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St. Thekla and Many Others who Suffered in Persia


Commemorated on November 20

The Martyr Thekla suffered for Christ in Persia with St. Nerses and his disciple, Joseph; the bishops John, Saverius, Isaac and Hypatius; the martyrs Azades the Eunuch, Savonius, Thekla, Anna and many other men and women. They were executed in 343 during the persecution against Christians under Emperor Sapor II.

St. Thekla was one of many men and women who underwent torture, suffering and death for Christ.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (

Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple


Celebrated on November 21

According to Holy Tradition, the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple took place in the following manner. Her parents, Sts. Joachim and Anna, praying for an end to their childlessness, vowed that if a child were born to them, they would dedicate it to the service of God. When the Most Holy Virgin reached the age of three, her parents decided to fulfill their vow. They invited their relatives and acquaintances, and dressed the All-Pure Virgin in Her finest clothes. Singing sacred songs and with lighted candles in their hands, virgins escorted Her to the Temple. There the High Priest met the handmaiden of God. In the Temple, fifteen high steps led to the sanctuary, which only the High Priest could enter. (Because a Psalm was recited on each step, Psalms 119/120-133/134 are called “Psalms of Ascent.”) It seemed that the child could not make it up this stairway. But just as She was placed on the first step, strengthened by the power of God, She quickly went up the remaining steps and ascended to the highest one. The High Priest led the Most Holy Virgin into the Holy of Holies, where only the High Priest entered once a year to offer a purifying sacrifice of blood. All those in the Temple were astonished at this most unusual event. After entrusting their child to the Heavenly Father, Joachim and Anna returned home. The All-Holy Virgin remained in the rooms set aside for virgins located near the Temple.

St. Apphia, the wife of Philemon, and Equal of the Apostles


Commemorated on November 22 (also on February 19)

The Holy Apostles of the Seventy Philemon and his wife Apphia lived in the city of Colossa in Phrygia. After they were baptized by St. Paul, they converted their home into a house of prayer, where all those who believed in Christ gathered and attended services. They devoted themselves to serving the sick and downcast.

St. Philemon became bishop of the city of Gaza and preached the Word of God throughout Phrygia. St. Paul continued to be his guide, and addressed to him his Epistle filled with love, and in which he sends blessings “to Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow laborer, and to our beloved Apphia, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in thy house” (Phil 1:1-3).

Sts. Philemon and Apphia received the crown of martyrdom during the persecutions by Emperor Nero (54-68). During a pagan festival, an enraged crowd rushed into a Christian church while services were taking place. All fled in terror, with only Philemon, Archippus and Apphia remaining. They were seized and led off to the city prefect. The crowd beat and stabbed St. Archippus with knives, and he died on the way to court. Sts. Philemon and Apphia were stoned to death by order of the prefect.

The memory of the holy Apostles Archippus, Philemon, and Apphia is also celebrated on February 19.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (

St. Cecilia at Rome


Commemorated on November 22

St. Cecilia was born in Rome of wealthy and illustrious parents. From her youth, she was raised in the Christian Faith. She prayed fervently and helped those in need.

Though she had vowed to preserve her virginity for Christ, her parents decided to give her in marriage to the noble pagan Valerian. Cecilia did not oppose her parents, but tearfully prayed to God that her betrothed would believe in Christ, and that He would send an angel to preserve her virginity.

On the night of their marriage, Cecilia told her husband that an angel stood by to guard her. She warned him that he would be slain if he touched her. Valerian asked to see this angel, but his bride told him that he could not see the angel until he had been cleansed of his unbelief. He asked, “How may I be cleansed?” She said that if Valerian asked Bishop Urban for Baptism, he would be able to see the angel. Cecilia persuaded her fiancé to go with her to Bishop Urban, who was hiding in a cave because of the persecution of Christians. The instructions of the wise bishop permeated the soul of Valerian, and both he and his brother Tiburtius were converted to Christianity. The brothers distributed a portion of their inheritance to the poor, cared for the sick, and buried Christians that had been tortured to death.

