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Saint Gregory the Illuminator or Saint Gregory the Enlightener (Armenian: Գրիգոր Լուսաւորիչ translit. Grigor Lusavorich, Greek: Γρηγόριος Φωστήρ or Φωτιστής, Gregorios Phoster or Photistes) (c. 257 – c. 331) is the patron saint and first official head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He was a religious leader who is credited with converting Armenia from paganism to Christianity, Armenia thus being the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD.

Beginnings

Gregory's father Anak, a Parthian, was charged with assassinating Khosrov I, one of the kings of the Arshakouni line, and was put to death. Gregory's mother was named Okohe. Gregory narrowly escaped execution with the help of Sopia and Yevtagh, his caretakers. Gregory was taken to Caesarea (present-day Kayseri) in Cappadocia where Sopia and Yevtagh hoped to raise him.

Gregory was given to the Christian Holy Father Phirmilianos (Euthalius) to be educated and was brought up as a devout Christian. He went on to marry Mariam, also a devout Christian; they had two sons, the younger of whom, Aristaces (Aristakes), succeeded his father.

At that time Tiridates III (Trdat the Great), a son of King Khosrov II, reigned. Influenced partly by the fact that Gregory was the son of his father's enemy, he ordered Gregory imprisoned for twelve (some sources indicate fourteen) years in a pit on the Ararat Plain under the present day church of Khor Virap located near the historical city Artashat in Armenia.

Gregory was eventually called forth from his pit in 297 to restore to sanity Tiridates III (a.k.a. Trdat), who had lost all reason after he was betrayed by Diocletian.

Diocletian invaded and vast amount of territory from western provinces of Greater Armenia became "protectorates" of Rome.

Declaration of Christianity in Armenia

In 301 Gregory baptized Trdat (now known as Trdat the Great) along with members of the royal court and upper class as Christians. Trdat issued a decree by which he granted Gregory full rights to begin carrying out the conversion of the entire nation to the Christian faith. The same year Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion.

The newly built cathedral, the Mother Church in Echmiadzin became and remains the spiritual and cultural center of Armenian Christianity and center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Most Armenians were baptized in Aratsani (upper Euphrates) and Yeraskh (Arax) rivers.

Many of the pre-Christian, traditional Indo-European, festivals and celebrations such as Tyarndarach (Trndez - associated with fire worship) and Vartavar (Vadarvar - associated with water worship), that dated back to thousands of years were preserved and continued in the form of Christian celebrations and chants.

In 302, Gregory received consecration as Patriarch of Armenia from Leontius of Caesarea, his childhood friend.

Retirement and Death

In A.D. 318, St. Gregory appointed his son Aristaces (Aristakes) as the next Catholicos in line of Armenia's Holy Apostolic Church to stabilize and continue strengthening Christianity not only in Armenia, but also in the Caucasus and Anatolia.

Gregory also placed and instructed his grandson Grigoris (Aristakes' son) in charge of the holy missions to the peoples and tribes of all of the Caucasus and Caucasian Albania. Grigoris was martyred by a fanatical mob, while preaching in Albania.

In his later years, Gregory withdrew to a small sanctuary near Mount Sebuh (Mt. Sepuh) in the Daranalia province (Manyats Ayr, Upper Armenia) with a small convent of monks, where he remained until his death.

Retirement and Death

In A.D. 318, St. Gregory appointed his son Aristaces (Aristakes) as the next Catholicos in line of Armenia's Holy Apostolic Church to stabilize and continue strengthening Christianity not only in Armenia, but also in the Caucasus and Anatolia.

Gregory also placed and instructed his grandson Grigoris (Aristakes' son) in charge of the holy missions to the peoples and tribes of all of the Caucasus and Caucasian Albania. Grigoris was martyred by a fanatical mob, while preaching in Albania.

In his later years, Gregory withdrew to a small sanctuary near Mount Sebuh (Mt. Sepuh) in the Daranalia province (Manyats Ayr, Upper Armenia) with a small convent of monks, where he remained until his death.

Veneration

After his death his corpse was removed to the village of Thodanum (T'ordan - modern Doğanköy, near Erzincan). His remains were scattered far and near in the reign of Zeno.

His head is believed to be now in Italy, his left hand at Echmiadzin in Armenia, and his right at the Holy See of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon.

In the eighth century, the iconoclast decrees in Greece caused a number of religious orders to flee the Byzantine Empire and seek refuge elsewhere.

San Gregorio Armeno in Naples was built in that century over the remains of a Roman temple dedicated to Ceres, by a group of nuns escaping from the Byzantine Empire with the relics of Gregory the Illuminator.

A number of prayers, and about thirty of the canons of the Armenian Church are ascribed to Gregory the Illuminator. The homilies appeared for the first time in a work called Haschacnapadum at Constantinople in 1737; a century afterwards a Greek translation was published at Venice by the Mekhiterists; and they have since been edited in German by J. M. Schmid (Ratisbon, 1872). The original authorities for Gregory's life are Agathangelos, whose History of Tiridates was published by the Mekhitarists in 1835; Moses of Chorene, Historiae Armenicae; and Simeon Metaphrastes.

A Life of Gregory by the Vartabed Matthew was published in the Armenian language at Venice in 1749[citation needed] and was translated into English by the Rev. Father Malan (1868).

The Armenian Apostolic Church became extremely rich, besides the old temples which the church had confiscated, it was granted large tracts of land. The Armenian Church became the owner of approximately 10,000 farms and the clergy exploited these exactly as did the other Armenian princes. During wartime the church was obliged to assist the king with soldiers as well as taxes. It is on record that the church, if necessary, was obliged to provide the king with 5,000 cavalry and 4,000 infantry soldiers.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_the_Illuminator

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Did St. Gregory's wife die before he became patriarch?

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Born 257?; died 337?, surnamed the Illuminator (Lusavorich).

Gregory the Illuminator is the apostle, national saint, and patron of Armenia. He was not the first who introduced Christianity into that country. The Armenians maintain that the faith was preached there by the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddaeus. Thaddaeus especially (the hero of the story of King Abgar of Edessa and the portrait of Christ) has been taken over by the Armenians, with the whole story. Abgar in their version becomes a King of Armenia; thus their land is the first of all to turn Christian. It is certain that there were Christians, even bishops, in Armenia before St. Gregory. The south Edessa and Nisibis especially, which accounts for the Armenian adoption of the Edessene story. A certain Dionysius of Alexandria (248-265) wrote them a letter "about penitence" (Eusebius, Church History VI.46). This earliest Church was then destroyed by the Persians. Ardashir I, the founder of the Sassanid dynasty (226), restored, even extended, the old power of Persia. Armenia, always the exposed frontier state between Rome and Persia, was overrun by Ardashir's army (Khosrov I of Armenia had taken the side of the old Arsacid dynasty); and the principle of uniformity in the Mazdean religion, that the Sassanids made a chief feature of their policy, was also applied to the subject kingdom. A Parthian named Anak murdered Khosrov by Ardashir's orders, who then tried to exterminate the whole Armenian royal family. But a son of Khosrov, Trdat (Tiridates), escaped, was trained in the Roman army, and eventually came back to drive out the Persians and restore the Armenian kingdom.

In this restoration St. Gregory played an important part. He had been brought up as a Christian at Caesarea in Cappadocia. He seems to have belonged to an illustrious Armenian family. He was married and had two sons (called Aristakes and Bardanes in the Greek text of Moses of Khorni; see below). Gregory, after being himself persecuted by King Trdat, who at first defended the old Armenian religion, eventually converted him, and with him spread the Christian faith throughout the country. Trdat became so much a Christian that he made Christianity the national faith; the nobility seem to have followed his example easily, then the people followed — or were induced to follow — too. This happened while Diocletian was emperor (284-305), so that Armenia has a right to her claim of being the first Christian State. The temples were made into churches and the people baptized in thousands. So completely were the remains of the old heathendom effaced that we know practically nothing about the original Armenian religion (as distinct from Mazdeism), except the names of some gods whose temples were destroyed or converted (the chief temple at Ashtishat was dedicated to Vahagn, Anahit and Astlik; Vanatur was worshipped in the North round Mount Ararat, etc.). Meanwhile Gregory had gone back to Caessarea to be ordained. Leontius of Caesarea made him bishop of the Armenians; from this time till the Monophysite schism the Church of Armenia depended on Casearea, and the Armenian primates (called Catholicoi, only much later patriarchs) went there to be ordained. Gregory set up other bishops throughout the land and fixed his residence at Ashtishat (in the province of Taron), where the temple had been made into the church of Christ, "mother of all Armenian churches". He preached in the national language and used it for the liturgy. This, too, helped to give the Armenian Church the markedly national character that it still has, more, perhaps, than any other in Christendom. Towards the end of his life he retired and was succeeded as Catholicos by his son Aristakes. Aristakes was present at the First General Council, in 325. Gregory died and was buried at Thortan. A monastery was built near his grave. His relics were afterwards taken to Constantinople, but apparently brough back again to Armenia. Part of these relics are said to have been taken to Naples during the Iconoclast troubles.

This is what can be said with some certainty about the Apostle of Armenia; but a famous life of him by Aganthangelos (see below) embellishes the narrative with wonderful stories that need not be taken very seriously. According to this life, he was the son of the Parthian Anak who had murdered King Khosrov I. Anak in trying to escape was drowned in the Araxes with all his family except two sons, of whom one went to Persia, the other (the subject of this article) was taken by his Christian nurse to Caesarea and there baptized Gregory, in accordance with what she had been told in vision. Soon after his marriage, Gregory parted from his wife (who became a nun) and came back to Armenia. Here he refused to take part in a great sacrifice to the national gods ordered by King Trdat, and declared himself a Christian. He was then tortured in various horrible ways, all the more when the king discovered that he was the son of his father's murderer. After being subjected to a variety of tortures (they scourged him, and put his head in a bag of ashes, poured molten lead over him, etc.) he was thrown into a pit full of dead bodies, poisonous filth, and serpents. He spent fifteen years in this pit, being fed by bread that a pious widow brought him daily. Meanwhile Trdat goes from bad to worse. A holy virgin named Rhipsime, who resists the king's advances and is martyred, here plays a great part in the story. Eventually, as a punishment for his wickedness, the king is turned into a boar and possessed by a devil. A vision now reveals to the monarch's sisters that nothing can save him but the prayers of Gregory. At first no one will attend to this revelation, since they all think Gregory dead long ago. Eventually they seek and find him in the pit. He comes out, exorcizes the evil spirit and restores the king, and then begins preaching. Here a long discourse is put into the saint's mouth — so long that it takes up more than half his life. It is simply a compendium of what the Armenian Church believed at the time that it was written (fifth century). It begins with an account of Bible history and goes on to dogmatic theology. Arianism, Nestorianism and all the other heresies up to Monophysite times are refuted. The discourse bears the stamp of the latter half of the fifth century so plainly that, even without the fact that earlier writers who quote Agathangelos (Moses of Khorni, etc.) do not know it, no one could doubt that it is the composition of an Armenian theologian of that time, inserted into the life that was already full enough of wonders. Nevertheles this "Confession of Gregory the Illuminator" was accepted as authentic and used as a kind of official creed by the Armenian Church during all the centuries that followed. Even now it is only the more liberal theologians among them who dispute its genuiness.

The life goes on to tell us of Gregory's fast of seventy days that followed his rescue from the pit, of the conversion, and of their journeys throughout the land with the army to put down paganism. The false gods fight against the army like men or devils, but are always defeated by Trdat's arms and Gregory's prayers and are eventually driven into the Caucasus. The story of the saint's ordination and of the establishment of the hierarchy is told with the same adornment. He baptized four million persons in seven days. He ordained and sent out twelve apostolic bishops, and sons of heathen priests. Eventually he ruled a church of four hundred bishops and priests too numerous to count. He and Trdat hear of Constantine's conversion; they set out with an army of 70,000 men to congratulate him. Constantine, who had just been baptized at Rome by Pope Silvester, forms an alliance with Trdat; the pope warmly welcomes Gregory (there are a number of forged letters between Silvester and Gregory, see below) — and so on. It would not be difficult to find the models for all these stories. Gregory in the pit acts like Daniel in the lion's den. Trdat as a boar is Nabuchodonosor; the battles of the king's army against the heathen and their gods have obvious precedents in the Old Testament. Gregory is now Elias, now Isaias, now John the Baptist, till his sending out his twelve apostles suggests a still greater model. The writer of the life calls himself Agathangelos, chamberlain or secretary of King Trdat. It was composed from various sources after the year 456 (see Gutschmid, below) in Armenian, though sources may have been partly Greek or Syriac (cf. Lagarde). The life was soon translated into Greek used by Symeon Metaphrastes, and further rendered into Latin in the tenth century. During the Middle Ages this life was the invariable source for the saint's history. The Armenians (Monophysites and Uniates) keep the feast of their apostle on 30 September, when his relics were deposed at Thortan. They have many other feasts to commemorate his birth (August 5), sufferings (February 4), going into the pit (February 28), coming out of the pit (October 19), etc. (Niles "Kalendarium Manuale", 2nd ed., Innsbruck 1897, II, 577). The Byzantine Church keeps his feast (Gregorios ho phoster) on 30 September, as do also the Syrians (Nilles, I, 290-292). Pope Gregory XVI, in September, 1837, admitted his namesake to the Reman Calendar; and appointed 1 October as his feast (among the festa pro aliquibus locis).



Source: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07023a.htm

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Saint Theodoret, known as Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus, (c. 393 – c. 457) was an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria (423-457). He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms.

Life

According to Tillemont, he was born at Antioch in 393, and died either at Cyrrhus ("about a two-days' journey east of Antioch" or eighty Roman miles), or at the monastery near Apamea (fifty-four miles southeast of Antioch) about 457.

The following facts about his life are gleaned mainly from his Epistles and his Religious History (Philotheos historia). His mother having been childless for twelve years, his birth was promised by a hermit named Macedonius on the condition of his dedication to God, whence the name Theodoret ("gift of God"). He was brought up under the care of the ascetics and acquired a very extensive classical knowledge, and, according to Photius, a style of Attic purity. That he was a personal disciple of Theodore of Mopsuestia and heard the orations of John Chrysostom is improbable.

At a young age he became a lector among the clergy of Antioch, then resided a while in a monastery, was a cleric at Cyrrhus, and in 423 became bishop over a diocese about forty miles square and embracing 800 parishes, but with an insignificant town as its see city. Theodoret, supported only by the appeals of the intimate hermits, himself in personal danger, zealously guarded purity of the doctrine. He converted more than 1,000 Marcionites in his diocese, besides many Arians and Macedonians; more than 200 copies of Tatian's Diatessaron he retired from the churches; and he erected churches and supplied them with relics.

His philanthropic and economic interests were extensive and varied: he endeavored to secure relief for the people oppressed with taxation; he divided his inheritance among the poor; from his episcopal revenues he erected baths, bridges, halls, and aqueducts; he summoned rhetoricians and physicians, and reminded the officials of their duties. To the persecuted Christians of Persian Armenia he sent letters of encouragement, and to the Carthaginian Celestiacus, who had fled the rule of the Vandals, he gave refuge.

The Nestorian controversy

Theodoret stands out prominently in the christological controversies aroused by Cyril of Alexandria. Theodoret shared in the petition of John I of Antioch to Nestorius to approve of the term theotokos ("mother of God"), and upon the request of John wrote against Cyril's anathemas.

He may have prepared the Antiochian symbol which was to secure the emperor's true understanding of the Nicene Creed, and he was a member and spokesman of the deputation of eight from Antioch called by the emperor to Chalcedon. To the condemnation of Nestorius he could not assent. John, reconciled to Cyril by the emperor's order, sought to bring Theodoret to submission by entrenching upon his eparchy.

Theodoret was determined to preserve the peace of the Church by seeking the adoption of a formula avoiding the unconditional condemnation of Nestorius, and toward the close of 434 strove earnestly for the reconciliation between the Eastern churches. But Cyril refused to compromise and when he opened his attack (437) upon Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore, John sided with them and Theodoret assumed the defense of the Antiochian party (c. 439). Domnus II, the successor of John, took him as his counselor. After the death of Cyril, adherents of the Antiochian theology were appointed to bishoprics. Irenaeus of Tyre the friend of Nestorius, with the cooperation of Theodoret, became bishop of Tyre, in spite of the protests of Dioscorus of Alexandria, Cyril's successor, who now turned specially against Theodoret; and, by preferring the charge that he taught two sons in Christ, he secured the order from the court confining Theodoret to Cyrrhus.

Theodoret now composed the Eranistes (see below). In vain were his efforts at court at self-justification against the charges of Dioscurus, as well as the countercharge of Domnus against Eutyches of Apollinarism. The court excluded Theodoret from the Second Council of Ephesus in 449 because of his antagonism to Cyril. Here, because of his Epistle 151 against Cyril and his defense of Diodorus and Theodore, he was condemned without a hearing and excommunicated and his writings were directed to be burned. Even Domnus gave his assent.

Theodoret was compelled to leave Cyrrhus and retire to his monastery at Apamea. He made an appeal to Pope Leo the Great, but not until after the death of Theodosius II in 450 was his appeal for a revocation of the judgments against him granted by imperial edict. He was ordered to participate in the Council of Chalcedon, which created violent opposition. He was first to take part only as accuser, yet among the bishops. Then he was constrained (October 26, 451) by the friends of Dioscurus to pronounce the anathema over Nestorius. His conduct shows (though hindered from a statement to that effect) that he performed this with his previous reservation; namely, without application beyond the teaching of two sons in Christ and the denial of the theotokos. Upon this he was declared orthodox and rehabilitated.

The only thing known concerning him following the Council of Chalcedon is the letter of Leo charging him to guard the Chalcedonian victory (PG, lxxxiii. 1319 sqq.). With Diodorus and Theodore he was no less hated by the Monophysites than Nestorius himself, and held by them and their friends as a heretic. The Three-Chapter Controversy led to the condemnation of his writings against Cyril in the Second Council of Constantinople (553).


Works

Exegetical

In literature Theodoret devoted himself first of all to exegesis. The Holy Scripture was his only authority, and his representation of orthodox doctrine consists of a collocation of Scripture passages. The genuineness and relative chronology of his commentaries is proven by references in the latter to the earlier. The commentary on the Song of Songs, written while he was a young bishop, though not before 430, precedes Psalms; the commentaries on the prophets were begun with Daniel, followed by Ezekiel, and then the Minor Prophets. Next that on the Psalms was completed before 436; and those on Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews), before 448. Theodoret's last exegetical works were the interpretations of difficult passages in the Octateuch and Quaestiones dealing with the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, written about 452 to 453.

Excepting the commentary on Isaiah (fragments preserved in the Catena (Biblical commentary)|catenae) and on Galatians ii.6-13, the exegetical writings of Theodoret are extant. Exegetical material on the Gospels under his name in the catenae may have come from his other works, and foreign interpolations occur in his comments on the Octateuch.

The Biblical authors are, for Theodoret, merely the mouthpieces of the Holy Spirit, though they do not lose their individual peculiarities. By the unavoidable imperfection of the translations, he states, the understanding is encumbered. Not familiar with Hebrew, Theodoret uses the Syriac translation, the Greek versions, and the Septuagint.

In principle his exegesis is grammatical-historical; and he criticizes the intrusion of the author's own ideas. His aim is to avoid a one-sidedness of literalness as well as of allegory. Hence he protests against the attributing of The Song of Songs to Solomon and the like as degrading the Holy Spirit. Rather is it to be said that the Scripture speaks often "figuratively" and "in riddles." In the Old Testament everything has typological significance and prophetically it embodies already the Christian doctrine. The divine illumination affords the right understanding after the apostolic suggestion and the New Testament fulfilment. Valuable though not binding is the exegetical tradition of the ecclesiastical teachers. Theodoret likes to choose the best among various interpretations before him, preferably Theodore's, and supplements from his own. He is clear and simple in thought and statement; and his merit is to have rescued the exegetical heritage of the school of Antioch as a whole for the Christian Church.

Apologetic, historical

Among apologetic writings was the Ad quaestiones magorum (429-436), now lost, in which he justified the Old Testament sacrifices as alternatives in opposition to the Egyptian idolatry (question 1, Lev., PG, lxxx. 297 sqq.), and exposed the fables of the Magi who worshiped the elements (Church History v. 38).

De providentia consists of apologetic discourses, proving the divine providence from the physical order (chapters i-iv), and from the moral and social order (chapters vi-x).

The Cure of the Greek Maladies or Knowledge of the Gospel Truth from the Greek Philosophy, of twelve discourses, was an attempt to prove the truth of Christianity from Greek philosophy and in contrast with the pagan ideas and practises. The truth is self-consistent where it is not obscured with error and approves itself as the power of life; philosophy is only a presentiment of it. This work is distinguished for clearness of arrangement and style.

The Church History of Theodoret, which begins with the rise of Arianism and closes with the death of Theodore in 429, falls far behind those of Socrates Scholasticus and Sozomen. It contains many sources otherwise lost, specially letters on the Arian controversy; but it is defective in historical sense and chronological accuracy, and on account of Theodoret's inclination to embellishment and miraculous narrative, and preference for the personal. Original material of Antiochian information appears chiefly in the latter books.

Theodoret's sources are in dispute. According to Valesius these were mainly Socrates and Sozomen; Albert Guldenpenning's thorough research placed Rufinus first, and next to him, Eusebius of Caesarea, Athanasius, Sozomen, Sabinus, Philostorgius, Gregory Nazianzen, and, least of all, Socrates. N. Glubokovskij counts Eusebius, Rufinus, Philostorgius, and, perhaps, Sabinus.

The Religious History, with an appendix on divine love, contains the biographies of thirty (ten living) ascetics, held forth as religious models. It is a document of remarkable significance for understanding the complexities of the role of early monastics, both in society and in the church; it is also remarkable for presenting a model of ascetic authority which runs strongly against Athanasius's Life of Antony. Upon the request of a high official named Sporacius, Theodoret compiled a Compendium of Heretical Accounts (Haereticarum fabularum compendium), including a heresiology (books i-iv) and a "compendium of divine dogmas" (book v), which, apart from Origen's De principiis and the theological work of John of Damascus, is the only systematic representation of the theology of the Greek Fathers.

Theodoret's Correspondence (mentioned below) is a primary source for the development of Christological issues between the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon and illuminates current administrative and social problems.


Dogmatic

Among dogmatic treatises Theodoret mentions (Epist. cxiii, cxvi) having written against Arius and Eunomius, probably one work, to which were joined the three treatises against the Macedonians. There were, besides, two works against the Apollinarians, and of the Opus adversus Marcionem nothing has been preserved. The treatises On the Trinity and On the Divine Dispensation (cf. Peri theologias kai tes theias enanthropeseos; Epist. cxiii), assigned by A. Ehrhard to the work On the Holy and Life-giving Trinity and On the Incarnation of the Lord of Cyril of Alexandria, certainly belong to the Antiochian School and to Theodoret. To the same belong cap. xiii-xv, xvii, and brief parts of other chapters of the fragments which Jean Garnier (Auctarium) included under the title, Pentology of Theodoret on the Incarnation as well as three of the five fragments referred by Marius Mercator to the fifth book of some writing of Theodoret. They are polemics against Arianism and Apollinarianism.

Theodoret's Refutation of the twelve anathemas of Cyril is preserved in the antipolemic of Cyril (PG, cxxvi. 392 sqq.). He detects Apollinarianism in Cyril's teaching, and declines a "contracting into one" of two natures of the only begotten, as much as a separation into two sons (Epist. Cxliii). Instead of a "union according to hypostases," he would accept only one that "manifests the essential properties or modes of the natures." The man united to God was born of Mary; between God the Logos and the form of a servant a distinction must be drawn. Only minor fragments (cf. Epist. xvi) of Theodoret's defense of Diodorus and Theodore (438-444) have been preserved (Glubokovskij ii. 142).

His chief christological work is the Eranistes etoi polymorphos ("Beggar or Multiform") in three dialogues, describing the Monophysites as beggars passing off their doctrines gathered by scraps from diverse heretical sources and himself as the orthodox.

God is immutable also in becoming man, the two natures are separate in Christ, and God the Logos is ever immortal and impassive. Each nature remained "pure" after the union, retaining its properties to the exclusion of all transmutation and intermixture. Of the twenty-seven orations in defense of various propositions, the first six agree in their given content with Theodoret. A few extracts from the five orations on Chrysostom were preserved by Photius (codex 273). Most valuable are the numerous letters (Eng. transl., NPNF, 2 ser., iii. 250-348).



Source: http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/Theodoret

Theodoret (393–457) gave the following instruction:

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This is how to bless someone with your hand and make the sign of the cross over them. Hold three fingers, as equals, together, to represent the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. These are not three gods, but one God in Trinity. The names are separate, but the divinity one. The Father was never incarnate; the Son incarnate, but not created; the Holy Ghost neither incarnate nor created, but issued from the Godhead: three in a single divinity. Divinity is one force and has one honor. They receive on obeisance from all creation, both angels and people. Thus the decree for these three fingers. You should hold the other two fingers slightly bent, not completely straight. This is because these represent the dual nature of Christ, divine and human. God in His divinity, and human in His incarnation, yet perfect in both. The upper finger represents divinity, and the lower humanity; this way salvation goes from the higher finger to the lower. So is the bending of the fingers interpreted, for the worship of Heaven comes down for our salvation. This is how you must cross yourselves and give a blessing, as the holy fathers have commanded.

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St. Maroun also known as Saint Maron, was a 5th century Syriac Christian monk who after his death was followed by a religious movement that became known as the Maronites. The Church that grew from this movement is the Maronite Church. St. Maroun was known for his missionary work, healing and miracles, and teachings of a monastic devotion to God. He was a priest that later became a hermit. His holiness and miracles attracted many followers and drew attention throughout the empire.

Background

St. Maroun, born in the middle of the 4th century in Syria, was a priest who later became a hermit, retiring to a mountain in the Taurus range in the region of Cyrrhus, near Antioch. His holiness and miracles attracted many followers, and drew attention throughout the empire. St. John Chrysostom sent him a letter around AD 405 expressing his great love and respect, and asking St. Maroun to pray for him.

The Maronite movement

Maroun is considered the Father of the spiritual and monastic movement now called the Maronite Catholic Church. This movement had a profound influence in Lebanon. St. Maroun spent all of his life on a mountain in Syria. It is believed that the place was called "Kefar-Nabo" on the mountain of Ol-Yambos, making it the cradle of the Maronite movement .

The Maronite movement reached Lebanon when St. Maroun's first disciple Abraham of Cyrrhus who was called the Apostle of Lebanon, realised that there were many non-Christians in Lebanon, so he set out to convert them to Christianity by introducing them to the way of St. Maroun. The followers of St. Maroun, both monks and laity, always remained faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church. St. Maroun's feast day is celebrated on February 9.

Spirituality

Maroun's way was deeply monastic with emphasis on the spiritual and ascetic aspects of living, contrasted by the fact that the 'Khoury,' or, 'priest' of the Maronite rite can marry. For St. Maroun, all was connected to God and God was connected to all. He did not separate the physical and spiritual world and actually used the physical world to deepen his faith and spiritual experience with God.

St. Maroun embraced the quiet solitude of the mountain life. He lived his life in open air exposed to the forces of nature such as sun, rain, hail and snow. His extraordinary desire to come to know God's presence in all things allowed St. Maroun to transcend such forces and discover that intimate union with God. He was able to free himself from the physical world by his passion and fervour for prayer and enter into a mystical relationship of love with God. He was also a holy man.


Mission

St. Maroun was a mystic who started this new ascetic-spiritual method that attracted many people in Syria and Lebanon to become his disciples. Accompanying his deeply spiritual and ascetic life, he was a zealous missionary with a passion to spread the message of Christ by preaching it to all he met. He sought not only to cure the physical ailments that people suffered, but had a great quest for nurturing and healing the "lost souls" of both non-christians and Christians of his time.

This missionary work came to fruition when in the mountains of Syria, St. Maroun was able to convert a temple into a Christian Church. This was to be the beginning of the conversion to Christianity in Syria which would then influence and spread to Lebanon. After his death in the year 410, his spirit and teachings lived on through his disciples and today he lies buried in Brad village to the north of Aleppo.




Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Maron

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#341675 01/20/10 05:22 AM
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Saint Meletius of Antioch (Μελέτιος) (died 381) was the Christian bishop, or Patriarch of Antioch, from 360 until his death. His staunch support of the Nicene faction of the church led to his exile three times under Arian emperors. One of his last acts was to preside over the First Council of Constantinople in 381.

He was born at Melitene in Lesser Armenia of wealthy and noble parents. He first appears (ca. 357) as a supporter of Acacius, bishop of Caesarea, the leader of that party in the episcopate which supported the Homoean formula by which the emperor Constantius II sought for a compromise between the Homoiousian and the Homoousian. The idea being that God and Jesus Christ are of like essence or they are of the same essence see ousia and hypostasis. Meletius thus makes his debut as an ecclesiastic of the court party, and as such became bishop of Sebaste in succession to Eustathius, who the synod of Melitene deposed for his Homousianism (Nicene trinitarianism) which they considered a heresy. The appointment was resented by the Homoeusian clergy, and Meletius retired to Beroea.[1]

According to Socrates Scholasticus he attended the synod of Seleucia in the autumn of 359, and then subscribed the Acacian formula. Early in 360 he became bishop of Antioch, succeeding Eudoxius, who had been translated to the see of Constantinople. Early the following year,361 he was in exile. According to an old tradition, supported by evidence drawn from Epiphanius of Cyprus and John Chrysostom, this was due to a sermon preached before the emperor Constantius, in which he revealed Homousian views. This explanation, however, is rejected by G. F. Loofs - the sermon contains nothing inconsistent with the Acacian position favoured by the court party; on the other hand, there is evidence of conflicts with the clergy, quite apart from any questions of orthodoxy, which may have led to the bishop's deposition.

The successor of Meletius was Euzoeus, who had fallen with Arius under the ban of Athanasius; and Loofs explains the sub fidei mutajio which Saint Jerome ascribes to Meletius to the dogmatic opposition of the deposed bishop to his successor. In Antioch itself Meletius continued to have adherents, who held separate services in the Apostolic church in the old town. The Meletian schism was complicated, moreover, by the presence in the city of another anti-Arian sect, stricter adherents of the Homousian formula, maintaining the tradition of the deposed bishop Eustathius and governed at this time by the presbyter Paulinus.

The synod of Alexandria sent deputies to attempt an arrangement between the two anti-Arian Churches; but before they arrived Paulinus had been consecrated bishop by Lucifer of Calaris when Meletius returned in consequence of the emperor Julian. Contemptuous policy reached the city and he found himself as one of three rival bishops. Meletius was now between two stools. The orthodox Nicene party, notably Athanasius himself, held communion with Paulinus only, twice in 365 and 371 or 372. Meletius was exiled by decree of the Arian emperor Valens. A further complication was added when, in 375, Vitalius, one of Meletius' prebyters, was consecrated bishop by the heretical bishop Apollinaris of Laodicea.

Meanwhile, under the influence of his situation, Meletius had been more and more approximating to the views of Nicene Creed. Basil of Caesarea, throwing over the cause of Eustathius, championed that of Meletius who, when after the death of Valens he returned in triumph to Antioch, was hailed as the leader of Eastern orthodoxy. As such he presided in October 379, over the great synod of Antioch, in which the dogmatic agreement of East and West was established. He helped Gregory Nazianzus to the see of Constantinople and consecrated him and also presided over the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in 381.

He died soon after the opening of the council, and the emperor Theodosius I, who had received him with special distinction, ordered his body to be carried to Antioch and buried with the honours of a saint. The Meletian schism, however, did not end with his death. In spite of the advice of Gregory Nazianzus and of the Western Church, the recognition of Paulinus' sole episcopate was refused, and Flavian was consecrated as Meletius' successor. The Eustathians, on the other hand, elected Evagrius as bishop on Paulinus' death, and it was not until 415 that Flavian succeeded in re-uniting them to the Church.

Meletius ascetic life was remarkable in view of his great private wealth. He is venerated as a saint and confessor in both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Eastern Churches.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meletius_of_Antioch

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Metropolitan Michael I of Kiev (Ukrainian: Митрополит Михаїл Київський; Russian: Митрополит Михаил Киевский) (born ?, died June 15, 992) was a saint and the first Metropolitan of Kiev and All-Rus' from 988-992. June 15 and September 30 are dedicated to him on the Julian Calendar.

Different historical accounts state that he was either Assyrian, Bulgarian, or Greek. He is traditionally accounted as founding the St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in Kiev as well as the Mezhyhirskyi Monastery near Vyshhorod with Greek monks in 988 AD.

His remains were originally located in the Church of the Tithes, then they were moved to the Near Caves of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, and are now located in the Dormition Cathedral of the lavra.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_I_of_Kiev_(metropolitan)

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Theodore the Studite, also called St Theodore of Stoudios or St Theodore of Studium (759 - 826), was a Byzantine monk and abbot of the Stoudios monastery in Constantinople. He played a major role in the revivals both of Byzantine monasticism and of classical literary genres in Byzantium. He is known as a zealous opponent of iconoclasm, one of several conflicts that set him at odds with both emperor and patriarch.

Family and Childhood

Theodore was born in Constantinople in 759. He was the oldest son of Photeinos, an important financial official in the palace bureaucracy, and Theoktsite, herself the product of a distinguished Constantinopolitan family. The brother of Theoktsite, Theodore's uncle Platon, was himself an important official in the imperial financial administration. The family therefore controlled a significant portion, if not all, of the imperial financial administration during the reign of Constantine V. Theodore had two younger brothers (Joseph, later Archbishop of Thessaloniki, and Euthymios) and one sister, whose name we do not know.

It has often been assumed that Theodoros's family belonged to the iconodule party during the first period of Byzantine iconcolasm. There is however no evidence to support this, and their high position in the imperial bureaucracy of the time renders any openly iconodulic position highly unlikely. Furthermore, when Platon left his office and entered the priesthood in 759, he was ordained by an abbot who, if he was not actively iconoclastic himself, at the very least offered no resistance to the iconoclastic policies of Constantine V. The family as a whole was most likely indifferent to the question of icons during this period.

According to the later hagiographical literature, Theodore received an education befitting his family's station, and from the age of seven was instructed by a private tutor, eventually concentrating in particular on theology. It is however not clear that these opportunities were available to even the most well-placed Byzantine families of the eighth century, and it is possible that Theodore was at least partially an autodidact.

Early monastic career

Following the death of Emperor Leo IV in 780, Theodore's uncle Platon, who had lived as a monk in the Symbola Monastery in Bithynia since 759, visited Constantinople, and persuaded the entire family of his sister, Theoktiste, to likewise take monastic vows. Theodore, together with his father, brothers, sailed back to Bithynia with Platon in 781, where they set about transforming the family estate into a religious establishment, which became known as the Sakkudion Monastery. Platon became abbot of the new foundation, and Theodore was his "right hand." The two sought to order the monastery according to the writings of Basil of Caesarea.

During the period of the regency of Eirene, Abbot Platon emerged as a supporter of the Patriarch Tarasios, and was a member of Tarasios' iconodule party at the Second Council of Nicaea, where the veneration of icons was declared orthodox. Shortly thereafter Tarasios himself ordained Theodore as a priest. In 794 Theodore became abbot of the Sakkudion Monastery, while Platon withdrew from the daily operation of the monastery and dedicated himself to silence.

Conflict with Constantine VI

Also in 794, Emperor Constantine VI decided to separate from his first wife, Maria of Amnia, and to marry Maria's kubikularia (Lady-in-waiting), Theodote, a cousin of Theodore the Studite. Although the Patriarch may initially have resisted this development, as a divorce without proof of adultery on the part of the wife could be construed as illegal, he ultimately gave way. The marriage of Constantine and Theodote was celebrated in 795, although not by the patriarch, as was normal, but by a certain Joseph, a priest of Hagia Sophia.

A somewhat obscure chain of events followed (the so-called "Moechian controversy," from the Greek moichos, "adulterer"), in which Theodore initiated a protest against the marriage from the Sakkudion Monastery, and appears to have demanded the excommunication, not only of the priest Joseph, but also of all who had received communion from him, which, as Joseph was a priest of the imperial church, included implicitly the emperor and his court. This demand had no official weight, however, and Constantine appears to have attempted to make peace with Theodore and Platon (who, on account of his marriage, were now his relatives), inviting them to visit him during a sojourn at the imperial baths of Prusa in Bithynia. In the event neither appeared.

As a result imperial troops were sent to the Sakkudion Monastery, and the community was dispersed. Theodoros was flogged, and, together with ten other monks, banished to Thessaloniki, while Platon was imprisoned in Constantinople. The monks arrived in Thessaloniki in March of 797, but did not remain for long; in August of the same year Constantine VI was blinded and overthrown, and his mother Irene, the new empress, lifted the exile.

Abbot of the Studites

Following the accession of Irene, the priest Joseph was stripped of his office, and Theodoros was received in the imperial palace. The monks then returned to the Sakkudion Monastery, but were forced back to the capital in either 797 or 798 on account of an Arab raid on Bithynia. At this time Irene offered Theodore the leadership of the ancient Stoudios Monastery in Constantinople, which he accepted. Theodore then set about building various workshops within the monastery to guarantee autarky, constructing a library and a scriptorium, and restoring and decorating the church. He also composed a series of poems on the duties of the various members of the community, which were likely inscribed and displayed within the monastery. He furthermore composed a rule for the governance of the monastery, and made the Studios community the center of an extensive congregation of dependent monasteries, including the Sakkudion. He maintained contact with these other monasteries above all through his prodigious literary output (letters as well as catechisms), which reached a quantitative peak at this time, and developed a system of messengers that was so elaborate as to resemble a private postal service.

To this period may also date the so-called iconophile epigrams, iambic acrostics composed by Theodore that replaced the "iconoclastic epigrams" which were previously exhibited on the Chalke gate of the Great Palace. It has been suggested that these were commissioned by Irene, as another sign of her good favor toward Theodore, although a commission under Michael I Rangabe is also possible; in any case, they were removed in 815 by Leo V the Armenian and replaced by new "iconoclastic" verses.

In 806 the Patriarch Tarasios died, and the emperor Nikephoros I set about seeking his replacement. It appears likely that Platon at this time put forth Theodore's name, but Nikephoros, a layman who held the rank asekretis in the imperial bureaucracy, was chosen instead. The selection of Nikephoros gave rise to an immediate protest on the part of the Studites, and in particular Theodore and Platon, who objected to the elevation of a layman to the patriarchal throne. Theodore and Platon were jailed for 24 days before the Emperor Nikephoros allowed them to return to their congregations.

Conflict with Nikephoros

The Emperor Nikephoros soon requested that his new patriarch rehabilitate the priest Joseph, who had officiated at the wedding of Constantine and Theodote, possibly because Joseph had aided in the peaceful resolution of the revolt of Bardanes Tourkos. In 806 the Patriarch Nikephoros convened a synod to address the case, at which Theodore was present. The Synod decided to readmit Joseph to the priesthood, a decision to which Theodore did not at the time object.

Therefore relations between the Studite Abbot and the Patriarch appear to have been initially untroubled, an impression which is reinforced by the choice (806/7) of Theodore's brother, Joseph, as Archbishop of Thesaloniki. However, soon after this ordination, perhaps in 808, Theodore began to express his unwillingness to associate with the rehabilitated priest Joseph, or for that matter with anyone else who knowingly associated with him, as he held the rehabilitation for uncanonical. As in the first dispute over the priest Joseph, the extension of this refusal beyond Joseph to those who associated with him included implicitly the patriarch and the emperor himself.

Early in 808 Theodoros offered in a series of letters to explain his position to the emperor, and furthermore to perform the customary proskynesis at his feet, which offer Nikephoros declined, instead setting off for the summer military campaign. In the winter of the same year, Theodore's brother Joseph visited him in Constantinople, but refused to attend the Christmas mass in Hagia Sophia, at which the emperor, the patriarch, and the priest Joseph would have been present. As a result he was stripped of his archbishopric. At around the same time a small military division was dispatched to the Studios Monastery to arrest Theodore, Joseph, and Platon. A synod was then held in January of 809, at which Theodore and his followers were anathematized as schismatic. Theodore, Joseph, and Platon, were thereafter banished to the Princes' Islands: Theodore to Chalke, Joseph to Prote, and Platon to Oxeia.

Theodore maintained an extensive literary activity in exile, writing numerous letters to correspondents including his brother, various Studite monks, influential family members, and even Pope Leo III. He also continued to compose catechisms for the Studite congregation, as well as a number of poems.[34]

Rehabilitation under Michael I

In 811 the new emperor Michael I Rangabe called the Studites back from exile. The priest Joseph was once more defrocked, and Theodore was, at least superficially, reconciled with the Patriarch Nikephoros.

There are however indications that a certain rivalry between the Studite Abbot and the Patriarch persisted. In 812 Michael I resolved to persecute certain heretics in Phrygia and Lycaonia, namely the Paulicians and the "Athinganoi" (sometimes identified with the Roma). Theodore and Nikephoros were called before the emperor to debate the legality of punishing heresy by death, Theodore arguing against and Nikephoros for. Theodore is said to have won the day.

The second affair concerned a peace treaty proposed by Krum of Bulgaria, also in 812, according to which the Byzantine and Bulgarian states should exchange refugees. It is likely that Krum sought the return of certain Bulgarians who had betrayed him to the Byzantines. In this instance Theodore argued against the exchange, as it would require that Christians be cast to barbarians, while Nikephoros urged the emperor to accept the treaty. Once more Theodore's opinion prevailed, although this time with serious consequences; Krum attacked and took Mesembria in November of the same year. Michael led a military campaign against the Bulgarians in 813, which ended in defeat, and as a result he abdicated in July and Leo V was crowned emperor.

On April 4, 814, Theodore's uncle Platon died in the Studios Monastery after a long illness. Theodore composed a long funeral oration, the Laudatio Platonis, which remains one of the most important sources for the history of the family.

The Second Iconoclasm

At the very beginning of his reign, Leo V faced a new Bulgarian offensive that reached the walls of Constantinople and ravaged large sections of Thrace. This came to an end with the death of Krum on April 13, 814, and the internal power struggles that followed. However, as the previous 30 years since the approval of icon-veneration at the Synod of 787 had represented for the Byzantines a string of military catastrophes, Leo resolved to reach back to the policies of the more successful Isaurian dynasty. He renamed his son Constantine, thus drawing a parallel to Leo III and Constantine V, and beginning in 814 began to discuss with various clerics and senators the possibility of reviving the iconoclastic policy of the Isaurians. This movement met with strong opposition from the Patriarch Nikephoros, who himself gathered a group of bishops and abbots about him and swore them to uphold the veneration of images. The dispute came to a head in a debate between the two parties before the emperor in the Great Palace on Christmas 814, at which Theodore and his brother Joseph were present, and took the side of the iconophiles.

Leo held fast by his plan to revive iconoclasm, and in March 815 the Patrarch Nikephoros was stripped of his office and exiled to Bithynia. At this point Theodore remained in Constantinople, and assumed a leading role in the iconodule opposition. On March 25, Palm Sunday, he commanded his monks to process through the monastery's vineyard, holding up icons so that they could be seen over the walls by the neighbors. This provocation elicited only a rebuke from the emperor.

A new patriarch, Theodotos, was selected, and in April a synod was convened in Hagia Sophia, at which iconoclasm was re-introduced as dogma. Theodore composed a series of letters in which he called on "all, near and far," to revolt against the decision of the synod. Not long thereafter he was exiled by imperial command to a Metopa, a fortress on the eastern shore of Lake Apollonia in Bithynia. Shortly thereafter Leo had Theodore's poems removed from the Chalke Gate and replaced by a new set of "iconoclastic" epigrams.

While Theodore was in exile, the leadership of the Studite congregation was assumed by the Abbot Leontios, who for a time adopted the iconoclast position and won over many individuals monks to his party. He was however eventually won back to the iconodule party. The Studite situation mirrored a general trend, with a number of bishops and abbots at first willing to reach a compromise with the iconoclasts, but then in the years between 816 and 819 renouncing the iconoclast position, a movement that was perhaps motivated by the martyrdom of the Studite monk Thaddaios. It was during this upswell in icondule sentiment that Theodore began to compose his own polemic against the iconoclasts, the Refutatio, concentrating in particular on refuting the arguments and criticizing the literary merits of the new iconoclastic epigrams on the Chalke.

Theodore exercised a wide influence during the first year of his exile, primarily through a massive letter-writing campaign. Accordingly, he was transferred in 816 to Boneta, a fortress in the more remote Anatolic theme, whence he nevertheless remained abreast of developments in the capital and maintained a regular correspondence. This continued activity led to an imperial order that Theodore be whipped, which his captors however refused to carry out. In 817, Theodore wrote two letters to Pope Paschal I, which were co-signed by several fellow iconophile abbots, in the first requesting that he summon an anti-iconoclastic Synod; letters to the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Jerusalem, among other "foreign" clerics, followed. As a result the emperor ordered at least once more that Theodore be flogged, and the command was this time carried out, with the result that Theodore became quite ill. After his recovery Theodore was moved to Smyrna. Early in 821, however, Leo V fell victim to a grisly murder at the altar of the Church of St. Stephen in the imperial palace; Theodore was released from exile shortly thereafter.

Final years

Following his release, Theodore made his way back to Constantinople, travelling through north-western Anatolia and meeting with numerous monks and abbots on the way. At the time he appears to have believed that the new emperor, Michael II, would adopt an iconophilic policy, and he expressed this hope in two letters to Michael. An imperial audience was arranged for a group of iconocule clerics, including Theodore, at which however Michael expressed his attention to "leave the church as he had found it." The abbots were to be allowed to venerate images if they so wishes, as long as they remained outside of Constantinople. Theodore returned to Anatolia, in what seems to have been a sort of self-imposed exile.

Theodore's activities in his final years are somewhat difficult to trace. He continued to write numerous letters in support of the iconophile cause, and appears to have remained an important leader of the opposition to imperial iconoclasm. He was present at a meeting of "more than a hundred" iconodule clerics in 823 or 824, which ended in an argument between the Studites and the host, one Ioannikos, which may have represented a power struggle within the movement. Theodore also spoke against the second marriage of Michael II to the nun Euphrosyne, a daughter of Constantine VI, although in a very moderate fashion, and with none of the passion or effect of the Moechian controversy.

Theodore's years of exile, regular fasting, and exceptional exertions had taken their toll, and in 826 he became quite ill. In this year he dictated his Testament, a form of spiritual guidance for the future abbots of the Studios monastery, to his disciple Naukratios. He died on the 11 of November of that same year, while celebrating mass, apparently in the monastery of Hagios Tryphon on Cape Akritas in Bithynia. Eighteen years later his remains, along with those of his brother Joseph, were brought back to the Studios Monastery, were they were interred beside the grave of their uncle Platon.

Legacy

Theodore's revival of the Studios monastery had a major effect on the later history of Byzantine monasticism. His disciple, Naukratios, recovered control of the monastery after the end of iconoclasm in 842, and throughout the remainder of the ninth century the Studite abbots continued Theodore's tradition of opposition to patriarchal and imperial authority. Elements of Theodore's Testament were incorporated verbatim in the typika of certain early Athonite monasteries. The most important elements of his reform were its emphases on cenobitic (communal) life, manual labor, and a carefully defined administrative hierarchy.

Theodore also built the Studios monastery into major scholarly center, in particular through its library and scriptorium, which certainly surpassed all other contemporary Byzantine ecclesiastical institutions in this regard. Theodore himself was a pivotal figure in the revival of classical literary forms, in particular iambic verse, in Byzantium, and his criticisms of the iconoclastic epigrams drew a connection between literary skill and orthodox faith. After his death the Studios monastery continued to be a vital center for Byzantine hymnography and hagiography, as well as for the copying of manuscripts.

Following the "triumph of Orthodoxy" (i.e. the reintroduction of icons) in 843, Theodore became one of the great heroes of the iconodule opposition. There was no formal process of canonization in Byzantium, but Theodore was soon recognized as a saint. In the Latin West a tradition arose according to which Theodore had recognized papal primacy, on the basis of his letters to Pope Paschal, and he was formally canonized by the Catholic Church, an honor which no other Byzantine iconophile received. His feast day is November 12.

Works

Theodore was an immensely prolific author; among his most important works are:

His letters, which convey many personal details, as well as illuminating a number of his historical engagements. Ed. with summaries in German by Georgios Fatouros, Theodori Studitae Epistulae (=CFHB 31) (Berlin, 1992) [two volumes]. ISBN 3-11-008808-8.
His poems, which represent an important stage in the revival of classical verse in Byzantium. Ed. with German translation by Paul Speck, Theodoros Studites: Jamben auf verschiedene Gegestände (=Supplementa Byzantina 1) (Berlin, 1968).
Catecheses, two collections of addresses to his monks on various subjects connected with the spiritual life. The first collection (the "magna") ed. A. Papadopulos-Kerameus, Theodori Studitae Magna Catachesis (St. Petersburg, 1904); the second (the "parva") ed. E. Auvray, S.P.N. et Confessoris Theodori Studitis Praepositi Parva Catachesis (Paris, 1891), French translation by Anne-Marie Mohr, Petites catéchèses (=Les Pères dans la foi 52) (Paris, 1993).
The funeral oration on his mother. Ed. and tr. St. Efthymiadis and J.M. Featherstone, "Establishing a holy lineage: Theodore the Stoudite's funerary catechism for his mother (BHG 2422)," in M. Grünbart, ed., Theatron: rhetorische Kultur in Spätantike und Mittelalter (=Millennium-Studien 13) (Berlin, 2007), 13-51. ISBN 3110194767.
The funeral oration on his uncle Plato (Theodori Studitae Oratio funebris in Platonem ejus patrem spiritualem, PG 99, 803-850).
Various polemical discourses connected with the question of image-worship, in particular Theodori praepositi Studitarum Antirrhetici adversus Iconomachos, PG 99, 327B-436A and Theodori Studitae Refutatio et subversio impiorum poematum Ioannis, Ignatii, Sergii, et Stephani, recentium christomachorum Cf. the selection translated by Catherine Roth, On the holy icons (Crestwood, 1981). ISBN 0-913836-76-1
His Testament, dictated to his disciple Naukratios at the end of his life: PG 99, 1813-24. English translation by Timothy Miller, in J. Thomas and A. C. Hero, eds., Byzantine monastic foundation documents (=Dumbarton Oaks Studies 35) (Washington, 2000), I.67-83. ISBN 0-88402-232-3 ; Available online.
A sermon on the Apostle Bartholomew, ed. with Italian translation by Giorgio di Maria in V. Giustolisi, ed., Tre laudationes bizantine in onore di San Bartolomeo apostolo (Palermo, 2004).



