Τετάρτη, 7 Μαρτίου 2018

Άγιος Ιωάννης o Βαπτιστής - Saint Jonh the Forerunner and Baptist

22x30cm / 8.6x11.8inch.
Egg tempera.
+ Την επομένη ημέρα των Θεοφανίων καθιερώθηκε να εορτάζουμε, τη μνήμη του πανίερου προφήτη Ιωάννη Προδρόμου. Ο Ιωάννης ήταν γιος του ιερέα Ζαχαρία και της Ελισάβετ. Μέχρι τα τριάντα του χρόνια, ζει ασκητική ζωή στην έρημο της Ιουδαίας, αφιερωμένη ολοκληρωτικά στην προσευχή, τη μελέτη και την πνευματική και ηθική τελειοποίηση. Το ρούχο του ήταν από τρίχες καμήλας, στη μέση του είχε δερμάτινη ζώνη και την τροφή του αποτελούσαν ακρίδες και άγριο μέλι. Με μορφή ηλιοκαμένη, σοβαρός, αξιοπρεπής και δυναμικός, ο Ιωάννης φανέρωνε αμέσως φυσιογνωμία έκτακτη και υπέροχη. Είχε όλα τα προσόντα μεγάλου και επιβλητικού κήρυκα του θείου λόγου. Έτσι, με μεγάλη χάρη κήρυττε «τα πλήθη». Κατακεραύνωνε και χτυπούσε σκληρά τη φαρισαϊκή αλαζονική έπαρση, που κάτω από το εξωτερικό ένδυμα της ψευτοαγιότητας έκρυβε τις πιο αηδιαστικές πληγές ψυχικής σκληρότητας και ακαθαρσίας. Γενικά, η διδασκαλία του συνοψίζεται στη χαρακτηριστική φράση του: «Μετανοείτε· ήγγικε γαρ ή βασιλεία των ουρανών», προετοιμάζοντας, έτσι, το δρόμο του Κυρίου μας Ιησού Χριστού για το σωτήριο έργο Του. Όταν ο Χριστός άρχισε τη δημόσια δράση του, ο κόσμος άφηνε σιγά-σιγά τον Ιωάννη και ακολουθούσε Αυτόν. Η αντιστροφή αύτη, βέβαια, θα προκαλούσε μεγάλη πίκρα και θα γεννούσε αγκάθια ζήλειας και φθόνου σ' έναν, εκτός χριστιανικού πνεύματος, διδάσκαλο ή φιλόσοφο. Αντίθετα, στον Ιωάννη προκάλεσε μεγάλη χαρά και ευφροσύνη. Η γιορτή αυτή του Ιωάννου του Προδρόμου, για τον όποιο ο Κύριος είπε ότι κανείς άνθρωπος δε στάθηκε μεγαλύτερος του, καθιερώθηκε τον 5ο μ.Χ. αιώνα.

Επίσης, σήμερα εορτάζουμε και το γεγονός της μεταφοράς στην Κωνσταντινούπολη της τιμίας Χειρός του Αγίου Ιωάννου του Προδρόμου, που έγινε κατά τον ακόλουθο τρόπο: Όταν ο Ευαγγελιστής Λουκάς πήγε στην πόλη Σεβαστή, όπου τάφηκε ο Πρόδρομος, παρέλαβε από τον τάφο του το δεξί του χέρι, το μετέφερε στην Αντιόχεια, όπου χάριτι Θεού επιτελούσε πολλά θαύματα. Από την Αντιόχεια, το Ιερό χέρι, μετακομίστηκε στην Κωνσταντινούπολη το 957, από τον διάκονο Ιώβ. Εκεί ο φιλόχριστος αυτοκράτορας, αφού την ασπάστηκε με πολύ σεβασμό, την τοποθέτησε στα βασιλικά ανάκτορα. Η σύναξη των πιστών, σε ανάμνηση του γεγονότος της μετακομιδής της τιμίας Χείρας του Προδρόμου στην Κωνσταντινούπολη, ετελείτο στην περιοχή του Φορακίου (ή Σφωρακίου).

Επίσης, αυτή τη μέρα, εορτάζετε και το Θαύμα του Προδρόμου στη Χίο κατά των Αγαρηνών.


Ἀπολυτίκιον 
Ἦχος β’.
Μνήμη δικαίου μετ᾽ ἐγκωμίων· σοί δέ ἀρκέσει ἡ μαρτυρία τοῦ Κυρίου Πρόδρομε· ἀνεδείχθης γάρ ὄντως καί Προφητῶν σεβασμιώτερος, ὅτι καί ἐν ῥείθροις βαπτίσαι κατηξιώθης τόν κηρυττόμενον· ὅθεν τῆς ἀληθείας ὑπεραθλήσας, χαίρων εὐηγγελίσω καί τοῖς ἐν ᾅδῃ, Θεόν φανερωθέντα ἐν σαρκί, τόν αἴροντα τήν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου, καί παρέχοντα ἡμῖν τό μέγα ἔλεος.

