Archive for the ‘Saints’ Category

Life of St Seraphim of Sarov – cartoon version in Russian

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

It looks very sweet. Link:

This looks like it would be great to show to kids. I would love to know what it says (if there is something wrong, please comment)

Abba Moses the Ethiopian. Icon, Sayings, and Life

Friday, September 10th, 2010

abba Moses the Ethiopian

Today we celebrate Abba Moses the Ethiopian. He is one of my favorite Saints, and last year, a large article was written about him which included many of his sayings:

Abba Moses

St Nicholas day 2008. Video: Singing, short homily.

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008


Other links to the video: YouTube, Yahoo, MySpace, Metacafe, Google, DailyMotion, and Veoh

St Nicholas, Wonderworker of Myra in Lycia: 10 Things

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

St Nicholas’ day is Friday (TOMMOROW!) this week. In order to celebrate our patron, we will try to post something about St Nicholas every day.


  • Vigil for St Nicholas: Thursday 6:30 PM. TONIGHT!
  •  Divine Liturgy and festal lunch (fish allowed) Friday 9 AM 


St Nicholas, Wonderworker of Myra in Lycia: 10 Things



1. St Nicholas was a bishop in Myra, in the land of Lycia in the fourth century. This area is present day Anatolia (a part of modern day Turkey), on the South coast, in Asia Minor. St Paul preached here.

2. The name “Nicholas” means “victory of the people”, or “namesake of victory”. This meaning is mentioned in some of the hymns of his service:


As a true namesake of victory, / to the faithful people thou hast shown thyself / to be mighty amid perils, / O holy Nicholas, hierarch of Christ; / for whenever thou art invoked, / thou dost quickly hasten / to those who with love have recourse to thy protection. / For, appearing to the faithful by day and by night, // thou savest them from dangers and evil circumstances. (Vespers, Lord I have Cried)


3. We do not know exactly when St Nicholas was born, but he is known to have died peacefully about (345-351).


4. There are many stories in many countries about St Nicholas. No doubt, some are myths. How can one know which is which? It stands to reason that our service for St Nicholas, which is very old and has been used by countless saints and holy ones, would contain the accurate stories. We do know for sure that he was not a fat man who wore a red suit.


5. St Nicholas is know as the “Myrrh streaming”, because his relics have exuded sweet myrrh, and caused many healings. In our time, his relics abide in Bari, Italy.


6. St Nicholas is the most celebrated Saint other than the Apostles, the Most Holy Theotokos and John the Baptist. He is commemorated every week on Thursday (along with the Holy Apostles), when his troparion and kontakion are sung.


7. St Nicholas had the benefit of good parents. His parents, Theophannes and Nonna were very pious, and gave great alms because they were wealthy. One of his uncles was a bishop (also named Nicholas).


8. St Nicholas is known as a patron to the oppressed, especially prisoners. Also, travelers and sailors have traditionally had a great devotion to him.


9. St Nicholas, perhaps more than any other holy father, caused the defeat of Arius in the First Ecumenical Council (Nicea, 325 AD). He is remembered for slapping Arius, who was expounding his heresy at the council with great eloquence.


Nowadays, things are more defined, but at the time of the council, the Arian heresy was a real threat to the true Christian faith. Simply put, it posited that Jesus Christ was a creature, created by the Father, and having god-like qualities. Arius had many sympathizers, and excellent rhetoric was highly valued and influential in that day.


Holy Nicholas could not bear to see Arius spewing his poison, so he slapped him and rebuked him. For this, he was removed from the council. The next day, the bishops planned to depose him, however, at night,  some of the bishops had a vision where Nicholas was standing between the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was holding the Gospel, and The Theotokos, holding an omophorion. They proceeded to give these tokens of Episcopal rank to Nicholas. Due to this vision, Nicholas was restored to his rank with great honor, and Arius was put to shame. The moral to this story: Sometimes you can slap a heretic, but only if you are holy!


With what songs of hymnody shall we praise the holy hierarch, / the opponent of impiety and champion of piety, / the leader, great ally and teacher, / who putteth to shame all the infamous, / the destroyer of Arius and his minions? / For his sake hath Christ, Who hath great mercy, // cast down the arrogance of the enemy. (Vespers, Lord I have cried)


10. History has preserved nothing written by St Nicholas.


11. St Nicholas is asked to intercede for prisoners partly because he saved some military commanders who were unjustly condemned to death.


