President of Cultural Affairs


Excavations at the archaeological site of Archontikon at Giannitsa, a city in the region of Macedonia reveal traces of life – houses, vessels and clay ovens - during the prehistoric years, almost 4,000 years ago. The findings bear evidence of the prehistory of Macedonia - including activities such as agriculture, fishing and hunting - revealed by excavations carried out in recent years by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

The prehistoric settlement of Archontikon was undoubtedly the most important in the region of Pella. During the Hellenistic and Roman periods, the site was under the control of Pella - capital of the Macedonian kingdom and later, a Roman colony.

Pella (Greek: Πέλλα) was the capitol of the ancient kingdom of Macedon. A common folk etymology is traditionally given for the name Pella, ascribing it to a form akin to the Doric Apella, originally meaning a ceremonial location where decisions were made. However, the local form of Greek was not Doric, and the word exactly matches standard Greek pélla "stone", undoubtedly referring to a famous landmark from the time of its foundation.

The city was founded by Archelaus (413–399 BC) as the capital of his kingdom, replacing the older palace-city of Aigai (Vergina). After this, it was the seat of the king Philip II and of Alexander, his son. In 168 BC, it was sacked by the Romans, and its treasury transported to Rome. Later, the city was destroyed by an earthquake and eventually was rebuilt over its ruins. By 180 AD, Lucian could describe it in passing as "now insignificant, with very few inhabitants".

Pella is first mentioned by Herodotus of Halicarnassus (VII, 123) in relation to Xerxes' campaign and by Thucydides (II, 99,4 and 100,4) in relation to Macedonian expansion and the war against Sitalces, the king of the Thracians. According to Xenophon, in the beginning of the 4th century BC, it was the largest Macedonian city. It was probably built as the capital of the kingdom by Archelaus, although there appears to be some possibility that it may have been Amyntas. It attracted Greek artists such the painter Zeuxis, the poet Timotheus of Miletus and the tragic author Euripides who finishes his days there writing and producing Archelaus.

Archelaus invited the painter Zeuxis, the greatest painter of the time, to decorate it. He was later the host of the Athenian playwright Euripides in his retirement. Euripides Bacchae premiered here, about 408 BC. Pella was the birthplace of Philip II and of Alexander, his son. The hilltop palace of Philip, where Aristotle tutored young Alexander, is being excavated.

In antiquity, Pella was a port connected to the Thermaic Gulf by a navigable inlet, but the harbor has silted, leaving the site landlocked. The reign of Antigonus likely represented the height of the city, as this is the period which has left us the most archaeological remains.

Pella is further mentioned by Polybius and Livy as the capital of Philip V and of Perseus during the Macedonian Wars, fought against the Roman Republic. In the writings of Livy, we find the only description of how the city looked in 167 BC to Lucius Aemilius Paulus Macedonicus, the Roman who defeated Perseus at the battle of Pydna:

…Paulus observed that it was not without good reason that it had been chosen as the royal residence. It is situated on the south-west slope of a hill and surrounded by a marsh too deep to be crossed on foot either in summer or winter. The citadel the "Phacus," which is close to the city, stands in the marsh itself, projecting like an island, and is built on a huge substructure which is strong enough to carry a wall and prevent any damage from the infiltration from the water of the lagoon. At a distance it appears to be continuous with the city wall, but it is really separated by a channel which flows between the two walls and is connected with the city by a bridge. Thus it cuts off all means of access from an external foe, and if the king shut anyone up there, there could be no possibility of escape except by the bridge, which could be very easily guarded…

The famous poet Aratus died in Pella ca 240 BC. Pella was sacked by the Romans in 168 BC, when its treasury was transported to Rome.

In the Roman province of Macedonia, Pella was the capital of the third district, and was possibly the seat of the Roman governor. Crossed by the Via Egnatia, Pella remained a significant point on the route between Dyrrachium and Thessalonika. Cicero stayed there in 58 BC, but by then the provincial seat had already transferred to Thessalonika. It was then destroyed by earthquake in the first century BC; shops and workshops dating from the catastrophe have been found with remains of their merchandise. The city was eventually rebuilt over its ruins, which preserved them, but, ca AD 180, Lucian of Samosata could describe it in passing as "now insignificant, with very few inhabitants".

