Τετάρτη 16 Αυγούστου 2023

Κυριακή 4 Ιουνίου 2023

Αγία Ξένια η δια Χριστόν σαλή - Saint Xenia of Petersburg

Egg tempera
Gold leaf 22k on background

(Commemorated on January 24)

Saint Xenia lived during the eighteenth century, but little is known of her life or of her family. She passed most of her life in Petersburg during the reigns of the empresses Elizabeth and Catherine II.

Xenia Grigorievna Petrova was the wife of an army officer, Major Andrew Petrov. After the wedding, the couple lived in Saint Petersburg. Saint Xenia became a widow at the age of twenty-six when her husband suddenly died at a party. She grieved for the loss of her husband, and especially because he died without Confession or Holy Communion.

Once her earthly happiness ended, she did not look for it again. From that time forward, Xenia lost interest in the things of this world, and followed the difficult path of foolishness for the sake of Christ. The basis for this strange way of life is to be found in the first Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:18-24, 1 Cor. 2:14, 1 Cor. 3:18-19). The Lord strengthened her and helped her to bear sorrow and misfortune patiently for the next forty-five years.

She started wearing her husband’s clothing, and insisted that she be addressed as “Andrew Feodorovich.” She told people that it was she, and not her husband, who had died. In a certain sense, this was perfectly true. She abandoned her former way of life and experienced a spiritual rebirth. When she gave away her house and possessions to the poor, her relatives complained to the authorities. After speaking to Xenia, the officials were convinced that she was in her right mind and was entitled to dispose of her property as she saw fit. Soon she had nothing left for herself, so she wandered through the poor section of Petersburg with no place to lay her head. She refused all assistance from her relatives, happy to be free of worldly attachments.

When her late husband’s red and green uniform wore out, she clothed herself in rags of those colors. After a while, Xenia left Petersburg for eight years. It is believed that she visited holy Elders and ascetics throughout Russia seeking instruction in the spiritual life. She may have visited Saint Theodore of Sanaxar (February 19), who had been a military man himself. His life changed dramatically when a young officer died at a drinking party. Perhaps this officer was Saint Xenia’s husband. In any case, she knew Saint Theodore and profited from his instructions.

Saint Xenia eventually returned to the poor section of Petersburg, where she was mocked and insulted because of her strange behavior. When she did accept money from people it was only small amounts, which she used to help the poor. She spent her nights praying without sleep in a field outside the city. Prayer strengthened her, and in her heart’s conversation with the Lord she found the support she needed on her difficult path.

When a new church was being built in the Smolensk cemetery, Saint Xenia brought bricks to the site. She did this in secret, during the night, so that no one would know.

Soon her great virtue and spiritual gifts began to be noticed. She prophesied future events affecting the citizens of Petersburg, and even the royal family. Against her will, she became known as someone pleasing to God, and nearly everyone loved her. They said, “Xenia does not belong to this world, she belongs to God.” People regarded her visits to their homes or shops as a great blessing. Saint Xenia loved children, and mothers rejoiced when the childless widow would stand and pray over a baby’s crib, or kiss a child. They believed that the blessed one’s kiss would bring that child good fortune.

Saint Xenia lived about forty-five years after the death of her husband, and departed to the Lord at the age of seventy-one. The exact date and circumstances of her death are not known, but it probably took place at the end of the eighteenth century. She was buried in the Smolensk cemetery.

By the 1820s, people flocked to her grave to pray for her soul, and to ask her to intercede with God for them. So many visitors took earth from her grave that it had to be replaced every year. Later, a chapel was built over her grave.

Those who turn to Saint Xenia in prayer receive healing from illness, and deliverance from their afflictions. She is also known for helping people who seek jobs.


Having lived as a stranger in the world, / you outwitted the deviser of evil / by your pretended foolishness, O Xenia. / You received the grace from God / to foresee and foretell things to come. / Now, as you have been translated from earth to heaven, / you are numbered with the choirs of the angels.


Δευτέρα 8 Μαΐου 2023

Αγία Σοφία η προστάτιδα των ορφανών - St. Sophia the Mother of Orphans (Sophia of Ainos)

Egg tempera

Gold leaf 22k on background


Commemoration day:  4 June

Our venerable Mother Sophia was born in the province of Ainos

 in southeastern Thrace , and was the daughter of pious Christian parents.

 When she was of age, her parents arranged for her to be married. 

