St. Brendan and his disciples letting the Spirit blow them to their place of resurrection

Saint Brendan the Navigator

from Ireland to North America (+578)

“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.”

Psalm 107:23-24

An early Christian Cross at Saint Brendan’s well
St Brendan’s Voyage from Ireland to America (+578)

St Brendan the Navigator

St Brendan, The Navigator was born in Fenit Co. Kerry in 484. Educated by Bishop Erc in Kerry, set his skills to developing his knowledge to the art of ship building and the rules of the seas around Fenit Island. Building a simple boat made out of wood and leather, St Brendan set sail and discovered America in search of the Promised Land of the Saints. His journey and adventures were outlined in his journal the Navigatio Sancti Brendani which even inspired the Great Christopher Columbus himself on his voyage of discovery many years later.



Fenit lighthouse Kerry Ireland – St. Brendan the Navigator Statue, Fenit


Our father among the saints Brendan was born about 484 AD to an Irish family near the present city of Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland. At a very young age he began his education in the priesthood and studied under St. Ita at Killeedy. Later he completed his studies under St. Erc, who ordained him in 512 AD.
During the next twenty years of his life, St. Brendan sailed all around the Islands surrounding Erie (Ireland), spreading the word of God and founding monastery after monastery. The most notable of these is Clonfert in Galway, which he founded around 557 AD, and which lasted well into the 1600s. St. Brendan died around 578 AD and his feast day is marked on May 16th.

Brendan’s first voyage took him to the Arran Islands, where he founded a monastery, and to many other islands which he only visited, including Hynba Island off Scotland, where he is said to have met Columcille (Columba). On this voyage he also traveled to Wales, and finally to Brittany, on the northern coast of France.

The event that St. Brendan is most celebrated for, however, is his voyage to the “Land of Promise”. Sometime in his early journeys, St. Brendan heard from another monk the story of a land far to the west, which the Irish claimed was a land of plenty.

He and a small group of monks including, possibly, St. Machutus, fasted for forty days, then set sail for this land in order to investigate and ‘convert’ the inhabitants. Altogether the journey took seven years.

In the ninth century, an Irish monk wrote an account of the voyage in the Navigatio Sancti Brendani (Voyage of St. Brendan). This book remained popular throughout the entire Middle Ages, and made Brendan famous as a voyager.

The account is characterized by a great deal of literary license and contains references to hell where “great demons threw down lumps of fiery slag from an island with rivers of gold fire” and “great crystal pillars”. Many now believe these to be references to the volcanic activity around Iceland, and to icebergs.

Upon reaching their destination, they engaged a guide who took them around the land. They went inland but were prevented from going further by a great river. Soon after this, St. Brendan, and the remainder of his colleagues sailed back to Ireland. Only a few survived the journey.

In modern times the story was dismissed as pure fabrication, but in the 1970′s a man named Tim Severin became fascinated with the story and decided to replicate St. Brendan’s journey. Severin built a boat made of hides tanned with oak bark just like the one described in the ancient text. The hides were sewn together over a bent frame of ash wood and the seams were sealed with animal fat and grease. With a group of volunteers he set sail for America and made his way to Newfoundland. His journey is covered in “The Brendan Voyage: Across the Atlantic in a Leather Boat”.


Tim Severin

The Brendan Voyage (1976–1977)

It is theorized by some scholars, that the Latin texts of Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis (The Voyage of St. Brendan the Abbot) dating back to at least 800 AD tell the story of Brendan’s (c. 489–583) seven-year voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to a new land and his return. Convinced that the “Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis (The Voyage of St. Brendan the Abbot)” was based in historical truth, in 1976 Severin built a replica of Brendan’s currach. Handcrafted using traditional tools, the 36-foot (11 m), two masted boat was built of Irish ash and oak, hand-lashed together with nearly two miles (3 km) of leather thong, wrapped with 49 traditionally tanned ox hides, and sealed with wool grease.

Between May 1976 and June 1977, Severin and his crew sailed the Brendan 4,500 miles (7,200 km) from Ireland to Peckford Island, Newfoundland, stopping at the Hebrides and Iceland en route. He considered that his recreation of the voyage helped to identify the bases for many of the legendary elements of the story: the “Island of Sheep”, the “Paradise of Birds”, “pillars of crystal”, “mountains that hurled rocks at voyagers”, and the “Promised Land”. Severin’s account of the expedition, The Brendan Voyage, became an international best seller, translated into 16 languages.

The boat is now featured at the Craggaunowen open-air museum in County Clare, Ireland.