Let us all praise Nicholas, / the great archpastor, hierarch and prelate of Myra; / for he saved many men / who were unjustly condemned to be executed, / appearing to the emperor and to Ablavius in a dream, // annulling the unjust verdict. (Matins, Expostilarion)


[1] This document is a list of ten (or more) things about a particular topic. More “Ten Things” topics may be found at They are also posted to the blog “Redeeming the Time” – Look under the category “10things”. Use anything you wish, but please indicate authorship, with the URL.

St Nicholas feeds the Athonite Fathers during the Fascist Occupation

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

St Nicholas’ day is Friday this week. In order to celebrate our patron, we will try to post something about St Nicholas every day.


  • Vigil for St Nicholas: Thursday 6:30 PM
  •  Divine Liturgy and festal lunch (fish allowed) Friday 9 AM 

"What are you doing?" the unknown priest asked. "Is this all the wheat you have? No more?"

The fathers at the Athonite monastery replied that this was all they had indeed. It was December, and they were unable to buy any more because of the Fascist Occupation. It should be noted that 10,000 okas’ weight of wheat was needed a year for the monastery’s survival, and that they could not even buy one oka of it.

The unknown priest took a few wheat kernels in his hand, blessed them and threw them on top of the rest of the wheat. He blessed the four points of the horizon, the monastery, and the sea, and then was about to leave.

"Where do you come from?" the fathers asked him. "Stay to have some bread and olives."

"I come from very far away — from Myra in Lycia," he said and departed.

One of the brothers had in the meantime gone for some food to offer the visitor, but the elder, who turned out to be the monastery’s protector, had vanished. The remaining 150 okas of bles! sed wheat lasted for half a year, that is, from the month of December when St. Nicholas appeared to them, until the following July when the new crop came in.

From An Athonite Gerontikon

We magnify the holy Hierarch Nicholas

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

We magnify thee, / O holy hierarch Nicholas, / and we honor thy holy memory; // for thou dost entreat Christ God in our behalf.


St Nicholas’ day is Friday this week. In order to celebrate our patron, we will try to post something about St Nicholas every week.


  • Vigil for St Nicholas: Thursday 6:30 PM
  •  Divine Liturgy and festal lunch (fish allowed) Friday 9 AM 



 Truly, the church magnifies holy Nicholas because of our experience.

The hymn above, called the “Magnification” is sung at Matins shortly before the Gospel is read. All magnifications begin with “We magnify…” and follow with a very short hymn of praise. This is sung at all Feasts of the Lord (save Pascha, which has many special exceptions to our usual services), the Theotokos, and particuarly celebrated Saints.


The hymn is first sung by the priest and other serving clery before the icon in the center of the church, then the choir repeats it, with verses from the psalms being interspersed until the priest finishes censing the icon, altar and entire church, before returning in front of the icon in the center to sing the magnification one last time.


Usually the clergy sing the first and last time; in our church, since I have good (well, okay) and bad musical days, sometimes I gesture to the choir to sing the last time. The poor choir director never knows what I am going to do, and has to keep a lookout. There is always mystery in our services!


If you listen closely to the magnification, you will hear clear dogmatic truth expresssed, in this case, that because of St Nicholas being the “righteous man”, his “effectual fervent prayer accomplishes  much.[1]  


A underlying theme of all services extolling the saints is that their prayer for us accomplishes much. We ask for their intercession precisely because they are righteous, and they hear us. For instance:


The truth of things revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, / an icon of meekness and a teacher of temperance; / therefore thou hast achieved the heights by humility, / riches by poverty. / O Father and  Hierarch Nicholas, / intercede with Christ God, // that our souls be saved.   Troparian, Tone 4


Dwelling bodily in Myra, / thou wast truly shown to be myrrh, / having been anointed with noetic chrism, O holy Nicholas, / hierarch of Christ; / and thou dost perfume the faces / of those who with faith and love / ever celebrate thy most glorious memory, / freeing them from misfor­tunes, perils and sorrows // by thy prayers to God, O father. Service to St Nicholas, Lord I have cried, Stichera 1


O father Nicholas, the shrine of thy relics, / like a phial, enricheth Myra with myrrh. / And, appearing to the emperor in a vision during sleep, / therein thou didst free from death, fetters and prison / those unjustly held condemned. / And now, as then, do thou ever appear in vi­sions, // praying for our souls. Service to St Nicholas, Litia, Stichera 2


The latter hymn, above, illustrates in large part why we have so much confidence in praying to holy Nicholas. Our experience has shown us that he has appeared at various times in various places. Yesterday we posted about his appearing in Russia in the winter to save a man from a firing squad. He is not dead, but alive, as all the saints are[2], and just as God send angels to spiritually and physically help us, so too, are the saints sometimes His angels.


