BOOKS IN ENGLISH BY IRENE ECONOMIDES

Bachelors of Theology and Political Sciences

March 1999

 

«Differences between the Orthodox Church & Roman Catholicism».

(112p.), 16th ed. 2004.

€ 6

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«The two faces of Greece - A civilisation of 7.000 years»

(180p.) - 6th ed. 1996.

€ 11

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«Apostolic Pilgrimages in Greece»

(92p. 2 nd ed. 2002).

€ 7

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«Patmos the Crystal Island»

(64p). 24 original photos in colour, 2nd ed. 1995.

€ 6

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[They exist also in French and in Greek]. Postage is not included.

Suppliers for Greece and abroad:

Bookshop: Nect. Panagopoulos
3, Havriou St. by Syntagma square, Athens 105 62
Greece.
Tel. / Fax: 0030-1-32.24.819

Correspondence with the author: ireconom@otenet.gr


Theological Texts translated or written by Irene Economides.

VIIth Ecumenical Council, 787 A.D.
The Synodal of Orthodoxy.

What the Prophets saw, what the Apostles preached, and the Church received and the Teachers (of the Church) indoctrinated, and the inhabited world (Ecumene) accepted in agreement, as the Grace shone, as the truth was proved, as falshood was driven away, as the wisdom obtained outspokness, as Christ hath confirmed all this by His reward: the same do we believe, equally do we speak, likewise do we preach Christ our true God, and we honour His Saints through words, scriptures, reasonings, and services, either in temples or in icons, worshipping the first as God and Master through our reverence, and venerating the second as His genuine Servants who have the same Master with us, honouring also them in a relative manner.
This is the Faith of the Apostles. This is the faith of the Fathers (of the Church). This is the faith of the Orthodox. This is the faith that hath supported the human universe (Ecumene).

This text was proclaimed in the ceremony of the Restoration of the icons, March 11th 843 A.D.,when Theodora was on the throne of the Byzantine Empire.(She finished her life as a nun and her incorrupted body is kept in the Orthodox Metropolitan church of the island of Corfu (occidental Greece)and works miracles to this day.
Since that date this text is read in church on the «Sunday of Orthodoxy», the first Sunday of Great Lent,in order to commemorate this important event which expresses the victory of Orthodoxy over heresies.

 

The Way to Salvation in the Christian Orthodox Church.

We cannot have salvation from eternal death without the help of the Divine Grace and the free human will, in order to obey the commandments of God.
We cannot receive this Divine Grace without the right Apostolic Faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We cannot fulfill the Christian life without the help of the right Holy Sacraments established by Christ Himself, who said: «I shall found my Church and She will not be defeated by death».(Matt.16,18). This Church is the Holy Christian Orthodox Church (orthodox means right faith), the real Apostolic Church and Universal (Catholic) according to the Nicene Creed (325 A.D.).
So the right Holy Sacraments exist in this «One, Holy, Apostolic and UNIVERSAL CHURCH» (which has the universality of truth and which, in the future will be spread in all the world), and in no other Christian confession.
This Orthodox Apostolic Faith existed in the West till the 9th c. A.D. Since 809 the dogmatic reformations started by the Western Emperor Charlemagne, who changed one article of the Nicene Creed (about the Holy Spirit), and the Ecclesiastical change by Pope Nicolas I who, for the first time,established the «Juridical Primacy» of the Bishop of Rome,(as an absolute monarch).
So, the Western Christians by abandoning the right faith lost the Apostolic Succession, and the consequence is that their Sacraments are not valid. They are called Christians, but they lost the sanctifying power. They are not vine-branches (John 15). Without the right participation in the Holy Sacraments of the Orthodox Church, which sanctify man and through him the world, we cannot advance towards incorruptibility, which finally will lead to the incorruptible universe, the «New Heaven» and the «New Earth»,or the «New Jerusalem» (Rev.21), (2.Pet.3,12-13), (Rom.8,21-22), (Hebr.12,26-28).
There are many miracles which prove the spiritual authority of the Orthodox Church:
    (a) The Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church,which is the same during 2.000 years; in spite of the horrible persecutions and martyrdoms.
    (b) The Agreement of the Holy Fathers of the Church (the Greek Patrology), and the Seven Ecumenical Councils, that explained this Apostolic Faith for ever.
    (c) The Holy Water of the Orthodox Church which is never spoiled for centuries (the Roman Catholic priests put salt in their false holy water as preservative, because otherwise it gets spoiled, as they lost after, the Schism (1.054 A.D.), the real Apostolic Succession. (They change the solt every Sunday, at a special service during which they bless it).
    (d) The Holy Light of Jerusalem, which appears at the Holy Sepulcher miraculously every Holy Saturday of Orthodox Easter, (at 13.30 p.m.), and which can be received only by the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, (and by him distributed to the faithful). Bishops of other Christian Denominations cannot succeed. God stops them by miracles.
    (e) The incorruptible relics of Saints (some are also fragrant ). Some relics are preserved miraculously for many centuries as St. Spyridon one of the bishops present at the First Ecumenical Council (325 A.D.), that we can venerate today, in the church built in his honour, in the island of Corfu, in Western Greece, and St Theodora, the Byzantine Empress, who restored the icons.(She reigned in the 9th c., A.D.). Her incorruptible body is kept in the Orthodox Metropolitan Church in Corfu as well.
    (f) The Holy Communion received by the faithful by the same small spoon without contaminating illnesses.

The Orthodox Church does not oblige anybody, because JESUS CHRIST said: «If any man desires to come after me, let him deny himself» (Luk.9,23). The Orthodox Church never used force in order to evangelise the world, as the West did after the Schism (1.054). Her power is the teaching of the absolute Apostolic truth, and the sanctification of man , and through him the sanctification of the world.
Her Glory is the martyrdom of Her SAINTS.

(Written by Irene Economides for a young
Juish man at Patmos in 1997)

Information in summary about the Orthodox Church.

    The Orthodox Christian Faith is the Faith of the Mother-Church, the only real Apostolic Church that continues the Apostolic Holy Tradition WITHOUT REFORMATIONS. (In the ancient Greek language the word «ortho» means «correct», and the word «doxa» means «belief» deriving from the verb «doko» which means to believe). So the Orthodox Christian Faith is the Faith of the Apostles transmitted through their successors (bishops ordained by the Apostles, called also Apostolic Fathers, who lived in the 2nd c. A.D.) to all the Orthodox Bishops of all the Ages till our days. (This Apostolic Succession will continue till the end of the Human History only in the Orthodox Church). The ordination of the successors of the Apostles is mentionned in the Book of the Acts (New Testament): (Acts 6,6), (Acts 13,3), (Acts 20,28), and also in (1.Tim.4,14), (2.Tim.1,6 ).

    So it is this Apostolic Succession of the ORTHODOX BISHOPS which gives them the authority and the SPIRITUAL POWER to celebrate the Holy Sacraments: Baptism, Chrismation,Holy Eucharist, Confession,Marriage, Ordination and Holy Oils. These Sacraments of the Orthodox Church, help the sanctification of man, who must follow also the commandments of God as they are presented in the New Testament, and through him they sanctify also the world for the expansion of the Kingdom of God till the final glorification of the Universe (Rev, 21), (2. Pet.3,12-13), (Rom. 8.21-22).