St. Katherine of Alexandria


Commemorated on November 24

The Holy Great Martyr Katherine was the daughter of Constus, the governor of Alexandrian Egypt during the reign of Emperor Maximian (305-313). Living in the capital and possessing a rare beauty and intellect, Katherine received an excellent education, studying the works of the greatest philosophers and teachers of antiquity. Young men from across the empire sought her hand, but she was not interested in any of them. She told her parents that she would enter into marriage only with someone who surpassed her in nobility, wealth, and wisdom.

Katherine’s mother, who was secretly a Christian, sent her daughter to her own spiritual Father, a saintly Elder living in a cave outside the city, for advice. After listening to Katherine, the Elder said that he knew of a Youth who surpassed her in everything. “His countenance is more radiant than the shining of the sun, and all of creation is governed by His wisdom. His riches are given to all the nations of the world, yet they never diminish. His compassion is unequaled.” This description of the Heavenly Bridegroom produced in Katherine’s soul an ardent desire to see Him. “If you do as I tell you,” said the Elder, “you will gaze upon the countenance of this illustrious man.” In parting, the Elder handed Katherine an icon of the Theotokos with the divine Child Jesus on Her arm and told her to pray with faith to the Queen of Heaven, the Mother of the Heavenly Bridegroom, and She would hear Katherine and grant her heart’s desire.

St. Mastridia of Alexandria


Commemorated on November 24

The Nun Mastridia lived in Alexandria. She made a vow of virginity and dwelt in unceasing prayer, keeping the fasts and keeping silence. The pure life of the holy virgin was beset by trials. A certain young man, attracted to her with impure desire, began to pursue her so that she could not even leave her home to go to church.

Grieving because she had unwillingly led the youth into temptation, and being zealous for his salvation, the saint invited him into her home. She asked what it was about her that made him bother her so much. He replied, “Your beautiful eyes!” Hearing this, she gouged them out with a needle she used for sewing. Thus, she saved herself and the youth from temptation. He then repented and became a monk, living as a strict ascetic. St. Mastridia finished her life in works for the Lord.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (

Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign (the Abalaka)


Commemorated on November 27 (also on July 20)

The Abalaka Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Sign” was written by Matthew, a protodeacon of the Tobolsk Cathedral, in honor of Sophia (the Wisdom of God), in fulfillment of a vow by a paralytic peasant Euthymius to rebuild the church at the Abalaka Monastery of the Mother of God “of the Sign.” This church was built in 1637 after the Mother of God, accompanied by St. Nicholas and St. Mary of Egypt, appeared to the pious widow Maria. After the temple’s Icon “of the Sign” was written, the paralytic Euthymius was completely healed. Many healings took place during the solemn transfer of the icon to the Abalaka church.

In general appearance, the Abalaka Icon resembles the Novgorod Icon of the Sign, but with this distinction: on the Abalaka Icon, St. Nicholas and St. Mary of Egypt stand before the Most Holy Theotokos. St. Basil is also depicted. Many wonderworking copies of the Abalaka Icon are venerated throughout Siberia.

The Abalaka Icon “Of the Sign” is also commemorated on July 20.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (

Icon not identical to actual original

Icon of the Mother of God "Kursk Root"


Commemorated on November 27 (also on September 8)

The Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Sign” is one of the most ancient icons of the Russian Church. In the thirteenth century during the Tatar invasion, when all of Russia suffered, the city of Kursk, ravaged by the Horde of Batu, fell into desolation.

One day, on the outskirts of the city, a hunter noticed the ancient icon, lying on a root, facing downwards towards the ground. The hunter lifted it up and saw that the image of the icon was similar to the Novgorod “Znamenie” Icon. As the hunter lifted the holy icon from the earth, a spring of pure water gushed up from where the icon had lain. This occurred on September 8, 1259. The hunter decided not to leave the icon in the forest and instead found it a resting place in a small chapel. Soon inhabitants of the town of Ryl’a heard about this, and living not far away, began to visit the place of the appearance for venerating the new holy image.

