Converse with an Orthodox Christian Hermit

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In Romania


The Silent Angel


Elder Dobri is the subject of a 2015 documentary, “The Silent Angel,” which features interviews with his family, relatives, and friends, and also with Bulgaria’s last King and former Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

An icon of charity, Dobri Dimitrov Dobrev,  was born on July 20, 1914 in the village of Bailovo. His father died in World War I and his mother raised the children. He married in 1940, when Bulgaria was participating in the Second World. A shell fell near him during one of the bombings in Sofia, depriving him of nearly all his hearing. He had four children with his wife, two of whom he outlived.

Over the years, the elder became more and more detached from the material aspects of life, devoting himself entirely to the spiritual life. Around the year 2000, he donated all of his belongings to the Orthodox Church and began living in a small and modest addition to the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in his native village. It is also about that time that he began to collect money towards the restoration of churches and monasteries throughout Bulgaria.

He came under the spotlight when it was revealed that for years he had walked more than 12.5 miles to reach Sofia from his home in the village of Bailovo to beg for money and then donate it for charity.

After spending years at the entrance of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, with a plastic cup in his hand, he collected about BGN 40,000 ($24,700 today) for the cathedral in Sofia, BGN 10,000 ($12,350 today) for the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Bailovo, and BGN 25,000 ($31,000 today) for the restoration of the Eleshnishki Monastery of the Mother of God located to the east of Sofia, and the local church of the Gorno Kamartsi village.

His spirit of utter selflessness and sacrifice earned him the popular title “The Saint of Bailovo.”

Yesterday, Elder Dobri Dobrev (Grandpa Dobri), reposed in the Lord. He was 103 years old. He reposed at the Monastery of St. George in Kremikovtsi, to the northeast of Sofia.


+ Dobri Dobrev — Memory Eternal


dobry dobrev


“We are sorry to report that Dobry Dobrev passed away at the age of 103

We regret to announce, at the age of 103, today the beloved of all grandpa good died.
Tomorrow the body of grandpa good will be exposed to a pilgrimage to the church of his native village of Bailovo. His funeral will be on Thursday.”

A Westerner Looks East for the Truth


Stanley ( Barnabas) Dickinson

+ Memory Eternal!

Kalo Paradeiso! Kali Synandisi! [Greek wishes on a funeral]
May you enter Paradise! May we meet again there!

October 10, 2017
Acts 11:22-24
22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

It is with gladdening sorrow that we have composed and dedicated this issue of the Stavronian to our beloved elder Barnabas, founder of the Parish of Holy and Life-Giving Cross and Normandy veteran. Our brother Barnabas peacefully fell asleep in the Lord at 21:40, October 10, three days before his 94th birthday. He was not alone when he passed into God’s keeping. Apart from the angels that attended his repose, members of the Parish, his spiritual family, were there as well as his own family were at his bedside. He was holding my hand when he breathed his last breath. He received Holy Unction the same morning. He even drew energy to make the sign of the cross. We asked him for a word from the Lord and he said “Love”! It was a holy repose with the faithful holding lighted candles. I thank God that he entrusted to me the unworthy priest this holy soul and brave soldier of Christ as an example of the Christian life. As a founder of the Orthodox Community of the Holy Cross he will remain forever inour prayers. May angels take him to his just reward in the Heavenly Kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ. May his memory be eternal. Christ is Risen!”

Fr. Jonathan
A Westerner Looks East for the Truth
By Barnabas Dickinson
“When God the Holy Spirit says ‘Dsomething, you jolly well do it, or else…’,but what? Our loving Saviour had some stern words about lukewarmness, about turning back, having put one’s hand to the plough. … During the years of strife in the Church of England over this matter, pressure groups formed on both sides of the divide, and I attended rallies of the opposition in the Blackburn diocese. …What happens next? What do we do? Where do we go? What is our place in the Church? Speeches and discussion led nowhere… People were bewildered, defeated, hurt. Then, for me, God the Holy Spirit took a hand. Right at the end, in the question and answer session, a priest I did not know [ie. Father Jonathan Hem-mings] said very simply, ‘If anyone is wondering where to go’, they should be aware that Orthodox Church services in English are becoming available’, or words to that effect. Option (7) had come out of the blue, completely unexpected, and when the rally broke up for a cup of tea, I approached him. …
… One Saturday in the Spring of 1995, Fr Jonathan took me to the railway station for my train back to Chorley. He said to me, ‘It’s decision time’. The Patriarch of Antioch, who had taken personal oversight of this English group in May 1995, and the Holy Synod, had decided to accept us into membership of the Orthodox Church. ‘Are you coming, or are you not?’ Father Jonathan said. I said that I would …Grass did not grow under our feet, and quite soon, on Wednesday of Bright Week I was received into the Church, along with half a dozen others, including Fr Jonathan, now a lay member of the Church, having resigned his Anglican priesthood after Easter Day; eastern and western coincided that year. Our baptism in the Church of England was accepted as valid, having been in the threefold Name, and we were chrismated at the hands of Father Alexey, with Holy Oil consecrated by the Patriarch. For the first time I received the true Body and Blood of our Saviour. Now, twenty six years later I would not be anywhere else.