Source: Wikipedia


St Brendan’s Voyage on 1976-1977 by Tim Severin
Tim Severin’s coracle in which he sailed the Atlantic in the late 1970’s, from Ireland to North America




St. Brendan’s Divide Liturgy on a whale
Ardvert where St. Brendan was baptized by Bishop St. Erc
Ardvert where St. Brendan was baptized by Bishop St. Erc
Ardvert where St. Brendan was baptized by Bishop St. Erc
Ardvert where St. Brendan was baptized by Bishop St. Erc
3 Tubrid
St Ita’s well Tobar na Molt where St. Brendan have been baptized by Bishop St. Erc
St Ita’s well Tobar na Molt where St. Brendan have been baptized by Bishop St. Erc
St. Brendan’s Well on Valentia Island, near Skellig Michael. St. Brendan baptized two people there.
St. Brendan and crew celebrate Easter on a whale.
Annaghdown where St. Brendan’s sister, Brig was Abbess
Romanesque arch over doorway of 12th c. St. Brendan’s Cathedral at Clonfert. Built over the place where Brendan was buried.











St Brendan's Well, Valentia, 001L










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The Mission: Synergy with God

It is well-known that the main goal of the Church is to bring to her fold all people for the salvation of their souls. This goal is achieved basically with mission in the broader sense of the word. Mission is our cooperation with the salvific work of God who died on the cross so that all may become one in Him. Therefore every Chrisitan who considers himself or herself an energetic member of the Church, is called to mission. That mission includes reaching out to those who are suffering, especially since Christ, whose footsteps we follow, died on the cross for them. The conclusion is that mission is not just one of the works of the Church, but it is her basic ministry for the renewal and transformation of the world, of all peoples and all nations, so that they can become the co-inheritors and co-participants of the kingdom of Jesus Christ through His gospel.

The Beginnings

These thoughts, by dear brothers and sisters, guided my first steps, a few years ago, in order to journey to far lands where millions of people still live today in idol worshipping idols and false gods. Certainly, before us came many great and holy missionaries. The first missionary to India was Apostle Thomas, who preached the Gospel of Christ in South India, performed miracles, and finally martyred for His Lord in Moulapore, an ancient city near Madras. To our day, these areas are dominated by a vibrant Christian element, even though the local church has cut itself off from the Orthodox Patriarchates and is broken up to different denominations. Since the time of Apostle Thomas until the 20th century, there was no Orthodox Mission in India, even though there were many Greeks in West Bengal, who built a cemetary and a glorious church dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ. A systematic Orthodox Mission started in 1980 in the rural area of Arambah, in West Bengal, 150 km from Calcuta. Fr. Athanasios Anthides, a Greek priest-monk from Egypt, experienced in the missions in Africa, was the first to come to preach Chist crucified in India’s very unfavorable and almost hostile conditions. With simplicity and patience, self-denial and humility, Fr. Athanasios worked for teen years teaching and preaching the truth of Christ and quenching the thirst of our brothers and sisters in India. In the village of Arambah he built a small church dedicated to Apostle Thomas and a humble house for each priest. He progressed in the translations of the Divine Liturgy, the Service Book, and a tome of Orthodox Catechism into the local Bengali dialect. Despite his old age and continuous ailments, Fr. Athanasios journeyed on foot to the surrounding villages, thus forming 24 clusters of believers. He used to say that the mission has to start from the villages where the ground is fertile and unstained from all other heretical teachings. He was right. His preaching brought forth fruit. His spiritual children still talk about Fr. Athanasios with love and affection, knowing him as the man who braught them to the Truth. He fought alone, and his cries for help to Greece went unanswered. He left this life with pain in his heart. The Lord however, satisfied his most deep-felt desire which was to die and be buried in India. On November 28, 1990, the warm ground of West Bengal welcomed the body of the first Greek Orthodox Missionary to India, to give rest to blessed Fr. Athanasios Anthides. Living in the same country, under the same conditions, I too feel his pain and anguish, the battle and the endurance which his love for and faith in Christ gave him. He sacrificed himself on the altar of love and lit the candle of Orthodoxy in Arambah.

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Succession – Regrouping

About one year after the falling asleep of Fr. Athansios, by God’s call and the consciense of a huge repsonsibility, and with the hope and grace of God, we came as a small team from Greece to Calcuta. The first few months were spent in repairs of the church building and of the adjacent house. The Church of the Transfiguration was built by the Greek merchants in Calcuta at Amratollah Street, in 1782 but in 1924,it was moved and is now located in an area called Kalighat, named after the goddess Kali whose greatest temple is less than 500 yards from the Church. The Church building is certainly impressive in its grandeur and in its doric style. The interior is decorated with silver liturgical objects, marble floors and altar table. The throne and ambon are carved from wood, with the back of the ambon bearing the inscription : “We preach Christ crucified”. The kouvouklion for the epitaphio and the iconstand are also wood-carvings, donated the faithful. For 250 years, hellenism was flourishing in India. After Indian independence from Great Britain, the Greeks left and the church remained closed for 18 years without any maintenance or repairs. After a few months of exhausting repairs came the time to start the organization of the philanthropic work in the name of the Orthodox Church. The essential part of the daily schedule were the daily services, in greek and bengali, thus witnessing to the fact that for the orthodox, worship holds the first and foremost place in life, and is the source of grace, strength and sanctification.

