Venerable Parasceva the New

Saint Paraskeva the New was born into a pious family, living during the eleventh century in the village of Epivato, between Silistra and Constantinople. Her older brother Euthymius became a monk, and later he was consecrated as Bishop of Matidia. One day, while attending the divine services, the words of the Lord pierced her heart like an arrow, «If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself» (Mt. 16:24). From that time she began to distribute her clothing to the needy, for which reason she endured much grief from her family.

Upon the death of her parents, the saint was tonsured into monasticism at the age of fifteen. She withdrew to the Jordanian desert where she lived the ascetic life until she reached the age of twenty-five. An angel of the Lord ordered her to return to her homeland, so she stayed at Epivato for two years.

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The Siege of Constantinople (1453), according to Nicolo Barbaro

The diary of Nicolo Barbaro is perhaps the most detailed and accurate eyewitness account of the siege and fall of Constantinople. Nicolo was a surgeon by profession, and a member of one of the patrician families of Venice. His account often focuses on the activities of his fellow Venetians, sometimes to the detriment of the Greeks and Genoese who were also defending the city. The work is written like a diary, with daily entries. Naval affairs are also prominent in this account. The portion republished below starts after Nicolo discusses the events leading up to the siege and the preparations made by the defenders to fortify the city.

……

On the twenty-fifth of May at the hour of Vespers, another tunnel was discovered in the same area of the Calegaria near the first tunnels. It was a strong one and might have been very dangerous indeed, because they had put props underneath a piece of the wall, and when they set fire to their tunnel it would have collapsed, and after this the Turks would quite certainly have been able to get into the city and take it without difficulty. This was the last tunnel which they dug, and…

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The Magnificence of Constantinople Even In 1436

Created in 1422 by Cristoforo Buondelmonti, this is the oldest surviving map of Constantinople and the only one that predates the Ottoman conquest

Bessarion writes to Theodoros II Palaiologos the following about Constantinople in 1436, which was seventeen years before its fall to the Ottomans:

On the one side you will see the abundance and fineness of holy things, even more abundant than they are fine, and even better than they are abundant. On another side you will see the walls and towers and the defense circuit of the city, whose measure and strength no one can wonder enough at, and on yet another the brilliance of the cities houses and the overwhelming pride in public show.

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St Photios, patriarch of Constantinople (+ 891)

St Photios, along with St Mark of Ephesus and St Gregory Palamas, is counted as one of the Three Pillars of Orthodoxy, who stood against Latinizing influences on the Orthodox Church.

He was born in Constantinople in 810, son of pious parents belonging to one of the prominent families of the City. Both his parents were martyred during the Iconoclast persecution, leaving their son an example of adherence to the True Faith even unto death. He received a superb education, and was widely considered the single most learned person of his time. He was elevated to the Patriarchal throne in 858, after being raised through all the degrees of the priesthood in six days.

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Landmark ruling in Turkey Buyukada orphanage returned to the Orthodox Patriarchate

A landmark ruling by a court of law in Turkey, the first of its kind: Buyukada district court of following the ruling of the Court of human rights in Strasbourg, has handed over the Buyukada orphanage to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. The court has informed the «Fanar» that orders have been given for the final return of the building, located on the ‘Island of the Princes’ to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. It also ordered that the land be registered to the “Rum Patrikanesi” (The Patriarchate of the Rum, as Orthodox Christians are called in Turkey), recognizing its de facto legal status. It should also be noted that with this ruling, the Buyukada court overturns a previous decision of 27 June 2005, with which, and at the request of the Directorate of Religious Foundations, all property rights to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople over the orphanage were removed.

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The Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos

This feast of the Protection of the Theotokos is neither one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church nor is it a commemoration of any events in the earthly lives of our Lord or His Mother. So why does the Orthodox Church here in twenty-first-century North America keep this feast?

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Ground Zero mosque…

As sympathetic as I am toward opponents of the proposed Ground Zero mosque, I don’t think they realize how fortunate they are to be able to voice their opinions.

Eastern Christians have never had such luxury. The former cradle of Christianity is now filled with mosques. Many were originally our churches, and were taken as spoils of conquest. Consider Hagia Sophia, the Church of Holy Wisdom. Built in the seventh century, this magnificent temple was later visited by emissaries of the Russian Prince Vladimir, a pagan seeking a new faith. “We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth,” the delegates reported, adding, “we know only that God dwells there among men.” Hagia Sophia was the Patriarch of Constantinople’s cathedral for a thousand years, until 1453. Then, after generations of effort, the Turks sacked the capital, extinguishing Eastern Christendom’s temporal glory and throwing millions of Orthodox Christians into centuries of darkness.