How do we know that Saint Nicholas has appeared and continues to appear in the world? Beause of the experience of the church. Some of this experience is recorded in our service texts.


It is a shame that even some who are educated, and in positions of authority cannot believe the simple truths expressed in our services. We can only understand the services if we worship in them and then do what is said in them. Christian truth can only be understood by experience, when this experience leads one to moral change. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.


O holy Nicholas, pure in heart and bold before the throne of God, interced for us that our hearts may become pure.



[1] The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  (James 5:16)


[2] I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (Mat 22:32  )




A Miracle Wrought By St. Nicholas In Kiev In The 1920s

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

St Nicholas’ day is Friday this week. In order to celebrate our patron, we will try to post something about St Nicholas every week.


Vigil for St Nicholas:

Thursday 6:30 PM Divine Liturgy and festal lunch (fish allowed) Friday 9 AM 


It was nearly half a century ago that I first heard of this miracle wrought by St. Nicholas. Never had I chanced to read anything about it in the writings of the Church. I would not want this case of the saintly bishop’s help to depart to my grave with me.

During the mid-1940s (I can’t recall the exact date), I had to spend the night in the city of Munchen [Munich] in West Germany. The city was in ruins after the war, and I would be forced to spend the night outside. Fortunately, there chanced to be a "Good Samaritan" church-house in the city, and I was provided with its address.

There were two of us in the room. Myself, and a man unknown to me, some 40-45 years of age. We introduced ourselves, each to the other. I do not remember either his name or his surname–and they probably would not have been "real," anyway. We had to sleep on wooden benches and chairs. So, in order to pass the night more quickly, we fell to talking. I can’t remember why, but my co-locutor, for some reason or other, asked me whether I was acquainted with the miracle of St. Nicholas that took place in Kiev in the 1920s. I did not know of it, and he related the following tale to me.

In Kiev, at Podol (the northern section of the city), there dwelt an elderly widow with her son and daughter. The old woman dearly loved St. Nicholas and, in all cases of difficulty, would go to his church to pray before the image [obraz] of the saintly bishop [sviatitel’], always receiving consolation and the easing of her misfortune. Her son, seemingly a student, became an officer.

The governments of the city changed frequently: Whites, Reds, a Hetman, a Directory, Poles, Germans, etc. All former officers were arrested on the spot, the old woman’s son among them. His sister rushed about from one "department" of the time to another. She ran her legs off, but achieved nothing. But the old woman ran off to St. Nicholas. Long did she pray before his ikon; then she returned home, consoled–the saintly bishop will help. She sat down to have a spot of tea, while her daughter’s hands simply fell to her sides. O, woe! her brother had vanished!

The son returned home at dawn of the following day. Famished, beaten, dirty, weary. According to him, a large group of officers under a strong convoy of guards was being led off to Pechersk. This is the hilly section of town, opposite from Podol, by the Kiev-Caves Lavra. There was a large hippodrome there, where horse races were held. Beyond it, there was a grove, and rampart-trenches which had been dug in Peter I’s day, as a defense against the Swedes. It was in that grove, by the rampart-trenches, that the shootings took place.

They had come up to the hippodrome when, suddenly, some little old man or other stepped out from around a corner. He approached the convoy-commandant and asked: "Where are you taking them?"

The commandant replied, rudely: "To Dukhonin’s H.Q.!" (which meant, in the jargon of the time, "to be shot"). "Go away, old man!" The old man left, but, in doing so, he took the old woman’s son by the hand and said: "Let him go. I know him."

Neither the commandant nor the escort-guards replied with even so much as a single word, nor did they hinder him. The little old man led the young fellow out around the corner and, saying, "Go on home to your mother," vanished away somewhere.

The old woman was overjoyed and immediately set off to thank St. Nicholas. The son wanted to do nothing more than to lie down and have a good, long sleep, but his mother took him along with her to the church. He had probably been there on previous occasions, but had been but little interested in anything.

The little old woman led him up to a huge image of the saintly bishop. The son turned ashen-pale and began to tremble. He could only whisper: "Mother, dear, but that’s the very same elder who led me to freedom…"

Wondrous is God in His Saints.

Many of the details of this tale were precise and animated. Who had my co-locutor been? Perhaps he had been speaking of himself? I don’t know…

— N. P. F.

California 1993

[Translated from the Russian text appearing in ~Pravoslavnaya Rus’~ ("Orthodox Rus’"), No. 13, 1997 by G. Spruksts, English-language translation copyright (c) 1997.]English-language translation copyright (c) 1997 by the St. Stefan Of Perm Guild, the Russian Cultural Heritage Society and the Translator. Used with permission.