The city went into decline for reasons unknown (possibly an earthquake) by the end of the 1st century BC. It was the object of a colonial deduction sometime between 45 and 30 BC; in any case currency was marked Colonia Iulia Augusta Pella. Augustus settled peasants there whose land he had usurped to give to his veterans (Dio Cassius LI, 4). But unlike other Macedonian colonies such as Philippi, Dion, and Cassandreia it never came under the jurisdiction of ius Italicum or Roman law. Four pairs of colonial magistrates (IIvirs quinquennales) are known for this period.

The decline of the city was rapid, in spite of colonization: Dio Chrysostom and Lucian both attest to the ruin of the ancient capital of Philip II and Alexander; though their accounts may be exaggerated. In fact, the Roman city was somewhat to the west of and distinct from the original capital; which explains some contradictions between coinage, epigraphs, and testimonial accounts. In the Byzantine period, the Roman site was occupied by a fortified village.

The city is built on the island of Phacos, a promontory which dominates the wetlands which encircle Pella to the south, and a lake which opened to the sea in the Hellenistic period.

The city wall mentioned by Livy is only partly known. It consists of a rampart of crude bricks (about 50 cm square) raised on a stone foundation; some of which has been located North of the palace, and some in the South next to the lake. Inside the ramparts, three hills occupy the North, and the palace is situated on a place of honour on the central hill. Partly searched, it occupied a considerable area of perhaps 60,000 square metres). The plan is still not well known, but has been related to that of the city plan.

The Pella palace consisted of several — possibly seven — large architectural groupings juxtaposed in two rows, each including a series of rooms arranged around a central square courtyard, generally with porticos. Archaeologists have thus far identified a palaestra and baths. The south facade of the palace, towards the city, consisted of one large (at least 153 metres long) portico, constructed on a two metres high foundation. The relationship between the four principal complexes is defined by an interruption in the portico occuupied by a triple propylaeum, 15 m high, which gave the palace an imposing monumental air when seen from the city below.

Dating of the palace has posed some problems: the large buildings could date the reign of Philip II, but other buildings appear to be earlier. The baths date from the reign of Cassander.

The size of the complex indicates that, unlike the palace at Vergina, this was not only a royal residence or a grandiose monument but also a place of government which was required to accommodate a portion of the administrative apparatus of the kingdom.

The city proper was located south of and below the palace. Designed on a grid plan as envisaged by Hippodamus, it consists of two series of parallel streets which intersect at right angles and form a grid of eight rows of rectangular blocks. These blocks are of a consistent width — each approximately 45 m — and a length which varies from 111 m to 152 m, 125 metres being the most common. The streets are from 9 to 10 metres wide, except for the middle East–West arterial, which is up to 15 metres wide. This street is the primary access to the central public agora, which occupied a space of ten blocks. Two North-South streets area also a bit wider than the rest, and serve to connect the city to the port further South. The streets had sewers and were equipped to convey water to individual residences.

This type of plan dates to the first half of the fourth century BC, and is very close to the ideal in design, though it distinguishes itself by large block size; Olynthus in Chalcidice for example had blocks of 86.3×35 metres. On the other hand, later Hellenistic urban foundations have blocks comparable to those of Pella: 112×58 m in Laodicea ad Mare, or 120×46 m in Aleppo.

The agora holds pride of place in the centre of the city, occupying an imposing 200 by 181 metres; 262×238 metres if one counts the potrticos which surround it on all sides.

Based on the descriptions provided by Titus Livius, the site was explored by 19th-century voyagers including Holand, Pouqueville, Beaujour, Cousinéry, Delacoulonche, Hahn, Glotz and Struck. The first excavation was begun by G. Oikonomos in 1914–15. The modern systematic exploration of the site began in 1953 and full excavation was being done in 1957. The first series of campaigns were completed in 1963, more excavations following in 1980. These digs continue in the section identified as the agora.

