Archangel Michael Monastery in Pella

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The monastery of Archangel Michael is a precious and invaluable adornment of the whole region.

Its rich and long history, its national and religious offer, its imposing bearing and the frescoes of the interior of the temple, distinguished by the unique sweetness in the faces, as well as realism in its movement, its revival and its upward course tends to highlight it in one of the largest pilgrimages of Northern Greece, as its surrounded by rich flora and fauna.

Tradition wants the Monastery to be built on an ancient sanctuary dedicated to the Artemis hunting goddess due to the rich flora and fauna of the area.

Today it is proved, by documents that are saved in the Holy Monastery of the Greatest Lavra of Mount Athos, and by elements of the previous century, that it was dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. From various documents, such as the “Chrysoboulos Logos” of Alexios Komnenos, published in 1082, it seems to have existed since the 11th century as a glebe land of the Greatest Lavra of Athos.

Regardless of the above, it remains a fact, that one and a half centuries after the restoration of the Monastery, it is dedicated and has its protector and guide Archangel Michael. In fact, in 1858, the monastery was rebuilt with a charter of the Sultan, and was renamed this way, because the monastery was burned on September 6th, the day of the Miracle of Archangel Michael at Chonae, and as a sign of gratitude by many residents of the area, who survived harmless on the day of destruction by certain death. In 3/1182, the monastery of Greatest Lavra, founded a glebe in the form of a regular monastery in the village of Hostiani (today’s Archangelo).

The monastery of Ossiani until the 18th century has a lively presence in the area, to the point where it founded a subsidiary monastery at the foothills of Voras outside the village of Promachi. The monastery is Saint’s Hilarion, Bishop of Moglenoi. The monastery was besieged by the Turks in the 18th century. The Turks decimated the monks and burnt the monastery, while a one of them escaped alone, and gory beetled along to the Great Monastery.

The danger to the monastery was great. At the same time, the inhabitants of the current village of Notia adopted the religion of Muslim. At that time, took also place the tragic incident of the burning of the Monastery, by the neophyte Muslims, who also destroyed the surrounding building facilities. The homesteads, the fields and the forests, were destroyed and the pastures were granted to new owners, and the neighbors and the animals of the Monastery were dispersed.

Desolation lasts more than half a century, but already in 1858, with the permission of the sultan, the burnt monastery is reconstructed, and Valis of the Vitolioi returned the land that had been appropriated. From now on, an economic robustness began and the monastery provided dynamic assistance to the region’s poor. The monks undertook initiatives in the fields of education, moral support and national orientation of Karatzova.

The 19th century is one of the cruel times of Turkish slavery. Nevertheless, the Monastery of Archangel Michael is a robust presence in the northern Almopia. Inside this hive of the monks and ordinary people, the cells were transformed into hidden school rooms. The children were taught the ancestral wisdom and the ancient Greek letters. So, returning to their place, they became priests or teachers.

In the high mountains of Jena and Koziaka, a generation of young patriots was manned. The same period of time, was surrounded by violence and terror, and the propaganda of Bulgarians and Romanians contributed to this. In the Macedonian struggle the Holy Monastery was the center of Hellenism and the stronghold of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

As for its national offer, many brave chieftains were dressed as monks, led by Archangel Michael, to encourage and guide the Macedonian men and the frightened inhabitants of the region. A typical example, is the brave chieftain Captain Matapas who, with the nickname Papa Christos and based in the Monastery of the Archangel, organized rebelliously the region of Aridaia and Goumenissa of Kilkis.

Other brave chieftains used the Monastery as a base and hideout, such as George Kakoulidis, Nicholas Vlachos and Emmanuel Skountris, who won victories against the Bulgarians at Promachoi.

For some decades the monastery was a chapel of the parish of the village of Archangelos. Today the Monastery operates with a cenobitic rite. The rhythm of the temple is a three-aisled basilica and its walls are one meter thick. The katholikon of the temple is painted by frescoes of folk painters from Krousouvo.

Indeed, the most famous frescoes are scenes from the martyrdom of Saint Chrisi and the hagiography of Saint Hilarion, Bishop of Moglenoi, which is unique throughout Greece. Finally, the miraculous icon of Archangel Michael is preserved.