The difficulties of the Missionary activities

India is a Republic of 26 independent states. West Bengal is under a communist regime which by law forbids any kind of missionary actrivity. Therefore, our actions must always be discrete and cautious. There is always the danger of being expelled if the authorities ever wish to strictly enforce the letter of the law. This fact alone, along with the domination of hinduism in indian society, presents great difficulties for our baptized christians and our catechumens who face contempt from both freinds and family, and from the society as a whole. It is easilty understood, that these newly illumined are like small trees which have been freshly planted and are about to face great storms and winds. They have the need to be continously suported and nourished, so that they can further spread their roots and become strong. This great responsibility of nourishment falls on our shoulders. When the Church prays for the catechumens, they are given stength and the fullness of the faith, salvation from deciet and herecy, and the ability to become members of the Body of Christ. Every Christian has to personally feel the responsibility which is accorded to him, and to show with deeds his sincere interest for his brethren in Christ on this earth.

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Journeys – Catechesis

Soon we realized the need to travel frequently to all the villages where there were Orthodox Christians who have minimum opportunity for spiritual nourishment. Our Indian brethren have been raised in an usually hinduistic environment, have heard the basic truths of the faith from the catechizer of their village, have read very few books if any, and have had some chances to attent the Divine Liturgy even though they have never seen a church building. This is all that makes up their knowledge of Orthodoxy. However, their limited knowledge does not stop the Holy Spirit from working in their hearts and from granting them the call to become members of the Body of Christ, to work with humility and patience in order to educate themselves in Christ. When they see us they consider it an honor and they imitate everything we do: how we stand in Church, how we cross our selves, how we talk, whatever we do carries great meaning because, like little children, they are forming their spiritual self by imitating us. Unavoidably there comes to our mind the gospel passage : “whoever scandalizes one of these little ones who believe in me, it is better for that man to tie a rock around his neck and drown himself”. This is how we try to the best of our abilities, to visit the villages in order to hold the Divine Litirgy, to catechize, to hold discussions of various questions, to provide help with food and medicine distribution, to visit schools, to give advice, and to fulfill their spiritual and material needs. The difficulties in this task are various and many. First of all, these travels are difficult. West Bengal is very much behind in technology and in infrastructure in comparison with other nations. Consequently, the roads are terible, motrovehicles are old, and the congestion is unberable as too many cars, buses, bicycles and even livestock exceed the capacity of the roads. In the city, the situation is even worse as noise, polution and the heat require great patience and endurance. A distance of 120-150km take about 4-5 hours. In case of a break-down or other problems, there is no road-side help or telephones. This is why, every time we set off, we cross ourselves, and pray to God that we come back safe.

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Divine Liturgy in a hut

We depart around four o’clock in the morning so that we can arrive to our destination by morning, taking with us all the liturgical appointments needed for the Divine Liturgy. The faithful are awaiting us. In a small hut made out of mud, two small tables are set up. One is the altar and the other one is for the preparation of the Holy Gifts. There are no luxurious churches, great choirs, comfortable seats, or beautiful iconography. However, our Lord and God offers Himeself as a sacrifice to all of us for the forgiveness of sins and and life eternal. Slowly people keep coming. Some are not even Christian, but with fear and solemnity observe what is going on. Almost all of the Christians draw near the chalice of Life in order to quench their spiritual thirst. They are all enjoying their blessed day, but in the back of their minds they wonder when the next one is going to come. What is going to be their spiritual nourishment? Their battle is great and the human resources are few. In India, illeteracy is wide-spread, and thus it becomes very hard to find educated Christians that would comprise capable members of the Church and would carry on catechisms, pastoral care, and translations.

Seminars and Translations

For the education of preists and catechists, we have put in place a yealry seminar given by volunteers from the U.S. and Greece, who sacrifice their vacations in order to contribute to the mission. In the translation department there are many delays and difficulties. There have been a few books published, with both liturgical and spiritual content, and many are awaiting printing. The procedure for publishing a book is complicated beyond belief, beginning with the problem of finding a good translator. Translations are done from the english text since there is no greek-speaking Indian suited for Orthodox theological terminology. The printing press companies work at their own pace, and are often very slow and irresponsible. Continuously we run to the site to supervise the work so that it is done correctly and so that they do not cheat us in time and resources. Timeliness, trust, speed, organization and efficiency are words unknown to the life of Calcuta.

Building projects

The same holds for the erecting of buildings. At the present time there are two churches being built, one youth center, and an orphanage with a church on the outskirts of Calcuta. The tools that the construction workers use are primitive; there are no machines, and they carry the building material in straw baskets on top of their heads. Everything is done at a slow pace. The building material is carried over a distance of 20 minutes by foot, on bicycles or rafts since there is no road for automobiles. Often, we have to travel to these villages for supervision of the work, since, unfortunately, there are no trustworthy people for this kind of work. As you can understand, my beloved christians, the mission is one of continuous exhaustion, stress, disappointments, and huge responsibility.