In February 2006, a farmer accidentally uncovered the largest tomb ever found in Greece. The names of the noble ancient Macedonian family are still on inscriptions and painted sculptures and walls have survived. The tomb dates to the 2nd or 3rd century BC, following the rule of Alexander the Great.

Archaeological digs in progress since 1957 have uncovered a small part of the city, which was made rich by Alexander and his heirs. The large agora or market was surrounded by the shaded colonnades of stoae, and streets of enclosed houses with frescoed walls round inner courtyards. The first trompe-l'oeil wall murals imitating perspective views ever seen were on walls at Pella. There are temples to Aphrodite, Demeter and Cybele, and Pella's pebble-mosaic floors, dating after the lifetime of Alexander, are famous: some reproduce Greek paintings; one shows a lion-griffin attacking a stag, a familiar motif also of Scythian art, another depicts Dionysus riding a leopard.




A Macedonian from Pella knows the Hellenic culture and language as his own, and all others who claim to be Macedonian yet deny being Hellenes, are merely proliferating an injustice to Indigenous Macedonians and convey outright disrespect to the cultural heritage of Macedonia and Macedonians throughout human history.

This site is open to people of all cultures that wish to encourage, promote and provide materials that may educate mankind in the spirit, identity and struggle of Macedonians throughout antiquity and up to the present. Our intention is to promote a clear understanding of the history and accomplishment of Macedonians throughout the world.

Every little effort, and any assistance whatsoever, makes a great difference in the long run. Feel free to contribute, and enrich the diversity of knowledge in our group. We are very interested in your ideas, so tell us (and the world) what you think via the Pella Macedonia site.

With all due respect to all languages, to ensure relativity and consistency in the materials submitted we utilize English and Hellenic as the common languages for this site.


Trifon Haitas
President of Cultural Affairs

Trifon is a honourary member of the National Ethnic Press & Media Council of Canada. On the 26th of January 2007, Trifon is granted the NEPMCC medal for distinguished services provided to arts, to letters, to science, to industry, to public service and to media. Trifon is also a recipient of the NEPMCC “HONORIS CAUSA” award for promoting equality, respect to human values, human rights, cooperation and understanding amongst the members of the various cultural groups existing within Canadian society.

In the 2007 Provincial Elections in Ontario, Trifon ran as the official Green Party Candidate in the Toronto riding of Don Valley East. His Green team successfully raised 2300 votes, increasing the Green vote by a factor of six compared to the previous Provincial Elections.

"Our environment has always played an important role in my life," Trifon says. "I've seen firsthand how committed people can make their community a better place when they have a long-term vision, the will to carry it out and most importantly, great listening skills."

Dr. David Suzuki with Trifon Haitas


Please contact our association at your earliest convenience.

President of Cultural Affairs

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President of Cultural Affairs
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Alexander's speech at Opis in 324 BC, otherwise known as Alexander's Oath, given about one year before his death in the presence of 9,000 Greek and Asian officers, has become the beacon of state leaders and international organizations in their route toward the third millennium. The main points which he made in this speech are as follows:

• Now that the wars are over, I wish you to find happiness through peace.

• May all mortals live from now on in harmony, as one nation, for the sake of common prosperity.

• Consider the world as your country, with common laws, governed by men of merit, regardless of race.

• I do not distinguish between Greeks and barbarians, as do the narrow-minded.

• I am not interested in the country or race of origin of people.

• I only distinguish people according to their virtues.

• To me every virtuous foreigner is Greek and each non-virtuous Greek is worse than a barbarian.

• If you are ever faced with differences, do not resort to arms, but resolve them peacefully. If need be, I can act as your arbitrator.

• God should not be viewed as an authoritarian ruler, but as our common father.

• As for myself, I consider all persons, black or white, as equals.

• I wish you to be my partners and not just members of our commonwealth.

• As far as I am able, I shall see to it that all my promises come true.

• Regard this oath as a symbol of love.