The monastery

The surrounding hills

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Quick, While There’s Still Time!

 

I too meant to share with you but I am having problems with my laptop 😦 I tried to yesterday but was not able to … It is such a beautiful documentary! Even if someone is not so interested in the life of Elder Joseph the Hesychast, the scenery is breathtaking, the monastery “sightseeing tours”amazing,  and Jonathan Jackson’s acting is so good!

Update Saturday, 23 May: Actucally, there is time. You can watch the whole documentary on the great 20th-century Athonite spiritual father “Saint Joseph the Hesychast: ELDER JOSEPH THE HESYCHAST FILM (Άγιος Ιωσήφ ο Ησυχαστής)” , starring the Emmy-award winning Jonathan Jackson.

here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCZT8KvCsjU&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR2HqjqLGcpfIL4jlPzhEQsngfJT19nN8z7pPPS-ekcGDB1YPAxgP7RC9rc

 

or, here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ep9H5fM7d8c

lessons from a monastery

Christ is risen!

For a few more hours you can watch the full documentary of the life of Elder (Saint) Joseph the Hesychast for free!

I meant to include this link in my earlier post as a “treat” to share with you on my name’s day and completely forgot. Forgive me!

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The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 32

the way we were

Identification 

Christ is Risen!

Our identity is significant, knowing who we are and to whom we belong is important. A royal visitor came to the school where I taught some years ago. One of the retinue seeing a decorative Pectoral Cross I was wearing asked:

 “Are these jewels real?” 

“No” I replied “I believe they are paste, but the faith is real!”

When I passed through an airport security check more recently wearing my cross I was just about to remove it when the security officer said “you can leave it on, that is your identity!”

The Cross worn around the neck is not an ornament or jewelry for Christians but is the Sign of their identity and signifies to Whom they belong.

Identification

John 17:22-24 

22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

The sighs of present, future, past

On holy limbs were laid

What price redeemed the groaning earth

In flowing crimson paid?

We greet our smaller Golgothas

Christ’s scenes become our own

Sprinkled by dry orient dust

From Zion’s fortress blown.

Each insult that Our Lord received

The Suffering He endured

Transfers to us in Union;

By His pure Body cured.

We live His life, we share His death

By Perfection we’re appraised

By mercy saved, by grace forgiven

By Holy power we’re raised.

“I in them, and You in me”

From Jordan to the Tree

We travel, grow in faith and find

Our true Identity.

identity

Suffering is an indication of another Kingdom which we look to. If being Christian meant being “happy” in this life, we wouldn’t need the Kingdom of Heaven.

—Blessed Seraphim Rose
 
My prayers
Eν Χριστώ
*Photographs by Pedro Quintela‎ and Bahram Pourshahbazi

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 22

orthodox pilgrims climbing

Hristos a înviat!

 

From my little chapel in my front room, I never serve the Divine services in slippers! Somehow, although this would be more appropriate and comfortable, it seems rather casual and disrespectful; so I always put on my clean shoes as I would as in Church! I’m sure no one would notice my feet under my cassock, but I know, and I know that all things should be done in order as the Apostle Paul reminds us.( 1 Corinthians 14:40) To dress correctly befitting the task is something that we should not easily dismiss. It was good to see some of the gentlemen wearing ties at Pascha!!

I remember mountain walking in Transylvania with my spiritual brother and some students some years ago- a variety of inappropriate footwear seemed the fashion- trainers, sandals and even grandfather’s old brown brogues, but no walking boots! Needless to say there were some very sore feet at the end of each day.

 

  St Columba and the shoes of Turf. ( part I of 2)

In the early Church in these islands with few writing materials, the Gospel was often conveyed by singing bards. A message came to St. Columba (who was also a singing bard) that the leading Bishop in Ireland had outlawed this practice and that” he was not to set foot on the Island of Ireland!” St Columba remembering how many had been converted on earlier missions by singing the Gospel stories decided to go back to Ireland but in order not to contravene the Bishop’s instructions he cut and took two turfs of soil from Iona with him on the boat. On reaching Ireland he tied these two turfs to his feet!