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_the_Studite

#341995 01/25/10 01:35 AM
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Theodosius of Kiev is an 11th century saint who brought Cenobitic Monasticism to Kievan Rus' and, together with St Anthony of Kiev, founded the Kiev Kiev Caves Lavra (Monastery of the Caves). A hagiography of Theodosius was written in the twelfth century.

Saint Theodosius' greatest achievement has been the introducing of the monastic rule of Saint Theodore the Studite in the Monastery of the Caves from whence it spread to all the monasteries of the Russian Orthodox Church. According to the Primary Chronicle:

"...the monastery was completed during the abbacy of Barlaam...When Barlaam had departed the brethren...visited the aged Athony [founder of the Monastery of the Caves, who was now living in deep seclusion] with the request that he should designate a new abbot for them. He inquired whom they desired. They replied that they required only the one designated by God and by his [Anthony's] own selection. Then he inquired of them: 'Who among you is more obedient, more modest, and more mild than Theodosius? Let him be your abbot.' The brethren rejoiced...and thus they appointed Theodosius to be their abbot.

"When Theodosius took over in the monastery, he began to practice abstinence, fasting, and tearful prayer.... He also interested himself in searching out monastic rules. There was in Kiev at the time a monk from the Studion Monastery named Michael, who had come from Greece.... Theodosius inquired of him the practices of the Studite monks. He obtained their rule from him, copied it out, and established it in his own monastery to govern the chanting of monastic hymns, in making reverences, reading of the lessons, behavior in church, the whole ritual, conduct at the table, proper food for special days, and to regulate all else according to prescription.

"After obtaining all this information, Theodosius thus transmitted it to his monastery, and from the latter all others adopted the same instruction. Whereas the Monastery of the Caves is honored among the oldest of them all."

Theodosius has been glorified (canonized) as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church His main feast day is May 3, the date of his repose. His relics were discovered by St. Nestor the Chronicler, on August 14, 1091, and were found to be incorrupt. The relics were transferred to the main catholicon (cathedral) of the monastery, and a second annual feast day was established in commemoration of this event.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodosius_of_Kiev

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Saint Nerses I the Great (Armenian: Սուրբ Ներսես Ա. Մեծ ) was an Armenian Catholicos (or Patriarch) who lived in the fourth century. He was the father of another catholicos, Saint Sahak I. His father was At'anagenes and his mother was Bambish, the sister of King Tiran.

Born of the royal Gregorid stock, he spent his youth in Caesarea where he married Sanducht, a Mamikonian princess. After the death of his wife, he was appointed sword-bearer to King Arshak II. A few years later, having entered the ecclesiastical state, he was elected catholicos in 353.

His patriarchate marks a new era in Armenian history. Till then the Church had been more or less identified with the royal family and the nobles; Nerses brought it into closer connection with the people. At the Council of Ashtishat he promulgated numerous laws on marriage, fast days, and divine worship. He built schools and hospitals, and sent monks throughout the land to preach the Gospel.

Nerses held a synod at Ashtishat that, among other things, forbade people to marry their first cousin and forbade mutilation and other extreme actions in mourning.

Some of these reforms drew upon him the king's displeasure, and he was exiled, supposedly to Edessa. It was probably at some point during the later part of Arshak's reign that Nerses went to Constantinople to ensure the emperor's support of Armenia against the Persians. According to P'awstos Buzandac'i's account Emperor Valens became outraged at Nerses condemning his following the teachings of Arius and sent Nerses into exile. While Nerses was in exile Xad was the leader of the church in Armenia.

Upon the accession of pro-Arian King Pap (369) he returned to his see. Pap proved a dissolute and unworthy ruler and Nerses forbade him entrance to the church. Under the pretence of seeking a reconciliation, Pap invited Nerses to his table and reportedly poisoned him in 373.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Nerses_I

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Isaac of Armenia, or Sahak (338 – 439) was Catholicos (or Patriarch) of Armenia. He is sometimes known as "Isaac the Great," and as "Սահակ Պարթև / Sahak Parthev" in Armenian, owing to his Parthian origin.

Isaac was son of the Christian Saint Narses and descended from the family of Saint Gregory the Illuminator. He was the fifth catholicos of the Arsacid Dynasty of Armenia after St. Gregory I the Enlightener (301-325), St. Aristaces I (325-333), St. Vrtanes I (333-341) and St. Husik I (341-347).


Sahak Partev Catholicos by Francesco MaggiottoLeft an orphan at a very early age, he received an excellent literary education in Constantinople, particularly in the Eastern languages. After his election as patriarch he devoted himself to the religious and scientific training of his people. Armenia was then passing through a grave crisis. In 387 it had lost its independence and been divided between the Byzantine Empire and Persia; each division had at its head an Armenian but feudatory king. In the Byzantine territory, however, the Armenians were forbidden the use of the Syriac language, until then exclusively used in divine worship: for this the Greek language was to be substituted, and the country gradually hellenized; in the Persian districts, on the contrary, Greek was absolutely prohibited, while Syriac was greatly favoured. In this way the ancient culture of the Armenians was in danger of disappearing and national unity was seriously compromised.

To save both Isaac invented, with the aid of Saint Mesrob, the Armenian alphabet and began to translate the Christian Bible; their translation from the Syriac Peshito was revised by means of the Septuagint, and even, it seems, from the Hebrew text (between 410 and 430). The liturgy also, hitherto Syrian was translated into Armenian, drawing at the same time on the liturgy of Saint Basil of Caesarea, so as to obtain for the new service a national colour. Isaac had already established schools for higher education with the aid of disciples whom he had sent to study at Edessa, Melitene, Constantinople, and elsewhere. Through them he now had the principal masterpieces of Greek and Syrian Christian literature translated, e.g. the writings of Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil, the two Gregorys (Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa), John Chrysostom, Ephrem the Syrian, etc. Armenian literature in its golden age was, therefore, mainly a borrowed literature.

Through Isaac's efforts the churches and monasteries destroyed by the Persians were rebuilt, education was cared for in a generous way, Zoroastrianism which Shah Yazdegerd I tried to set up was cast out, and three councils held to re-establish ecclesiastical discipline. Isaac is said to have been the author of liturgical hymns.

Two letters, written by him to Theodosius II and to Atticus of Constantinople, have been preserved. A third letter addressed to Saint Proclus of Constantinople was not written by him, but dates from the tenth century. Neither did he have any share, as was wrongly ascribed to him, in the First Council of Ephesus of 431, though, in consequence of disputes which arose in Armenia between the followers of Nestorius and the disciples of Acacius of Melitene and Rabbula, Isaac and his church did appeal to Constantinople and through Saint Proclus obtained the desired explanations.

A man of enlightened piety and of very austere life, Isaac owed his deposition by the king in 426 to his great independence of character. In 430, he was allowed to resume his patriarchal throne. In his extreme old age he seems to have withdrawn into solitude, dying at the age of 110. The precise date of his death is not known, but it seems to have occurred between 439 and 441. Hovhannes Draskhanakerttsi says his body was taken to Taron and buried in the village of Ashtishat. Several days are consecrated to his memory in the Armenian Apostolic Church.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_of_Armenia

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Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great, (330 – January 1, 379) (Greek: Άγιος Βασίλειος ο Μέγας) was the bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). He was an influential 4th century Christian theologian and monastic. Theologically, Basil was a supporter of the Nicene faction of the church, in opposition to Arianism on one side and the followers of Apollinaris of Laodicea on the other. His ability to balance his theological convictions with his political connections made Basil a powerful advocate for the Nicene position.

In addition to his work as a theologian, Basil was known for his care of the poor and underprivileged. Basil established guidelines for monastic life which focus on community life, liturgical prayer, and manual labor. Together with Pachomius he is remembered as a father of communal monasticism in Eastern Christianity. He is considered a saint by the traditions of both Eastern and Western Christianity.

Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa are collectively referred to as the Cappadocian Fathers. The Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches have given him, together with Gregory of Nazianzus and John Chrysostom, the title of Great Hierarch, while the Roman Catholic Church has named him a Doctor of the Church. He is also referred to as "the revealer of heavenly mysteries" (Ouranophantor).

Early life and education

Basil was born into the wealthy family of Basil the Elder, a famous rhetor, and Emmelia of Caesarea around 330 in Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia (now known as Kayseri, Turkey). It was a large household, consisting of ten children, the parents, and Basil's grandmother, Macrina the Elder. His parents were known for their piety, and his maternal grandfather was a Christian martyr, executed in the years prior to Constantine I's conversion. Four of Basil's siblings are known by name, and considered to be saints by various Christian traditions. His older sister Macrina the Younger was a well-known nun. His older brother Peter served as bishop of Sebaste in Armenia, and wrote a few well-known theological treatises. His brother Naucratius was an anchorite, and inspired much of Basil's theological work. Perhaps the most influential of Basil's siblings was his younger brother Gregory. Gregory was appointed by Basil to be the bishop of Nyssa, and he produced a number of writings defending Nicene theology and describing the life of early Christian monastics.

Shortly after Basil's birth, the family moved to the estate of his grandmother Macrina, in the region of Pontus. There, Basil was educated in the home by his father and grandmother. He was greatly influenced by the elder Macrina, who herself was a student of Gregory Thaumaturgus. Following the death of his father during his teenage years, Basil returned to Caesarea in Cappadocia around 350-51 to begin his formal education. There he met Gregory of Nazianzus, who would become a lifetime friend.[11] Together, Basil and Gregory went on to study in Constantinople, where they would have listened to the lectures of Libanius. Finally, the two spent almost six years in Athens starting around 349, where they met a fellow student who would become the emperor Julian the Apostate. It was at Athens that he began to first think about living a life focused on Christian principles.

Returning from Athens around 355, Basil briefly practiced law and taught rhetoric in Caesarea. A year later, Basil's life would change radically after he encountered Eustathius of Sebaste, a charismatic bishop and ascetic.

Basil soon abandoned his legal and teaching professions in order to devote his life to God. Describing his spiritual awakening in a letter, Basil said:

“ I had wasted much time on follies and spent nearly all of my youth in vain labors, and devotion to the teachings of a wisdom that God had made foolish. Suddenly, I awoke as out of a deep sleep. I beheld the wonderful light of the Gospel truth, and I recognized the nothingness of the wisdom of the princes of this world."

Arnesi

After receiving the sacrament of baptism, Basil traveled in 357 to Palestine, Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia to study ascetics and monasticism. While impressed by the piety of the ascetics, the ideal of solitary life held little appeal to him. Rather, he turned his attention toward communal religious life. After dividing his fortunes among the poor he went briefly into solitude near Neocaesaria on the Iris. Basil soon ventured out of this solitude, and by 358 he was gathering around him a group of like-minded disciples, including his brother Peter. Together they founded a monastic settlement on his family estate at Arnesi in Pontus. Joining him there were his mother Emmelia, then widowed, his sister Macrina and several other women, gave themselves to a pious life of prayer and charitable works. Eustathius of Sebaste had already labored in Pontus in behalf of the anchoretic life, and Basil revered him on that account, although they differed over dogmatic points, which gradually separated the two.

It was here that Basil wrote his works regarding monastic communal life, which are accounted as being pivotal in the development of the monastic tradition of the Eastern Church and have led to his being called the "father of Eastern communal monasticism". In 358 he wrote to his friend, Gregory of Nazianzus, asking Gregory to join him in Arnesi. Gregory eventually agreed to come; together, they collaborated on the production of the Philocalia, an anthology drawn from Origen. Gregory then decided to return to his family in Nazianzus.

Basil attended the Council of Constantinople in 360. It was here that he first sided with the Homoiousians, a semi-Arian faction who taught that the Son was of like substance with the Father, neither the same (one substance) nor different from him. Its members included Eustathius, Basil's mentor in asceticism. The Homoiousians opposed the Arianism of Eunomius but refused to join with the supporters of the Nicene Creed, who professed that the members of the Trinity were of one substance ("homoousios"). This stance put him at odds with his bishop, Dianius of Caesarea, who had subscribed only to the earlier Nicene form of agreement. Some years later Basil abandoned the Homoiousians, emerging instead as a supporter of the Nicene Creed.

Caesarea

In 362 Basil was ordained a deacon by Bishop Meletius of Antioch. He was summoned by Eusebius to his city, and was ordained presbyter of the Church there in 365. His ordination was probably the result of the entreaties of his ecclesiastical superiors, who wished to use his talents against the Arians, who were numerous in that part of the country and were favored by the Arian emperor, Valens, who then reigned in Constantinople.

Basil and Gregory Nazianzus spent the next few years combating the Arian heresy, which threatened to divide the region of Cappadocia. The two friends then entered a period of close fraternal cooperation as they participated in a great rhetorical contest of the Caesarean church precipitated by the arrival of accomplished Arian theologians and rhetors. In the subsequent public debates, presided over by agents of Valens, Gregory and Basil emerged triumphant. This success confirmed for both Gregory and Basil that their futures lay in administration of the church. Basil next took on functional administration of the Diocese of Caesarea.[23]Eusebius is reported as becoming jealous of the reputation and influence which Basil quickly developed, and allowed Basil to return to his earlier solitude. Later, however, Gregory persuaded Basil to return. Basil did so, and became the effective manager of the diocese for several years, while giving all the credit to Eusebius.

In 370, Eusebius died, and Basil was chosen to succeed him, and was consecrated bishop on June 14, 370. His new post as bishop of Caesarea also gave him the powers of exarch of Pontus and metropolitan of five suffragan bishops, many of whom had opposed him in the election for Eusebius's successor. It was then that his great powers were called into action. Hot-blooded and somewhat imperious, Basil was also generous and sympathetic. He personally organized a soup kitchen and distributed food to the poor during a famine following a drought. He gave away his personal family inheritance to benefit the poor of his diocese.

His letters show that he actively worked to reform thieves and prostitutes. They also show him encouraging his clergy not to be tempted by wealth or the comparatively easy life of a priest, and that he personally took care in selecting worthy candidates for holy orders. He also had the courage to criticize public officials who failed in their duty of administering justice. At the same time, he preached every morning and evening in his own church to large congregations. In addition to all the above, he built a large complex just outside Caesarea, called the Basiliad, which included a poorhouse, hospice, and hospital, and was regarded at the time as one of the wonders of the world.

His zeal for orthodoxy did not blind him to what was good in an opponent; and for the sake of peace and charity he was content to waive the use of orthodox terminology when it could be surrendered without a sacrifice of truth. The Emperor Valens, who was an adherent of the Arian philosophy, sent his prefect Modestus to at least agree to a compromise with the Arian faction. Basil's adamant response in the negative prompted Modestus to say that no one had ever spoken to him in that way before. Basil replied, "Perhaps you have never yet had to deal with a bishop." Modestus reported back to Valens that he believed nothing short of violence would avail against Basil. Valens was apparently unwilling to engage in violence. He did however issue orders banishing Basil repeatedly, none of which succeeded. Valens came himself to attend when Basil celebrated the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Theophany (Epiphany), and at that time was so impressed by Basil that he donated to him some land for the building of the Basiliad. This interaction helped to define the limits of governmental power over the church.

Basil then had to face the growing spread of Arianism. This belief system, which denied that Christ was consubstantial with the Father, was quickly gaining adherents and was seen by many, particularly those in Alexandria most familiar with it, as posing a threat to the unity of the church. Basil entered into connections with the West, and with the help of Athanasius, he tried to overcome its distrustful attitude toward the Homoiousians. The difficulties had been enhanced by bringing in the question as to the essence of the Holy Spirit. Although Basil advocated objectively the consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son, he belonged to those, who, faithful to Eastern tradition, would not allow the predicate homoousios to the former; for this he was reproached as early as 371 by the Orthodox zealots among the monks, and Athanasius defended him. He maintained a relationship with Eustathius despite dogmatic differences. On the other hand, Basil was grievously offended by the extreme adherents of Homoousianism, who seemed to him to be reviving the Sabellian heresy.

Basil corresponded with Pope Damasus in the hope of having the Roman bishop condemn heresy wherever found, both East and West. The Pope's apparent indifference upset Basil's zeal and he turned around in distress and sadness. It is still a point of controversy over how much he believed the Roman See could do for the Churches in the East, as many Roman Catholic theologians claim the primacy of the Roman bishopric over the rest of the Churches, both in doctrine and in authoritative strength.

He did not live to see the end of the factional disturbances and the complete success of his continued exertions in behalf of the Church. He suffered from liver illness and his excessive asceticism seems to have hastened him to an early death. A lasting monument of his episcopal care for the poor was the great institute before the gates of Caesarea, which was used as poorhouse, hospital, and hospice.

Writings

The principal theological writings of Basil are his On the Holy Spirit, a lucid and edifying appeal to Scripture and early Christian tradition (to prove the divinity of the Holy Spirit), and his Refutation of the Apology of the Impious Eunomius, written in 363 or 364, three books against Eunomius of Cyzicus, the chief exponent of Anomoian Arianism. The first three books of the Refutation are his work; the fourth and fifth books that are usually included do not belong to Basil, or to Apollinaris of Laodicea, but probably to Didymus "the Blind" of Alexandria.

He was a famous preacher, and many of his homilies, including a series of Lenten lectures on the Hexaëmeron (the Six Days of Creation), and an exposition of the psalter, have been preserved. Some, like that against usury and that on the famine in 368, are valuable for the history of morals; others illustrate the honor paid to martyrs and relics; the address to young men on the study of classical literature shows that Basil was lastingly influenced by his own education, which taught him to appreciate the propaedeutic importance of the classics. Deferrari, "The Classics and the Greek Writers of the Early Church: Saint Basil." The Classical Journal Vol. 13, No. 8 (May, 1918). 579–91.

In his exegesis Basil tended to interpret Scripture literally—following more the Antiochian school—rather than allegorically as Origen and the Alexandrian school had done. Concerning this, he wrote:

"I know the laws of allegory, though less by myself than from the works of others. There are those, truly, who do not admit the common sense of the Scriptures, for whom water is not water, but some other nature, who see in a plant, in a fish, what their fancy wishes, who change the nature of reptiles and of wild beasts to suit their allegories, like the interpreters of dreams who explain visions in sleep to make them serve their own end."

His ascetic tendencies are exhibited in the Moralia and Asketika (sometimes mistranslated as Rules of St. Basil), ethical manuals for use in the world and the cloister, respectively. Of the two works known as the Greater Asketikon and the Lesser Asketikon, the shorter is the one most probably his work.

It is in the ethical manuals and moral sermons that the practical aspects of his theoretical theology are illustrated. So, for example, it is in his Sermon to the Lazicans that we find St. Basil explaining how it is our common nature that obliges us to treat our neighbor's natural needs (e.g., hunger, thirst) as our own, even though he is a separate individual. Later theologians explicitly explain this as an example of how the saints become an image of the one common nature of the persons of the Trinity.

His three hundred letters reveal a rich and observant nature, which, despite the troubles of ill-health and ecclesiastical unrest, remained optimistic, tender and even playful. His principal efforts as a reformer were directed towards the improvement of the liturgy, and the reformation of the monastic institutions of the East.

Most of his extant works, and a few spuriously attributed to him, are available in the Patrologia Graecae, which includes Latin translations of varying quality. Several of St. Basil's works have appeared in the late twentieth century in the Sources Chrétiennes collection. No critical edition is yet available.

Legacy

Liturgical contributions

St Basil of Caesarea holds a very important place in the history of Christian liturgy, coming as he did at the end of the age of persecution. At this time, liturgical prayers were transitioning from being extemporaneous or memorized into written formulas, and liturgy began to be influenced by court ritual. Basil's liturgical influence is well attested in early sources. Though it is difficult at this time to know exactly which parts of the Divine Liturgies which bear his name are actually his work, a vast corpus of prayers attributed to him has survived in the various Eastern Christian churches. Tradition also credits Basil with the elevation of the iconostasis to its present height.

Most of the liturgies bearing the name of Basil are not entirely his work in their present form, but they nevertheless preserve a recollection of Basil's activity in this field in formularizing liturgical prayers and promoting church-song. Patristics scholars conclude that the Liturgy of Saint Basil "bears, unmistakably, the personal hand, pen, mind and heart of St. Basil the Great."

One liturgy that can be attributed to him is The Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great, a liturgy that is somewhat longer than the more commonly used Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. The difference between the two is primarily in the silent prayers said by the priest, and in the use of the hymn to the Theotokos, All of Creation, instead of the Axion Estin of Saint John Chrysostom's Liturgy. Chrysostom's Liturgy has come to replace Saint Basil's on most days in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic liturgical traditions. However, they still use Saint Basil's Liturgy on certain feast days: the first five Sundays of Great Lent; the Eves of Nativity and Theophany; and on Great and Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday; and the Feast of Saint Basil, January 1 (for those churches which follow the Julian Calendar, their January 1 falls on January 14 of the Gregorian Calendar).

The Eastern Churches preserve numerous other prayers attributed to Saint Basil, including three Prayers of Exorcism, several Morning and Evening Prayers, the "Prayer of the Hours" which is read at each service of the Daily Office, and the long and moving "Kneeling Prayers" which are recited by the priest at Vespers on Pentecost in the Byzantine Rite.

Influence on monasticism

Through his examples and teachings Basil effected a noteworthy moderation in the austere practices which were previously characteristic of monastic life. He is also credited with coordinating the duties of work and prayer to ensure a proper balance between the two.

Basil is remembered as one of the most influential figures in the development of Christian monasticism. Not only is Basil recognised as the father of Eastern monasticism; historians recognize that his legacy extends also to the Western church, largely due to his influence on Saint Benedict. Patristic scholars such as Meredith assert that Benedict himself recognized this when he wrote in the epilogue to his Rule that his monks, in addition to the Bible, should read "the confessions of the Fathers and their institutes and their lives and the Rule of our Holy Father, Basil. Basil's teachings on monasticism, as encoded in works such as his Small Asketikon, was transmitted to the west via Rufinus during the last 4th century.

As a result of his influence, numerous religious orders in Eastern Christianity bear his name. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Basilian Fathers, also known as The Congregation of St. Basil, an international order of priests and students studying for the priesthood, is named after him.

Commemorations of Basil

St Basil was given the title Doctor of the Church for his contributions to the debate initiated by the Arian controversy regarding the nature of the Trinity, and especially the question of the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Basil was responsible for defining the terms "ousia" (essence/substance) and "hypostasis" (person/reality), and for defining the classic formulation of three Persons in one Nature. His single greatest contribution was his insistence on the divinity and consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son.

In Greek tradition, his name was given to Father Christmas and he is supposed to visit children and give presents every January 1 (St Basil's Day) — unlike other traditions where Saint Nicholas arrives either on December 6 (Saint Nicholas Day) or on Christmas Eve (December 24). It is traditional on St Basil's Day to serve "Vasilopita," a rich bread baked with a coin inside, in commemoration of St. Basil's charity. It is customary on his feast day to visit the homes of friends and relatives, to sing carols, and to set an extra place at the table for Saint Basil. In Greek tradition and according to historical records, St Basil, of Greek heritage, is the original "Santa Claus," who being born into a wealthy family, gave away all his possessions to the poor and those in need, the underprivileged and children.

Saint Basil died on January 1, the day on which the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates his feast day together with that of the Feast of the Circumcision.

In the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, January 1 is the day marking the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and St Basil's feast is celebrated on the following day, January 2, together with Saint Gregory Nazianzen. Prior to the revision of the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1969, St Basil's feast was celebrated on June 14, the traditional date of his ordination as Bishop. Traditional Roman Catholics continue to celebrate the feast day of "St. Basil the Great, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor of the Church" as a Double feast or a feast of the III Class.

The Anglican Church celebrates St Basil's feast on January 2, whereas the Episcopal Church celebrates it on June 14. The Lutheran Church, of various synods, commemorates him on both dates, each time with Gregory Nazianzen and Gregory of Nyssa.

In the Byzantine Rite, January 30 is the Synaxis of the Three Holy Hierarchs, in honor of Saint Basil, Saint Gregory the Theologian and Saint John Chrysostom.

The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria celebrates the feast day of Saint Basil on the 6th of Tobi (6th of Terr on the Ethiopian calendar of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church). At present, this corresponds to January 14, January 15 during leap year.

There are numerous relics of Saint Basil throughout the world. One of the most important is his head, which is preserved to this day at the monastery of the Great Lavra on Mount Athos in Greece. The mythical sword Durandal is said to contain some of Basil's blood.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Saint_Basil_the_Great

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Saint Mesrop Mashtots (also Mesrob, Mashtotz, Armenian: Մեսրոպ Մաշտոց; 361 or 362 - February 17, 440) was an Armenian monk, theologian and linguist. He is best known for having invented the Armenian alphabet, which was a fundamental step in strengthening the Armenian Church, the government of the Armenian Kingdom, and ultimately the bond between the Armenian Kingdom and Armenians living in the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire. Armenian medieval sources, including his biographer Koryun, also state that Saint Mesrop invented the Georgian alphabet.

Life

Mesrop Mashtots was born in Taron and died in Vagharshapat. Koryun, his pupil and biographer, tells us that Mesrop received a liberal education, and was versed in the Greek and Persian languages. On account of his piety and learning Mesrop was appointed secretary to King Chosroes III. His duty was to write in Greek and Persian characters the decrees and edicts of the sovereign.

But Mesrop felt called to a more perfect life. Leaving the court for the service of God, he took holy orders, and withdrew to a monastery with a few chosen companions. There, says Koryun, he practiced great austerities, enduring hunger and thirst, cold and poverty. He lived on vegetables, wore a hair shirt, slept upon the ground, and often spent whole nights in prayer and the study of the Holy Scriptures. This life he continued for a few years, preparing himself for the great work to which Providence was soon to call him. Indeed both Church and State needed his services.

Armenia, so long the battle-ground of Romans and Persians, lost its independence in 387, and was divided between the Byzantine Empire and Persia, about four-fifths being given to the latter. Western Armenia was governed by Byzantine generals, while an Armenian king ruled, but only as feudatory, over Persian Armenia. The Church was naturally influenced by these violent political changes, although the loss of civil independence and the partition of the land could not destroy its organization or subdue its spirit. Persecution only quickened it into greater activity, and had the effect of bringing the clergy, the nobles, and the common people closer together. The principal events of this period are the invention of the Armenian alphabet, the revision of the liturgy, the creation of an ecclesiastical and national literature, and the readjustment of hierarchical relations. Three men are prominently associated with this stupendous work: Mesrop, Patriarch Isaac, and King Vramshapuh, who succeeded his brother Chosroes III in 394.

Mesrop, as noted, had spent some time in a monastery preparing for a missionary life. With the support of Prince Shampith, he preached the Gospel in the district of Golthn near the river Araxes, converting many heretics and pagans. However, he experienced great difficulty in instructing the people, for the Armenians had no alphabet of their own, but used the Greek, Persian, and Syriac scripts, none of which were well suited for representing the many complex sounds of their native tongue. Again, the Holy Scriptures and the liturgy, being written in Syriac, were, to a large extent, unintelligible to the faithful. Hence the constant need of translators and interpreters to explain the Word of God to the people.

Mesrop, desirous to remedy this state of things, resolved to invent a national alphabet, in which undertaking Isaac and King Vramshapuh promised to assist him. It is hard to determine exactly what part Mesrop had in the fixing of the new alphabet. According to his Armenian biographers, he consulted Daniel, a bishop of Mesopotamia, and Rufinus, a monk of Samosata, on the matter. With their help and that of Isaac and the king, he was able to give a definite form to the alphabet, which he probably adapted from the Greek. Others, like Lenormant, think it derived from the Avestan. Mesrop's alphabet consisted of thirty-six letters; two more (long O and F) were added in the twelfth century.

The invention of the alphabet (406) was the beginning of Armenian literature, and proved a powerful factor in the upbuilding of the national spirit. "The result of the work of Isaac and Mesrop", says St. Martin,[4] "was to separate for ever the Armenians from the other peoples of the East, to make of them a distinct nation, and to strengthen them in the Christian Faith by forbidding or rendering profane all the foreign alphabetic scripts which were employed for transcribing the books of the heathens and of the followers of Zoroaster. To Mesrop we owe the preservation of the language and literature of Armenia; but for his work, the people would have been absorbed by the Persians and Syrians, and would have disappeared like so many nations of the East".

Anxious that others should profit by his discovery, and encouraged by the patriarch and the king, Mesrop founded numerous schools in different parts of the country, in which the youth were taught the new alphabet. But his activity was not confined to Eastern Armenia. Provided with letters from Isaac he went to Constantinople and obtained from the Emperor Theodosius the Younger permission to preach and teach in his Armenian possessions. Having returned to Eastern Armenia to report on his missions to the patriarch, his first thought was to provide a religious literature for his countrymen. Having gathered around him numerous disciples, he sent some to Edessa, Constantinople, Athens, Antioch, Alexandria, and other centres of learning, to study the Greek language and bring back the masterpieces of Greek literature. The most famous of his pupils were John of Egheghiatz, Joseph of Baghin, Yeznik, Koryun, Moses of Chorene, and John Mandakuni.

The first monument of this Armenian literature is the version of the Holy Scriptures. Isaac, says Moses of Chorene, made a translation of the Bible from the Syriac text about 411. This work must have been considered imperfect, for soon afterwards John of Egheghiatz and Joseph of Baghin were sent to Edessa to translate the Scriptures. They journeyed as far as Constantinople, and brought back with them authentic copies of the Greek text. With the help of other copies obtained from Alexandria the Bible was translated again from the Greek according to the text of the Septuagint and Origen's Hexapla. This version, now in use in the Armenian Church, was completed about 434.

The decrees of the first three councils — Nicæa, Constantinople, and Ephesus — and the national liturgy (so far written in Syriac) were also translated into Armenian, the latter being revised on the liturgy of St. Basil, though retaining characteristics of its own. Many works of the Greek Fathers also passed into Armenian. The loss of the Greek originals has given some of these versions a special importance; thus, the second part of Eusebius's Chronicle, of which only a few fragments exist in the Greek, has been preserved entire in Armenian. In the midst of his literary labours Mesrop did not neglect the spiritual needs of the people. He revisited the districts he had evangelized in his earlier years, and, after the death of Isaac in 440, looked after the spiritual administration of the patriarchate. He survived his friend and master only six months. The Armenians read his name in the Canon of the Mass, and celebrate his memory on 19 February.

He is buried in Oshakan, a village 8 km southwest from Ashtarak.

Honors

Virtually every town in Armenia has a street named after Mashdots. In Yerevan, Mashdots street is one of the most important in the city center, which was previously known as Lenin street (prospect). There is a statue to him at the Matenadaran, one at the church he was buried at in Oshakan village, and one at the monument to the alphabet found on the skirts of Mt. Aragats north of Ohanavan Village. Stamps have been issued with his image by both the Soviet Union and by post-Soviet Armenia.

Saint Mesrop also produced a number of liturgical compositions. Some of the works attributed to him are: Megha Qez Ter, Voghormea indz Astvats, Ankanim Aadgi Qo, and Voghormea (Hymns of Repentance).

Music

Mashtots - 1988 Armenfilm 35 mm.film Director Levon Mkrtchyan (narration by Sos Sargisyan) Artashes Martirosyan (screenplay)

Trivia

The first sentence in Armenian written down by St. Mesrop after he invented the letters is said to be the opening line of Solomon’s Book of Proverbs:“ Ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ:
Čanačʿel zimastutʿiwn ew zxrat, imanal zbans hančaroy.

"To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding.”

—Book of Proverbs, 1:2.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Mesrop_Mashtots

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Saint Acacius was a priest at Sebaste, Armenia, during Diocletian's persecution. He was arrested and executed under the governor Maximus with seven women and Hirenarchus, who was so impressed with the devotion to their faith he became a Christian and suffered the same fate.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Acacius

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Saint Blaise (Armenian: Սուրբ Բարսեղ, Sourb Barsegh; Greek: Άγιος Βλάσιος, Agios Vlasios) was a physician, and bishop of Sebastea, Armenia (modern Sivas, Turkey). According to his Acta Sanctorum, he was martyred by being beaten, attacked with iron carding combs, and beheaded. He is known as San Biagio in Italy, and San Blas in Spain.

In iconography, Blaise is often shown with the instruments of his martyrdom, iron combs. He blessed throats and effected many miracles, according to his hagiography. The similarity of these instruments of torture to wool combs led to his adoption as the patron saint of wool combers in particular, and the wool trade in general. He may also be depicted with crossed candles. Such crossed candles are used for the blessing of throats on the feast day of Blaise, which falls on 3 February, the day after Candlemas on the Roman Catholic calendar of saints. Blaise is traditionally believed to intercede in cases of throat illnesses, especially for fish-bones stuck in the throat.

Indeed, the first reference we have to him is in manuscripts of the medical writings of Aëtius Amidenus, a court physician of the very end of the 5th or the beginning of the 6th century; there his aid is invoked in treating objects stuck in the throat. He cured animals and lived in a cave. Before being killed, he spoke to a wolf and told it to release a pig it was harming. The wolf did so. Saint Blaise was going to be starved but the owner of the pig secretly gave him food in order to survive. After a while, he was tortured because of what he believed in but did not give up faith. He died in the year 316.

Cult of Saint Blaise

His cult became widespread in Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. St. Blaise is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers or Auxiliary Saints and his legend is recounted in the fourteenth-century Legenda Aurea. Saint Blaise is the saint of the wild beast.

He is the patron of the Armenian Order of Saint Blaise. In Italy he is known as San Biagio. In Spanish-speaking countries, he is known as San Blas, and has lent his name to many places (see San Blas).

In Italy, Saint Blaise's remains rest at the Basilica over the town of Maratea, shipwrecked there during Leo III the Isaurian's iconoclastic persecutions.

Many German churches, including the former Abbey of St. Blasius in the Black Forest and the church of Balve are dedicated to Saint Blaise/Blasius.

In Great Britain

In Cornwall the village of St Blazey derives from his name, where the parish church is still dedicated to Saint Blaise. Indeed, the council of Oxford in 1222 forbade all work on his festival.

There is a church dedicated to Saint Blaise in the Devon hamlet of Haccombe, near Newton Abbot (Also one at Shanklin on the Isle of Wight and another at Milton near Abingdon in Oxfordshire.) this is one of the country's smallest churches. It is located next to Haccombe house which is the family home of the Carew family, descendants of the captain of the Mary Rose at the time of her sinking. One curious fact associated with this church is that its "vicar" goes by the title of "archpriest".

According to Brand's Popular Antiquities (1813), in areas of the English countryside it was the custom to light bonfires on St. Blaise's feast day, February 3 - evidently inspired by the sound of the word blaze.

There is a St. Blaise's Well In Bromley, Kent where the water was considered to have medicinal virtues.

St Blaise is also associated with Stretford in Lancashire. A Blessing of the Throats ceremony is held on February 3 at St Etheldreda's Church in London and in Balve, Germany.

As Vlaho and Vlasij in Slavic lands

Blaise is the patron saint of the city of Dubrovnik (where he is known as Sveti Vlaho) and formerly the protector of the independent Republic of Ragusa. At Dubrovnik his feast is celebrated yearly on 3 February, when relics of the saint, his head, a bit of bone from his throat, his right hand and his left, are paraded in reliquaries. The festivities begin the previous day, Candlemas, when white doves are released. Chroniclers of Dubrovnik such as Rastic and Ranjina attribute his veneration there to a vision in 971 to warn the inhabitants of an impending attack by the Venetians, whose galleys had dropped anchor in Gruz and near Lokrum, ostensibly to resupply their water but furtively to spy out the city's defenses. St. Blaise (Blasius) revealed their pernicious plan to Stojko, a canon of St. Stephen's Cathedral. The Senate summoned Stojko, who told them in detail how St. Blaise had appeared before him as an old man with a long beard and a bishop's mitre and staff. In this form the effigy of Blaise remained on Dubrovnik's state seal and coinage until the Napoleonic era.

In Russia, St. Vlasij is the patron saint of herds.

Blaise and Blasius of Jersey

In England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Blaise was adopted as mascot of woolworkers' pageants, particularly in Essex, Yorkshire, Wiltshire and Norwich. The popular enthusiasm for the saint is explained by the belief that Blaise had brought prosperity (as symbolised by the Woolsack) to England by teaching the English to comb wool. According to the tradition as recorded in printed broadsheets, Blaise came from Jersey. Jersey was certainly a centre of export of woollen goods (as witnessed by the name jersey for the woollen textile). However, this legend is probably the result of confusion with a different saint, Blasius of Caesarea (Caesarea being also the Latin name of Jersey).

The Acta of St. Blaise

The Acts of St. Blaise, written in Greek, do not appear to be authentic. The legend is given by E.-H. Vollet, in the Grande Encyclopédie as follows:

Blaise, who had studied philosophy in his youth, was a doctor in Sebaste in Armenia, the city of his birth, who exercised his art with miraculous ability, good-will, and piety. When the bishop of the city died, he was chosen to succeed him, with the acclamation of all the people. His holiness was manifest through many miracles: from all around, people came to him to find cures for their spirit and their body; even wild animals came in herds to receive his blessing. In 316, Agricola, the governor of Cappadocia and of Lesser Armenia, having arrived in Sebastia at the order of the emperor Licinius to kill the Christians, arrested the bishop. As he was being led to prison, a mother set her only son, choking to death of a fish-bone, at his feet, and the child was cured straight away. Regardless, the governor, unable to make Blaise renounce his faith, beat him with a stick, ripped his flesh with iron combs, and beheaded him.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Blaise

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Our father among the saints Photios I (Greek: Φώτιος, Phōtios; c. 810 – c. 893a[›]) also spelled Photius or Fotios and known by the Eastern Orthodox churches as St. Photios the Great, was Patriarch of Constantinople from 858 to 867 and from 877 to 886. Photios is widely regarded as the most powerful and influential Patriarch of Constantinople since John Chrysostom, and as the most important intellectual of his time, "the leading light of the ninth-century renaissance". He was a central figure in both the conversion of the Slavs to Christianity and the estrangement of the Eastern Orthodox churches from the Catholic Church. Photios is recognized as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox churches.

Photios was a well-educated man from a noble Constantinopolitan family. He intended to be a monk, but chose to be a scholar and statesman instead. In 858, Emperor Michael III deposed Ignatius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Photios, still a layman, was appointed in his place. Amid power struggles between the Pope and the Emperor, Ignatius was reinstated. Photios resumed the position when Ignatius died (877), by order of the Emperor. A new pope approved Photios's reinstatement. Catholics regard an Ecumenical Council anathematizing Photios as legitimate. Eastern Orthodox regard a second council, reversing the first, as legitimate. The contested Ecumenical Councils mark the end of unity represented by the first seven Ecumenical Councils.

Secular life

Most of the primary sources treating Photios' life are written by persons hostile to him. Modern scholars are thus cautious, when assessing the accuracy of the information these sources provide. Little is known of Photios' origin and early years. We do know that he was born into a notable family; his uncle Tarasios had been patriarch from 784–806 under both Irene and Nikephoros I. During the second Iconoclasm his family suffered persecution since his father, Sergios, was a prominent iconophile. Sergios's family returned to favor only after the restoration of the icons in 842. Certain scholars assert that Photios was, at least in part, of Armenian descent. Byzantine writers also report that Emperor Michael III once angrily called Photios "Khazar-faced", but whether this was a generic insult or a reference to his ethnicity is unclear.

Although Photios had an excellent education, we have no information about how he received this education. The famous library he possessed attests to his enormous erudition (theology, philosophy, grammar, law, the natural sciences, and medicine). Most scholars believe that he never taught at Magnaura or at any other university; Vasileios N. Tatakis asserts that, even while he was patriarch, Photios taught "young students passionately eager for knowledge" at his home, which "was a center of learning".

Photios says that, when he was young, he had an inclination for the monastic life, but instead he started a secular career. The way to public life was probably opened for him by (according to one account) the marriage of his brother Sergios to Irene, a sister of the Empress Theodora, who upon the death of her husband Theophilos in 842, had assumed the regency of the empire. Photios became a captain of the guard (prōtospatharios) and subsequently chief imperial secretary (protasēkrētis). At an uncertain date, Photios participated in an embassy to the Abbasids of Baghdad.

Patriarch of Constantinople

Photios' ecclesiastical career took off spectacularly after Caesar Bardas and his nephew, the youthful Emperor Michael, put an end to the administration of the regent Theodora and the logothete of the drome Theoktistos in 856. In 858 Bardas found himself opposed by the then Patriarch Ignatios, who refused to admit him into Hagia Sophia, since it was believed that he was having an affair with his widowed daughter-in-law. In response, Bardas and Michael engineered Ignatios's deposition and confinement on the charge of treason, thus leaving the patriarchal throne empty. The throne was soon filled with a Bardas's kinsman, Photios himself; he was tonsured on December 20, 858, and on the four following days he was successively ordained lector, sub-deacon, deacon and priest. He was consecrated as Patriarch of Constantinople on Christmas.

The deposition of Ignatios and the sudden promotion of Photios caused scandal and ecclesiastical division on an oecumenical scale as the Pope and the rest of the western bishops took up the cause of Ignatios. The latter's deposition without a formal ecclesiastical trial meant that Photios's election was uncanonical, and eventually Pope Nicholas I, as senior patriarch, sought to involve himself in determining the legitimacy of the succession. His legates were dispatched to Constantinople with instructions to investigate, but finding Photios well ensconced, they acquiesced in the confirmation of his election at a synod in 861. On their return to Rome, they discovered that this was not at all what Nicholas had intended, and in 863 at a synod in Rome the pope deposed Photios, and reappointed Ignatius as the rightful patriarch. Four years later, Photios was to respond on his own part, excommunicating the pope on grounds of heresy—over the question of the double procession of the Holy Spirit.[12] The situation was additionally complicated by the question of papal authority over the entire Church and by disputed jurisdiction over newly-converted Bulgaria. As Photius had been targeted by Pope Nicholas to be removed from his position and to be subjected to vitriol attacks with charges of ambition for power.

This state of affairs changed with the murder of Photios' patron Bardas in 866 and of the emperor Michael in 867, by his colleague Basil the Macedonian, who now usurped the throne. Photios was deposed as patriarch, not so much because he was a protegé of Bardas and Michael, but because Basil I was seeking an alliance with the Pope and the western emperor. Photios was removed from his office and banished about the end of September 867, and Ignatios was reinstated on November 23. Photios was condemned by the Council of 869–870. During his second patriarchate, Ignatios followed a policy not very different from that of Photios.

Not long after his condemnation, Photios had reingratiated himself with Basil, and became tutor to the emperor's children. From surviving letters of Photios written during his exile at the Skepi monastery it appears that the ex-patriarch brought pressure to bear on the emperor to restore him. Ignatios's biographer argues that Photios forged a document relating to the genealogy and rule of Basil's family, and had it placed in the imperial library where a friend of his was librarian. According to this documents, the emperor's ancestors were not mere peasants as everyone believed but descendants of the Arsacid Dynasty of Armenia. True or not this story does reveal Basil's dependence on Photios for literary and ideological matters. Following Photios's recall, Ignatios and the ex-patriarch met, and publicly expressed their reconciliation. When Ignatios died on October 23, 877, it was a matter of course that his old opponent replaced him on the patriarchal throne three days later. Shaun Tougher asserts that from this point on Basil no longer simply depended on Photios, but in fact he was dominated by him.

Photios now obtained the formal recognition of the Christian world in a council convened at Constantinople in November 879. The legates of Pope John VIII attended, prepared to acknowledge Photios as legitimate patriarch, a concession for which the pope was much censured by Latin opinion. The patriarch stood firm on the main points contested between the Eastern and Western Churches, the demanded apology to the Pope, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction over Bulgaria, and the introduction of the filioque clause into the creed. Eventually Photios refused to apologize or accept the filioque, and the papal legates made do with his return of Bulgaria to Rome. This concession, however, was purely nominal, as Bulgaria's return to the Byzantine rite in 870 had already secured for it an autocephalous church. Without the consent of Boris I of Bulgaria, the papacy was unable to enforce its claims.

During the altercations between Basil I and his heir Leo VI, Photios took the side of the emperor. In 883 Basil accused Leo of conspiracy and confined the prince to the palace; he would have even blinded him had he not been dissuaded by Photios and Stylianos Zaoutzes, the father of Zoe Zaoutzaina, Leo's mistress. In 886 Basil discovered and punished a conspiracy by the domestic of the Hikanatoi John Kourkouas and many other officials. In this conspiracy Leo was not implicated, but Photios was possibly one of the conspirators against Basil's authority.

Basil died in 886 injured while hunting, according to the official story. Warren T. Treadgold believes that this time the evidence points to a plot on behalf of Leo, who became emperor, and dismissed Photios, although the latter had been his tutor. He was replaced by the emperor's brother Stephen, and sent into exile to the monastery of Bordi in Armenia. It is confirmed from letters to and from Pope Stephen that Leo extracted a resignation from Photios. In 887 Leo was put on trial for treason, but no conviction against the ex-patriarch had been secured; the main witness, Theodore Santabarenos, refused to testify that Photios was behind Leo's removal from power in 883, and after the trial faced the emperor's wrath. As a persona non grata Photios probably returned to his enforced monastic retirement. Yet it appears that he did not remain reviled for the remainder of his life.

Photios continued his career as a writer in the reign of Leo who probably rehabilitated his reputation within the next few years; in his Epitaphios on his brothers, a text probably written in 888, the emperor presents Photios favorably, portraying him as the legitimate archbishop, and the instrument of ultimate unity, an image that jars with his attitude to the patriarch in 886–887. Confirmation that Photios was rehabilitated comes upon his death: according to some chronicles his body was permitted to be buried in Constantinople. In addition, according to the anti-Photian biographer of Ignatius, partisans of the ex-patriarch after his death endeavored to claim for him the "honor of sainthood". Further, a leading member of Leo's court, Leo Choirospaktes, wrote poems commemorating the memory of several prominent contemporary figures, such as Leo the Mathematician and the Patriarch Stephen, and he also wrote one on Photios. Shaun Tougher notes, however, that "yet Photios's passing does seem rather muted for a great figure of Byzantine history [...] Leo [...] certainly did not allow him back into the sphere of politics, and it is surely his absence from this arena that accounts for his quiet passing."

For the Eastern Orthodox, Photios was long the standard-bearer of their church in its disagreements with the pope of Rome; to Catholics, he was a proud and ambitious schismatic: the relevant work of scholars over the past generation has somewhat modified partisan judgments. All agree on the virtue of his personal life and his remarkable talents, even genius, and the wide range of his intellectual aptitudes. Pope Nicholas himself referred to his "great virtues and universal knowledge." It may be noted, however, that some anti-papal writings attributed to Photios were apparently composed by other writers about the time of the East-West Schism of 1054 and attributed to Photios as the champion of the independence of the Eastern Church.

The Eastern Orthodox Church venerates Photios as a saint; he is also included in the liturgical calendar of Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine Rite, though not in the calendars of other Eastern Catholic Churches. His feast day is February 6.

Assessments

Photios is one of the most famous figures not only of the ninth-century Byzantium but of the entire history of the Byzantine Empire. One of the most learned men of his age, he has earned his fame due to his part in ecclesiastical conflicts, and also for his intellect and literary works Analyzing his intellectual work, Tatakis regards Photios as "mind turned more to practice than to theory". He believes that, thanks to Photios, humanism was added to Orthodoxy as a basic element of the national consciousness of the Byzantines. Tatakis also argues that, having understood this national consciousness, Photios emerged as a defender of the Greek nation and its spiritual independence in his debates with the Western Church. Adrian Fortescue regards him as "the most wonderful man of all the Middle Ages", and stresses that "had not given his name to the great schism, he would always be remembered as the greatest scholar of his time".

Writings

The most important of the works of Photios is his renowned Bibliotheca or Myriobiblon, a collection of extracts and abridgments of 280 volumes of classical authors (usually cited as Codices), the originals of which are now to a great extent lost. The work is especially rich in extracts from historical writers.

There has been discussions on whether the Bibliotheca was in fact compiled in Baghdad at the time of Photius' embassy to the Abbasid court in Samarra in June 845, since many of the mentioned works - the majority by secular authors - seems to have been virtually nonexistent in both contemporary and later Byzantium. The Abbasids showed great interest in classical Greek works and Photius might have studied them during his years in exile in Baghdad.

To Photios we are indebted for almost all we possess of Ctesias, Memnon of Heraclea, Conon, the lost books of Diodorus Siculus, and the lost writings of Arrian. Theology and ecclesiastical history are also very fully represented, but poetry and ancient philosophy are almost entirely ignored. It seems that he did not think it necessary to deal with those authors with whom every well-educated man would naturally be familiar. The literary criticisms, generally distinguished by keen and independent judgment, and the excerpts vary considerably in length. The numerous biographical notes are probably taken from the work of Hesychius of Miletus.