The oath at Opis conveys a message, which originated in Macedonia and has not been emphasized enough. The message, emanating from Alexander's native land, was not to conquer nations or to acquire riches, or even to satisfy rivalrous passions between nations, but to unite all people with the bonds of peace, amalgamation and mutual communication.

To learn more about Macedonia follow this link


The Iliad Tragedy~Achilles Last Stand

The words of Aristotle are like the wine inside a bottle, the more you drink the more you want. Now raise your cup to drink with me, and allow the knowledge in our lexicon to enter thee.






Remnants of the Ottoman Empire

Eordea our Beloved and Sacred Mother Earth

As a community that presented itself to the known world over two thousand years ago, may we always continue to keep our Macedonian heritage strong by promoting our history, our traditions and our Democratic spirit throughout the world. We owe it to Eordea our Beloved and Sacred Mother Earth, Aristotle the Philosopher of Macedonia, Alexander the Invincible of Pella, Ptolemy I Soter of Eordea, his descendent Cleopatra VII Pharaoh of Alexandria, and all our great Macedonian ancestors for bestowing on to us, such a priceless inheritance.

In the archaic Koinē language, Eordea literally means ''Mother Earth,'' and is the ancient name given to this particular region of western Macedonia because of the fertility of its soil. The history of Eordea can be found stretching long before 3000 BCE when the people known as the Aeolians and Arcadians began to inhabit this area. Remnants of the exploited copper mines during 2700 throughout 1200 BCE reveal the fact that people have continuously inhabited Eordea for thousands of years. Iron mines have also been exploited in the Eordean region. Ptelomaida is the capital city in the province of Eordea, located in the prefecture Kozani. The capitol city Ptelomaida was named after Ptolemy I of Eordea, born around the year 367 BCE, and famously known as a distinguished General of Alexander the Great. After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE, Ptolemy is known in antiquity as the founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Alexandria in Egypt, which thrived until the death of Cleopatra VII the last reigning Eordean Pharaoh of Egypt.

Most recently within a fifty-year period, due to the industrial development of the Eordean countryside paleontologists and archaeologists have made many discoveries. In particular the skeletal fossil of a prehistoric mammoth was found, also a prehistoric elephant as well as Stone Age tools were found within the province of Eordea. This stunning find brings to light an incredible addition to the variety of animal species and human artifacts that have been found in this particular region of western Macedonia.

The Macedonians

Statute of Ptolemeos in Ptolemaida the capitol of Eordea

Alexander the Invincible

"Not even to me does it seem possible that he turned out to be unlike any other human being without divine intervention," wrote the historian Arrian as he completed his book, Alexandri anabasis [Expedition of Alexander].

Plutarch penned in his Moralia. De Alexandri magni fortuna aut virtute [Morals. About the Virtue or Fortune of Alexander the Great], "States which never got to know Alexander were as though they had never seen the light of the sun" and "If one were to judge from what Alexander taught and did, he would verify that he was a philosopher."

The American producers who aspire to make a film about the life of Alexander the Great should not ignore these two quotations above by well-known and respected philosophers. Hollywood, due to its influence and authority, but also, as former President Clinton wrote, due to the supremacy and muscle the US exercises on a global level, must not be lured into casual scripts and ignore Alexander's magnificence and the fact that he was born a mortal, lived as a superhuman and died as a god. Alexander's accomplishments and endeavors had a profoundly positive effect in the development of future societies.

The mighty Romans were the first people to name Alexander "Great." They deified him and not only considered him a role model, but also embraced his life, as well as the arts and sciences that he spread in the East. It was through the Romans that Greek civilization and culture were transferred and established in the West. Thus western civilization was paved and took roots in the western world. Chateaubriand wrote "If someone was compared to a god, that was Alexander." The preceding quotation is not a casual comment.

Alexander's speech at Opis in 324 BC, otherwise known as Alexander's Oath, given about one year before his death in the presence of 9,000 Greek and Asian officers, has become the beacon of state leaders and international organizations in their route toward the third millennium. The main points which he made in this speech are as follows:

• Now that the wars are over, I wish you to find happiness through peace.

• May all mortals live from now on in harmony, as one nation, for the sake of common prosperity.