The people eventually transferred the icon to the town of Ryl’a and put it in a new church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. However, the icon did not remain there for long. It disappeared and returned to its former place of appearance in the forest. The people of Ryl’a repeatedly retrieved the icon, carrying it back to the city, but the icon continued to return to its former place. Everyone then realized that the Theotokos preferred the place of the appearance of Her Icon.

Icon of the Mother of God "the Joyful"


Commemorated on November 7

The “Joyful” (Vzigranie) Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos appeared near Moscow on November 7, 1795. Nothing is known of the history of the icon, except that many miracles have taken place before it.

Icons of this name are found in the Novodevichy Monastery in Moscow, and in the Vatopedi Monastery on Mt. Athos. In appearance, the “Joyful” Icon resembles the “Pelagonitissa” Icon, a variant of the Glykophylousa (“Sweet-Kissing”) or Eleousa type.

The Icon is sometimes called “Child Leaping for Joy.”

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (

Icon of the Mother of God "Quick to Hear"

Commemorated on November 9

The Icon of the Mother of God, “Quick to Hear,” is an ancient wonderworking icon, and is located on Holy Mt. Athos at the Docheiariou Monastery. The monastery’s tradition suggests that the icon was written during the tenth century, in the time of St. Neophytus. In 1664, the cook, Nilus, came into the kitchen at night with a burning torch. He heard a voice from the Icon of the Mother of God which hung over the door, warning him in the future not to walk with a torch and not to darken the icon with soot. The monk thought that it was a prank by one of his monastic brothers, so he disregarded the warning and continued to walk into the kitchen with the sooty torch.

Suddenly he fell blind. With fervent repentance, Nilus prayed before the Icon of the Mother of God, begging forgiveness. When the brethren heard what had happened, they placed a lamp before the icon, and censed it each night. Again, Nilus heard the wondrous voice saying that he had been forgiven, and that his sight would return. The All-Pure One commanded him to announce to all his brothers that She was the protector and guardian of the monastery. ”Let them and all Orthodox Christians come to Me in their necessities, and I shall not forsake them. All their petitions will be granted by My Son, because of My intercession with Him. My icon shall be called ‘She who is Quick to Hear,’ for I shall speedily fulfill the petitions of those who hasten to it.” The Most Holy Theotokos then fulfilled and continues to fulfill Her promise of quick help and consolation for all those who come to Her with faith.

Icon of the Mother of God "Seraphim-Ponetaevka"


Commemorated on November 27

The Seraphim-Ponetaevka Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” was written in the year 1879 by the nuns of the Seraphim-Ponetaevka women’s monastery, not far from Arzamas. The monastery was named after St. Seraphim of Sarov by the founder of the monastery, a sister of the Diveyevo community.

Six years after it was written, the icon became known for its numerous miracles and became the chief holy item of the monastery. When the sisters were praying during the services, they noticed distinct changes in the countenance of the Mother of God. Her All-Pure face became bright and life-like. Numerous pilgrims thronged to the icon, and many were healed from blindness and crippling diseases. In all, about seventy instances of healing were noted.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (

Icon courtesy of Russian Orthodox Calendars (

Icon of the Mother of God "The Joy of All Who Sorrow"


Commemorated on October 24 (also on July 23 and November 19)

On October 24, the Church commemorates the Icon of the Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow. A woman named Euphymia (sister of Patriarch Joachim) received healing from sickness after obeying a voice telling her to find this icon and have the priest celebrate a Molieben with a blessing of the waters. This miracle occurred on October 24, 1688.

On July 23, the Church commemorates the Icon of the Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow of St. Petersburg, Russia. This icon was glorified in 1888 when the chapel where it was located was struck by lightning. Miraculously, the icon survived despite all else being burned, and twelve coins from the poor box became attached to the icon.