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55 years pass since İstanbul pogrom

Today marks the 55th anniversary of the Sept. 6-7 İstanbul pogrom, when many houses and places of business belonging to non-Muslims in İstanbul were destroyed after a newspaper headline reported that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s home in Greece had been bombed by Greek militants.

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Turkey’s dwidling Greek Christians

(CNN) — Patriarch Bartholomew is the living embodiment of one of the world’s oldest institutions — the Greek Orthodox Church in Constantinople.

But he could be the last to hold the title in what is modern-day Istanbul, in secular but Muslim majority Turkey.

CNN’s «World’s Untold Stories» examines the dwindling Greek Orthodox community in Turkey and how they are faring.

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St. Vladimir, Prince of Kiev

Saint Vladimir (Svyatoslavich), Baptizer of Russia (958-1015) was the Grand Prince of Kiev.

St. Vladimir was a devout pagan in his early life. He was a great conqueror, who had many wives, and erected many pagan statues in the lands that he ruled over.

Upon finding out that other faiths existed beyond his own paganism, he decided to send his envoys out into the world to find out what was true faith on earth.

His envoys met with Muslims, but felt that there was no joy among them, and that their faith was very mechanical. The envoys also met with Jews and Catholics, but were still unimpressed.

Everything, however, changed when St. Vladimir’s envoys arrived in Constantinople. Upon attending Divine Liturgy in the Hagia Sophia, the envoys said “We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on earth”. Taking the word of his envoys, St. Vladimir had himself and his nation baptized Orthodox. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Holy Great Female Martyr Euphemia (11th July & 16th September)

Byzantine mosaic of St. Euphemia of the 6th century. Porec, Basilica of Euphrasius.

Byzantine mosaic of St. Euphemia of the 6th century. Porec, Basilica of Euphrasius.

Saint Euphemia is commemorated on September 16, the day on which she was martyred. On this day, however, is commemorated the miracle surrounding her honorable relics, which was manifested at the time of the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon. This Council was convened during the reign of Emperor Marcian and the Empress Pulcheria in the year 451 A.D., after the death of Emperor Theodosius the Younger. The reason for summoning this Council was the heresy of Dioscorus, the Patriarch of Alexandria and Eutyches, an Archimandrite from Constantinople, who spread the false teaching that in Christ the Lord there were not two natures, divine and human, but only one, a divine nature. At this Council Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem, played the most prominent roles. Because a conclusion could not be reached through debates and testimonies from either side, Patriarch Anatolius motioned that the Orthodox and the heretics write down their confessions of faith and then place them in the sarcophagus where the relics of St. Euphemia reposed. They all agreed to this. Therefore, the two confessions of faith were written and placed on the bosom of the great female martyr. The sarcophagus was closed, sealed with the emperor’s seal and military guards were appointed. read more… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Message by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for World Environment Day

MESSAGE

By His All Holiness

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

For World Environment Day

(June 5, 2010)

Inasmuch as, at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, we have long been concerned about problems related to the preservation of the natural environment, we have ascertained that the fundamental cause of the abuse and destruction of the world’s natural resources is greed and the constant tendency toward unrestrained wealth by citizens in so-called “developed” nations.

The holy Fathers of our Church have taught and lived the words of St. Paul, according to which “if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these” (1 Tim. 6.8), adhering at the same time to the prayer of Solomon: “Grant me neither wealth nor poverty, but simply provide for me what is necessary for sufficiency.” (Prov. 30:8) Everything beyond this, as St. Basil the Great instructs, “borders on forbidden ostentation.” Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Fall of Constantinople, 1453

Scene from the battle defending Constantinople, Paris 1499

Dionysios Hatzopoulos
Professor of Classical and Byzantine Studies, and Chairman of Hellenic Studies Center at Dawson College, Montreal, and Lecturer at the Department of History at Universite de Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

When, at the age of twenty-one, Mehmed II (1451-1481) sat on the throne of the Ottoman Sultans his first thoughts turned to Constantinople. The capital was all that was left from the mighty Christian Roman Empire and its presence, in the midst of the dominions of the powerful new rulers of the lands of Romania, was pregnant with danger. The new Sultan demonstrated diplomatic abilities, during his early attempts to isolate politically the Byzantine capital, when he signed treaties with the Emperor’s most important Western allies, the Hungarians and the Venetians. He knew, however, that these were temporary measures, which would provide him with freedom of movement for a limited time only. To give the final blow on the half-dead body of the Byzantine Empire he had to move fast. He was so much preoccupied by his project of conquest that, according to the contemporary Greek Historian Michael Dukas, his mind was occupied by it day and night. A successful expedition against his enemy Ibrahim the Emir of Karamania, in central Asia Minor, postponed briefly his plans. He was back in his capital Hadrianople in May 1451, where he set in motion his great project. The first step was to isolate the Byzantine capital, both economically and militarily.