    The Holy Sacraments of the Orthodox Church are the only ones which possess validity since the Apostolic period till our time. Proof of this assertion, except the history of the Orthodox Church during 2.000 years, are somme miracles, which do not exist in other Christian confessions, mentionned in the above chupter (Way to salvation in the Orthodox Church).

(Written by Irene Economides in 1998)

Extract from the «Sotir» pamphlet: THE PROTESTANT SPROUTS,

(translated by IRENE ECONOMIDES from the Greek text.)

The Sources of the Divine Revelation:

    According to the teaching of the Orthodox Apostolic Church the Sources of the Divine Revelation are two fold: The Holy Bible and the Holy Tradition. We refer to the Holy Tradition as the Apostolic Tradition (written and oral):(2.Thess.2,15).The whole dogmatic teaching of the Orthodox Church is based on these true and transparent sources.When one of these two sources is denied we donnot have the certitude about the Dogma.(The word dogma in the Greek language means belief or faith).

    As far as the Holy Tradition is concerned, this contains the oral teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, the teaching of the Apostles, and of the Holy Fathers of the Church. It is embodied in the canons of the Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787 A.D.) and Local (recognised) Councils, and the Customs of the Church lived by the Christians over a long period of time. The HOLY TRADITION is the necessary supplement of the Holy Bible. In order to understand how necessary the Holy Tradition is for an accurate presentation of the Orthodox teaching, we must study the following biblical texts: (John 21,25), (1.Cor.11,2), (2.Tim.2,2), (2.Thess.2,15), (1.Cor.11,34), (Tit.1,5) and (Jude 3). In order to be more concrete,we must pay attention to the verses of St. John the Evangelist: (John 21,25) and (John 20,30), as well as to St. Paul’s words to Timothy: (2.Tim.2).

    In general we must say that the Holy Tradition protects us from wrong beliefs and from wrong interpretation of the Holy Bible.

B.The Dogma of Justification:

    The basic dogma of the Orthodox Faith is that the Salvation of man is achieved by the cooperation of the Divine Grace (on the side of God) and the free human will (on the side of man). The Divine Grace enlightens man to feel that he is sinful and to ask for forgiveness of sins, and strengthens him continuously in his «Life in Christ».

    The free human will in cooperation with the Divine Grace opens the way to the opportunity for the Divine purificating energy, so much so that the ultimate goal, which is salvation, may be fulfilled. The strong faith in the redemptive sacrifice of the Lord on the Cross, the works of virtue accomplished by the free human will, stregthened by the Divine Grace, lead one to salvation. In one word the great truth is expressed in the Orthodox way as follows: «For in Jesus Christ neither circomcision availeth anything, nor uncircomcision; but faith which worketh by love» (Gal.5,6). This is the necessary condition for salvation. We are not only saved by faith, but also by love expressed in works. Without them salvation is not possible.(James 2,20-23).

    According to the Orthodox teaching the «image of God» in man was not obscured after the fall of Adam. The brain and the heart were darkened, and a certain tendency to sin was created, but man was not completely dead spiritually. Something from the «Divine Image» remained, and when the Divine Grace visits him, his will is strengthened, and he is able(always reinforced by the Divine Grace) to fulfill good works, which are necessary for his salvation. This is proved in many passages of the Holy Bible: What else are the fruits of repentance that St. John the Baptist recommended earnestly to his audience? (Matt.3.8 ). And the works of love according to which the Lord will judge the people on the day of the Last Judgement? (Matt.25,31-46).

The Renewal of Life.

    The promise of God for the Renewal of Life, expressed already in the prophesies of the Old Testamen (e.g. Is. 42,5-6), was fulfilled in the New Testament after the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross (because of Çis complete obedience to His Father), His Resurrection, His Ascension to Heaven, and after the sending of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles at the Pentecost (Acts, 2). Since then, and during 2.000 years, the Orthodox Apostolic Church, with the help of the Holy Sacraments, established by Jesus Christ,calls her faithful to this Renewal of Life, which is a cooperation of the DIVINE GRACE and the FREE HUMAN WILL. This spiritual struggle will continue till the end of Human History, «till all be fulfilled» (Matt.5,18). «Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and authority and power. For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death». (1.Cor.15,24-26).

    In the chapter 21 of the Revelation St. John the Evangelist describes the NEW HEAVEN and the NEW EARTH, that means the Universe in Glory, after the Last Judgement. This tremenduous event will be due to the great miracle of God: the Transfiguration of all Creation into a state of «incorruptibility» (I. Cor. 15, 51-57). This same event is presented in PROPHETIC way by St. Peter: «...the heaven being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for NEW HEAVENS, AND A NEW EARTH, where in dewelleth righteousness» (2. Pet.3,12-13). St.Paul also writes to the Christians of Rome in an earnest way: «...because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.»(Rom.8,21-22). Also in (Heb.12, 26-28).

    The faithful Orthodox Christians receive sanctification by their participation in the «UNCREATED ENERGIES OF THE HOLY TRINITY». Man is not partaker in the ESSENCE of God. This truth has been expressed by all the Great Fathers of the Church through the centuries and culminated in the Theology of St. Gregory Palamas, Bishop of Thessalonika in the 14th c. A.D. (Migne P.G. 150,772-151,536).

    The Theology of the «uncreated energies» of the Holy Trinity was settled officially by the three Local Synods (Councils) of Constantinople in the 14th c. A.D. (1341,1347,1351), and its artistic expression is rendered by the Byzantine Art (painting, mosaics and ecclesiastic architecture), which shows the world and man as they become in the Grace of God (transfigured), according to St. Paul’s words: «the new man in Christ.»

 

ADDITIONAL TEXTS (2003-2005)

Extracts of the Holy Bible ("Jerusalem" )

The triumph and the supremacy of Jesus Christ upon the whole Universe, after His Victory on the Cross (because of His complete obedience to His celestial Father), and after His Resurrection and His Ascension to Heaven (proof of His Victory). After His Resurrection, and before His Ascension, he said to His Apostles on a mountain of Galilee: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matt. 28, 18-19).

St. Paul's Christological Hymnes

 

PHILIPPIANS
COLOSSIANS

p.253 2:13
His state was divine,
yet he did not cling
to his equality with God
but emptied himself
to assume the condition of a slave,
and became as men are;
and being as all men are,
he was humbler yet,
even to accepting death,
death on a cross.
But God raised him high
and gave him the name
which is above all other names
so that all beings
in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld,
should bend the knee at the name of Jesus
and that every tongue should acclaim
Jesus Christ as Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

p. 258 1:17
He is the image of the unseen God
and the first-born of all creation,
for in him were created
all things in heaven and on earth:
everything visible and everything invisible,
Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers: [Angels]
all things were created through him and for him.
Before anything was created, he existed,
and he holds all things in unity.
Now the Church is his body,
he is its head.
As he is the Beginning,
he was first to be born from the dead,
so that he should be first in every way;
because God wanted all perfection
to be found in him
and all things to be reconciled through him and for him,
everything in heaven and everything on earth,
when he made peace
by his death on the cross.

p. 247 1:17

EPHESIANS

(God, the Father) made him sit at his right hand, in heaven,
far above every Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination: [ Angels ]
or any other name that can be named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.
He has put all things under his feet ,
and made him, as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church;
which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole creation.