We would be ignorant and ungrateful if we did not confess the blessings which God grants us. Often we have more and more people come to the mystery of baptism, beginning a new life in Christ. It is a sacred moment when people willingly come to confess that they reject Satan and all his works, and join Christ and belieive in Him as King and God, and worship Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Trinity one in essense and inseparable. It is a trememdous joy in heaven when the houses with the aweful idols of goddess Kali and the elephant formed Ganis, are replaced with the peaceful figures of Christ and His all-holy Mother. It is a great blessing to see people replace their violent and bloody sacrifices to idols and false gods, with their drawing near Christ Who is full love, peace, and compassion. We are truly blessed and grateful to be His humble co-workers in the salvation of men. We were overjoyed especially when multititudes of faithful came from the villages to participate in the services of Holy Week and Easter. Even though they heard little in their own language, their willingness to learn was beyond description, and the awe in which they attended the services was incredible. We felt inadequate and sad in the fact they could not sing and praise God in their language in the hymns of Holy Week with which our Orthodox tradition has enriched us. We hope that by next Easter the translations will be complete. We were also impressed with their willingness to come to the sacrament of Holy Confession and then to the Holy Eucharist. On the night of the Resurrection, their lips uttered the Christos Anesti with joy and strength. The work is difficult, but the joy of seeing our Indian brethren rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord, gives us rest and spiritual peace.
The Philanthropic work

India is third world country, poor and backwards in comparison with the western world. Especially West Bengal, maybe because of long years of colonization, and because of the communist goverment that took over after independence, is one of the poorest areas in the country. People who live in the industrial world, have no way of imagining the conditions of living in Calcuta. Nevertheless, we will try to sketch a few scenes from this life. Calcuta is a big city with population of 11 million people which features misery and poverty in every corner. Every buidling is very old, blackened by pollution and humidity, and poorly maintained. No matter how many years pass, the view of city life gives a sharp pain in our heart. Millions are homeless, living in the streets, with only some rags for their possessions. Like the poor Lazaros in the parable, so do these people live in poverty, hunger and disease, side by side with dogs and rats, unavoidably thinking about the injustices in the world: others travel in spaceships to outer space, and others fignt for surivival in the streets, forsaken by all. Isn’t this the greatest cross and burden which the modern man daily places on Jesus Christ Who by his sacrifice on the cross willed to give us the supreme example of love and philanthropy? How can we sleep in peace when we hear a baby across the street crying because of fever, or when the monsoon rain falls mercilessly on a homeless family that looks in vain for a shelter? Who can we rest in our cool room and comfortable bed when our brothers and sisters, creatures of God, are baking in the hot tropical sun in the streets and sidewalks for days, months, and years? Life for these people has no yesterday or tomorrow. There is only today. Are they going to survive today? Garbage which is plentiful everywhere, comprise a source of hope for people, animals, and crows. There they will find old scraps of paper which they will sell for a slice of bread. There they will discover something to burn in order to cook their rice so that they can fool their hunger. Wherevere one’s eyes turn, they witness indescribable despair and human degragation. How can we respond to this abyss of human suffering? Where do we start? Human efforts are limited, and we know that no matter what we do, it will be a drop in the ocean. Nevertheless, we are still responsible to try with all our strength, with the hope that our all-merciful Lord and the God-fearing faithful from all over the globe will be our supporters both materially and morally.

Food rationing

One of the firts programs we institued was the daily rationing of morning breakfast consisting of milk and biscuits for the poor children of the area. Very early in the morning they come and wait outside the gates, until the time when the gates open and quickly they come and sit in the courtyard and anxiously await for their morning meal which for many is the only meal of the day. Dirty, with hair uncombed, half-naked, these children beg us for one more biscuit and a little more milk. Often they show us their scars infected by disease and other health problems. When we walk on the street, as soon as they see us they yell: “Father, Father”, and they surround us. I once wondered, what are they were yelling for; Later I understood that all they want is some love and affection. One smile, one affectionate touch makes them happy. If we have some candy to give them, they are not going to forget it for days, whenever they see us. If we look to see where these children live, we will be beyond words. Most of them live in an abandoned muslim burial site. The dark graves are their homes, full of mud, garbage, rats and cockroaches. No one cares for these people. Therefore, we decided to help them as much as we could. We chose some of the most desperate and poor families, about 400 families by now, and gave them cards which they use every two weeks in order to collect a ration of basic substances like rice, sugar, beans, oil, soya, soap and matches. Every Monday, the courtyard fills with the blind and the lepers, paraplygics and skeletons who await for the distribution of food. A pair of crutches is a luxury item as most who are crippled are condemned to crawl on the ground, looking at us with sadness and supplication as their only hope of survival. One must wonder: Who is the one blessed in the eyes of God? Our conscience tests us every time we see this suffering. If these people who are not illumined by the light of Christ suffer this terrible life without protest, then how indebted are we to God for having given us so much. Sometimes one sees these people push each other in the lines, or forget to bring good bags for their ration? But what could one expect from such people who grew up in the streets, who never found out what is a home, a school, a family? Furthermore, our main purpose is not to give food or money to these people, but to provide them with an example of love, patience, meekness, and so by our example to witness Christ. If the material help does not contain this aspect, then the mission has lost its meaning.