The Lexicon, published later than the Bibliotheca, was probably in the main the work of some of his pupils. It was intended as a book of reference to facilitate the reading of old classical and sacred authors, whose language and vocabulary were out of date. The only manuscript of the Lexicon is the Codex Galeanus, which passed into the library of Trinity College, Cambridge.

His most important theological work is the Amphilochia, a collection of some 300 questions and answers on difficult points in Scripture, addressed to Amphilochius, archbishop of Cyzicus. Other similar works are his treatise in four books against the Manichaeans and Paulicians, and his controversy with the Latins on the Procession of the Holy Spirit. Photios also addressed a long letter of theological advice to the newly-converted Boris I of Bulgaria. Numerous other Epistles also survive.

The chief contemporary authority for the life of Photios is his bitter enemy, Niketas David Paphlagon, the biographer of his rival Ignatios.

Hymns

Troparion (Tone 4)
Follower of the Apostles' way
And teacher of mankind:
Intercede, O Photius, with the Lord of all,
To grant peace to the world
And to our souls great mercy!


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photios_I_of_Constantinople

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Our fathers among the saints Cyril and Methodius were brothers who brought Orthodoxy to the Slavic peoples of central Europe in the ninth century. In preparation for their mission to the Slavs they devised the Glagolitic alphabet to translate the Holy Scriptures and other Christian writings into what is now called Old Church Slavonic. Glagolitic later developed into the Cyrillic alphabet which is now used in a number of Slavic languages. The two brothers have been recognized as saints, equals to the apostles, for their missionary work. Many details of their lives have been obscured by the legends that have arisen about them.

Lives

Constantine (later Cyril) and Michael (later Methodius) were born early in the 9th century in Thessalonika into a senatorial family. The years of their birth are uncertain. Constantine, the older, may have been born in 826, while Methodius is believed to have been born in 827. Their father, Leon, was Drungarios of the Byzantine Roman Thema of Thessalonika, which position included the Slavs of Macedonia. Their mother is believed to have been Slavic. Being raised in an area with both Greek and Slavic speakers endowed the brothers with a good knowledge of the two languages. As befitting their family's position, they were well educated.

At a young age the brothers lost their father and they were raised under the protection of their uncle Theoctistos, who was a powerful official in the Byzantine government, responsible for postal services and diplomatic relations of the empire. In 843, he invited Constantine to Constantinople to continue his studies at the university there. He was ordained a deacon in Constantinopole. As Constantine was knowledgeable in theology and had a good command of the Arabic and Hebrew languages, his first state mission to the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mutawakkil was to discuss the principle of the Holy Trinity with Arab theologians and thus improve the Empire's diplomatic relations with the Abbasid Caliphate.

Theoctistos also arranged for Michael a position as an official in the Slavic administration of the empire. He soon went to the monastery at Mount Olympus where he was tonsured with the name Methodius.

In 860, Emperor Michael III and Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, sent the brothers to the Khagan of the Khazars on a missionary expedition in an attempt to forestall the Khagan from embracing Judaism. The mission was unsuccessful as the Khagan chose Judaism for his people, but many people embraced Christianity. Upon their return, Constantine was appointed professor of philosophy in the university.

Then in 862 the two brothers were invited by Prince Rastislav of Great Moravia to preach Christianity in his domains. This request was a fallout of the efforts of the Slavic princes in central Europe attempting to maintain their independence from their Germanic neighbors. Rastislav was looking for Christian missionaries to replace those from the Germans. In the end this mission would continue for the rest of the brothers' lives, as the brothers were dedicated to the idea that Christianity should be presented to the people in their native languages as was the practice in the East. To accomplish their work they developed the Glagolitic alphabet, the precursor of the Cyrillic alphabet, and began the translation of the Scriptures and Christian literature into the Slavic language.

The German clergy had used their liturgical language, Latin, as a measure to maintain their influence in Moravia and therefore were unhappy with the work of Constantine and Methodius, and they used this difference to attack the brothers. After laboring for about four years, the brothers were called by Nicholas I to appear in Rome to defend their work. The area in which they worked was within the jurisdiction of Rome. However, before their arrival, in 869 Nicholas died and was succeeded by Adrian II. After Adrian was convinced of the orthodoxy of the brothers, he approved their use of Slavonic in their church services and commended their work. He then consecrated Methodius bishop. Constantine took monastic vows in a Greek monastery in Rome. He was given the name Cyril, the name by which he is now commonly known. Cyril was not to return to Moravia as he died shortly thereafter. The date of Cyril's death is uncertain, but appears to have been shortly after his consecration, both perhaps in February 869, with his death most probably on February 14.

Adrian II reestablished the old diocese of Panonia, as the first Slavonic diocese of Moravia and Pannonia, independent of the Germans, at the request of the Slavic princes Rastislav, Svatopluk, and Kocel. Here Methodius was appointed to the new diocese as archbishop. However, on returning to Moravia in 870, King Louis and the German bishops summoned Methodius to a synod at Radisbon, where they deposed him and sent him to prison. After the Germans suffered military defeats in Moravia, John VIII freed him three years later and restored Methodius as Archbishop of Moravia. Soon his orthodoxy was again under question by the Germans, particularly over the use of Slavonic. Once again John VIII sanctioned the use of Slavonic in the liturgy but with the stipulation that the Gospel must first be read in Latin before the reading in Slavonic. Also, Methodius' accuser, Wiching, was named a vicar bishop to Methodius, and from this position he continued to oppose him. With his health damaged during his long struggle with his opponents, Methodius died on April 6, 885, after having recommended as his successor his disciple, the Moravian Slav, Gorazd. The brothers are remembered on May 11.

Works

The brothers Cyril and Methodius are most renowned for the development of the Glagolitic alphabet that was used to bring literacy and Christian literature to the Slavs in their own language. With further development by their disciples it became the Cyrillic alphabet, which is now used by many of the Slavic peoples. However, the work of the brothers in translating the Holy Scriptures, the services, Nomocanon, and other Christian literature into Slavonic has been the greatest example of Orthodox missionaries bringing Christianity to the peoples of the world.

While events only a few decades after the death of Methodius seemed to destroy their work in Moravia, their work became the foundation of Slavic civilization in eastern and south-eastern Europe and provided the language footings for the missionary efforts in the coming centuries. It is this continuation of the practice of the Holy Apostles of speaking of Christianity in the languages of all the nations that Ss Cyril and Methodius are remembered as equal to the apostles. It is to this heritage that the revived Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands (Moravia) look as their origins.

Hymns

Troparion (Tone 4)
O Cyril and Methodius, inspired by God,
You became equal to the Apostles by your life.
Since you were teachers of the Slavs,
Intercede with the Master of all
That He may strengthen all Orthodox peoples in the True Faith,
And that He may grant peace to the world
And great mercy to our souls.

Kontakion - Tone 3
Let us praise the two priests of God who enlightened us,
And poured upon us the fount of the knowledge of God by translating the Holy Scripture.
O Cyril and Methodius, as abundant learning has been drawn from this work,
We exalt you who now stand before the Most High,
Interceding with fervor for the salvation of our souls.


Source: http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/Cyril_and_Methodius

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Saints Cyrion and Candidus (d. 320 AD) are Armenian saints. They and the Forty Armenian Martyrs are venerated on March 10.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrion_and_Candidus

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Saint Chrysolius (French: Chrysole, Chryseuil) the Armenian is the patron saint of Comines, in Belgium; his relics were venerated in the basilica of St Donatian, Bruges. According to tradition, he was a native of Armenia who fled to Rome during the persecution of Christians by Diocletian, was received by Pope Marcellus I and sent to northeast Gaul, where he evangelized at Verlengehem. According to his legend, he then became a spiritual student of Saint Denis and was sent with Saint Piatus to evangelize the area of Cambrai and Tournai. Chrysolius then became a bishop and was subsequently stopped by Roman soldiers and condemned to be decapitated; the top of his skull was sliced off. According to his legend, the piece of his skull broke into three smaller pieces, and where each piece fell, a miraculous spring gushed out. Chrysolius, after recovering the top of his cranium, walked to Comines and died there, after crossing the ford at the Deûle River that now bears his name.

Veneration

The waters of the springs where pieces of his head are said to have fallen were believed to cure ailments of the throat and eyes.

The rosette in the façade of the church of Saint-Vaast at Wambrechies depicts Chrysolius, along with saints Hubert, Benedict, and Bernard.

The church of Saint-Chrysole was rebuilt in neo-Byzantine style between 1922-1929, after its predecessor was destroyed in World War I.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysolius

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nformation concerning Saint Expeditus can be found only in martyrologies, so precise details about his existence cannot be obtained.
From the Geronimian Martyrology: 18 April: "Romae Eleutheri episcopi et Anthiae matris eius et Parthenii, Caloceri, Fabii, Proculi, Apollonii, Fortunati, Crispini, EXPEDITI, Mappalici, Victorini, Gagi." 19 April: "In Arminia Militana civitate Hermogeni, Gagi, EXPEDITI, Aristonici, Rufi, Galatae una die coronatorum."
St. Expeditus is commemorated in the martyrology on April 18 and on April 19, but the first date seems to be a mistake (mistakes were very common in martyrologies). The only facts that seem to be certain concern the day (19 April) and the place of his death (Melitene - nowadays Malatya, Turkey); nothing can be said about the circumstances and the time of his martyrdom (someone states that he died under Diocletian, but this hypothesis is not demonstrated).
There are many theories which try to deny the existence of St.Expeditus. According to Delehaye, the word Expeditus is a wrong reading of Elpidius; someone has stated that Expeditus is only an adjective referred to a person and not a name of person; others have stated that this adjective was referred to St.Minas. All these theories are not proved, especially the ones which try to identify St.Expeditus with another saint.
There are also many versions of another legend, according to which the name Expeditus is recent and derives from the writing "Spedito" on a box containing relics of an unknown saint.
The name Expeditus has certainly caused puns[citation needed], so he has become the saint of rapidity. At the beginning, he was invoked for urgent causes; afterwards, he has become the patron of dealers, sailors, students, examinees; he is also prayed for the success in lawsuits.
He is portrayed like a soldier (the Latin word "expeditus" was also the name of a category of soldiers) and, under his foot, has a crow with the writing "cras" ("tomorrow"). In Germanic countries, the saint indicates a clock, whereas in the rest of the world (especially in recent representations) he has a cross with the writing "hodie" ("today") in his hand.
The veneration of this saint, contrary to what is usually said, is not quite recent (the cult wasn't born in Germany and Sicily in the 17th century): it was already developed in Turin in the Middle Ages. At the beginning of the 20th century, some bishops didn't succeed in abolishing the cult of St.Expeditus.

Catholic veneration

Legends

It is widely questioned whether or not Expeditus actually existed. According to a legend, Saint Expeditus was a Roman centurion in Armenia who became a Christian and was beheaded during the Diocletian Persecution in 303. The most popular legend surrounding the saint says that the day when he decided to become a Christian, the Devil took the form of a crow (a snake in some versions of said legend) and told him to defer his conversion until the next day, but Expeditus stomped on the bird and killed it, declaring, "I'll be a Christian today!"
Many stories commonly circulated about the saint's origin say the cultus of Expeditus began when a package marked expedite arrived with unidentified relics or statues. The recipients assumed that the statuary or relics belonged to a Saint Expeditus, and so veneration began.

One of these stories takes place in 1781, when a case containing the relics of a saint who was formerly buried in the Denfert-Rochereau catacombs of Paris arrived at a convent in the city. The senders had written expedite on the case, to ensure fast delivery of the remains. The nuns assumed that "Expedite" was the name of a martyr, prayed for his intercession, and when their prayers were answered, veneration spread rapidly through France and on to other Catholic countries. Another version of the story takes place in New Orleans. The story says that the chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe received a large shipment of assorted saint statues, one case of which did not have an identifying label. However, the crate did say Expedite (Expédit in French), so the residents assumed that must be the saint's name. In New Orleans, St. Expédit still figures prominently in the local creole folklore and is revered through amulets, candles and intercession prayers.

However, the legitimacy of these stories is easily disproved, since Expeditus appears in martyrologies in Italy before 1781. There is also a tradition in the past that Saint Expeditus be called upon to help settle overly long legal cases. His acta have not been reviewed and demoted by the Roman Catholic Church, and his feast of April 19 is not widely celebrated.

Iconographical depiction

Expeditus' typical depiction in artwork is as a young Roman centurion. The soldier is squashing a crow beneath his right foot and bearing a clock in early images. Later depictions have Expeditus holding a cross, inscribed with the Latin word hodie ("today"). A banderole with the word cras ("tomorrow" in Latin) emerges from the crow's mouth. Although the English language tends to mimic a crow's cry as "caw caw," Italian renders it as "cra cra.", and the ancient Romans rendered it as "cras cras".

Réunion Island

Saint Expédit has a significant folk following on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean. Stories about the origin of his veneration there follow the typical formula: a mysterious parcel marked with expedit arrived as an aid to instill pious virtues in the people. However, another version of the story maintains that Expédit acquired his name through his expeditious help in placing vengeful curses. Decapitated statues of the saint are often found, the defacement inflicted in anger for a request not carried out or in order to break an existing curse.

Road-side altars dedicated to Saint Expédit can be as small as a box containing a small statue of the saint, or as large as a hut, containing multiple statues, candles, and flowers. In all cases, these altars are painted a bright red. Also common are ex-votos thanking Saint Expédit for wishes granted and favors received.

In Réunion, the cult of Saint Expédit takes the form of a syncretic cult, mixing Roman Catholicism with other beliefs from Madagascar or India. Saint Expédit is a popular saint, revered by Reunionnais regardless of age or religion. It is difficult to say how many people visit the island's ubiquitous altars, since the worship of Saint Expédit is considered taboo - people do not generally visit the altars in the open. Even so, the altars are widespread on the island and obviously well-tended.

Chile

Himnos mil al glorioso Expedito,
que su sangre en la Armenia vertió,
cuyo nombre en el cielo fue escrito,
y de mártir el laurel alcanzó.
—Himno a San Expedito

A thousand hymns to glorious Expeditus,
Who shed his blood in Armenia,
Whose name was written in the sky,
And gained the laurel of martyrdom.
—Hymn to Saint Expeditus

Veneration in Chile is said to have begun when a devotee of Expeditus (or locally, San Expedito) brought an image of him to Viña del Mar, one of the most popular beach cities of Chile. She then petitioned some local priests for help to have a small church built for him. It is said that the idea was initially rejected by the local authorities, but the priests and the devout lady prayed to Expeditus, and in less than nine days they had the approval. Since then, the cult of San Expedito has become increasingly popular in Chile; from rich to poor, people pray novenas to him, and the shrine in the Reñaca sector of Viña is a rather popular pilgrimage site, especially during summer.

Voodoo and Hoodoo

In Haitian Vodou the image of St Expedite is used to represent Baron LaKwa a spirit associated with death, cemeteries, children and sex. In New Orleans Voodoo the saint often represents Baron Samedi, the spirit of death.
The saint is also often invoked in the African-American magical tradition of Hoodoo, where it is customary to make an offering to him of a glass of water, a bunch of flowers and a pound cake. He is believed to grant any request within his power on the provision that the petitioner recommends his invocation to others, thereby spreading his cult. In this tradition his image is used in gambling charms and rituals believed to bring down curses on others.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expeditus

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Venerable John the Hermit began his ascetic life at a young age according to records. He was born in Armenia to an Orthodox Christian mother in the fourth century. John was the spiritual son of St. Pharmutius who discipled him for a time. Eventually John chose to enter into a greater solitude, taking abode in the depths of a dry well where Pharmutius would bring him bread daily; bread provided by an angel according to sacred tradition.
Venerable John lived the life of hermit with great ascetic fervor for ten years and then is held to have gone to the Lord.
John the Hermit is commemorated 29 March in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine rite.

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Abiathar and Sidonia were a legendary Jewish priest of Mtzkheta and his daughter. Abiathar is said to have been the first person Saint Nino converted to Christianity. An apocryphal account of the life and miracles of Saint Nino is attributed to them. They are regarded as saints in the church in Georgia, and are mentioned in Bessarion's The Saints of Georgia and the Menologium der Orthodox-Katholischen Kirche des Morgenlandes. Their feast day is celebrated on October 1 in Georgia.


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Abibus of Nekressi (fl. 6th century) was one of the thirteen Syrian apostles of Georgia and the bishop of Nekressi. He was stoned to death by Zoroastrian Persians at Rekhi. His feast day had been kept on November 12 through 1700, but changed to November 27 then. His relics are kept at Mzkheta.


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Saint Abo of Tiflis, Abo Tbileli, or Habo Tbileli (Abo/Habo of Tbilisi; in Georgian: აბო თბილელი, ჰაბო ტფილელი) (ca. 756-January 6, 786) is a Christian martyr and the Patron Saint of the city of Tbilisi, Georgia.

Arab by descent, he grew up Muslim in Baghdad. At the age of seventeen or eighteen, he found himself in Tbilisi, having followed Georgian Prince Nerses, the ruler of Kartli. Nerses, having been slandered before the Caliph, spent three years in confinement; freed by a new Caliph, he took Abo with him.

Abo's profession in Baghdad was that of a perfumer, in which he excelled as maker of fine perfumes and ointments, the art evidently implying knowledge of chemistry. He was well educated having gained good mastery of "all the Muslim lore", which must have included both religious and philosophic texts. On his arrival to the Eastern Georgia (Kartli) he became convinced of Christianity, which happened not immediately, but only after a committed soul-searching that involved heated quarrels even with Christian priests and bishops over the fine religious matters; those quarrels only consolidated him in his conviction that the truth was in Christianity. However, initially Abo was afraid to convert openly as Georgia was under Arab rule; he only abandoned Muslim habit of five-times prayers per-day and started praying in a Christian manner. For political reasons, his prince had to seek shelter in Khazaria north of the Caspian Sea, an area free of Muslim control; Abo accompanied him, and was baptized there. From Khazaria Nerses moved to Abkhazia, that was also free from the Arab dominion, taking Abo with him. There in Abkhazia Abo zealously followed the Christian life of prayers and ascetic struggles, preparing himself for the future mission. The prince Nerses and his party returned to Tbilisi in 782, and Abo, notwithstanding the warning that it was not safe for him to go to Tbilisi, followed him. For about three years Abo openly confessed his Christian faith in Tbilisi streets - both fortifying by his example the staggering Christians who suffered under the Arab rule and trying to convert to Christianity his Arab compatriots. Series of threats and warnings failed to mitigate his zeal. In 786 he was denounced as a Christian to the Arab officials in Tbilisi, arrested and tried for being a renegade from Islam. He confessed his faith at trial, was imprisoned, and martyred on January 6, 786. On his way to the execution he thanked God for having transformed his earthly profession of a perfumer to a heavenly calling of following the "sweet fragrance of Christ's commandments".

Ioane Sabanisdze, Georgian religious writer and St. Abo's contemporary, compiled the martyr's life in his hagiographic novel "The Martyrdom of Saint Abo".



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abo_of_Tiflis

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Tbeli Abuserisdze (Georgian: ტბელი აბუსერისძე) (c. 1190 – 1240) was a medieval Georgian scholar and religious writer. A son of Ivane Abuserisdze, eristavt-eristavi ("archduke") of Khikhata (Upper Adjara, southwestern Georgia), he is principally known for his original treatise, The Complete Timekeeper, which contains information related to calendars, descriptions of different systems for maintaining chronology, dates of ecclesiastic holidays, tables of moonrise and moonset, information on special cycles, etc. Abuserisdze's work is purely theoretical, based largely upon his own mathematical investigations rather than on direct astronomical observations. Beyond this treatise, he authored The Miracles of Saint George... and the Testament of the Author, a work of religious as well as of historical character, in which he relates, among other things, the history of the Abuserisdze family. He has been canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tbeli_Abuserisdze

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Archil (Georgian: არჩილი) was a Christian prince of the eastern Georgian region of Kakheti who flourished in the eighth century and was executed by the Arabs for having refused to convert to Islam. Historians are divided as to the years of his activity and death, but Professor Cyril Toumanoff of Georgetown University has relatively reliably established 736 to 786 as the period of his princely rule.

Archil's biography is related in the medieval corpus of Georgian chronicles known as The Life of Kartli. One of its parts, the c. 800 history by Pseudo-Juansher, terminates with a brief account of Archil's tenure as prince, while another one – The Martyrdom of Archil, a brief text of uncertain age (between early 9th and late 11th centuries) inserted just after Ps.-Juansher’s chronicle – narrowly focuses on Archil's martyrdom.

Archil was a scion of the former royal dynasty of Iberia (Kartli) – the Chosroids – and a son of Prince Step’anoz II (r. 685-736). His rule coincided with the Arab conquests in Caucasia. The 736-7 expedition by Marwan b. Muhammad forced Archil and his brother Mihr to flee to the west through Egrisi into Abasgia where they joined the local dynast Leon I in the defense of Anacopia against the invading Arabs. Returning to Kakheti, Archil launched a program of reconstruction and Christianization of his mountainous pagan subjects. The Georgian texts also relate the rise of the Georgian Bagratids, a future royal dynasty, during the time of Archil.

Around 786, eastern Georgia was subjected to another Arab invasion, this time led by Khuzayma b. Khazim, who had been reconfirmed as viceroy of Arab-controlled Caucasia (Armīniya) by the caliph al-Hadi (r. 785-786). Archil, in an untenable situation, pleaded for peace. Khuzayma b. Khazim promised Archil gifts in return for his acceptance of Islam, but the prince refused and was condemned to prison. Then the viceroy was informed of Archil being a descendant of the Chosroid kings who allegedly knew the location of a treasure hidden by the Byzantine emperor Heraclius while evacuating Caucasia in the 620s. Ibn Khazim intensified his effort to win Archil over to Islam and promised to make him "general" and "king", but when realized that his efforts were in vain, he had the prince beheaded.

Archil was survived by two sons – Juansher and Iovane (John) – and four daughters: Guarandukht, Mariam, Mirandukht, and Shushan. Upon Archil’s death, Iovane evacuated to Egrisi while Juansher remained in Kakheti.

Archil has been canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church which commemorates him on June 21 (N.S. July 4).



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archil_of_Kakheti

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Arsen Iqaltoeli or Arsen of Iqalto (Georgian: არსენ იყალთოელი) (died c. 1127) was a Georgian churchman and religious author with noticeable role in the ecclesiastic life of Georgia in the reign of David IV "the Builder" (r. 1089—1125) with whom he collaborated in rearing the Georgian monastic academes. His formidable efforts at translating and compiling major doctrinal and polemical work from Greek gave a novel impetus to the Georgian patristic and philosophical literature. Arsen is canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church, which commemorates him on February 6.

Life

Arsen is apparently the same person as Arsen Vachesdze mentioned in several manuscripts. Furthermore, some Georgian scholars identify him with Arsen Beri (Arsenius "the Monk"; fl. 1100), the author of the metaphrastic revision of The Life of Saint Nino. According to historic tradition Arsen was born in Iqalto in the province of Kakheti, east of Tbilisi, Georgia's modern capital. He was educated in Constantinople at the Mangana academy, the centre of Byzantine philosophical activity and classical learning, and served as a monk on the Black Mountain near Antioch under the tutelage of Ephraim the Minor. Around 1114 Arsen, along with several other Georgian repatriate monks, responded to King David IV's call to join the reconstructed Georgian church. Along with John of Petrizos, Arsen brought the Byzantine philosophical tradition to the newly founded Georgian academe at Gelati and helped found a similar academy at Iqalto. Finally he established himself at the Shio-Mgvime monastery in Kakheti.

Arsen Iqaltoeli probably played a key role in the debate between Armenian and Georgian churchmen organized by David IV in a futile attempt to reconcile doctrinal differences between the two churches in 1123. He outlived David and composed the king's epitaph.

Most of Arsen's work both abroad and in Georgia consists of translations of major doctrinal and polemical work, which he compiled a his massive Dogmatikon, "a book of teachings", influenced by Aristotelianism. The most complete surviving mansucript of this work (S-1463) dates to the 12th-13th century and includes sixteen key authors, such as Anastasius Sinaita, John of Damascus, Theodore Abucara, Michael Psellos, Cyril of Alexandria, Nikitas Stithatos, Pope Leo the Great and others.




Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arsen_Iqaltoeli

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Ashot I the Great (Georgian: აშოტ I დიდი) (died 826/830) was a presiding prince of Iberia (modern Georgia), first of the Bagratid family to have attained to this office c. 813. From his base in Tao-Klarjeti, he fought to enlarge the Bagratid territories and sought the Byzantine protectorate against the Arab encroachment until being murdered c. 830. Ashot is also known as Ashot I Curopalates for the Byzantine title he wore. A patron of Christian culture and a friend of the church, he has been canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Biography

Ashot was the son of the Iberian nobleman Adarnase who had founded the Bagratid hereditary fiefdom in Tao-Klarjeti (now northeast Turkey) and bequeathed to his son extensive possessions acquired upon the extinction of his Guaramid and Chosroid cousins. Ashot initially failed to gain a foothold in central Iberia (Shida Kartli), his efforts being dashed by the Arab control of Tiflis. Ashot established himself in his patrimonial duchy of Klarjeti, where he restored the castle of Artanuji said to have been built by the Iberian king Vakhtang I Gorgasali in the 5th century, and received the Byzantine protection, being recognized as the presiding prince and curopalates of Iberia. To revive the country devastated by the Arabs and cholera epidemics, he patronized the local monastic communities established by Grigol Khandzteli, and encouraged the settlement of the Georgians in the region. As a result, the political and religious center of Iberia was effectively transferred from central Iberia to the south-west, in Tao-Klarjeti.

From his base in Tao-Klarjeti, Ashot fought to recover more Georgian lands from the Arab hold and, though not always successful, succeeded in taking much of the adjoining lands from Tao in the southwest to Shida Kartli in the northeast, including Kola, Artani, Javakheti, Samtskhe, and Trialeti. Of the former Chosroid possessions, only Kakheti to the east eluded him. With local Arab emirs in the Caucasus growing ever more independent, the Caliph recognized Ashot as the prince of Iberia in order to counter the rebellious emir of Tiflis Isma’il ibn Shu’aib c. 818. The emir had enlisted support of Ashot’s foe – the Kakhetian prince Grigol – and the Georgian highland tribes of Mtiulians and Tsanars. Ashot, joined by the Byzantine vassal king of Abasgia, Theodosius II, met the emir on the Ksani, winning a victory and pushing the Kakhetians from central Iberian lands.

The Bagratids' fortunes reversed when Khalid b. Yazid, the Caliph's viceroy of Armīniya, moved in to reinforce the central Arab authority in the Caucasian polities in 827/8. Ashot I must have been still alive at that time, and the information provided by the 11th-century Georgian chronicler Sumbat, according to which Ashot was murdered in 826, is doubtful. It is more likely that the event took place four years later, on January 29 830. Driven by the Arabs from central Iberia, Ashot fell back to the Nigali valley where he was assassinated by renegades at the altar of a local church.

Upon Ashot's death, his holdings were allotted to his three sons: Bagrat, Adarnase, and Guaram. His daughter was married to Theodosius II of Abasgia.




Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashot_I_of_Iberia

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Tsotne Dadiani (Georgian: ცოტნე დადიანი) (died c. 1260) was a Georgian nobleman of whom the medieval Georgian Chronicles relate a story of how Tsotne’s self-sacrificing move saved his associates from the Mongol captivity and imminent death, and which made him into one of the most popular historical figures in Georgia and a saint of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Tsotne was the son of Shergil, the great noble of western Georgia and the duke of Mingrelia of the First House of Dadiani. The young Tsotne, together with his parents, is depicted on a mural from the contemporary church at Khobi. In the period of de facto interregnum, c. 1245-1250, he was a regent for the western half of the Kingdom of Georgia, a position he shared with the duke of Racha. He was also a Lord High Steward (Mandaturt-Ukhutsesi) of Georgia, and later, upon the death of his brother Vardan III, the duke of Mingrelia.

Around 1245, Tsotne was among those nobles of Georgia who attended the conspiracy meeting at Kokhtastavi in Javakheti and decided to join their forces to overthrow the Mongol hegemony. What then happened is recorded in details in the anonymous 14th-century chronicle conventionally known in Georgian historiography as Ĵamt'a-ağmc'ereli (ჟამთააღმწერელი; "the Chronicler"). Tsotne is reported to have left the meeting earlier to rally his subjects in his duchy. In the meantime, the Mongols discovered the remaining conspirators and brought them in chains to the headquarters at Ani. But the Georgian nobles vehemently denied the plot charges and insisted that they had gathered only to discuss the collection of tribute which was to be paid to the Mongols. The interrogators had the arrestees stripped bare, bound their hands and feet, smeared them with honey, and left suffering under the scorching sun and biting insects. Tsotne, upon hearing what had happened, arrived at Ani and voluntarily joined his associates to share their fate. According to the chronicle, the Mongol commanders were so impressed by Tostne’s valor that they pardoned and released all prisoners.

On October 26, 1999, Tsotne was canonized by the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church which marks his feast day on July 30.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsotne_Dadiani

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David IV "the Builder", also known as David II (Georgian: დავით აღმაშენებელი, Davit Aghmashenebeli) (1073 – January 24, 1125), of the Bagrationi dynasty, was a king of Georgia from 1089 until his death in 1125.

Popularly considered to be the greatest and most successful Georgian ruler in history, he succeeded in driving the Seljuk Turks out of the country, winning the major Battle of Didgori in 1121. His reforms of the army and administration enabled him to reunite the country and bring most Caucasian lands under Georgia’s control. A friend of the church and a notable promoter of Christian culture, he was canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Early life

The only son of King George II (1072–1089) by his wife Helena, he was born in Kutaisi, western Georgia in 1073. David was raised during one of the darkest chapters of Georgian history, amidst the strife of the so-called Great Turkish Onslaught (didi turkoba) when the Seljuk tribes began massive migrations to the southern Caucasus. King Giorgi II was unable to cope with the problem, and in a bloodless coup in 1089, he was forced to resign in favor of his 16-year-old son.

David's revival of the Georgian State

Despite his age, he was actively involved in Georgia’s political life. Backed by his tutor and an influential churchman George of Chqondidi, David IV pursued a purposeful policy, taking no unconsidered step. He was determined to bring order to the land, bridle the unsubmissive secular and ecclesiastic feudal lords, centralize the state administration, form a new type of army that would stand up better to the Seljuk Turkish military organization, and then go over to a methodical offensive with the aim of expelling the Seljuks first from Georgia and then from the whole Caucasus. Between 1089–1100, King David organized small detachments of his loyal troops to restore order and destroy isolated enemy troops. He began the resettlement of devastated regions and helped to revive major cities. Encouraged by his success, but more importantly the beginning of the Crusades in Palestine, he ceased payment of the annual contribution to the Seljuks and put an end to their seasonal migration to Georgia. In 1101, King David captured the fortress of Zedazeni, a strategic point in his struggle for Kakheti and Hereti, and within the next three years he liberated most of eastern Georgia.

In 1093, he arrested the powerful feudal lord Liparit Baghvashi, a long-time enemy of the Georgian crown, and expelled him from Georgia (1094). After the death of Liparit’s son Rati, David abolished their duchy of Kldekari in 1103.

He slowly pushed the Seljuk Turks out of the country, recovering more and more land from them as they were now forced to focus not only on the Georgians but the newly begun Crusades in the eastern Mediterranean. By 1099 David IV's power was considerable enough that he was able to refuse paying tribute to the Turks. By that time, he also rejected a Byzantine title of panhypersebastos thus indicating that Georgia would deal with the Byzantine Empire only on a parity basis.

In 1103 a major ecclesiastical congress known as the Ruis-Urbnisi Synod was held at the monasteries of Ruisi and Urbnisi. David succeeded in removing oppositionist bishops, and combined two offices: courtier’s (Mtzignobartukhutsesi, i.e. Chief Secretary) and clerical (Bishop of Tchqondidi) into a single institution of Tchqondidel-Mtzignobartukhutsesi corresponding roughly to the post of prime minister.

Next year, David’s supporters in the eastern Georgian province of Kakheti captured the local king Aghsartan II (1102–1104), a loyal tributary of the Seljuk Sultan, and reunited the area with the rest of Georgia.

Military campaigns

Following the annexation of Kakheti, in 1105, David routed a Seljuk punitive force at the Battle of Ertzukhi, leading to momentum that helped him to secure the key fortresses of Samshvilde, Rustavi, Gishi, and Lorri between 1110 and 1118.

Problems began to crop up for David now. His population, having been at war for the better part of twenty years, needed to be allowed to become productive again. Also, his nobles were still making problems for him, along with the city of Tbilisi which still could not be liberated from Arab grasp. Again David was forced to solve these problems before he could continue the reclamation of his nation and people. For this purpose, David IV radically reformed his military. He resettled a Kipchak tribe of 14.000 families from the Northern Caucasus in Georgia in 1118–1120. Every Georgian and Kipchak family was obliged to provide one soldier with a horse and weapons. This 56.000 men strong army was entirely dependent on the King. Kipchaks were settled in different regions of Georgia. Some were settled in Inner Kartli province, others were given lands along the border. They were quickly assimilated into Georgian society.

In 1120 David IV moved to western Georgia and, when the Turks began pillaging Georgian lands, he suddenly attacked them. Only an insignificant Seljuk force escaped. King David then entered the neighbouring Shirvan and took the town of Qabala.

In the winter of 1120–1121 the Georgian troops successfully attacked the Seljuk settlements on the eastern and southwestern approaches to the Transcaucasus.

Muslim powers became increasingly concerned about the rapid rise of a Christian state in southern Caucasia. In 1121, Sultan Mahmud b. Muhammad (1118–1131) declared a holy war on Georgia and rallied a large coalition of Muslim states led by the Artuqid Najm al-din El-ğazi and Toğrul b. Muhammad. The size of the Muslim army is still a matter of debate with numbers ranging from fantastic 600,000 men (Walter the Chancellor’s Bella Antiochena, Matthew of Edessa) to 400,000 (Smbat Sparapet’s Chronicle) to modern Georgian estimates of 250,000–400,000 men. All sources agree that the Muslim powers gathered an army that was far much larger than the Georgian force of 56,000 men. However, August 12, 1121, King David routed the enemy army on the fields of Didgori, achieving what is often considered the greatest military success in Georgian history. The victory at Didgori signaled the emergence of Georgia as a great military power and shifted the regional balance in favor of Georgian cultural and political supremacy.

Following his success, King David captured Tbilisi, the last Muslim enclave remaining from the Arab occupation, in 1122 and moved the Georgian capital there. A well-educated man, he preached tolerance and acceptance of other religions, abrogated taxes and services for the Muslims and Jews, and protected the Sufis and Muslim scholars. In 1123, David’s army liberated Dmanisi, the last Seljuk stronghold in southern Georgia. In 1124, David finally conquered Shirvan and took the Armenian city of Ani from the Muslim Emirs, thus expanding the borders of his kingdom to the Araxes basin. Armenians met him as a liberator providing some auxiliary force for his army. It was when the important component of "Sword of the Messiah" appeared in the title of David the Builder. It is engraved on a copper coin of David's day:

“ King of Kings, David, son of George, Sword of the Messiah. ”

Humane treatment of the Muslim population, as well as the representatives of other religions and cultures, set a standard for tolerance in his multiethnic kingdom. It was a hallmark not only for his enlightened reign, but for all of Georgian history and culture.

David the Builder died on January 24, 1125, and upon his death, King David was, as he had ordered, buried under the stone inside the main gatehouse of the Gelati Monastery so that anyone coming to his beloved Gelati Academy stepped on his tomb first, a humble gesture for a great man. He had three children, the son Demetre, who succeeded him and continued his father's victorious reign; and two daughters, Tamar, who was married to the Shirwan Shah Akhsitan (Aghsartan in Georgian), and Kata (Katai), married to Isaakios Comnenus, the son of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus. Beside his political and military skills, King David earned fame as a writer, composing Galobani sinanulisani (Hymns of Repentance, c. 1120), a powerful work of emotional free-verse psalms, which reveal the king’s humility and religious zeal.


Cultural life

King David the Builder gave close attention to the education of his people. The king selected children who were sent to the Byzantine Empire "so that they be taught languages and bring home translations made by them there". Many of them later became well-known scholars.

At the time of David the Builder there were quite a few schools and academies in Georgia, among which Gelati occupies a special place. King David's historian calls Gelati Academy

“ a second Jerusalem of all the East for learning of all that is of value, for the teaching of knowledge - a second Athens, far exceeding the first in divine law, a canon for all ecclesiastical splendors. ”

Besides Gelati there also were other cultural-enlightenment and scholarly centers in Georgia at that time, i.e. the Academy of Ikalto.

David himself composed, c. 1120, "Hymns of Repentance" (გალობანი სინანულისანი, galobani sinanulisani), a sequence of eight free-verse psalms, with each hymn having its own intricate and subtle stanza form. For all their Christianity, cult of the Mother of God, and the king’s emotional repentance of his sins, David sees himself as reincarnating the Biblical David, with a similar relationship to God and to his people. His hymns also share the idealistic zeal of the contemporaneous European crusaders to whom David was a natural ally in his struggle against the Seljuks.

Title

H.M. The Most High King David, son of George, by the will of our Lord, King of Kings of the Abkhazians, Kartvelians, Ranians, Kakhetians and the Armenians, Shirvanshah and Shahanshah of all the East and West, Sword of the Messiah.

Legacy

David the Builder’s epoch greatly influenced the national perception of the Georgians. They are still proud of David’s victories and dream of his glorious reign.

The nation’s current flag is based on David’s standard. The Order of David the Builder is one of the most prestigious decorations awarded by Georgia.

After being elected President of Georgia, Georgia’s current leader Mikheil Saakashvili took an oath at David the Builder’s tomb at Gelati Monastery on the day of his inauguration on January 25, 2004. Mikheil Saakashvili said it was a symbol of his dedication to follow in David's footsteps, who brought unity and prosperity to Georgia.



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Ephrem Mtsire or Ephraim the Small (Georgian: ეფრემ მცირე) (died c. 1101/3) was a Georgian monk at Antioch, theologian and translator of patristic literature from Greek.

Information as to Ephrem’s life is scarce. Early in life he received a thorough Hellenic education presumably in Constantinople, where his purported father Vache Karich'isdze, a Georgian nobleman from Tao, had removed in 1027. Ephrem then became a monk at the Black Mountain near Antioch, which was populated by a vibrant Georgian monastic community of around 70 monks. Later in his life, c. 1091, Ephrem became a hegumen of the Castalia monastery in Daphne, outside Antioch.

Ephrem’s hellenophile translational technique proved to be fundamental for later Georgian literature. He was the first to introduce literal rendering into Georgian, and made scholia and lexica familiar to Georgian readers. Some of his notable translations are the works by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, Basil of Caesarea, Ephrem the Syrian, and John of Damascus. Ephrem’s original work "Tale on the Reason for the Conversion of the Georgians" (უწყებაჲ მიზეზსა ქართველთა მოქცევისასა; uts’qebay mizezsa k’art’velt’a mok’tsevisasa) is yet another manifesto in defense of autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox Church which was subject of a dispute between the Georgian and Antiochian churchmen in the 11th century.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephrem_Mtsire

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Eustathius or Eustace of Mtskheta (Evstat'i Mtskhet'eli; Georgian: ევსტათი მცხეთელი) (died c. 550) is an Orthodox Christian saint, executed for his apostasy from Zoroastrianism by the Persian military authorities in Georgia. His story is related in the anonymous 6th-century Georgian hagiographic novel The Passion of Eustathius of Mtskheta.

One of the earliest extant works of the Georgian literature, The Passion of Eustathius of Mtskheta (მარტჳლობაჲ და მოთმინებაჲ წმიდისა ევსტათი მცხეთელისაჲ) was written by an anonymous author later in the 6th century, within thirty years of Eustathius' reported death. The morphology of the work as well as some theological phrases also supports this dating, although the earliest surviving manuscript dates from c. 1000 (Georgian National Center of Manuscripts, MSS H-341). The text is also interesting for the first Georgian formulation of the Ten Commandments, an account of the life of Jesus which recalls Tatian's Diatessaron (a Gospel harmony of the 2nd century), and traces of influence of the 2nd century Apology of Aristides. The Passion was first published by Mikhail Sabinin in 1882.

Eustathius is reported by the hagiographer to have been a Persian cobbler originally called Gvirobandak, son of a Zoroastrian priest (magi), from Ganzak. Having converted to Christianity, he flees persecution to Georgia (Iberia), then under the Persian military authority, in 541. He settles at the Christian town of Mtskheta and marries a Christian woman. The local Persian cobblers’ guild denounces Eustathius to the marzban Arvand Gushnasp with seven other converts to be judged. Arvand punishes the apostates by having their noses pierced and casts them in prison under sentence of death. Six months later, Arvand releases them, however, as a farewell gesture to the local people, when recalled from Georgia by the king Khosrau I. Four years later, under the new marzban Bezhan Buzmir, Eustathius is rearrested, but reaffirms his faith before the court in a speech of some 3,000 words that makes up nearly half the Passion. Eventually, the marzban, albeit reluctant, has him beheaded in Tbilisi.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eustathius_of_Mtskheta

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Euthymius the Athonite (Georgian: ექვთიმე ათონელი Ekvtime Atoneli) (ca.955-1028) was a renowned Georgian philosopher and scholar, also known as Eufimius the Abasgian or St. Euthymius the Georgian. The son of Ioane Varaz-vache Chordvaneli and nephew of the great Tornike Eristavi, Euthymius was taken as a hostage to Constantinople but was later released and became a monk joining the Great Lavra of Athanasios on Mount Athos. He subsequently became the leader of the Georgian Iviron monastery and emerged as one of the finest Eastern Christian theologians and scholars of his age. Fluent in Georgian, Greek and other languages, he translated many religious treatises and philosophical works. Among his major works was the translation of Sibrdzne Balavarisa (Wisdom of Balahvari), a Christianized version of episodes from the life of Gautama Buddha that became very popular in Medieval Europe as the story of Barlaam and Josaphat. Of equal importance was Euthymius’ work to prepare Georgian translations of various Greek philosophical, ecclesiastical and legal discourses.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthymius_of_Athos

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George of Chqondidi (Georgian: გიორგი ჭყონდიდელი, Giorgi Chqondideli) (died c. 1118) was a Georgian churchman and court minister best known as a tutor and the closest adviser of King David IV of Georgia (r. 1089-1125).

He served as a archbishop of Chqondidi (Chqondideli) in west Georgia and possibly played a role in a palace coup in which George II was forced to cede power to his young and energetic son David IV, while himself was reduced to the status of a co-king. George was the tutor and spiritual father of David and was appointed by the new king as the Grand Chancellor of Georgia (mtsignobart’-ukhutsesi) following the ecclesiastic council of Ruisi-Urbnisi of 1103. Henceforth this office, for a time the greatest at the Georgian court, was usually held by the incumbent archbishops of Chqondidi. Giorgi appeared as David’s key ally in his reforms of the church and state machinery. He personally supervised successful efforts at recapturing the strongholds of Samshvilde (1110) and Rustavi (1115) from the Seljuk Turks. In 1118, he accompanied the king in his travel to the Kipchak lands to negotiate a recruitment of these nomad tribesmen in the royal army of Georgia. He was never to return to Georgia though, as he died in Alania around that year. According to the Georgian Chronicles, George "was mourned as a father, and even more deeply, by the whole kingdom, and by the king himself, who wore black for forty days". And he was buried at the Gelati cathedral. The art historian Guram Abramishvili identifies George with the saint depicted on a fresco from the Ateni Sioni Church as leading a row of royal donors.

On June 27, 2005, George of Chqondidi was canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church which marks his feast day annually on September 12.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_of_Chqondidi

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George the Hagiorite – Giorgi Mt'ats'mindeli or Giorgi At'oneli (Georgian: გიორგი მთაწმინდელი, გიორგი ათონელი) – (1009 – June 27, 1065), was a Georgian monk, religious writer, and translator, who spearheaded the activities of Georgian monastic communities in the Byzantine Empire. His epithets Mt'ats'mindeli and At'oneli, meaning "of the Holy Mountain" (Hagiorite) and "of Athos" (Athonite) respectively, are a reference to his association with the Iviron monastery on Mount Athos, where he served as hegumen.

One of the most influential Christian churchmen of medieval Georgia, George acted as an arbitrator and facilitator of cross-cultural engagement between his native country and the Byzantine Empire. He extensively translated the Fathers of the Church, the Psalms, works of exegesis and synaxaria from Greek – some things which had not previously existed in Georgian, revised some others, and improved the translations of one of his predecessors, Euthymius of Athos, to whom (and also to John of Athos) George dedicated his most important original work "The Vitae of John and Euthymius". Active also in Georgia, he helped regulate local canon law, and brought his young compatriots to be educated at Athos. His defense of the autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox church when it was questioned by the Patriarch of Antioch made him one of the most venerated saints in Georgia. He featured prominently during the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western Christendom, being one of the few Eastern churchmen who defended the separated Western brethren.

Biography

George was born in Trialeti, a southern province of Georgia, into the aristocratic family of Jacob, sometime envoy of King Bagrat III of Georgia to Iran, and his wife Mariam. He was sent to a local monastery at Tadzrisi at the age of seven to commence his education and after three years moved to another, at Khakhuli. Around 1022, George was sent to Constantinople where he mastered Greek and gained a profound knowledge of Byzantine theology. After his return to Georgia in 1034 he took monastic tonsure at Khakhuli, then made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and subsequently spent some time as the disciple of another Georgian monk, George the Recluse, on the Black Mountain near Antioch. In 1040, George established himself at the Iviron (literally, "of the Georgians") monastery on Mount Athos, Greece. Four years later, upon the death of the hegumen Stephanos, George was consecrated as his successor. He reorganized and refurnished the Iviron cloister, and made it into a vibrant center of Georgian Orthodox culture.

At some point between 1052 and 1057, George left his fellow monk George of Oltisi in charge of the Iviron monastery, and set off to Antioch to appear before the Patriarch to defend his brethren, accused by a group of the Greek clerics of heresy. The dispute quickly evolved around the canonical legality of the autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox church, which had originally operated within the framework of the see of Antioch, but had been becoming increasingly independent since the 6th century. In defense of the Georgian autocephaly, George was referring to St. Andrew's mission to ancient Colchis and Iberia, a version which appears in medieval Georgian ecclesiastic tradition. Early in the 11th century, the autocephalous catholicos Melchisedek I (1012-30) assumed the additional title of patriarch, but Antioch was reluctant to recognize the move on the grounds that none of the Twelve Apostles had peregrinated in Georgia. In the end, George persuaded Theodosius III of Antioch to grant his confirmation to the autocephalous status of the Georgian church. This happened around the same time when the Byzantine government finally abandoned its efforts at forcing Georgia into submission, and reconciled with the Georgian king Bagrat IV.

In the gradually increasing polarity of the patriarchates of Rome and Constantinople that preceded the East-West Schism and the dénouement of 1054, the position of Georgian churchmen, and especially that of the Iviron monastery, was more lenient than the Greek (the other notable exceptions were Patriarch Peter III of Antioch and Metropolitan John III of Kiev). George was one of the few clerics in the Byzantine world who had deplored Michael I Cerularius’s stance towards the Western brethren aloud, and asserted, in 1064, in the presence of the Byzantine emperor Constantine X the inerrancy of the Roman church.

Although George declined Bagrat IV's repeated urges to lead the Georgian church, he, in 1057/8, took up the royal invitation to return to Georgia for five years. There, he initiated reforms in the Georgian church that were to contribute to a cleansed ecclesiastic hierarchy and regulate its relations with the increasingly strengthening royal authority. On his way back to Greece, George visited Constantinople and obtained the imperial decree for the education of Georgian students at Athos. He did not reach his destination, however, and died at Athens on June 29, 1065. The Athonite monks interred him at the Iviron monastery.

George the Hagiorite was subsequently canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church and is remembered annually on July 10.

Legacy

The influence of George’s legacy on Georgian religious tradition was immense. He worked on an updated translation of the Gospels and translated, more literally, writings of Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, Athanasius, John of Damascus, Nectarius of Constantinople, Dorotheus of Tyre and others. His translations as well as original works set the standards for the medieval Georgian hymnography, liturgy, and hagiography. His work may be considered as a continuation, and to some extent a rectification, of that of Euthymius (c. 955-1028), and marked the high point of the literary tradition flourishing at the foreign centers of Georgian monasticism.

The activity of George and his fellow Athonite Georgians laid a foundation for the basic principles of the practice and moral life of Christians as well as the relationship between the royal court and the church later promoted and officially adopted by the national ecclesiastic council of Ruisi-Urbnisi held under the presidency of the king David IV in 1103.

"The Vitae of Our Blessed Fathers John and Euthymius and an Account of their Worthy Achievements" (ცხოვრება ნეტარისა მამისა ჩუენისა იოანესი და ეფთჳმესი და უწყებაჲ ღირსისა მის მოქალაქობისა მათისაჲ) is George's most important original work, dedicated to his Athonite forerunners. It combines hagiography with religious and political propaganda, and historical record. Written some time after 1040, this manuscript of some 12,000 words in the Athos collection is a history and praise of the Iviron community, their contribution to the Georgian patristic literature and the defense of Byzantine monasticism. Apart from its political and theological message, George’s work is noted for its graphic rhythmic prose, describing the monks working in the garden and vineyards. In 1066, a year after his death, George himself became the subject of a similar biography by his disciple George the Minor (or Priest-Monk George [died post-1083]).




Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_the_Hagiorite

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Gregory of Khandzta (Georgian: გრიგოლ ხანძთელი, Grigol Khandzteli) (759 – 5 October 861) was a prominent Georgian ecclesiastic figure and a founder and leader of numerous monastic communities in Tao-Klarjeti, historic southwest Georgia.

Born into an illustrious aristocratic family in Kartli, Gregory left his home when he was young and proceeded to become a monk in the “desert” of Klarjeti (now located in north-eastern Turkey), a historic south-western Georgian province which had been devastated by Arab invasions and cholera epidemics. After a short time in the monastery of Opiza, he founded his own monastery at Khandzta (ხანძთა) which soon attracted an increasing number of brethren. Later, he founded several other monasteries in Klarjeti, and subsequently he was elected as their archimandrite. The monasteries and their scriptoria functioned as centres of wisdom for centuries and they played an important role in the reconstitution of the Georgian state.

At the same time, Ashot I Kuropalates, the presiding prince of Iberia, had chosen Artanuji in Klarjeti as his residence and base in the struggle against the Arabs overlords. In this fight, Gregory played an eminent role as the religious leader. His influence grew so strong that he was able to interfere in politics and even in the private lives of the Georgian princes.

Saint Gregory of Khandzta died as a centenarian in 861, surrounded by numerous followers and disciples. The Georgian Orthodox Church marks his memory on the day of his death, October 18. His life was compiled in the hagiographic work written by Giorgi Merchule in 951.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_of_Khandzta

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John the Iberian(also John the Georgian, John the Hagiorite, John Iweron) (d. ca. 1002) was a Georgian monk, who is venerated as a saint. A member of the Georgian nobility, he was married and served as a military commander. However, he later became a monk in Bithynia and then traveled to Constantinople to rescue his son, Euthymius the Illuminator (Euthymius Opplyseren). Euthymius had been held as a hostage by the emperor.


Iviron monastery, as seen from the path that connects Iviron to Stavronikita monasteryJohn and his son attracted many followers, so they both retired to the monastery of Saint Athanasius on Mount Athos. They founded Iviron monastery with the help of John’s brother-in-law, John Thornikos, a retired general. John served as the first abbot of Iviron.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_the_Iberian

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Mirian III (Georgian: მირიან III) was a king of Iberia (or Kartli, modern Georgia), contemporaneous to the Roman emperor Constantine I (r. 306–337).

According to the early medieval Georgian annals and hagiography, Mirian was the first Christian king of Iberia, converted through the ministry of Nino, a Cappadocian female missionary. He is credited with establishment of Christianity as his kingdom's state religion and is regarded by the Georgian Orthodox Church as saint.

Traditional chronology after Prince Vakhushti assigns to Mirian's reign — taken to have lasted for 77 years — the dates 268–345, which Professor Cyril Toumanoff corrects to 284–361. He is also known to the contemporary Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus and the medieval Armenian chronicles.

Name

The king's name, Mirian, is a Georgian adaptation of the Iranian "Mihran". The medieval Georgian records give other versions of his name, both in its original Iranian as well as closely related Georgian forms (Mirean, Mirvan). Writing in Latin, the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus (XXI.6.8) renders the name of his contemporary Iberian king as Meribanes. The Armenian chronicles, possibly compiled in the 8th century and traditionally ascribed to Moses of Chorene, gives Mihran and speaks about his conversion to Christianity. The regnal numbers as in Mirian III are modern and were not used by the medieval Georgian authors. Since two kings preceded first Christian ruler of Iberia with that name, Mirian has been assigned the ordinal “III” in Georgian historiography.

Dynastic origin

According to the medieval Georgian chronicle Life of the Kings, Mirian was a Persian prince married to an Iberian princess Abeshura, daughter of the last Georgian Arsacid king Aspagur. Upon the death of Aspagur, Mirian was installed on the throne of Iberia by his father whom the medieval Georgian chronicles refer to as "K'asre" (Khosrau), Great King of Iran. This being during the rule of the Sassanid dynasty over Iran, the medieval author of the chronicles assumed (or invented) Mirian's descent from the Sassanids. However, the name Khosrau was not used by the Sassanids till some time later; hence, either the Georgian annals are mistaken in the name of Mirian’s father, or "Khosrau" was taken as a general term meaning "king". Toumanoff inferred that Mirian might have been a scion of the Mihranid family, one of the "seven Parthian clans". Professor Giorgi Melikishvili argues that Toumanoff's assumption is dubious and considers Mirian a representative of the local Iberian élite clan to whom the medieval tradition ascribed an exotic foreign royal ancestry to infuse him with more prestige. Another medieval Georgian account, Conversion of Kartli, is at odds with the tradition of Life of the Kings and identifies Mirian as the son of Lev, who is unattested elsewhere.

Early reign

The Life of the Kings recount Mirian's reign in much details. While its information about Mirian’s participation — as an Iranian client king — in the Sasanid war against the Roman Empire, and territorial ambitions in Armenia can be true, the claims of Mirian’s being a pretender to the throne of Iran, his being in control of Colchis and Albania, and expansion of his activity as far as Syria is obviously fictional. In the 298 Peace of Nisibis with Iran, Rome was acknowledged their suzerainty over Armenia and Iberia, but Mirian III retained the crown. He quickly adapted to this change in political situation, and established close ties with Rome. This association was cemented by Mirian's conversion to Christianity — according to tradition — through the ministry of Nino, a Cappadocian nun. Nevertheless, as Ammianus Marcellinus recounts, Constantine's successor, Constantius, had to sent in 360 embassies with costly presents to Arsaces of Armenia and Meribanes of Iberia to secure their allegiance during the confrontation with Iran.

Conversion to Christianity

Mirian's conversion to Christianity might have occurred in 334, followed by the declaration of Christianity as Iberia's state religion in 337. He was, thus, among the first monarchs of the ancient world to have adopted this new religion. A legend has it that when Mirian, staunchly pagan, was hunting in the woods near his capital Mtskheta, the darkness fell upon the land and the king was totally blinded. The light did not resume until Mirian prayed to "Nino's God" for aid. Upon his arrival he requested the audience with Nino and converted to Christianity soon after. According to tradition, Mirian's second wife, Nana, preceded her husband in conversion.

His conversion fostered the growth of the central royal government, which confiscated the pagan temple properties and gave them to the nobles and the church; the medieval Georgian sources give evidence of how actively the monarchy and the nobility propagated Christianity and of the resistance they encountered from the mountain folk. The Roman historian Rufinus as well as the Georgian annals report that, after their conversion, the Iberians requested clergy from the emperor Constantine, who responded vigorously and sent priests and holy relics to Iberia. The Georgian tradition than relates a story of the construction of a cathedral in Mtskheta at Mirian's behest and the king's pilgrimage to Jerusalem shortly before his death. According to tradition, Mirian and his wife Nana were interred at the Samtavro convent in Mtskheta, where their tombs are still shown.

Family

The Georgian sources speak of Mirian’s two marriages. His first wife was Abeshura, daughter of the last Arsacid Iberian king who also traced his ancestry to the ancient Pharnabazid dynasty of Iberia. She died without issue when Mirian was 15 years old, in 292 according to Toumanoff. With her death, "the kingship and queenship of the Pharnabazid kings came to an end in Iberia", — the chronicler continues. Mirian subsequently remarried his second queen, Nana "from Pontus, daughter of Oligotos", who bore him two sons — Rev and Varaz-Bakur — and a daughter who married Peroz, the first Mihranid dynast of Gogarene.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirian_III_of_Iberia

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Nana (Georgian: ნანა) was a Queen Consort of Caucasian Iberia (modern Georgia) as the second wife of Mirian III in the 4th century. She is regarded as saint by the Georgian Orthodox Church for her role in conversion of the Iberians to Christianity.

According to the Georgian chronicles, Nana was "from Greek territory, from Pontus, the daughter of Oligotos”[3] whom Mirian married after his first wife died (in 292 according to Cyril Toumanoff). Pontus here may refer to the Bosporan Kingdom, then a client state of the Roman Empire. Toumanoff has assumed that the name of Nana's father might have been a Georgian corruption of "Olympius" or "Olympus", a Bosporan dynast whose son Aurelius Valerius Sogus Olympianus, a Roman governor of Theodosia, is known from a Greek inscription of AD 306 dedicated to "the Most High God" on the occasion of the building of the Jewish "prayer house". There has also been an attempt to identify Nana as a younger daughter of Theothorses, a Bosporan king.

The medieval Georgian sources relate that Nana had been a staunch pagan and despised Christian preaching until she was miraculously cured of a terrible disease, and subsequently converted, by a Cappadocian Christian missionary, Nino. The Roman historian Tyrannius Rufinus, writing half a century after the Iberian conversion on the basis of the oral account of Bacurius the Iberian, also mentions an unnamed queen of the Iberians who was cured by a woman, a Christian captiva. Through Nino’s ministry, King Mirian soon also was baptized and, c. 337, Christianity became a state religion of Iberia. Nana outlived her husband by two years, dying in 363 (per Toumanoff). She was eventually canonized by the Georgian church. The royal saints are said to have been buried at the Samtavro convent in Mtskheta, where their tombs are still shown.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nana_of_Iberia

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Saint Nino (Georgian: წმინდა ნინო (ts'minda nino), Armenian: Սուրբ Նունե, Greek: Αγία Νίνω), (sometimes St. Nune or St. Ninny) Equal to the Apostles in and the Enlightener of Georgia, (c. 296 – c. 338 or 340) was a woman who preached Christianity in Armenia and introduced it to Georgia.

According to most widely traditional accounts, she was from Kolastra, Cappadocia (Greek: Καππαδοκία), was a relative of Saint George, and came to Georgia (ancient Iberia) from Constantinople. Other sources claim she was from Rome, Jerusalem or Gaul (modern France). As the legend goes, she performed miraculous healings and converted the Georgian queen, Nana, and eventually the pagan king Mirian III of Iberia, who, lost in darkness and blinded on a hunting trip, found his way only after he prayed to “Nino’s God”. Mirian declared Christianity an official religion (c. 327) and Nino continued her missionary activities among Georgians until her death.

Her tomb is still shown at the Bodbe Monastery in Kakheti, eastern Georgia. St. Nino has become one of the most venerated saints of the Georgian Orthodox Church and her attribute, a Grapevine cross, is a symbol of Georgian Christianity.

Early life

Many sources agree that Nino was born in the small town of Colastri, in the Roman province of Cappadocia, although a smaller number of sources disagree with this. On her family and origin, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have different traditions.

According to the Eastern Orthodox Church tradition, she was the only child of the famous family. Her father was Roman general Zabulon and mother Sosana (Susan). On her father's side, Nino was related to St. George, and on her mother's, to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Houbnal I.

During her childhood Nino was brought up by her relative and the nun named Sarah Bethlehemlianka. Nino’s uncle who served as the Patriarch of Jerusalem oversaw her traditional upbringing. Nino went to Rome with the help of her uncle where she decided to preach the Christian gospel in Iberia, known to her as the resting place of the Christ’s tunic. According to the legend, Nino received a vision where the Virgin Mary gave her a grapevine cross and said:

"Go to Iberia and tell there the Good Tidings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and you will find favour before the Lord; and I will be for you a shield against all visible and invisible enemies. By the strength of this cross, you will erect in that land the saving banner of faith in My beloved Son and Lord."
While on her way to Iberia, passing through Anatolia into Armenia then Caucasus, Nino managed to convert several villages to Christianity on the way. Saint Nino entered into the Iberian Kingdom in Caucasus from the Kingdom of Armenia, where she escaped prosecution from the hands of the Armenian King Trinidates the III. She belonged to a community of virgins along with martyr Hripsime, numbering 37 and under the leadership of St. Gayane, who pritched Christianity in the Armenian Kingdom. All but she were procecuted and beheaded by the King Tiridates (Terdat) the 3rd. All the 37 virgins had been soon canonised by the Armenian Apostolic Church including St. Nune (St. Nino).

Contrasting with this, the Roman Catholic tradition says Nino was brought to Iberia not fully from her own intent, but as a slave, and that her family tree is obscure.

St Nino in Iberia

Nino reached the borders of ancient Georgian Kingdom of Iberia from the South in about 320 A.D. There she placed a Christian cross in the small town of Akhalkalaki in the Armenian Kingdom and started preaching the Christian faith in Urbnis and finally reaching Mtskheta (the capital of Iberia). Iberian Kingdom has been influenced by the neighbouring Persian Empire which played an important role as the regional power in the Caucasus. The Iberian King Mirian III and his nation worshiped the syncretic gods of Armazi and Zaden. Soon after the arrival of Nino in Mstkheta, the Queen of Iberia Nana (daughter of King Asphagor) requested the audience with the Cappadician.

Queen Nana, who suffered from a severe illness, had some knowledge of Christianity but had not yet converted to it. Nino, restoring the Queen's health, won to herself disciples from the Queen's attendants, including a Jewish priest and his daughter, Abiathar and Sidonia. Queen Nana also officially converted to Christianity and was baptized by Nino herself. King Mirian, aware of his wife’s religious conversion, was intolerant of her new faith, persecuting it and threatening to divorce his wife if she didn't leave the faith. He secluded himself, however, from Nino and the growing Christian community in his kingdom. His isolation to Christianity did not last long because, according to the legend, while on a hunting trip, he was suddenly struck blind as total darkness emerged in the woods. In a desperate state, King Mirian uttered a prayer to the God of St Nino:

If indeed that Christ whom the Captive had preached to his Wife was God, then let Him now deliver him from this darkness, that he too might forsake all other gods to worship Him. [3]
As soon as he finished his prayer, the light appeared and the King hastily returned to his palace in Mtskheta. As a result of this miracle, the King of Iberia renounced idolatry under the teaching of St Nino and was baptized as the first Christian King of Iberia. Soon, the whole of his household and the inhabitants of Mtskheta adopted Christianity. In A.D. 327 King Mirian made Christianity the state religion of his kingdom, making Iberia the second Christian state after Armenia.

After adopting Christianity, Mirian sent an ambassador to Byzantium, asking Emperor Constantine I to have a bishop and priests sent to Iberia. Constantine, having learned of Iberia’s conversion to Christianity, granted Mirian the church lands in Jerusalem and sent the delegation of Bishops to the court of the Georgian King. Roman historian Tyrannius Rufinus in Historia Ecclesiastica writes about Mirians request to Constantine:

After the church had been built with due magnificence, the people were zealously yearning for God's faith. So an embassy is sent on behalf of the entire nation to the Emperor Constantine, in accordance with the captive woman's advice. The foregoing events are related to him, and a petition submitted, requesting that priests be sent to complete the work which God had begun. Sending them on their way amidst rejoicing and ceremony, the Emperor was far more glad at this news than if he had annexed to the Roman Empire peoples and realms unknown.
In 334 A.D, Mirian commissioned the building of the first Christian church in Iberia which was finally completed in 379 A.D. on the spot where now stands the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mstkheta.

Nino, having witnessed the conversion of Iberia to Christianity, withdrew to the mountain pass in Bodbe, Kakheti. St Nino died soon after; immediately after her death, King Mirian commenced with the building of monastery in Bodbe, where her tomb can still be seen in the churchyard.

Nino and its variants remains the most popular name for women and girls in the Republic of Georgia. There are currently 88,441 women over age 16 by that name residing in the country, according to the Georgia Ministry of Justice. It also continues to be a popular name for baby girls.

The Georgian name "Nino" is "Nune" or "Nuneh" in Armenian, thus St. Nino is known as St. Nune in Armenia. Her history as the only one of the 35 nuns of the company of Sts. Gayane and Hripsime to escape the slaughter at the hands of the pagan Armenian King Tiradates III in 301 A.D. is recounted in the book "The History of the Armenians" by Movses Khorenatzi (Moses of Khoren), which was written approximately 440 A.D.




Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nino

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Peter the Iberian, or Peter of Iberia, (Georgian: პეტრე იბერი, Petre Iberi) (A.D. c. 411-491) is a Georgian Orthodox saint, who was a prominent figure in early Christianity.

Some of his accomplishments are the foundination the first Georgian monastery in Bethlehem and being the bishop of Gaza near Mayuma. In addition to being canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church as a saint, he is also recognized by various eastern Churches, some of which have deviated from the Chalcedonian doctrine.

Life

He was born into the royal family of the Iberian Kings and was initially named Murvan (alternatively, Nabarnugios), prince of Iberia. His father, King Bosmarios of Iberia, invited a noted philosopher Mithradates from Lazica to take part in Murvan’s education. In 423, the prince was sent as a political hostage to Constantinople, where he got a brilliant education under a personal patronage of the Roman empress Aelia Eudocia, wife of Theodosius II.

Eventually, the young prince, together with his mentor Mithradates, left the palace and escaped to make a pilgrimage to Palestine where he became a monk at Jerusalem under the name of Peter. In 430, he founded his own monastery at Bethlehem (later known as the Georgian Monastery of Bethlehem). In 445, he was consecrated priest. Accompanied by Mithridates (now called John), he traveled across several countries of the Near East, and finally settled in Majuma near Gaza.

In 452, he served as bishop of Majuma for six months before some Christians were banished by the decree of the local ruler. Peter escaped to Egypt, but returned to Palestine a decade later. He gained numerous followers and disciples. According to the medieval sources, he was an author of several famous religious works. However, none of them survived to be written under the name of Peter.

He died at Yavneh-Yam, port of ancient Iamnia, in 491 and was buried in his monastery near Gaza.

Biographies

1) The so-called Syriac version originally written by Peter’s disciple John Rufus in Greek dates back to the 8th century
2) The so-called Georgian version originally written by Peter’s contemporary, Zacharias Rhetor, bishop of Mytilene, in Greek has preserved as a manuscript of c. 13th century.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_the_Iberian

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Saint Rajden the First-Martyr also known as Saint Razdhen of Tsromi (d. 457, feast day: August 3) was a Persia-born Christian saint and martyr in Georgia, who died during the oppression of Christian Iberia (E. Georgia) by the Persian Empire.

According to a metaphrastic story of the 12th century, he was a Persian noble and tutor of princess Balendukhta who married, ca. 446-9, the Iberian king Vakhtang I. Together with her, Rajden resettled in Iberia. Soon he became an advisor to the king and converted into Christianity.

In 456, king Peroz I of Persia demanded that the Iberians joined his expedition against the Byzantine Empire. King Vakhtang refused to comply and a Persian army attacked the country. The forces were uneven and the Iberians suffered defeat. Rajden, who headed a defence of the Armazi fortress at the capital Mtskheta, was captured alive and sent to the Persian court. After a brief imprisonment, he was handed over to the Persian governor of Tsromi, Georgia. He was ordered to renounce Christianity, but Rajden refused. Subjected to extensive tortures, he was finally crucified and struck by several arrows.

His relics were later transferred to a Nikozi Church near the town of Tskhinvali.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajden_the_First-Martyr

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Shalva Toreli-Akhaltiskheli (Georgian: შალვა თორელი-ახალციხელი) (died in 1227) was a Georgian military commander and courtier, of the noble house of Toreli-Akhaltsikheli.

Shalva was one of the most notable military commanders during a series of expansionist wars waged by the Kingdom of Georgia under Queen Tamar (r. 1184-1213). He consecutively held top posts of Lord High Treasurer and Lord High Mandator at Tamar’s court. Together with his brother Ivane, Shalva was in command of vanguard traditionally composed of the Meschian troops from south Georgia. In the battle of Shamkor against the Ildenizid atabeg of Azerbaijan in 1195, he captured a war banner sent by the Caliph to the Muslim army which was then donated to the revered icon of Our Lady of Khakhuli. In 1206/1207, Shalva, together with Sargis Tmogveli, took hold of the city of Kars from the Seljuqs and was appointed as the governor of the Kars county.

When the Khwarazmid shah Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu surged into the Caucasus in 1225, Shalva and his brother Ivane were again placed in charge of the vanguard of the Georgian army commanded by atabeg Ivane Mkhargrdzeli. There was some enmity between Ivane and the two Akhaltsikheli brothers. This was possibly the reason why Mkhargrdzeli did not allow his army to fight in the battle of Garni. The two brothers did battle and were routed. Shalva was wounded and captured and his brother Ivane was killed while retreating to the mountains. Having spent some time in honorary captivity, Shalva was put to death for not apostasizing to Islam at Jalal ad-Din's order. Subsequently, he was canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church which commemorates him on June 17/June 30 (O.S.).[1]

Shalva is traditionally believed to be praised in a patriotic Georgian folk ballad Shavlego, which was particularly popular during the national mobilization against the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shalva_of_Akhaltsikhe

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Tamar (Georgian: თამარი, also transliterated as T'amar, Thamar or Tamari) (c. 1160 – 18 January 1213), of the Bagrationi dynasty, was Queen Regnant of Georgia from 1184 to 1213. The first woman to rule Georgia in her own right, Tamar presided over the "Golden age" of the medieval Georgian monarchy.
Tamar was proclaimed heir apparent and co-ruler by her reigning father George III in 1178, but she faced significant opposition from the aristocracy upon her ascension to full ruling powers after George's death. Nevertheless, Tamar was successful in neutralizing this opposition and embarked on an energetic foreign policy aided by the downfall of the rival powers of the Seljuqids and Byzantium. Supported by a powerful military élite, Tamar was able to build on the successes of her predecessors to consolidate an empire which dominated the Caucasus until its collapse under the Mongol attacks within two decades after Tamar's death.
Tamar's association with this period of political and cultural revival, combined with her role as a female ruler, has led to her idealization and romanticization. She remains an important symbol in Georgian popular culture and has also been canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Early life and ascent to the throne

Tamar was born, c. 1160, to George III, King of Georgia, and his consort Burdukhan, a daughter of the king of Alania. It is possible that Tamar had a younger sister, Rusudan; but she is only mentioned once in all contemporary accounts of Tamar's reign.
Tamar's youth coincided with a major upheaval in Georgia; in 1177, her father, George III, was confronted by a rebellious faction of nobles. The rebels intended to dethrone George in favor of the king's nephew, Demna, who was considered by many to be a legitimate royal heir of his murdered father, David V. Demna's cause was little but a pretext for the nobles, led by the pretender's father-in-law, the constable Ivane Orbeli, to weaken the crown. George III was able to crush the revolt and embarked on a violent campaign of crackdown on the defiant aristocratic clans; Ivane Orbeli was put to death and the surviving members of his family were driven out of Georgia. Prince Demna, castrated and blinded on his uncle's order, did not survive the mutilation and soon died in prison. Once the rebellion was suppressed and the pretender eliminated, George went ahead to co-opt Tamar into government with him and crowned her as co-ruler in 1178. By doing so, the king attempted to preempt any dispute after his death and legitimize his line on the throne of Georgia. At the same time, he raised men from the gentry and unranked classes to keep the aristocracy from the center of power.

Early reign and the first marriage

For six years, Tamar was a co-ruler with her father upon whose death, in 1184, Tamar continued as the sole monarch and was crowned a second time at the Gelati cathedral near Kutaisi, western Georgia. She inherited a relatively strong kingdom, but the centrifugal tendencies fostered by the great nobles were far from being quelled. There was a considerable opposition to Tamar's succession; this was sparked by a reaction against the repressive policies of her father, but it was encouraged by the new sovereign's other perceived weakness, her sex. As Georgia had never previously had a female ruler, a part of the aristocracy questioned Tamar's legitimacy, while others tried to exploit her youth and supposed weakness to assert greater autonomy for themselves. The energetic involvement of Tamar's influential aunt, Queen Rusudan, and the Georgian catholicos Michael IV Mirianisdze was crucial for legitimizing Tamar’s succession to the throne. However, the young queen was forced into making significant concessions to the aristocracy. She had to reward the catholicos Michael's support by making him a chancellor, thus placing him at the top of both the clerical and secular hierarchies.
Tamar was also pressured into dismissing her father's appointees, among them the constable Qubasar, a Georgianized Kipchak of ignoble birth, who had helped George III in his crackdown on the defiant nobility. One of the few untitled servitors of George III to escape this fate was the treasurer Qutlu Arslan who now led a group of nobles and wealthy citizens in a struggle to limit the royal authority by creating a new council, karavi, whose members would alone deliberate and decide policy. This attempt at "feudal constitutionalism" was rendered abortive when Tamar had Qutlu Arslan arrested and his supporters were inveigled into submission. Yet, Tamar’s first moves to reduce the power of the aristocratic élite were unsuccessful. She failed in her attempt to use a church synod to dismiss the catholicos Michael, and the noble council, darbazi, asserted the right to approve royal decrees. Even the queen’s first husband, the Rus' prince Yuri, was forced on her by the nobles. Pursuant to dynastic imperatives and the ethos of the time, the nobles required Tamar to marry in order to have a leader for the army and to provide an heir to the throne. Their choice fell on Yuri, son of the murdered prince Andrei I Bogolyubsky of Vladimir-Suzdal, who then lived as a refuge among the Kipchaks of the North Caucasus. The choice was approved by Tamar’s aunt Rusudan and the prince was brought to Georgia to marry the queen in 1185. Yuri proved to be an able soldier, but a difficult person and he soon ran afoul of his wife. The strained spousal relations reflected a bitter factional struggle at the royal court in which Tamar was becoming more and more assertive of her rights as a queen regnant. The turning point in Tamar's fortunes came with the death of the powerful catholicos Michael whom the queen replaced, as a chancellor, with her supporter, Anton Glonistavisdze. Tamar gradually expanded her own powerbase and elevated her loyal nobles to high positions at the court, most notably the Armenianized Kurdish family of Zachariads, known in Georgia as the Mkhargrdzeli.

Second marriage

In 1187, Tamar persuaded the noble council to approve her divorce with Yuri who was accused of addiction to drunkenness and "sodomy", and sent off to Constantinople. Assisted by several Georgian aristocrats anxious to check Tamar’s growing power, Yuri made two attempts at coup, but failed and went off to obscurity after 1191. The queen chose her second husband herself. He was David Soslan, an Alan prince, to whom the 18th-century Georgian scholar Prince Vakhushti ascribes descent from the early 11th-century Georgian king George I. David, a capable military commander, became Tamar's major supporter and was instrumental in defeating the rebellious nobles rallied behind Yuri. Tamar and David had two children. In 1191, the queen gave birth to a son, George – the future king George IV (Lasha) – an event which was widely celebrated in the kingdom. The daughter, Rusudan, was born c. 1193 and would succeed her brother as a sovereign of Georgia.
David Soslan's status of a king consort, as well as his presence in art, on charters, and on coins, was dictated by the necessity of male aspects of kingship, but he remained a subordinate ruler who shared throne with and derived his power from Tamar. Tamar continued to be styled as mep’et’a mep’e – "king of kings". In Georgian, a language with no grammatical genders, mep'e ("king") does not necessarily imply a masculine connotation and can be rendered as a "sovereign". On the other hand, mep'e does have a female equivalent, dedop'ali ("queen"), which was applied to queens consort or the king’s closest, senior female relatives. Tamar is occasionally called dedop'ali in the Georgian chronicles and on some charters. Thus, the title of mep'e might have been applied to Tamar to mark out her unique position among women.

Foreign policy and military campaigns

Muslim neighbors

Once Tamar succeeded in consolidating her power and found a reliable support in David Soslan, the Mkhargrdzeli and other noble families, she revived the expansionist foreign policy of her predecessors. Repeated occasions of dynastic strife in Georgia combined with the efforts of regional successors of the Great Seljuq Empire, such as the Ildenizid atabegs of Azerbaijan, Shirvanshahs, and the Ahlatshahs, had slowed down the dynamic of the Georgians achieved during the reigns of Tamar's great-grandfather, David IV, and her father, George III. However, the Georgians became again active under Tamar, more prominently in the second decade of her rule.
Early in the 1190s, the Georgian government began to interfere in the affairs of the Ildenizids and of the Shirvanshahs, aiding rivaling local princes and reducing Shirvan to a tributary state. The Ildenizid atabeg Abu Bakr attempted to stem the Georgian advance, but suffered a defeat at the hands of David Soslan at Shamkir and lost his capital to a Georgian protégé in 1195. Although Abu Bakr was able to resume his reign a year later, the Ildenizids were only barely able to contain further Georgian forays.
In 1199, Tamar's armies scored another major victory when two brothers, Zak'are and Ivane Mkhargrdzeli, dislodged the Shaddadid dynasty from Ani, the erstwhile capital of the Armenian kingdom, and received it from the queen as their fief. From their base at Ani, the brothers surged ahead into the central Armenian lands, reclaiming one after another fortress and district from local Muslim dynasts: Bjni was taken in 1201 and Dvin fell in 1203. Alarmed by the Georgian successes, Süleymanshah II, the resurgent Seljuqid sultan of Rûm, rallied his vassal emirs into a coalition and launched an offensive against Georgia, but was ambushed and defeated by David Soslan at the battle of Basian in 1203 or 1204. The chronicler of Tamar describes how the army was assembled at the rock-hewn town of Vardzia before marching on to Basian and how the queen addressed the troops from the balcony of the church.
The Mkhargrdzeli captured Kars on behalf of the Georgian crown in 1206, but were repelled from the walls of Akhlat in 1209. This brought the struggle for the Armenian lands to a stall, leaving the Lake Van region in a relatively secure possession of its new masters – the Ayyubids of Damascus. In 1209, the brothers Mkhargrdzeli laid waste to Ardabil – according to the Georgian and Armenian annals – as a revenge for the local Muslim ruler's attack on Ani and his massacre of the city’s Christian population. In a great final burst, the brothers led an army marshaled throughout Tamar's possessions and vassal territories in a march, through Nakhchivan and Julfa, to Marand, Tabriz, and Qazvin in northern Iran, pillaging several settlements on their way.
Trebizond and the Middle East
Among the remarkable events of Tamar's reign was the foundation of the Empire of Trebizond on the Black Sea in 1204. This state was established by Alexios Comnenus and his brother, David, in the northeastern – Pontic – provinces of the crumbling Byzantine Empire with the aid of Georgian troops. Alexios and David, Tamar's relatives, were fugitive Byzantine princes raised at the Georgian court. According to Tamar's official historian, the aim of the Georgian expedition to Trebizond was to punish the Byzantine emperor Alexius IV Angelus for his confiscation of a shipment of money from the Georgian queen to the monasteries of Antioch and Mount Athos. However, Tamar's Pontic endeavor can better be explained by her desire to take advantage of the Western European Fourth Crusade against Constantinople to set up a friendly state in Georgia's immediate southwestern neighborhood, as well as by the dynastic solidarity to the dispossessed Comnenoi. Tamar seems to have wanted to make use of the crusaders' defeat at the hands of the Ayyubid sultan Saladin and the weakness of the Byzantine Empire in order to gain Georgia's position on the international stage and to assume the traditional role of the Byzantine crown as a protector of the Christians of the Middle East. Georgian Christian missionaries were active in the North Caucasus and the expatriate monastic communities were scattered throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Tamar's official chronicle praises her universal protection of Christianity and her support of churches and monasteries from Egypt to Bulgaria and Cyprus. The Georgian court was primarily concerned with the protection of the Georgian monastic centers in the Holy Land. By the 12th century, eight Georgian monasteries were listed in Jerusalem. Saladin's biographer Bahā' ad-Dīn ibn Šaddād reports that, after the Ayyubid conquest of Jerusalem in 1187, Tamar sent envoys to the sultan to request that the confiscated possessions of the Georgian monasteries in Jerusalem be returned. Saladin's response is not recorded, but the queen's efforts seem to have been successful: Jacques de Vitry, who attained to the bishopric of Acre shortly after Tamar's death, gives further evidence of the Georgians’ presence in Jerusalem. He writes that the Georgians were – in contrast to the other Christian pilgrims – allowed a free passage into the city, with their banners unfurled. Ibn Šaddād furthermore claims that Tamar outbid the Byzantine emperor in her efforts to obtain the relics of the True Cross, offering 200,000 gold pieces to Saladin who had taken the relics as booty at the battle of Hattin – to no avail, however.

Golden age

Feudal monarchy

Though the political and cultural exploits of Tamar's epoch was without precedent in the history of Georgia, they were nevertheless rooted in a long and complex past. Tamar owned her accomplishments most immediately to the reforms of her great-grandfather David IV (r. 1089–1125) and, more remotely, to the unifying efforts of David III and Bagrat III who became architects of a political unity of several Georgian kingdoms and principalities in the opening decade of the 11th century. Tamar was able to build upon their successes. By the last years of her reign, the Georgian state had reached the zenith of its power and prestige in the Middle Ages. Tamar’s realm stretched from the Greater Caucasus crest in the north to Erzurum in the south, and from the Zygii in the northwest to the vicinities of Ganja in the southeast, forming a pan-Caucasian empire, with the loyal Zachariad regime in northern and central Armenia, Shirvan as a vassal and Trebizond as an ally. A contemporary Georgian historian extols Tamar as the master of the lands "from the Sea of Pontus [that is, the Black Sea] to the Sea of Gurgan [the Caspian Sea], from Speri to Derbend, and all the Hither and the Thither Caucasus up to Khazaria and Scythia."

The royal title was correspondingly aggrandized. It now reflected not only Tamar's sway over the traditional subdivisions of the Georgian realm, but also included new components, emphasizing the Georgian crown's hegemony over the neighboring lands. Thus, on the coins and charters issued in her name, Tamar is identified as "by the will of God, King of Kings and Queen of Queens of the Abkhazians, Kartvelians, Arranians, Kakhetians, and Armenians; Shirvanshah and Shahanshah; Autocrat of all the East and the West, Glory of the World and Faith; Champion of the Messiah."
The queen never achieved autocratic powers and the noble council continued to function. However, Tamar's own prestige and the expansion of patronq'moba – a Georgian version of feudalism – kept the more powerful dynastic princes from fragmenting the kingdom. This was a classical period in the history of Georgian feudalism. Attempts at transplanting feudal practices in the areas where they had previously been almost unknown did not pass without resistance, however. Thus, there was a revolt among the mountaineers of Pkhovi and Dido on Georgia's northeastern frontier in 1212, which was suppressed by Ivane Mkhargrdzeli after three months of heavy fighting.
With flourishing commercial centers now under Georgia’s control, industry and commerce brought new wealth to the country and the court. Tribute extracted from the neighbors and war booty added to the royal treasury, giving rise to the saying that "the peasants were like nobles, the nobles like princes, and the princes like kings."

Culture

With this prosperity came an outburst of the distinct Georgian culture, an amalgam of Christian and secular influences, with affinities to both the Byzantine West and the Iranian East.[44] The Georgian monarchy sought to underscore its association with Christianity and present its position as God-given. It was in that period that the canon of Georgian Orthodox architecture was redesigned and a series of large-scale domed cathedrals were built. The Byzantine-derived expression of royal power was modified in various ways to bolster Tamar's unprecedented position as a woman ruling in her own right. The five extant monumental church portraits of the queen are clearly modeled on the Byzantine imagery, but also highlight specifically Georgian themes with an affinity to Iranian-type ideals of female beauty. The intimate connection of Georgia with the Middle East was also emphasized on contemporary Georgian coinage whose legends are composed in Georgian and Arabic. A series of coins minted c. 1200 in the name of Queen Tamar depicted a local variant of the Byzantine obverse and an Arabic inscription on the reverse proclaiming Tamar as the "Champion of the Messiah". The contemporary Georgian chronicles enshrined Christian morality and patristic literature continued to flourish, but it had, by that time, lost its earlier dominant position to secular literature, which was highly original, even though it developed in close contact with the neighboring cultures. The trend culminated in Shota Rustaveli's epic poem The Knight in the Panther's Skin (Vepkhistq'aosani), which celebrates the ideals of an "Age of Chivalry" and is now revered in Georgia as the greatest achievement of native literature.

Death and burial

Tamar outlived her consort, David Soslan, and died of a "devastating disease" not far from her capital Tbilisi, having previously crowned her son, George, coregent. Tamar's historian relates that the queen suddenly fell ill when discussing the state affairs with her viziers at the Nacharmagevi castle near the town of Gori. She was transported to Tbilisi and then to the nearby castle of Agarani where Tamar died and was mourned by her subjects. Her remains were transferred to the cathedral at Mtskheta and then to the Gelati monastery, a family burial ground of the Georgian royal dynasty. The prevalent scholarly opinion is that Tamar died in 1213, although there are some vague indications that she might have died earlier, in 1207 or 1210.
In later times, a number of legends emerged about Tamar's place of burial. One of them has it that Tamar was buried in a secret niche at Gelati so as to prevent the grave from being profaned by her enemies. Another version suggests that Tamar's remains were reburied in a remote location, possibly in the Holy Land. The French knight Guillaume de Bois in his letter, dating from the early 13th century, written in Palestine and addressed to the bishop of Besançon, claimed that he had heard that the king of the Georgians was heading towards Jerusalem with a huge army and had already conquered many cities of the Saracens. He was carrying, the report said, the remains of his mother, the "powerful queen Tamar" (regina potentissima Thamar), who had been unable to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in her lifetime and had bequeathed her body to be buried near the Holy Sepulchre.
In the 20th century, the quest for Tamar's grave became a subject of scholarly research as well as a focus of a broader public interest. The Georgian writer Grigol Robakidze wrote in his 1918 essay on Tamar: "Thus far, nobody knows where Tamar's grave is. She belongs to everyone and to no one: her grave is in the heart of the Georgian. And in the Georgians' perception, this is not a grave, but a beautiful vase in which an unfading flower, the great Tamar, flourishes." Although the orthodox academic view still places Tamar's grave at Gelati, a series of archaeological studies, beginning with Taqaishvili in 1920, has failed to locate it at the monastery.

Legacy and popular culture

Medieval

Over the centuries, Queen Tamar has emerged as a dominant figure in the Georgian historical pantheon. However, the construction of her reign as a "Golden age" began in the reign itself and Tamar became the focus of the era. Several medieval Georgian poets, including Shota Rustaveli, claimed Tamar as the inspiration for their works. A legend has it that Rustaveli was even consumed with love for the queen and ended his days in a monastery. A dramatic scene from Rustaveli's poem where the seasoned king Rostevan crowns his daughter Tinatin is an allegory to George III's co-option of Tamar. Rustaveli comments on this: "A lion cub is just as good, be it female or male".
The queen became a subject of several contemporary panegyrics, such as Chakhrukhadze's Tamariani and Ioane Shavteli's Abdul-Mesia. She was eulogized in the chroniclers, most notably in the two accounts centered on her reign – The Life of Tamar, Queen of Queens and The Histories and Eulogies of the Sovereigns – which became the primary sources of Tamar's sanctification in the Georgian literature. The chroniclers exalt her as a "protector of the widowed" and "the thrice blessed", and place a particular emphasis on Tamar's virtues as a woman: beauty, humility, love of mercy, fidelity, and purity. Although Tamar was canonized by the Georgian church much later, she was even named as a saint in her lifetime in a bilingual Greco-Georgian colophon attached to the manuscript of the Vani Gospels.
The idealization of Tamar was further accentuated by the events that took place under her immediate successors; within two decades of Tamar's death, the Khwarezmian and Mongol invasions brought the Georgian ascendancy to an abrupt end. Later periods of national revival were too ephemeral to match the achievements of Tamar's reign. All of these contributed to the cult of Tamar which blurred the distinction between the idealized queen and the real personality.
In popular memory, Tamar's image has acquired a legendary and romantic façade. A diverse set of folk songs, poems and tales illustrate her as an ideal ruler, a holy woman onto whom certain attributes of pagan deities and Christian saints were sometimes projected. For example, in an old Ossetian legend, Queen Tamar conceives her son of a sunbeam which shines through the window. Another myth, from the Georgian mountains, equates Tamar with the pagan deity of weather, Pirimze, who controls winter. Similarly, in the highland district of Pshavi, Tamar's image fused with a pagan goddess of healing and female fertility.
While Tamar occasionally accompanied her army and is described as planning some campaigns, she was never directly involved in the fighting. Yet, the memory of the military victories of her reign contributed to Tamar's other popular image, that of a model warrior-queen. It also echoed in the Tale of Queen Dinara, a popular 16th-century Russian story about a fictional Georgian queen fighting against the Persians.

Modern

Much of the modern perception of Queen Tamar was shaped under the influence of 19th-century Romanticism and growing nationalism among Georgian intellectuals of that time. In the Russian and Western literatures of the 19th century, the image of Queen Tamar reflected the European conceptions of the Orient – of which Georgia was perceived as a part – and the position and characteristics of women in it. The Tyrolean writer Jakob Philipp Fallmerayer described Tamar as a "Caucasian Semiramis". Fascinated by the "exotic" Caucasus, the Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov wrote the romantic poem Tamara (Russian: Тамара; 1841) in which he utilized the old Georgian legend about a siren-like mountainous princess whom the poet gave the name of Queen Tamar. Although Lermontov's depiction of the Georgian queen as a destructive seductress had no apparent historical background, it has been influential enough to raise the issue of Tamar's sexuality, a question that was given some prominence by the 19th-century European authors. Mily Balakirev turned Lermontov’s poem into a symphony which was introduced to the European audiences as part of the Ballets Russes – designed by Léon Bakst in a lavishly Oriental manner – in 1912. Knut Hamsun's 1903 play Dronning Tamara ("Queen Tamara") was less successful; the theatre critics saw in it "a modern woman dressed in a medieval costume" and read the play as "a commentary on the new woman of the 1890s."
In Georgian literature, Tamar was also romanticized, but very differently from the Russian and Western European view. The Georgian romanticists followed a medieval tradition in Tamar's portrayal as a gentle, saintly woman who ruled a country permanently at war. This sentiment was further inspired by the rediscovery of a contemporary, 13th-century wall painting of Tamar in the then-ruined Betania monastery, which was uncovered and restored by Prince Grigory Gagarin in the 1840s. The fresco became a source of numerous engravings circulating in Georgia at that time and inspired the poet Grigol Orbeliani to dedicate a romantic poem to it. Furthermore, the Georgian literati, reacting to the Russian rule in Georgia and the suppression of national institutions, contrasted Tamar's era to their contemporary situation, lamenting the irretrievably lost past in their writings. Hence, Tamar became a personification of the heyday of Georgia, a perception that has persisted down to the present time.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamar_of_Georgia

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The Thirteen Assyrian Fathers (Georgian: ათსამმეტი ასურელი მამანი, atsamet'i asureli mamani) were, according to Georgian church tradition, a group of monastic missionaries who arrived from Mesopotamia to Georgia to strengthen Christianity in the country in the 6th century. They are credited by the Georgian church historians with the foundation of several monasteries and hermitages and initiation of the ascetic movement in Georgia.
The lives of the Assyrian Fathers are related in a cycle of medieval Georgian hagiographic texts and are unattested beyond these sources. Some of these vitae are formalities composed for an 18th-century synaxary, but four of them exist in original form, as well a metaphrastic versions. The dating as well as authorship of these texts is controversial. The Georgian Catholicoi Arsen I (830-87) and Arsen II (955-80) have been suggested as authors of some of the vitae. Other, unattributed, texts may have been composed earlier, in the late 7th century.
Many monasteries in modern Georgia are named after the Assyrian Fathers and are said to have been founded and led by them and their numerous disciples. In the Middle Ages, these religious foundations played an important role in forging Georgian Christian identity.
Tradition, written and oral, names as many as 19 Assyrian monks active in Georgia in the 6th century and the number "13" seems to be largely symbolic. Modern scholarly opinion is divided as to whether they were Syrians or Syrian-educated Georgians, whether missionaries or refugees — monophysite or diophysite — from Syria, from which monophysitism had retreated while Georgia was still primarily monophysite at that time.
Chief of the Assyrian Fathers were:
Davit Garejeli (დავით გარეჯელი) / David of Gareja
Ioane Zedazneli (იოანე ზედაზნელი) / John of Zedazeni
Abibos Nekreseli (აბიბოს ნეკრესელი) / Abibos of Nekresi
Shio Mgvimeli (შიო მღვიმელი) / Shio of Mgvime
Ioseb Alaverdeli (იოსებ ალავერდელი) / Joseph of Alaverdi
Anton Martqopeli (ანტონ მარტყოფელი) / Anton of Martqopi
Tadeoz Stepantsmindeli (თადეოზ სტეფანწმინდელი) / Thaddeus of Stepantsminda
Piros Breteli (პიროს ბრეთელი) / Pyrrhus of Breti
Ise Tsilkneli (ისე წილკნელი) / Jesse of Tsilkani
Stepane Khirseli (სტეფანე ხირსელი) / Stephen of Khirsa
Isidore Samtavneli (ისიდორე სამთავნელი) / Isidor of Samtavisi
Mikael Ulumboeli (მიქაელ ულუმბოელი) / Michael of Ulumbo
Zenon Iqaltoeli (ზენონ იყალთოელი) / Zeno of Iqalto


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirteen_Syrian_Fathers

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The Holy Translators (Armenian: Surb Targmanichk) is a group of literary figures, and saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church, who founded the Armenian alphabet, translated the Bible, and started a movement of writing and translating important works into Armenian language.
The Holy Translators are:
St. Mesrop Mashtots
St. Sahak Partev
Moses of Chorene
Yeghishe
The translation of the Bible was finished by the Holy Translators in 425 A.D. The first words written in Armenian were:
"To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding". (Proverbs 1:2)
The first Armenian translation of Bible is among the world's oldest, has survived and is still used in the liturgy of the Armenian Church.
The Armenian Church remembers Holy Translators on the Feast of the Holy Translators in October. Churches of Holy Translators are established in Armenia and different diaspora communities (USA, Iran etc).
According to Dennis Papazian, "the Holy Translators are highly revered in the Armenian church. Many of the works translated have since been lost in their Greek or Syriac original, but have been preserved in the Armenian."


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Translators

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Abiatha, Hathes, and Mamlacha were virgins and martyrs of the Bel-Garma province of Syria. They were martyred under Shapur II, about 345 AD. Their feast day is November 20. They are included in the Heiligen-Lexicon by J. E. Stadler.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiatha,_Hathes_and_Mamlacha

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Abraham of Arbela (?-c.348) (also known as Abramius) was a bishop of Arbela in Assyria.
He was tortured and later beheaded under Shapur II because he refused to worship the sun in Telman.
His feast day is February 4.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_of_Arbela

fatman2021 #342774 02/03/10 11:03 PM
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Agabus was an early follower of Christianity mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as a prophet. He is traditionally remembered as one of the Seventy Disciples described in Luke 10:1-24. According to Acts 11:27-28, he was one of a group of prophets who came to Antioch from Jerusalem. While there he predicted a severe famine that the author says came under the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius; this is identified with events that happened in AD 45. Acts 21:10-12 records that many years later, in 58, he met Paul of Tarsus at Caesarea Maritima and warned him of his coming capture; he bound his own hands and feet with Paul's belt to demonstrate what the Jews would do if he continued his journey to Jerusalem, though Paul would not be persuaded.
Agabus is revered as a saint in most branches of Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates his feast day on February 13, while the Eastern Christianity celebrates it on March 8. According to tradition he died a martyr in Antioch.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agabus

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Saint Alexius or Alexis of Rome was an Eastern saint whose veneration was later transplanted to Rome, a process facilitated by the fact that, according to the earlier Syriac legend that a "Man of God" of Edessa, Mesopotamia who during the episcopate of Bishop Rabula (412-435) lived by begging and shared the alms he received with other poor people was, after his death there, found to be a native of Rome.
The Greek version of his legend made Alexius the only son of Euphemianus, a wealthy Christian Roman of the senatorial class. Alexius fled his arranged marriage to follow his holy vocation. Disguised as a beggar, he lived near Edessa in Syria, accepting alms even from his own household slaves, who had been sent to look for him but did not recognize him, until a miraculous vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary singled him out as a "Man of God." Fleeing the resultant notoriety, he returned to Rome, so changed that his parents did not recognize him, but as good Christians took him in and sheltered him for seventeen years, which he spent in a dark cubbyhole beneath the stairs, praying and teaching catechism to children. After his death, his family found writings on his body which told them who he was and how he had lived his life of penance from the day of his wedding, for the love of God.

Veneration

St Alexius' cult developed in Syria and spread throughout the Eastern Roman Empire by the 9th century. Only from the end of the 10th century did his name begin to appear in any liturgical books in the West.
Since before the eighth century, there was on the Aventine in Rome a church that was dedicated to St Boniface. In 972 Pope Benedict VII transferred this almost abandoned church to the exiled Greek metropolitan, Sergius of Damascus. The latter erected beside the church a monastery for Greek and Latin monks, soon made famous for the austere life of its inmates. To the name of St Boniface was now added that of St Alexius as titular saint of the church and monastery known as Santi Bonifacio e Alessio.
It is evidently Sergius and his monks who brought to Rome the veneration of St Alexius. The Eastern saint, according to his legend a native of Rome, was soon very popular with the folk of that city, and this church, being associated with the legend, was considered to be built on the site of the home that Alexius returned to from Edessa.
St Alexius is mentioned in the Roman Martyrology under 17 July in the following terms: "At Rome, in a church on the Aventine Hill, a man of God is celebrated under the name of Alexius, who, as reported by tradition, abandoned his wealthy home, for the sake of becoming poor and to beg for alms unrecognized." While the Roman Catholic Church continues to recognize St Alexius as a saint, his feast was removed from the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1969, which lists the saints to be celebrated everywhere at Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours of the Roman Rite. The reason given was the legendary character of the written life of the saint. The Catholic Encyclopedia article regarding St. Alexius remarked: "Perhaps the only basis for the story is the fact that a certain pious ascetic at Edessa lived the life of a beggar and was later venerated as a saint." The Tridentine Calendar gave his feast day the rank of "Simple" but by 1862 it had become a "Semidouble" and, in Rome itself, a "Double". It was reduced again to the rank of "Simple" in 1955 and in 1962 became a "Commemoration". According to the rules in the present-day Roman Missal, the saint may now be celebrated everywhere on his feast day with a "Memorial", unless in some locality an obligatory celebration is assigned to that day.
The Eastern Orthodox Church venerates St Alexius on 17 March. Five Byzantine Emperors, four Emperors of Trebizond and numerous other eastern European and Russian personalities have borne his name; see Alexius.




Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexius_of_Rome

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Ananias was a disciple of Jesus, and is traditionally listed as one of the Seventy Disciples whose mission is recorded in Luke 10. He also was the man reported in the Bible to have been sent by God to heal Paul's blindness and introduce him to the Church. Acts 9:10-18 tells of this event:
'The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" He answered, "Here I am, Lord." The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is there praying, and (in a vision) he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay (his) hands on him, that he may regain his sight." But Ananias replied, "Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name." So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, "Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight.'
According to tradition, Ananias evangelized in Damascus and eventually in Eleutheropolis as well, where he was martyred some time in the 1st Century. Hyam Maccoby suggested he was the father of Joshua ben Hananiah.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ananias_of_Damascus

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Saint Andrew (Andreas) of Crete (also known as Andrew of Jerusalem) (c. 650 – July 4, 712, 726 or 740) was an 8th century bishop, theologian, homilist, and hymnographer.

Born in Damascus of Christian parents, Andrew was a mute from birth until the age of seven, when, according to his hagiographers, he was miraculously cured after receiving Holy Communion. He began his ecclesiastical career at fourteen in the Lavra of St. Sabbas the Sanctified, near Jerusalem, where he quickly gained the notice of his superiors. Theodore, the locum tenens of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem (745 - 770) made him his Archdeacon, and sent him to the imperial capital of Constantinople as his official representative at the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680 - 681), which had been called by the Emperor Constantine Pogonatus, to counter the heresy of Monothelitism.

Shortly after the Council he was summoned back to Constantinople from Jerusalem and was appointed Archdeacon at the "Great Church" of Hagia Sophia. Eventually, Andrew was appointed to the metropolitan see of Gortyna, in Crete. Although he had been an opponent of the Monothelite heresy, he nevertheless attended the conciliabulum of 712, in which the decrees of the Ecumenical Council were abolished. But in the following year he repented and returned to orthodoxy. Thereafter, he occupied himself with preaching, composing hymns, etc. As a preacher, his discourses are known for their dignified and harmonious phraseology, for which he is considered to be one of the foremost ecclesiastical orators of the Byzantine epoch.

Church historians are not of the same opinion as to the date of his death. What is known is that he died on the island of Mytilene, while returning to Crete from Constantinople, where he had been on church business. His relics were later transferred to Constantinople. In the year 1350 the pious Russian pilgrim Stefan of Novgorod saw his relics at the Monastery of Saint Andrew of Crete in Constantinople.

The feast day of St. Andrew of Crete is July 4 on the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar (for those churches which follow the Julian Calendar, July 4 falls on July 17 of the modern Gregorian Calendar).

Hymnography

Today, St. Andrew is primarily known as a hymnographer. He is credited with the invention (or at least the introduction into Orthodox liturgical services) of the canon, a new form of hymnody. Previously, the portion of the Matins serrains inserted between the scripture verses. St. Andrew expanded these refrains into fully developed poetic Odes, each of which begins with the theme (Irmos) of the scriptural canticle, but then goes on to expound the theme of the feast being celebrated that day (whether the Lord, the Theotokos a saint, the departed, etc.).

His masterpiece, the Great Canon, is the longest canon ever composed (250 strophes). It is written primarily in the first person, and goes chronologically through the entire Old and New Testaments drawing examples (both negative and positive) which it correlates to the need of the sinful soul for repentance and a humble return to God. It is divided into four parts (called methymony) which are chanted at Great Compline on the first four nights of Great Lent (one part per night); later, it is chanted in its entirety at Matins on Thursday of the fifth week of Great Lent.

Twenty-four canons are reputed to have been written by Saint Andrew of Crete. Of these, we can be more or less certain that he wrote fourteen, including: the canons for the Resurrection of Lazarus (chanted at Compline on the Saturday—i.e., Friday night—before Palm Sunday); the Conception of St. Anne (9 December); the Maccabean Martyrs (1 August); St. Ignatius of Antioch (2 December), as well as four Triodia, and no fewer than one hundred and eleven irmoi.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_of_Crete

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Pope Saint Anicetus was Pope of the Catholic Church from about 150 to about 168 (the Vatican's list cites 150 to 167 or 153 to 168). His name is Greek for unconquered. He was a Syrian from the city of Emesa (modern-day Hims), Syria.
According to Irenaeus, it was during his pontificate that the aged Polycarp of Smyrna, a disciple of John the Evangelist, visited the Roman Church. St Polycarp and St Anicetus discussed the celebration of Passover. Polycarp and his Church of Smyrna celebrated the crucifixion on the fourteenth day of Nisan, which coincides with Pesach or Passover. The day of the week was not important in the East. On the other hand, the Roman Church celebrated an Easter Passover on Sunday—the weekday of Jesus' resurrection. The two did not agree on a common date, but Anicetus conceded to St Polycarp and the Church of Smyrna the ability to retain the date to which they were accustomed, thereby denying Easter as a separate holiday. The controversy was to accelerate and grow heated in the course of the following centuries.
The Christian historian Hegesippus also visited Rome during Anicetus' pontificate. This visit is often cited as sign of the early importance of the Roman See.
St Anicetus was the first Roman Bishop to condemn heresy by forbidding Montanism. He also actively opposed the Gnostics and Marcionism. According to Liber Pontificalis, Anicetus decreed that priests are not allowed to have long hair (perhaps because the Gnostics wore long hair). St Anicetus is reported to have suffered martyrdom during the reign of the Roman Co-Emperor Lucius Verus. April 16, 17, and 20 are all cited as the date of his death, but April 17 is celebrated as his memorial or feast day. Exact details relating to the type of martyrdom he suffered are not known.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Anicetus

fatman2021 #342856 02/04/10 10:28 PM
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Aphrahat (ca. 270–ca. 345; Syriac: ܐܦܪܗܛ — Ap̄rahaṭ, Persian: فرهاد, Greek Ἀφραάτης, and Latin Aphraates) was an Syriac author of the fourth century from Persia, who composed a series of twenty-three expositions or homilies on points of Christian doctrine and practice. He was born in Persia around 270, but all his known works, the Demonstrations, come from later on in his life. He was an ascetic and celibate, and was almost definitely a son of the covenant (an early Syriac form of communal monasticism). He may have been a bishop, and later Syriac tradition places him at the head of Mar Matti monastery near Mosul, in what is now northern Iraq. He was a near contemporary to the slightly younger Ephrem the Syrian, but the latter lived within the sphere of the Roman Empire. Called the Persian Sage (Syriac: ܚܟܝܡܐ ܦܪܣܝܐ, ḥakkîmâ p̄ārsāyā), Aphrahat witnesses to the concerns of the early church beyond the eastern boundaries of the Roman Empire. He is commemorated as a saint with a feast day of April 7.

Life, history and identity

His name, Aphrahat, is the Syriac version of the Persian name Frahāt, which is the modern Persian Farhād (فرهاد). The author, who was earliest known as hakkima pharsaya ("the Persian sage"), was a subject of Sapor II and may have come from a pagan family and been himself a convert from heathenism, though this appears to be later speculation. However, he tells us that he took the Christian name Jacob at his baptism, and is so entitled in the colophon to a manuscript of AD 512 which contains twelve of his homilies. Hence he was already confused with Jacob, bishop of Nisibis, by the time of Gennadius of Marseilles (before 496), and the ancient Armenian version of nineteen of The Demonstrations has been published under this latter name. Thorough study of the Demonstrations makes identification with Jacob of Nisibis impossible. Aphrahat, being a Persian subject, cannot have lived at Nisibis, which became Persian only by Jovian's treaty of 363. Furthermore, Jacob of Nisibis, who attended the First Council of Nicaea, died in 338, and from the internal evidence of Aphrahat's works he must have witnessed the beginning of the persecution of Christians in the early 340s by Shapur II of Persia. The persecutions arose out of political tensions between Rome and Persia, particularly the declaration of Constantine I that Rome should be a Christian empire. Shapur perhaps grew anxious that the Christians within Persia might secretly support Rome. There are elements in Aphrahat's writing that show great pastoral concern for his harried flock, caught in the midst of all this turmoil.

It is learnt that his name was Aphrahat (or Pharhadh) from comparatively late writers, such as Bar Bahlul (10th century), Elias of Nisibis (11th), Bar-Hebraeus and 'Abhd-isho'. George, bishop of the Arabs, writing in AD 714 to a friend who had sent him a series of questions about the "Persian sage", confesses ignorance of his name, home and rank, but gathers from his works that he was a monk, and of high esteem in the clergy. The fact that in 344 he was selected to draw up a circular letter from a council of bishops and other clergy to the churches of Ctesiphon and Seleucia on the Tigris and elsewhere (later to become Demonstration 14) is held by Dr Wright and others to prove that he was a bishop. According to a marginal note in a 14th century manuscript (B.M. Orient. 1017), he was "bishop of Mar Mattai," a famous monastery near Mosul, but it is unlikely that this institution existed so early.

About "The Demonstrations"

Aphrahat's works are collectively called the Demonstrations, from the identical first word in each of their titles (Syriac: ܬܚܘܝܬܐ, taḥwîṯâ). They are sometimes also known as "the homilies". There are twenty-three Demonstrations in all. Each work deals with a different item of faith or practice, and is a pastoral homily or exposition. The Demonstrations are works of prose, but frequently, Aphrahat employs a poetic rhythm and imagery to his writing. Each of the first twenty-two Demonstrations begins with each successive letter of the Syriac alphabet (of which there are twenty-two). The Demonstrations were not composed all in one go, but in three distinct periods. The first ten, composed in 337, concern themselves with Christian life and church order, and predate the persecutions. Demonstrations 11–22 were composed at the height of the persecution, in 344. Some of this group deal with matters as before, others focus on apocalyptic themes. However, four Demonstrations are concerned with Judaism. It appears that there was a movement within the Persian church by some either to become Jews or return to Judaism, or to incorporate Jewish elements into Christianity. Aphrahat makes his stand by explaining the meaning of the symbols of circumcision, Passover and Shabbat. The twenty-third Demonstration falls outside of the alphabetic system of the early works, and appears to be slightly later, perhaps near the end of Aphrahat's life. The twenty-third piece takes the symbolism of the grape, drawn from Isaiah chapter 65 and elsewhere, as its cue. It deals with the fulfilment of Messianic promise from Adam to Christ. Aphrahat never strays too far from the Bible in the Demonstrations: he is not given to philosophizing. All of his gospel quotations seem to be drawn from the Diatessaron, the gospel harmony that served the church at his time. Aphrahat's mode of biblical interpretation is strikingly similar to that of the Babylonian rabbinic academies of his day. Demonstration 5 deals with ongoing conflict between Persia and Rome, but uses the imagery of the book of Daniel to interpret these events. His position within the church is indicated in Demonstration 14, in which Aphrahat appears to be writing a letter on behalf of his synod to the clergy of the Persian capital, Ctesiphon-Seleucia on the Tigris.

Translations

The Demonstrations were originally composed in Syriac, but were quickly translated into other languages. The Armenian version, published by Antonelli in 1756 and containing only 19 homilies, circulated mistakenly under the name Jacob of Nisibis. Important versions in Georgian and Ge'ez exist. A few of the Demonstrations were translated into Arabic, but wrongly attributed to Ephrem the Syrian.



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In 68 years, I have never ever had the opportunity to more fully appreciate the work of God in those that gave their lives to spread the Faith worldwide- than in these past few hours. In the West, there are histories, and histories ...we have missed so much. Bless your heart, thank you for enriching mine and introducing me to some of the Eastern saints. Columba

columba #342909 02/05/10 11:12 PM
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Saint Apollinaris (Italian: Apollinare) is a Syrian saint, whom the Roman Martyrology describes as "a bishop who, according to tradition, while spreading among the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ, led his flock as a good shepherd and honoured the Church of Classis near Ravenna by a glorious martyrdom."

According to tradition, he was a native of Antioch in Roman Province of Syria. As the first Bishop of Ravenna, he faced nearly constant persecution. He and his flock were exiled from Ravenna during the persecutions of Emperor Vespasian (or Nero, depending on the source). On his way out of the city he was identified, arrested as being the leader, tortured and martyred by being run through with a sword. Centuries after his death, he appeared in a vision to Saint Romuald.
Other legends have him martyred under the Emperor Valens.
The early 20th-century Catholic Encyclopaedia rendered the traditional version as follows:
He was made Bishop of Ravenna by Saint Peter himself. The miracles he wrought there soon attracted official attention, for they and his preaching won many converts to the Faith, while at the same time bringing upon him the fury of the idolaters, who beat him cruelly and drove him from the city. He was found half-dead on the seashore, and kept in concealment by the Christians, but was captured again and compelled to walk on burning coals and a second time expelled. But he remained in the vicinity, and continued his work of evangelization. We find him then journeying in the Roman province of Aemilia [in Italy]. A third time he returned to Ravenna. Again he was captured, hacked with knives, had scalding water poured over his wounds, was beaten in the mouth with stones because he persisted in preaching, and was flung into a horrible dungeon, loaded with chains, to starve to death; but after four days he was put on board a ship and sent to Greece. There the same course of preachings, miracles and sufferings continued; and when his very presence caused the oracles to be silent, he was, after a cruel beating, sent back to Italy. All this continued for three years, and a fourth time he returned to Ravenna. By this time Vespasian was Emperor, and he, in answer to the complaints of the pagans, issued a decree of banishment against the Christians. Apollinaris was kept concealed for some time, but as he was passing out of the gates of the city, was set upon and savagely beaten, probably at Classis, a suburb, but he lived for seven days, foretelling meantime that the persecutions would increase, but that the Church would ultimately triumph. It is not certain what was his native place, though it was probably Antioch. Nor is it sure that he was one of the seventy-two disciples of Christ, as has been suggested. The precise date of his consecration cannot be ascertained, but he was Bishop of Ravenna for twenty-six years.

However, the acts of the martyrdom of Saint Apollinaris have scarcely any historical value; they were probably written by Archbishop Maurus of Ravenna (642-671), who presumably wanted to publicize the alleged apostolic origin of the See of Ravenna, and also to abet his political aspirations against the influence of both Rome and Constantinople. However, Christian inscriptions dating from the second century have been discovered near Classe, confirming the presence of Christianity in Ravenna at a very early date. According to the list of the bishops of Ravenna compiled by Bishop Marianus (546-556), the 12th Bishop of Ravenna was named Severus; and he is among those who signed at the Council of Sardica in 343. Thus, the epoch of Saint Apollinaris may be estimated as possibly to the last decades of the second century, placing his martyrdom possibly under Emperor Septimius Severus.

Veneration

A noted miracle worker, St Apollinaris is considered especially effective against gout and epilepsy. His relics are at the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo (which housed his relics from the 9th century until the 1748 reconsecration of Sant'Apollinare in Classe) and the 6th century Benedictine Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe (on the traditional site of his martyrdom), both in Ravenna and in Saint Lambert's church, Düsseldorf, Germany. There are also churches dedicated to him in Aachen, Burtscheid and Remagen in Germany, where his veneration was probably spread by Benedictine monks. The Frankish king Clovis built a church dedicated to him in Dijon, and another dedicated to Saint Apollinaris also existed in Bologna, but was destroyed in 1250.

In the Tridentine Calendar his feast day is July 23, his birthday into Heaven, i.e. the day of his martyrdom. The present General Roman Calendar devotes this day to Saint Bridget of Sweden, since it is also her birthday to Heaven and she is now better known in the West than Saint Apollinaris, being one of the patron saints of Europe. Owing to the limited importance of Saint Apollinaris's feast worldwide, his liturgical celebration was removed from the General Roman Calendar (with his name remaining in the Roman Martyrology, the official list of saints) in 1969, but it was restored in the 2002 edition of the Roman Missal. The date of celebration was changed to July 20, the nearest day not taken up with other celebrations. The Roman Martyrology mentions Saint Apollinaris both on July 20 (with the above-quoted text) and also more briefly on July 23.

Some continue to follow earlier calendars, which at first classified his July 23 feast as a "Semidouble", by 1862 as a "Double", and in 1960 as a "Third-Class Feast". It is now an optional "Memorial".

Other saints with the same name

Two other saints named Apollinaris or Apollinare are known:
Saint Apollinaris, 2nd century bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, feast day on January 8
Saint Apollinaris, abbot of Montecassino, feast day on November 27



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollinare

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fatman2021 #342910 02/05/10 11:17 PM
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Aquilina was a saint born in Byblos in 281.
Her father's name was Eutolmius. She received her catechism from Evthalios, Bishop of Byblos. Her heart was inflamed with the love of Christ and she spread her faith and fervor in Byblos and its surroundings. At the age of twelve, Aquilina began an endeavor to spread Christianity through her example and teachings.
Due to her preaching, many of the pagans were baptized, especially young lads and maidens. She was reported to the authorities and brought before Magistrate Volusian during the reign of Emperor Diocletian, and, when questioned about her activities she replied "I am Christian". The Magistrate said,
"You are leading your friends and comrades away from the religion of our gods to the belief in Christ, the Crucified. Don't you know that our kings condemn this Christ and sentence to death those who worship him? Leave this error and offer oblation to the gods and you shall live. If you refuse, you shall undergo the most atrocious sufferings."
Aquilina answered
"I am not afraid of suffering at all; rather, I aspire to it because with it I emulate my God, Jesus Christ, and die like Him, so that I am resurrected and glorified with Him."
Upon her response, Volusian ordered that she be flogged. She was then tied and flogged mercilessly. The Magistrate tried again to shake her determination, but she answered with courage:
"Neither you nor Satan will be able to impose on me sufferings stronger than my strength to sustain, with the power of my God, Jesus."
Volusian, the Magistrate, tried to forget the matter of this maiden, counting on time to change her position, saying to her: "You are going to change your opinion in a few days, so contemplate the matter." Aquilina answered, "I shall never change my mind. I am determined and I shall not budge. I lived a Christian since my childhood and Christian I shall die." Upon her answer, the Magistrate ordered that her body be lacerated by a sharp rake. This lasted until she fainted and fell on the floor, then her eardrums were punctured with flaming iron rods forcing the brain to discharge through her nose. Volusian thought that she had died so he ordered that she be thrown outside the walls of the city.
Later, it is said with the help of an angel, Aquilina regained consciousness and went before the Magistrate. Upon seeing her, he was astonished and thought that he was dreaming. He ordered that she be imprisoned and decapitated in the morning. The next day, AD 13 June 293, she was found dead in her cell. The Christians buried her body outside the city where her tomb became a site for pilgrimage and cures.
Later her holy relics were transported to Constantinople where a great basilica was built in her honor near the Forum of Constantine in the Philoxene quarter. This basilica was later destroyed in a fire. (Aigrain 1924: 1143; Daher 1969: 240; The Lives of the Holy Women Martyrs 1991: 206-207; and Sauma 1994: 89-90)


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquilina

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Aristarchus or Aristarch, "a Greek Macedonian of Thessalonica" (Acts 27:2), was an early Christian mentioned in a few passages of the New Testament. He accompanied Saint Paul on his third missionary journey. Along with Gaius, another Macedonian, Aristarchus was seized by the mob at Ephesus and taken into the theater (Acts 19:29). Later, Aristarchus returned with Paul from Greece to Asia (Acts 20:4). At Caesarea, he embarked with Paul on a ship of Edremit (Adramyttium) bound for Myra in Lycia (Acts 27:2); whether he traveled with him from there to Rome is not recorded. Aristarchus is described as Paul's "fellow prisoner" and "fellow laborer" in Colossians 4:10 and Philemon 1:24, respectively.
In Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic tradition, Aristarchus is identified as one of the Seventy Apostles and bishop of Apamea. He is commemorated as a saint and martyr on January 4, April 14, and September 27.
Aristarchus son of Aristarchus, a politarch of Thessalonica (39/38 BC?) may be the same person with Aristarchus.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristarchus_of_Thessalonica

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Auxentius of Bithynia was a hermit born circa 400 AD in Syria, and died February 14, 473 on Mount Scopas.
Auxentius was in the Equestrian Guard of Roman Emperor Theodosius II, but left to become a solitary monk on Mount Oxia near Constantinople. He was accused of heresy but was exonerated at the Council of Chalcedon. Afterward he returned to his hermitage atop Mount Scopas, in Bithynia, not far from Chalcedon.
He is not to be confused with Saint Auxentius of Mopsuestia (d. 360), bishop and martyr, and an Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic saint, Auxentius of Milan (d. 374), bishop of Milan, or Auxentius of Durostorum.
Auxentius of Bithynia is venerated as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Byzantine Catholic, and Roman Catholic Churches. His feast day is February 14.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auxentius_of_Bithynia

fatman2021 #342913 02/05/10 11:25 PM
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Saint Awtel, also known as Mar Awtel, Mar Awtilios, Saint Aoutel, Saint Autel is a monk of the first centuries of Christianity venerated in the Middle East. He is celebrated on the 3rd of November (by Maronites particularly), and on the 9th of October. A church is dedicated to him in the village of Kfarsghab in North-Lebanon where his feast day is celebrated on the 3rd of June and also on the 27th of August.

Life

There are several versions of the life of Mar Awtel. This is the version of the Maronite book of saints (Sinksar) along with the versions presented by Youakim Moubarac.
Saint Awtel is celebrated by the Byzantines, the Jacobites and the Maronites. His place and date of birth vary according to the sources. From an unknown place in modern Turkey for the Maronite Sinksar and born in the Third Century AD, he is from Lycia for the other sources and he lived during the Sixth Century AD. His feast day varies also according to the different traditions. But most sources have corroborating deeds: he escaped a forced marriage arranged by his family, spent some time in Byzantium, delivered his fellow passengers during a severe storm, went back to his place of birth after the death of his parents and finally became a monk then a hermit.

Version of the Maronite book of saints (Sinksar)

Mar Awtel was born in the middle of the Third Century. As a youth he was converted to Christianity and baptised. He pledged his virginity to God but his father wanted him to marry and thereby break his pledge of celibacy. To escape he left for the city Byzantium.
While travelling on route in a boat he encountered a severe storm endangering the boat and all on board. He prayed for deliverance and the boat was saved and as a consequence those on board were converted to Christianity and baptized.
He remained for 20 years in Byzantium until his father died, whereupon he returned to his home and became a monk. He performed many miracles, one of which was the cure of a pagan man. This cure was the reason for the conversion and baptism of ten thousand pagans. After being a monk for 12 years he became a hermit until he died in 327.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Awtel

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Saint Babylas (died 253) was a patriarch of Antioch (237 - 253), who died in prison during the Decian persecution. He asked to be buried in his chains. In the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine rite his feast day is September 4, in the Roman Catholic, January 24.
John Chrysostom's homily upon Saint Babylas and the Acts of the Martyrs report the following story, that Babylas once refused the visiting pagan emperor, on account of his sinful ways, permission to enter the church and had ordered him to take his place among the penitents. John does not give the name of the emperor; the Acts mention Numerian. It is more likely the contemporary Philip the Arab of whom Eusebius (Historia ecclesiastica, VI, 34) reports that a bishop would not let him enter the gathering of Christians at the Easter vigil. Later legend elaborates on this, stating that Babylas demanded that he do penance for his part in the murder of the young Gordian III before he would allow Philip to celebrate Easter.
In 351 the Caesar Constantius Gallus built a new church in honor of Babylas at Daphne, a suburb of Antioch, and had the remains of the bishop transferred to it. The intention of Gallus in translating the remains of Babylas to Daphne was to neutralize the pagan effects of the temple of Apollo located there, or, as Chrysostom expresses it, to "bring a physician to the sick."
According to Chrysostom, when Emperor Julian consulted the oracle of Apollo at the temple in Daphne (362), he received no answer, and was told that it was because of the proximity of the saint. He therefore, had the sarcophagus of the martyr exhumed and taken back to his original place of burial. A few days later, on October 22, a mysterious fire broke out in the temple of Apollo, consuming the roof of the building, and the statue of the god, copied from Phidias' statue of Zeus at Olympia. Julian, suspecting angry Christians were responsible, ordered the cathedral of Antioch closed, and an investigation into the cause of the fire: Ammianus Marcellinus reports "a frivolous rumor" laid the blame to some candles lit by a worshipper late the previous night (XXII, 13). John Chrysostom claimed a bolt of lightning set the temple on fire. The remains of Babylas were reinterred in a church dedicated to him on the other side of the River Orontes. Near the close of his discourse John Chrysostom refers to the erection of the church dedicated to Babylas, and to the zeal of the Bishop Meletius in promoting it, who actually took part in the work with his own hands.
The columns and walls of the ruined temple were still pointed out twenty years later. In the Middle Ages, the remains of Babylas are said to have been moved to Cremona.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylas_of_Antioch

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John Chrysostom (c. 347–407, Greek: Ἰωάννης ὁ Χρυσόστομος), Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic sensibilities. After his death (or, according to some sources, during his life) he was given the Greek surname chrysostomos, meaning "golden mouthed", rendered in English as Chrysostom.

The Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches honor him as a saint and count him among the Three Holy Hierarchs, together with Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzus. He is recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church. Churches of the Western tradition, including the Roman Catholic Church, some Anglican provinces, and parts of the Lutheran Church, commemorate him on 13 September. Some Lutheran and many Anglican provinces commemorate him on the traditional Eastern feast day of 27 January. The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria recognizes John Chrysostom as a saint (feast days: 16 Thout and 17 Hathor).

John is known in Christianity chiefly as a preacher, theologian and liturgist, particularly in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Among his sermons, eight directed against Judaizing Christians remain controversial for their impact on the development of Christian antisemitism. He was also active in destruction of pagan symbols and places of worship, including the temple of Artemis at Ephesus.

Biography

Early life and education

John was born in Antioch in 349. Different scholars describe his mother Anthusa as a pagan or as a Christian, and his father was a high ranking military officer. John's father died soon after his birth and he was raised by his mother. He was baptised in 368 or 373 and tonsured as a reader (one of the minor orders of the Church). As a result of his mother's influential connections in the city, John began his education under the pagan teacher Libanius. From Libanius John acquired the skills for a career in rhetoric, as well as a love of the Greek language and literature. As he grew older, however, he became more deeply committed to Christianity and went on to study theology under Diodore of Tarsus, founder of the re-constituted School of Antioch. According to the Christian historian Sozomen, Libanius was supposed to have said on his deathbed that John would have been his successor "if the Christians had not taken him from us". He lived with extreme asceticism and became a hermit in about 375; he spent the next two years continually standing, scarcely sleeping, and committing the Bible to memory. As a consequence of these practices, his stomach and kidneys were permanently damaged and poor health forced him to return to Antioch.

Priesthood and service in Antioch

He was ordained as a deacon in 381 by Saint Meletius of Antioch, and was ordained as a presbyter (that is, a priest) in 386 by Bishop Flavian I of Antioch. Over the course of twelve years, he gained popularity because of the eloquence of his public speaking, especially his insightful expositions of Bible passages and moral teaching. The most valuable of his works from this period are his Homilies on various books of the Bible. He emphasised charitable giving and was concerned with the spiritual and temporal needs of the poor. He also spoke out against abuse of wealth and personal property:
Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: "This is my body" is the same who said: "You saw me hungry and you gave me no food", and "Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me"... What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well.
His straightforward understanding of the Scriptures – in contrast to the Alexandrian tendency towards allegorical interpretation – meant that the themes of his talks were practical, explaining the Bible's application to everyday life. Such straightforward preaching helped Chrysostom to garner popular support. He founded a series of hospitals in Constantinople to care for the poor.
One incident that happened during his service in Antioch illustrates the influence of his sermons. When Chrysostom arrived in Antioch, the bishop of the city had to intervene with Emperor Theodosius I on behalf of citizens who had gone on a rampage mutilating statues of the Emperor and his family. During the weeks of Lent in 397, John preached twenty-one sermons in which he entreated the people to see the error of their ways. These made a lasting impression on the general population of the city: many pagans converted to Christianity as a result of the sermons. As a result, Theodosius' vengeance was not as severe as it might have been.

Archbishop of Constantinople

In 398, John was requested, against his will, to take the position of Archbishop of Constantinople. He deplored the fact that Imperial court protocol would now assign to him access to privileges greater than the highest state officials. During his time as Archbishop he adamantly refused to host lavish social gatherings, which made him popular with the common people, but unpopular with wealthy citizens and the clergy. His reforms of the clergy were also unpopular with these groups. He told visiting regional preachers to return to the churches they were meant to be serving—without any payout. In 401, Chrysostom led a mob to finally destroy the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, although it had been destroyed and rebuilt several times by then).

His time in Constantinople was more tumultuous than his time in Antioch. Theophilus, the Patriarch of Alexandria, wanted to bring Constantinople under his sway and opposed John's appointment to Constantinople. Being an opponent of Origen's teachings, he accused John of being too partial to the teachings of that theologian. Theophilus had disciplined four Egyptian monks (known as "the tall brothers") over their support of Origen's teachings. They fled to and were welcomed by John. He made another enemy in Aelia Eudoxia, the wife of the eastern Emperor Arcadius, who assumed (perhaps with justification) that his denunciations of extravagance in feminine dress were aimed at herself.

Depending on one's outlook, John was either tactless or fearless when denouncing offences in high places. An alliance was soon formed against him by Eudoxia, Theophilus and others of his enemies. They held a synod in 403 (the Synod of the Oak) to charge John, in which his connection to Origen was used against him. It resulted in his deposition and banishment. He was called back by Arcadius almost immediately, as the people became "tumultuous" over his departure. There was also an earthquake the night of his arrest, which Eudoxia took for a sign of God's anger, prompting her to ask Arcadius for John's reinstatement. Peace was short-lived. A silver statue of Eudoxia was erected in the Augustaion, near his cathedral. John denounced the dedication ceremonies. He spoke against her in harsh terms: "Again Herodias raves; again she is troubled; she dances again; and again desires to receive John's head in a charger," an allusion to the events surrounding the death of John the Baptist. Once again he was banished, this time to the Caucasus in Armenia.

Death and Canonization

Pope Innocent I protested at this banishment, but to no avail. Innocent sent a delegation to intercede on behalf of John in 405. It was led by Gaudentius of Brescia; Gaudentius and his companions, two bishops, encountered many difficulties and never reached their goal of entering Constantinople.
John wrote letters which still held great influence in Constantinople. As a result of this, he was further exiled to Pitiunt (Georgia) where his tomb is a shrine for pilgrims. He never reached this destination, as he died during the journey. His last words are said to have been, "δόξα τῷ θεῷ πάντων ἕνεκεν" (Glory be to God for all things).
John came to be venerated as a saint soon after his death. His disciple, Saint Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople (434-447), during services in the Church of Hagia Sophia, preached a sermon praising his teacher. He said, "O John, your life was filled with sorrow, but your death was glorious. Your grave is blessed and reward is great, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ O graced one, having conquered the bounds of time and place! Love has conquered space, unforgetting memory has annihilated the limits, and place does not hinder the miracles of the saint." This sermon helped to mobilize public opinion, and the patriarch received permission from the emperor to return Chrysostom's relics to Constantinople, where they were enshrined in the Church of the Holy Apostles.
The Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates him as a "Great Ecumenical Teacher", together with Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian. These three saints, in addition to having their own individual commemorations throughout the year, are commemorated together on 30 January, a feast known as the Synaxis of the Three Hierarchs.
There are several feast days dedicated to him:
27 January, Translation of the relics of St John Chrysostom from Comana to Constantinople
30 January, Synaxis of the Three Great Hierarchs
14 September, Repose of St John Chrysostom
13 November, St John Chrysostom the Archbishop of Constantinople

Writings

Homilies

Known as "the greatest preacher in the early church", John's sermons have been one of his greatest lasting legacies. Chrysostom's extant homiletical works are vast, including many hundreds of exegetical sermons on both the New Testament (especially the works of Saint Paul) and the Old Testament (particularly on Genesis). Among his extant exegetical works are sixty-seven homilies on Genesis, fifty-nine on the Psalms, ninety on the Gospel of Matthew, eighty-eight on the Gospel of John, and fifty-five on the Acts of the Apostles.
The sermons were written down by the audience and subsequently circulated, revealing a style that tended to be direct and greatly personal, but was also formed by the rhetorical conventions of his time and place. In general, his homiletical theology displays much characteristic of the Antiochian school (i.e., somewhat more literal in interpreting Biblical events), but he also uses a good deal of the allegorical interpretation more associated with the Alexandrian school.
John's social and religious world was formed by the continuing and pervasive presence of paganism in the life of the city. One of his regular topics was the paganism in the culture of Constantinople, and in his sermons he thunders against popular pagan amusements: the theatre, horseraces, and the revelry surrounding holidays. In particular, he criticized Christians for taking part in such activities:
If you ask [Christians] who is Amos or Obadiah, how many apostles there were or prophets, they stand mute; but if you ask them about the horses or drivers, they answer with more solemnity than sophists or rhetors".
John's homilies on Saint Paul's Epistles proceed linearly, methodically treating the texts verse by verse, often going into great detail. He shows a concern to be understood by laypeople, sometimes offering colorful analogies and practical examples. At other times, he offers extended comments clearly intended to address the theological subtleties of a heretical misreading, or to demonstrate the presence of a deeper theme.
One of the recurring features of John's sermons is his emphasis on care for the needy. Echoing themes found in the Gospel of Matthew, he calls upon the rich to lay aside materialism in favor of helping the poor, often employing all of his rhetorical skills to shame wealthy people to abandon conspicuous consumption:
It is not possible for one to be wealthy and just at the same time.
Do you pay such honor to your excrements as to receive them into a silver chamber-pot when another man made in the image of God is perishing in the cold?

Treatises

Outside of his sermons, a number of John's other treatises have had a lasting influence. One such work is John's early treatise Against Those Who Oppose the Monastic Life, written while he was a deacon (sometime before 386), which was directed to parents, pagan as well as Christian, whose sons were contemplating a monastic vocation. The book is a sharp attack on the values of Antiochene upper-class urban society written by someone who was a member of that class. Chrysostom also writes that, already in his day, it was customary for Antiochenes to send their sons to be educated by monks. Other important treatises written by John include On the Priesthood (one of his earlier works), Instructions to Catechumens, and On the Incomprehensibility of the Divine Nature. In addition, he wrote a series of letters to the deaconess Olympias, of which seventeen are extant.

Sermons on Jews and Judaizing Christians

During his first two years as a presbyter in Antioch (386-387), John denounced Jews and Judaizing Christians in a series of eight sermons delivered to Christians in his congregation who were taking part in Jewish festivals and other Jewish observances. It is disputed whether the main target were specifically Judaizers or Jews in general. His homilies were expressed in the conventional manner, utilizing the uncompromising rhetorical form known as the psogos (Greek: blame).

One of the purposes of these homilies was to prevent Christians from participating in Jewish customs, and thus prevent the perceived erosion of Chrysostom's flock. In his sermons, John criticized those "Judaizing Christians", who were participating in Jewish festivals and taking part in other Jewish observances, such as the shabbat, submitted to circumcision and made pilgrimage to Jewish holy places. John claimed that on the shabbats and Jewish festivals synagogues were full of Christians, especially women, who loved the solemnity of the Jewish liturgy, enjoyed listening to the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, and applauded famous preachers in accordance with the contemporary custom. A more recent apologetic theory is that he instead tried to persuade Jewish Christians, who for centuries had kept connections with Jews and Judaism, to choose between Judaism and Christianity.

In Greek the sermons are called Kata Ioudaiōn (Κατὰ Ιουδαίων), which is translated as Adversus Judaeos in Latin and Against the Jews in English. The original Benedictine editor of the homilies, Bernard de Montfaucon, gives the following footnote to the title: "A discourse against the Jews; but it was delivered against those who were Judaizing and keeping the fasts with them [the Jews]."

Liturgy

Beyond his preaching, the other lasting legacy of John is his influence on Christian liturgy. Two of his writings are particularly notable. He harmonized the liturgical life of the Church by revising the prayers and rubrics of the Divine Liturgy, or celebration of the Holy Eucharist. To this day, Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine Rite typically celebrate the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom as the normal eucharistic liturgy, although his exact connection with it remains a matter of debate among experts. These same churches also read his Catechetical Homily (Hieratikon) at every Easter, the greatest feast of the church year.

Legacy and influence

During a time when city clergy were subject to criticism for their high lifestyle, John was determined to reform his clergy in Constantinople. These efforts were met with resistance and limited success. He was an excellent preacher whose sermons and writings are still studied and quoted. As a theologian, he has been and continues to be very important in Eastern Christianity, and is generally considered the most prominent doctor of the Greek Church, but has been less important to Western Christianity. His writings have survived to the present day more so than any of the other Greek Fathers. He rejected the contemporary trend for allegory, instead speaking plainly and applying Bible passages and lessons to everyday life. His exile demonstrated the rivalry between Constantinople and Alexandria for recognition as the preeminent Eastern See, while in the west, the Pope's primacy remained unquestioned.

Influence on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and clergy

John's influence on church teachings is interwoven throughout the current Catechism of the Catholic Church (revised 1992). The Catechism cites him in eighteen sections, particularly his reflections on the purpose of prayer and the meaning of the Lord's Prayer:

Consider how [Jesus Christ] teaches us to be humble, by making us see that our virtue does not depend on our work alone but on grace from on high. He commands each of the faithful who prays to do so universally, for the whole world. For he did not say "thy will be done in me or in us", but "on earth", the whole earth, so that error may be banished from it, truth take root in it, all vice be destroyed on it, virtue flourish on it, and earth no longer differ from heaven.

Christian clerics, such as R.S. Storr, refer to him as "one of the most eloquent preachers who ever since apostolic times have brought to men the divine tidings of truth and love", and the 19th-century John Henry Cardinal Newman described John as a "bright, cheerful, gentle soul; a sensitive heart."

Music and literature

John's liturgical legacy has inspired several musical compositions. Particularly noteworthy are Sergei Rachmaninoff's Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Op.31, composed in 1910, one of his two major unaccompanied choral works; Pyotr Tchaikovsky's Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Op.41; and Ukrainian composer Kyrylo Stetsenko's Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom; and Arvo Pärt's Litany, which sets seven sentence prayers of Chrysostom's Divine Liturgy for chorus and orchestra.

James Joyce's novel Ulysses includes a character named Mulligan who brings 'Chrysostomos' into another character's mind because Mulligan's gold-stopped teeth and his gift of the gab earn him the title which St. John Chrysostom's preaching earned him, 'golden-mouthed': Chrysostomos also refers to Stephen, the independent and exiled genius: "He peered sideways up and gave a long low whistle of call, then paused awhile in rapt attention, his even white teeth glistening here and there with gold points. Chrysostomos."

Relics

John Chrysostom died in the city of Comana in the year 407 on his way to his place of exile. There his relics remained until 438 when, thirty years after his death, they were transferred to Constantinople during the reign of the Empress Eudoxia's son, the Emperor Theodosius II (408-450), under the guidance of John's disciple, St. Proclus, who by that time had become Archbishop of Constantinople (434-447).

John's relics were looted from Constantinople by Crusaders in 1204 and taken to Rome, but were returned to the Orthodox on 27 November 2004 by Pope John Paul II. His silver and jewel-encrusted skull is now kept in the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos in northern Greece, and is credited by Christians with miraculous healings. His right hand is preserved on Mount Athos, and numerous smaller relics are scattered throughout the world.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Chrysostom

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Quoting the article regarding the veneration of St. Alexis:
"While the Roman Catholic Church continues to recognize St Alexius as a saint, his feast was removed from the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1969, which lists the saints to be celebrated everywhere at Mass and in the Liturgy.."

St. Alexius is in very good company:
I went to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. on Nov. 26th, 2009 to celebrate her feast there. 'Puzzled about the sparse attendance at Mass, I asked what was going on? The response was, nobody remembers the Presentation of Mary. Besides it's been demoted to a secondary (something or the other?)". Sorry, I live in a small world that doesn't keep up with the changes. The remark was bad enough, but the delivery was icy cold.

Going forward with more understanding than I might otherwise have had on the subject, I stumbled across the following advisement from CatholicCulture.org, (-which is a rock of good information). Under the title of 'Things to do to celebrate the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in addition to meditation on the mystery, and reading holy scripture, we are directed to learn more about Mary in Byzantine Liturgy; and say one of the beautiful prayers of the Eastern liturgy in honor of Mary.

"He binds up our wounds..." And, directs us in the way we should go. -Columba

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Saints Cosmas and Damian (Greek: Κοσμάς και Δαμιανός) (also written Kosmas and Damianos) (died ca. 287) were twins and early Christian martyrs born in Arabia who practised the art of healing in the seaport of Aegea (modern Ayas) in the Gulf of Issus, then in the Roman province of Syria. They accepted no payment for their services, which led them to be nicknamed anargyroi (The Silverless); it is said that by this, they led many to the Christian faith.

Lives

During the persecution under Diocletian, Cosmas and Damian were arrested by order of the Prefect of Cilicia, one Lysias who is otherwise unknown, who ordered them under torture to recant. However, according to legend they stayed true to their faith, enduring being hung on a cross, stoned and shot by arrows and finally suffered execution by beheading. Anthimus, Leontius and Euprepius, their younger brothers, who were inseparable from them throughout life, shared in their martyrdom.

Their most famous miraculous exploit was the grafting of a leg from a recently deceased Ethiopian to replace a patient's ulcered leg, and was the subject of many paintings and illuminations.

Veneration

As early as the 4th century, churches dedicated to the twin saints were established at Jerusalem, in Egypt and in Mesopotamia. Theodoret records the division of their relics. Their relics, deemed miraculous, were buried in the city of Cyrrus in Syria. Churches were built in their honor by Archbishop Proclus and by Emperor Justinian I (527–565), who sumptuously restored the city of Cyrus and dedicated it to the twins, but brought their relics to Constantinople; there, following his cure, ascribed to the intercession of Cosmas and Damian, Justinian, in gratitude also built and adorned their church at Constantinople, and it became a celebrated place of pilgrimage. At Rome Pope Felix IV (526–530) rededicated the Library of Peace (Bibliotheca Pacis) as a basilica of Santi Cosma e Damiano in the Forum of Vespasian in their honour. The church is much rebuilt but still famed for its sixth-century mosaics illustrating the saints.

What are said to be their skulls are venerated in the convent of the Clares in Madrid, where they have been since 1581, the gift of Maria, daughter of Emperor Charles V. They had previously been removed from Rome to Bremen in the tenth century, and thence to Bamberg (Matthews). Other skulls said to be theirs have been discovered at Easter 1334 by Burchard Grelle, Prince-Archbishop of Bremen. He "personally 'miraculously' retrieved the relics of the holy physicians Cosmas and Damian, which were allegedly immured and forgotten in the quire of the Bremen Cathedral. In celebration of the retrieval Archbishop and Chapter arranged a feast at Pentecost 1335, when the relics were translated from the wall to a more dignified place." (For the original quotation see the note)[4] Grelle claimed the relics to be those, which Archbishop Adaldag brought with him from Rome in 965. In about 1400 the cathedral master-builder Johann Hemeling commissioned a shrine for the relics, which has been accomplished until after 1420. The shrine from carved oak wood covered with gilt rolled silver is considered an important mediaeval gold work. In 1649 Bremen's Chapter, meanwhile Lutheran, sold the shrine with the alleged relics to Maximilian I of Bavaria. It is now shown in the Jesuit church of St Michael in Munich. At least since 1413 another pair of skulls is stored in St Stephens's Cathedral in Vienna.

The martyr twins are invoked in the liturgy of the Mass at the beginning of the Canon of the Mass prior to the Consecration, during the prayer known as the Communicantes (from the first Latin word of the prayer, "Communicantes, et memoriam venerantes in primis gloriosae semper Virginis Mariae..."). The prayer invokes the memory of "the blessed Apostles and Martyrs Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Saint Andrew, Saint James the Greater, Saint John, Saint Thomas, Saint James, Saint Philip, Saint Bartholomew, Saint Matthew, Saint Simon, and Saint Thaddeus; Saint Linus, Saint Cletus, Saint Clement, Saint Sixtus, Saint Cornelius, Saint Cyprian, Saint Lawrence, Saint Chrysogonus, Sts John and Paul, Sts Cosmas and Damian, and of all Thy Saints."

Their feast day in the Catholic Calendar of Saints was September 27, but was moved to September 26 in 1969, because September 27 is the dies natalis ("day of birth" into Heaven) of Saint Vincent de Paul. Traditional Catholics continue to celebrate the feast "Sts Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs" on September 27 and that of "St Vincent de Paul, Confessor" on July 19.

Sts Cosmas and Damian are regarded as the patrons of physicians and surgeons and are sometimes represented with medical emblems. They are invoked in the Canon of the Mass and in the Litany of the Saints.

Sir William Hamilton (1730–1803) reported that, among the wax representations of body parts then presented as offerings to the two doctor saints at Isernia, near Naples, on their feast day, those of the penis were the most common. They were in fact venerated as patrons of "young girls anxious for a husband, and married women desirous of children."

In Brazil, the twin saints are regarded as protectors of children, and September 27 is commemorated, especially in Rio de Janeiro, by giving children bags of candy with the saints' effigy printed on them. Saint Cosmas and Damian Church, in Igarassu, Pernambuco is Brazil's oldest church, built in 1535.
In the UK St Damian is the dexter side support of the arms of the British Dental Association.

Eastern Christianity

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, Saints Cosmas and Damian are venerated as a type of saint known as Unmercenary Physicians (Greek: άναργυροι, anargyroi, "without silver"). This classification of saints is unique to the Eastern Church and refers to those who heal purely out of love for God and man, strictly observing the command of Jesus: "Freely have you received, freely give." («Δωρεάν ελάβετε, δωρεάν δότε...» Matthew 10:8) While each of the Unmercenaries have their own feast days, all are commemorated together on the first Sunday in November, in a feast known as the Synaxis of the Unmercenary Physicians.

The Orthodox celebrate no less than three different sets of saints by the name of Cosmas and Damian, each with its own distinct feast day:

1) Saints Cosmas and Damian of Cilicia (Arabia) (October 17) Brothers, they were beaten and beheaded together with three other Christians: Leontius, Anthimus, and Eutropius.
2) Saints Cosmas and Damian of Asia Minor — alternately, of Mesopotamia (November 1) Twin sons of Saint Theodota. Died peacefully and were buried together at Thereman in Mesopotamia.
3) Saints Cosmas and Damian of Rome (July 1) Brothers, they were martyred outside Rome by a jealous pagan physician during the reign of the Roman Emperor Carinus (283–284).

Orthodox icons of the saints depict them vested as laymen holding medicine boxes. Often each will also hold a spoon with which to dispense medicine. The handle of the spoon is normally shaped like a cross to indicate the importance of spiritual as well as physical healing, and that all cures come from God.
In Russia since 17th century there was a priestly Kosmodemyansky family. Their family name was constructed by joining the names of Saints Cosmas and Damian (Kosma and Demyan in Russian). The family includes Saint Pyotr Kosmodemyansky (1872–1918), a priest murdered by militant godless for his opposition to blasphemy, and his granddaughter Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya (1923–1941), the most revered martyr of the Soviet Union.

Church of England

In the Church of England, dedications of churches to Saints Cosmas and Damian are very rare:
1) Blean, Kent, church of St Cosmus (sic) and St Damian in the Blean;
Challock, Kent;
2) Keymer, Sussex, St Cosmas and St Damian Church, Keymer;
3) Sherrington, Wiltshire, church of St Cosmo (sic) and St Damian, in the Benefice of the Upper Wylye Valley;
4) Stretford, near Leominster, Herefordshire, church no longer in use and in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saints_Cosmas_and_Damian

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Saint Cosmas of Maiuma, also called Cosmas Hagiopolites ("of the Holy City"), Cosmas of Jerusalem, or Cosmas the Melodist, or Cosmas the Poet (d. 773 or 794), was a bishop and hymnographer (writer of hymns) of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Life

Saint Cosmas (Greek: Κοσμάς) was probably born in Damascus, but he was orphaned at a young age. He was adopted by Sergius, the father of St. John of Damascus (ca.676 - 749), and became John's foster-brother. The teacher of the two boys was an elderly Calabrian monk, also named Cosmas (known as "Cosmas the Monk" to distinguish him), who had been freed from slavery to the Saracens by St. John's father. John and Cosmas went from Damascus to Jerusalem, where both became monks in the Lavra (monastery) of St. Sabbas the Sanctified near that city. Together they helped defend the Church against the heresy of iconoclasm.

Cosmas left the monastery in 743 when he was appointed Bishop of Maiuma, the port of ancient Gaza on the southern coast of Palestine. He outlived St. John by many years and died in great old age.

Works

As a learned prose-author, Cosmas wrote commentaries, or scholia, on the poems of St. Gregory of Nazianzus. He is regarded with great admiration as a poet. St. Cosmas and St. John of Damascus are considered to be the best representatives of the later Greek classical hymnography, the most characteristic examples of which are the artistic liturgical chants known as "canons". They worked together on developing the Octoechos.

Saint Cosmas has been called "a vessel of divine grace" and "the glory of the Church." He composed the solemn canons for Matins of Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday, the Triodes (canons with only three Canticles) which are chanted during Holy Week, and the first canon of the Nativity (based on a Nativity sermon by St. Gregory the Theologian). Altogether, fourteen canons are attributed to him in the liturgical books of the Orthodox Church. His most well-known composition is "More honourable than the cherubim…" (which is included in the Axion Estin), sung regularly at Matins, the Divine Liturgy and other services.