Thanks be to God for bringing Fr Jonathan into my life, and for all things. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

Barnabas’ icons have been bequeathed to our parish. Barnabas’ legacy of icons by the hand of Dimitrios Hakim perfectly compliment the parish icons by the same artist.

To find out more about Barnabas, a most dear father to this poor little city hermit, please have a look at the November Stavronian which this month is dedicated to our beloved elder and co founder of the Church of the Holy Cross, Stanley ( Barnabas) Dickinson at


Memory Eternal!

November 4, 2009

+ Blessed Eusebios Vittis


Toward the last years of his life, I had the blessing to speak with him in private and pray together. Those piercing, blazing eyes! Elder Eusebios, the mystic, the poet, the Seer of God, as they called him! This Meeting burns still in my heart!  I have also met a number of his spiritual children and know firsthand how much he helped them in all their lives’ trials and tribulations, how Father-like he stood by their side! May we have his blessing!” (Little city hermit)

‘For they shall see God’


My offering

By Eusebios Vittis


My offering will be:

For all of Your sheep that do not know You and therefore do not communicate with You, I will communicate.

For all Your sheep, who cry for their transgressions and deviations, small and large, whether in knowledge or in ignorance, I will cry.

For all of Your sheep, who sink in the quicksand of sin, losing their purity, I will lament.

For all Your sheep, who sleep the blissful sleep of negligence and indifference, I will stay awake.

For all Your sheep, who blaspheme You and despise You, because they never truly knew You, I will hymn You and will give You glory.

For all Your sheep, held captive to whatever passion, on bended knee I will beg You to free them from their dreaful bonds.

For all Your sheep, who fall into the hands of wolves, with agony and desperation, I cry out to You:
Lord, Lord, Lord, save them! Resue them!

For all Your sheep, who find themselves in hopeless situations, in isolation, in inability to think and unable to find a saving escape from the labyrinth in which they find tehmselves, I will pray to You.

~Fr. Eusebios Vittis (+2009)

Translation M.T.


A Testimony

“I knew Father Eusebios during his time here in Sweden. I first met him in 1964 when he came to Uppsala to study at the university. He soon became involved in helping the Greek immigrants who came to this country in the 1960’s. He assisted his compratiots in many ways, both practically and spiritually.

The lack of Orthodox priests in this country at the time made him decide to become a priest. I took part in his ordination i Stockholm. He then travelled all around the country to serve the various emerging Greek communities.

The lack of understanding from the ruling hierarch at the time forced him to abandon his mission as a parish priest and after a short stay outside Sweden he returned to the country and led his life as a part-time janitor in a retreat house and diocese center belonging to the (Evangelical-Lutheran) Church of Sweden.

He bought an old house in the forest a few kilometers away from his work and turned on of the rooms there to a chapel.

In 1980 I made a radio programme with him. That was just before his departure to Greece and the Holy Mountain. Since then we have been in contact every now and then.

You will find information (in Greek and Swedish) about the Fellowship who preserve his old home here:”

By torsten kälvemark



He Had to Bury His Own Son



+DANIEL reposed on Sunday, June 11, 2017, while trying to swim across the Spree river near the Ebertbrücke, 10117 Berlin. He was on a college trip, studying abroad.



“Until the resurrection, son.” His father, Father Seraphim Holland

May God hear his prayer and send comfort!

This beautiful young man, Daniel Holland, died tragically at the age of 20. Listen here  to the words of love, life, and hope, offered by his father, Priest Seraphim Holland, at his funeral service,where he had to bury his own son. These 20 minutes could turn out to be life-changing for you.

At the funeral for Daniel: about his deep heart and how and why we pray for the dead, and how to properly keep his memory.…/funeral_2017+daniel-holland.mp3

How and why Orthodox pray for the dead
The deep heart

SYNOPSIS:Remarks at the funeral of Daniel Holland (+Sunday of All Saints, 2017), from his

father. His deep heart, and how and why we pray for the dead, and how we should

remember him. It is with actions, not words.