Mountain Walking in Transylvania

Summer 2003

Matthew 7:14: “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way

which leads to life ,and there are few who find it.

The climb was hard following the track

It tired the legs and wrenched the back;

Clearer and lighter was the air

Greater and slower was the care.

In which we made our way.

The thin line of friends began to spread,

Like a spider’s hoary thread

On the mountain climb together

Stretched in love for one another.

As we walked the way

Stopping often to refresh and rest,

To view the scene, to pray, to jest,

To share a thought, to catch a sigh

To marvel at the birds on high.

As we walked His Way.

Our destination now in sight,

We summon up our little might,

To reach the summit and the goal

With all our heart, mind, strength and soul.

With Him who is the Way.

 

What toil we must endure, what fatigue, while we are attempting to
climb hills and the summits of mountains! What, that we may ascend
to heaven! If you consider the promised reward, what you endure is
less. Immortality is given to the one who perseveres; everlasting
life is offered; the Lord promises His Kingdom.

St. Cyprian 

 
 Eν Χριστώ

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustynnik — 20

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Christ is Risen!

The Light shines in the darkness

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Some of the Epitaphios flowers are still fresh. Holy Water revives them.

 

Our enforced lock-down gives one the opportunity to call others, to send texts and forward emails. It is always lovely to hear from people, especially the ones you haven’t heard from in a long while. Amidst the sad statistics, it is good to hear pieces of good news which bring hope and encouragement as well as to share one another’s burdens. Perhaps God has given us this time to teach us patience and attentiveness; to listen more to His Word and to the words of others, to hear what the other is saying without the busyness of distraction. We should always take care of course what we hear and discern that which is good from that which is evil. The Welsh have a saying, “Gossip, is the devil’s mailbag!”

Messages lie at the very heart of the “good news” of the Gospel. We repeat in this season of Paschal Joy “Christ is Risen!” It has become a greeting as well as a proclamation.

Nettle soup (part 2)

On hearing the message that the Saint (Columba) was to eat only nettle soup, the cook was rather concerned about such a poor diet for his master. He thought to himself; “I will add some milk!” So he hollowed out the stick used for stirring soup and through it he secretly poured the milk. St Columba ate the soup and ordered that all the monks should follow his example and have this tasty soup. (Part three next time!!)

myrrh-bearing women

The Message

 

Luke 24:9 “Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven

and to all the rest.”

 

Early in the morning with the sorrow that they shared

The women set out with the spices that they had prepared.

 

They came to the place where he was laid, the stone was rolled away

Expecting only death, they found an empty tomb at the break of day.

 

Perplexed and troubled at this scene, two angels then appeared

The women bowed their faces to the ground as they were afeared.

 

The angels in bright garments addressed the myrrh bearers and said:

“Why is it so that you seek the living among the dead?”

 

Remember how he spoke to you of how the Son of Man would die

There is no reason for your presence here, nor need for you to cry.

 

Did he not say that this would come to be at the hands of sinful men,

How he would be crucified and on the third day rise again.

 

Go proclaim the good news to the eleven and to others who will listen,

That Jesus Christ who died upon the Cross has today arisen.

 

 Glory be to the Risen Lord!

 

Faith and love which are gifts of the Holy Spirit are such great and powerful means that a person who has them can easily, and with joy and consolation, go the way Jesus Christ went. Besides this,  the Holy Spirit gives man the power to resist the delusions of the world so that although he makes use of earthly good, yet he uses them as a temporary visitor, without attaching his heart to them. But a man who has not got the Holy Spirit, despite all his learning and prudence, is always more or less a slave and worshipper of the world. 

St. Innocent of Irkutsk, Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of  Heaven. 

 

My love and poor prayers

Eν Χριστώ

 

 

 

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Poustynnik — 17

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St John the Russian

 

Release the relics! Christ is Risen! Day #17

I am blessed with many relics of the saints in my Icon Corner so I am never alone: I am surrounded by a cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1).

We heard the Gospel, John 20:19-25 at the Great Vespers of Love last Sunday, the Sunday of the Resurrection, in eight languages!