• Consider the world as your country, with common laws, governed by men of merit, regardless of race.

• I do not distinguish between Greeks and barbarians, as do the narrow-minded.

• I am not interested in the country or race of origin of people.

• I only distinguish people according to their virtues.

• To me every virtuous foreigner is Greek and each non-virtuous Greek is worse than a barbarian.

• If you are ever faced with differences, do not resort to arms, but resolve them peacefully. If need be, I can act as your arbitrator.

• God should not be viewed as an authoritarian ruler, but as our common father.

• As for myself, I consider all persons, black or white, as equals.

• I wish you to be my partners and not just members of our commonwealth.

• As far as I am able, I shall see to it that all my promises come true.

• Regard this oath as a symbol of love.

The oath at Opis conveys a message, which originated in Macedonia and has not been emphasized enough. The message, emanating from Alexander's native land, was not to conquer nations or to acquire riches, or even to satisfy rivalrous passions between nations, but to unite all people with the bonds of peace, amalgamation and mutual communication.

Alexander's comments to Diogenes during their brief encounter in Corinth, his policy during his expedition to the East, culminating with the oath at Opis and the historic statement, recorded by Diodorus, that the "enemies were required by the conqueror to be happy," all attest to the fact that Alexander's ambition was to civilize and not to conquer. Professor Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, who is one of the most respected, well-read and broadly accepted statesmen of Greece, writes that Alexander severely penalized those who abused the public treasury or ill-treated the citizens of his commonwealth. Thus, knowledgeable sources and scholars inform us that the young king respected the public treasury while remaining a philanthropist.

As Plutarch notes, Alexander expressed the above policy before he initiated his expedition in the East. The recorded occasion was during the time when he met the famous Greek philosopher Diogenes in Corinth. When Alexander asked Diogenes what he would like to have from the Macedonian king, the philosopher answered that the only thing he wished was for Alexander to move, so that he would not obscure the sun. Diogenes' reply did not anger Alexander who said, "If I did not intend to merge the barbarian nations with Greece, and by passing through the continent to bring civilization to it, and then the end of the world and ocean, in order to extend Macedonia that far and spread and convey to all nations Hellenic justice and peace, I wouldn't be content doing nothing and just using power for corporeal pleasures. However, I would be envious of Diogenes' simplicity."

Indeed, throughout his life Alexander never used his authority for pleasures.

When Alexander was leaving Macedonia to undertake his expedition against the Persians, he distributed his property and belongings. Alexander was asked what he would keep for himself and his answer was that he would only keep "hope."

Jews throughout the centuries have been using the name Alexander. This has been in accordance with their high priest's decision that "Alexander's name should remain in eternity." The decision was taken because, when Alexander visited Jerusalem, he exhibited respect towards the high priest and for the Jewish religious worship. It is said that when the Jews of Jerusalem offered Alexander gold and silver, he refused to accept them; the Jewish high priest told Alexander: "We serve only one God who created Heaven and Earth and all visible and invisible things that no human being is able to explain." To this Alexander replied, "As worthy worshippers of the true God, be in peace, for your God is my God and my peace is your peace. I shall not treat you any different from the other nations, since you serve the living God."

A few years ago our ambassador to Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, told me that even today Pakistani school students are learning that the remains of Alexander were placed in a coffin with his hands outside the coffin when he died. The crowd was bearing Alexander's remains around the city, shouting "Alexander's hands were clean when he was born and with clean hands he goes to the other world." Pakistanis even today regard Alexander as their national hero.

Alexander never followed Aristotle's advice that he should treat the Greeks differently than the non-Greeks. By respecting the traditions of the people he conquered, eliminating discrimination and prejudice between conquerors and conquered, Alexander the Great elevated the peoples he conquered from an economic, social and political point of view to a higher echelon. That is the reason why Alexander, still today, is loved and respected by a multitude of nations in the East and West and why various legends of different nationalities claim Alexander as their own. Montesquieu, the great French political philosopher, wrote, "When Alexander was gone, nations became orphans."