In memory of +Daniel, our son/brother/uncle/friend and for those in need





Auld Reekie Sailtír


“Holiness in the Bible” Study Weekend: Highlights (II)

Orthodox Fellowship of St John the Baptist

Orthodox Community of St Andrew the Apostle in Edinburgh



What follows is a small antidoron (*) for all the blessings I tasted in this retreat! I have already made up my mind that I will be going back to this parish on the regular! Thanks for having us St Andrew’s parish! 

Friday 20/1/2017

6pm arrival and registration, though I did not make it on time, as the weather was unexpectedly fair and bright, and Edinburgh sightseeing was irresistible. Famous for its medieval skyline and whisky trails, this is a city with plenty to see and do, even for a little hermit 🙂 I tried to take in as much as I could the colorful views from atop Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat, enjoyed a crisp seaside stroll along Portobello Beach, wandered the historic Royal Mile, and dashed to the parish, as I was late 🙂  Sighteseeing photos at the end of the post (*)


This delightful and diverse community is a Panorthodox haven, an icon of the catholicity and universality of Orthodoxy with many Greek, Cypriot, Romanian, Russian and Ukrainian immigrant families, as well as British converts and American expats. It has for its church a small but cozy house at 2 Meadow Lane. This is located right next to the Meadows, a lovely series of parks and fields roughly analogous to New York City’s Central Park. (Orthodox in the District)




Need exercise? Edinburgh is hillier than either Rome or San Francisco. Exploring the city even for half a day rehabilitated many long neglected muscles of mine!


Friday 20/1/2017 Cont.

6:30pm Vespers. One immediately senses what a warm, close-knot Orthodox community this is.

7:30pm  Archimandrite  Fr. Raphael Pavouris, , a wonderful Greek hieromonk who spent time on Mount Athos, offers a homily on Holiness in the Bible, followed by dinner and evening prayers.

Margaret: This evening at the study weekend, after Vespers for St Maximos:
Fr Raphael gave us a talk on Holiness in the Bible. The Bible is holy in itself and was inspired by the Holy Spirit, but is also a call to holiness through examples (Elisha giving himself fully to the call), visions of holiness (Isaiah 6) and reminders that we are being sanctified through that call. 
We then shared an Agape meal, both visitors for the weekend and local parishioners. A wonderful start to the Fellowship’s first study weekend in Scotland, at the Parish of St Andrew in Edinburgh.




Father Avraamy (Neyman), left, and Father Raphael (Pavouris), right. These exceptionally kind men are pillars of the Orthodox communities in Scotland.



Saturday 21/1/2017

Matins was chanted in Russian style by Fr. Luke Jeffrey and his KhouriyaI also met in the church Fr. Michael Harry and his Khouriya, all four of them ‘converts’ and most humble and compassionate.



Saturday Church Services with Presbyter Luke Jeffrey (Photo from Fr Luke’s Ordination)

Presbyter Luke  presbytera was very good with the chanting (Russian style) and Fr. Luke was most compassionate,  in encouraging us with his humility, kindness, meekness and gentleness to join him in the prayers. In a style quite unusual for a priest, Fr. Luke, during Matins, kept getting out of the altar to check on how we were doing. Were we dozing off ?  🙂 Were we distracted? Such kind eyes! Or were we paying attention to what was being chanted, pleading to God with fervour and joining our prayers to his to Heaven? For the Uncreated Church and for all mankind.  In truth, I have felt most grateful during these services , and ever since, for Christ’s compassion in instituting the Church and offering to us His priests for the Sacraments. And I realised too how much we must do to help all priests and pray for them. Indeed, Fotini is right. The Church is our Arc, “Κιβωτός”.


Coffee and Refreshments followed


Reminiscent of the early Christian house churches, the sanctuary itself comprised a large room in the front of the house, with dozens of icons covering the walls and a small iconostasis at the eastern end of the room. I will always remember the wonderful people I met while attending the divine services here. Deacon Luke and his very kind Khouriye, both converts to the faith, the English convert Stephen, a very kind student at the University, Mattheus, a Greek physical fitness instructor,  with his English wife and their two pious daughters chanting so beautifully at the kliros throughout the long services, Marian, a Romanian, always ready to offer coffee, tea, biscuits, and kindness and smiles, and so many of the other Romanian, Russian, British, Greek, you name them, parishioners, which have all made lasting impressions on me. One feels so immediately welcome here and wants to return! Such hospitality and love! St. Andrew’s is a pan-orthodox Church based in Edinburgh, a parish of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, which is in turn part of the Œcumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.




St. Andrew is an important Saint for both Constantinople, being its patron Saint, and Scotland, being again its patron with his cross the Saltire and her flag: sailtír, flagan tsailtír, bratach na hAlban.