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St Constantine and Helen (May 21) – «In this thou shalt win»

Great Constantine this renowned sovereign of the Christians was the son of Constantius Chlorus (the ruler of the westernmost parts of the Roman empire), and of the blessed Helen. He was born in 272, in (according to some authorities) Naissus of Dardania, a city on the Hellespont. In 306, when his father died, he was proclaimed successor to his throne, in York. In 312, on learning that Maxentius and Maximinus had joined forces against him, he marched into Italy, where, while at the head of his troops, he saw in the sky after midday, beneath the sun, a radiant pillar in the form of a cross with the words: «In this thou shalt win» (Greek: ΕΝ ΤΟΥΤΩ ΝΙΚΑ). Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

St. Anastasia the Patrician (March 10)

Russian icon of St. Anastasia the Patrician

St. Anastasia the Patrician of Alexandria lived in Constantinople and was descended from an aristocratic family. She was an image of virtue and enjoyed the respect of Emperor Justinian. Widowed at a young age, Anastasia decided to leave the world and save her soul. She secretly left Constantinople and went to Alexandria. She founded a small monastery not far from the city, and devoted herself entirely to God.

Several years later, Emperor Justinian was widowed and decided to search for Anastasia and marry her. As soon as she learned of this, St. Anastasia journeyed to a remote skete to ask Abba Daniel for help.

In order to safeguard Anastasia, the Elder dressed her in a man’s monastic garb and called her the eunuch Anastasius. Having settled her in a very remote cave, the Elder gave her a rule of prayer and ordered her never to leave the cave and to receive no one. Only one monk knew of this place. His obedience was to deliver a small portion of bread and a pitcher of water to the cave once a week, leaving it at the entrance. Anastasia dwelt in seclusion for twenty-eight years.

The Lord revealed to Anastasia the day of her entry into the heavenly kingdom. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Moral Dilemmas of Globalization by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

We should first like to express our joy that this meeting of distinguished and dynamic economists, political figures, and other eminent dignitaries has included on the agenda of its discussions the human dimension of globalization of the economy, as well as non-economic values. There is no doubt that when ranking values the human person occupies a place higher than economic activity. Neither is there any doubt that economic progress, which is present when there is growth in economic activity, becomes useful when and only when it serves to enhance the non-economic values that make up human culture. This is the reason that justifies our Modesty’s presence among this luminous gathering of eminent economic activists although we bear no relation to matters of economy.

The advance of humanity towards globalisation is a fact arising primarily out of the private sector, in particular they are the desires of multinational economic giants. This fact finds support in the incredible development of communications. Already the role of states is being constantly downgraded, with few exceptions; whereas the role of the economically powerful is growing in magnitude, even among the larger states.

As the Primate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the first bishop of the Orthodox Church throughout the world, we assure you that the Orthodox Church has experienced and cultivated the idea of spiritual ecumenicity. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Patriarchal and Synodal Encyclical On the Sunday of Orthodoxy

 Prot. No. 213

BARTHOLOMEW
By God’s Grace
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch

To the Fullness of the Church,
Grace and Peace
From our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

Our most holy Orthodox Church today commemorates its own feast day, and – from this historical and martyric See of the Ecumenical Patriarchate – the Mother Church of Constantinople directs its blessing, love and concern to all of its faithful and dedicated spiritual children throughout the world, inviting them to concelebrate in prayer.

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Voice of the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Was Finally Heard Worldwide

Life in the patriarchate of the supreme heads of the Orthodox Church in Istanbul was never easy during the past few decades, especially with the closing of the Halki Seminary in Heybeliada in 1971.

The ecumenical Greek patriarch is the leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox, who live in Greece, the Balkan countries and Russia.

After the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church is the most influential, and presently, although its patriarch lives abased in his shell, under the thumb of the Republic of Turkey, he still remains rich with the church’s past glory going back 1,700 years.