The design of this icon depicts the Theotokos, a most beautiful blossom of heaven, standing among the flowers of paradise. Her Son is visible above her in the clouds, the King of heaven and earth. Along both sides of the icon, framing the Mother of God, are suppliants asking for her intercession. She stands with her arms spread open and her head tilted as if listening. The tenderness and kindness of a loving mother are evident in her face. She stands in paradise and yet among us.

By permission of Orthodox Wiki (

Commemoration of the Weeping Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign" at Novgorod


Commemorated on November 27

The Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Sign” depicts the Most Holy Theotokos with prayerfully uplifted hands, and the Divine Infant at Her bosom in a mandorla (or sphere). This depiction of the Mother of God is regarded as one of the very first of Her iconographic images. In the mausoleum of St. Agnes at Rome is a depiction of the Mother of God with hands raised in prayer with the Infant Christ sitting on Her knee, which is ascribed to the fourth century. There is also an ancient Byzantine icon of the Mother of God “Nikopea” from the sixth century, where the Most Holy Theotokos is seated upon a throne and holding in Her hands an oval shield with the image of the Savior Emmanuel.

Icons of the Mother of God, known as “The Sign,” appeared in Russia during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and were so called because of a miraculous sign from the Novgorod Icon in the year 1170. In that year, the allied forces of Russian princes marched to the very walls of Novgorod. For the people of Novgorod, their only remaining hope was that God would help them. Day and night they prayed, beseeching the Lord not to forsake them. On the third night, Bishop Elias of Novgorod heard a wondrous voice commanding that the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos be taken out of the Church of the Savior’s Transfiguration on Ilina Street, and carried along the city’s walls.

Icon of the Mother of God "the Merciful"


Commemorated on November 12

According to Tradition, this icon was written by the holy Evangelist Luke. It received its name “Kykkiotisa” from Mt. Kykkos, on the island of Cyprus. Here it was placed in an imperial monastery (so designated because it was built with donations from the Emperor) in a church named for it. Before coming to the island of Cyprus, the wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God traveled throughout the region by the will of God. At first, it was in one of the earliest Christian communities in Egypt, and then it was taken to Constantinople in 980, where it remained during the time of Emperor Alexius Comnenos (end of the eleventh to early twelfth century).

During these years, it was revealed to the Elder Isaiah through a miraculous sign that by his efforts the wonderworking image written by St. Luke would be transferred to Cyprus. The Elder exerted a great deal of effort in order to fulfill this divine revelation.

When the Icon of the Mother of God arrived at Cyprus, many miracles were performed. Elder Isaiah was instrumental in building a church dedicated to the Theotokos, and placed the Icon in it. From ancient times up to the present day, those suffering from any kind of illness flock to the Monastery of the Mother of God the Merciful and receive healing according to their faith. Orthodox are not the only ones who believe in the miraculous power of the holy icon, but those of other faiths also pray before it in misfortune and illness.

Icon of the Mother of God of Tsarskoe Selo


Commemorated on November 27

The Tsarskoe Selo Sign Icon of the Mother of God, an ancient wonderworking icon, was brought as a gift to Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich by one of the Eastern Patriarchs, supposedly St. Athanasius of Constantinople. Tsar Peter I transferred the icon, together with other sacred items from Moscow, to his new capital city that he named St. Petersburg.

In 1747, a church was built for the icon at Tsarskoe Selo (the “Tsar’s Village”), which was approximately 30 miles from Peter’s capital. Moliebens were served before it during times of national catastrophe, for example, during a plague in 1771, cholera in 1831, and before the onset of World War I in 1914. Prayers before the Tsarskoe Selo Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “of the Sign” were also offered entreating the Mother of God’s help during fires and shipwrecks. It was the favorite icon of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia.

On the icon, Cherubim shade the head of the Mother of God. More recent copies of the icon depict the Apostle Peter, Sts. Zachariah, Alexis the Man of God, and Righteous Elizabeth.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (

Icon shown is not identical to that described. (

Seven Women Martyrs along with St. Irenarchus at Sebaste


Commemorated on November 28

These seven women martyrs suffered for Christ at Sebaste during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305). A witness was St. Irenarchus who saw them bravely endure torture. He marveled at this because the women showed great courage in standing up to the tyrant.