Greece: the Southern-East Gate of Europe leads to the Evangelisation of the Continent

The message of the Gospel; the joyful announcement of Christ's Resurrection, reached pagan Greece the year 49 A.D., when Saint Paul embarked at the port of Troas (North-West coast of Asia-Minor), in order to sail towards Macedonia (Northern Greece) as the "Acts of the Apostles" (ch. XVI) inform us in the New Testament.

Saint Paul's personality, who has been called "Apostle of the Gentiles", is so strongly rooted in the conscience of the Christian Greeks, and his presence in their history is so intense, that they sometimes forget that God sent to them three more Apostles. St. Andrew, St. Luke and St. John the Evangelist also came to Greece in order to spread the Gospel.

In fact two of them suffered martyrdom in Greece: St. Andrew and St. Luke the Evangelist. Some of St. Paul's disciples also became bishops in different provinces of Greece, as for example, Saint Titus, first bishop of Crete.

In this way we realize that God took a particular interest for the Hellenic Nation, event that is also mentioned in the Gospel: When a small group of Greeks (who had been initiated in the monotheism of the Old Testament), on passage in Jerusalem for the feast of Jewish Easter, a few days before the Passion of the Lord, had asked to contact Him, He answered, after having been informed about their petition; "The hour has come, for the Son of man to be glorified". (John, 12, 23). In other words when the Gospel would be known by the Greeks, Christ (Who in the Book of Daniel, in the Old Testament, is called "Son of man", for, being God since eternity, appeared on the Earth under human form), would be glorified because of the expansion of the Gospel in the World, fulfilled by the Greeks.

This choice that God is making for certain persons or certain Nations is due to their virtues and proper capacities for the expansion of His Kingdom, that is the Salvation of all humanity, which will accept in freedom, little by little the Gospel (as God is not using force), constituting it model of life, in such a way that the Angels' message the night of Christ's Nativity at Bethlehem "...and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2, 14), become a universal reality (Rev. 20). For if the Christians do not accept the Gospel as model for their personal life, there will never be real peace on the Earth. "The Prince of Peace" is Christ. (Is. 9, 6).

God's promise for His Universal Kingdom is mentioned by the Prophets of the Old Testament, as well as in the Psalter. The Psalms even contain 50 verses which mention the universality of God's Kingdom. So as the Hellenic Nation has always had an intense sense of universality and a great dynamism, God chose it, we think, for this mission; make known the Gospel to the world. For this purpose the text of the New Testament has been written by the Evangelists in the Greek language, which was in that period the predominant tongue, after the expansion of the Hellenic culture towards the East, because of Alexander's the Great campaign in Asia (the Greek King of Ancient Macedonia who united all the Greeks and lead them victorious, in the late IVth c. B.C. through all Asia till India), and later on towards the West, because of the Roman expansion around the Mediterranean Sea, and the adoptation by the Romans of the Hellenic culture.

Afterwards, during the persecutions against the Christians by the Roman Emperors, among the 11.000.000 martyrs, all over the Roman Empire, in three centuries (till 313 A.D., when Constantine the Great granted freedom of worship to the Christians), 8.000.000 of them were of Greek origin.

Later on, during the Byzantine period, (the first Christian Greek Empire between 324A.D. and 1453), the Greek language was used for the decisions of the "Seven Holy Ecumenical Councils", which had explained and defended the true Christian faith, as well as for the writings of the Fathers of the Church, superb Christian works (from the Ist to the XVth c. A.D.),and they have been translated into many Western tungs and so has the unsurpassed Byzantine Christian hymnography.

The Capital of this Christian Empire was Constantinople named after its founder Constantine the Great, who founded it on the European coast by the entrance of the Bosphorus strait, (to the North of the Dardanelles strait).

This city was the most beautiful and the wealthiest city of the world during a millenium (324 A.D. – 1453 A.D.). This is why it has been called the "Queen City".

It fell to the hands of the Turks on 29th of May 1453 after a heroic resistance of its people, its army and its last emperor Constantine Paleologus, who fell at the siege against a much numerous army with artillery (6/4 – 29/5/1453), because of a betrayal.

Three days lasted the slaughtering, the looting and the enslavery in this tragic Byzantine capital and all the churches (of marvelous architecture and paintings were turned into mosques and their frescoes covered by white washing.

After the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the Turks changed the name of Constantinople and named it Istanbul.

Ref. Steven Runciman:"The Great Church in Bondage"."The Fall of Constantinople".

The Greeks, after the war of Independence (1821-1828) against the Ottoman Empire , liberated little by little all the continental part of Greece and her islands on the West and on the East except Cyprus, Asia Minor and Constantinople, because of the negative policy of their Western allies.

Ref. "The two faces of Greece - a Civilisation of 7.000 years", by Irene Economides. Ed.Tel/Fax: 0030-210-3224819.

Greeks were also the great missionaries who transmitted the Gospel to the Barbarian peoples, as for example the Slaves (IXth c. A.D.), evangelised by St. Cyrille and St. Methodius, the two Greek brothers of the Byzantine nobility, from Thessalonica (capital of Northern Greece). They were persons of high culture and they started their mission in Moravia (ancient Czechoslovakia) after the invitation of the Prince of that country Ratislav.

St. Cyrille created an alphabet for the Slaves, which is called till now "cyrillic alphabet" containing Greek letters, in order to write for them the Gospel and the Divine Liturgy. (The Orthodox Church transmits always the Gospel to the different Nations in their own tongues, according to the miracle of the tongues at the Pentecost. (Acts 2, 3-11).

As far as the splendid Byzantine civilisation is concerned, the first Christian civilisation of the world, during 1.100 years, in all its branches, has been the work of the Hellenic nation, according also to the opinion of the famous Belgian Archeologist Henri Gregoire.

So we must not wonder why God sent four Apostles to Greece (unique event that has not happened to any other country), but we must glorify and thank Him and try to continue the Evangelisation of the world according to the Holy Apostolic Tradition (the Orthodox Church), because the majority of humanity ignores the Apostolic truth and this is why it is still in trouble. St. Augustine (Western Father of the Church of the IVth c. A.D.) says to God in his "Confessions": "We are in anxiety till we encounter You, because You created us for Yourself".

During the last 30 years Greek Orthodox Missions have been organized in Africa and in Asia by Greek volunteers after a special invitation of these communities (in Uganda, Kenya, Zaire, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, South Korea, India). In Indonesia and Philippines indigenes have been ordained Orthodox priests and organize themselves these new Orthodox communities.

Two new Archbishoprics responsible for the Mission:

1) Hong Kong & Southeast Asia: 704 Universal Trade Center, 3 Arbuthnot Rd. Hong Kong, E-mail: OMHKSEA@netvigator.com .

2) Metropolis of Central America in Mexico. Agua Calliente, Saratoga, Col Lomas Hipodromo, Naucalpan, Edo de Mexido (P. 53900, Mexico).

Note : Information: Foreign Mission Office of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, 1, Iassiou st.115.21 Athens-Greece. tel. 210-7272314, 210-7272315, 210-7272316. 210-7272317.

Introduction of the book "Apostolic Pilgrimages in Greece"
by: Irene Economides

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The following texts are addressed to the Political leadership of the European Union and to the European citizens in order to remind them that Christianism in Europe starts in 49 A.D. with the first baptism on European soil by St. Paul in Philippi of Macedonia (Northern Greece) according to the "Acts of the Apostles" (16th ch.) in the New Testament.