Voltaire, according to Pavlos Tzermias, wrote "Alexander changed the nature of Asia, Greece, and Egypt and gave new direction to the world." With his marriage to Roxane, the daughter of Darius, Alexander was the first one to revoke racial discrimination. He reaffirmed his stance about inequity by assigning individuals from within the peoples he conquered to assume responsible governing positions in his commonwealth.

Alexander's behavior toward the relatives of Persian King Darius whom he had captured (his mother, wife and children), was admired by all for the respect that he showed to these royal family members. He did not treat the family of his opponent as a conqueror and as a mighty king would treat enslaved subjects. Darius' mother came to love Alexander as her own son, because in treating her with respect, the purity of his youth became evident to her. She refused to abandon him when there was a plot that gave her the opportunity to escape. After Alexander passed away, she went on a hunger fast for five days and committed suicide, as Kanellopoulos writes.

"Darius, you have been conquered by an enemy whose character is far superior of any other human. . .This enemy is virtuous and brave" -- comforting words to Darius, offered by the manservant of Stateira, the wife of Darius, who had escaped when he saw Darius lamenting after the news he received about his wife's death while she was giving birth to their child.

Droysen, in his book, Geschichte Alexanders des Grossen [The History of Alexander the Great], wrote that when Darius was informed that the Macedonian king showed every respect toward his captive family and that the dead Stateira was buried with all honors fit for a queen, he raised his arms toward the sky saying, "If I return as a conqueror I want to be able to return Alexander's kindness during my family's misfortune, and if we cease ruling may the gods intervene so no other than Alexander should occupy the throne of Persia."

By liberating various cities in the East which were under bondage, Alexander abolished oligarchy and established democracy. He founded cities, theaters, and gymnasia, built new roads, established common currency and promoted commerce among nations. He mitigated Greek civilization in the East and extremely influenced Arab nations. As Dennis Overbye of the New York Times wrote, the meeting of the two civilizations, Greek and Arabian, became an important historic fact. The Arabs translated Greek literary works into Arabic, which subsequently were passed to Europe during the 12th century AD through Latin, thus establishing the basis for the European Renaissance.

Dr. Constantine Romanos, Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department of Aegean University, in his interesting book, The Hellenistic Islam, describes (this period of history): "the missing Hellenistic legacy of Islam is the missing link of the history of civilization." As Romanos mentions, no research has been done in Greece about this issue; the former Metropolitan of Great Britain, Methodios Fougias, has carried out the only serious attempt. Metropolitan Methodios' remarkable research, combined with the opening of Alexandria's library and the reports of various Egyptian scientists in regards to the great benefits of the legendary ancient library of Alexandria, have helped to gain interest on an international level in the works of Hellenized Islamic philosophers in the Medieval period.

As Overbye observed the scientific work of the Arab philosophers, which was the end result of the success of Alexander the Great, was interrupted by the Crusades, the invasions of the Mongols and the Ottomans. The latter imposed their presence for about five centuries and during that period there was no academic scholarship at all in the area. Overbye wrote that the Ottomans were not interested in sciences and Dr. Romanos observed that they did not identify with Islam.

It is not by chance that Mohammed the Prophet refers in the Koran to the double-horned King (Alexander) as a prophet who has the ability to punish those committing injuries against others and to reward the individuals who carry out good deeds.

Buddhists consider Alexander equal to God.

St. Nectarios, in his book, The Ecumenical Synods, writes "Hellenism spread by Alexander paved the way for Christianity by Emperor Constantine the Great."

St. Vassilios the Great does not by chance present Alexander the Great as a role model of self-discipline to young people.

Mankind today needs a positive projection of Alexander's deeds and work and this is an ardent aspiration of the UN. This goal could be satisfied by a film supported by true historic veracity, rather than imaginary or profiteering scripts, aiming to humiliate Alexander whom the passing of time has indeed respected. This could result not only in insulting nations conquered by Alexander, but it would also offend the faithful of other great religions.