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+In the Orthodox Church it is customary, on the day following the Great Feasts of the Lord and the Mother of God, to remember those saints who participated directly in the sacred event. So, on the day following the Theophany of the Lord, the Church honors the one who participated directly in the Baptism of Christ, placing his own hand upon the head of the Savior.
Saint John, the holy Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, whom the Lord called the greatest of the prophets, concludes the history of the Old Testament and opens the era of the New Testament. The holy Prophet John bore witness to the Only-Begotten Son of God, incarnate in the flesh. Saint John was accounted worthy to baptize Him in the waters of the Jordan, and he was a witness of the Theophany of the Most Holy Trinity on the day of the Savior’s Baptism.
The holy Prophet John was related to the Lord on His mother’s side, the son of the Priest Zachariah and Righteous Elizabeth. The holy Forerunner, John, was born six months before Christ. The Archangel Gabriel announced his birth in the Temple at Jerusalem, revealing to Zachariah that a son was to be born to him.
Through the prayers offered beforehand, the child was filled with the Holy Spirit. Saint John prepared himself in the wilds of the desert for his great service by a strict life, by fasting, prayer and sympathy for the fate of God’s people.
At the age of thirty, he came forth preaching repentance. He appeared on the banks of the Jordan, to prepare the people by his preaching to accept the Savior of the world. In church hymnology, Saint John is called a “bright morning star,” whose gleaming outshone the brilliance of all the other stars, announcing the coming dawn of the day of grace, illumined with the light of the spiritual Sun, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Having baptized the sinless Lamb of God, Saint John soon died a martyr’s death, beheaded by the sword on orders of King Herod at the request of his daughter Salome. (On Saint John the Baptist, see Mt.3:1-16, 11:1-19, 14:1-12; Mark 1:2-8, 6:14-29; Luke 1:5-25, 39-80, 3:1-20, 7:18-35, 9:7-9; John 1:19-34, 3:22-26). The Transfer of the Right Hand of the holy Forerunner from Antioch to Constantinople (956) and the Miracle of Saint John the Forerunner against the Hagarenes (Moslems) at Chios:
The body of Saint John the Baptist was buried in the Samaritan city of Sebaste. The holy Evangelist Luke, who went preaching Christ in various cities and towns, came to Sebaste, where they gave him the right hand of the holy Prophet John, the very hand with which he had baptized the Savior. The Evangelist Luke took it with him to his native city of Antioch.
When the Moslems seized Antioch centuries later, a deacon named Job brought the holy hand of the Forerunner from Antioch to Chalcedon. From there, on the eve of the Theophany of the Lord, it was transferred to Constantinople (956) and kept thereafter.
In the year 1200, the Russian pilgrim Dobrynya, who later became Saint Anthony, Archbishop of Novgorod (February 10), saw the right hand of the Forerunner in the imperial palace. From the Lives of the Saints we learn that in the year 1263, during the capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders, the emperor Baldwin gave one bone from the wrist of Saint John the Baptist to Ottonus de Cichon, who then gave it to a Cistercian abbey in France.
The right hand continued to be kept in Constantinople. And at the end of the fourteenth to the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, the holy relic was seen at Constantinople in the Peribleptos monastery by the Russian pilgrims Stephen of Novgorod, the deacon Ignatius, the cantor Alexander and the deacon Zosimus. When Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, sacred objects were gathered up at the the conqueror’s orders and kept under lock in the imperial treasury.
In the Lives of the Saints is clear testimony that in the year 1484 the right hand of the holy Forerunner was given away by the son of the Moslem sultan Bayazet to the knights of Rhodes to gain their good will, since a dangerous rival for Bayazet, his own brother, had allied himself with them. A contemporary participant, the vice-chancellor of Rhodes, Wilhelm Gaorsan Gallo, also speaks of this event. The knights of Rhodes, having established their base on the island of Malta (in the Mediterranean Sea), then transferred the sacred relic they had received to Malta.
When the Russian Tsar Paul I (1796-1801) became Grand Master of the Maltese Order in honor of the holy Prophet John, the right hand of the Baptist, part of the Life-Creating Cross and the Philermos Icon (October 12) of the Mother of God (from Mt Philermos on the island of Rhodes) were transferred in 1799 from the island of Malta to Russia [because of the Napoleonic threat], to the chapel at Gatchina (October 12). In the same year these sacred items were transferred into the church dedicated to the Icon of the Savior Not Made by Hands at the Winter Palace. A special service was composed for this Feast.
Besides the Synaxis of the honorable, glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates his memory on the following days: September 23, his Conception; June 24, his Nativity; August 29, his Beheading; February 24, the First and Second Finding of his Head; May 25, the Third Finding of his Head; October 12, the Transfer of his Right Hand from Malta to Gatchina (1799).

Troparion — Tone 2

The memory of the righteous is celebrated with hymns of praise, / but the Lord’s testimony is sufficient for you, O Forerunner. / You were shown in truth to be the most honorable of the prophets, / for you were deemed worthy to baptize in the streams of the Jordan Him whom they foretold. / Therefore, having suffered for the truth with joy, / you proclaimed to those in hell God who appeared in the flesh, / who takes away the sin of the world, and grants us great mercy.

Άγγελος Κυρίου - Angel

11x7cm - 4.3x2.7inch
Traditional stucco evened on a surface of a medium size oval rock.
Egg tempera and gold leaf 22k on background.

+ Ζωγραφισμένος σε στοκαρισμένη και γυαλισμένη πέτρα θαλάσσης. 

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 + The word angel means "messenger" and this word expresses the nature of angelic service to the human race. Angels are also referred to as "bodiless Powers of Heaven". Angels are organized into several orders, or Angelic Choirs. The most influential of these classifications was that put forward by pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (not to be confused with Dionysius the Areopagite, who was baptized by Saint Paul and lived in the first century, and from whom pseudo-Dionysius took his name) in the fourth or fifth century in his book The Celestial Hierarchy.
In this work, the author interpolated several ambiguous passages from the New Testament, specifically Ephesians 6:12 and Colossians 1:16, to construct a schema of three Hierarchies, Spheres or Triads of angels, with each Hierarchy containing three Orders or Choirs. In descending order of power, these were:


  • First Hierarchy:
    • Seraphim
    • Cherubim
    • Thrones
  • Second Hierarchy:
    • Powers
    • Dominions
    • Principalities
  • Third Hierarchy:
    • Virtues
    • Archangels
    • Angels

Άγιοι Απόστολοι Πέτρος και Παύλος - Apostles Peter and Paul

30x 40 cm - 11.8 x 15.7inch.
Handmade linden wood curved.
Egg tempera and gold leaf 22k.
                    
+Ο Πέτρος καταγόταν από τη Βηθσαϊδά της Γαλιλαίας και ήταν γιος του Ιωνά, αδελφός του Αποστόλου Ανδρέα του Πρωτόκλητου. Ο Πέτρος και ο Ανδρέας ήταν ψαράδες στη λίμνη Γεννησαρέτ. Είχε νυμφευθεί στην Καπερναούμ, όπου έμενε οικογενειακά μαζί με την πεθερά του. Όπως μας πληροφορεί το Ευαγγέλιο, όταν ο Ιησούς έφθασε στη λίμνη της Γεννησαρέτ συνάντησε τους δυο αδελφούς Πέτρο και Ανδρέα οι οποίοι έριχναν τα δίχτυα τους. Αμέσως μετά την κλήση τους, άφησαν τα δίχτυα και τις οικογένειές τους και τον ακολούθησαν. Ψαράς στο επάγγελμα, ήταν τύπος αυθόρμητος, ορμητικός, και τη ζωή του κοντά στο Χριστό τη μαθαίνουμε από τα τέσσερα Ευαγγέλια, ενώ την αποστολική του δράση, από τις πράξεις των Αποστόλων. Έγραψε και δύο Καθολικές Επιστολές, μέσα στις οποίες να τι προτρέπει τους χριστιανούς: «Νήψατε, γρηγορήσατε, ο αντίδικος υμών διάβολος ως λέων ωρυόμενος περιπατεί ζητών τίνα καταπίη» (Α΄ Πέτρου, ε΄ 8). Δηλαδή εγκρατευθείτε, γίνετε άγρυπνοι και προσεκτικοί. Διότι ο αντίπαλος και κατήγορός σας ο διάβολος, σαν λιοντάρι που βρυχάται, περιπατεί με μανία και ζητάει ποιον να τραβήξει μακριά από την πίστη και να τον καταπιεί. Μετά την Ανάληψη του Κυρίου, ο Πέτρος, δίδαξε το Ευαγγέλιο στην Ιουδαία, στην Αντιόχεια, στον Πόντο, στην Γαλατία, στην Καππαδοκία, στην Ασία και τη Βιθυνία. Κατά την παράδοση (που σημαίνει ότι δεν είναι απόλυτα ιστορικά διασταυρωμένο) έφτασε μέχρι την Ρώμη, όπου επί Νέρωνος (54-68μ.Χ.) υπέστη μαρτυρικό θάνατο, αφού τον σταύρωσαν χιαστί, με το κεφάλι προς τα κάτω περί το έτος 64 μ.Χ.