She and her husband had six children. Though she was occupied with worldly

 cares and responsibilities, she still kept the commandments of God and lived a virtuous life.

 She loved to attend the Church services, and so she progressed in virtue.

After sickness carried off Sophia's husband and all her children in succession,

 she did not despair, but became even more devoted to God. Within a period of twenty years,

 she adopted one hundred children, and raised them to love God. Because of this,

 she is sometimes called Saint Sophia the Mother of Orphans.

 She sold her property and gave the proceeds to the poor and to widows. 

She led an austere life, eating nothing but bread and water.

 She preferred to do without the necessities of life herself rather than 

allow any poor person to leave her home empty-handed. 

The Psalms of the Prophet-King David were always on her lips, and tears flowed 

continuously from her eyes.

Because of her humility and her love for the poor, God blessed her in the following way.

 In her home there was a container of wine which she reserved for the poor.

 She noticed that no matter how much she took from the container, it remained full. 

However, as soon as she told someone about the miracle and glorified God, the container 

became empty. Saint Sophia became sorrowful, believing that the wine had failed

 because of her unworthiness. Therefore, she increased her ascetical labors until her health


Sensing that the end of her life was near, she received the monastic tonsure.

 From that time, she devoted herself completely to the worship of God. 

Saint Sophia reposed peacefully at the age of fifty-three. It is not known when she lived. 

She died 53 years old.

Troparion — Tone 8

By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile, / 

and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance. / 

By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe! / 

O our holy mother Sophia, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!


Η Οσία Σοφία καταγόταν από την Αίνο της Θράκης και ήταν θυγατέρα επισήμων και πλουσίων

 γονέων. Παντρεύτηκε και έγινε μητέρα έξι παιδιών, που είχε το θλιβερό ατύχημα να τα χάσει όλα. Βρήκε λοιπόν παρηγοριά στη θλίψη της, προστατεύοντας ορφανά και χήρες. 

Έκανε συνεχείς ελεημοσύνες, προσευχές, νηστείες και κάθε τι που ανακούφιζε τον πλησίον.

 Στα τέλη της ζωής της εκάρη Μοναχή και αφιέρωσε τη ζωή της στη λατρεία του Θεού.

 Απεβίωσε ειρηνικά, σε ηλικία 53 ετών.

Τετάρτη 26 Απριλίου 2023

Saint Athanasios the Great - Άγιος Αθανάσιος o Μέγας

Egg tempera 

Saint Athanasios the Athonite was born in Trabzon around 930 AD. and his original name was Avramios. He was orphaned at a very young age and was raised by a nun, a friend of his mother. He studied in Constantinople and later taught at the school of Athanasios, a wise teacher of the time. When he met Saint Michael Maleinos, he became a monk in the Monastery of Kymina where he took the name Athanasius.

Later he went to the monastery of Zygos on Mount Athos to asceticize. In the year 963 AD, with the encouragement and help of Nikiforos Fokas, he built on Mount Athos the famous Monastery of Megisti Lavra where he remained for forty years. He died tragically when he was crushed by the roof of the Temple of the Monastery. Saint Athanasius the Athonite is the founder of monasticism on Mount Athos. The Orthodox Christian Church commemorates him on January 18 of each year.

Apolytikion of Saint Athanasius of Mount Athos

Third Tone

The Angels' ranks were awed by thy life in the flesh, how, though corporeal, and clad with earthly clay, thou didst set forth with courage to invisible wars and wrestlings and didst boldly smite the hordes of the demons with mortal wounds. Wherefore, Christ rewarded thee with abundant gifts in return. Entreat Him that our souls find salvation, O most renowned Father Athanasius.

Πέμπτη 30 Μαρτίου 2023

Άγιος Σεραφείμ του Σαρώφ - Saint Seraphim of Sarov

Egg tempera
Gold leaf on background 22k
(Well prepared linden wood)

Our venerable and God-bearing father Seraphim of Sarov was a Russian ascetic who lived at the Sarov Monastery in the 18th century, and is considered a wonder-worker. The Church commemorates St. Seraphim on January 2, and the opening of his relics on July 19.

"Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved."

Troparion (Tone 4)

Thou didst love Christ from thy youth, O blessed one,
and longing to work for Him alone thou didst struggle in the wilderness with constant prayer and labor.
With penitent heart and great love for Christ thou wast favored by the Mother of God.
Wherefore we cry to thee:
Save us by thy prayers, O Seraphim our righteous Father.