Arrian, in his book The Ascension of Alexander VII, mentions that, according to Aristobulus the historian who accompanied Alexander, the Macedonian king was diligent, fearless, brave, respectful to gods, and self-disciplined in his corporeal pleasures. Arrian adds that it is not of great significance that Alexander committed some errors. He was the only king who was remorseful about his mistakes and this has to do with his gentle nature. According to Aristobulus, the symposia in which Alexander participated did not last long, since Alexander did not drink much.

Plutarch, employing Alexander's journal as a source, wrote in his book Parallel Live. Alexander: "Also in wine he was less self-indulgent than what he was considered. He was of the habit of staying at the symposia talking much, but drinking little." Plutarch adds that he was also temperate in eating.

Alexander is honored and will be honored and respected forever by the great religions of the world. [Hollywood-style] scripts, therefore, and other attempts to blemish his personality, are ineffective. Regardless of what has been mentioned above, common sense negates allegations about Alexander's homosexuality or drinking habits. It would have been impossible for Alexander to lead his army in such successful military campaigns, achieved by no one preceding or following him, if these attributes were true.

Film scripts which attempt to portray Alexander the Great as a homosexual are of poor taste and lack seriousness. Plutarch stated in his Moralia. De Alexandri magni fortuna aut virtute [Morals. About the Virtue or Fortune of Alexander the Great]: "Let us bring up the deeds of those who have generally been identified as philosophers and let us compare their deeds with the deeds of Alexander. Philoxenus, his coast guard commander, wrote to Alexander that he found in Ionia a very handsome boy, one that could be compared to none other in beauty, and that if Alexander wanted the boy, he could send the youth to him. The king replied to him bitterly and in a scolding fashion: 'Horrible man, have you known me up to now guilty of such crimes? How dare you flatter me with such vile pleasures?'"

Other points could be brought to disprove Alexander's homosexuality allegations: Alexander was married to Roxane and had an heir by her; he was also married to the daughter of Darius; a queen of the East had asked Alexander to father a child with her.

In this age of loss of direction and human dignity, we search for great men to guide and inspire our youth and to elevate the quality of life. Falsification and degradation of the personalities and statuses of long established heroes of history for political or materialistic gains and minimization of their positive effectiveness is not only offensive to every civilized human being, but is also a crime against humanity itself. In the case of Alexander the Great, nothing undertaken by those who now wish to turn historical facts around, in order to try and belittle him or tarnish his fame with unfounded claims, can affect his grandeur and place in world history.


The Lawmaker of Athens (died 559 B.C.)

by Plutarch

Athens, unlike Sparta, was a money-mad commercial city. The constitution written by Solon mitigated the class struggle between rich and poor, and allowed for the growth of democratic institutions.

Solon was born into a well-to-do family of Athens. He worked as a merchant in the export-import trade, and he considered himself relatively poor. He did not worship money, as is evident from these poems of his:

The man whose riches satisfy his greed
is not more rich for all those heaps and hoards
than some poor man who has enough to feed
and clothe his corpse with such as God affords.

I have no use for men who steal and cheat;
the fruit of evil poisons those who eat.

Some wicked men are rich, some good men poor,
but I would rather trust in what's secure;
our virtue sticks with us and makes us strong,
but money changes owners all day long.

Poetry was for Solon a way to entertain himself, and he also used poetry to give his ideas easy access to the minds of the Athenians.

The seven wise men of Greece were well-known, both to each other and to the general public. Anacharsis, who was one of these wise men, came to visit Solon in Athens. When Anacharsis saw Athenian democracy at work, he remarked that it was strange that in Athens wise men spoke and fools decided. Solon admired this man's ready wit and he entertained Anacharsis as his guest for a long time. Solon showed Anacharsis some laws that he was drafting for the Athenians. Anacharsis laughed at Solon for imagining that the dishonesty and greed of the Athenians could be restrained by written laws. Such laws, said Anacharsis, are like spiderwebs: they catch the weak and poor, but the rich can rip right through them.