Ο δε Παύλος γεννήθηκε στην Ταρσό της Κιλικίας σε ένα χωρίο που ονομάζεται Γίσχαλα και στην αρχή ήταν σκληρός διώκτης του Χριστιανισμού. Το 36 μ.Χ. περίπου, όταν κάποτε μετέβαινε στη Δαμασκό για να διώξει και εκεί χριστιανούς, έγινε θαύμα στο οποίο φανερώθηκε ο Χριστός, ο οποίος τον πρόσταξε να πάει στον Ανανία ο οποίος τον κατήχησε και τον βάπτισε. Έτσι, έγινε ο μεγαλύτερος κήρυκας του Ευαγγελίου, θυσιάζοντας μάλιστα και την ζωή του γι’ αυτό. Ονομάστηκε ο πρώτος μετά τον Ένα και Απόστολος των Εθνών, λόγω των τεσσάρων μεγάλων αποστολικών περιοδειών του. Είναι ο ιδρυτής της Εκκλησίας της Ελλάδος. Συνέγραψε 14 επιστολές προς τις Εκκλησίες τις οποίες εκείνος ίδρυσε. Τη ζωή του με τις περιπέτειές του θα τα δει κανείς, αν μελετήσει τις Πράξεις των Αποστόλων, αλλά και τις 14 Επιστολές του στην Καινή Διαθήκη. Ο Απόστολος Παύλος θέλει κάθε χριστιανός, όπως και ο ίδιος, να αισθάνεται και να λέει: «ζω δε ουκέτι εγώ, ζη δε εν εμοί Χριστός» (Προς Γαλάτας β΄ 20). Δηλαδή, δε ζω πλέον εγώ, ο παλαιός άνθρωπος, αλλά ζει μέσα μου ο Χριστός. Και ακόμα, «τα πάντα και εν πάσι Χριστός» (Προς Κολασσαείς γ΄ 11). Να διευθύνει, δηλαδή, όλες τις εκδηλώσεις τις ανθρώπινης ζωής μας ο Χριστός. Ο Απόστολος Παύλος υπέστη μαρτυρικό θάνατο (χωρίς να είναι απόλυτα ιστορικά διασταυρωμένο) δι’ αποκεφαλισμού στη Ρώμη μεταξύ των ετών 64 - 67 μ.Χ.


Ἀπολυτίκιον
Ἦχος δ’.
Οἱ τῶν Ἀποστόλων πρωτόθρονοι, καὶ τῆς Οἰκουμένης διδάσκαλοι, τῷ Δεσπότῃ τῶν ὅλων πρεσβεύσατε, εἰρήνην τῆ οἰκουμένῃ δωρήσασθαι, καὶ ταῖς ψυχαῖς ἡμῶν τὸ μέγα ἔλεος.

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+ St. Peter.

A visiting dignitary is honoured with a symbolic key to the city as a token of respect, but for eternity the keys to the kingdom of Heaven have been placed by the Messiah himself, out of respect to one of his greatest disciples, into the hand of a man called Peter,the constant companion and beloved friend of Jesus Christ. This magnificent disciple, whom trust places at the gates of heaven to examine the credentials of those who would enter, had a master key in his lifetime which unlocked the hearts of men to admit the Saviour, and his wisdom was the key to men's minds which in turn admitted the intelligence to give meaning to the Christian faith.
Brought to Jesus by his brother Andrew, a fisherman like himself, Peter forthwith acknowledged the Master and undertook a lifetime of casting his fisherman's nets for the sake of Jesus Christ and so excelled himself in his personal and total dedication to the Saviour that in the two thousand years that have elapsed any roll call of the disciples finds the name of Peter among the most prominent. He ranks with St. Paul as one without whom the new Faith could not have survived the whips and scorns of the pagan era of superstition and spiritual darkness.
Several accounts are given in the New Testament about St, Peter and his strong bond with the Nazarene, but the stirring passage in Matthew should be etched in the mind of every Christian, that which says "And I say to thee that thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I will give thee the keys of the Kingdom of the Heavens, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in the heavens, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in the heavens." This divine authority vested in Peter as well as to all of the disciples of Christ, placed a sacred trust in Peter, whose name means, "rock" from the Greek word petra.
It was upon this rock of faith, as depicted in holy Scripture, that the formation of the Christian Church, the disciples' handywork, was not only a success but a triumph as well. Peter, the redoubtable fisherman who had never strayed far from his home in Capernaum on the shores of Galilee, was at the side of Jesus in his ministry throughout the Holy Land and as one of his closest apostles planned the campaigns for the winning of converts.
In the course of this spiritual campaign, he came to witness the many miracles of the Master, such as the walking on water, the miracle of the loaves and fishes and, many others which were to lend an aura of divine authority to all of the apostles in the stewardship of the Church.
Peter, together with many others, was privileged to witness the glorious resurrection of Christ, an event which all Christendom views with such reverence as to regard the first followers of Christ, as next to divine.
Peter struck out on his own in the missionary work of renewed dedication after the death of Jesus, but he favoured Jerusalem and together with other followers of Christ assisted diligently in the formation of the Christian community in Jerusalem.
Peter, whose presence at Gethsemane had further fuelled the fires of Christian zeal in his heart, joined John in Samaria, Lydda, Joppa, and Caesaria in a propagation of the truth of the Messiah, but returning to Jerusalem found that a famine had set in and that the Christian community was somehow being blamed for the economic woes that ravaged the land. With the help of Paul and Barnabas they restored thconfidence of the people and led them out of their hapless state to an era of new prosperity. Ultimately Peter established the first church in the ancient city of Antioch and became its first bishop. Later in Rome, he was sentenced by Nero to be crucified, a manner of death in which he emulated the Messiah.

Saint Paul.


