property to the poor and was tonsured a nun. As a nun she preached the Faith of Christ with an even greater zeal, not hiding from anyone, even though at that time the Roman authorities bloodily persecuted the Faith of Christ. First the pernicious Jews accused St. Parasceva of preaching the prohibited Faith. She was brought to trial before Emperor Antoninus. All the flatteries of the emperor did not help in the least to cause her to waver in the Faith. They then subjected her to fiery torments and placed a red-hot helmet on her head. The Lord miraculously saved her and Parasceva was delivered and left Rome. She again traveled from city to city to convert the pagan people there to the True Faith. In two more cities she was brought before princes and judges and was tortured for her Lord, at the same time working great miracles and by the power of God quickly recuperated from her pains and wounds. The pagans, as always, ascribed her miracles to magic and her power of recovery to the mercy of their gods. St. Parasceva once said to the prince who tortured her: “It is not your gods, O prince, who healed me but my Christ the True God.” Finally Prince Tarasius beheaded her. Thus this saint gloriously ended her fruitful life. Her relics were later translated to Constantinople. She suffered honorably for Christ in the second century.

Today the Orthodox Church piously remembers beloved St. Paraskevi, the patron saint for health of the eyes! (July 26/August 8)

Parasceva was born in Rome of Christian parents and from her youth was instructed in the Faith of Christ. With great fervence, St. Parasceva endeavored to fulfill all the commandments of God in her life. Believing strongly and living according to her faith, Parasceva directed others on the path [of salvation] with the help of the True Faith and pious living. When her parents died Parasceva distributed all of her property to the poor and was tonsured a nun. As a nun she preached the Faith of Christ with an even greater zeal, not hiding from anyone, even though at that time the Roman authorities bloodily persecuted the Faith of Christ. First the pernicious Jews accused St. Parasceva of preaching the prohibited Faith. She was brought to trial before Emperor Antoninus. All the flatteries of the emperor did not help in the least to cause her to waver in the Faith. They then subjected her to fiery torments and placed a red-hot helmet on her head. The Lord miraculously saved her and Parasceva was delivered and left Rome. She again traveled from city to city to convert the pagan people there to the True Faith. In two more cities she was brought before princes and judges and was tortured for her Lord, at the same time working great miracles and by the power of God quickly recuperated from her pains and wounds. The pagans, as always, ascribed her miracles to magic and her power of recovery to the mercy of their gods. St. Parasceva once said to the prince who tortured her: “It is not your gods, O prince, who healed me but my Christ the True God.” Finally Prince Tarasius beheaded her. Thus this saint gloriously ended her fruitful life. Her relics were later translated to Constantinople. She suffered honorably for Christ in the second century.