Medical care

Along with poverty and hunger, the health problems that people face are many and unsourmountable. There are very few hospitals which are in terrible condition. Doctors are too expensive, and so is medicine. Very few can afford either. That is the reason why one of our first concerns was the buidling of clinic with Indian physicians who would give free medical care. Today we have three such clinics, one in Calcuta, and the other two in distant villages of West Bengal. Along with the free medicine, we also provide bed-side care when needed. In cases where hospitalization is necessary, we cover the cost when the patient cannot afford it. There is no consideration of social status or religion when medical care is provided. Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God, and deserves our love and our help which is not measured against our budget but by the love of God. As a result, there have been many cases of long term support for patients who have required operations, and extended care.

Distribution of clothing

An additional philanthropic effort which is done thanks to the loving support of faithful in Greece and Australia is the distribution of clothing to the poor. These clothes become instant hits among the people. We often take them to the villages where we distribute them from a moving vehicle for fear of a mob disabling us from moving any further. For some people, these clothes are such a luxury, that they refrain from wearing them until a special occasion. Others will sell them so that they can buy some rice. Many times we will notice children who are suffering from a serious ailment, but instead of complaining about their illness, they are satisfied by a piece of clothing. It seems strange that the child does not care about its health as much as it cares for a peice of clothing that we consider to be useless. This alone is a witness to the misery and the suffering of these people.

Educational Programs

The care of children, and especially of their education, comprises an integral part of our mission. For a child to attend school, money is needed for tuition, books, uniforms, etc. Many children, orphans or from poor families, cannot afford school. We try to cover some of their expenses so that they go to school. Our hapiness is to see these children clean, wearing their school uniform, full of hope for a better future for themselves and the Orthodox Church in India. Very soon, two schools will belong to the Church, one in the area of Katal, and one is Avamgal, where tuition will be free. Difficulties arise when religious fanatism, and political dispiutes get in the way of people seeing what is better for them. Many times we visit other schools and distribute notebooks, writing tools, and other supplies such as clothes, desks, seats, lamps, repair material etc.. We also have under our care an orphanage which houses 50 children, for which we provide food, clothing, schools supplies, toys, and whatever other need they have so that can live a human existence. Every time we visit them is for them a special day. We depart early in the morning before the traffic and the heat becomes intense. On the way we stop to buy some fish for their lunch. If we do not bring them that fish then their lunch would be the usual plate of rice with some yellow sause. For breakfast and dinner there is also rice. We wonder how these chidlren can grow just on rice. Nevertheless, this is the rule for the majority of people. After three hours we are there. On the side of the road some of the children are waiting for us and climb on the car. The rest of the children encircle us asking for a hug and to show us their love. After we unload our supplies, we give candy, school supplies, brushes, soap, and other things. The children, in an orderly fashiom, come and receive their small gifts and thank us from their heart. Afterwards, some go to play, others get a haircut from the barber we brought with us. Then lunch time comes, and after a short prayer, the rice is accompanied by a little bit of fish. In a little while comes time to depart. They surround us again, begging us to return soon. We promise them that we will, and as we are leaving, we glorify God for His great care, in that He did not let these children perish. It is a special blessing by God that the founder of this orphanage, a protestent Christian, let us know, from the time he met with us, that he wanted to baptized Orthodox along with his family and all the children of the orphanage. Therefore, after a systematic catechesis of the family and the chidlren, they were all baptized last fall. With amazement we recount the miracles of the Holy Spirit in the souls of men and exclaim: Which God is as great as our God; You are God, which does wonders.

The Building of the Orphanage

Moved by the same motivation to help as many people as possible, especially the orphan children which are abandoned in the garbage dumps of Calcuta, we decided to build our own Orthodox orphanage in the outskirts of Calcuta in order to accomodate about 100 children. The plans also see for a clinic, a school, workshops, and a chapel. The aim is that the education of the children will revolve around worship life and orthodox teachings. After many efforts, we managed to buy the necessary land, and having gone through the maze of bureaucracy, we built the wall around the lot. This work is tremendous and needs not only money but also a spirit of sacrifice and love that will mold the souls of these children in the mind of Christ.