The opening verse begins” On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the Disciples were”…….

The doors were shut, yet Jesus came and stood among them and said to them , “Peace be with you!”  The doors to our homes are closed, we are shut in, during this pandemic lockdown state, yet Christ comes to us and enters to bring us His Peace.

 However, in a real spiritual sense, we have to open the door of our heart to Christ.

In the Victorian picture by Holman Hunt “Jesus the Light of the World, “our Lord is pictured with a lantern knocking on the door of a cottage, but there is no door handle on the outside- the door has to opened from inside. Once the Holy Spirit enters into our hearts we become infused with grace and peace.

Since our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit we must realise the consequences of this for all the ages, not just for our life here on earth.

‘Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you?’

I Corinthians 3:16.

 Release the relics!

 Ezekiel 37

37 The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

 

 Such fragments of dust charged by bliss

 Are containers of the Father’s love;

Buried in the fertile soil discovered,

Absorbing truth, exuding faith

Transforming earth through a heavenly kiss:

 Retrieve the Relics.

 

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St John Maximovich

 

 

Whose is their face, their image, seal?

Where the provenance for holy bones?

Who lie beneath false moons, fake stars and Creation’s groans;

Christ is their home, their being and their source

To sing His grace in symphonic tones.

 Relocate the relics.

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 Those precious few who acquired the Light, hard won;

 “He that has the Son has life” we read.

The blind and lame find their way home, following

The plough, that turns the turf to the Sun;

Revive the seeds, reform the rebellious one.

 Re-illuminate the Relics.

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“Can these bones live?” asked God to his exiled flock

 Lifeless in the war strewn sand, upon a human threshing floor

  Prodigal flesh awakes when ground is dug

“He was lost and is found” in a Father’s hug

Time to rewind the mortal clock!

 Reinstate the Relics.

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Today we seek Elisha’s bones, to find his power,

Iridescent in poor cloth and marrow veiled to

Smell the fragrant odour surfaced;

Share that which imbues a holy residue

Who could resist such a sweet-scented flower?

 Redistribute the Relics.

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St John the Chosevite

A double portion of Elijah’s spirit clings to those who seek

 The Incarnation and the promise of the Christ.

No frame to hold yet by Spirit borne,

These bones yet live

and grant new structures to the weak:

 Restore the Relics.

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St Nektarios Pentapolis

Collect the dust! The Lord it was who shaped us men

Dried up are we, bleached white by the scorching sun

Open the door and let Christ in

And our bones will live again!

Your bones will live again!

 Resurrect the Relics.

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St Dionysios

 Speaking of the miraculous power of holy relics, Saint Ephraim the Syrian relates the following concerning the holy Martyrs:

“Even after death they act as if alive, healing the sick, expelling demons, and by the power of the Lord rejecting every evil influence of the demons. This is because the miraculous grace of the Holy Spirit is always present in the holy relics.”

Eν Χριστώ

 

Make Good Use of Pain

Suffering
“God will centrifuge each one of us” (!)  Those words by Gerondissa Philothei were repeated rather ‘ominously’ 3 to 4 times at the first (*) homily I attended at the Nativity of the Theotokos Monastery in Panorama. Doesn’t the centrifugal force cause an object to move out and away from the centre of its path? Is God through various afflictions centrifuging me away from the centre of my old self?

“How good it would have been if we did not let the pain go to waste! One way or another we will suffer. But our whole torture and struggle will go down the drain unless we make good use of pain unless we exploit it. …When we suffer, when a pain insists, let us think like that: “God wants something good to come out of this in me, and I act as if I do not get it. And all I do is moan and groan.” …. 

“Know this: When pain will have completed the work it is supposed to do, God takes away. It is not difficult at all for God to remove whichever pain. … A Christian is capable of making such good use of every pain so that he can constantly be in paradise. …. Let there be no complaint, no rebellion, no kicking about.