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The Christmas Message of the Ecumenical Patriarch

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Prot. No. 1237 

BARTHOLOMEW

By God’s Grace

Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome

and Ecumenical Patriarch

To the Plenitude of the Church

Grace, peace and mercy from the Savior Christ

Born in Bethlehem

 

Beloved concelebrants and blessed children in the Lord,

Heaven and earth have united

Through the birth of Christ.

Today, God has appeared on earth,

And man has ascended to heaven.

(Christmas Hymn)

The distance and separation between God and humanity resulting from sin has been abolished with the assumption of the entire human nature by the Only-Begotten Son and Pre-eternal Word of God. It was God’s good will – that is to say, His initiative and will – that the incarnation of His Son should abolish all such distance uniting heaven and earth, as well as creation with its Creator. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Message de Noël

Turkey prepares to join EU in a building confiscated from the Orthodox

Unbelievable but true: the headquarters of the Secretariat for the entry of Turkey into the European Union is a building confiscated from the Orthodox Christian community in the 90s. The building is located in Istanbul, in the well-known area of Ortakoy, under the first bridge over the Bosphorus.

Before the seizure, the building was used as a primary school for children of the minority Orthodox in Ortakoy. Here, once lived a thriving Orthodox community, now non-existent because of past purges against minorities, executed by the «secular» Turkish State.

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St Gregory Palamas the Archbishop of Thessalonica

gregory palamas

Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica, was born in the year 1296 in Constantinople. St Gregory’s father became a prominent dignitary at the court of Andronicus II Paleologos (1282-1328), but he soon died, and Andronicus himself took part in the raising and education of the fatherless boy. Endowed with fine abilities and great diligence, Gregory mastered all the subjects which then comprised the full course of medieval higher education. The emperor hoped that the youth would devote himself to government work. But Gregory, barely twenty years old, withdrew to Mount Athos in the year 1316 (other sources say 1318) and became a novice in the Vatopedi monastery under the guidance of the monastic Elder St Nicodemus of Vatopedi (July 11). There he was tonsured and began on the path of asceticism. A year later, the holy Evangelist John the Theologian appeared to him in a vision and promised him his spiritual protection. Gregory’s mother and sisters also became monastics.

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National Healthcare and the Church-State Relationship in Romiosini (Byzantium)

hospital

http://www.amazon.com/Birth-Hospital-Byzantine-Empire/dp/0801856574

«Dr. Miller is a learned and enterprising historian with a fascinating theme. He shows beyond a doubt that the Western hospital tradition goes back to the early Byzantine Empire in the fourth century.» — Medical History

Fr. Romanides writes about the relationship between Church and State in the Roman Empire following the conversion to Christianity of Emperor Constantine the Great saying:

«The great struggle between paganism and Christianity in the time of Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337) is reflected in the difference between Roman Greeks (meaning Pagans) and Roman Christians. All Pagan Romans were defending their aristocratic ancient Hellenic identity and traditions which was being torn apart by the aristocratic identity of the cure of glorification which was open to all Romans, both gentis and non-gentis, and to all non-Romans.» Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXXVII)

holy sepulcher church praying

Continued from (Part XXXVI)

Mechanics of Prayer.

The Church of Christ teaches us prayers composed by righteous and holy men. The Holy Fathers and Ascetics of the Church, enlightened by the grace of God, have composed many beautiful prayers, filled with holy thoughts and deep feeling for the guidance and admonition of Christians. We hear these prayers in Church during the Divine Services, but for private prayer at home, each Christian must recite the prayers contained in the Prayerbook.

When we begin to pray, we do not immediately break off from our daily tasks and just start praying, but we must prepare ourselves. As the Prayerbook says: “Stand in silence for a few moments until all your senses are calmed.” Furthermore, as Holy Scripture tells us: Before offer-ing a prayer, prepare yourself; and do not be like a man who tempts the Lord (Sirach 18:23). In addition to this, before entering into prayer, one must prepare himself not only inwardly, but also outwardly.

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXXVI)

prayer

Continued from (Part XXXV)

Orthodox Prayer.

The goal of the Christian’s life on earth is salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ and, at the same time, communion with God. The means for this communion is prayer, and through his prayer the Christian is joined in one spirit with the Lord (I Cor. 6:17). Prayer is the focal point and foundation of spiritual life and the source of salvation. Without prayer, as St. John Chrysostom says, there is no life in the spirit. Without prayer man is deprived of communion with God and can be compared to a dry and barren tree, which is cut down and thrown into the fire (Matt. 7:19).

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