The hymns of St. Cosmas were originally intended for the Divine Services of the Church of Jerusalem, but through the influence of Constantinople their use became universal in the Orthodox Church. It is not certain, however, that all the hymns ascribed to Cosmas in the liturgical books were really his compositions, especially as his teacher of the same name was also a hymn writer.

The Eastern Orthodox Church observes his feast on October 12 (for those Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian Calendar, October 12 falls on October 25 of the Gregorian Calendar).


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmas_of_Maiuma

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Saint Domnina and her daughters Berenice (Bernice, Veronica, Verine, Vernike) and Prosdoce are venerated as Christian martyrs by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

According to Eusebius, Domnina was a Christian noblewoman from Antioch who had two young daughters. According to one account, Domnina and her daughters settled at Edessa, Mesopotamia. Her husband was a pagan.

Domnina was arrested by soldiers for her adherence to the Christian religion. Fearing that the soldiers would rape her and her daughters, they threw themselves into a river after they asked their guards for a chance to rest for a while or after the soldiers had become drunk with wine. All three women drowned.

The account of St. John Chrysostom tells a slightly different story: according to Chrysostom, Domnina, after jumping into the river, pulled her daughters in with her to prevent them from being raped. Chrysostom praised Domnina for her courage and Domnina’s daughters for their obedience.




Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domnina,_Berenice,_and_Prosdoce

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Saint Dorotheus bishop of Tyre (ca. 255 – 362) is traditionally credited with an Acts of the Seventy Apostles (which may be the same work as the lost Gospel of the Seventy), who were sent out according to the Gospel of Luke 10:1.
Dorotheus, a learned priest of Antioch, the teacher of the Church historian Eusebius of Caesarea, was appointed director without having to renounce his religion (Eusebius,VII.32). Dorotheus is said to have been driven into exile during the persecution of Diocletian, but later returned. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 325, but was exiled to Odyssopolis (Varna) on the Black Sea in Thrace by Julian the Apostate. There the 107 year old priest was martyred for his faith. His feast day is observed June 5 according to the Gregorian calendar which consists with June 18 on the Julian calendar.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorotheus_of_Tyre

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Ephrem the Syrian (Aramaic / Syriac: ܐܦܪܝܡ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ, Mor Afrêm Sûryāyâ; Greek: Ἐφραίμ ὁ Σῦρος; Latin: Ephraem Syrus; ca. 306 – 373) was a Syriac deacon and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century. He is venerated by Christians throughout the world, and especially among Syriac Christians, as a saint.

Ephrem wrote a wide variety of hymns, poems, and sermons in verse, as well as prose biblical exegesis. These were works of practical theology for the edification of the church in troubled times. So popular were his works, that, for centuries after his death, Christian authors wrote hundreds of pseudepigraphous works in his name. Ephrem's works witness to an early form of Christianity in which western ideas take little part. He has been called the most significant of all of the fathers of the Syriac-speaking church tradition.

Life

Ephrem was born around the year 306 in the city of Nisibis (the modern Turkish town of Nusaybin, on the border with Syria, which had come into Roman hands only in 298). Internal evidence from Ephrem's hymnody suggests that both his parents were part of the growing Christian community in the city, although later hagiographers wrote that his father was a pagan priest. Numerous languages were spoken in the Nisibis of Ephrem's day, mostly dialects of Aramaic. The Christian community used the Syriac dialect. The culture included pagan religions, Judaism and early Christian sects.

Jacob, the first bishop of Nisibis, was appointed in 308, and Ephrem grew up under his leadership of the community. Jacob of Nisibis is recorded as a signatory at the First Council of Nicea in 325. Ephrem was baptized as a youth, and almost certainly became a son of the covenant, an unusual form of Syrian proto-monasticism. Jacob appointed Ephrem as a teacher (Syriac malp̄ānâ, a title that still carries great respect for Syriac Christians). He was ordained as a deacon either at his baptism or later.[2] He began to compose hymns and write biblical commentaries as part of his educational office. In his hymns, he sometimes refers to himself as a 'herdsman' (ܥܠܢܐ, ‘allānâ), to his bishop as the 'shepherd' (ܪܥܝܐ, rā‘yâ) and his community as a 'fold' (ܕܝܪܐ, dayrâ). Ephrem is popularly credited as the founder of the School of Nisibis, which in later centuries was the centre of learning of the Church of the East.

In 337 Emperor Constantine I, who had legalised and promoted the practice of Christianity in the Roman Empire, died. Seizing on this opportunity, Shapur II began a series of attacks into Roman North Mesopotamia. Nisibis was besieged in 338, 346 and 350. During the first siege, Ephrem credits Bishop Jacob as defending the city with his prayers. In the third siege, of 350, Shapur rerouted the River Mygdonius to undermine the walls of Nisibis. The Nisibenes quickly repaired the walls while the Persian elephant cavalry became bogged down in the wet ground. Ephrem celebrated what he saw as the miraculous salvation of the city in a hymn which portrayed Nisibis as being like Noah's Ark, floating to safety on the flood.

One important physical link to Ephrem's lifetime is the baptistery of Nisibis. The inscription tells that it was constructed under Bishop Vologeses in 359. In that year Shapur attacked again. The cities around Nisibis were destroyed one by one, and their citizens killed or deported. Constantius II was unable to respond; the campaign of Julian ended with his death in battle. His army elected Jovian as the new emperor, and to rescue his army he was forced to surrender Nisibis to Persia, and permit the expulsion of the entire Christian population.
Ephrem with the others went first to Amida (Diyarbakır), eventually settling in Edessa (modern Şanlıurfa) in 363.

Ephrem, in his late fifties, applied himself to ministry in his new church, and seems to have continued his work as a teacher, perhaps in the School of Edessa. Edessa had always been at the heart of the Syriac-speaking world and the city was full of rival philosophies and religions. Ephrem comments that orthodox Nicene Christians were simply called 'Palutians' in Edessa, after a former bishop. Arians, Marcionites, Manichees, Bardaisanites and various Gnostic sects proclaimed themselves as the true church. In this confusion, Ephrem wrote a great number of hymns defending Nicene orthodoxy. A later Syriac writer, Jacob of Serugh, wrote that Ephrem rehearsed all-female choirs to sing his hymns set to Syriac folk tunes in the forum of Edessa. After a ten-year residency in Edessa, in his sixties, Ephrem succumbed to the plague as he ministered to its victims. The most reliable date for his death is 9 June 373.

Writings

Over four hundred hymns composed by Ephrem still exist. Granted that some have been lost, Ephrem's productivity is not in doubt. The church historian Sozomen credits Ephrem with having written over three million lines. Ephrem combines in his writing a threefold heritage: he draws on the models and methods of early Rabbinic Judaism, he engages skillfully with Greek science and philosophy, and he delights in the Mesopotamian/Persian tradition of mystery symbolism.
The most important of his works are his lyric, teaching hymns (ܡܕܖ̈ܫܐ, madrāšê). These hymns are full of rich, poetic imagery drawn from biblical sources, folk tradition, and other religions and philosophies. The madrāšê are written in stanzas of syllabic verse, and employ over fifty different metrical schemes. Each madrāšâ had its qālâ (ܩܠܐ), a traditional tune identified by its opening line. All of these qālê are now lost. It seems that Bardaisan and Mani composed madrāšê, and Ephrem felt that the medium was a suitable tool to use against their claims. The madrāšê are gathered into various hymn cycles. Each group has a title — Carmina Nisibena, On Faith, On Paradise, On Virginity, Against Heresies — but some of these titles do not do justice to the entirety of the collection (for instance, only the first half of the Carmina Nisibena is about Nisibis). Each madrāšâ usually had a refrain (ܥܘܢܝܬܐ, ‘ûnîṯâ), which was repeated after each stanza. Later writers have suggested that the madrāšê were sung by all women choirs with an accompanying lyre.

Particularly influential were his Hymns Against Heresies. Ephrem used these to warn his flock of the heresies which threatened to divide the early church. He lamented that the faithful were "tossed to and fro and carried around with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness and deceitful wiles." He devised hymns laden with doctrinal details to inoculate right-thinking Christians against heresies such as docetism. The Hymns Against Heresies employ colourful metaphors to describe the Incarnation of Christ as a fully human and divine. Ephrem asserts that Christ's unity of humanity and divinity represents peace, perfection and salvation; in contrast, docetism and other heresies sought to divide or reduce Christ's nature, and in doing so would rend and devalue Christ's followers with their false teachings.
Ephrem also wrote verse homilies (ܡܐܡܖ̈ܐ, mêmrê). These sermons in poetry are far fewer in number than the madrāšê. The mêmrê are written in a heptosyllabic couplets (pairs of lines of seven syllables each).
The third category of Ephrem's writings is his prose work. He wrote biblical commentaries on the Diatessaron (the single gospel harmony of the early Syriac church), on Genesis and Exodus, and on the Acts of the Apostles and Pauline Epistles. He also wrote refutations against Bardaisan, Mani, Marcion and others.
Ephrem wrote exclusively in the Syriac language, but translations of his writings exist in Armenian, Coptic, Georgian, Greek and other languages. Some of his works are only extant in translation (particularly in Armenian). Syriac churches still use many of Ephrem's hymns as part of the annual cycle of worship. However, most of these liturgical hymns are edited and conflated versions of the originals.
The most complete, critical text of authentic Ephrem was compiled between 1955 and 1979 by Dom Edmund Beck OSB as part of the Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium.

"Greek Ephrem"

Ephrem's artful meditations on the symbols of Christian faith and his stand against heresy made him a popular source of inspiration throughout the church. This occurred to the extent that there is a huge corpus of Ephrem pseudepigraphy and legendary hagiography. Some of these compositions are in verse, often a version of Ephrem's heptosyllabic couplets. Most of these works are considerably later compositions in Greek. Students of Ephrem often refer to this corpus as having a single, imaginary author called "Greek Ephrem" or Ephraem Graecus (as opposed to the real Ephrem the Syrian). This is not to say that all texts ascribed to Ephrem in Greek are by others, but many are. Although Greek compositions are the main source of pseudepigraphal material, there are also works in Latin, Slavonic and Arabic. There has been very little critical examination of these works, and many are still treasured by churches as authentic.
The best known of these writings is the Prayer of Saint Ephrem which is recited at every service during Great Lent and other fasting periods in Eastern Christianity.

Veneration as a saint

Soon after Ephrem's death, legendary accounts of his life began to circulate. One of the earlier 'modifications' is the statement that Ephrem's father was a pagan priest of Abnil or Abizal. However, internal evidence from his authentic writings suggest that he was raised by Christian parents. This legend may be anti-pagan polemic or reflect his father's status prior to converting to Christianity.
The second legend attached to Ephrem is that he was a monk. In Ephrem's day, monasticism was in its infancy in Egypt. He seems to have been a part of the members of the covenant, a close-knit, urban community of Christians that had 'covenanted' themselves to service and refrained from sexual activity. Some of the Syriac terms that Ephrem used to describe his community were later used to describe monastic communities, but the assertion that he was monk is anachronistic. Later hagiographers often painted a picture of Ephrem as an extreme ascetic, but the internal evidence of his authentic writings show him to have had a very active role, both within his church community and through witness to those outside of it. Ephrem is venerated as an example of monastic discipline in Eastern Christianity. In the Eastern Orthodox scheme of hagiography, Ephrem is counted as a Venerable Father (i.e., a sainted Monk). His feast day is celebrated on 28 January and on the Saturday of the Venerable Fathers (Cheesefare Saturday), which is the Saturday before the beginning of Great Lent.
Ephrem is popularly believed to have taken legendary journeys. In one of these he visits Basil of Caesarea. This links the Syrian Ephrem with the Cappadocian Fathers, and is an important theological bridge between the spiritual view of the two, who held much in common. Ephrem is also supposed to have visited Saint Pishoy in the monasteries of Scetes in Egypt. As with the legendary visit with Basil, this visit is a theological bridge between the origins of monasticism and its spread throughout the church.
On 5 October 1920, Pope Benedict XV proclaimed Ephrem a Doctor of the Church. This proclamation was made before critical editions of Ephrem's authentic writings were available.
The most popular title for Ephrem is Harp of the Spirit (Syriac: ܟܢܪܐ ܕܪܘܚܐ, Kenārâ d-Rûḥâ). He is also referred to as the Deacon of Edessa, the Sun of the Syrians and a Pillar of the Church.
Today, Saint Ephrem presents an engaging model of Asian Christianity, which might prove a valuable source of theological insight for Christian communities that wish to break out of the European cultural mold. Ephrem also shows that poetry is not only a valid vehicle for theology, but is in many ways superior to philosophical discourse for the purpose of doing theology. He also encourages a way of reading the Bible that is rooted more in faith than in critical analysis. Ephrem displays a deep sense of the interconnectedness of all created things, which could develop his role in the church into that of a 'saint of ecology'. There are modern studies into Ephrem's view of women that see him as a champion of women in the church. Other studies have focused on the importance of 'healing' imagery in Ephrem. Ephrem, then, confronts the contemporary church as an orthodox saint engaged in a theology that is at once non-western, poetic, ecological, feminist, and healing.

His feast day of 9 June conforms to his date of death. For 48 years (1920-1969) it was on 18 June.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephrem_the_Syrian

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Saint Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata (died c. 379, Dolikha) was a Christian martyr and opponent of Arianism. His feast day is June 21 in the Western Church and June 22 in the Eastern Church.
In 361 he became bishop of the ancient Syrian city of Samosata. Eusebius had been entrusted with the official record of the election (360) of Bishop St. Meletius of Antioch, who was supported by the Arian bishops, who were under the mistaken notion that he would prove sympathetic to their cause. When Meletius expounded his orthodoxy, the bishops persuaded the Roman emperor Constantius II, a staunch Arian, to extort the record from Eusebius and destroy it. In 361 Constantius threatened Eusebius with the loss of his right hand because he refused to surrender the record, but the threat was withdrawn when Eusebius offered both hands.
During the persecution of orthodox Christians under the Eastern Roman emperor Valens (also an Arian), Eusebius travelled incognito through Syria and Palestine, restoring orthodox bishops and priests who had been deposed by the Arians. In 374 Valens banished him to Thrace, a region in the Balkan Peninsula, but after the Emperor's death in 378, Eusebius was restored to his see of Samosata. While in Dolikha to consecrate a bishop, he was killed after being struck on the head with a roof tile by an Arian woman.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eusebius_of_Samosata

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Eustathius of Antioch, sometimes surnamed the Great, was a bishop and patriarch of Antioch in the 4th century.

He was a native of Side in Pamphylia. About 320 he was bishop of Beroea, and he became patriarch of Antioch shortly before the Council of Nicaea in 325. In that assembly he distinguished himself zealously against the Arians, though the Allocutio ad Imperatorem with which he has been credited is hardly genuine.
His anti–Arian polemic against Eusebius of Caesarea made him unpopular among his fellow bishops in the East, and a synod convened at Antioch in 330 deposed him for adultery, which was confirmed by the emperor.

For instance, in the dispute with Eustathius of Antioch, who opposed the growing influence of Origen and his practice of an allegorical exegesis of scripture, seeing in his theology the roots of Arianism, Eusebius, an admirer of Origen, was reproached by Eustathius for deviating from the Nicene faith, who was charged in turn with Sabellianism. Eustathius was accused, condemned, and deposed at a synod in Antioch. The people of Antioch rebelled against this action, while the anti-Eustathians proposed Eusebius as the new bishop, but he declined. He ordained a Bishop, Mor Joseph for Edessa. Later that Bishop went to India with Thomas of Cana and 72 families. He was banished to Trajanopolis in Thrace, where he died, probably about 337, though possibly not until 360.

The only complete work by Eustathius is the De Engastrimytho contra Origenem (ed. by A. Jahn in Texte und Untersuchungen, ii. 4; J. H. Declerck in Corpus Christianorum - Series Graeca no. 51, 2002), which discusses the episode of the Witch of Endor in 1 Samuel. Other fragments are enumerated by G. F. Loofs in Herzog-Hauck’s Realencyklopädie.

The Commentary on the Hexameron attributed to him in the manuscripts is not authentic.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eustathius_of_Antioch

fatman2021 #343181 02/10/10 10:39 PM
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Saint Evodius (d. ca. 69) is a saint in the Christian Church and one of the first identifiable Christians.
Very little is known of the life of St. Evodius. However, he was a pagan who converted to Christianity due to the apostolic work of Saint Peter. In the Book of Acts, one of the first communities to receive evangelism were the Jews and pagans of Antioch. The city was opulent and cosmopolitan, and there were both Hellenized Jews and pagans influenced by monotheism. The term "Christian" was coined for these Gentile (mainly Syrian and Greek) converts, and St. Peter became the bishop of Antioch and led the church there. Evodius succeeded Peter the Apostle as bishop of Antioch when Peter left Antioch for Rome.
St. Evodius was bishop of Antioch until 69 AD, and was succeeded by St. Ignatius of Antioch. It is more likely that St. Evodius died of natural causes, in office, than that he was martyred. As one of the first pagans to come to the new church, he is venerated in both the Roman Catholic Church of the east and Orthodox Churches of the East as a saint. His feast day in the Roman Catholic Church is May 6 and in the Orthodox Church it is September 7.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evodius

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Saint Felix of Nola (d. January 14, 255) was a Priest martyred for the Faith following the general persecution instigated by the Emperor Decius.

Life
Felix was the elder son of Hermias, a Syrian soldier who had retired to Nola, Italy. After his father's death, Felix sold off most of his property and possessions, gave the proceeds to the poor, and pursued a clerical vocation. Felix was ordained by, and worked with, Saint Maximus of Nola.

When Maximus fled to the mountains to escape the persecution of Decius, Felix was arrested and beaten for his faith instead. He escaped prison, according to legend being freed by an angel so he could help his sick bishop, Maximus. Felix found Maximus alone, ill, and helpless, and hid him from soldiers in a vacant building. When the two were safely inside, a spider quickly spun a web over the door, fooling the imperial forces into thinking it was long abandoned, and they left without finding the Christians. A subsequent attempt to arrest Felix followed, which he avoided by hiding in a ruined building where a spider's web spun across the entrance convinced the soldiers the building was abandoned. The two managed to hide from authorities until the persecution ended with the death of Emperor Decius in 251.

After Maximus' death, the people wanted Felix to be the next bishop of Nola, but declined, favoring Quintus, a "senior" priest who had seven days more experience than Felix. Felix himself continued as a priest. He also continued to farm his remaining land, and gave most of the proceeds to people even poorer than himself. Much of the little information we have about Felix came from the letters and poetry of Saint Paulinus of Nola (feast day: June 22), who served at the door of a church dedicated to Saint Felix, and who gathered information about him from churchmen and pilgrims.

St Felix died a martyr in the year 255 during the reign of Emperor Valerian.

Feast Day
At the time a new church in Nola was dedicated in the name of St Felix. People travelled from far away to see the burial place of this revered saint. The feast day of "St Felix, Priest and Martyr" is commemorated on January 14.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_of_Nola

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Flavian II of Antioch (died 518), bishop or patriarch of Antioch, was chosen by the Emperor Anastasius I to succeed Palladius, most probably in 498.
He endeavoured to please both parties by steering a middle course in reference to the Chalcedon decrees, but was induced after great hesitation to agree to the request of Anastasius that he should accept the Henoticon, or decree of union, issued by the emperor Zeno. It brought upon him the anathema of the patriarch of Constantinople. Nevertheless riots broke out in ca 511 between the rival parties in the streets of Antioch and Emperor Anastasius I's sympathy of Non-Chalcedonianism prompted loss of favor in Flavian. A synod was convened in Sidon in 512 by the Non-Chalcedonians, which resulted in Flavian being replaced by Severus. Flavian was then banished to Petra, where he died in 518.

Flavian was soon posthumously enrolled among the saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and after some opposition he was also canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flavian_II_of_Antioch

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Saint Frumentius (Ge'ez ፍሬምናጦስ frēmnāṭōs) (died ca. 383) was the first Bishop of Axum, and he is credited with bringing Christianity to Aksumite Kingdom. He was a Syro-Phoenician Greek born in Tyre.

According to the 4th century historian Rufinus (x.9), who cites Frumentius' brother Edesius as his authority, as children (ca. 316) Frumentius and Edesius accompanied their uncle Metropius on a voyage to Ethiopia. When their ship stopped at one of the harbors of the Red Sea, people of the neighborhood massacred the whole crew, with the exception of the two boys, who were taken as slaves to the King of Axum. The two boys soon gained the favour of the king, who raised them to positions of trust, and shortly before his death, gave them their liberty. The widowed queen, however, prevailed upon them to remain at the court and assist her in the education of the young heir, Ezana, and in the administration of the kingdom during the prince's minority. They remained and (especially Frumentius) used their influence to spread Christianity. First they encouraged the Christian merchants present in the country to practise their faith openly; later they also converted some of the natives.

When Ezana came of age, Edesius returned to Tyre, where he stayed and was ordained a priest. Frumentius, on the other hand, eager for the conversion of Ethiopia, accompanied Edesius as far as Alexandria, where he requested Athanasius, Patriarch of Alexandria, to send a bishop and some priests to Ethiopia. By Athanasius' own account (Athanasius, Epistola ad Constantinum), he believed Frumentius the most suitable person for the job and consecrated him as bishop, traditionally in the year 328, or according to others, between 340-346. Frumentius returned to Ethiopia, erected his episcopal see at Axum, baptized King Ezana, who had meanwhile succeeded to the throne, built many churches, and spread Christianity throughout Ethiopia. The people called Frumentius Kesate Birhan (Revealer of Light) and Abba Salama (Father of Peace), and he became the first Abune — a title given to the head of the Ethiopian Church.

A letter exists from the Emperor Constantius II to King Ezana and his brother Saizanas, in which he vainly requested them to substitute the Arian bishop Theophilus for Frumentius.
The 2004 edition of the "Roman Martyrology" succintly states, "In Aethiopia, sancti Frumentii, episcopi, qui, primum ibi captivus, deinde, episcopus a sancto Athanasio ordinatus, Evangelium in ea regione propagavit [In Ethiopia, (the feast) of Saint Frumentius, bishop, who first was a captive there, and then, as a bishop ordained by Saint Athanasius, he spread the Gospel in that region]."

The Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of Frumentius on December 18, the Eastern Orthodox on November 30, and the Roman Catholic on October 27. Saint Frumentius is, however, venerated on August 1 in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Ethiopian tradition also credits him with the first Ge'ez translation of the New Testament.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frumentius

fatman2021 #343186 02/10/10 10:48 PM
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Saint Galation or Galaction was supposedly a martyr with his wife Episteme, whom he converted. The story is that he was the son of Saints Clitaphon and Leucippe, and that he became a hermit, while Episteme joined a community of virgins. When Galation was martyred under Decius at Emesa (now Homs, Syria), Episteme went to his side and died with him. There is much doubt about the historicity of Galation, and it is quite possible that the story was intended as fiction but later mistaken for fact. His feast day is November 5.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galation

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Gregory III (died November 28, 741) was pope from 731 to 741.

A Syrian by birth (the last pope to date born outside of Europe), he succeeded Gregory II in March, 731. His pontificate, like that of his predecessor, was disturbed by the iconoclastic controversy in the Byzantine Empire, in which he vainly invoked the intervention of Charles Martel.

Elected by popular acclamation, he was the last pope to seek the Byzantine exarch's mandate. Gregory immediately appealed to the Byzantine Emperor Leo III to moderate his position on the iconoclastic controversy. When this elicited no response, Gregory called a synod in November 731, the latter decided to bring the Pope under control. This included appropriating papal territories, and transferring ecclesiastical jurisdictions to the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Gregory's support of the empire led him to help contribute to the recapture of Ravenna after it had fallen to the Lombards in 733. However, he also sought to fortify Rome and seek alliance with opponents of the Lombard monarch Liutprand and then from the Franks. He sent ambassadors to Charles Martel, who made no response.

Gregory promoted the Church in northern Europe - such as the missions of Saint Boniface in Germany and Willibald in Bohemia. He also bestowed palliums on Egbert of York and Tatwine, Archbishop of Canterbury. He also beautified Rome and supported monasticism.

He is celebrated on November 28.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Gregory_III

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Ignatius of Antioch (also known as Theophorus from Greek Θεοφόρος "God-bearer") (ca. 35 or 50-between 98 and 117) was among the Apostolic Fathers, was the third Bishop and Patriarch of Antioch, and was a student of John the Apostle. En route to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of very early Christian theology. Important topics addressed in these letters include ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops.

Ignatius' feast day is observed on 20 December in the Eastern Orthodox Church. In Western and Syriac Christianity his feast is celebrated on 17 October. He is celebrated on 1 February by those following the General Roman Calendar of 1962.

Early life

St. Ignatius was Bishop of Antioch after Saint Peter and St. Evodius (who died around AD 67). Eusebius records that St. Ignatius succeeded St. Evodius. Making his apostolic succession even more immediate, Theodoret (Dial. Immutab., I, iv, 33a) reported that Peter himself appointed Ignatius to the sea of Antioch.

Besides his Latin name, Ignatius, he also called himself Theophorus ("God Bearer"), and tradition says he was one of the children Jesus took in His arms and blessed. St. Ignatius may have been a disciple of the Apostle John.

St. Ignatius is one of the Apostolic Fathers (the earliest authoritative group of the Church Fathers). He based his authority on being a bishop of the Church, living his life in the imitation of Christ.

Martyrdom

Epistles attributed to St. Ignatius report his arrest by the authorities and travel to Rome:

“ From Syria even to Rome I fight with wild beasts, by land and sea, by night and by day, being bound amidst ten leopards, even a company of soldiers, who only grow worse when they are kindly treated. —Ignatius to the Romans, 5. ”
Along the route he wrote six letters to the churches in the region and one to a fellow bishop.

He was sentenced to die in the Colosseum, to be eaten by lions.

In his Chronicle, Eusebius gives the date of his death as AA 2124 (2124 years after Adam), which would amount to the 11th year of Trajan, i.e. 108 AD. His body lies entombed under St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Letters

The seven letters considered to be authentic are:

1) To the Ephesians
2) To the Magnesians
3) Letter to the Trallians
4) To the Romans
5) To the Philadelphians
6) To the Smyrnaeans
7) To Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna

By the 5th century, this authentic collection had been enlarged by spurious letters, and some of the original letters had been changed with interpolations, created to posthumously enlist Ignatius as an unwitting witness in theological disputes of that age, while the purported eye-witness account of his martyrdom is also thought to be a forgery from around the same time.

A detailed but spurious account of Ignatius' arrest and his travails and martyrdom is the material of the Martyrium Ignatii which is presented as being an eyewitness account for the church of Antioch, and as if written by Ignatius' companions, Philo of Cilicia, deacon at Tarsus, and Rheus Agathopus, a Syrian. Though Bishop Ussher regarded it as genuine, if there is any genuine nucleus of the Martyrium, it has been so greatly expanded with interpolations that no part of it is without questions. Its most reliable manuscript is the 10th century Codex Colbertinus (Paris), in which the Martyrium closes the collection. The Martyrium presents the confrontation of the bishop Ignatius with Trajan at Antioch, a familiar trope of Acta of the martyrs, and many details of the long, partly overland voyage to Rome.

After St. Ignatius' martyrdom in the Flavian Amphitheatre, his remains were honorably carried back to Antioch by his companions, and were first interred outside the city gates, then removed by the Emperor Theodosius II to the Tychaeum, or Temple of Tyche which was converted into a church dedicated to Ignatius. In 637 the relics were translated to the Church of St Clement in Rome.

The letters of St. Ignatius have proved to be important testimony to the development of catholic theology, since the number of extant writings from this period of Church history is very small. They bear signs of being written in great haste and without a proper plan, such as run-on sentences and an unsystematic succession of thought. Ignatius is the earliest known catholic writer to emphasize loyalty to a single bishop in each city (or diocese) who is assisted by both presbyters possibly elders and deacons. Earlier writings only mention either bishops or presbyters, and give the impression that there was usually more than one bishop per congregation. For instance, while the offices of bishop, presbyter and deacon appear apostolic in origin, the titles of "bishop" and "presbyter" could be used interchangeably.

“ Take care to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God, and with the presbyters in the place of the council of the apostles, and with the deacons, who are most dear to me, entrusted with the business of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father from the beginning and is at last made manifest —Letter to the Magnesians 2, 6:1 ”

St. Ignatius is known to have taught the deity of Christ:
“ But our Physician is the only true God, the unbegotten and unapproachable, the Lord of all, the Father and Begetter of the only-begotten Son. We have also as a Physician the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, the only-begotten Son and Word — Ignatius to the Ephesians 7 Roberts-Donaldson translation. ”

St. Ignatius stressed the value of the Eucharist, calling it a "medicine of immortality" (Ignatius to the Ephesians 20:2). The very strong desire for bloody martyrdom in the arena, which Ignatius expresses rather graphically in places, may seem quite odd to the modern reader. An examination of his theology of soteriology shows that he regarded salvation as one being free from the powerful fear of death and thus to bravely face martyrdom.

St. Ignatius is claimed to be the first known Christian writer to argue in favor of Christianity's replacement of the Sabbath with the Lord's Day:
“ Be not seduced by strange doctrines nor by antiquated fables, which are profitless. For if even unto this day we live after the manner of Judaism, we avow that we have not received grace.... If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer observing Sabbaths but fashioning their lives after the Lord's day, on which our life also arose through Him and through His death which some men deny ... how shall we be able to live apart from Him? ... It is monstrous to talk of Jesus Christ and to practise Judaism. For Christianity did not believe in Judaism, but Judaism in Christianity — Ignatius to the Magnesians 8:1, 9:1-2, 10:3, Lightfoot translation. ”

He is also responsible for the first known use of the Greek word katholikos (καθολικός), meaning "universal," "complete" and "whole" to describe the church, writing:
“ Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic Church. It is not lawful to baptize or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his approval is pleasing to God. Thus, whatever is done will be safe and valid.
— Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8, J.R. Willis translation. ”
It is from the word katholikos that the word "catholic" comes. When Ignatius wrote the Letter to the Smyrnaeans in about the year 107 and used the word "catholic", he used it as if it were a word already in use to describe the Church. This has led many scholars to conclude that the appellation "catholic Church" with its ecclesial connotation may have been in use as early as the last quarter of the first century.

On the Eucharist, Ignatius wrote in his letter to the Smyrnaeans:
“ Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes. — Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 ”

Saint Ignatius's most famous quotation, however, comes from his letter to the Romans:
“ I am writing to all the Churches and I enjoin all, that I am dying willingly for God's sake, if only you do not prevent it. I beg you, do not do me an untimely kindness. Allow me to be eaten by the beasts, which are my way of reaching to God. I am God's wheat, and I am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts, so that I may become the pure bread of Christ.— Letter to the Romans ”

Letters of Pseudo-Ignatius

Epistles attributed to Saint Ignatius but of spurious origin include:

1) Epistle to the Tarsians
2) Epistle to the Antiochians
3) Epistle to Hero, a Deacon of Antioch
4) Epistle to the Philippians
5) The Epistle of Maria the Proselyte to Ignatius
6) Epistle to Mary at Neapolis, Zarbus
7) First Epistle to St. John
8) Second Epistle to St. John
9) The Epistle of Ignatius to the Virgin Mary
10) Reply of the Blessed Virgin to this Letter


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignatius_of_Antioch

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Saint John of Damascus (Arabic: يوحنا الدمشقي Yuḥannā Al Demashqi; Greek: Ιωάννης Δαμασκήνος Iôannês Damaskênos; Latin: Iohannes Damascenus; also known as John Damascene, Χρυσορρόας/Chrysorrhoas, "streaming with gold"—i.e., "the golden speaker") (c. 676 – 4 December 749) was an Aramaic christian monk and priest. Born and raised in Damascus, he died at his monastery, Mar Saba, near Jerusalem.

A polymath whose fields of interest and contribution included law, theology, philosophy, and music, before being ordained, he served as a Chief Administrator to the Muslim caliph of Damascus, wrote works expounding the Christian faith, and composed hymns which are still in everyday use in Eastern Christian monasteries throughout the world. The Catholic Church regards him as a Doctor of the Church, often referred to as the Doctor of the Assumption due to his writings on the Assumption of Mary.

Biography

The most commonly used source for information on the life of John of Damascus is a work attributed to one John of Jerusalem, identified therein as the Patriarch of Jerusalem. It is actually an excerpted translation into Greek of an earlier Arabic text. The Arabic original contains a prologue not found in most other translations that was written by an Arabic monk named Michael who relates his decision to write a biography of John of Damascus in 1084, noting that none was available in either Greek or Arabic at the time. The main text that follows in the original Arabic version seems to have been written by another, even earlier author, sometime between the early 9th and late 10th centuries AD. Written from a hagiographical point of view and prone to exaggeration, it is not the best historical source for his life, but is widely reproduced and considered to be of some value nonetheless. The hagiographic novel Barlaam and Josaphat, traditionally attributed to John, is in fact a work of the 10th century.

Family background

John was born into a prominent Arab Christian family known as Mansour (Arabic: Mansǔr, "victory") in Damascus in the 7th century AD. He was named Mansur ibn Sarjun (Arabic: منصور بن سرجون‎) after his grandfather Mansur, who had been responsible for the taxes of the region under the Emperor Heraclius. When the region came under Arab Muslim rule in the late 7th century AD, the court at Damascus remained full of Christian civil servants, John's grandfather among them.

John's father, Sarjun (Sergius) or Ibn Mansur, went on to serve the Umayyad caliphs, supervising taxes for the entire Middle East. After his father's death, John also served as a high official to the caliphate court before leaving to become a monk and adopting the monastic name John at Mar Saba, where he was ordained as a priest in 735.

Education

Until the age of 12, John apparently undertook a traditional Muslim education. One of the vitae describes his father's desire for him to, "learn not only the books of the Muslims, but those of the Greeks as well." John grew up bilingual and bicultural, living as he did at a time of transition from Late Antiquity to Early Islam.

Other sources describes his education in Damascus as having been conducted in a traditional Hellenic way, termed "secular" by one source and "Classical Christian" by another.

One account identifies his tutor as a monk by the name of Cosmas, who had been captured by Arabs from his home in Sicily, and for whom John's father paid a great price. Under the instruction of Cosmas, who also taught John's orphan friend (the future St. Cosmas of Maiuma), John is said to have made great advances in music, astronomy and theology, soon rivaling Pythagoras in arithmetic and Euclid in geometry.

Defense of holy images

In the early 8th century AD, iconoclasm, a movement seeking to prohibit the veneration of the icons, gained some acceptance in the Byzantine court. In 726, despite the protests of St. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, Emperor Leo III issued his first edict against the veneration of images and their exhibition in public places. A talented writer in the secure surroundings of the caliph's court, John of Damascus initiated a defense of holy images in three separate publications.

"Apologetic Treatises against those Decrying the Holy Images", the earliest of these works gained him a reputation. Not only did he attack the emperor, but the use of a simpler literary style brought the controversy to the common people, inciting revolt among those of Christian faith. His writings later played an important role during the Second Council of Nicaea which met to settle the icon dispute.

To counter his influence, Leo III is said to have had documents forged implicating John of Damascus in a plot to attack Damascus. Called to account for these writings by the caliph, John asked to leave his post and retire to Mar Saba near Jerusalem. There, he studied, wrote and preached until he was ordained a priest in 735.

A legendary Greek account adds that before going to Mar Saba his right hand was ordered cut off at the wrist by the caliph, and that it was miraculously restored after fervent prayer before an icon of the Virgin Mary (later named "Trojeručica").

Last Days

John died in 749 as a revered Father of the Church, and is recognized as a saint. He is sometimes called the last of the Church Fathers by the Roman Catholic Church. In 1883 he was declared a Doctor of the Church by the Holy See.

Veneration

When the name of Saint John of Damascus was inserted in the General Roman Calendar in 1890, it was assigned to 27 March. This date always falls within Lent, a period during which there are no obligatory Memorials. The feast day was therefore moved in 1969 to the day of the saint's death, 4 December, the day on which his feast day is celebrated also in the Byzantine Rite calendar.

List of works

Early Works

Three "Apologetic Treatises against those Decrying the Holy Images" – These treatises were among his earliest expositions in response to the edict by the Byzantine Emperor Leo III, banning the worship or exhibition of holy images.

Teachings and Dogmatic Works

"Fountain of Knowledge" or "The Fountain of Wisdom", is divided into three parts:
"Philosophical Chapters" (Kephalaia philosophika) – Commonly called 'Dialectic', deals mostly with logic, its primary purpose being to prepare the reader for a better understanding of the rest of the book.
"Concerning Heresy" (peri haireseon) – The last chapter of this part (Chapter 101) deals with the Heresy of the Ishmaelites. Differently from the previous 'chapters' on other heresies which are usually only a few lines long, this chapter occupies a few pages in his work. It is one of the first Christian polemical writings against Islam, and the first one written by a Greek Orthodox/Melkite.
"An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith" (Ekdosis akribes tes orthodoxou pisteos) – a summary of the dogmatic writings of the Early Church Fathers, the third section of the book is known to be the most important work of John de Damascene, and a treasured antiquity of Christianity.
Against the Jacobites
Against the Nestorians
Dialogue against the Manichees
Elementary Introduction into Dogmas
Letter on the Thrice-Holy Hymn
On Right Thinking
On the Faith, Against the Nestorians
On the Two Wills in Christ (Against the Monothelites)
Sacred Parallels (dubious)
"Octoechos" (the Church's service book of eight tones)


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_of_Damascus

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Saint Julian of Antioch (sometimes called Julian of Cilicia, Julian of Anazarbus, Julian of Tarsus) is venerated as a Christian martyr of the fourth century. His date of death is given as 305 AD. He is sometimes confused with another saint of the same name.
Of senatorial rank, he was killed during the persecutions of Diocletian. His legend states that he was subjected to terrible tortures and paraded daily for a whole year through various cities of Cilicia. He was then sewn up in a sack half-filled with scorpions, sand, and vipers, and cast into the sea. The sea carried his body to Alexandria, and was buried there before being moved to Antioch.
Saint John Chrysostom preached a homily in Julian's honor at Antioch, whose basilica was said to be the final resting place for Julian's relics.
His feast day is June 21 in the Eastern Orthodox Church, March 16 in the Catholic Church.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_of_Antioch

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Luke the Evangelist (Ancient Greek: Λουκᾶς Loukas) was an Early Christian writer who the Church Fathers such as Jerome and Eusebius said was the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.

The Roman Catholic Church venerates him as Saint Luke, patron saint of physicians, surgeons, students, butchers, and artists; his feast day is 18 October.

Life

Saint Luke was a physician and lived in Greece in the city of Antioch.

His earliest notice is in Paul's Epistle to Philemon, verse 24. He is also mentioned in Colossians 4:14 and 2 Timothy 4:11, two works commonly ascribed to Paul. The next earliest account of Luke is in the Anti-Marcionite Prologue to the Gospel of Luke, a document once thought to date to the 2nd century, but which has more recently been dated to the later 4th century. Helmut Koester, however, claims that the following part – the only part preserved in the original Greek – may have been composed in the late 2nd century:

“ Luke, a native of Antioch, by profession a physician. He had become a disciple of the apostle Paul and later followed Paul until his [Paul's] martyrdom. Having served the Lord continuously, unmarried and without children, filled with the Holy Spirit he died at the age of 84 years. (p. 335) ”

Epiphanius states that Luke was one of the Seventy (Panarion 51.11), and John Chrysostom indicates at one point that the "brother" Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 8:18 is either Luke or Barnabas. J. Wenham asserts that Luke was "one of the Seventy, the Emmaus disciple, Lucius of Cyrene and Paul's kinsman." Not all scholars are as confident of all of these attributes as Wenham is, not least because Luke's own statement at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke (1:1–4) freely admits that he was not an eyewitness to the events of the Gospel.
If accepted that Luke was in fact the author of the Gospel bearing his name and also the Acts of the Apostles, certain details of his personal life can be reasonably assumed. While he does exclude himself from those who were eyewitnesses to Jesus' ministry, he repeatedly uses the word "we" in describing the Pauline missions in Acts of the Apostles, indicating that he was personally there at those times.

There is similar evidence that Luke resided in Troas, the province which included the ruins of ancient Troy, in that he writes in Acts in the third person about Paul and his travels until they get to Troas, where he switches to the first person plural. The "we" section of Acts continues until the group leaves Philippi, when his writing goes back to the third person. This change happens again when the group returns to Philippi. There are three "we sections" in Acts, all following this rule. Luke never stated, however, that he lived in Troas, and this is the only evidence that he did.

The composition of the writings, as well as the range of vocabulary used, indicate that the author was an educated man. The quote in the Letter of Paul to the Colossians differentiating between Luke and other colleagues "of the circumcision" has caused many to speculate that this indicates Luke was a Gentile. If this were true, it would make Luke the only writer of the New Testament who can clearly be identified as not being Jewish. However, that is not the only possibility. The phrase could just as easily be used to differentiate between those Christians who strictly observed the rituals of Judaism and those who did not.

Luke died at age 84 in Boeotia, according to a "fairly early and widespread tradition".

According to Nikiphoros-Kallistos Xanthopoulos (Eccles. History XIVth c. AD., Migne P.G. 145, 876) and others, Luke's Tomb was located in Thebes (Greece), from whence his relics were transferred to Constantinople in the year 357.

Luke as a Historian

Most scholars understand Luke's works (Luke-Acts) in the tradition of Greek historiography. The preface of The Gospel of Luke (1:1-4) drawing on historical investigation is believed to have identified the work to the readers as belonging to the genre of history. There is some disagreement about how best to treat Luke's writings, with some historians regarding Luke as highly accurate, and others taking a more critical approach.

Archaeologist Sir William Ramsay wrote that "Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy...[he] should be placed along with the very greatest of historians." Professor of classics at Auckland University, E.M. Blaiklock, wrote: "For accuracy of detail, and for evocation of atmosphere, Luke stands, in fact, with Thucydides. The Acts of the Apostles is not shoddy product of pious imagining, but a trustworthy record...it was the spadework of archaeology which first revealed the truth." New Testament scholar Colin Hemer has made a number of advancements in understanding the historical nature and accuracy of Luke's writings.

On the purpose of Acts, New Testament Scholar Luke Timothy Johnson has noted that "Luke's account is selected and shaped to suit his apologetic interests, not in defiance of but in conformity to ancient standards of historiography." Such a position is shared by most commentators such as Richard Heard who sees historical deficiencies as arising from "special objects in writing and to the limitations of his sources of information." Robert M. Grant has noted that although Luke saw himself within the historical tradition, his work contains a number of statistical improbabilities such as the sizable crowd addressed by Peter in Acts 4:4. He has also noted chronological difficulties whereby Luke "has Gamaliel refer to Theudas and Judas in the wrong order, and Theudas actually rebelled about a decade after Gamaliel spoke(5:36-7)'

The Catholic Encyclopedia talks of Luke's 'extreme accuracy', while noting that hypotheses to reconcile a claim allegedly made by Luke that Annas and Caiaphas were High Priest simultaneously, while 'more or less plausible', are 'not strictly accurate', and the List of High Priests of Israel shows the two to be separated by two years and three incumbents.

It has also been noted that accuracy in some details does not necessarily imply accuracy in others, and vice versa.

Iconography

Another Christian tradition states that he was the first iconographer, and painted pictures of the Virgin Mary (for example, The Black Madonna of Częstochowa or Our Lady of Vladimir) and of Peter and Paul. Thus late medieval guilds of St Luke in the cities of Flanders, or the Accademia di San Luca ("Academy of St Luke") in Rome, imitated in many other European cities during the 16th century, gathered together and protected painters. The tradition that Luke painted icons of Mary and Jesus has been common, particularly in Eastern Orthodoxy. The tradition also has support from the Saint Thomas Christians of India who claim to still have one of the Theotokos icons that St Luke painted and Thomas brought to India.

New Testament books

Some scholars attribute to Luke the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, which is clearly meant to be read as a sequel to the Gospel account. Other scholars question Luke's authorship of these books. Many secular scholars give credit to Luke's abilities as an historian. Both books are dedicated to one Theophilus and no scholar seriously doubts that the same person wrote both works, though neither work contains the name of its author.

Many argue that the author of the book must have been a companion of the Apostle Paul, because of several passages in Acts written in the first person plural (known as the We Sections). These verses (see Acts 16:10–17, 20:5–15, 21:1–18, etc.) seem to indicate the author was traveling with Paul during parts of his journeys. Some scholars report that, of the colleagues that Paul mentions in his epistles, the process of elimination leaves Luke as the only person who fits everything known about the author of Luke/Acts.

Additionally, the earliest manuscript of the Gospel (Papyrus Bodmer XIV/XV = P75), dated circa AD 200, ascribes the work to Luke; as did Irenaeus, writing circa AD 180; and the Muratorian fragment from AD 170. Scholars defending Luke's authorship say there is no reason for early Christians to attribute these works to such a minor figure if he did not in fact write them, nor is there any tradition attributing this work to any other author.

The Relics of St. Luke the Evangelist

The remains of St. Luke were brought to Padua, Italy, sometime before 1177, according to tradition. In 1992, the then Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Ieronymos of Thebes and Levathia (currently the Archbishop of Greece) requested from Bishop Antonio Mattiazzo of Padua the return of a "a significant fragment of the relics of St. Luke to be placed on the site where the holy tomb of the Evangelist is located and venerated today". This prompted a scientific investigation of the relics in Padua, and by numerous lines of empirical evidence (archeological analyses of the Tomb in Thebes and the Reliquary of Padua, anatomical analyses of the remains, Carbon-14 dating, comparison with the purported skull of the Evangelist located in Prague) confirmed that these were the remains of an individual of Syrian descent who died between 130 and 400 A.D. The Bishop of Padua then delivered to Metropolitan Ieronymos the rib of St. Luke that was closest to his heart to be kept at his tomb in Thebes, Greece.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luke_the_Evangelist

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The holy, glorious and all-laudable Apostle and Evangelist Luke is the author of the Gospel of Luke, the companion of the Apostle Paul (Phil 1:24, 2 Tim 4:10-11), and is numbered among the Seventy Apostles. He was a native of Syrian Antioch and a physician, and is the founder of iconography.
His emblem is the calf, the third symbolical beast mentioned by Ezekiel (1:10), which is a symbol of Christ's sacrificial and priestly office, as pointed out by St. Irenaeus. His feast days are celebrated on October 18; on April 22 with Apostles Nathaniel and Clement; on June 20 on which day his relics, among others, were translated to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople; and on January 4, the synaxis of the Seventy.

Life

Saint Luke, was of Greek origin born in the Hellenistic city of Antioch, and was extremally educated. His studies included Greek philosophy, medicine, and art in his youth. He was also a professional physician. St. Luke came to Jerusalem where he came to believe in the Lord. He and Cleopas met the resurrected Lord on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24).

After Pentecost, Luke returned to Antioch and worked with the Apostle Paul, traveling with him to Rome, and converting Jews and pagans to the Christian Faith. "Luke, the beloved physician, ... greets you," writes the Apostle Paul to the Colossians (Colossians 4:14). At the request of Christians, St. Luke wrote his Gospel in the first century. According to some accounts this took place around 60 A.D., and according to others around 80 A.D. After St. Paul's martyrdom, St. Luke preached the Gospel throughout Italy, Dalmatia, Macedonia, and other regions. He painted icons of the Most-holy Theotokos—not just one, but three—as well as icons of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. For this reason, St. Luke is considered the founder of Christian iconography. In his old age, he visited Libya and Upper Egypt; from Egypt he returned to Greece, where he continued to preach and convert many with great zeal despite his age.

In addition to his Gospel, St. Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles and dedicated each of these works to Theophilus, the governor of Achaia. Luke was 84 years old when the wicked idolaters tortured him for the sake of Christ and hanged him from an olive tree in the town of Thebes, in Beothia of Greece.

St. Luke wrote the first icon, of the Most Holy Theotokos Directress or Hodigitria, mentioned in the Paraklesis to the Theotokos:

Speechless be the lips of impious ones,
Those who do not reverence
Your great icon, the sacred one
Which is called Directress,
And was depicted for us
By one of the apostles,
Luke the Evangelist.
—The Service of the Small Paraklesis (GOARCH)

The Relics of St. Luke

His miracle-working relics were transported to Constantinople during the 4th-century, under the reign of Emperor Constantius (357AD), the son of Constantine. In 1204, the Crusadors of the IV Crusade stole the relic from Constantinople and transported it to Padova in Italy and it is still located there in the Catholic church of Santa Justina at the centre of the city.

In 1992, the then Metropolitan Ieronymos of Thebes and Levathia (currently the Archbishop of Greece) requested the return of a "a significant fragment of the relics of St. Luke to be placed on the site where the holy tomb of the Evangelist is located and venerated today". This prompted a scientific investigation of the relics in Padua, and by numerous lines of empirical evidence confirmed that these were the remains of an individual of Syrian descent who died between 130 and 400 A.D. The Bishop of Padua then delivered to Metropolitan Ieronymos the rib of St. Luke that was closest to his heart to be kept at his tomb in Thebes, Greece.

The tomb works miracles even today. In December 22, 1997 at 1.30pm myrrh appeared on the tomb's marble and since then the interior of the marble sarcophagus is fragrant.The olive tree is still living to the right side of the cemetery in Thebes. On the right side of the sanctuary of this church is tthe roman sarcophagus where the body of St. Luke had been placed. This tomb belonged to a Roman family of the 2nd-century BC but later on it was emptied and the Christians of Thebes used it as "honour" for St. Luke's relic since it was a majestic tomb.

Hymns

Troparion (Tone 5)

Let us praise with sacred songs the Holy Apostle Luke,
The recorder of the Joyous Gospel of Christ,
And the scribe of the Acts of the Apostles,
For his writings are a testimony of the Church of Christ:
He is the Physician of human weaknesses and infirmities.
He heals the wounds of our souls,
And constantly intercedes for our salvation!