The first Christian of Europe was a woman, a very clever person: St. Lydia. (We would have a great blessing if we name her protector or the European Parliament. Since this important event, Christianism constituted continuously one of the three basic values of the European culture, together with the principles of the Ancient Greek civilization, and with the legal principles of Rome.

So it was a great mistake to avoid the mension of Christianism in the preamble of the European Constitution with the pretext that actually there are many European citizens who belong to other religions.

The truth is that the Preamble of a Constitution is not a forcing Law for the citizens, it, simply denotes the characteristics of a country's culture. For this reason Christianism should be included in the Preamble of the European Constitution.

Beginning of the Apostolic Christianism in Europe

The first baptism in Europe took place in Philippi of Macedonia in Greece by St. Paul the year 49 A.D. The first Christian of Europe was a woman: St. Lydia (her feast is 20th of May). The little stream where she was baptised by St. Paul is still flowing close to the archeological site of Philippi, where remnants of St. Paul's prison can be seen and remains of early Christian basilicas, as Philippi became very early a great Apostolic pilgrimage.

Organised Tours arrive to this place from Athens and from Thessalonica.

 

The contemporary baptisery by the place where st. Paul baptized Lydia, The first Christian in Europe   The Rivioulet in Phillipi where the first Christening in Europe took place
Photos by Liza Evert, ed. 2000

 

This historical event: the arrival of the Gospel in Europe through Northern Greece in 49 A.D. is mentionned in the New Testament (Acts 16, 11-15). The harbour of Neapolis where St. Paul landed on European soil is called nowadays Kavala, but in the Byzantine period it was called Christou-polis, because from this harbour the Gospel of Christ came to Europe (150 Km. to the East of Thessalonica).

A C T S 16
"The Jerusalem Bible"

The crossing into Asia Minor

 

They travelled through Phrygia and the Galatian country, having been told by the Holy Spirit not to preach the word in Asia. -When they reached the frontier of Mysia they thought to cross it into Bithynia, but as the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them, -they went through Mysia and came down to Troas.

One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and appealed to him in these words, 'Come across to Macedonia and help us'. Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the Good News.

Arrival at Philippi

Sailing from Troas we made a straight run for Samothrace; the next day for Neapolis, and from there for Philippi, a Roman colony and the principal city of that particular district of Macedonia. After a few days in this city we went along the river outside the gates as it was the sabbath and this was a customary place for prayer. We sat down and preached to the women who had come to the meeting. One of these women was called Lydia, a devout woman from the town of Thyatira (North-West of Asia Minor) who was in the purple-dye trade. She listened to us, and the Lord opened her heart to accept what Paul was saying. -After she and her household had been baptised she sent us an invitation: 'If you really think me a true believer in the Lord,' she said 'come and stay with us'; and she constrained us.

                                                                    Revering God with the integrity of your mind,
                                                                    you received the light of Grace by the hands of St. Paul
                                                                    and you were the first in Philippi, who believed in Christ,
                                                                    together with your household.
                                                                    This is why we honour you with hymns,
                                                                    God- minded,Lydia of Philippi.
                                                                    Glory to Him, who showed His Good will in you,
                                                                    Glory to Him, who illuminated you,
                                                                    Glory to Him, who grants us the best through you.

                 Hymn in honour of St. Lydia
                 It is chanted in Orthodox Churches on the Saint's Memory day, May 20
              
( Transl. from ancient Greek by Irene Economides)

 

Apostolic Pilgrimage of Athens (50 A.D.)

St. Paul left Berea in haste because a danger appeared: Jews from Thessalonica, arrived with the intension to create disturbance. That is why the Christians of Berea led him to the coast and helped him to embark in a ship.

This coast was the harbour of Pydna (50 km to the South of Thessalonica) which nowadays is silted up and is called "Touzla Marsh". A temporary commemorative arch is standing at the side of the old national highway showing the direction towards the coast from where St. Paul sailed for Athens (Acts 17, 14-15).

At Athens St. Paul was in dispair at the sight of this glorious city full of temples, alters and statues of a false religion, waiting for St. Silas and St. Timothy, who had remained in Berea.

So he started to converse daily with Jews and Greeks (who had known the monotheism of the Old Testament) in the synagogue and in the Agora (center of the public and commercial life of ancient Greek cities).

Some Epicurian and Stoic philosophers, who had heard his conversation, realised that he was bringing something new to their city, a new religion. For this reason they invited him to the Supreme Court of Areopagus, to give them more official explanations. The Areopagus, as Supreme Court, was also responsible for religious matters.

The Areopagus, or "Mars' Hill", at the foot of the Acropolis of Athens.

The buildings in the background were demolished for the excavations of the Agora.

St. Paul's speech on the Areopagus

"Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too religious. For us I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an alter with this inscription, "to the unknown God". Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from everyone of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have the being; as certain also of your own poets have said, (the Greek poet Aratos), "For we are also of His race". Forasmuch then as we are the race of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because He hath defined a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath appointed, whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17, 22-31).

As we see, this speech finished with the joyful message of Jesus-Christ's Resurrection, an event which is beyond the narrow limit of human understanding.

For this reason very few people believed in St. Paul's words that day. Among them was a great personality: Denys the Areopagite, a magistrate of the Supreme Court of Athens, a member of high society, and of high culture and sensitiveness. These qualities helped him later on to write three magnificent books: a) "The Celestial Hierarchy", b) "The Ecclesiastic Hierarchy" and c) "the Mystic Theology". All of them can be found in Patrologia Craeca Migne which comprises the writings of the Holy Fathers from the 1st to the XVth c. A.D. (Part of this famous Christian literature exists today in paper-back editions in English).

Behind the rocky hill of the Areopagus one can see the foundations of a basilica (X c. A.D.) dedicated to St. Denys the Areopagite under the North-West slope of the Acropolis).

Note : On 29th of June, (St. Paul's feast) an official celebration takes place every year at the foot of the Areopagus (Vespers and preaching) with the participation of Ecclesiastic, and Academic authorities.

St. Denys suffered the martyrdom of decapitation at the Roman Paris (Lutece). He had become bishop of Athens after St. Hierotheus and later he became first beshop of Paris (St. Hierotheus' miraculous skull is at the monastery dedicated to his memory, near the town of Megara, to the West of Athens).

Notes : After St. Denys, bishop of Athens became St. Narcissus, one of St. Paul's collaborators (Rom. 16.10) who was from Palestine; he suffered the "glorious death of martyr" (31st October). The following bishop was Publius who also suffered martyrdom (between 161 and 170 A.D.).

? Some Athenian philosophers of that period had been converted to the Christian faith and delivered apologies, in order to defend the truth in front of the Roman Emperors. One of them was Aristides, who addressed Hadrian (117-138 A.D.), and Athenagoras who addressed Marcus-Aurelius (161-180 A.D.).

? Some Athenian personalities of high culture became bishops of Rome, such as St. Anaclet (76-88 A.D.), as well as Izinus and Xystus II.