Illumined by divine grace, St. Irenarchus confessed Christ. First he endured trials by fire and water, then he was beheaded along with the seven holy women in 303.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (

St. Anna


Commemorated on November 28

St. Anna was a noblewoman who sold all her possessions and gave the money to the poor. She received the monastic tonsure from St. Stephen the New while he was living on Mt. Auxentius in Bithynia. He sent her to live in the women’s monastery called Trichinarion (“Community of Hairshirt-Wearers”).

The iconoclasts tried to stop St. Stephen from venerating the holy icons with flattery, bribery, and threats, but all their efforts were in vain. They then accused him of visiting the Trichinarion Monastery at night and falling into sin with the nun Anna. Although her own maidservant testified against her (she was promised her freedom and marriage to a nobleman if she did), St. Anna denied any guilt.

The emperor’s soldiers came to the monastery and seized St. Anna and brought her before him, but she refused to lie about St. Stephen. Emperor Constantine threw her into a dungeon in Constantinople. The next morning the emperor, before an assembled crowd, had St. Anna brought before him. Since she insisted that both she and St. Stephen were innocent, the emperor had her stripped naked in the sight of all. During her interrogation, she remained silent. Meanwhile, her maidservant falsely swore that St. Stephen had sinned with St. Anna.

Angered by her refusal to speak, the emperor had St Anna stretched out on the ground, where soldiers beat her with rods. During this torment, she said, “I have never sinned with Stephen. Lord, have mercy.” The soldiers continued to beat her until she was almost dead.

Memory Eternal! Archbishop Vsevolod of Skopelos

bishopYour prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of ARCHBISHOP VSEVELOD of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA who fell asleep in Christ Sunday, December 16, at the age of 80.  Please join us in praying the repose of soul of Archbishop Vsevolod, saying, "Lord Jesus Christ, grant rest to the soul of Thy departed servant."

May his memory be eternal.

Ancient Faith Radio Founders Give Yearend Update

afrlogo Christ is in our midst!

We warmly greet you during this wonderful Nativity season. We give thanks to God for the incomparable gift of His Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  We also give thanks to God for each of you and your interest and support of this internet media ministry.

What an incredible year this has been for Ancient Faith Radio!

In addition to our 24 hour a day on line radio station, we have added 17 new podcasts in the past 12 months and even more are on the way! We completed our merger with Conciliar Press forming the new Conciliar Media Ministries including Ancient Faith Radio, Conciliar Press, AGAIN Magazine and the Handmaiden Magazine.  We brought you next day coverage of the historic Antiochian Convention from Montreal. We recorded and made available for download both the Anglican and the Lutheran Faith of Our Fathers colloquiums on Orthodoxy from Detroit in addition to the Missions and Evangelism  conference from Antiochian Village, the St. Moses the Black African American conference from Chicago and the OCL 20th anniversary symposium from Chicago.

Our on going commitment to you as we finish 2007 and look forward to 2008 is to bring you the best in Orthodox music, teaching and commentary in formats that are both readily accessible and high in quality.  We also intend to do this without expensive and unnecessary overhead thus keeping our costs down, our quality high and the financial burden to sustain this ministry low. Our projected budget for 2008 is very achievable if every listener and parish would give just a small amount each month.

Become an IOCC Parish Representative

Parish Representatives play a vital role in generating support for International Orthodox Christian Charities in just a few hours per month. You can help by

  • Displaying IOCC Materials in fellowship hall
  • Inserting IOCC ads in church bulletin
  • Staying current on IOCC news and be available to answer questions
  • Showing IOCC’s annual DVD on a Saturday night or Sunday at coffee hour
  • Keeping priests informed of IOCC related news and campaigns.

IOCC provides all the materials you need. For more information, contact Vasi Jankovich, at or 1-877-803-IOCC (4622).

