The column that was split by the Holy Fire (1579)


The column that was split by the Holy Fire (1579)


On Holy Saturday 1579, according to the Church chronicles of the city of Jerusalem, the Turkish governors forbad the Greek patriarch and the Orthodox faithful to enter the Church of the Resurrection for the customary rite of the Holy Fire.

The works that make reference to this event do not specify the exact date, but they mention that at the time the patriarch of Jeru salem was Sophronius IV, the patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria and An ti och were, respectively, Jeremiah, Silvester and Joachim, and the sultan of the Ottoman Empire was Murad III.

If we look at the official lists of these four patriarchates we shall find that the four Greek Orthodox patriarchs were indeed in office in the second half of the sixteenth century, and if we examine the exact period of each patriarch’s reign and that of Sultan Murad III, we discover that the only common year in which the leadership of the five men coincided was the year 1579.

The courtyard and entrance of the Church of the Resurrection.

According to written sources, on Holy Saturday of that year, a group of Turkish soldiers forbad the Orthodox entry into the Church of the Resurrection. The crowd of the faithful remained in the church courtyard throughout the entire day, and even after the sun had set.

The Greek Patriarch Sophronius IV was in the first year of his reign. It was the first time he would perform the most important rite of the year, but the Turks deprived him of his legal right. The patriarch stood in prayer at the left side of the church doorway, near a column. And suddenly, when night had already fallen, the column split and the Holy Fire leapt from its interior.

The patriarch immediately lit his candle and passed the Holy Fire to the faithful. Within a few minutes the sacred flame had spread to all those present and the courtyard of the church was illuminated. The awestruck Turkish guards then opened the doors of the church and the patriarch along with the rejoicing faithful poured in towards the Holy Sepulchre.

The split marble column to the left of the main entrance to the Church of the Resurrection, and beside it, the author. The fissure is 1.20 meters high and resembles a flame rising upwards.

The events of that day are recorded in all the so-called Proskynitaria of Jerusalem, guides for pilgrims to the Holy Land. The oldest of these proskynitaria in which the rupture of the column is mentioned is contained in a Greek manuscript found in the Bavarian State Library in Munich. It is the Codex Monacensis Graec. 346, which contains the Proskynitarion of Priest Ananias. The codex was written by the Cretan priest Akakios in 1634 and is a copy of the original work by the priest Ananias which was written in 1608, twenty-nine years after the miracle it describes. This means that Ananias was able to collect information from individuals who actually experienced the events.

An edition of the Bavarian State Library manuscript was first published in the original Greek in 1890 by Papadopoulos-Kerameus in St. Petersburg,1 together with a Russian translation. According to the account of the Cretan Akakios, the priest Ananias relates the following:

Outside the Holy Entrance, near the west side, there are three marble columns, and from the middle column, they say, a Holy Fire emanated in the olden days. And it is quite cracked and visible still to this day. And this miracle God showed in the following manner, as they say that back then those who gave orders to the patriarch did not allow [the Christians] to enter and Continue reading


Video – From Glory to Glory: The Journey of Fr. Anthony Salzman, GA, USA



From Glory to Glory:

The Journey of Fr. Anthony Salzman, GA, USA

Video: The Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church in English


The Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church in English

Fr. George Paulidis Bishop of Nicea, Piraeus, in Greece (+1990) & the phone of a woman who wanted to kill herself

Fr. George Paulidis Bishop of Nicea, Piraeus, in Greece (+1990)

& the phone of a woman who wanted to kill herself

Fr. George Paulidis Bishop of Nicea, Piraeus, in Greece (+1990):

«One winter night, his phone ring around midnight. Just picked up the phone, a female voice spoke:

“I do not know whom I speak , but before committing suicide , I wanted to listen for the last time a human voice…”.

Divine providence ring the phone of Fr. George. Was there any discussion, without disclosing his status, Fr. George (it was then Bishop of Nicea, Piraeus) except that he speaks with a cleric. He never learned what happened next, but I’m sure that the Grace of God will not let a human soul disappear like that night».

Source, Greek book:

Fr. John Costoff

From Atheism to Christ

Publications: St. John Damascene, Athens 2011


The Holy Relics of the Saints





The Holy Relics of the Saints

Holy Relics are portions of the earthly remains of Orthodox believers, usually saints. Relics may also include clothing and vestments worn by saints, or items such as pieces of the True Cross. Particles of relics of saints usually are embedded in altar tables during consecration of churches.

The relics of the saints are venerated because in Orthodox belief the body remains temple of the Holy Spirit even after death.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem writes:

“Though the soul is not present a power resides in the bodies of the saints because of the righteous soul which has for so many years dwelt in it, or used it as its minister.”