? Under the Roman Emperor Decius (248-251 A.D.) numerous Christians were persecuted and many Athenians suffered martyrdom. Among them was the bishop of Athens St. Leonidis. The foundations of a majestic basilica (Vth c. A.D.), built in his honour, are visible behind the temple of Olympian Zeus at the South entrance of ancient Athens. Fragments of mosaics and marble reliefs with very gracious patterns from this church are exhibited in the Byzantine museum in Athens. In the same museum we can also see marble reliefs of several early-Christian basilicas of Athens. Some of them had been pagan temples and were converted later to Christian worship, such as the Parthenon, the Theseion, the Erechtheion etc. In this museum, at the ground-floor of the central building, there is a marble balustrade of the sanctuary of the Christian Parthenon. In the city of Athens there are also a dozen Byzantine gracious chapels of the (XI c. A.D.). At the Cathedral of Athens are treasured the relics of two martyrs of the Turkish domination in Greece: St. Philothea (XVI c.) and St. Gregory the V, Patriarch of Constantinople, hung by the Turks (1821).

Note : The Areopagus, or "Mars Hill" is the rocky hill at the foot of the Acropolis, on the left side of the Propylea. Today at its foot we can see the original text of St. Paul's speech, engraved on a bronze slab, as he had delivered it in ancient Greek before the Athenian Philosophers and Judges (Acts 17, 18-20).

Extract of the Book "Apostolic Pilgrimages in Greece"

by Irene Economides

Apostolic Pilgrimage of Corinth

 

Corinth (Acts XVIII)

Without wasting much time in Athens St. Paul left for Corinth (100 km. to the West of Athens), which was one of the largest cities of antiquity (300.000 inh.) with great commercial activity because of its two harbours, on either side of the isthmus: Lecheon on the Corinthian gulf (on the West) and Cenchreai, on the Saronic gulf (on the East). In those days Corinth was a very wealthy city, but in great moral corruption, because of its famous pagan sanctuary of Aphrodite (goddess of love and beauty). Life was luxurious, but also licencious, that is why in antiquity they had the motto: "It is not easy for any body to sail to Corinth". Residence in this city was very expensive.

So St. Paul arrived at this cosmopolitan city and received hospitality at the home of Aquila and Priscilla. They were Christian missionaries, who had arrived at Corinth from Italy. "They were tentmakers and as St. Paul was of the same craft, he abode with them and wrought" (Acts 18, 1-3). Every Saturday he went to the synagogue to converse with Greeks and Jews persuading them with the truth of the Gospel. Nevertheless, some Jews opposed him with blasphemies. So St. Paul left the synagogue and turned to the gentiles continuing his preaching in the house of a Greek (who had known the monotheism of the Old Testament), called Justus, whose house was situated near the synagogue. (Acts 18, 6-7).

Today in the courtyard of the Archeological museum in Old Corinth one can see the marble inscription of the synagogue reading in Greek: " ÓÕÍÁÃÙÃÇ ÅÂÑÁÉÙÍ " (The synagogue of the Jews).

In spite of the Jewish opposition in Corinth, the leader of the synagogue Crispus believed in Christ and was baptised with all his household, as well as many Greeks of Corinth (Acts 18, 8).

One night the Lord appeared to Saint Paul in vision and said to him: "Be not afraid, but speak, and don't keep silent: for I am with thee and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city" (Acts 18, 9-10). So Saint Paul stayed in Corinth one year and six months and he established the first important Christian community of Europe.

At that time the Roman Proconsul of Ahaia (Southern Greece) was Gallio, the brother of the Roman Philosopher Seneca.

Note : During the Roman rule in Greece (146 B.C. – 330 A.D.) Achaia encompassed a large administrative area including all of Southern Greece, not only the small province of the same name in North-Western Peloponnese.

So it was to Gallio that the Jews of Corinth brought St. Paul to be tried before the "Bema" (tribune). This "Bema" where the Roman proconsul heard cases can be seen today among the Roman ruins of Ancient Corinth. On the right there are steps leading to the top of it. It was there that St. Paul was led. It is this "Bema" that his feet touched, and this is why, later on, the Christians of Corinth, built upon it a small basilica whose foundation still remain, as well as some early-Christian reliefs of the marble balustrade of its sanctuary.

Moreover St. Paul's trial never took place, because Gallio realised that St. Paul had not committed any wrong against the Roman law, and let him go immediately (Acts 18, 14-16).

After this event St. Paul stayed a little more in Corinth and then left with Aquila and Priscilla for Syria. He sailed from the harbour of Cenchrcai (on the East of Corinth). Nowadays we can still see some remains of this ancient harbour, as well as the foundation of an early-Christian basilica (half of it is in the sea, because the level of the sea has risen since then), built by the early Christians in commemoration of St. Paul's departure from this port (Acts 18, 18).


In the museum of Isthmia, nearby the Corinth Canal, one can see interesting finds from the ancient settlement of Cenchreai, among others the oldest "vitraux" in the world which had been manufactured there. In the archeological site one can see the stadium where the "Isthmian Games" were celebrated and which still preserves the system of giving the starting signal to the runners, a unique devise found nowhere else.

St. Paul was well acquainted with the institution of the Greek Panhellenic Games which aimed at the harmony of the spirit and body by the practice of virtue, that is why it his first Epistle to the Corinthians he says: "And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we (the Christians) an incorruptible" (I. Cor. 9, 25).

In the outskirts of Corinth there are foundations of some large early-Christian basilicas. One of them is dedicated to the memory of St. Leonidis. The existence of these large churches proves the spiritual strength of the early Christian community of Corinth founded by St. Paul, who loved it particularly and to whom he addressed his two so important Epistles. It was also in Corinth that he wrote his first and second Epistles, to the Thessalonians, which are considered the oldest Christian text (towards the year 52 A.D.).

Gallio's tribune, touched by St. Paul's feet
in the Roman Forum of Corinth (Acts 18).

 

Nicopolis (Tit. 3, 12)

In the Epistle to Titus St. Paul says that he decided to spend a winter at Nicopolis: "When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter" (Tit. 3, 12).

The ruins of ancient Nicopolis are situated near the modern town of Preveza (Western Greece). It was a Roman city founded by Octavious after his victory over Antony and Cleopatra, (the last Greek Queen of Hellenistic Egypt 69-30 B.C.), at the naval battle of Actium in 31 B.C. After this victory Octavious was proclaimed 1st Emperor of Rome.

Nicopolis which means "the city of victory", is located near the promontory of Actium in the Ambracian Gulf, to the South of Preveza. (We cross the Gulf today by an under-sea passage.)

Note : It was during the rein of Octavious (mentioned in the Gospel as Caesar Augustus), that Jesus Christ was born (Luke 2, 1).

So, because St. Paul spent, a winter at Nicopolis, the early Christians considered this town as a place of pilgrimage, and consequently there were built large basilicas in the IVth and Vth c. A.D. We see today their marvelous pavements decorated with fine mosaics, the most important mosaics of that period in all the Balkan peninsula. We can visit these basilicas today, as well as the Roman ruins of the city, and the small museum.

At Nicopolis we can also see the Byzantine walls of the city, very well preserved, built by the famous Byzantine Emperor Justinian (VIth c. A.D.).