Τετάρτη 22 Μαρτίου 2023

Αγία Λουκία η παρθένος - Saint Lucia the Virgin Martyr

Egg tempera
Painted on prepared, linden wood
22x15cm/ 8.6x5.9inch

Gold leaf 22k on background

Η Αγία Λουκία καταγόταν από τις Συρακούσες της Σικελίας και μαρτύρησε κατά το έτος 304 μ.Χ. όταν ηγεμόνας της Σικελίας ήταν ο Πασχάσιος και αυτοκράτωρ της Ρώμης ο Διοκλητιανός. Υπήρξε παρθένος, μνηστευμένη με κάποιον ειδωλολάτρη.

Η μητέρα της Ευτυχία υπέφερε από χρόνια αιμορραγία και έτσι αναγκάσθηκε μαζί της να καταφύγει στην Κατάνη στον ναό της θαυματουργού Αγίας Αγάθης (βλέπε 5 Φεβρουαρίου) για να θεραπευθεί η Ευτυχία. Εκεί οραματίσθηκε καθ’ ύπνους την Αγία Αγάθη η οποία την βεβαίωσε ότι η μητέρα της θα θεραπευθεί και ότι η ιδία θα τύχει μαρτυρικού τέλους.

Αφού αποκαταστάθηκε η υγεία της μητέρας της, η Αγία Λουκία διαμοίρασε την περιουσία της στους πτωχούς και ανέμενε προσευχόμενη το τέλος της κατά τους λόγους της Αγίας Αγάθης. Η εμμονή της στην πατρώα πίστη και η εν γένει στάση της ήταν η αιτία που κινήθηκε ο μνηστήρας της εναντίον της. Δεν δίστασε μάλιστα να την καταγγείλει στον ηγεμόνα Πασχάσιο ως χριστιανή. Εκείνος μετά την ανάκριση που της έκανε, διέταξε να την κλείσουν σε πορνείο για να ατιμασθεί. Και όμως θεία δύναμη την κράτησε αμετακίνητη στο σημείο που βρισκόταν παρόλο που στην αρχή την τραβούσαν οι στρατιώτες με ορμή και ύστερα την έδεσαν σε ζυγό που έσερναν πολλά ζευγάρια βόδια. Οι στρατιώτες θυμωμένοι που δεν κατόρθωσαν τον σκοπό τους την άλειψαν με πίσσα, ρετσίνι και λάδι και της έβαλαν φωτιά για να καεί ζωντανή· και όμως, θεϊκή επέμβασή ήταν εκείνη που έσβησε την φωτιά.

Στην συνέχεια της έβγαλαν τα μάτια με ξιφίδιο και ένας στρατιώτης βύθισε το μαχαίρι του στον λαιμό της και την εγκατέλειψαν αιμόφυρτη. Η Αγία ζήτησε να μεταλάβει των Αχράντων Μυστηρίων και εφοδιασμένη έτσι παρέδωσε την ψυχή της στον Κύριο αφού προηγουμένως προφήτευσε για το σύντομο τέλος της ειδωλολατρίας και την νίκη και επικράτηση του χριστιανισμού.

Το 886 μ.Χ. ο Άγιος Λέων Επίσκοπος Κατάνης (βλέπε 20 Φεβρουαρίου) ανήγειρε ιδίοις εξόδοις περικαλλή ναό προς τιμήν της. Το ιερό της σκήνος άφθαρτο και ευωδιάζον μετεφέρθηκε στην Κωνσταντινούπολη όπου παρέμεινε μέχρι το 1204 μ.Χ. οπότε και οι σταυροφόροι το μετέφεραν στην Βενετία το έτος 1280 μ.Χ. Από το 1860 μ.Χ. φυλάσσεται και προσκυνείται στον ναό των Αγίων Ιερεμίου και Λουκίας. Το 1955 μ.Χ. η κάρα της καλύφθηκε με περίτεχνη επένδυση από σφυρήλατο ασήμι σε σχήμα κεφαλής.

Η Αγία Λουκία στην εικονογραφία παρουσιάζεται πολλές φορές να κρατά κλάδο φοίνικος και ένα πινάκιο με μάτια για να θυμόμαστε το μαρτύριό της ή ένα λυχναράκι με αναμένη φωτιά.