Other Needs

Human needs never end. Other than the usual ways of philanthropic activity, there are countless opportunities to help those who continuously knock on the doors of the mission house. Where can one start? The repairs of homes damaged by storms, unpaid loans, the support of widows, orphans, handicapped people and other s present us with the opportunities to respond to the words of the Lord: “give to the one who asks and do not turn away from the one who wants something from you”, “and if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is it to you? for even sinners lend to sinners so that they receive the same.. Therefore be merciful just like your Father is merciful”. Certainly, in many occasions we have witnessed improprieties, but with the grace of God we have avoided them so that we can responsibly handle the least of the goods that God has entrusted us.


Words cannot contain what one will feel when he or she witnesses the misery and suffering of the people that surround the mission. What is important is that in every possible way the word of Christ is preached. We know our spiritual and material shortcomings, especially compared to the other Christian denominations who have missions across the globe, and tremendous resources both in personnel and materials. We do not consider our mission to be in competition with theirs. Something of that nature would come in direct opposition of Orthodox teaching which says that mission is first and foremost an act of the Paraclete and secondarily of a human being: “When the Paraklete comes… He will witness for me”. This does not mean that we should be restful. “We are co-workers with God”. God wills our active cooperation for the spreading of the gospel for the glory of His name and the salvation of our brethren. Let us ask ourselves: Are we responding to God’s will responsibly and honestly? The ways we can help are many. God presents us with plenty of opportunities when there is good will. Maybe not all can serve in the distant lands of mission, but they can all offer an equally valuable asset. Even if we pass the word to our fellow man about the mission, that is a valuable offering. The most needed offering one can make is heartfelt prayer for those who are serving missions around the world, and for those not in the Light, so that they too can become members of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. This is the prayer I humbly ask of you, and in conclusion I want to thank you for your care and love for the work of God.
A Word on the Indigenous priests: Fr. Patapios has been a priest for 10 years, ordained at the time when Fr. Athanasios had come to Calcuta. He has two daughters who are married and a son in college. He serves eight different centers in a 40km zone. Each center has an average of 80-100 baptized Orthodox, who need to be continuously catechized in order to learn how to live an orthodox life. Fr. Jacob served in the area of Goshpur, with the faithful being scattered in four different villages. The Church is under construction but the 400-500 faithful try to accomodate the Divine Liturgy in different homes. Fr. Jacob has one son and one daughter and together with Fr. Patapios mainly occupies himself with catechism, visitations and the daily services. Fr. Demetrios used to be a security guard at the mission compound. He was interested in the faith and was very pious. He became a reader, and under the spiritual direction of Fr. Ignatios, he was ordained a deacon by His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas. He assists Fr. Ignatios with the various tasks in the mission center as well as accompnies him to the surrounding villages for the Divine Liturgy. The above three priests converted from Hindiusm. Fr. Andrew used to be an Anglican, and worked for a group of people whose efforts were to prevent church building from being sold to private buyers. The Orthodox Church was about to be sold so he came to inquire. It was in 1991 when he kept on searching and became Orthodox. Fr. Andrew is married and has one daughter who just had a baby girl Irene. His wife Maria works at the clinic in the center. Even before converting, Fr. Andrew helped with the legal aspects of the Philanthropic society, and used to handle the accounting.

by Fr. Ignatios Sennis, trans. Tilemahos Alikakos)

Source: NOCTOC

2006: The first Russian Eastern Orthodox parish of St Thomas in New Delhi, India




2006: The first Russian Eastern Orthodox parish

of St Thomas in New Delhi, India



With an increasing number of Russians living in India,

the Russian Orthodox Church is looking to provide religious services in the country


On January 6-7, Russia marks Christmas, one of the most important holidays for followers of the Russian Orthodox faith. Recent polls have indicated that more than 70 percent of Russians consider themselves to be Orthodox Christians. India has a population of 24 million Christians, most of them Catholic, but there are many different church groups in the country. The Russian Orthodox Church, one of the largest among Eastern Orthodox churches in the world, has never had any noticeable presence in India. However with an increasing number of Russians living in India, the church is looking to provide religious services in the country.

The first Russian Orthodox Parish in Delhi named after the apostle Thomas was registered in 2006 when Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church (at that time serving as chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations), visited India.

It was then decided to build a church in the premises of the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in Delhi, however, till today such plans remain on paper. Archpriest Gennady Moroz who is in charge of St.Thomas Church in New Delhi and the head of Russian Orthodox parish in Pakistan and Nepal, told RIR the plans to construct the church in Delhi are still uncertain.

But then came the idea of establishing a permanent parish in Goa, where almost 10,000 Russians live for at least six months in a year. Russian priest Stanislav Rasputin, who is from the Petrozavodsk and Karelia Eparchy, while visiting Goa in September this year said: “I am happy that Russian people in Goa finally feel the need of the permanent parish here. During this mission I could see myself that this is very much required.”