Whenever the storms of controversy within the Christian Church have cast a shadow on the Cross of Jesus Christ, the clouds have been rolled back by the spiritual brighteness, undiminished by the centuries, of the magnificent St. Paul. Most Christians agree that were it not for St. Paul, the new faith of Jesus Christ would have never taken hold to become the mainstay of Western civilization, The total commitment of St. Paul to the Messiah, for which he ultimately sacrificed his life, brought the message of Jesus to the nucleus of Christians over a period of thirty years and assured the permanency of the truth of the Savior. It was Christ, of course, who planted the seeds, but it was St. Paul who nourished the garden of Christendom.
St. Paul was born in Tarsus, a flourishing crossroads city in Cilicia, Asia Minor. He received his religious training in Jerusalem under the renowned rabbinical tutor Gamaliel, from whom he absorbed the teaching of the Pharisees with intensity and sincerity. He deplored the acceptance of the Messiah as heresy to his religion and as an affront to the Law of the ancient covenant. Armed with articles of condemnation from his council, he set out for Damascus with an avowed purpose of wiping out this new belief in Jesus Christ.
On the road to Damascus he met Jesus. This is perhaps the most dramatic turnabout in history, one that was destined to alter the course of the world. St. Paul embraced as the Messiah the man whom he had set out to destroy; thereafter he devoted himself with deep conviction to the truth of Christianity. The conversion alone of this profoundly religious man is in itself testimony to the reality of the Messiah's divinity.
Although not one of the twelve disciples of Christ, Paul linked himself with the apostles and became the greatest apostolic missionary of all time. A brilliant orator and writer, he was sensitive to the needs and moods of the various tribes of both Greek and Near Eastern backgrounds. Furthermore, he was intelligent enough to cope with the problems that beset the new faith at every turn.
St. Paul, a man of small physical stature, cast a giant shadow upon the missionary scene as he traveled the length and breadth of the ancient Eastern world. He had success following success in the vast areas of Asia, Greece, Cyprus, Macedonia, and eventually Rome, where his most noble purpose was to prove his undoing. He had a fondness for Jerusalem, for whose poor he continually solicited funds. Moreover, he envisioned a union of the Jewish and Christian communities, a project which was to prove dangerous. He met James in Jerusalem and together they sought a means to bring this laudable plan into being. However, he encountered not love but outright hostility. In fact, he had to be saved from an angry mob by the Roman authorities, who placed him aboard a ship bound for Rome, where he arrived after a tossed voyage.
St. Paul had always wanted to use the eternal city with its strategic position in the empire, from which the spread of Christianity could be projected. Although he preached in Rome for two years, his ambitions were never completely realized, except for the production of his masterful Pastoral Letters.
Despite his frail health he continued his work for Christ at an accelerated pace, but his enthusiastic love for the Savior also brought him the resentment of certain influential elements in Rome. When his enemies had done their worst, he was brought to trial and met a marytr's death about A.D. 67.
The true greatness of Paul is discerned in his writings, particularly his epistles. As author of almost half of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, he has influenced Christianity as no other man with the exception of Jesus himself. Even after nearly two thousand years, St. Paul's candor, freshness, clarity, and perceptiveness in his writings are as welcome as sunrise.
Orthodox Christianity remembers St. Paul each year on 29th June and as one of the Apostles on June 30.

Τετάρτη, 29 Νοεμβρίου 2017

Παναγία η Αγία Σκέπη - Panagia Agia Skepi (Holy protection)

21x26cm - 8.3x10.2inch.
Egg tempera on a well prepared piece of pine tree.


+ Η Αγία Σκέπη της Υπεραγίας Θεοτόκου εν Βλαχερνώ εορτάζει την 1η Οκτωβρίου όπου και το βιογραφικό σημείωμα. Η Εκκλησία της Ελλάδος όμως, την έχει μεταθέσει στις 28 Οκτωβρίου, όπου η Ελλάδα γιορτάζει το μεγάλο γεγονός της διασώσεως και απελευθερώσεως της από τον Ιταλογερμανικό ζυγό. Την Ακολουθία που ψάλλεται αυτή την ημέρα την έγραψε ο Αγιορείτης Μοναχός Γεράσιμος Μικραγιαννανίτης και εγκρίθηκε από την Ιερά Σύνοδο της Εκκλησίας της Ελλάδος στις 21 Οκτωβρίου 1952 μ.Χ. όπου και αποφασίστηκε ο συνεορτασμός της εορτής της Αγίας Σκέπης και της Εθνικής επετείου του «ΟΧΙ» (Συνοδικές Εγκύκλιοι, Τόμος Β', Αθήνα 1956, σελ. 649).

Ἀπολυτίκιον
Ἦχος α’. Τῆς ἐρήμου πολίτης.
Τῆς Σκέπης σου Παρθένε, ἀvuμνοῦμεν τάς χαρίτας, ἣν ὡς φωτοφόρον νεφέλην, ἐφαπλοῖς ὑπὲρ ἔννοιαν, καὶ σκέπεις τὸν λαόν σου νοερῶς, ἐκ πάσης τῶν ἐχθρῶν ἐπιβουλῆς. Σὲ γὰρ σκέπην καὶ προστάτιν καὶ βοηθόν, κεκτήμεθα βοῶντές σοι· Δόξα τοῖς μεγαλείοις σου Ἁγνή, δόξα τῇ θείᾳ Σκέπῃ σου, δόξα τῇ πρὸς ἡμᾶς σου, προμηθείᾳ Ἄχραντε.


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+The Protection of the Mother of God is one of the most beloved feast days on the Orthodox calendar among the Slavic peoples, commemorated on October 1. The feast is celebrated additionally on October 28 in the Greek tradition. It is also known as the feast of the Virgin Mary's Cerement.
In most Slavic languages the word "cerement" has a dual meaning of "veil" and "protection." The Russian word Pokrov (Покров), like the Greek Skepi (Σκέπη), has a complex meaning. First of all, it refers to a cloak or shroud, but it also means protection or intercession. For this reason, the name of the feast is variously translated as the Veil of Our Lady, the Protecting Veil of the Theotokos, the Protection of the Theotokos, or the Intercession of the Theotokos.

In recent years, the Feast of the Protection has become associated with thanksgiving for the deliverance of the Greek nation from the Italian invasion of 1940. These events are commemorated in Greece in a national holiday known as "Ochi Day" or "No Day," referring to the response of the Greek leader Metaxas to Mussolini's ultimatum.
In recognition of this, and because of the many miracles of the Holy Virgin which were reported by Greek soldiers during the Greco-Italian War of 1940-1941, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece elected in 1952 to transfer the Feast from October 1 to October 28.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate also provides for this usage in its parishes in Greece and in the Greek diaspora, and it is generally observed now throughout the Greek-speaking world. The observance includes the chanting of a Doxology incorporating hymns recognizing the Protection of the Theotokos over the Greek nation, as well as the kontakion "O Champion Leader."


Troparion (Tone 4)
Today the faithful celebrate the feast with joy
illumined by your coming, O Mother of God.
Beholding your pure image we fervently cry to you:
"Encompass us beneath the precious veil of your protection;
deliver us from every form of evil by entreating Christ,
your Son and our God that He may save our souls."


Κυριακή, 15 Οκτωβρίου 2017

Ανάμνηση Θαύματος Αρχαγγέλου Μιχαήλ στις Χωναίς - Commemoration of the Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Colossae

Egg tempera
28x34cm - 11x13.3inch
+ Σε κάποιο μέρος της Φρυγίας, η γη ανέβλυσε αγιασμένο νερό με τη δύναμη του Αρχαγγέλου Μιχαήλ, που γιάτρευε κάθε αρρώστια των ασθενούντων. Ένας χριστιανός, λοιπόν, επειδή γιατρεύτηκε η κόρη του, έκτισε ωραιότατο ναό στο όνομα του Αρχιστράτηγου, επάνω στο άγιασμα.