If possible, whichever pain you have, deal with it by saying these words: “Let it be blessed, my God. Whatever You Want.” This way our pain won’t get wasted but will be exploited to the full. We will take advantage of it, and the great good which saves will come to our hearts. When God visits you with sorrows, say: “Thank you, my God. As I had absolutely no intention to embrace a few ugly things, a few pains, and truly follow your path, you caught up with me and gave me a few. How can I thank you enough?” (!) [+S.K]

*

(*) The first homily, that is after 35 or so years to be precise. Because Elder Symeon Kragiopoulos monastery was my starting point to the Church.  The moment I stepped my foot into the narthex, it all came back to me. Literally that “taste” and “fragrance” of life and teachings which I understood so little back then, yet never forgot since.  What an encouragement for my ‘new’ obediences!   The second ‘word’ which I received soon after was a mission to make pilgrimages and establish contacts with all nearby Thessaloniki monasteries. All nearby monasteries?! Quite bold a list of obediences for such a timid little city hermit. But may it be blessed. Your prayers

[Monastery Diaries 7]

 

 

The Monastery Diaries 6

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Nativity of the Theotokos Monastery

 

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Assumption Monastery

 

New 2020 obediences–New Envoy duties

 

This time to two monasteries at the suburbs of Thessaloniki, both at Panorama. The one is of the Nativity of the Theotokos, which belongs together with the nearby men’s monastery of the Holy Trinity, to +Elder Symeon Kragiopoulos’ monastery ‘complex‘. The opening photograph at their website shows both monasteries; the women’s monastery is the smaller one in the background); the second monastery is of the Assumption to the Theotokos  https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb=!1s0x14a846fddfe0e7d3%3A0xc72518e226191bdc!3m1!7e115!4shttps%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipPPDnFBdX1QlSJkJUMbysQeSsbBjsnLEGKPQOrb%3Dw480-h320-k-no!5zzpPPhc69zrHOuc66zrXOr86xIM6ZzrXPgc6sIM68zr_Ovc6uIM6azr_Ouc68zq7Pg861z4nPgiDPhM63z4IgzpjOtc6_z4TPjM66zr_PhSDPgM6xzr3Ov8-BzrHOvM6xIC0gR29vZ2xlIFNlYXJjaA&imagekey=!1e10!2sAF1QipMNsnxgG8ntgkYI5Rvp_YnQPBa30XAbs3XvDizB&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiiq6-hs_nmAhURaFAKHRJ_BoMQoiowGHoECAwQBg

 

Never a dull moment! So much to discover… I hardly know anything about the inner life of these two monasteries. Your prayers

New Year’s Resolutions

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“Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt” (Matthew 2:13)

“The angel commands us, as he did Joseph. ‘Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt’ (Matthew 2:13). That is to say: renounce your sin and your slackness; take into your soul the Jesus you saw at Bethlehem and Mary, whom you must never separate from her son; flee the evil and the temptations that surround you; set yourself a hidden, retired, silent life, a life of intimacy with the small child and his mother — and also with Joseph”. (Lev Gillet, The Year of Grace of the Lord, p73).

The life of the Holy Family, whether in Egypt or later on at Nazareth — what an inspiration and a model for us! This is a year I truly want to hide and disappear together with Him. God willing, the goal will be the first three rungs of Saint John Climacus Ladder of Divine Ascent: 1.On renunciation of the world–2.On detachment–3. On exile or pilgrimage.

Blessed New Year 2020 to all!

Your prayers

 

 

The Monastery of Hosiοs Loukas

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From Steiri, through the prayers of Saint Luke, whose presence is tangibly felt in his monastery.With all best wishes for the forthcoming New Year, and Theophany, and to those still awaiting the celebration of the Nativity. 

*

On the western slope of mount Elikonas, opposite mount Parnassus, after the village of Steiri, at a distance of approximately 30km from Livadeia, is the famous Monastery of Osios Loukas (St Luke), the largest and best-preserved monastery complex of the Middle Byzantine Period, with exceptional architecture and excellent decoration of mosaics, wall paintings and sculptures. With the Nea Moni of Chios and the Monastery of Daphni, the monastery of Osios Loukas is included in the list of world heritage monuments of UNESCO since 1990. Hosios Loukas is a breath-taking Byzantine monastery in a picturesque green and golden valley full of flowering almond and olive trees, near the town of Distomo. The landscape surrounding the Monastery of Hosios Loukas may not be as breath-taking as Meteora, but is still spectacularly blessed in beauty, even in wintertime when we visited it. As to the exquisite, stunning Beauty inside the monastery complex, and especially the katholikon, the main church, I hope these photos and videos can capture some of it.