Although the idea of a permanent parish in Goa is yet to be approved by Moscow Patriarchate, the initiative gained support from Russian consulate in Mumbai and the Honorary Consul of Russia in Goa Victor Albuquerque. “Starting a Russian orthodox parish here in Goa would be really good as Russian people need not only beach, sun and parties, but a place for spiritual activities. Though to establish a parish we really need to bring people around”, Albuquerque told RIR.


Preaching to the faithful

Several Russian Orthodox priests have visited India with official and semi-official missions recently. Deacon Georgy Maksimov, one of the first priests to visit India said the church’s main aim was to interact with Russian compatriots. “Not all of them were Orthodox believers, there were atheists and even those who considered themselves converted to Hinduism. We had quite interesting discussions,” he said.

Stanislav Rasputin visited India four times since 2011 and has found an interest in the Russian Orthodox faith from unexpected quarters. “Several years ago a group of almost 120 Christians from Chandrapur (Maharashtra) sent a request to convert them to Orthodoxy,” Rasputin says. “There was an Anglican bishop who studied the history of church in order to understand where the original church that formed 2000 years ago was. After studying sources he understood that Anglicanism that emerged in the 16th century was not at all complete as it did not have the continuity with the original church. He understood that the Eastern Orthodox Church was the one closest to the origins”. The ex-Anglican priest and his large congregation were converted by Stanislav Rasputin in 2012.

The services are conducted by the Russian priest not only in English but in Marathi, thanks to local church leaders who translated the Liturgy and some books on church history into local languages.

“I think it will be right to say that Russian Orthodox Church is not preaching the gospel in India,” insists Father Gennady Moroz. “And to face any critics in India the Russian Orthodox Church has firstly to be established there. The rare visits of orthodox priests that happen as the result of multiple requests from believers cannot be called missionary work.” He emphasizes that that Moscow Patriarchate can send a priests to India only after receiving repeatedly requests from people living here.




Photos by Alexandra Katz







St Nickolas of Japan, +1912
St Nickolas of Japan
Fr. Paul Sawabe the former Samurai

The Traces of God in Japan

Samurai met Orthodoxy


Fr. Paul (Pavel) Sawabe

Paul (Pavel) Sawabe was the first Japanese student and catechumen of St. Nicholas of Japan after he had arrived in Hakodate, Japan in 1861. Paul was the first Japanese to embrace Orthodox Christianity and was an ardent disciple of the future St. Nicholas and was an active missionary. Through his efforts the Japanese mission drew many new Christians and in time he became the first Japanese to be ordained to the priesthood.

Takuma Sawabe was born in 1833 in Kochi prefecture. His original name was Yamamoto Kazuma. He was a student, with a cousin, of the samurai art of Ken-do (Japanese swordsmanship) and philosophy. In 1857, while walking off some heavy drinking, Yamamoto ended up with two watches stolen by his cousin, but which he tried to sell. Yamamoto fled to Hakodate to escape the police who had identified him as having stolen the watches. In Hakodate, Yamamoto married the daughter of a Shinto priest named Sawabe. Yamamoto, after marrying the priest’s daughter, became an adopted son of the priest and changed his name. Under his new identity Takuma Sawabe did not participate in the Shinto priesthood, but led a group that reverenced the Emperor and demanded expulsion of the foreigners. The Russian Consulate in Hakodate became a target of their plan for assassinations.

One night in 1865, armed with a sword, he confronted the Hieromonk Nicholas with the intent of killing him before he did any preaching. In the exchange of words that followed, Nicholas questioned why Sawabe would kill him without hearing about what Nicholas would have to say. So, Sawabe asked Nicholas to tell him about his Christian religion. As the young missionary talked, his words softened Sawabe’s heart, his interest increased, and he began to study the Christian doctrine. Soon, Sawabe was joined by a doctor friend, Sakai Tokurei, in a discussion group. They in turn were joined by two more friends, Urano and Suzuki, and so the group of catechumens grew. They themselves began teaching about Orthodox Christianity to other Japanese people. Yet at this time, the Japanese policy was still to persecute Christians and forbid conversion to Christianity.

Then in April 1868, with the Reader Bissarion Sartoff guarding the consulate office door, Nicholas baptized Sawabe, Sakai, and Urano with the baptismal names for Paul, John, and James respectively. They had become the first Japanese people to accept Orthodox Christianity. With their baptism Paul and his friends went on to preach their new religion more fervently.

As the threat of imprisonment and perhaps even execution increased in the Hakodate area, Hieromonk Nicholas sent Paul and his friends to travel else where in Japan to preach their new faith, but ultimately to gain greater safety for them. Not hearing from Paul for some months, Hieromonk Nicholas was very glad to receive news from Paul of his successes in Sendai, in northern Honshu. In time the opposition to Christianity subsided, and the now Archimandrite Nicholas began to look to expanding his missionary work to Tokyo.