Μετά 90 χρόνια, ήλθε στο ναό κάποιος ευλαβής νέος, ονόματι Άρχιππος. Έμεινε υπηρέτης στο ναό και ζούσε ζωή ασκητική και με εγκράτεια. Όταν είδαν αυτό το πράγμα οι ειδωλολάτρες, έπιασαν τον Άρχιππο και τον χτύπησαν δυνατά. Έπειτα, όρμησαν να καταστρέψουν το ναό και το άγιασμα. Αλλά ώ της μεγάλης δυνάμεως του Αρχαγγέλου! Άλλων απ' αυτούς τα χέρια έμειναν παράλυτα και άλλους σταμάτησε φράγμα φωτιάς και έτσι γύρισαν όλοι άπρακτοι. Όμως το πείσμα και ο θυμός τους ώθησε να κάνουν εκτροπή του κοντινού ποταμού, για να παρασύρει το ναό και να πνίξουν τον Άρχιππο. Αλλά και πάλι θαύμα! Ο ποταμός γύρισε προς τα πίσω! Τότε σκέφθηκαν να ενώσουν και άλλους δύο ποταμούς. Όμως ο Αρχάγγελος Μιχαήλ παρουσιάστηκε στον Άρχιππο και, αφού τον έβγαλε έξω από το ναό, έκανε το σημείο του σταυρού και οι ποταμοί στάθηκαν σαν τείχος. Πρόσταξε, έπειτα, να χωνευθούν και πράγματι, κατά παράδοξο τρόπο, έως σήμερα στο μέρος εκείνο τα νερά των ποταμών χωνεύονται. Και γι' αυτό το μέρος ονομάστηκε Χώναι.


Ἀπολυτίκιον  (Κατέβασμα)
Ἦχος δ’.
Τῶν οὐρανίων στρατιῶν Ἀρχιστράτηγε, δυσωποῦμέν σε ἀεὶ ἡμεῖς οἱ ἀνάξιοι, ἵνα ταῖς σαῖς δεήσεσι τειχίσης ἡμᾶς, σκέπη τῶν πτερύγων, τῆς ἀῢλου σου δόξης, φρουρῶν ἡμᾶς προσπίπτοντας, ἐκτενῶς καὶ βοῶντας· Ἐκ τῶν κινδύνων λύτρωσαι ἡμᾶς, ὡς ταξιάρχης τῶν ἄνω Δυνάμεων.

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+ In Phrygia, not far from the city of Hieropolis, in a place called Cheretopos, there was a church named for the Archangel Michael, built over a miraculous spring.
This church was built by a certain inhabitant of the city of Laodicia in gratitude to God for healing his mute daughter. The holy Chief Commander Michael appeared to this man in a dream and revealed to him that his daughter would receive the gift of speech after drinking from the water of the spring. The girl actually did receive healing and began to speak. After this miracle, the father and his daughter and all their family were baptized. In fervent gratitude, the father built the church in honor of the holy Chief Commander Michael. Not only did Christians begin to come to the spring for healing, but also pagans. In so doing, many of the pagans turned from their idols and were converted to the faith in Christ.
At this church of the holy Chief Commander Michael, a certain pious man by the name of Archippus served for sixty years as church custodian. By his preaching and by the example of his saintly life he brought many pagans to faith in Christ. With the general malice of that time towards Christians, and especially against Archippus, the pagans thought to destroy the church in order to prevent people from coming to that holy place of healing, and at the same time kill Archippus.
Toward this end they made a confluence of the Lykokaperos and Kufos Rivers and directed its combined flow against the church. Saint Archippus prayed fervently to the Chief Commander Michael to ward off the danger. Through his prayer the Archangel Michael appeared at the temple, and with a blow of his staff, opened a wide fissure in a rock and commanded the rushing torrents of water to flow into it. The temple remained unharmed. Seeing such an awesome miracle, the pagans fled in terror. Archippus and the Christians gathered in church glorified God and gave thanks to the holy Archangel Michael for the help. The place where the rivers plunged into the fissure received the name “Chonae”, which means “plunging.”


Troparion — Tone 4

Michael, commander of the heavenly hosts, / we who are unworthy beseech you, / by your prayers encompass us beneath the wings of your immaterial glory, / and faithfully preserve us who fall down and cry out to you: / “Deliver us from all harm, for you are the commander of the powers on high!”

Δευτέρα, 11 Σεπτεμβρίου 2017

Αγία Βικτωρία - Saint Victoria

 15x20cm - 5,9x7,8inch. Egg tempera and gold leaf 22k
+Δεν γνωρίζουμε πολλά για την ζωή της Αγίας Βικτωρίας. Με την αδερφή της, αρνηθήκαν τις προτάσεις επίμονων ειδολολατρών που τις θέλανε για γυναίκες τους. Έτσι, τις φυλάκισαν και μετά από πολλά μαρτύρια, τις θανάτωσαν. Πολλοί, όπως και ο φρουρός που παρευρίσκονταν μπροστά στο μαρτύριο, πίστεψαν στο Χριστό! Η Εκκλησία μας τιμά την μνήμη της στις 23 Δεκεμβρίου κάθε έτους.

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+There is very little known about St. Victoria. With her sister Anatolia, she refused importunate suitors. Both were imprisoned and starved by their suitors but persisted in refusing marriage. Anatolia was converted to Christianity and converted many in Picenum before being denounced for her faith, for which she was tortured and executed at Thora on Lake Velino in Italy. When Victoria refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, she too was executed, perhaps at Tribulano. The guard was converted by their example and was also martyred.  Feast day is December 23rd.

Παρασκευή, 1 Σεπτεμβρίου 2017

Αγία Αντιγόνη - Saint Antigone

22x30cm - 8.6x 11.8inch
Egg tempera and gold leaf 23K



Αγίες Τεσσαράκοντα Παρθένες και Ασκήτριες και Αμμούν ο διδάσκαλος αυτών

 
Αγιος Αμμουν Ο Διδασκαλος, Αγια Αδαμαντινη , Αγια Καλλιροη , Αγια Χαρικλεια , Αγια Πηνελοπη , Αγια Κλειω , Αγια Θαλεια , Αγια Μαριανθη , Αγια Ευτερπη , Αγια Τερψιχορη , Αγια Ουρανια , Αγια Κλεονικη , Αγια Σαπφω , Αγια Ερατω , Αγια Πολυμνια , Αγια Δωδωνη , Αγια Αθηνα , Αγια Τρωαδα , Αγια Κλεοπατρα , Αγια Κοραλια , Αγια Καλλιστη , Αγια Θεονοη , Αγια Θεανω , Αγια Ασπασια , Αγια Πολυνικη , Αγια Διονη , Αγια Θεοφανη , Αγια Ερασμια , Αγια Ερμηνεια , Αγια Αφροδιτη , Αγια Μαργαριτα , Αγια Αντιγονη , Αγια Πανδωρα , Αγια Χαϊδω , Αγια Λαμπρω , Αγια Μοσχω , Αγια Αρηβοϊα , Αγια Θεονυμφη , Αγια Ακριβη , Αγια Μελπομενη , Αγια Ελπινικη