Kontakion (Tone 4)

You became a disciple of God the Word,
With Paul you enlightened all the world,
Casting out its darkness by composing the Holy Gospel of Christ.

Kontakion (Tone 2)

Let us praise the godly Luke:
He is the true preacher of piety,
The orator of ineffable mysteries
And the star of the Church,
For the Word who alone knows the hearts of men,
Chose him, with the wise Paul, to be a teacher of the gentiles!


Source: http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/Apostle_Luke

fatman2021 #343421 02/13/10 11:53 PM
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Saint Manahen (also Manaen) was a teacher of the Church of Antioch and the foster brother (Gk. syntrophos, Vulg. collactaneus) of Herod Antipas.

Little is known of Manahen's life. He is said to be one those who, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, laid hands upon Saul and Barnabas and sent the two Apostles on the first of St. Paul's missionary journeys (Acts 13:3). Since St. Luke was an Antiochene, it is not unlikely that Manahen was one of the "the prophets and doctors" of the Church of Antioch was one of the "eyewitnesses and ministers of the word" (Luke 1:2), who delivered unto Luke the details which that sacred writer has in regard to Antipas and other members of the Herodian family (Luke 3:1, 19, 20; 8:3; 9:7-9; 13:31, 32; 23:8-12; Acts 12). He may have become a disciple of Jesus with "Joanna, the wife of Chusa, Herod's steward" (Luke 8:3).

In A.D. 39, Antipas left for Rome to gain the favor of Caligula, but instead received an order of perpetual exile. (Jos., "Ant.", XVIII, vii, 2). During this time, the Church of Antioch was founded by Jewish Christians, who "had been dispersed by the persecution that arose on the occasion of Stephen" and had taught the Gospel also to the Greeks of Antioch, (Acts 11:19-24). It is quite likely that St. Manahen was one of these founders of the Antiochene Church. His feast is celebrated on May 24.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manahen

fatman2021 #343423 02/14/10 12:03 AM
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Mar Awgin, also known as Saint Eugenios (died ca. 379) founded the first cenobitic monastery of Asia.
Originally, Saint Eugenios was a pearl-fisher from the island Clysma or Kolzum near Suez in Egypt. After having worked for 25 years, he joined the monastery of Pachomius in Upper Egypt, where he worked as a baker. He is reported to have possessed spiritual gifts and worked miracles, and draw some following from among the monks. About 70 monks accompanied him when he left Egypt for Mesopotamia, where he founded a monastery on Mt. Izla above the city of Nisibis.
The location was well chosen, for Nisibis lay on the eastern edge of the Roman Empire, which had just embraced Christianity as the official religion. The rest of Mesopotamia was under Sassanid rule, which tried to revive the Zoroastrian religion and occasionally persecuted the Christian population.
The community on Mt. Izla grew rapidly, and from here other monasteries were founded throughout Mesopotamia, Persia, Armenia, Georgia, and even India and China.
A crisis occurred during the 6th century: to please the Zoroastrian rulers, the Assyrian Church decided all monks and nuns should marry. Many left the church to join the Monophysite denomination and spiritual life declined. But the reforms were soon reverted. Abraham the Great of Kashkar founded a new monastery on Mt. Izla, and he and his successor Babai the Great revived the strict monastic movement. Married monks were driven out, the teaching of the church was set on a firm orthodox basis, and Assyrian monasticism flourished for another thousand years.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mar_Awgin

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Margaret the Virgin, also known as Margaret of Antioch (in Pisidia), virgin and martyr, is celebrated as a saint by the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches on July 20; and on July 17 in the Orthodox Church. Her historical existence has been questioned; she was declared apocryphal by Pope Gelasius I in 494, but devotion to her revived in the West with the Crusades. She was reputed to have promised very powerful indulgences to those who wrote or read her life, or invoked her intercessions; these no doubt helped the spread of her cultus.

According to the Golden Legend, she was a native of Antioch, daughter of a pagan priest named Aedesius. She was scorned by her father for her Christian faith, and lived in the country with a foster-mother keeping sheep. Olybrius, the praeses orientis (Governor of the Roman Diocese of the East), offered her marriage at the price of her renunciation of Christianity. Upon her refusal, she was cruelly tortured, during which various miraculous incidents occurred. One of these involved being swallowed by Satan in the shape of a dragon, from which she escaped alive when the cross she carried irritated the dragon's innards. The Golden Legend, in an atypical moment of scepticism, describes this last incident as "apocryphal and not to be taken seriously" (trans. Ryan, 1.369). She was put to death in A.D. 304.

The Eastern Orthodox Church knows Margaret as Saint Marina, and celebrates her feast day on July 17. She has been identified with Saint Pelagia – "Marina" being the Latin equivalent of the Greek name "Pelagia" – who, according to a legend, was also called Margarita. We possess no historical documents on St Margaret as distinct from St Pelagia. The Greek Marina came from Antioch, Pisidia (as opposed to Antioch of Syria), but this distinction was lost in the West.

An attempt has been made, but without success, to prove that the group of legends with which that of Saint Margaret is connected is derived from a transformation of the pagan divinity Aphrodite into a Christian saint. The problem of her identity is a purely literary question.

The cultus of Saint Margaret became very widespread in England, where more than 250 churches are dedicated to her, most famously, St. Margaret's, Westminster, the parish church of the British Houses of Parliament in London. Some consider her a patron saint of pregnancy. In art, she is usually pictured escaping from, or standing above, a dragon.
She is recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, being listed as such in the Roman Martyrology for July 20.

She was also included from the twelfth to the twentieth century among the saints to be commemorated wherever the Roman Rite was celebrated, but was then removed from that list because of the entirely fabulous character of the stories told of her.

Margaret is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and is one of the saints who spoke to Joan of Arc.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_the_Virgin

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fatman2021 #343425 02/14/10 12:11 AM
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Saint Maruthas was a monk who became bishop of Tagrit or Maypherkat in Mesopotamia (modern Tikrit, in Iraq), friend of Saint John Chrysostom, believed to have died before 420. He is venerated as a Saint by Catholics, Greek Orthodox believers and Copts, his feast being kept on 4 December. He brought into his episcopal city the relics of so many martyrs that it received the surname Martyropolis. In the interests of the Church of Persia, which had suffered much in the persecution of Shapur II, he came to Constantinople, but found Emperor Arcadius too busily engaged in the affairs of St. John Chrysostom. Later Maruthas was sent by Emperor Theodosius II to the court of Persia, where, notwithstanding the Magi, he won the esteem of King Yazdegerd I of Persia by his affability, saintly life, and, as is claimed, by his knowledge of medicine. He was present at the general First Council of Constantinople in 381 and at a Council of Antioch in 383 (or 390), at which the Messalians were condemned. For the benefit of the Persian Church he is said to have held two synods at Ctesiphon. A great organizer, he was one of the first to give a regular structure to the church, helped in his mission by the catholicos Isaac. His writings include:
Acts of the Persian Martyrs (these acts remember the victims of the persecution of Shapur II; ample portions of this work have survived, though perhaps written by someone other than Maruthas)
History of the Council of Nicaea
A translation in Syriac of the canons of the Council of Nicaea
A Syrian lytugy, or anaphora
Commentaries on the Gospels
Acts of the Council of Seleucia-Ctesiphon (26 spurious canons of a synod held in 410)
He also wrote hymns on the Holy Eucharist, on the Cross, and on saints died in Shapur's persecution.

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Palladius of Antioch, Saint Palladius the Desert Dweller (died 309) is an Orthodox and Catholic saint. Palladius was a hermit in the desert near Antioch, Syria (today Turkey). He was a friend of Saint Simeon. Palladius died in 390 of natural causes and was canonized in pre-Congregation times.
Saint Palladius the Desert Dweller led an ascetic life in a mountain cave near Syrian Antioch. Because of his struggles, he is said to have received the gift wonder-working from the Lord. Once, a merchant was found murdered by robbers near his cave. People accused St Palladius of the murder, but through the prayer of the saint, the dead man rose up and named his murderers. The saint died at the end of the fourth century, leaving behind several works.
Saint Palladius is commemorated in the Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches on January 28.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palladius_of_Antioch

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Saint Philip of Agira (also Aggira, Agirone, Agirya or Argira) was an early Christian confessor. There are two parallel stories of this saint which give to possible dates in which this saint lived. Traditionally, thorugh the writings of St. Athanasius, it is maintained that Philip of Agira is a saint of the 1st Century, born in the year 40 AD in Cappadocia (modern Turkey) and died on the 12th of May, 103 AD.

Another recent study says to have been born of a Syrian father in Thrace on an unknown date in the 5th century whose elder brothers drowned whilst fishing. Philip was known as the "Apostle of the Sicilians", as he was the first Christian missionary to visit that island. Nothing else can be certainly stated about him.

His feast day is May 12 and he is, naturally, patron saint of the city of Agira, Sicily and of the city of Ħaż-Żebbuġ, Malta. Philip is one of the patron saints of the United States Army Special Forces.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_of_Agira

fatman2021 #343428 02/14/10 12:21 AM
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Romanos (Greek: Ρωμανός, Rhōmanós, often Latinized as Romanus), also known as Saint Romanos the Melodist or Roman the Hymnographer, was one of the greatest of Greek hymnographers, called "the Pindar of rhythmic poetry". He flourished during the sixth century, which is considered to be the "Golden Age" of Byzantine hymnography.

Life

The main source of information about the life of Romanos comes from the Menaion for October. Beyond this, his name is mentioned by only two other ancient sources. One in the eighth-century poet St. Germanos, and once in the Souda (s. v. anaklomenon), where he is called "Romanos the melodist". From this scanty evidence we learn that he was born to a Jewish family in either Emesa (modern-day Homs) or Damascus in Syria. He was baptized as a young boy (though whether or not his parents also converted is uncertain). Having moved to Berytus (Beirut), he was ordained a deacon in the Church of the Resurrection there.

He later moved to Constantinople during the reign of the emperor Anastasius—on the question whether Anastasius I (491-518) or Anastasius II (713-716) is meant, the renowned Byzantinologist, Prof. Karl Krumbacher favours the earlier date. There he served as sacristan in the "Great Church" (Hagia Sophia), residing to the end of his life at the Monastery of Kyros, where he was buried along with his disciple St. Ananias.

If those scholars who believe that he lived during the reign of the earlier Anastasius are correct, then he may have continued writing during the reign of Emperor Justinian (527-65), who was himself a hymn-writer; this would make him a contemporary of two other famous Byzantine hymnographers, Anastasios and Kyriakos.

Legend

According to legend, Romanus was not at first considered to be either a talented reader or singer. He was, however, loved by the Patriarch of Constantinople because of his great humility. Once, around the year 518, while serving in the Church of the Panagia at Blachernae, during the All-Night Vigil for the Feast of the Nativity of Christ, he was assigned to read the kathisma verses from the Psalter. He read so poorly that another reader had to take his place. Some of the lesser clergy ridiculed Romanus for this, and being humiliated he sat down in one of the choir stalls. Overcome by weariness and sorrow, he soon fell asleep. As he slept, the Theotokos (Mother of God) appeared to him with a scroll in her hand. She commanded him to eat the scroll, and as soon as he did so, he awoke. He immediately received a blessing from the Patriarch, mounted the ambo (pulpit), and chanted extemporaneously his famous Kontakion of the Nativity, "Today the Virgin gives birth to Him Who is above all being…." The emperor, the patriarch, the clergy, and the entire congregation were amazed at both the profound theology of the hymn and Romanos' clear, sonorous voice as he sang. According to tradition, this was the very first kontakion ever sung. The Greek word "kontakion" (κοντάκιον) refers to the shaft on which a scroll is wound, hence the significance of the Theotokos' command for him to swallow a scroll, indicating that his compositions were by divine inspiration. The scene of Romanos's first performance is often shown in the lower register of Pokrov icons (example above).

Works

Romanos wrote in an Atticized literary koine— i.e., he had a popular, but elevated style— and abundant Semiticisms support the view that he was of Jewish origin. Arresting imagery, sharp metaphors and similes, bold comparisons, antitheses, coining of successful maxims, and vivid dramatization characterize his style.
He is said to have composed more than 1,000 hymns or kontakia celebrating various festivals of the ecclesiastical year, the lives of the saints and other sacred subjects, some 60 to 80 of which survive (though not all those attributed to him may be genuine).
Today, usually only the first strophe of each kontakion is chanted during the divine services, the full hymn having been replaced by the canon. A full kontakion was a poetic sermon composed of from 18 to 30 verses or ikoi, each with a refrain, and united by an acrostic. When it was sung to an original melody, it was called an idiomelon. Originally, Saint Romanos' works were known simply as "psalms", "odes", or "poems". It was only in the ninth century that the term kontakion came into use.

Among his known works are kontakia on:

1) The Nativity of Christ
2) The Martyrdom of St Stephen
3) The Death of a Monk
4) The Last Judgment
5) The Prodigal Son
6) The Raising of Lazarus (for Lazarus Saturday, the day before
Palm Sunday)
7) Adam's Lament (for Palm Sunday)
8) The Treachery of Judas

His Kontakion of the Nativity is still considered to be his masterpiece, and up until the twelfth century, it was sung every year at the imperial banquet on that feast by the joint choirs of Hagia Sophia and of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. Most of the poem takes the form of a dialogue between the Mother of God and the Magi, whose visit to the newborn Christ Child is celebrated in the Byzantine rite on 25th of December, rather than on the 6th of January, when Western Christians celebrate the visit (in the Orthodox Church, January 6, the Feast of the Theophany, celebrates the Baptism of Christ).

Of his other Kontakia, one of the most well-known is the hymn, "My soul, my souls, why sleepest thou..." which is chanted as part of the service of the "Great Canon" of St. Andrew of Crete on the fifth Thursday of Great Lent.

Romanus is one of many persons who have been credited with composing the famous Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos which is chanted so often as a devotion by Orthodox Christians.
Prof Krumbacher published in Munich several previously unpublished chants of Romanos and other hymnographers, from manuscripts discovered in the library of the Monastery of St John the Theologian in Patmos. There exists in the library of Moscow a Greek manuscript which contains kontakia and oikoi for the whole year, but does not include all compositions of Romanos.

Professor Krumbacher says of his work, "In poetic talent, fire of inspiration, depth of feeling, and elevation of language, he far surpasses all the other melodes. The literary history of the future will perhaps acclaim Romanos for the greatest ecclesiastical poet of all ages."

Iconographic depiction

Although in more recent icons Saint Romanos is depicted standing on the ambo (directly in front of the iconostasis) and wearing a deacon's sticharion, the famous Russian church musicologist, Johann von Gardner, points out that in the oldest icons he is portrayed wearing the shorter red tunic of a singer and standing on a raised platform in the middle of the church.
In the Russian Orthodox Church, Saint Romanos is the patron saint of church singers.


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Saint Romanus of Caesarea (also known as Romanus of Antioch) is venerated as a martyr. In 303 or 304, at the beginning of the Diocletian persecution, a deacon called Romanus of Caesarea in Palestine suffered martyrdom at Antioch. He was taken prisoner, was condemned to death by fire, and was bound to the stake; however, as Emperor Galerius was then in Antioch, Romanus was brought before him. At the emperor's command Romanus' tongue was cut out. Tortured in various ways in prison he was finally strangled.

Eusebius speaks of his martyrdom in De martyribus Palaestinae. Prudentius relates other details and gives Romanus a companion in martyrdom, a Christian by name Barulas. On this account several historians, among them Baronius, consider that there were two martyrs named Romanus at Antioch, though more likely there was but the one whom Eusebius mentions. Prudentius has introduced legendary features into his account, and his connection of the martyrdom of Barulas with that of Romanus is probably arbitrary.

The feast day of St. Romanus is observed on 18 November. Barulas, like St. Quiricus, is venerated as a child-martyr. The church of San Román in Seville is dedicated to Romanus. Prudentius wrote a 1140 line hymn to Romanus, the Romane Christi fortis, the tenth hymn in his Peristephanon.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanus_of_Caesarea

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Romanus of Samosata (died 297) was a martyr for Christianity in Syria in 297. He and his companions, Jacob, Philotheus, Hyperechius, Abibus, Julianus, and Paregorius were all subject to a variety of tortures before being hanged to trees and then nailed against them. They are mentioned in the Menaea Graeca and the Menologium der Orthodox-Katholischen Kirche des Morgenlandes. Their feast day is January 29.
Romanus is one of the 140 Colonnade saints which adorn St. Peter's Square.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanus_of_Samosata

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Saints Sergius and Bacchus (also Serge and Bacchus or Sergios kai Bakchos or Sarkis wa Bakhos), were third century Roman soldiers who are commemorated as martyrs by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches. According to their hagiography Sergius and Bacchus were officers in Caesar Galerius Maximianus's army, and were held high in his favor until they were exposed as secret Christians. They were then severely punished, with Bacchus dying during torture, and Sergius eventually beheaded. Churches in their honor have been built in several cities, including Constantinople and Rome. Their feast day is October 7. The close friendship between Sergius and Bacchus is strongly emphasized in their hagiographies and traditions, making them one of the most famous examples of paired saints. This closeness has led some modern commentators to put forth the controversial suggestion that their relationship was a romantic one.

Legend

The saints' story is told in the Greek text known as The Passion of Sergius and Bacchus. According to the text, they were Roman citizens and high-ranking officers of the Roman Army, but their covert Christianity was discovered when they attempted to avoid accompanying a Roman official into a pagan temple with the rest of his bodyguard. After they persisted in refusing to sacrifice to Zeus in the company of the emperor Galerius, they were publicly humiliated by being chained and dressed in female attire and paraded around town. Galerius then sent them to Barbalissos in Mesopotamia to be tried by Antiochus, the military commander there and an old friend of Sergius. Antiochus could not convince them to give up their faith, however, and Bacchus was beaten to death. The next day he appeared to Sergius and encouraged him to remain strong. Over the next days, Sergius was also brutally tortured and finally executed at Resafa, where his death was marked by miraculous happenings.

Historicity

The Passion, replete with supernatural occurrences and historical anachronisms, has been dismissed as a reliable historical source. There is no firm evidence for Sergius and Bacchus' scholae palatinae having been used by Galerius or any other emperor before Constantine I, and given that persecution of Christians had begun in the army considerably before the overall persecutions of the early 4th century, it is very unlikely that even secret Christians could have risen through the ranks of the imperial bodyguard. Finally, there is no evidence to support the existence of monks, such as the ones said in the Passion to have recovered Bacchus' body, living near the Euphrates during the 4th century.

Instead, the Italian scholar Pio Franchi de Cavalieri has argued that The Passion of Sergius and Bacchus was based on an earlier lost passion of Juventinus and Maximinus, two saints martyred under Emperor Julian the Apostate in 363.

He noted especially that the punishment of being paraded around in women's clothes reflected the treatment of Christian soldiers by Julian. David Woods further notes that Zosimus' Historia Nova includes a description of Julian punishing cavalry deserters in just such a manner, further strengthening the argument that the author of The Passion of Sergius and Bacchus took material from the stories of martyrs of Julian's time rather than that of Galerius.

Additionally, the work has been dated to mid-5th century, and there is no other evidence for the cult of Sergius and Bacchus before about 425, over a century after they are said to have died. As such there is considerable doubt about their historicity.

Popularity and veneration

Veneration of the two saints dates to the 5th century. A shrine to Sergius was built in Resafa around 425, but there is no certain evidence for his or Bacchus' cult much older than that. This shrine was constructed of mudbrick, evidently at the behest of bishop Alexander of Hierapolis. The Passion has been dated to the mid-5th century on the grounds that it describes the construction of such a shrine as if it were a relatively recent occurrence. This structure was replaced with a sturdier stone one in 518; this new site was patronized by important political figures including Roman Emperor Justinian I, King Khosrau II of Sassanid Persia, and Al-Mundhir, ruler of the Ghassanids.

The popularity of the cult of Sergius and Bacchus grew rapidly during the early 5th century, in accordance with the growth of the cult of martyrs, especially military martyrs, during that period. In the Byzantine Empire, they were venerated as protectors of the army. A large monastery church, the Little Hagia Sophia, was dedicated to them in Constantinople by Justinian I, probably in 527. Sergius was a very popular saint in Syria and Christian Arabia.

The city of Resafa, which became a bishop's see, took the name Sergiopolis and preserved his relics in a fortified basilica. Resafa was improved by Emperor Justinian, and became one of the greatest pilgrimage centers in the East. Many other churches were built dedicated in the name of Sergius, sometimes with Bacchus. A church dedicated to Santi Sergio e Bacco was built in Rome in the 9th century. Christian art represents the two saints as soldiers in military garb with branches of palm in their hands. Their feast is observed on 7 October, and a mass is assigned to them in the "Sacramentarium" of Pope Gelasius. The nomads of the desert looked upon Sergius as their special patron saint.

Sergius and Bacchus are noted as a classic example of paired saints; scholar John Boswell considers them to be the most influential example of such a pair, even better an example of such an archetype than Saints Peter and Paul. In his book Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, Boswell further argues that Sergius and Bacchus's relationship can be understood as having a romantic dimension, noting that the oldest text of their martyrology describes them as erastai, which can be translated as "lovers". He suggested controversially that the two were even united in a rite known as adelphopoiesis or (brother-making), which he argued was a type of early Christian same-sex union or blessing, reinforcing his view of tolerant early Christian attitudes toward homosexuality. However, Boswell's methodology and conclusions have been critically challenged by historians including David Woods, Robin Darling Young, and Brent Shaw.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saints_Sergius_and_Bacchus

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The Seven Deacons were leaders elected by the early Christian church to minister to the people of Jerusalem. They are described in the Acts of the Apostles, and are the subject of later traditions as well; for instance they are supposed to have been members of the Seventy Disciples who appear in the Gospel of Luke. The Seven Deacons were Stephen Protomartyr, Philip the Evangelist, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas.

The Deacons

Only Stephen and Philip are discussed in much detail in Acts; tradition provides nothing more about Nicanor or Parmenas. Stephen became the first martyr of the church when he was killed by a mob; and whose death was agreed to by Saul of Tarsus, the future Paul (Acts 8:1). Philip evangelized in Samaria, where he converted Simon Magus and an Ethiopian eunuch, traditionally beginning the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Tradition calls Prochorus the nephew of Stephen and a companion of John the Evangelist, who consecrated him bishop of Nicomedia in Bithynia (modern-day Turkey). He was traditionally ascribed the authorship of the apocryphal Acts of John, and was said to have ended his life as a martyr in Antioch in the 1st century.

According to Caesar Baronius' Annales Ecclesiastici, now considered historically inaccurate, he was a Cypriot Jew who returned to his native island and died a martyr in 76. Other accounts say he was martyred in "Berj," an unidentified place possibly confused with Botrys. Timon was said to have been a Hellenized Jew who became a bishop in Greece or in Bosra, Syria; in the latter account, his preaching brought the ire of the local governor, who martyred him with fire. After preaching for years in Asia Minor, where Hippolytus of Rome claimed he was bishop of Soli (Pompeiopolis; though he may have been referring to Soli, Cyprus), he was said to have settled down in Macedonia, where he died at Philippi in 98 during Trajan's persecutions.

Nicholas, described in Acts as a convert to Judaism, was not remembered fondly by some early writers. According to Irenaeus' Adversus Haereses, the Nicolaitanes, a heretical sect condemned as early as the Book of Revelation, took their name from the deacon. In Philosophumena, Hippolytus writes he inspired the sect through his indifference to life and the pleasures of the flesh; his followers took this as a licence to give in to lust. The Catholic Encyclopedia records a story that after the Apostles reproached Nicholas for mistreating his beautiful wife on account of his jealousy, he left her and consented to anyone else marrying her, saying the flesh should be maltreated. In the Stromata, Clement of Alexandria says the sect corrupted Nicholas' words, originally designed to check the pleasures of the body, to justify licentiousness. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that the historicity of the story is debatable, though the Nicolaitanes themselves may have considered Nicholas their founder.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Deacons

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Simeon Stylites III was a pillar hermit bearing the same name as Simeon Stylites and Simeon Stylites the Younger.

He is honoured by both the Greek Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church. He is hence believed to have lived in the fifth century before the breach which occurred between these Churches. But it must be confessed that very little certain is known of him. He is believed to have been struck by lightning upon his pillar, built near Hegca in Cilicia.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simeon_Stylites_III

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Saint Simeon Stylites the Younger [also known as 'St. Simeon of the Admirable Mountain'] (521 - May 24, 597) is a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Catholic Churches of Eastern and Latin Rites. Born at Antioch, his father was a native of Edessa, his mother, named Martha was afterwards revered as a saint and a life of her, which incorporates a letter to her son written from his pillar to Thomas, the guardian of the true cross at Jerusalem, has been printed.Saint Simeon Stylites the Younger [also known as 'St. Simeon of the Admirable Mountain'] (521 - May 24, 597) is a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Catholic Churches of Eastern and Latin Rites. Born at Antioch, his father was a native of Edessa, his mother, named Martha was afterwards revered as a saint and a life of her, which incorporates a letter to her son written from his pillar to Thomas, the guardian of the true cross at Jerusalem, has been printed.

Like his namesake, the first Stylites, Simeon seems to have been drawn very young to a life of austerity. He attached himself to a community of ascetics living within the mandra or enclosure of another pillar-hermit, named John, who acted as their spiritual director. Simeon while still only a boy had a pillar erected for himself close to that of John. It is Simeon himself who in the above-mentioned letter to Thomas states that he was living upon a pillar when he lost his first teeth. He maintained this kind of life for 68 years. In the course of this period, however, he several times moved to a new pillar, and on the occasion of the first of these exchanges the Patriarch of Antioch and the Bishop of Seleucia ordained him deacon during the short space of time he spent upon the ground. For eight years until John died, Simeon remained near his master's column, so near that they could easily converse. During this period his austerities were kept in some sort of check by the older hermit.

After John's death Simeon gave full rein to his ascetical practices and Evagrius declares that he lived only upon the branches of a shrub that grew near Theopolis. Simeon the younger was ordained priest and was thus able to offer the Holy Sacrifice in memory of his mother. On such occasions his disciples one after another climbed up the ladder to receive Communion at his hands. As in the case of most of the other pillar saints a large number of miracles were believed to have been worked by Simeon the Younger. In several instances the cure was effected by pictures representing him (Holl in "Philotesia", 56). Towards the close of his life the saint occupied a column upon a mountain-side near Antioch called from his miracles the "Hill of Wonders", and it was here that he died. Besides the letter mentioned, several writings are attributed to the younger Simeon. A number of these small spiritual tractates were printed by Cozza-Luzi ("Nova PP. Bib.", VIII, iii, Rome, 1871, pp. 4–156). There is also an "Apocalypse" and letters to the Emperors Justinian and Justin II (see fragments in P.G., LXXXVI, pt. II, 3216-20). More especially Simeon was the reputed author of a certain number of liturgical hymns, "Troparis", etc. (see Pétridès in "Echos d'Orient", 1901 and 1902).


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simeon_Stylites_the_Younger

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Sophronius (560 in Damascus – March 11, 638 in Jerusalem) (Σωφρόνιος in Greek) was the Patriarch of Jerusalem from 634 until his death, and is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Before rising to the primacy of the see of Jerusalem, he was a monk and theologian who was the chief protagonist for orthodox teaching in the doctrinal controversy on the essential nature of Jesus and his volitional acts. Bishop Sophronius was of Arab descent.

A teacher of rhetoric, Sophronius became an ascetic in Egypt about 580 and then entered the monastery of St. Theodosius near Bethlehem. Traveling to monastic centres in Asia Minor, Egypt, and Rome, he accompanied the Byzantine chronicler John Moschus, who dedicated to him his celebrated tract on the religious life, Leimõn ho Leimõnon (Greek: “The Spiritual Meadow”). On the death of Moschus in Rome in 619, Sophronius accompanied the body back to Jerusalem for monastic burial. He traveled to Alexandria, Egypt, and to Constantinople in the year 633 to persuade the respective patriarchs to renounce Monothelitism, a heterodox teaching that espoused a single, divine will in Christ to the exclusion of a human capacity for choice. Sophronius' extensive writings on this question are all lost.

Although unsuccessful in this mission, Sophronius was elected patriarch of Jerusalem in 634. Soon after his enthronement he forwarded his noted synodical letter to Pope Honorius I and to the Eastern patriarchs, explaining the orthodox belief in the two natures, human and divine, of Christ, as opposed to Monothelitism, which he viewed as a subtle form of heretical Monophysitism (which posited a single [divine] nature for Christ). Moreover, he composed a Florilegium (“Anthology”) of some 600 texts from the Greek Church Fathers in favour of the orthodox tenet of Dyothelitism (positing both human and divine wills in Christ). This document also is lost.

In his Christmas sermon of 634, Sophronius was more concerned with keeping the clergy in line with the Chalcedonian view of God, giving only the most conventional of warnings of the Muslim-Arab advance on Palestine, commenting that the Arabs already controlled Bethlehem. Sophronius, who viewed the Muslim control of Palestine as "unwitting representatives of God's inevitable chastisement of weak and wavering Christians", died soon after the fall of Jerusalem to the caliph Umar I in 637, but not before he had negotiated the recognition of civil and religious liberty for Christians in exchange for tribute - an agreement known as Umari Treaty. The caliph himself came to Jerusalem, and met with the patriarch at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Sophronius invited Umar to pray there, but Umar declined, fearing to endanger the Church's status as a Christian temple.

Beside polemics, Sophronius' writings included an encomium on the Alexandrian martyrs Cyrus and John in gratitude for an extraordinary cure of his failing vision. He also wrote 23 Anacreontic (classical metre) poems on such themes as the Arab siege of Jerusalem and on various liturgical celebrations. His Anacreontica 19 and 20 seem to be an expression of the longing desire he had of the Holy City, possibly when he was absent from Jerusalem during one of his many journeys. The order of the two poems has to be inverted to establish a correct sequence of the diverse subjects. Arranged in this way, the two poems describe a complete circuit throughout the most important sanctuaries of Jerusalem at the end of 6th century, described as the golden age of Christianity in the Holy Land. Themes of Anacreonticon 20 include the gates of Jerusalem (or Solyma), the Anastasis, the Rock of the Cross, the Constantinian Basilica, Mount Sion, the Praetorium, St. Mary at the Probatica, and Gethsemane. The Mount of Olives, Bethany, and Bethlehem come next in Anacreonticon 19.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophronius

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Saints Stephanie and Victor lived in Damascus in 160, during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Roman soldiers arrested Saint Victor as a Christian and cut off his fingers, put out his eyes, and beheaded him. As Saint Stephanie, the wife of a certain soldier, and a Christian, saw Victor's nobility in his sufferings, she loudly cried out to call him blessed and to say that she saw two crowns prepared, one for him, and one for herself. She also was taken, and was tied to two palm trees which had been bowed down; when they were released, she was torn asunder.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Stephanie

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Saint Simeon Stylites or Symeon the Stylite (Arabic: مار سمعان العمودي‎ mār semʕān l-ʕamūdī) (c. 390 – 2 September 459) was a Christian ascetic saint who achieved fame because he lived for 39 years on a small platform on top of a pillar near Aleppo in Syria. Several other stylites later followed his model (the Greek word style means pillar). He is known formally as Saint Simeon Stylites the Elder to distinguish him from Simeon Stylites the Younger and Simeon Stylites III.

Early life

Simeon, who was born at Sisan (probably the current Turkish town of Samandağ) in northern Syria, was the son of a shepherd. With the partition of the Roman Empire in 395, Syria was incorporated in what would become the Byzantine Empire and Christianity grew quickly.

Reportedly under the influence of his mother Martha (who is also a saint), he developed a zeal for Christianity at the age of 13, following a lecture of the Beatitudes. He subjected himself to ever-increasing bodily austerities from an early age, especially fasting, and entered a monastery before the age of 16.

On one occasion, moving nearby, he commenced a severe regimen of fasting for Great Lent and was visited by the head of the monastery, who left him some water and loaves. A number of days later, Simeon was discovered unconscious, with the water and loaves untouched. When he was brought back to the monastery, it was discovered that he had bound his waist with a girdle made of palm fronds so tightly that days of soaking were required to remove the fibres from the wound formed. At this, Simeon was requested to leave the monastery.

He then shut himself up for one and a half years in a hut, where he passed the whole of Lent without eating or drinking. When he emerged from the hut, his achievement was hailed as a miracle. He later took to standing continually upright so long as his limbs would sustain him.

After one and a half years in his hut, Simeon sought a rocky eminence on the slopes of what is now the Sheik Barakat Mountain and compelled himself to remain a prisoner within a narrow space, less than 20 meters in diameter. But crowds of pilgrims invaded the area to seek him out, asking his counsel or his prayers, and leaving him insufficient time for his own devotions. This at last led him to adopt a new way of life.

Atop the pillar

In order to get away from the ever increasing number of people who frequently came to him for prayers and advice, leaving him little if any time for his private austerities, Simeon discovered a pillar which had survived amongst ruins, formed a small platform at the top, and upon this determined to live out his life. It has been stated that, as he seemed to be unable to avoid escaping the world horizontally, he may have thought it an attempt to try to escape it vertically. For sustenance small boys from the village would climb up the pillar and pass him small parcels of flat bread and goats milk.

When the monastic Elders living in the desert heard about Simeon, who had chosen a new and strange form of asceticism, they wanted to test him to determine whether his extreme feats were founded in humility or pride. They decided to tell Simeon under obedience to come down from the pillar. If he disobeyed they would forcibly drag him to the ground, but if he was willing to submit, they were to leave him on his pillar. St Simeon displayed complete obedience and humility, and the monks told him to stay where he was.

This first pillar was little more than four meters high, but his well-wishers subsequently replaced it with others, the last in the series being apparently over 15 meters from the ground. At the top of the pillar was a platform, with a baluster, which is believed to have been about one square metre.

According to his hagiography, Simeon would not allow any woman to come near his pillar, not even his own mother, reportedly telling her, "If we are worthy, we shall see one another in the life to come." Martha submitted to this. Remaining in the area, she also embraced the monastic life of silence and prayer. When she died, Simeon asked that her remains be brought to him. He reverently bid farewell to his dead mother, and, according to the account, a smile appeared on her face.

Edward Gibbon in his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire describes Simeon's existence as follows:

In this last and lofty station, the Syrian Anachoret resisted the heat of thirty summers, and the cold of as many winters. Habit and exercise instructed him to maintain his dangerous situation without fear or giddiness, and successively to assume the different postures of devotion. He sometimes prayed in an erect attitude, with his outstretched arms in the figure of a cross, but his most familiar practice was that of bending his meagre skeleton from the forehead to the feet; and a curious spectator, after numbering twelve hundred and forty- four repetitions, at length desisted from the endless account. The progress of an ulcer in his thigh might shorten, but it could not disturb, this celestial life; and the patient Hermit expired, without descending from his column.

Even on the highest of his columns, Simeon was not withdrawn from the world. If anything, the new pillar drew even more people, not only the pilgrims who had come earlier but now sightseers as well. Simeon made himself available to these visitors every afternoon. By means of a ladder, visitors were able to ascend, and it is known that he wrote letters, the text of some of which survived to this day, that he instructed disciples, and that he also delivered addresses to those assembled beneath, preaching especially against profanity and usury.

In contrast to the extreme austerity that he demanded of himself, his preaching conveyed temperance and compassion, and was marked with common sense and freedom from fanaticism.

Fame, final years and legacy

Simeon's fame spread throughout the Empire. The Emperor Theodosius and his wife Eudocia greatly respected the saint and listened to his counsels, while the Emperor Leo paid respectful attention to a letter he sent in favour of the Council of Chalcedon. Simeon is also said to have corresponded with St Genevieve of Paris.

Simeon became so influential that a church delegation was sent to him to demand that he descend from his pillar as a sign of submission. When, however, he showed himself willing to comply, the request was withdrawn. Once when he was ill, Theodosius sent three bishops to beg him to come down and allow himself to be attended by physicians, but Simeon preferred to leave his cure in the hands of God, and before long he recovered.

After spending 39 years on his pillar, Simeon died on 2 September 459. He inspired many imitators, and, for the next century, ascetics living on pillars, stylites, were a common sight throughout the Byzantine Levant.

He is commemorated as a saint in the Coptic Orthodox Church, where his feast is on 29 Pashons. He is commemorated 1 September by the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches, and 5 January in the Roman Catholic Church.

A contest arose between Antioch and Constantinople for the possession of Simeon's remains. The preference was given to Antioch, and the greater part of his relics were left there as a protection to the unwalled city.

The ruins of the vast edifice erected in his honour and known in Arabic as the Qal at Simân ("the Mansion of Simeon") can still be seen. They are located about 30 km northwest of Aleppo (36°20′03″N 36°50′38″E / 36.33417°N 36.84389°E / 36.33417; 36.84389Coordinates: 36°20′03″N 36°50′38″E / 36.33417°N 36.84389°E / 36.33417; 36.84389) and consist of four basilicas built out from an octagonal court towards the four points of the compass to form a large cross. In the centre of the court stands the base of the style or column on which St. Simeon stood.

A statue commemorating St. Simeon's asceticism can be found in Grimsby town centre, UK. The town's thriving Orthodox Syrian Christian community commissioned the statue, which has a jade motif of 39 concentric circles representing each of St. Simeon's years atop the pillar, to be built in 1971.

Cultural references

1) Alfred Tennyson's poem "St. Simeon Stylites" (1842) dramatizes
the story of Saint Simeon.

2) Luis Buñuel's film Simón del desierto (1965) is loosely based
on the story of Saint Simeon.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simeon_Stylites

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Saints Timotheus (Timothy) and Symphorian (Symphorianus, Symphorien) are venerated together as saints by the Catholic Church and share the same feast day (August 22), though the lives of the two saints are not related.

Timotheus

During the pontificate of Melchiades (311-13), St. Timotheus came from Antioch to Rome, where he preached for fifteen months and lived with Sylvester, who later became pope. The prefect of the city, Tarquinus Perpenna, threw him into prison, tortured, and finally beheaded him in 311. A Christian woman named Theon buried him in her garden. This is related in the legend of Sylvester. The name of Timotheus occurs in the earliest martyrologies.

Symphorian

According to a legend of the early fifth century, St. Symphorian of Autun was beheaded, while still a young man, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. He was the son of a senator named Faustus. He studied at Autun and was brought before the provincial governor Heraclius for not worshipping the pagan goddess Cybele. Symphorian is said to have asked for tools to destroy the statue. He was arrested and flogged and because he was from a noble family, he was given a chance to recant. Symphorian was offered bribes to do so, but he declined.

His mother, the Blessed Augusta (?), encouraged him on his way to execution, 22 August 178, and was present at her son's death.

According to a legendary passio of Saint Benignus of Dijon, Symphorian was a young nobleman who was converted by Benignus at Autun.

Veneration for Saint Symphorian

Bishop Euphronius (d. 490) built a handsome church over his grave, connected with a monastery, which belonged to the Congregation of Sainte-Geneviève from 1656 until its suppression in 1791. Abbot Germanus later became Bishop of Paris, where he dedicated a chapel to the saint. Genesius of Clermont built a church dedicated to him at Clermont.

St. Symphorian is the patron saint of Autun. His veneration spread at an early date through the empire of the Franks. His cult was especially popular at Tours; St. Gregory of Tours relates a miracle wrought by the saint.

There is a St. Symphorian's Church at Veryan, Cornwall and another at Durrington in West Sussex, now a suburb of the town of Worthing.




Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphorian_and_Timotheus

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Saints Victor and Corona are two Christian martyrs. Most sources state that they were killed in Syria during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (170s AD). However, various hagiographical texts disagree about the site of their martyrdom, with some stating that it was Damascus, while Coptic sources state that it was Antioch. Some Western sources state that Alexandria or Sicily was their place of martyrdom. They also disagree about the date of their martyrdom. They may have been martyred during the reign of Antoninus, Diocletian, while the Roman Martyrology states that it was in the third century when they met their death.

Legend
Their legend states that Victor was a Roman soldier of Italian ancestry, serving in the city of Damascus in Syria during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius. He was tortured -including having his eyes gouged out- by a commander named Sebastian.

While he was suffering from these tortures, the sixteen-year old spouse of one of his brothers-in-arms, named Corona, comforted and encouraged him. For this, she was arrested and interrogated. According to the passio of Corona, which is considered largely fictional, Corona was bound to two bent palm trees and torn apart as the trunks were released.

Victor was beheaded in Damascus in 160 AD.

Other sources state that they were husband and wife.

Veneration

Victor and Corona's memorial day is November 24 (November 11 in the Orthodox church calendar). Their feast day is May 14. Outside the town of Feltre on the slopes of Mount Misnea is the church of SS. Vittore e Corona, erected by the Crusaders from Feltre after the First Crusade.

Corona is especially venerated in Austria and eastern Bavaria. She is invoked in connection with superstitions involving money, such as gambling or treasure hunting.

Otto III, around AD 1000, brought Corona's relics to Aachen.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_and_Corona

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Thomas the Apostle, also called Doubting Thomas or Didymus (meaning "Twin"), was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is best known for disbelieving Jesus' resurrection when first told of it, then proclaiming "My Lord and my God" on seeing Jesus in John 20:28. He was perhaps the only Apostle who went outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel. He also believed to have crossed the largest area, which includes the Persian Empire and India.

Thomas in the Gospel of John

Thomas appears in a few passages in the Gospel of John. In John 11:16, when Lazarus has just died, the disciples are resisting Jesus' decision to return to Judea, where the Jews had previously tried to stone Jesus. Jesus is determined, and Thomas says bravely: "Let us also go, that we might die with him" (NIV).

He also speaks at The Last Supper.[Jn. 14:5] Jesus assures his disciples that they know where he is going but Thomas protests that they don't know at all. Jesus replies to this and to Philip's requests with a detailed exposition of his relationship to God the Father.

In Thomas' best known appearance in the New Testament, [Jn. 20:24-29] he doubts the Death and resurrection of Jesus and demands to touch Jesus' wounds before being convinced. Caravaggio's painting, The Incredulity of Saint Thomas (illustration above), depicts this scene. This story is the origin of the term Doubting Thomas. After seeing Jesus alive (the Bible never states whether Thomas actually touched Christ's wounds), Thomas professed his faith in Jesus, exclaiming "My Lord and my God!" On this account he is also called Thomas the Believer.

Name and identity

There is disagreement and uncertainty as to the identity of Saint Thomas. One recent theory is presented in the book The Jesus Family Tomb. The authors, Simcha Jacobovici and Pellegrino, identify him with two of those who were interred in the Talpiot Tomb, "Yehuda son of Yeshua."

Twin and its renditions

* The Greek Didymus: in the Gospel of John.[11:16] [20:24] Thomas is more specifically identified as "Thomas, also called the Twin (Didymus)".

* The Aramaic Tau'ma: the name "Thomas" itself comes from the Aramaic word for twin: T'oma (תאומא). Thus the name convention Didymus Thomas thrice repeated in the Gospel of John is in fact a tautology that could potentially be interpreted as omitting the Twin's actual name.

Other names

The Nag Hammadi "sayings" Gospel of Thomas begins: "These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded." Syrian tradition also states that the apostle's full name was Judas Thomas, or Jude Thomas. Some have seen in the Acts of Thomas (written in east Syria in the early 3rd century, or perhaps as early as the first half of the 2nd century) an identification of Saint Thomas with the apostle Judas brother of James, better known in English as Jude. However, the first sentence of the Acts follows the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles in distinguishing the apostle Thomas and the apostle Judas son of James. Few texts identify Thomas' other twin, though in the Book of Thomas the Contender, part of the Nag Hammadi library, it is said to be Jesus himself: "Now, since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself…"

Veneration as a saint

Thomas is revered as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Anglican Communion.

In the Roman Catholic Church, his traditional feast day is December 21. In 1970, in order that it would no longer interfere with the major ferial days of Advent, his feast was moved to July 3, the day on which his relics were translated from Mylapore, a place along the coast of the Marina Beach, Chennai in India to the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia. Roman Catholics who follow the traditional calendar, as well as Anglicans who worship according to one of the classical Books of Common Prayer (e.g. 1662 English or 1928 American), continue to celebrate his feast day on December 21.

For the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Coptic Orthodox Church he is remembered each year on Saint Thomas Sunday, which falls on the Sunday after Easter. In addition, the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches celebrate his feast day on October 6 (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, October 6 currently falls on October 19 of the modern Gregorian Calendar). He is also commemorated in common with all of the other apostles on June 30 (July 13), in a feast called the Synaxis of the Holy Apostles. He is also associated with the "Arabian" (or "Arapet") Icon of the Theotokos (Mother of God), which is commemorated on September 6 (September 19).

Later history

Thomas and the Assumption of Mary

According to The Passing of Mary, a text attributed to Joseph of Arimathaea, Thomas was the only witness of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. The other apostles were miraculously transported to Jerusalem to witness her death. Thomas was left in India, but after her burial he was transported to her tomb, where he witnessed her bodily assumption into heaven, from which she dropped her girdle. In an inversion of the story of Thomas' doubts, the other apostles are skeptical of Thomas' story until they see the empty tomb and the girdle. Thomas' receipt of the girdle is commonly depicted in medieval and pre-Tridentine Renaissance art.

Thomas and Syria

"Judas, who is also called Thomas" (Eusebius, H.E. 13.12) has a role in the legend of king Abgar of Edessa (Urfa), for having sent Thaddaeus to preach in Edessa after the Ascension (Eusebius, Historia ecclesiae 1.13; III.1; Ephrem the Syrian also recounts this legend.) In the 4th century the martyrium erected over his burial place brought pilgrims to Edessa. In the 380s, Egeria described her visit in a letter she sent to her community of nuns at home (Itineraria Egeriae):

"we arrived at Edessa in the Name of Christ our God, and, on our arrival, we straightway repaired to the church and memorial of saint Thomas. There, according to custom, prayers were made and the other things that were customary in the holy places were done; we read also some things concerning saint Thomas himself. The church there is very great, very beautiful and of new construction, well worthy to be the house of God, and as there was much that I desired to see, it was necessary for me to make a three days' stay there."

Historical references about Thomas

Many early Christian writings, which belong to centuries immediately following the first Ecumenical Council of 325, exist about Thomas' mission.

* The Acts of Thomas, sometimes called by its full nameThe Acts of Judas Thomas: 2nd/3rd century (c. 180-230) Gist of the testimony: The Apostles cast lots as to where they should go, and to Thomas, twin brother of Jesus, fell India. Thomas was taken to king Gondophares as an architect and carpenter by Habban. The journey to India is described in detail. After a long residence in the court he ordained leaders for the Church, and left in a chariot for the kingdom of Mazdei. There, after performing many miracles, he dies a martyr. These are generally rejected by various Christian religions as either apocryphal or heretical. The two centuries that lapsed between the life of the apostle and recording this work, casts doubt on their authenticity.
* Clement of Alexandria: 3rd century (d.c. 235); Church represented: Alexandrian/Greek Biographical Note : Greek Theologian, b. Athens, 150. Clement makes a passing reference to St. Thomas’ Apostolate in Parthia. This agrees with the testimony which Eusebius records about Pantaenus' visit to India.
* Doctrine of the Apostles: 3rd century; Church represented: Syrian “After the death of the Apostles there were Guides and Rulers in the Churches…..They again at their deaths also committed and delivered to their disciples after them everything which they had received from the Apostles;…(also what) Judas Thomas (had written) from India”.

“India and all its own countries, and those bordering on it, even to the farther sea, received the Apostle’s hand of Priesthood from Judas Thomas, who was Guide and Ruler in the Church which he built and ministered there”. In what follows “the whole Persia of the Assyrians and Medes, and of the countries round about Babylon…. even to the borders of the Indians and even to the country of Gog and Magog” are said to have received the Apostles’ Hand of Priesthood from Aggaeus the disciple of Addaeus

* Origen Century : 3rd century (185-254?), quoted in Eusebius; Church represented: Alexandrian/ Greek Biographical. Christian Philosopher, b-Egypt, Origen taught with great acclaim in Alexandria and then in Caesarea. He is the first known writer to record the casting of lots by the Apostles. Origen original work has been lost; but his statement about Parthia falling to Thomas has been preserved by Eusebius. “Origen, in the third chapter of his Commentary on Genesis, says that, according to tradition, Thomas’s allotted field of labour was Parthia”.
* Eusebius of Caesarea: 4th century (died 340); Church Represented: Alexandrian/Greek Biographical Quoting Origen, Eusebius says: “When the holy Apostles and disciples of our Saviour were scattered over all the world, Thomas, so the tradition has it, obtained as his portion Parthia….”
* Ephrem: 4th century; Church Represented: Syrian Biographical Many devotional hymns composed by St. Ephraem, bear witness to the Edessan Church’s strong conviction concerning St. Thomas’s Indian Apostolate. There the devil speaks of St. Thomas as “the Apostle I slew in India”. Also “The merchant brought the bones” to Edessa.

In another hymn apostrophising St. Thomas we read of “The bones the merchant hath brought”. “In his several journeyings to India, And thence on his return, All riches, which there he found, Dirt in his eyes he did repute when to thy sacred bones compared”. In yet another hymn Ephrem speaks of the mission of Thomas “The earth darkened with sacrifices’ fumes to illuminate”. “A land of people dark fell to thy lot”, “a tainted land Thomas has purified”; “India’s dark night” was “flooded with light” by Thomas.