 

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Saint Luke

Hosios Loukas Monastery meaning “Blessed Saint Luke” was not built in honour of Luke the Evangelist, but was established by the Greek monk Loukas. He was buried in the crypt of the monastery when he died in AD 953. I am still puzzled at the spelling of the word “Hosios”, as I have never encountered it before, but that is the official English ‘translation’ and the spelling adopted by UNESCO.

Saint Luke, born in AD 896, abandoned his home when he was an adolescent in search of spirituality. In the following years, he became a healer and was renowned for healing ailments that were practically impossible to cure.

Lukas developed a great talent as a prophet and predicted that Romano II would liberate Crete from the Arabs after his death. When the emperor defeated the Saracen Arabs, he commissioned a church to be built in his honour. [For  a more detailed Life, go to the bottom of the page]

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Exploring the monastery

One of the most striking aspects of the monastery is found at the entrance. If you look up, you will see a spectacular gold mosaic of the saint. Attached to the abbey is a large church, Katholikon, which in its turn is attached to a smaller temple, or Theotokos, erected between 997 and 1011 to honour the Virgin Mary.

The temples are beautifully decorated with numerous frescoes and mosaics, all perfectly preserved.  Underneath the Katholikon is the crypt where the remains of the saint lie.

 

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Although Hosios Loukas is smaller, the building reminded us of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul or St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.

 

 

This monk is the one who did the guided tour for our group (St. Arsenios monastery, Chalkidiki). There are only three monks, all hieromonks, in this monastery complex, and they are all so full of His Grace!

Luke of Steiris, Luke Thaumaturgus, Luke the Younger, Luke of Hellas, or Luke the Wonder-worker (896 — 953 AD) was a Byzantine saint of the tenth century AD who lived in the themes (provinces) of Hellas and Peloponnese in Greece, and who founded the Monastery of Hosios Loukas (Venerable Luke) on the slopes of Mount Helicon, between Delphi and Levadia, near the coast of the Gulf of Corinth in Boeotia, Greece. 

The principal source for Luke’s life is an anonymous Life written by a monk of Hosios Loukas who had been one of Luke’s followers. His feast day is commemorated on February 7,and the translation of his relics on May 3. His relics are preserved in his monastery of Hosios Loukas.

Early Life

Saint Luke was born in 896 to pious parents who came from Aegina but were forced to settle on the Greek mainland due to Saracen raids. Luke was the third of the seven children of Stephen and Euphrosyne. From his earliest years, he showed a desire for a life of ascesis and contemplation usually only found in seasoned elders. He abstained from all flesh, cheese, eggs, and delicacies, drank only water, and kept a total fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. While herding cattle or tilling the family fields, he would often give away his food and even his clothing to the poor, returning home naked. He once gave away almost all the seed which was needed for planting in the fields. The Lord rewarded him for his charity, and the harvest gathered was greater than ever before.

When his father died, he abandoned farm work to devote himself entirely to prayer, making such progress that he was often witnessed by his mother lifted above the ground while praying.[3]

Monasticism

As a child Luke tried twice to leave home to seek a solitary life of prayer. The first time, he attempted to withdraw to Thessaly, but was captured by soldiers lying in wait for escaped slaves and was returned home.[4] The second time he had more success, meeting two monks journeying from Rome to Jerusalem[5] who took him to a monastery in Athens where he received the small habit.[6][note 3] At this point he was only fourteen years old (910 AD), and Luke’s mother who was very concerned for him, prayed for her son’s return. After seeing his mother in a dream, tearfully calling for her son, the abbot sent him home.