Οι Άγιες αυτές γυναίκες έζησαν την εποχή του βασιλέως Λικινίου στην Αδριανούπολη της Θράκης. Ο ηγεμών της περιοχής Βάβδος (περί το 305 μ.Χ.) τις συνέλαβε ως χριστιανές και τις προέτρεπε να προσκυνήσουν τα είδωλα. Η Κελσίνα, μία εξ αυτών και η πρώτη της πόλεως, μετά τη θαρραλέα ομολογία της πίστεώς της τις εσύναξε όλες στην οικία της μαζί με τον διδάσκαλό τους, διάκονο Άγιο Αμμούν, για να ενισχυθούν προς το μαρτύριο. Ο Αμμούν πήρε το χαρτί με τα ονόματά τους και τα διάβασε δυνατά ένα-ένα. Ύστερα είπε: «Αγωνισθήτε υπέρ του Χριστού δια του μαρτυρίου, διότι έτσι θα καθίσει και ο Δεσπότης Χριστός στην πύλη της ουρανίου βασιλείας και θα σας προσκαλεί μία-μία κατ’ όνομα, για να σας αποδώσει τον στέφανο της αιωνίου ζωής».

Όταν και πάλι τις ανέκρινε ο ηγεμών, ομολόγησαν όλες σταθερά την πίστη τους. Με την προσευχή τους συνέτριψαν τα είδωλα και ο ιερεύς των ειδώλων ανυψώθηκε στον αέρα, μέχρις ότου, βασανιζόμενος από πύρινους αγγέλους, έπεσε νεκρός στη γη. Τότε ο Βάβδος πρόσταξε να κρεμάσουν τον Άγιο Αμμούν, να του ξύσουν τις πλευρές, να κάψουν τις πληγές του με αναμμένες λαμπάδες και να του φορέσουν στο κεφάλι χάλκινη πυρακτωμένη περικεφαλαία.

Επειδή ο Άγιος διαφυλάχθηκε αβλαβής από τα μαρτύρια, οδηγήθηκε μαζί με τις μαθήτριές του από τη Βερόη (σημερινή Στάρα Ζαγορά της Βουλγαρίας) στην Ηράκλεια, στον βασιλέα Λικίνιο. Καθ’ οδόν εμφανίσθηκε ο Κύριος και τους ενεθάρρυνε. Φθάνοντας στην πόλη πήγαν στον τόπο, όπου είχαν κατατεθεί τα τίμια λείψανα της Αγίας μάρτυρος Γλυκερίας (βλέπε 13 Μαΐου). Ενώ διανυκτέρευαν εκεί προσευχόμενες, παρουσιάσθηκε η Αγία λέγοντας: «Καλώς ήλθατε, άγιες δούλες του Θεού! Προ πολλού περίμενα την λαμπρή εν Χριστώ συνοδεία σας, για να χορεύσωμε στεφανωμένες όλες μαζί με τους αγίους αγγέλους στην βασιλεία του Χριστού, τον οποίο μέχρις αίματος ομολογήσαμε».


Στην Ηράκλεια τους έριξαν στα θηρία. Οι άγιες γυναίκες μαζί με τον διδάσκαλό τους προσευχήθηκαν όρθιες με υψωμένα τα χέρια, τα δε θηρία κατελήφθησαν από ύπνο και δεν τους άγγιξαν. Την ώρα που οι στρατιώτες άναβαν φωτιά για να τις ρίξουν μέσα, προφήτευσαν στον ασεβή Λικίνιο την επικράτηση του Μεγάλου Κωνσταντίνου, τη νίκη του χριστιανισμού και την κατάργηση της ειδωλολατρίας. Κατόπιν σφραγίσθηκαν με το σημείο του σταυρού και δέκα από αυτές πήδησαν αγαλλόμενες μέσα στις φλόγες υμνώντας τον Θεό, ο οποίος εδρόσισε το πυρ. Έτσι, αυτές μεν ετελειώθησαν εν ειρήνη στην πυρά, οκτώ δε αποκεφαλίστηκαν μαζί με τον διδάσκαλό τους Αμμούν. Από τις υπόλοιπες οι δήμιοι άλλες κατέσφαξαν και σε άλλες έβαλαν στο στόμα πυρακτωμένα σίδερα.

Τα ονόματά τους έχουν διασωθεί στο αρχαίο Μαρτύριόν τους (Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca 2280-2281) και είναι: Λαυρεντία η διάκονος, Κελσίνα, Θεοκτίστη (η Θεόκλεια), Δωροθέα, Ευτυχιανή, Θέκλα, Αρισταινέτη, Φιλαδέλφη, Μαρία, Βερονίκη, Ευλαλία (η Ευθυμία), Λαμπροτάτη, Ευφημία, Θεοδώρα, Θεοδότη, Τετεσία, Ακυλίνα, Θεοδούλη, Απλοδώρα, Λαμπαδία, Προκοπία, Παύλα, Ιουλιάνα, Αμπλιανή, Περσίς, Πολυνίκη, Μαύρα, Γρηγορία, Κυρία (η Κυριαίνη), Βάσσα, Καλλινίκη, Βαρβάρα, Κυριακή, Αγαθονίκη, Ιούστα, Ειρήνη, Ματρώνα (η Αγαθονίκη), Τιμοθέα, Τατιανή, Άννα (η Ανθούσα).

Ωστόσο, στην ασματική Ακολουθία και σε νεότερους Συναξαριστές απαντούν τα εξής ονόματα: Αδαμαντίνη, Αθηνά, Ακριβή, Αντιγόνη, Αριβοία, Ασπασία, Αφροδίτη, Διόνη, Δωδώνη, Ελπινίκη, Ερασμία, Ερατώ, Ερμηνεία, Ευτέρπη, Θάλεια, Θεανώ, Θεανόη, Θεόνυμφη, Θεοφάνη, Καλλιρρόη, Καλλίστη, Κλειώ, Κλεονίκη, Κλεοπάτρα, Κοραλλία, Λάμπρω, Μαργαρίτα, Μαριάνθη, Μελπομένη, Μόσχω, Ουρανία, Πανδώρα, Πηνελόπη, Πολύμνια, Πολυνίκη, Σαπφώ, Τερψιχόρη, Τρωάς, Χάϊδω και Χαρίκλεια (βλ. Πρωτ. Κων/νου Πλατανιτου, Εορτολόγιον της Ορθοδόξου Εκκλησίας, Αποστολική Διακονία, εκδ. Δ , 1997, σελ. 23 υποσ.).