Very close to the city of
Preveza is the archeological site of Nicopolis

Note : In the Epistle to Titus St. Paul gives a very important advice to his disciple, which is very appropriate today, when people all over the world receive a flood of information not always correct. St. Paul gives this advice to Titus in order to protect the right teaching of the Gospel. (This right teaching of the Apostolic Tradition exists today only in the Orthodox Church, without any reformation written or oral. "Orthodoxy" means the right faith). (Titus 3,10-11): "A man that is a heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he who is such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself" – The Orthodox Church never uses force, but only the Apostolic teaching, the authentic sacraments, the good example and the miracles of her Saints, who interceed to the Living God: The Holy Trinity: The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit – One in essence and inseparable: Nicene Creed: (I Ecumenical Council in Nikaea – Bithynia 325 A.D.).

December, 2004

The Basilica of Doumetios, V th c. A.D.

 

Apostolic Pilgrimage of Patmos:
The island of the "Revelation"

These ancient Greek cities of Asia-Minor (Ionia), today udner Turkish rule, preserve large parts of their ruins (archeological sites), that one can visit during the touristic season (1st of May to 30th of September), leaving from the Greek islands of Eastern Aegean: Lesbos, Chios, Samos, by small touristic boats for one-day cruise. (Passport is required). For those who desire to visit the ruins of ancient Troy, by the eastern coast of the Dardanells, touristic busses leave from Ankara (Turkey). Info: Smyrna. Tel. 00902 327126768.

"What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the Seven Churches which are in Asia. Unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodecea". (Rev. 1, 11). This order was given by the Lord of Glory Jesus Christ, who appeared in front of St. John the Evangelist and Theologian in the grotto of Patmos. This miraculous event happened during St. John's exile, under the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian in 95 A.D. (Rev. 1, 12-20). These islands of the Eastern Aegean Sea are mentioned in Acts 20 and 21. Under the Roman conquest Asia-Minor was called: "Asia", as one of the Roman conquered provinces of the Greek World around the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.


PATMOS THE GODTRODDEN ISLAND
[ COMMENTARY ON (Rev. 1, 17) ]

In the Book of the Revelation (Apocalypse, chapter 1,12-18), Saint John the Evangelist gives a detailed description of the appearance of Christ in glory before him, noting at the end the brilliance of this presence: "His countenance was as the sun shineth in its strength" (Rev. 1, 16). Then he goes on to tell us that "he fell at His feet as dead" (Rev. 1, 17), out of fear of course at the glorious sight of our Lord. This proves that Christ's feet were touching the floor of the cave, where St. John led an ascetic life during his exile to Patmos (93-96 A.D.) in the persecution of the Roman Emperor Dometian. For if it had been a vision in heaven, he would not have been able to fall at His feet.

This wondrous bodily presence of our Lord in the cave is the cause of the earthquake that made the rock crack from the back of the cave all along its roof to the exit, where a threefold crack was formed, a witness to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Had it been a vision in heaven, why should the rock on the earth have split?

Neither can we say that it was an immaterial vision the Saint had in the cave, since our Lord in His Ascension took with Him His human body, glorified and incorruptible. His disciples had seen Him going up into heaven, in the presence of Angels, who spoke to them (Acts 1, 9-11). So it was that same body of the Incarnation and Crucifixion, whose wounds the Apostle Thomas touched after His Resurrection.

St. John even says something else which proves that Christ was there before him in body: "And He laid His right hand upon me" (Rev. 1, 17). This fact indicated the tangible presence of the Lord in the cave of Patmos. How could it have been possible to touch him from heaven? And if moreover His appearance had been unsubstantial, how St. John could have felt Lord's hand on him, if His glorified body had not been there by him?

That it is about the presence of Jesus Christ and not of God Father -as some maintain- is to be deduced from what the Lord Himself says in the next verse: "Fear not, I am the First and the Last. I am He that liveth, and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of hell and of death" (Rev. 1, 17-18). In this passage the Lord reveals His identity to St. John. He tells him who is He who speaks to him. It is certainly Jesus Christ who died on the cross and was buried, but on the third day was resurrected, and after forty days ascented to heaven, where He lives for evermore as the conqueror of death and Hades, since, after His victory on the Cross, "all the power is given unto Him into heaven and earth." (Math. 28, 19).

This event therefore makes Patmos the holiest place in Europe. Patmos is the termination of the Holy Land biblically and geographically, for here finishes the text of the Bible with the last book of the Revelation, and here stepped the feet of the glorified Christ. So Patmos is "Godtrodden" in a far more literal sense than Sinai, as the founder of St. John's Monastery on Patmos, St. Christodoulos says in his "testament": "...and comparing Patmos to Sinai I regard the first far superior to the latter granting it precedence, inasmuch as I recognise Grace preferable to shadow, Truth to apparitions, the Spirit to the letter, and the Gospel to the stone-law." ("The holy service of the Hosios and Godbearing Father Christodoulos the miracle-worker", in greek, page 103, edited by St. John's Monastery of Patmos, 1990).

Moses did not see God on Sinai. He only heard Him. While on Patmos the Apostle Saint John the Evangelist saw Him face to face. He saw Jesus Christ in glory, the second Person of the Holy Trinity. On Sinai Moses received an imperfect Law: the ten commandments , whereas on Patmos Saint John the Evangelist received the promise of the final victory and the glorification (the state of incorruptibility) of all the creation (Rev. 21).

We can find also this biblical information about the glorification of the universe, in the second Epistle of Saint Peter (2 Pet. 3, 10-13), and in the Epistles of Saint Paul (Hebr. 12, 26-29 and Rom. 8, 21-22): "For the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."

Patmos 1995

THE REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE (1, 1-20)

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him who is, and who was, and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen,. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also who pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall weep because of him. Even so, Amen. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.

I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on Lord's day, and heard behind on a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last and, what thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodecea.

And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars; and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword; and his countenance was as the sun shineth in its strength. And when I saw him, I felt at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, fear not; I am the first and the last. I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks is this: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches; and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. (Churches: christian communities)

"The Bible", Authorized Version 1965

The British and Foreign Bible Society – London

Notes:

- The verse 1, 17 of the "Revelation" is a proof that the feet of the Lord of glory Jesus Christ, touched the ground of Patmos (in the grotto), and this means that Patmos is the holiest place in Europe, on the biblical and geographical point of view (the ending of the Holy Land). Another proof is the upper part of the rock which cracked during the earthquake at the moment of Jesus Christ's glorious appearance in the grotto (Archaeological proof).

- Asia Minor was called by the Romans "Asia", as a province of the Greek world under Roman rule. After the millenium of the marvelous Greek-Byzantine Christian Empire (330-1453 A.D.), all the Near-East and the Middle-East and the Balkan Peninsula were conquered by the Ottoman Turks.

October 2004

Prepared by: Irene Economides, Bach. of Theology

14, Nereidon st. Athens 116.34, tel.: 210-7231992

Grooved in bronze the presence in body of Christ in Glory in the cave of Patmos (Greece), in front of St. John the Evangelist, fallen near His feet, according to the biblical text of the Revelation (Rev. 1, 12-20). Bronze frame of St. John's icon (XVIII c.), in the church of the Monastery, built in his memory in Patmos in the XI th c. (still in use).

 

The sacred grotto of the Apocalypse. Here Christ appeared before St. John the Divine, during a quake of the earth which rent the rock, at the exit, in three peaces. This rift symbolizes the Holy Trinity. It is the point from which St. John was hearing the celestial voice.