It was Paul Sawabe whom Nicholas sent to Tokyo to review the situation for missionary work in the Tokyo/Yokohoma area and advise him of the potential for such work there. Paul’s report was one of optimism, and Paul advised Nicholas to come to Tokyo as soon as possible. So, in late January 1871, Archimandrite Nicholas arrived in Yokohoma and proceeded to Tokyo to set up his headquarters.

Local opposition to Christianity was still present. In February 1872, Paul Sawabe and many of his co-workers in Christ were arrested by the local police in Sendai. The officials were amazed that even among the children their answers to questioning showed a deep conviction to their Christian beliefs. Even though many had not been baptized none changed their position but were strengthened in their faith.

On July 12, 1875, at the second General Council of the Japanese mission, Archimandrite Nicholas decided that there was a need for native clergy, and named Paul Sawabe to be the first priest, and that John Sakai would be a deacon. A month later Bishop Paul of East Siberia came to Hakodate for the first sacraments of the Holy Orders in Japan and ordained the new priest and deacon.

Paul Sawabe continued to service his new faith as his church grew over the following decades. He was to survive his mentor and bishop by a year, dying in 1913.








人々が救いを受け入れ、主に従って行く用意ができる、その時を神様はまた前もってご存知でした。神様はまた、救い主の母となれる大変清らかで、神様に 従順な女の子が現れる時を前もってご存知でした。

聖なる乙女マリヤは、そうした清らかで神様に仕えるのに 充分 な人でした。


マリヤが12才になり、これ以上宮にいられなくなった時も -律法でそのように決められていました- マリヤは、このまま神様にお仕えしたかったのです。でもマリヤに一体何ができたでしょうか? マリヤは、自分自身が、生涯を神様に差し出し、神様に仕えるために、生涯清らかでいることを望みました。だが、その頃はまだ女子修道院 というものは一つもありませんでした。そこで、マリヤも修道女になることはできなかったのです。マリヤは祭司のところへ行き、マリヤが心から望んでいることを話しました。その老祭司は、マリヤが神様を愛していることを聞いて大層喜びました。祭司は神様にお祈りし、神様は祭司に何をしなければならないかお答えになりました。マリヤには一人のごく身近な親戚がいました。多分、伯父さんだったのでしょう。大変年をとった人でイオシフ(ヨセフ)と言う名前でした。イオシフ(ヨセフ)の奥さんは、イオシフ(ヨセフ)がこれから育ててゆかなければならない子供をのこしてすでに死んでいました。

祭司はイオシフ(ヨセフ)に話し、マリヤがイオシフ(ヨセフ)の 許嫁 となれるようにし、そして、イオシフはマリヤを助ける支度をしました。こうしてマリヤは、生涯処女として神様に仕えることができました。同時にマリヤは、お母さんを亡くしたイオシフの子供たちの母親としての役目も果たすことができました。こうしてマリヤはイオシフ(ヨセフ)と結婚し、イオシフの家に向かいました。

神様がお決めになったある時、聖処女マリヤは部屋で神様にお祈りをし、縫い物のお仕事をしていました。と、突然、強い光が部屋を照らし、マリヤの前に一人の輝 いている天使が立っているのが見えました。マリヤはすっかり驚き、糸を下に落とし、明るい光から自分を守ろうとするように手を上げました。




天使はマリヤを安心させました。「聖神があなたのところに来て、一番強い光があなたの上に 輝 くでしょう。」天使はマリヤに、これからマリヤが生もうとしているハリストス(キリスト)は神の子となるであろう、そして、子供が生まれた後になってもマリヤは処女のままでいるだろう、ということを話しました。


実に、マリヤのお腹にできた子は、心から神を受け入れ、神様について行こうとする人々を救うために人となられた神でした。私達が聖母マリヤを Theotokos(テオトコス)と呼ぶのはそのためです。テオトコスとは「神を生みし者」(生神女)と言う意味です。



こうして天使ガブリイル(ガブリエル)はマリヤと別れました。後になって、ガブリイルはイオシフ(ヨセフ)のところにも現れ、マリヤが生もうとしている特別な子供のことを告げました。マリヤは喜びに満ちていました。マリヤは今までよりも祈りと 斎 をはじめました。



エリザベタは「主の母が私のところに来てくれるとは何とすばらしいことでしょ う」と言いました。


ソース Source:




Saint Mary Orthodox Bizantine Monastery at Island of Zvernec,

at Narta Lagoon in Vlore, Albania



Saint Mary Orthodox Bizantine Monastery at Island of Zvernec,

at Narta Lagoon in Vlore, Albania



Foto 1






Manastiri Shën Maria Ortodokse Bizantine në ishullin e Zvërnecit, në Lagunës së Nartës në Vlorë, Shqipëri


Manastiri Shën Maria Ortodokse Bizantine në ishullin e Zvërnecit,

në Lagunës së Nartës në Vlorë, Shqipëri




Foto 1