Ἀπολυτίκιον
Ἀθλητῶν αἱ χορείαι, δεῦτε συνδράμετε καὶ τεσσαράκοντα κόρας μετὰ Ἀμμοὺν εὐσεβοῦς μεγαλύνατε, λαμπρῶς πανηγυρίζουσι ὅτι ἐνήθλησαν στερρῶς τῇ ἀσκήσει ἐν Χριστῷ, ῥωσθεῖσαι καὶ λαμπρυνθῆσαι πρεσβεύουσαι τῷ Κυρίῳ, ἐλεηθῆναι τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν.

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The Forty Holy Virgin Martyrs and Their Teacher, St. Ammoun the Deacon

The holy martyrs endured many cruel torments, which were intended to force them to renounce Christ and worship idols. Later, they were sent to Heraclea in Thrace to appear before the tyrant Licinius. The valiant martyrs remained unshakeable, however.
St Ammoun and eight of the virgins were beheaded, ten virgins were burned, six of them died after heated metal balls were put into their mouths, six were stabbed with knives, and the rest were struck in the mouth and stabbed in the heart with swords.

The names of these glorious Christian women are as follows: Adamantine, Athena, Akrive, Antigone, Arivea, Aspasia, Aphrodite, Dione, Dodone, Elpinike, Erasmia, Erato, Ermeneia, Evterpe, Thaleia, Theanoe, Theano, Theonymphe, Theophane, Kalliroe, Kalliste, Kleio, Kleonike, Kleopatra, Koralia, Lambro, Margarita, Marianthe, Melpomene, Moscho, Ourania, Pandora, Penelope, Polymnia, Polynike, Sapfo, Terpsichore, Troada, Haido, and Harikleia.
Dismissal hymn of the martyrs, Plagal First tone:
O athletes of Christ, come and participate, And the forty maidens, along with pious Ammoun, Exalt with glorious festivities, For they fought the great fight, And by their ascesis in Christ, Were made powerful and radiant. Intercede to the Lord, For the salvation of our souls.

Άγιος Ιωάννης ο Πρόδρομος -Saint John the Baptist

25x 32 cm - 9.8 x 12.5 inch.
Egg tempera and gold leaf 22K on background


Ἀπολυτίκιον Ἦχος β’.
Μνήμη δικαίου μετ᾽ ἐγκωμίων· σοί δέ ἀρκέσει ἡ μαρτυρία τοῦ Κυρίου Πρόδρομε· ἀνεδείχθης γάρ ὄντως καί Προφητῶν σεβασμιώτερος, ὅτι καί ἐν ῥείθροις βαπτίσαι κατηξιώθης τόν κηρυττόμενον· ὅθεν τῆς ἀληθείας ὑπεραθλήσας, χαίρων εὐηγγελίσω καί τοῖς ἐν ᾅδῃ, Θεόν φανερωθέντα ἐν σαρκί, τόν αἴροντα τήν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου, καί παρέχοντα ἡμῖν τό μέγα ἔλεος.


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Troparion of St. John the Baptist, Tone 2

The memory of the just is celebrated with hymns of praise but the Lord's testimony is enough for thee, O Forerunner, for thou wast shown to be more wonderful than the Prophets since thou wast granted to baptize in the running waters Him Whom thou didst proclaim. Then having endured great suffering for the Truth, Thou didst rejoice to bring, even to those in hell the good tidings that God Who had appeared in the flesh takes away the sin of the world and grants us the great mercy.

Δευτέρα, 3 Ιουλίου 2017

Αγία Ειρήνη Χρυσοβαλάντου - Saint Irene Chrysovalantou

22x30cm / 8,6x 11,8inch.
Egg tempera
+ Η Οσία Ειρήνη έζησε στα χρόνια της βασίλισσας Θεοδώρας, που αναστήλωσε τις άγιες εικόνες.

Η Ειρήνη καταγόταν από την Καππαδοκία και διακρινόταν όχι μόνο για την ευσέβεια της, αλλά και για την σωματική ωραιότητα της και για την ευγενή ανατροφή της. Είχε ζητηθεί λοιπόν σε γάμο, από διακεκριμένο άνδρα του παλατιού και ξεκίνησε για το Βυζάντιο. Στη διαδρομή όμως, πέρασε από τη Μονή του Χρυσοβαλάντου και τόσο ελκύστηκε από τη συναναστροφή των καλογριών, ώστε πήρε τη μεγάλη απόφαση να παραμείνει μαζί τους. Έτσι απέρριψε τις κοσμικές δόξες, γύρισε στην πατρίδα της, πούλησε τα υπάρχοντα της, βοηθώντας πολλούς φτωχούς και τα υπόλοιπα χρήματα τα εναπόθεσε στη Μονή. Έγινε μοναχή και η ζωή της μέσα στο μοναστήρι υπήρξε πολύ ασκητική και αγία.

Όταν πέθανε η ηγουμένη, η Ειρήνη, παρά την άρνηση της, ορίστηκε διάδοχος της. Από τη νέα της θέση, επετέλεσε τα καθήκοντα της άριστα. Ο Θεός μάλιστα, την προίκισε με το προφητικό και θαυματουργικό χάρισμα. Έτσι δια της προσευχής της, απάλλαξε πολλούς από τα δαιμόνια. Προαισθάνθηκε τον θάνατο της και απεβίωσε ειρηνικά, γεμάτη χαρά για το ευχάριστο ουράνιο ταξίδι της.


Ἀπολυτίκιον 
Ἦχος πλ. α’. Τὸν συνάναρχον Λόγον.
Βασιλείας γήινους πάλαι οὐκ ἔτυχες, ἀλλ' ἄφθαρτων στεφάνων νῦν σὲ ἠξίωσεν, ὁ Νυμφίος σου Χριστὸς ὁ ὡραιότατος ὢ καθιέρωσας σαύτην, ὅλη καρδία καὶ ψυχή, Εἰρήνη Ὁσία Μῆτερ, Χρυσοβαλάντου ἡ δόξα, ἠμῶν δὲ προσφυγὴ καὶ βοήθεια.
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+  Our venerable mother Irene of Chrysovalantou was the abbess of the monastery of Chrysovalantou during the ninth century. Her feast day is on July 28.
Originally slated to wed the Emperor Michael, she went to the monastery of Chrysovalantou, and immediately engaged herself in vigils and prayer. She then replaced the Abbess very early on, and increased her spiritual struggles, with great trust in God to guide the community properly. She developed the gifts of foresight and exorcism. Her prayer through the night continued in the courtyard of the monastery, and caused herself to levitate and the cypress trees to bend towards her. She was granted three apples from St. John the Theologian, visions of angels, and appeared in a vision to the Emperor to release an unjustly convicted man. After her death at 102 years, she continued to be a wonderworker.
Irene was born in Cappadocia to an aristocratic family. She had a sister who would later marry Empress Theodora's brother Vardas.
Empress Theodora, who ruled the empire after the death of Theophilus as regent for her son, re-established Orthodoxy and removed the iconoclasts. On her son Michael's twelfth birthday, Empress Theodora sent messengers to find a suitably beautiful, virtuous, and refined girl for Michael's wife. Coming across Irene, they offered and she accepted to wed Michael, and they (along with some of Irene's family) set off for Constantinople for the wedding.
During the journey to Constantinople they passed Mt. Olympos, and Irene asked to visit Ioannikos the recluse to receive his blessing. The hermit's spiritual insight allowed him to foresee the arrival of the group, and also Irene's future, and he said, "Welcome Irene, Servant of God. Proceed to the Imperial City in joy because the convent of Chrysovalantou needs you in the community."
Irene, amazed by his prophetic power, prostrated and begged his blessing. Ioannikos lifted her up, gave her strength with spiritual thoughts and gave his blessing, and Irene joyfully continued the journey to Constantinople. On her arrival, she was received with great ceremony by relatives, patricians, senators, and poor.
But, the wedding was not to be: Michael had already been married. Irene was not upset, but rather gave thanks to God; turning down many marriage proposals from outstanding men in Byzantium, she set off for the Monastery of Chrysovalantou.