 

The monastery of St. John the Evangelist and Theologian surrounded by houses of the medieval town of Chora (Patmos).

 

St. John The Evangelist. Russian Icon o the 18th c. A.D. The Bronze Frame represents in the upper part the Holy Trinity holding the Universe, and in the Lower part scenes from the Book of the revelation. At the left corner we distinguish the Lord in Glory, and St. John collapsed at His feet

 

October 2004

 

THE TOMB OF ST LUKE THE EVANGELIST

IN THEBES OF BEOTIA - GREECE

According to the book of the "Life of the Saints" of the Orthodox Church, St. Luke the Evangelist, who was of Greek origin from Antioch and professional physician in those days, finished his life as martyr in Thebes of Beotia, where he had gone after the martyrdom of St. Paul in Rome. (Ref. Nikiphoros – Kallistos Xanthopoulos, Eccles. History XIVth c. A.D., Migne P.G. 145, 876). They hung him on an olive tree, whose part was still living, a few years ago by the right side of the cemetery which is the place of his martyrdom. This is the old cemetery of Thebes (to the East of the city) whose church is dedicated to his memory. On the right side of the sanctuary of this church is the roman sarcophagus where the body of St. Luke had been placed. This tomb belonged to a Roman family of the II c. B.C., but later on it was empty and the Christians of Thebes used it for St. Luke's body "for honour" because this is a majestic tomb.

This tomb works miracles today even empty, because the holy relic had been transported to Constantinople in the IVth c. A.D. under the emperor Constandius 357 A.D. from where the Crusaders of the IV Crusade (1204) stole it and transported it to Padova in Italy (by Venice) and it is still now in the church of Santa Justina at the center of the city.

At the moment of St. Luke's burial a holy liquid was dropped from heaven on this tomb and till now it irradiates Grace.

Myrrh appeared on the tomb's marble on 22, Dec. 1997, 1:30 p.m. and since then the interior of the marble sarcophagus is fragrant!!

On 17 th of September 2000, a peace of St. Luke's relic (small bone) was brought from Padova to Thebes by a Cardinal in a small silver reliquery. During an official ceremony at the Central Sq. of the city, attended by the local political authorities of Beotia, all the Clergy of Beotia and a lot of people, this reliquery was offered to the Orthodox Bishop of Thebes his Grace Hieronymos, and by an important litany, it had been transported to the church, next to his tomb, where it is till now (2004).

(Athens-Thebes 100 km on the way to Delphi).

By: Irene Economides

Bach. of Polit. Sciences and Theology,

ex. Guide-lecturer of the Hellenic Tourism

14, Nereidon st. Athens 116.34

e-mail: ireconom@otenet.gr - site: www.christian-orthodoxy.gr

Saint Luke the Evangelist, of Greek origin, born in the Hellenistic city of Antioch, of extremely high education and professional physician.
Byzantine icon treasured in the Monastery Chilandariou - Mount Athos, Northern Greece. Except the 3rd Evangelium, he wrote also "The Acts of the Apostles". The marvelous way he used the Greek language in these two Books is one of the proofs of his Greek origin and his high culture.

 

The tomb of St. Luke the Evangelist at the right side of the Sanctuary, in The Church of the Old Cemetery of Thebes (place of his martyrdom). Ref. Patrologia Graeca Migne. 145, 876. This photo has been realized on his feast Day (18.10.1998). This monumental tomb is an ancient marble sarcophagus (still miraculous).


St' Andrew's passage from Patras of Achaia (in Greece)

 

In the Apostolic period Patras was a very important city. It was see of the Roman Proconsul, and very active commercial port. (North -West coast of Peloponnese). There were majestic public buildings and its famous workshops manufactured the "byssus" a very fine and expensive linen. (Luke 16,19 and Rev. 18,12). The Roman Odeion of Patras is still preserved, and it is used during summer for musical and poetic Festivals. Its archeological museum is full of statues and reliefs of the period of the Roman conquest in Greece.
(I c. B.C. - III c. A.D.).

St. Andrew, St. Peter's brother, the first Apostle to be called by our Lord, arrived at Patras, on his way back from the Northern countries, where he had completed missionary journeys, as in Bithynia (Eastern coast of the Marmora Sea, the Bosphorus and the Black-Sea), in Crimaia, in Eastern Thrace, as well as in the ancient town of Byzantium (ancient Greek colony on the European coast, at the entrance of the Boshporus straight, where later on, Constantinople was founded, capital of the Byzantine Empire). As St. Andrew was the first to preach the Gospel in this city, he is considered to be the founder of the Church of Byzantium. Before leaving he ordained the first bishop of Byzantium: Stachys, one of St. Paul's collaborators (Rom. 16,9). There are some historical sources which give us the information on the life and the martyrdom of St. Andrew already in the III c. A.D. We find them in the Patrologia Graeca Migne: a) Hippolytus of Rome (170-235 A.D.), P.G. Migne: 10,952-953. b) The priest Epiphanius (X.c. A.D.) gives the life and martyrdom of St. Andrew (P.G. Migne 120, 216-260). The edition of Bonnet on St. Andrew's life (Analecta Bollandiana vol. XIII p.309-378) is based on the Patrologia.

In the Patrologia Graeca we also find information about St. Andrew's life by writers of other periods.

St. Andrew arrived at Patras after having crossed all Greece from North to South ordaining bishops at different places such as Philologus, St. Paul's collaborator (Rom. 16,15), who became first bishop of Sinope (Ancient Greek colony on the Asiatic coast of the Black - Sea), and Urbane, another St. Paul's collaborator (Rom. 16,9), who became first bishop of Macedonia (Northern Greece). Ref. "List of the bishops of Constantinople", by Zach. Mathas, Athens, 1884.

On his arrival at Patras, St. Andrew miraculously healed a man who was seriously ill, and who, out of gratitude offered the Apostle hospitality. The fame of this miracle in Patras made the Proconsul Lesvius, who was also ill, to call the Apostle. He was also healed, and turned into Christian. The conversion of the Proconsul incited the people of Patras to bring their sick to St. Andrew to heal them. So this miracles and his preaching helped the Christian community of Patras to increase. However these new Christians in their zeal started destroying pagan temples and idols. These news reached the Emperor in Rome, who desiring to establish order, replaced Lesvius by another Proconsul, Egeates.

St. Andrew's martyrdom at Patras was due to the wrath of Egeates, when he heard that his wife Maximilla, her brother Stratocles, with his servant, and many other persons of his own environment were converted to the Christian faith and received the baptism.

As Maximilla did not want any more to live with her pagan hasband, she asked for a divorce, and Egeates, furious for the loss of his wife, considered responsible of his misfortune St. Andrew. This is the reason why he ordered his imprisonment, and finally, after a short trial, his crucifixion. The Saint was crucified on an ex-formed cross made of olive wood, his hands and legs tied to it with ropes. For four days he was alive on the cross and continued to preach, to the people. The Christians of Patras seeing his martyrdom, revolted and they applied to Egeates asking for the liberation of Andrew from his bonds. The Proconsul, very impressed by the revolt of the people and the Saint's courage, approached in order to liberate him. But St. Andrew desiring to be with his Lord as soon as possible, expired on the cross. Maximilla buried him in her personal tomb.