* Gregory of Nazianzus: 4th century(died 389); Church Represented: Alexandrian. Biographical Note: Gregory of Nazianzus was born AD 330, consecrated a bishop by his friend St. Basil in 372 his father, the Bishop of Nazianzus induced him to share his charge. In 379 the people of Constantinople called him to be their bishop. By the Orthodox Church he is emphatically called “the Theologian’. “What? were not the Apostles strangers amidst the many nations and countries over which they spread themselves? … Peter indeed may have belonged to Judea; but what had Paul in common with the gentiles, Luke with Achaia, Andrew with Epirus, John with Ephesus, Thomas with India, Mark with Italy?”
* Ambrose of Milan: 4th century (died 397); Church Represented: Western. Biographical Note: St. Ambrose was thoroughly acquainted with the Greek and Latin Classics, and had a good deal of information on India and Indians. He speaks of the Gymnosophists of India, the Indian Ocean, the river Ganges etc., a number of times. “This admitted of the Apostles being sent without delay according to the saying of our Lord Jesus… Even those Kingdoms which were shut out by rugged mountains became accessible to them, as India to Thomas, Persia to Matthew..”
* St. Jerome (342- 420). St. Jerome's testimony : “He (Christ) dwelt in all places: with Thomas in India, Peter at Rome, with Paul in Illyricum.”
* St. Gaudentius (Bishop of Brescia, before 427). St. Gaudentius' testimony: “John at Sebastena, Thomas among the Indians, Andrew and Luke at the city of Patras are found to have closed their careers.”
* St. Paulinus of Nola (died 431). St. Paulinus' testimony :“Parthia receives Mathew, India Thomas, Libya Thaddeus, and Phrygia Philip”.
* St. Gregory of Tours (died 594) St. Gregory's testimony: “Thomas the Apostle, according to the narrative of his martyrdom is stated to have suffered in India. His holy remains (corpus), after a long interval of time, were removed to the city of Edessa in Syria and there interred. In that part of India where they first rested, stand a monastery and a church of striking dimensions, elaborately adorned and designed. This Theodore, who had been to the place, narrated to us.’
* St. Isidore of Seville in Spain (d. c. 630). St. Isidore's testimony: “This Thomas preached the Gospel of Christ to the Parthians, the Medes, the Persians, the Hyrcanians and the Bactrians, and to the Indians of the Oriental region and penetrating the innermost regions and sealing his preaching by his passion he died transfixed with a lance at Calamina (present Mylapore),a city of India, and there was buried with honour”.[3]
* St. Bede the Venerable (c. 673-735).St. Bede's testimony : “Peter receives Rome, Andrew Achaia; James Spain; Thomas India; John Asia"

Thomas and India

The indigenous church of Kerala, India has a tradition that St. Thomas sailed there to spread the Christian faith. He landed at the ancient port of Muziris (which became extinct in 1341 AD) near Kodungalloor. He then went to Palayoor (near preset-day Guruvayoor), which was a priestly community at that time. He left Palayoor in AD 52 for the southern part of what is now Kerala State, where he established the Ezharappallikal, or "Seven and Half Churches". These churches are at Kodungallur, Kollam, Niranam, Nilackal (Chayal), Kokkamangalam, Kottakkayal (Paravoor), Palayoor (Chattukulangara) and Thiruvithamcode Arappally (Travancore) - the half church.

"It was to a land of dark people he was sent, to clothe them by Baptism in white robes. His grateful dawn dispelled India's painful darkness. It was his mission to espouse India to the One-Begotten. The merchant is blessed for having so great a treasure. Edessa thus became the blessed city by possessing the greatest pearl India could yield. Thomas works miracles in India, and at Edessa Thomas is destined to baptize peoples perverse and steeped in darkness, and that in the land of India." - Hymns of St. Ephraem, edited by Lamy (Ephr. Hymni et Sermones, IV).

Eusebius of Caesarea quotes Origen (died mid-3rd century) as having stated that Thomas was the apostle to the Parthians, but Thomas is better known as the missionary to India through the Acts of Thomas, perhaps written as late as ca 200. In Edessa, where his remains were venerated, the poet Ephrem the Syrian (died 373) wrote a hymn in which the Devil cries,

...Into what land shall I fly from the just?

I stirred up Death the Apostles to slay, that by their death I might escape their blows.
But harder still am I now stricken: the Apostle I slew in India has overtaken me in Edessa; here and there he is all himself.
There went I, and there was he: here and there to my grief I find him. —quoted in Medlycott 1905, ch. ii.

St. Ephraem, the great doctor of the Syrian Church, writes in the forty-second of his "Carmina Nisibina" that the Apostle was put to death in India, and that his remains were subsequently buried in Edessa, brought there by an unnamed merchant.

A Syrian ecclesiastical calendar of an early date confirms the above and gives the merchant a name. The entry reads: "3 July, St. Thomas who was pierced with a lance in India. His body is at Urhai [the ancient name of Edessa] having been brought there by the merchant Khabin. A great festival." It is only natural to expect that we should receive from Edessa first-hand evidence of the removal of the relics to that city; and we are not disappointed, for St. Ephraem, the great doctor of the Syrian Church, has left us ample details in his writings.

A long public tradition in the church at Edessa honoring Thomas as the Apostle of India resulted in several surviving hymns that are attributed to Ephrem, copied in codices of the 8th and 9th centuries. References in the hymns preserve the tradition that Thomas' bones were brought from India to Edessa by a merchant, and that the relics worked miracles both in India and at Edessa. A pontiff assigned his feast day and a king and a queen erected his shrine. The Thomas traditions became embodied in Syriac liturgy, thus they were universally credited by the Christian community there. There is also a legend that Thomas had met the Biblical Magi on his way to India.

An early third-century Syriac work known as the Acts of Thomas connects the apostle's Indian ministry with two kings, one in the north and the other in the south. According to one of the legends in the Acts, Thomas was at first reluctant to accept this mission, but the Lord appeared to him in a night vision and said, “Fear not, Thomas. Go away to India and proclaim the Word, for my grace shall be with you.”But the Apostle still demurred, so the Lord overruled the stubborn disciple by ordering circumstances so compelling that he was forced to accompany an Indian merchant, Abbanes, to his native place in northwest India, where he found himself in the service of the Indo-Parthian king, Gondophares. The apostle's ministry resulted in many conversions throughout the kingdom, including the king and his brother.

Interestingly enough, according to the legend, Thomas was a skilled carpenter and was bidden to build a palace for the king. However, the Apostle decided to teach the king a lesson by devoting the royal grant to acts of charity and thereby laying up treasure for the heavenly abode. Although little is known of the immediate growth of the church, Bar-Daisan (A.D. 154-223) reports that in his time there were Christian tribes in North India which claimed to have been converted by Thomas and to have books and relics to prove it. But at least by the time of the establishment of the Second Persian Empire (A.D. 226), there were bishops of the Church of the East in northwest India, Afghanistan and Baluchistan, with laymen and clergy alike engaging in missionary activity.

The Acts of Thomas identifies his second mission in India with a kingdom ruled by King Mahadwa, one of the rulers of a first-century dynasty in southern India. It is most significant that, aside from a small remnant of the Church of the East in Kurdistan, the only other church to maintain a distinctive identity is the Mar Thoma or “Church of Thomas” congregations along the Malabar Coast of Kerala State in southwest India. According to the most ancient tradition of this church, Thomas evangelized this area and then crossed to the Coromandel Coast of southeast India, where, after carrying out a second mission, he suffered martyrdom near Madras. Throughout the period under review, the church in India was under the jurisdiction of Edessa, which was then under the Mesopotamian patriarchate at Seleucia-Ctesiphon and later at Baghdad and Mosul. Historian Vincent A. Smith says, “It must be admitted that a personal visit of the Apostle Thomas to South India was easily feasible in the traditional belief that he came by way of Socotra, where an ancient Christian settlement undoubtedly existed. I am now satisfied that the Christian church of South India is extremely ancient... ”.

Although there was a lively trade between the Near East and India via Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf, the most direct route to India in the first century was via Alexandria and the Red Sea, taking advantage of the Monsoon winds, which could carry ships directly to and from the Malabar coast. The discovery of large hoards of Roman coins of first-century Caesars and the remains of Roman trading posts testify to the frequency of that trade. in addition, thriving Jewish colonies were to be found at the various trading centers, thereby furnishing obvious bases for the apostolic witness.

Piecing together the various traditions, one may conclude that Thomas left northwest India when invasion threatened and traveled by vessel to the Malabar coast, possibly visiting southeast Arabia and Socotra enroute and landing at the former flourishing port of Muziris on an island near Cochin (c. A.D. 51-52). From there he is said to have preached the gospel throughout the Malabar coast, though the various churches he founded were located mainly on the Periyar River and its tributaries and along the coast, where there were Jewish colonies. he reputedly preached to all classes of people and had about seventeen thousand converts, including members of the four principal castes. Later, stone crosses were erected at the places where churches were founded, and they became pilgrimage centres. In accordance with apostolic custom Thomas ordained teachers and leaders or elders, who were reported to be the earliest ministry of the Malabar church.

Thomas next proceeded overland to the Coromandel coast and ministered in what is now the Madras area, where a local king and many people were converted. One tradition related that he went from there to China via Malacca and, after spending some time there, returned to the Madras area (Breviary of the Mar Thoma Church in Malabar). Apparently his renewed ministry outraged the Brahmins, who were fearful lest Christianity undermined their social structure, based on the caste system. So according to the Syriac version of the Acts of Thomas, Masdai, the local king at Mylapore, after questioning the apostle condemned him to death about the year A.D. 72. Anxious to avoid popular excitement, “for many had believed in our Lord, including some of the nobles,”the king ordered Thomas conducted to a nearby mountain, where, after being allowed to pray, he was then stoned and stabbed to death with a lance wielded by an angry Brahmin. A number of Christians were also persecuted at the same time; when they refused to apostatize, their property was confiscated, so some sixty-four families eventually fled to Malabar and joined that Christian community.

Return of the relics

In 232 the relics of the Apostle Thomas are said to have been returned by an Indian king and brought back from India to the city of Edessa, Mesopotamia, on which occasion his Syriac Acts were written. The Indian king is named as "Mazdai" in Syriac sources, "Misdeos" and "Misdeus" in Greek and Latin sources respectively, which has been connected to the "Bazdeo" on the Kushan coinage of Vasudeva I, the transition between "M" and "B" being a current one in Classical sources for Indian names. The martyrologist Rabban Sliba dedicated a special day to both the Indian king, his family, and St Thomas:

"Coronatio Thomae apostoli et Misdeus rex Indiae, Johannes eus filius huisque mater Tertia" ("Coronation of Thomas the Apostole, and Misdeus king of India, together with his son Johannes (thought to be a latinization of Vizan) and his mother Tertia") Rabban Sliba

After a short stay in the Greek island of Chios, on September 6, 1258, the relics were transported to the West, and now rest in Ortona, Italy.

Southern India had maritime trade with the West since ancient times. Egyptian trade with India and Roman trade with India flourished in the first century AD. In AD 47, the Hippalus wind was discovered and this led to direct voyage from Aden to the South Western coast in 40 days. Muziris (Kodungallur) and Nelcyndis or Nelkanda (near Kollam) in South India, are mentioned as flourishing ports, in the writings of Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79). Pliny has given an accurate description of the route to India, the country of Cerebothra (the Cheras). Pliny has referred to the flourishing trade in spices, pearls, diamonds and silk between Rome and Southern India in the early centuries of the Christian era. Though the Cheras controlled Kodungallur port, Southern India belonged to the Pandyan Kingdom, that had sent embassies to the court of Augustus Caesar.

According to Indian Christian tradition, St. Thomas landed in Kodungallur in AD 52, in the company of a Jewish merchant Abbanes (Hebban). There were Jewish colonies in Kodungallur since ancient times and Jews continue to reside in Kerala till today, tracing their ancient history.

According to tradition, at the beginning of the 3rd century, the body of Thomas appeared in Edessa, Mesopotamia, where they had been brought by a merchant coming from India (in that same period appeared the Acts of Thomas). They were kept in a shrine just outside the city, but, in august 394, they were transferred in the city, inside the church dedicated to the saint. In 441, the Magister militum per Orientem Anatolius donated to the church a silver coffin to host the relics. In 1144 the city was conquered by the Zengids and the shrine destroyed.

n AD 522, Cosmas Indicopleustes (called the Alexandrian) visited the Malabar Coast. He is the first traveller who mentions Syrian Christians in Malabar, in his book Christian Topography. He mentions that in the town of "Kalliana" (Quilon or Kollam), there is a bishop consecrated in Persia. Metropolitan Mar Aprem writes, "Most church historians, who doubt the tradition of the doubting Thomas in India, will admit there was a church in India in the middle of the sixth century when Cosmas Indicopleustes visited India."

There is a copper plate grant given to Iravi Korttan, a Christian of Kodungallur (Cranganore), by King Vira Raghava. The date is estimated to be around AD 744. In AD 822, two Nestorian Persian Bishops Mar Sapor and Mar Peroz came to Malabar, to occupy their seats in Kollam and Kodungallur, to look after the local Syrian Christians (also known as St. Thomas Christians).

Marco Polo, the Venetian traveller and author of Description of the World, popularly known as Il Milione, is reputed to have visited South India in 1288 and 1292. The first date has been rejected as he was in China at the time, but the second date is accepted by many historians. He is believed to have stopped in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) where he documented the tomb of Adam, our common forefather; and Quilon (Kollam) on the western Malabar coast of India, where he met Syrian Christians and recorded their legends of St. Thomas and his miraculous tomb on the eastern Coromandel coast of the country. Il Milione, the book he dictated on his return to Europe, was on its publication condemned as a collection of impious and improbable traveller's tales but it became very popular reading in medieval Europe and inspired Spanish and Portuguese sailors to seek out the fabulous, and possibly Christian, India described in it.

Near Chennai (formerly Madras) in India stands a small hillock called St. Thomas Mount, where the Apostle is said to have been killed in A.D. 72 (exact year not established). Also to be found in Chennai is the Dioceses of Saint Thomas of Mylapore to which his mortal remains were transferred.

Tomb of the Apostle

The Indian tradition, in which elements of the traditions of Malabar, Coromandel and the Persian Church intermingled firmly held that Thomas the Apostle died near the ancient town of Mylapore. His mortal remains were buried in the town and his burial place was situated in the right hand chapel of the Church or house known after his name. The Portuguese excavated it in 1523. A number of scholars who are said to have made an examination of the records stated that the Portuguese excavations were “ unreliable”.

Beginning with the Acts of Thomas (c.200), in almost every century there are statements about the existence of his tomb in India. The location of the tomb, as given in seventh century, is (Calamina or Qalimaya) and Myluph or Meilan (12th-14th centuries). From the end of 14th century onwards there are references to the tomb of the Apostle in Mylapore.

Even before the Portuguese opened the tomb in Mylapore in the XVIth century, it was believed to have been the tomb of Saint Thomas and was visited by both Christian and non Christian pilgrims and travelers. Three of the five complete MS copies of Mar Solomon of Basora’s (1222) “Book of the Bees” speak of Mahluph (Mylapore) ” a city in the land of the Indians” where “others say” St. Thomas was buried.

The accounts of Marco Polo (1295), Oderick (Italian Franciscan, 1324,1325), Am’r son of Matthew (Christian Arab writer, 1340), Marignoli (Papal legate in China, 1394), Nicholas de Conti (Italian merchant, 1425-1430) who visited Mylapore, mentions it as the burial place of the Apostle.

St. Thomas Christians

Thomasine Christianity is found in the southern Indian state of Kerala. These churches of Malabar trace their roots back to St. Thomas the Apostle who arrived along the Malabar Coast in the year AD 52. In the Syriac tradition, St. Thomas is referred to as Mar Thoma Sleeha which translate roughly as Lord/Saint Thomas the Apostle.

Associated with Syriac Christianity and then largely isolated from the rest of Christendom by the interposition of Islam, contact with the Western Church was resumed with the arrival of the Portuguese in the 15th century. Elements of the Latin and Syriac rites have therefore borne influence upon the St. Thomas Christians, although in the main, they retain a unique identity; additionally therefore several different St. Thomas churches exist, primarily in the Catholic and Oriental Orthodox communions.

The largest church in terms of membership is the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, a major archepiscopal church in communion with the Bishop of Rome with a membership approaching four million adherents. The Malankara Orthodox Syrian church, an autocephalous Church within the Oriental Orthodox, headed by the Catholicos of East and Malankara Metropolitan (HH Moran Mar Baselios Didymos I) has over 3.5 million followers.

In 1930, a bishop with a group of Oriental Orthodox reunited with the Catholic Church, while retaining all their Traditions and Liturgical Rites - they are the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, which today number 500,000.

A related, although minor, church in Malankara is the Mar Thoma Church. The church claims membership of 900,000.

Several Popes have asserted the origin of south Indian Christianity from the Apostle Thomas. Pope John Paul V in 1606 erected the diocoese of San Thomas of Mylapore.

Pope Leo XIII, while establishing the hierarchy of the Latin Catholic church in India in 1886, referred to India as having first received the light of the gospel from Apostle Thomas.

During the apostolic visit to India in 1986, Pope John Paul II visited the Mylapore tomb and he is said to have cited the words of Apostle Thomas to his companions.

While raising the Syro-Malabar church as a major archepiscopal church in 1990, Pope John Paul II wrote that this church "as the constant tradition holds, owed its origin to the preaching of Apostle St Thomas."

In 2002, the 1,950th anniversary of St Thomas' arrival in Kerala was celebrated by the Sryo-Malabar church in which the papal delegate had participated.

Saint Thomas Cross

When Portuguese came to Malabar, they found that the Christians of Saint Thomas use ancient flowery crosses with inscription in their churches which they call us Saint Thomas Cross. Antonio Gouvea in the Sixteenth century work, " Jornada" states that the old churches of Saint Thomas Christians were full of crosses of the type discovered from S.Thome (Mylapore). He also states that veneration of the cross is an old custom in Malabar. "Jornada" is the oldest known written document which calls these cross as St. Thomas Cross. The original word used is “ Cruz de Sam Thome “ meaning Cross of St. Thomas. Gouvea writes about the veneration of the Cross at Cranganore mentioning it as "Cross of Christians. These crosses are known as Saint Thomas Cross or Persian Cross. They dating from 6th century are found in a number of churches in Kerala, Mylapore and Goa.

Thomas other accounts

To the Portuguese and Spanish conquerors and clerics, the Americas were simply "The Indies" for most of the sixteenth century. The improbable suggestion that St. Thomas preached in America is based upon a misunderstanding of the text of the Acts of Apostles.

Various Eastern Churches claim that St. Thomas personally brought Christianity to China and Japan in AD 64 and 70 respectively.

Writings Attributed to Thomas

"Let none read the gospel according to Thomas, for it is the work, not of one of the twelve apostles, but of one of Mani's three wicked disciples."

—Cyril of Jerusalem, Cathechesis V (4th century)

In the first two centuries of the Christian era, a number of writings were circulated, which claimed the authority of Thomas, some of them said, perhaps too loosely, to be espousing a Gnostic doctrine, as Cyril was suggesting. It is unclear now why Thomas was seen as an authority for doctrine, although this belief is documented in Gnostic groups as early as the Pistis Sophia (ca AD 250 - 300) which states that the "three witnesses" committing to writing "all of his words" are Thomas, along with Philip and Matthew. In that Gnostic work, Mary Magdalene (one of the disciples) says:

"Now at this time, my Lord, hear, so that I speak openly, for thou hast said to us 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear:' Concerning the word which thou didst say to Philip: 'Thou and Thomas and Matthew are the three to whom it has been given… to write every word of the Kingdom of the Light, and to bear witness to them'; hear now that I give the interpretation of these words. It is this which thy light-power once prophesied through Moses: 'Through two and three witnesses everything will be established. The three witnesses are Philip and Thomas and Matthew" (Pistis Sophia 1:43)

An early, non-Gnostic tradition may lie behind this statement, which also emphasizes the primacy of the Gospel of Matthew in its Aramaic form, over the other canonical three.

Besides the Acts of Thomas there was a widely circulated Infancy Gospel of Thomas probably written in the later 2nd century, and probably also in Syria, which relates the miraculous events and prodigies of Jesus' boyhood. This is the document which tells for the first time the familiar legend of the twelve sparrows which Jesus, at the age of five, fashioned from clay on the Sabbath day, which took wing and flew away. The earliest manuscript of this work is a sixth century one in Syriac. This gospel was first referred to by Irenaeus; Ron Cameron notes: "In his citation, Irenaeus first quotes a non-canonical story that circulated about the childhood of Jesus and then goes directly on to quote a passage from the infancy narrative of the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:49). Since the Infancy Gospel of Thomas records both of these stories, in relative close proximity to one another, it is possible that the apocryphal writing cited by Irenaeus is, in fact, what is now known as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. Because of the complexities of the manuscript tradition, however, there is no certainty as to when the stories of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas began to be written down."

The best known in modern times of these documents is the "sayings" document that is being called the Gospel of Thomas, a noncanonical work which some scholars believe may actually predate the writing of the Biblical gospels themselves. The opening line claims it is the work of "Didymos Judas Thomas" - who has been identified with Thomas. This work was discovered in a Coptic translation in 1945 at the Egyptian village of Nag Hammadi, near the site of the monastery of Chenoboskion. Once the Coptic text was published, scholars recognized that an earlier Greek translation had been published from fragments of papyrus found at Oxyrhynchus in the 1890s.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_the_Apostle

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Olof Skötkonung (Old Icelandic: Óláfr sænski, Old Swedish: Olawær skotkonongær) was the son of Eric the Victorious and Sigrid the Haughty. He was born around 980 and he succeeded his father in 995.

Etymology

One of many explanations to his Swedish name Skötkonung is that it means "tributary king" and one English scholar speculates about a tributary relationship to the Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard, who was his stepfather. This explanation is however highly speculative as it is not supported by any evidence or historical sources. Another possible explanation of the name "Skötkonung" is that it means "treasure king" and refer to the fact that he was the first Swedish king to stamp coins.

Life

Our knowledge of Olof is mostly based on Snorri Sturluson's and Adam of Bremen's accounts, which have been subject to criticism from source-critical scholars. But according to Adam of Bremen, Sweyn Forkbeard was forced to defend his Danish kingdom from attacks by Olof who claimed the Danish throne. The conflict was resolved by Sweyn's marriage with Olaf's mother and the two kings were thereafter allies. Also Snorri Sturluson describes Sweyn and Olof as equal allies when they defeated the Norwegian king Olav Tryggvason in the battle of Svolder 1000, and thereafter divided Norway between themselves.

Viking expedition to Wendland

In a Viking expedition to Wendland, he had captured Edla, the daughter of a Wendish chieftain, and she gave him the son Emund (who was to become king of Sweden), and the daughter Astrid -later wife of Olaf II of Norway. He later married Estrid of the Obotrites, and she bore him the son Anund Jacob and the daughter Ingegerd Olofsdotter.

Alliance with Sweyn Forkbeard

Olof is said to have preferred royal sports to war and therefore Sweyn Forkbeard retook Denmark, which Olof's father Eric had conquered. Olof also lost the right to tribute which his predecessors had preserved in what is now Estonia and Latvia.

In 1000, he allied with Sweyn Forkbeard, who was married to Olof's mother, and with the Norwegian Jarls Eric and Sven, against the Norwegian King Olaf Tryggvason. Olaf Tryggvason died in the Battle of Svolder and Olof gained a part of Trøndelag as well as modern Bohuslän.

Norwegian-Swedish War

When the Norwegian kingdom was reestablished by Olaf II of Norway, a new war erupted between Norway and Sweden. Many men in both Sweden and Norway tried to reconcile the kings. In 1018, Olof's cousin, the earl of Västergötland, Ragnvald Ulfsson and the Norwegian king's emissaries Björn Stallare and Hjalti Skeggiason had arrived at the thing of Uppsala in an attempt to sway the Swedish king to accept peace and as a warrant marry his daughter Ingegerd Olofsdotter to the king of Norway. The Swedish king was greatly angered and threatened to banish Ragnvald from his kingdom, but Ragnvald was supported by his foster-father Thorgny Lawspeaker.

Thorgny delivered a powerful speech in which he reminded the king of the great Viking expeditions in the East that predecessors such as Erik Eymundsson and Björn had undertaken, without having the hubris not to listen to their men's advice. Thorgny, himself, had taken part in many successful pillaging expeditions with Olof's father Eric the Victorious and even Eric had listened to his men. The present king wanted nothing but Norway, which no Swedish king before him had desired. This displeased the Swedish people, who were eager to follow the king on new ventures in the East to win back the kingdoms that paid tribute to his ancestors, but it was the wish of the people that the king make peace with the king of Norway and give him his daughter Ingegerd as queen.

Thorgny finished his speech by saying: if you do not desire to do so, we shall assault you and kill you and not brook anymore of your warmongering and obstinacy. Our ancestors have done so, who at Mula thing threw five kings in a well, kings who were too arrogant as you are against us.

However, Olof married his daughter Ingegerd-Irene to Yaroslav I the Wise instead. An impending war was settled when Olof agreed to share his power with his son Anund Jacob. Olof was also forced to accept a settlement with Olaf II of Norway at Kungahälla, who already had been married (unbeknownst to Olof) with Olof's daughter, Astrid, through the Geatish jarl Ragnvald Ulfsson.

Christian King

Olof was baptised, probably by the missionary Sigfrid, c.1008, and he was the first Swedish king to remain Christian until his death. However, according to Adam of Bremen, the fact that the vast majority of the Swedes were still pagan forced him to limit Christian activities to the already Christian border province of Västergötland.

When he stamped coins in Sigtuna in the province of Uppland Olof used the word rex for king. OLUF REX as in the coin displayed above or OLAF REX. The use of Latin seems to suggest that he was already baptised at this time but on the other hand the coins were imitating English pennies in type and style. Sigtuna is written SITUN, ZINT (in the coin above), ZTNETEI, or SIDEI. The two last has been deciphered as Si(gtuna) Dei meaning God's Sigtuna.

Óláfsdrápa sœnska

The Icelandic skald Óttarr svarti spent some time at Olof's court and composed the poem Óláfsdrápa sœnska describing Olof's war expeditions in the east. Other skalds who served Olof were Gunnlaugr ormstunga, Hrafn Önundarson and Gizurr svarti.

Death

His death is said to have taken place in the winter of 1021–1022. According to a legend he was martyred at Stockholm after refusing to sacrifice to pagan gods. He's venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church.

Since the 1740s, it has been claimed that he was buried in Husaby in the Christian part of his kingdom, but it should be noted that such identifications are speculation, and by no means uncontroversial. The remains in the alleged grave are also too young to be his.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olof_Sk%C3%B6tkonung

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Olaf Haraldsson (Old Norse Óláfr Haraldsson, 995 – July 29, 1030) was king of Norway from 1015 to 1028, (known during his lifetime as "the Big" (Óláfr Digre) and after his canonization as Saint Olaf or Olaus). His mother was Åsta Gudbrandsdatter, and his father was Harald Grenske, great-grandchild of Harald Fairhair. In modern day Norway he is known as Olav den Hellige ("Olaf the Holy") or Heilag-Olav ("Holy Olaf") as a result of his sainthood.

Concerning the king's name

King Olaf Haraldsson of Norway had the given name Óláfr in Old Norse. (Etymology: Anu - "forefather", Leifr - "heir".) Olav is the modern equivalent in Norwegian, formerly often spelt Olaf. His name in Icelandic is Ólafur, in Faroese Ólavur, in Danish Oluf, in Swedish Olof, the Norse-Gaels called him Amlaíb and in Waterford it is Olave. Other names, such as Oláfr hinn helgi, Olavus rex, and Olaf (as used in English) are used interchangeably (see the Heimskringla of Snorri Sturluson). He is sometimes referred to as Rex Perpetuus Norvegiae, eternal King of Norway, a designation which goes back to the thirteenth century. The term Ola Nordmann as epithet of the archetypal Norwegian may originate in this tradition, as the name Olav for centuries was the most common male name in Norway.

Reign

Olaf was the subject of several biographies, both hagiographies and sagas, in the Middle Ages, and many of the historical facts concerning his reign are disputed. The best known description is the one in Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla, from c. 1230. That saga cannot be taken as an accurate source for Olaf's life, but most of the following description is based on the narrative there.

After some years' absence in England, fighting the Danes, he returned to Norway in 1015 and declared himself king, obtaining the support of the five petty kings of the Uplands. In 1016 he defeated Earl Sweyn, hitherto the virtual ruler of Norway, at the Battle of Nesjar. He founded the town Borg by the waterfall Sarpr, later to be known as Sarpsborg. Within a few years he had won more power than had been enjoyed by any of his predecessors on the throne.

He had annihilated the petty kings of the South, had crushed the aristocracy, enforced the acceptance of Christianity throughout the kingdom, asserted his suzerainty in the Orkney Islands, conducted a successful raid on Denmark, achieved peace with king Olof Skötkonung of Sweden through Þorgnýr the Lawspeaker, and was for some time, engaged to his daughter, the Princess of Sweden, Ingegerd Olofsdotter without his approval. After the end of her engagement to Olaf, Ingegerd married the Great Prince Yaroslav I of Kiev.

In 1019 Olaf married the illegitimate daughter of King Olof of Sweden and half-sister of his former bride, Astrid Olofsdotter. Their daughter Wulfhild married Duke Ordulf of Saxony in 1042. The present king of Norway, Harald V and his father Olav V are thus descended from Olaf, since the latter's mother Maud was the daughter of Edward VII of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, one of the numerous royal, grand ducal and ducal lines descended from Ordulf and Wulfrid.

But Olaf's success was short-lived. In 1026 he lost the Battle of the Helgeå, and in 1029 the Norwegian nobles, seething with discontent, rallied round the invading Cnut the Great of Denmark, forcing Olaf to flee to Kievan Rus. During the voyage he stayed some time in Sweden in the province of Nerike where, according to local legend, he baptized many locals. On his return a year later, seizing an opportunity to win back the kingdom after Cnut the Great's vassal as ruler of Norway, Håkon Jarl, was lost at sea, he fell at the Battle of Stiklestad, where some of his own subjects from central Norway were arrayed against him.

Olaf, a rather stubborn and rash ruler, prone to rough treatment of his enemies, ironically became Norway's patron saint. His canonization was performed only a year after his death by the bishop of Nidaros. The cult of Olaf not only unified the country, it also fulfilled the conversion of the nation, something for which the king had fought so hard.
While divisive in life, in death Olaf wielded a unifying power no foreign monarch could hope to undo.

Cnut, most distracted by the task of administrating England, managed to rule Norway for 5 years after the Battle of Stiklestad, through the viceroyship of his son Svein. However, when Olaf's illegitimate son Magnus (dubbed 'the Good') laid claim to the Norwegian throne, Cnut had to yield. A century of prosperity and expansion followed, lasting until the kingdom again descended into a civil war over succession.

Sainthood

Owing to Olaf's later status as the patron saint of Norway, and to his importance in later medieval historiography and in Norwegian folklore, it is difficult to assess the character of the historical Olaf. Judging from the bare outlines of known historical facts, he appears, more than anything else, as a fairly unsuccessful ruler, who had his power based on some sort of alliance with the much more powerful king Cnut the Great; who was driven into exile when he claimed a power of his own; and whose attempt at a reconquest was swiftly crushed.

This calls for an explanation of the status he gained after his death. Three factors are important: his role in the Christianization of Norway, the various dynastic relationships among the ruling families, and the needs for legitimization in a later period.

Conversion of Norway

Olaf and Olaf Tryggvasson together were the driving force behind Norway's final conversion to Christianity.

However, large stone crosses and other Christian symbols suggest that at least the coastal areas of Norway were deeply influenced by Christianity long before Olav's time; with one exception, all the rulers of Norway back to Håkon the Good (c. 920–961) had been Christians; and Olav's main opponent, Cnut the Great, was a Christian ruler. What seems clear is that Olav made efforts to establish a church organization on a broader scale than before, among other things by importing bishops from England and Germany, and that he tried to enforce Christianity also in the inland areas, which had the least communication with the rest of Europe, and which economically were more strongly based on agriculture, so that the inclination to hold on to the former fertility cult would have been stronger than in the more diversified and expansive western parts of the country.

Although Olav was certainly not the first to introduce Christianity to Norway, he established the first codification of the faith in 1024, thus laying the basis for the Church of Norway. So high did Olaf's legal arrangements for the Church of Norway come to stand in the eyes of the Norwegian people and clergy, that when Pope Gregory VII attempted to make clerical celibacy binding on the priests of Western Europe in 1074-5, the Norwegians largely ignored this, since there was no mention of clerical celibacy in Olaf's legal code for their Church. Only after Norway was made an metropolitan province with its own archbishop in 1151—which made the Norwegian church, on the one hand, more independent of its king, but, on the other hand, more directly responsible to the Pope — did canon law gain a greater predominance in the life and jurisdiction of the Norwegian church.

Sigrid Undset noted that Olaf was baptized in Rouen, the capital of Normandy, and suggested that Olaf used priests of Norman descent for his missionaries, since these priests were themselves of Norwegian descent, could speak the language and shared the culture of the people they were to convert. Since the Normans themselves had only been in Normandy for about two generations, these priests might, at least in some cases, be their new parishioners distant cousins and thus less likely to kill their pastors once Olaf and his army had left an area. One might note here, as well, that the few surviving manuscripts and the printed missal used in Archdiocese of Nidaros shows a clear dependence on the missals used in Normandy.

Olaf's dynasty

For various reasons, most importantly the death of king Knut the Great in 1035, but perhaps even a certain discontent among Norwegian nobles with the Danish rule in the years after Olaf's death in 1030, his illegitimate son with the concubine Alvhild, Magnus the Good, assumed power in Norway, and eventually also in Denmark. Numerous churches in Denmark were dedicated to Olaf during his reign, and the sagas give glimpses of similar efforts to promote the cult of his deceased father on the part of the young king. This would become typical in the Scandinavian monarchies. It should be remembered that in pagan times the Scandinavian kings derived their right to rule from their claims of descent from the Norse god Odin, or in the case of the kings of the Swedes at Old Uppsala, from Freyr. In Christian times this legitimation of a dynasty's right to rule and its national prestige would be based on its descent from a saintly king. Thus the kings of Norway promoted the cult of St. Olaf, the kings of Sweden the cult of St. Erik and the kings of Denmark the cult of St. Canute, just as in England the Norman and Plantagenet kings similarly promoted the cult of St. Edward the Confessor at Westminster Abbey, their coronation church.

Saint Olaf

Among the bishops that Olaf brought with him from England, was Grimkell (Grimkillus). He was probably the only one of the missionary bishops who was left in the country at the time of Olaf's death, and he stood behind the translation and beatification of Olaf on August 3, 1031. Grimkell later became the first bishop of Sigtuna in Sweden.

At this time, local bishops and their people recognized and proclaimed a person a saint, and a formal canonization procedure through the papal curia was not customary; in Olaf's case, this did not happen until 1888.

Grimkell was later appointed bishop in the diocese of Selsey in the south-east of England. This is probably the reason why the earliest traces of a liturgical cult of St Olaf are found in England. An office, or prayer service, for St Olaf is found in the so-called Leofric collectar (c. 1050), which was bequeathed in his last will and testament by Bishop Leofric of Exeter to Exeter Cathedral, in the neighbouring diocese to Selsey. This English cult seems to have been short-lived.

Adam of Bremen, writing around 1070, mentions pilgrimage to the saint's shrine in Nidaros, but this is the only firm trace we have of a cult of St. Olaf in Norway before the middle of the twelfth century. By this time he was also being referred to as "The Eternal King of Norway". In 1152/3, Nidaros was separated from Lund as the archbishopric of Nidaros. It is likely that whatever formal or informal — which, we do not know — veneration of Olav as a saint there may have been in Nidaros prior to this, was emphasised and formalized on this occasion.
During the visit of the papal legate, Nicholas Brekespear (later Pope Adrian IV), the poem Geisli ("the ray of sun") was recited. In this poem, we hear for the first time of miracles performed by St. Olaf. One of these took place on the day of his death, when a blind man got his eyesight back again after having rubbed his eyes with hands that were stained with the blood from the saint.

The texts which were used for the liturgical celebration of St. Olaf during most of the Middle Ages were probably compiled or written by Eystein Erlendsson, the second Archbishop of Norway (1161–1189). The nine miracles reported in Geisli form the core of the catalogue of miracles in this office.

The celebration of St. Olaf was widespread in the Nordic countries. Apart from the early traces of a cult in England, there are only scattered references to him outside of the Nordic area. Several churches in England were dedicated to him (often as St Olave). St Olave Hart Street in the City of London is the burial place of Samuel Pepys and his wife. Another south of London Bridge gave its name to Tooley Street and to the St Olave's Poor Law Union, later to become the Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey: its workhouse in Rotherhithe became the St Olave's Hospital, now an old-people's home a few hundred metres from St Olaf's Church, which is the Norwegian Church in London. It also led to the naming of St Olave's Grammar School, which was established in 1571 and up until 1968 was situated in Tooley Street. In 1968 the school was moved to Orpington, Kent.
St. Olaf was also, together with the Mother of God, the patron saint of the chapel of the Varangians, the Scandinavian warriors who served as the bodyguard of the Byzantine emperor. This church is believed to have been located near the church of Hagia Irene in Constantinople.

The icon of the Madonna Nicopeia, presently in St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, which is believed to have been one traditionally carried into combat by the Byzantine military forces, is believed to have been kept in this chapel in times of peace. Thus St. Olaf was also the last saint to be venerated by both the Western and Eastern churches before the Great Schism.

There is also an altar dedicated to St. Olaf in the church of Sant'Ambrogio e Carlo al Corso in Rome with a painting of the saint given to Pope Leo XIII in 1893 on the occasion of the golden jubilee of his ordination as a bishop by Wilhelm Wedel-Jarlsberg as its altarpiece.

Recently the pilgrimage route to Nidaros Cathedral, the site of St. Olav's tomb, has been reinstated. Following the Norwegian spelling the route is known as Saint Olav's Way. The main route, which is approximately 640 km long, starts in the ancient part of Oslo and heads North, along Lake Mjosa, up the Gudbrandsdal Valley, over Dovrefjell and down the Oppdal Valley to end at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. There is a Pilgrim's Office in Oslo which gives advice to Pilgrims, and a Pilgrim Centre in Trondheim, under the aegis of the Cathedral, which awards certificates to successful Pilgrims upon the completion of their journey.

Propers of the Mass for the Feast of St. Olaf

Entrance Verse:

Let us all rejoice in the Lord on the feast of blessed Olav, Norway's eternal king. The angels exult over his martyrdom and praise the Son of God.

Opening Prayer (Collect):

Almighty, eternal God, you are the crown of kings and the triumph of martyrs. We know that your blessed martyr, Olav, intercedes for us before your face. We praise your greatness in his death and we pray you, give us the crown of life that you have promised those who love you, through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Old Testament Reading: Wisdom of Solomon 10: 10-14.

Responsory Psalm: Psalm 31 (30): 1-7 with the response: "Into
your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit."

Epistle: James 1: 2-4, 12.

Allelua Verse:

Alleluia. Holy Olav, you who rejoice with the angels of heaven, pray for us that we may be worthy to present our sacrifice of praise before the Lord. Alleluia.
Gospel: Matthew 16:24-28

Prayer over the Offerings (Secret):

Almighty God, in awe we call upon your inscrutable might. Make holy these created things which you have chosen so that they may become the body and blood of Christ, your Son. Through the intercession of the holy Olav, king and martyr, let them for the salvation of body and soul. Through Christ our Lord.

Communion Verse:

Great is his glory through your saving help. With glory and honor will you clothe him, Lord.

Closing Prayer (Postcommunion):

We who have been fed at the table of the Lamb implore you, almighty God, through the intercession of your blessed martyr Olav let us always stand under the protection of your Son who redeemed us by his death on the cross, he who lives and reigns from eternity to eternity.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olaf_II_of_Norway

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The holy, glorious, right-victorious martyr and right-believing King Olaf II of Norway (sometimes spelled Olav) is also known as Olaf Haraldson and was a son of Earl Harald Grenske of Norway. During his lifetime he was also called Olaf the Fat. He was born in 995 A.D., and ruled Norway from 1015 to 1028, when he was exiled. He died two years later on the field of battle at Stiklestad, killed for his support of the Christian faith and his attempt to unite Norway into one nation. His feast day is July 29.

He should not be confused with his predecessor Olaf Tryggvason (King Olaf I of Norway).

Life

According to Snorri Sturluson (a 12th and 13th century Icelandic historian), he was baptized in 998 in Norway, but more probably about 1010 in Rouen, France, by Archbishop Robert. In his early youth he went as a viking to England, where he took part in many battles and became earnestly interested in Christianity. After many difficulties he was elected King of Norway, and made it his object to extirpate heathenism and make the Christian religion the basis of his kingdom.

He is the great Norwegian legislator for the Church, and like his predecessor Olaf Tryggvason, made frequent severe attacks on the old faith and customs, demolishing the temples and building Christian churches in their place. He brought many bishops and priests from England, as King Canute IV later did to Denmark. Some few are known by name (Grimkel, Sigfrid, Rudolf, Bernhard). He seems on the whole to have taken the Anglo-Saxon conditions as a model for the ecclesiastical organization of his kingdom.

But at last the exasperation against him got so strong that the mighty clans rose in rebellion against him and applied to King Canute II of Denmark and England for help. This was willingly given, whereupon Olaf was expelled and Canute elected King of Norway. Olaf fled to Kievan Rus, and during the voyage he stayed some time in Sweden in the province of Nerike where, according to local legend, he baptized many locals.

After two years' exile he returned to Norway with an army. Upon landing in Norway, he met his rebellious subjects led by the Norwegian nobles at Stiklestad, where the celebrated battle took place July 29, 1030. Neither King Canute nor the Danes took part at that battle. King Olaf fought with great courage, but was mortally wounded and fell on the battlefield, praying "God help me."

It must be remembered that the resentment against Olaf was due not alone to his Christianity, but also in a high degree to his unflinching struggle against the old constitution of shires and for the unity of Norway. He is thus regarded by modern Norwegians as the great champion of national independence.

St. Olaf's cultus

Many miraculous occurrences are related in connection with his death and his disinterment a year later, after belief in his sanctity had spread widely. His friends, Bishop Grimkel and Earl Einar Tambeskjelver, laid the corpse in a coffin and set it on the high-altar in the church of St. Clement in Nidaros (now Trondheim). Olaf has since been held as a saint, not only by the people of Norway, whose patron saint he is, but also by Rome. Orthodox Christians also venerate him as one of the ancient western saints of the Church before the Great Schism.
In 1075, his incorrupt body was enshrined in what became the cathedral of Nidaros (Trondheim), which replaced the chapel, and became a site of pilgrimage. During the Protestant Reformation his body was removed and reburied. His cultus was aided by the unpopular rule of Swein, Canute's son; Canute's death in 1035 resulted in the flight of many Danes from Norway and the accession of Olaf's son Magnus. Thereafter his cultus spread rapidly. Adam of Bremen (c. 1070) wrote that his feast was celebrated throughout Scandinavia.

His cult spread widely in the Middle Ages, not only in Norway, but also in Denmark, Sweden, and even as far as England; in London, there is on Hart Street a St. Olave's Church, long dedicated to the glorified King of Norway. In 1856 a fine St. Olave's Church was erected in Christiania, the capital of Norway, where a large relic of St. Olaf (a donation from the Danish Royal Museum) is preserved and venerated. The arms of Norway are a lion with the battle-axe of St. Olaf in the forepaws.

The Norwegian order of the Knighthood of Saint Olaf was founded in 1847 by Oscar I, king of Sweden and Norway, in memory of this king. He is called Rex Perpetuum Norvegiæ, eternal King of Norway.

An interesting and somewhat bizarre episode regarding St. Olaf's relics is recorded regarding St. Olaf's successor, Harald III Haardraade, who was King of Norway 1040-1066 (co-ruler with St. Olaf's son, Magnus the Good, 1040-1047). Thirty-five years after St. Olaf's death, Harald was planning an invasion of northern England in 1066 at the provocation of the exiled Earl Tostig (brother of King Harold II of England). He visited the shrine of St. Olaf in Trondheim, unlocked the door, cut his hair and nails—which were still growing, for St. Olaf's relics were incorrupt—and then relocked the shrine and threw the key into the neighboring River Nid. Harald was eventually defeated and killed by the army led by King Harold II of England, who later that year was defeated by William the Bastard ("the Conqueror") at the Battle of Hastings.
Holy King Olaf is also seen as being instrumental in the Christianization of both Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Both countries, under the influence of the Danish monarchy under which the islands were heavily subject until the 20th century (Iceland now independent since 1945 and the Faroe Islands having been granted substantial autonomy), became Lutheran during the Protestant Reformation. Nonetheless, despite centuries of absence from either the Catholic or Orthodox fold, St. Olaf is held in high honour. His feast day of July 29th, called in Faroese Ólafsøka, or St. Olaf's Vigil, is the national holiday of the Faroe Islands.



Source: http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/Olaf_of_Norway

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Hilarion or Ilarion (Russian: Иларион, Ukrainian: Іларіон) was the first non-Greek Metropolitan of Kiev. He was elected metropolitan during the middle of the eleventh century.

Life

Little is known of Hilarion’s life. According to the Primary Chronicle he was a priest serving at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Berestov near Kiev. He was noted as a well-educated man, a brilliant preacher, and writer. In 1051, according to the desire of Yaroslav I the Wise, Grand Prince of Kiev, a local council of bishops elected Hilarion the Metropolitan of Kiev. His election by a local council challenged the standing tradition of the election of the metropolitan of Kiev by the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Hilarion’s election was opposed strongly by the Bishop of Novgorod, Luka Zhidiata. In the tenth to fifteenth centuries, the church, in what is now western Russia and Ukraine, was a dependency of the Church of Constantinople. Luka’s opposition appears to have been based upon the prerogative that the election of the ruling bishop of Kiev was that of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Luka’s opposition to the seating of Hilarion did not go well with Prince Yaroslav’s wishes, and Luka was confined to the Kiev Caves Monastery. Luka remained there three years until his repose.

Hilarion codified the governance of the church life in Kievan Rus and defended the independence of the church against actions from the hierarchs of Constantinople. Hilarion’s tenure as metropolitan appears to have been short as the chronicles mention Metropolitan Efrem as the holder of the Kiev see in 1055.

Works

While he served as metropolitan for only a short time, Hilarion left a greater legacy in four works of his that have survived. The works credited to Hilarion are:

Sermon on Law and Grace
Confession of Faith
Sermon on Spiritual Benefit to All Christians
collection of instructions for priests called Words to
my brother Stylites, in Russian: Слово к брату столпнику.



Source: http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/Hilarion_of_Kiev

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Saint Mari was converted by Saint Addai. He is said to have had Mar Aggai as his spiritual director. He is also believed to have done missionary work around Nineveh, Nisibis, and along the Euphrates, and is said to have been one of the great apostles to Syria and Persia. He and Addai are credited with the Divine Liturgy of Addai and Mari. Despite the fact that there is little if any concrete information on Mari, he is still venerated as a saint by the Assyrian Church of the East, the Chaldean Catholic Church, and the Syro Malabar Catholic Church. Apocryphal Acts of Mar Mari are connected with him.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Mari

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Mar Aggai was one of the earlier leaders of the Church of the East. According to tradition, he was one of the seventy apostles who, when Jesus divided the world into various mission regions, was given the area of Mesopotamia as far as the border of India. He was appointed by Mar Addai to be his successor shortly before Addai died. Mar Aggai, like Addai before him, sent missionaries to the east. He is said to have been murdered in church by one of the sons of King Abgar V of Edessa. Shortly before his death, Aggai is reported to have appointed Palut as his successor.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mar_Aggai

fatman2021 #344191 02/25/10 03:37 AM
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Among the Eastern Orthodox faithful, Saint Addai was a disciple of Christ sent by St. Thomas the Apostle to Edessa in order to heal King Abgar V of Osroene, who had fallen ill. St. Addai stayed to evangelize, and converted Abgar—or Agbar, or in one Latin version "Acbar" — and his people including Saint Aggai and Saint Mari. He is known as one of the great apostles to Syria and Persia. He is considered to have been one of the early Catholicoses of the East, following Saint Thomas the Apostle. He and Saint Mari are credited with the Divine Liturgy of Addai and Mari. St. Addai is also known as Addeus— or Thaddeus which is a doublet for St. Jude the Apostle.

The story of St. Addai, the apostle of Edessa, accounts for the growing Christian communities in northern Mesopotamia and in Syria east of Antioch. The identity of the specific Agbar/Abgar is open to interpretation: see Abgar. The fully developed legend of Addai is embodied in the Syriac document, Doctrine of Addai, which recounts the role of Addai and makes him one of the 72 Apostles sent out to spread the Christian faith. The legendary tale of how King Abgarus V of Edessa and Jesus had corresponded was first recounted in the 4th century by the church historian Eusebius of Caesarea and it was retold in elaborated form by Ephrem the Syrian. In the origin of the legend, Eusebius had been shown documents purporting to contain the official correspondence that passed between Abgar and Jesus, and he was well enough convinced by their authenticity to quote them extensively in his Ecclesiastical History. By the time the legend had returned to Syria, the purported site of the miraculous image, it had been embroidered into a tissue of miraculous happenings: the Doctrine of Addai is full of miracles, and antisemitism in the garbled story of "Protonike" consort of Claudius, searching for the Cross, and Golgotha and the Holy Sepuchre, all of them in possession of the Jews.

St. Addai appears in unorthodox material as well, in two previously unknown apocalypses attributed to James the Just found at Nag Hammadi in 1945.

Death

Saint Addai is believed to have died in northern Iraq, in a Chaldean village named Yarda. the village is now deserted, due to the Saddam regime that forced most villages of northern Iraq to move to the major cities, because of the danger that lies within that area.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Addai

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