Irene was impressed by the monastery's atmosphere and the sisterhood's way of life, so much so that she freed her slaves, gave her inherited wealth and dowry to the poor and entered the community, wearing a habit of sackcloth. With humility and obedience she served the sisterhood, cheerfully and attentively performing the most lowly and despised tasks, and never using worldly sophistries or aristocratic indignation.
The abbess of Chrysovalantou noticed that Irene was following Christ's words that "without Me, you can do nothing. Anyone who remains in Me as I remain in him will bear much fruit" (John 15:5); and the novice was admired by all for her obedience, humility, love, and enthusiasm; her community went so far as to say that she had the spirit of a freed slave.
In her cell she read the lives of the saints, learning from St. Arsenius the night-long prayer. Irene asked for a blessing to embark on this, and the abbess, recognising Irene's humility, granted her request before the end of her first year of the novitiate. Irene was able to stand from morning to night with hands raised, sometimes standing for full days without movement, much to the amazement of the abbess.
Irene would do this for three years, and the evil one was unable to divert her because of Irene's success in subduing earthly thoughts and temptations through abstinence and obedience. Her food was bread and water, with occasional supplements from herbs or vegetables; her habit was replaced only every Easter, and she would only clean it to give to the poor during Lent. Her obedience was cleaning the bathroom. Any wayward thoughts or signs of the evil one's activity were immediately confessed to the abbess, with Irene's exercises recommenced.
After this, Irene had only to cross herself as successful defense against the evil one; however, on one occasion she was so shaken with doubt that she fell to the ground, shedding tears of prayer to the Lord, His holy Mother, all the saints and the archangels (to whom the monastery was dedicated).
"O Blessed Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), everlasting God, at the intercession of Your most holy Mother and in the presence of the archangels, their armies, the celestial powers and all Your saints, help Your servant. Deliver me from the assaults of the devil."
After many tears in many nights, she was able to overcome these doubts, and in her renewed devotion she appeared transfigured to many people whom she led to the Lord, renewing the faith of rich and poor and causing many unmarried women enter the monastery.
After some time, the abbess became weak and near the time of her repose. The sisterhood was filled with sorrow on realising this, while Irene shed many tears. On her last day, many nuns had gathered in her cell, but Irene was not there; the abbess noted this, and said to them:
"Do not lament my departure for in my successor you have a leader who is wiser than I. Be obedient to her, this daughter of light, lamb of Christ and vessel of the Holy Spirit. Do not accept anyone but Irene."
Then, with the words "Glory to You, O Lord, in Your mercy," she reposed. Irene was not told of these disclosures for the sake of her humility, but the sisterhood prayed that the Lord's will would be done, and then sought the patriarch's advice. Patriarch Methodios the Confessor was a leader of great courage, and, through the iconoclasts, had the stigmata of Christ, and also had the gift of foresight. When the patriarch asked who should be the superior, they responded that the patriarch should decide, guided by the Holy Spirit. Patriarch Methodios asked if there was a humble nun named Irene; and if so, that she was the choice pleasing in the sight of God. The sisterhood was filled with such joy at the workings of the Holy Spirit that Methodios rose and offered incense as thanks to the Lord, and ordained Irene deaconess. After advising her in the ways of administering and guiding the sisterhood, the patriarch clothed her as abbess and gave the sisterhood his blessing as farewell.
When the sisterhood arrived at the monastery, they held a great celebration for the friends and spiritual children of the monastery. Irene was joyless because she felt herself to be utterly inadequate for the task, however, the sisterhood reassured her. In her cell she constantly prayed, saying:
"Lord Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd of Your sheep, help Your servant and this, my flock, because we have no power of our own to resist the assaults of the demons. Leave us not without Your grace."
To which she received the reply:
"Watch and pray without ceasing for from this day you will have the responsibility of the spiritual welfare of many for whom our Lord was incarnate and shed His precious blood, souls that He has committed to your care. Take care that the 'blind do not lead the blind' so that both fall into the ditch."
In receiving this command, Irene redoubled her spiritual exercises and was given great wisdom and revelations in how to lead the flock. With this strength from God, she told her sisterhood:
"I know, beloved sisters in Christ, that it was not logical that I, your humble, unworthy, and illiterate servant, should be called to teach you, but the ways of God are mysterious. If it is by His grace that I am your superior, then I pray that you will obey me. Surely if we do not obey the laws (promised before God and His angels) of the habit we wear, we achieve nothing. For it is said: 'faith without works is dead' (James 2:17). Why have we left the unreal and temporal world? To disobey His commandments? If so, like the foolish virgins we also will lose the eternal kingdom. (Matthew 25:1-13) The soul cannot be divided so as to have both pride and humility, unrestricted pleasure and abstinence. Therefore let us rid our soul of worldly desire and seek only purity, humility, patience, and love (prayer of St. Isaac the Syrian) lest we lose not only ourselves but others also."
The more Irene was respected for her judgment, holy way of life, and miracles, the more she humbled herself. She identified with the unrepentant thief such that, at the offering of Eucharist, she had to hide her face to prevent people from seeing her tears. Sometimes Irene would remain in prayer and contemplation for as long as a week without ceasing, taking only uncooked vegetables and water for sustenance.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of Tone One (Tone 5)
modeled on 'Ton Synarnarhon Logon (Co-eternal with the Father)'
Not a temporal kingdom on earth didst thou obtain,
but Christ, thy most comely Bridegroom, vouchsafed thee heavenly crowns,
and thou reignest as a queen with Him eternally;
for thou didst dedicate thyself unto Him with all thy soul,
O Irene, our righteous Mother,
thou boast of Chrysovalantou, and mighty help of all the Orthodox.