Το όνομά της στα λατινικά προέρχεται από το lux-lucis που σημαίνει φως και κατ’ επέκτασιν σημαίνει Φωτεινή. Η εορτή της δώδεκα ημέρες προ των Χριστουγέννων προαναγγέλει το φως που έρχεται στον κόσμο με την γέννηση του Θεανθρώπου. Όλη η Ευρώπη εορτάζει αυτή την ημέρα. Στην Σουηδία μάλιστα ένα μικρό κορίτσι φορά στο κεφάλι του στέμμα με αναμμένα κεριά και βαστά δύο αναμμένες λαμπάδες. Με την συνοδεία και άλλων λευκοφορεμένων κοριτσιών παριστάνει την Αγία Λούκια που φέρνει το φως των Χριστουγέννων. Επισκέπτονται τα σπίτια και τραγουδούν τα κάλαντα της Αγίας Λουκίας. Για το Παλέρμο της Σικελίας η μνήμη της είναι ημέρα νηστείας κατά την οποία καταλύουν ένα μόνο μικρό αρτίδιο από ρεβυθάλευρο (panelle) για να προστατεύει τα μάτια τους η Αγία.

Η Αγία Λουκία της οποίας οι οφθαλμοί εξορύχθησαν «δάνεισε» στην νεότερη εικονογραφία του 20ού αιώνος στην Αγία Παρασκευή το πινακίδιο με τα μάτια για να μας θυμίζει ότι θεράπευσε τα μάτια του βασιλιά Αντωνίνου.

Κατά παλαιά παράδοση η Αγία Λουκία ετιμάτο ως προστάτις των οφθαλμών.

Σικελίας τὸ κλέος, ᾽Εκκλησίας ἀγλάϊσμα, καὶ τῆς οἰκουμένης ἁπάσης τὸ στερρότατον ἔρεισμα, Λουκίαν ὑμνήσωμεν πιστοί, ὡς Μάρτυρα Χριστοῦ τὴν θαυμαστήν, παρθενίᾳ κοσμουμένην καὶ ἀρετῶν χαρίσμασι διαλάμπουσαν. Δόξα τῷ ἐνισχύσαντι αὐτήν, Δόξα Χριστῷ τῷ στερρώσαντι. Δόξα τῷ δωρουμένῳ τοῖς πιστοῖς στέφος τὸ ἄφθαρτον.


Saint Lucia was originally from Syracuse in Sicily and came from a noble Christian family. At a very young age she was orphaned by her father and her mother raised her according to Christian requirements. She was a virgin and engaged to a pagan. When her mother became seriously ill, she went to the church of
 Saint Agatha to pray for her. The Saint, through a vision, assured her of the healing of her mother, as it did.

The two women returned to Syracuse and Lucia indulged in charity to please God. Her fiancé, however, reported her to the ruler of the region who subjected her to ruthless torture and sentenced her to death by beheading. Lucia was martyred for her Christian faith and surrendered her soul to the Lord. The Orthodox Christian Church commemorates her on December 13 of each year.

Kontakion of Saint Lucia the Virgin Martyr

Third Tone

We extol with fervent love thy most illustrious contest, and we praise and honour thee as a chaste virgin and victor; for since thou didst seek the beauty of Christ and none else, thou didst hate all things corruptible, O wise Lucia. Wherefore, when thou wast beheaded, thou wast adorned with an incorruptible crown.

Πέμπτη 16 Μαρτίου 2023

Saint Nicholas II of Russia - Άγιος Νικόλαος ο Τσάρος

 Egg tempera 
Gold leaf 22k on background

The right-believing Emperor Saint Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov was the last reigning emperor (tsar, цар) of Russia at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. Together with his wife, Alexandra Fyodoronova, formerly Alexandra of Hesse-Darmstad, and their children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexey, and their servants Doctor Evgeni Botkin, cook Ivan Kharitonov, attendant Aleksey Trupp and attendant Anna Demidova, they are recognized as Passion-bearers by the Russian Orthodox Church. Their feast day is on July 17ROCOR officially recognizes them as Martyrs.

Troparion (Tone 1)

Most noble and sublime was your life and death, O Sovereigns;
Wise Nicholas and blest Alexandra, we praise you,
Acclaiming your piety, meekness, faith, and humility,
Whereby ye attained to crowns of glory in Christ our God,
With your five renowned and godly children of blessed fame.
O passion–bearers decked in purple, intercede for us.