He returned home for four months, and then with his mother’s blessing he set out again upon the monastic life, going to a solitary place on a mountain called Ioannou (or Ioannitsa). Here there was a church dedicated to the holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian, where he lived an ascetical life in constant prayer and fasting for seven years.[7] The Life records with suspicious symmetry that during this time Luke received the great habit[note 4] from two monks[note 5] travelling from Jerusalem to Rome (presumably the same two from whom he had received the small habit on their outward journey).[8] After this, St Luke redoubled his ascetic efforts, for which the Lord granted him the gift of foresight.

Luke’s fame spread and a number of miracles are ascribed to him during this period, such as revealing to two brothers the location of their dead father’s buried treasure.[9]Numerous proofs of Luke’s holiness are also given, such as sleeping in a trench to remind himself of death,[10] or being visited in a dream by an angel who let a hook down Luke’s mouth and “drew out a certain fleshly member therefrom”, freeing him from the temptations of the flesh.[11]

After a seven years on Ioannou, the saint moved to Corinth because of an invasion of the Bulgarian emperor Symeon (which Luke had predicted).[12] Hearing about a certain Stylite at Zemena (Gimenes) near Corinth, he went to see him, and remained for ten years to serve the ascetic with humility and obedience.

Afterwards, ca. 927 AD, the saint returned again to Mount Ioannou to build his own community and again pursue asceticism. Often he would be forced to move by the number of visitors who learned of his holiness, and came to him for prayer or a word of counsel or prophecy, no matter how secretly he tried to live. Luke drew so many followers that he found the distractions unbearable and decided to retreat further into the wilderness, with the blessing of his Elder Theophylactus.[13] Three years later, however, Luke was displaced again, this time by a Magyar invasion.

Luke retreated with the local villagers to the nearby island of Ampelon.[14] Once there, Luke found the desert island to be a suitable place to pursue his solitary ascetic life, and stayed for three years, enduring terrible thirsts.[15] His sister would occasionally bring him some bread, but he gave much of it away to the needy or to passing sailors.

Eventually Luke’s disciples persuaded him to leave, and he returned to the mainland and settled for the remainder of his life in the far more amenable environment of the present Hosios Loukas, where he founded his hermitage ca. 946 AD in the area of Stiris (which may be a corruption of Soterion, or place of healing).[16][note 6]

Here brethren gathered to the elder, and a small monastery grew up, the church of which was dedicated to the Great Martyr Barbara. Dwelling in the monastery, the saint performed many miracles, healing sicknesses of soul and of body.

Death

Saint Luke fell ill in his seventh year at Stirion. Foreseeing his end, the saint confined himself in a cell and for three months prepared for his departure. When asked where he was to be buried, the monk replied, “Throw my body into a ravine to be eaten by wild beasts.” When the brethren begged him to change these instructions, he commanded them to bury his body on the spot where he lay. Embracing his disciples, he asked them to pray for him, prophesying that the place where he died would someday be the site of a great church and monastery. Then raising his eyes to heaven, he said, “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit!” and reposed in peace and joy. St Luke fell asleep in the Lord on February 7, 953.

Myrrh flowed from his holy relics,[note 7] and many healings occurred. His tomb exuded a fragrant oil which was collected and burned in a lamp, and many miracles and healings were wrought at the tomb. The rumour that his relic worked miracles brought great numbers of believers to the monastery to be healed, and the original buildings gave way to more monumental structures.[16] As the Saint had predicted, two churches and a monastery were built there, and the monastery of Hosios Loukas became a great place of pilgrimage, as it remains to this day.[note 8]

Troparion, Kontakion

Troparion of St Luke of Mount Stirion Tone 1[17]
Let us firmly honour Luke the Godbearer with hymns and chants,
the glory of the faithful,
the boast of the righteous,
bright light of Stirion and its true inhabitant;
he brings near to Christ those who cry out in faith:
Glory to Him Who has strengthened thee;
Glory to Him Who has crowned thee;
Glory to Him Who through thee works healings for all.

Kontakion of St Luke of Mount Stirion Tone 8[17]
God in ineffable judgment chose thee before thou wast fashioned according to His good pleasure;
He took thee from thy mother’s womb,
He sanctified thee as His servant.
As the Lover of mankind,
He guided thee to Himself,
before Whom thou dost now stand rejoicing,
O Luke.

(OrthodoxWiki)

 

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