St. Andrew’s have services and Liturgies daily (!), not only on Sundays, or on major feasts. I am not sure if there is any other parish at the UK like them, with the exception of course of Essex monastery. They worship primarily in English, but you will also hear Greek, Slavonic and Romanian. Their Father in Christ is Archimandrite John Maitland Moir (b. 18 June 1924-d. 17 April 2013), who founded the parish out of his home in George Square.


Father John’s life had elements of  the popularised, practical and unconventional Mere Christianity of C.S. Lewis, to  which he added layers of spirituality and asceticism .… In a world where genuine eccentricity or commitment is scarce, that Orthodox minister who put an eccentric spin on life, left a legacy of dedication. Memory Eternal!


Maitland Moir established the Chapel of St Andrew in Edinburgh, first in his  living room with some 20 worshippers. This flock grew and in 2003 he sold his  house to buy a former school building but this also became too small.

Funds to  expand further were insufficient. On his deathbed, Maitland Moir gave thanks to God that his dream was  fulfilled. An anonymous benefactor had come forward to complete the purchase of  a £350,000  building for the community.

Alongside a full weekly program of services of worship, St. Andrews parish is blessed with a large and lively multicultural community. Among other activities, you will find here an active student society, a charitable fellowship and community meals.  The three priests of the parish are also in charge of the Archdiocese’s parishes scattered across eastern Scotland, Aberdeen, Dundee,  St. Andrews, the Highlands and Bamburgh in England.

The parish began its life as a chaplaincy mainly for Polish servicemen during World War II, whilst the liturgical language used in the beginning was Slavonic. However, as the years passed, it is evident that the ethnic composition of the parish has become a less important factor, altering towards a presence of the universal Orthodox Church in Scotland. This is, thus, an exception to the rule within the Orthodox Cosmos where ethnic background is a key factor within a community, nevertheless the Orthodox Church in Scotland seems to have transcended the boundaries of national identity.     

Currently English is widely used within the services, on the other hand Greek and Slavonic are retained in order to unite different traditions within Orthodoxy, due to the fact that the community comprises of English, Scottish, Greeks, Russians, Serbians, Romanians and people from other countries. 

Archbishop Grigorios, in a letter towards the community, explains: “The Community in Edinburgh represents, and is an ‘Icon’ of, the life of the Orthodox Church in the Scottish capital. An encouraging characteristic of this life is that it is multi-lingual and multi-cultural, respecting and encouraging the traditions of Orthodox Christians from outside Scotland who have found themselves part of the Scottish Orthodox Community, which itself looks back to the Orthodox heritage, of this part of Britain, and embracing all those Orthodox Christians who seek its protection”.  (Londinoupolis)
About the Orthodox Fellowship of St John the Baptist: The Fellowship brings together members of the several Orthodox Church traditions in the British Isles and Ireland through prayer, discussion and mutual friendship, to deepen our commitment to, and understanding of, the Orthodox Christian Faith. The Fellowship arranges or sponsors a series of annual events, including a summer conference and a youth festival in the spring, and a study weekend in the winter. This year the Fellowship visited Scotland for the first time.
For Highlights I, go here
And here are the Edinburgh sightseeing photos promised at the beginning:


Cortosophe Hill


The Royal Mile


Edinburgh Castle, Scotland’s most famous landmark


Palace of Holyroodhouse and Holyrood Abbey, the Queen’s official Edinburgh residence and has frequently been at the center of Scottish history


Holyrood Park: Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags


St Giles Cathedral


Princes Street


Art City: The National Galleries of Scotland


Calton Hill and the Scottish National Monument



National Library of Scotland

edin90Greyfriars Church and Greyfriars Bobby

edin90City Art Centre




(*) last 9 by Zoella

Bless the Lord, my soul! What a retreat! How many blessings in store for us! God willing, I shall return here. If it were only Edinburgh, I would certainly not be the first one to fall in love with this city, but my heart was captivated by St. Andrews’ parish. Here is indeed something greater and rarer to find.

(*) Antidoron (from Greek, meaning “instead of the gifts”; in Arabic, qurban) is the remaining bread from a loaf of prosphora after the Lamb has been removed for the Holy Eucharist. In Byzantine practice, it is blessed during the megalynarion to the Theotokos immediately after the epiclesis in the Divine Liturgy and is given by the priest to the faithful after the service. Historically, it was distributed only to those who had not received ‘the Gifts’, Holy Communion so that they would receive a Blessing in place of Holy Communion but this practice has changed over time and all those present at the Divine Liturgy receive Antidoron as a blessing.