IOCC Builds a Future for the Middle East


(left) Through more than $4 million in grants by USAID, IOCC has built and repaired public schools and community centers throughout the West Bank. Saed Mustafa/IOCC Jerusalem. (right) IOCC's latest initiative in the West Bank will equip families cut off from their farmlands to provide themselves with 25% of their food needs. Photo credit: George Malki/IOCC Jerusalem



Jerusalem, West Bank — “The okra, tomatoes, and cauliflower are ripe and ready for market. There is talk of getting a different breed of goats to produce better quality milk, and the possibility of teaching the village women’s cooperative how to weave wool into Scottish-style pullovers.” Nora Kort, Head of Office for International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC)’s operations in Jerusalem and the West Bank, speaks of the latest initiative to bring food security, new skills and cooperation among West Bank families. In this venture, funded by the European Community Humanitarian aid Office (ECHO) through IOCC Greece, over 300 families in five villages of the isolated Qalqilia region of the West Bank, who have lost access to their farmlands and sources of water due to the Security Barrier, are being trained by IOCC to cultivate house gardens and to breed their own livestock. The program’s aim is for families to be able to supply themselves with 25% of their own food needs.

The Feast of the Nativity According to the Flesh of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ

image All of us at the Antiochian Archdiocese pray that your journey through the holy Advent Fast towards the Great Feast of Nativity is abundantly blessed. Following are just a few of the many articles and resources for this season available at

What shall I offer you on your birthday in return for your infinite love?

I have neither gold nor silver, neither myrrh nor frankincense.

My house is without a roof.  I have no room for you; not even a manger.

My soul is even darker than the clouds of my passion.

My eyes are too dim to look beyond the horizon of myself.

Help me behold your bright star; "For in thy light we shall see light."

+ From "A Christmas Meditation," by Metropolitan PHILIP


Conciliar Media Ministries is offering a wide selection of wonderful Orthodox Christmas items on their online Christmas store.

A selection of Nativity icons can be found here.

Click here for an animated teaching of the meaning of the symbolism of the traditional Nativity icon. (Internet Explorer only.)

This Nativity homily by St. John Chrysostom is essential reading for the season.

A Theophany Within

Fr. George Morelli


Do you ever ask: "If Jesus is who He says He is, why don't I see Him more clearly?" St Thomas had the same doubts when his brother disciples told him that Jesus had resurrected. Jesus heard his plea and answered it: "Then He (Jesus) said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing ... Thomas answered him, 'My Lord and my God!'" (John 20 27-28).

Yet if Thomas got such a visible sign, why does it seem we are left in the dark? Could it be that we don't know how to listen? Look at communication in today's world for example. So much of the media is overpowering. It ranges from the lyrics of rap music to the pulsating beat of rock and roll, to commercials played everywhere it seems, even to Muzak in bathrooms and television in fast food shops -- all of it is calculated to appeal to the senses. Some Christian churches even lace their services with splashy music and Las Vegas style light shows. What does any of this have to do with God?

We have all this noise and distraction because the world wants to hold us captive, and the path to our incarceration is through the senses. The human body can be captivated by the senses. Sounds, smells, tastes, and what our eyes behold can become an intoxicating delight. And when it wears off, it takes more sounds, stronger smells and tastes, and greater visual stimulation to renew the intoxication.

But whose work is this: God's or the evil one?

OCN's Web TV Christmas Special Available Online

imageOrthodox Christian Network (OCN), SCOBA's media ministry, has produced their first live Web TV Christmas Special. You can watch an archived version of "Affirming our Faith and Proclaiming Orthodoxy to the World" by visiting OCN online at

Fr. Chris and Emmy hosted this ground-breaking live broadcast, which featured special call-in guests like Archbishop Nicolae, Fr. Peter Jon Gillquist, Fr. Stanley Harakas, Frederica Mathewes-Green and many others. We shared Christmas stories, exchanged greetings and spoke with callers and special guests from around the world about the true reason for this holiday season: the Nativity of our Lord.

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