St. Andrew's martyrdom took place by the sea, on the Western side of the modern town; Today at the site of his martyrdom there are two churches dedicated to him. The smaller one houses the Saint's tomb, and the bigger the Saint's skull and parts of his cross. St. Andrew's relics were in Patras till the IVth c. A.D. when, by order of the Byzantine Emperor Constantius, son of Constantine the Great, (337-361 A.D.), were sent to Constantinople, to be treasured in the famous church of the Holy Apostles. Only his skull remained in Patras.

 

 

Notes:

1) St. Andrew's cross was in Patras. When the knights of the IVth Crusade looted Constantinople the capital of the Byzantine Empire (330-1453 A.D.) in 1204, they transferred the cross of St. Andrew to Marseille (France), at the monastery Weaume (according to the archives of the dutchy of Bourgogne). During the French Revolution the atheist revolutionaries set fire to Saint Andrew's cross and other religious objects. Only a few pieces of the cross were saved from the fire by a Roman Catholic monk. These authentic pieces were treasured at St. Victor's monastery at Marseille till 1980, when they were sent back to Patras as an act of good will of the Vatican, in the frame of the Oecumenical movement. For the same reason a few years ago (in 1964) St. Andrews skull was sent back to Patras from the West by the Vatican, from where it had been taken away, in order to be saved, by the Despot of Mystras (Byzantine Sparta), brother of the last emperor of Byzantium, Constantine Xlth. Paleologus, as he was leaving in a hurry towards Western Europe, before the Turks (1460). The ancient and the Medieval city of Patras were completely destroyed during the Greek war of Independence against the Turks (1821-1830) and was rebuilt by order of Count John Capodistria, first Governor of Modern Greece (1828-1831).

2) On 30th of November another Greek town celebrates the memory of St. Andrew. This is the town of Nauplia, capital of Argolis (Eastern Peloponese) which was liberated after a miracle of St. Andrew on 30th of November 1822, the second year of the War of Independence against the Turks. From that date Nauplia became the capital of revolted Greece till the arrival of the first King of Modern Greece Otho of Bavaria, at Nauplia in 1833, when Athens became the capital (from 1834) at the decision of King Otho, because of its glorious past. In the fortress of Nauplia there is a small chapel dedicated to St. Andrew, built by the Venitians for the garnison of this tremenduous stronghold that they erected in the XVIIth c. A.D. (It was taken from the hands of the Turks by very few heroic Greeks during an assault, in a stormy night, on the eve of St. Andrew's feast-day.

3) At the northern promontory of Cyprus, facing the Mediterranean coast of Syria, there is another place of St. Andrew's pilgrimage. This is a monastery dedicated to him, because according to the story of his life, during one of his missionary journeys, he made appear there a spring in order to refresh the passengers who were dying of thirst. (This spring still exists). Unfortunately this monastery is now closed, because the Turks have illegally occupied the northern part of the island of Cyprus since 1974 (40% of the territory of Cyprus), and in spite of many U.N. "resolutions" expressing the "illegal" character of this Turkish occupation, which formed an illegal small state (that no state recognized except Turkey), in fact a very awful Turkish Dictatorship, and a real prison for the Greek - Cypriots living there/those who had no time to flight away to Southern free Cyprus, during the Turkish invasion (July 20th August 15ht 1974). Most of the archeological treasures (ancient and Medieval), as well as early Christian, and excavation works were destroyed on purpose by the Turks, in spite of the fact that Cyprus is a Biblical place mentioned in the New Testament: Book of "The Acts of the Apostles''; (Acts XIII).

Extract of the book : "Apostolic Pilgrimages in Greece", by Irene Economides.

 


Saint Andrew's Church (1908-1978)
at his Martyrdom Place in Patras.

 

e-mail: ireconom@otenet.gr

Translation from the original ancient Greek text of the Patrology (Migne P.G. 20, 940-948) Eusebius, Historian of the IVth c. A.D. "Life of King Constantine" Book I, 28-32)

« XXVIII Before the battle King Constantine had started prayers and he was praying God fervently, when suddenly the following miracle took place, that Constantine himself had later told (to the Historian Eusebius).

When the light of noon was still shining, he saw with his own eyes in the sky, above the sun, the sign of the Cross with the words: "by this conquer". (The King was still pagan then). This vision has been seen by all the army, that was struck by surprise, as well as the King.

XXIX King Cosntantine was wondering which would be the meaning of this vision. During that night Christ appeared to him in dream with the sign of the Cross, and gave him order to make a standard bearing the symbol of the vision, and to use it always as protection against the enemies during the battle.

XXX Next morning the King related the dream to his friends and afterwards he invited immediately artisans to make the standard with gold and precious stones. This standard had the following form:

XXXI It was a high spear in gold with a horizontal axis which formed the sign of the Cross. On the top of the spear there was a crown of gold inlaid with precious stones. This was the sign of salvation. There were also the two initials of Christ's name: X.P. The King had the custom to bear since then these initials on his helmet as well. From the horizontal axis a piece of royal material was hanging, which was embroidered with gold thread. The beauty of this standard looked increadible to those who were looking at it. The vertical spear was longer.

This standard was bearing as well the image of the King and of his two sons, till the bust, in gold. So this was the sign of salvation, that the king was always using as protection against any enemy power, and he had given order that all the armies would have copies of this standard ahead of them.

XXXII A short time after having seen this vision of the Cross he did not honour any other God, that the one who had appeared to him, and he was inviting the priests of Christ to explain to him, who was this God and what was the meaning of this sign of the Cross. Those priests explained to him that Christ was God, son of the unique God, and that the sign of the Cross is the sign of immortality and trophy of the victory against death, that Christ had accomplished when He came to earth. They taught him also the cause of His incarnation and all His redemptive Work.

The King was learning these words, because he had seen the miracle of the vision of the Cross. And by combining the reality of the vision he has had with the words of the priests, his thinking was becoming more solid, as he had received the knowledge directly from God by means of the vision and this is why he was eager to learn the Holy Scriptures to this point that he invited the priests of God to be always next to him. He honoured this God that had appeared to Him (Christ) by the cult that suited to Him and having always his trust in Him, he was lead away from the threat of the tyrannic fire (paganism). »

Note : This historical event, the vision of the Cross, took place in 312 A.D. before the battle on Milvius Bridge, near Rome: Victory of Constantine the Great against Maxentius. Next year in 313 A.D. Constantine allowed freedom of worship to the Christians by the Edict of Milan. This is why this event is very important for the History of Europe and for all humanity.

Patmos, August 1990.

Electronic copy: Translated by: Irene Economides

Athens, October 2004 Bach. of Polit. Sciences and Theology,

e-mail: ireconom@otenet.gr - site: www.christian-orthodoxy.gr

 

PRAYER OF JESUS OR PRAYER OF THE HEART

« Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me » (or «have mercy upon us » ). « Most Holy Mother of God save us » .

Comments on this prayer that helps unity

"With the name of Jesus scourge the enemies, for neither in heaven nor upon earth does there exist a more powerful weapon"

St. John Climacus

"My brethren, cry from the morning until the evening, and if possible, all the night, «Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon us». This name is terrible for the demons, and drives away the passions and illnesses. So let us confirm ourselves in this".

St. John Crysostom (4th c. A. D.)

 

 


 

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