God also performs miracles through the holy relics of saints, in this way revealing his glory and glorifying his saints in whom he is pleased. One example is the relics of Saint Nektarios, which emitted a sweet-smelling sweat after he had passed away and showed no sign of decay until 20 years after his death.

In North America, the Church is blessed to have three complete sets of relics: St. Herman of Alaska, St. John Maximovitch, and St. Alexis Toth.


Orthodox Wiki

An early prayer to the Theotokos, Holy Virgin Mary Mother of God


An early prayer to the Theotokos,

Holy Virgin Mary Mother of God


This papyrus fragment is a prayer to the Theotokos written about 250 A.D., per papyrologists who have examined the handwriting style. (Theotokos means “God-bearer,” a term for Mary that was formally affirmed at the Third Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus in 431.) Some initially placed the papyrus in the fourth or fifth century (the John Rylands Library description below lists it as 3rd – 4th century), perhaps because they didn’t think that Christians would have been praying to the Theotokos that early. If the early dating is correct, this prayer must have already been part of the Church’s services or prayers, showing that petitions and prayers to the Theotokos and the Saints go back to the early days of the Church, perhaps to the second century.

The present form of the prayer in the Greek services and prayer books is:

Υπο την σην ευσπλαγχνιαν
καταφευγομεν Θεοτοκε.
τας ημων ικεσιας μη παριδης εν περιστασει,
αλλ’ εκ κινδυνων λυτρωσαι ημας,
μονη αγνη, μονη ευλογημενη

This roughly translates as (adapted from the Wikipedia entry for “Sub tuum praesidium,” the Latin version):

Beneath your compassion
we take refuge, Theotokos.
Our petitions do not despise in time of trouble,
but from dangers ransom us,
Only Holy, Only Blessed

In uncial (capital) letters this would be:


Read more:


Video: Orthodox Christian Mission Trip to Mexico



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Free will





Saint Ignatius (110 A.D.)

“For when ye are desirous to do well, God is also ready to assist you.”

Saint Justin Martyr (150 A.D.)

“But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word shows, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.”

Tatian (160 A.D.)

“How, then, shall I admit this nativity according to Fate, when I see such managers of Fate? I do not wish to be a king; I am not anxious to be rich; I decline military command; I detest fornication; I am not impelled by an insatiable love of gain to go to sea; I do not contend for chaplets; I am free from a mad thirst for fame; I despise death; I am superior to every kind of disease; grief does not consume my soul. Am I a slave, I endure servitude. Am I free, I do not make a vaunt of my good birth. I see that the same sun is for all, and one death for all, whether they live in pleasure or destitution. The rich man sows, and the poor man partakes of the same sowing. The wealthiest die, and beggars have the same limits to their life. The rich lack many things, and are Continue reading

St John Chrysostom on Grace and Free Will


St John Chrysostom on Grace and Free Will

A lecture delivered by David Bradshaw,
Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Kentucky,
at the parish of St John Chrysostom Orthodox Church,
House Springs, Missouri, September 29, 2007,
on the occasion of the 1600th Anniversary of St John’s repose.




Few questions in theology bear as directly on the lives of ordinary believers as does that of the relationship between grace and free will. As Christians, we know that we are to seek to please God and obey His commandments; yet we also believe that He helps us in such a way that to think that we have pleased Him, through our own unaided efforts, would be an act of pride. Already there is, if not outright contradiction, at least considerable tension between these two beliefs. The tension grows worse when we also take into account the conviction, firmly rooted in Scripture, that salvation is in some sense the result of divine election. Our Lord states in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, “all that the Father giveth me shall come to me” (6:37), and a few verses later, “no man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (6:44).1 Taking these two statements together, it would seem that to be called by the Father is both a necessary and sufficient condition for coming to Christ (which here is tantamount to salvation). Yet in the same chapter Christ also exhorts his audience as if the choice were theirs. He urges them, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life” (6:27), and, when they ask him what they must do to work the works of God, he replies, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (6:29). Apparently, although to be chosen by God is both necessary and sufficient for salvation, that does not exclude the necessity of our own choice, and indeed of our “labouring.” This is very confusing. It seems both that the will of the Father is the sole cause of our salvation, and that we too are, in some sense, a cause.

There are here two different but related questions. First is that of how our efforts to please God can be consistent with the fact that we are totally dependent upon His aid. Second is that of how salvation can be both determined by God’s choice and dependent on our free response. As regards the second question, Scripture adds the further complication that God’s election has in some sense been fixed from all eternity. St. Paul writes in his Continue reading

Orthodox Christianity: Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Greece (+1994)

Orthodox Christianity:

Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Greece (+1994)