When Solon went to visit another of the seven wise men, Thales of Miletus, Solon asked why Thales did not get married and have children. Thales gave no reply, but he hired an actor, who a few days later pretended to have just arrived from Athens. Solon asked this actor for the latest news, and the actor replied as he had been instructed by Thales. He said that nothing important had happened, except there was a funeral of some young man who had died while his famous father happened to be away. "Poor man," said Solon, "but what is his name?" With every question and answer, Solon got more and more worried, until finally he mentioned his own name. "That's the man!" said the actor, and Solon went into all of the usual expressions of grief while Thales watched impassively. After a while, Thales said to Solon: "You asked why I did not marry and have children. You now see the reason. Such a loss is too much for even your brave spirit to bear. But don't worry, it was all nothing but a lie."

Nevertheless, it shows a lack of judgment and courage to avoid having good things because we are afraid of losing them. Even our virtue, which is by far our most valuable possession, can be lost through sickness or drugs. The soul has an innate tendency of affection, and when it cannot fix itself on a child it seeks some other object, and grief comes just the same. When a dog dies, or a horse, smug bachelors collapse in sorrow, but some fathers can bear the loss even of a child without extravagant grief.

It is not affection, but weakness, that brings a man -- unarmed against fortune by reason -- into these endless pains and terrors. Because they are always worrying about what might go wrong, most are unable to enjoy their present opportunities for happiness.

For a long time, the Athenians and the Megarians had been fighting over the island of Salamis. The Athenians got tired of the war and passed a law that anyone who advocated possession of Salamis would die. Solon saw that most of the young men wanted to finish the fight, but were afraid to speak out because of this law.

So Solon pretended to go crazy. A rumor spread that Solon had made up some crazy poems and was now totally out of his mind. Then one day he appeared in the marketplace and stood in the speaker's place. All of the Athenians swarmed to hear the crazy man speak. Still keeping up the act of insanity, Solon sang a song of over a hundred verses about Salamis. The poem was so well done that the people forgave him for violating the new law. Before long, the law was repealed, and the Athenians prosecuted the war with greater vigor than ever before. Solon, who meanwhile had recovered, was chosen to be the general to lead them in it.

Salamis was occupied at the time by the Megarians. Solon sent a spy there to tell the Megarians of a great opportunity to kidnap the most noble ladies of Athens, who were celebrating a festival at the temple of Venus. This was true, but what the Megarians failed to realize was that Solon knew that they would be coming.

When he saw their sails coming from Salamis, Solon replaced the women with beardless men dressed in women's clothes. From a distance, the Megarians could not tell the difference. They landed and anchored their ships, jumping out into the water in their eagerness to get at the women. The last thing on their minds was defense, and every one of them was killed. Then the Athenians sailed to Salamis in the Megarians' ships and took the island by surprise.

Athens at this time had three factions: the people of the hills, who favored democracy; the people of the plains, who favored oligarchy; and the people of the shore, who favored a mixed sort of government and prevented either of the other two factions from prevailing. The political turmoil had come to the point where it appeared that the only way any government at all could be established would be for some tyrant to take all power into his own hands.

Under Athenian law at that time, if a loan went into default, the creditor could seize the debtor and his family and sell them as slaves to get money to pay off the debt. The cruelty and arrogance of the rich caused the poor to form into gangs to save themselves and rescue those who had been made slaves through usury. The best men of the city saw Solon as someone who was partial to neither the rich nor the poor, and they asked him to lead. The rich consented because Solon was wealthy, and the poor consented because he was honest.

Solon's task was dangerous and difficult because of the greediness of one side and the arrogance of the other. To placate both sides, Solon said: "Fairness breeds no strife." To the poor, "fairness" meant equal wealth; and to the rich, "fairness" meant keeping what they owned.

Both rich and poor, therefore, believed for a while that Solon was on their side. But soon the poor people became disgusted that Solon would not use his power to seize the property of the rich. Solon's friends advised him that he would be a fool if he did not take advantage of the opportunity that fate had presented. Now that he had this power, they said, he should make himself a tyrant. Solon, who was a wise man, replied that tyranny is indeed a very pleasant peak, but there is no way down from it.

Unlike Lycurgus, Solon could not change the state from top to bottom, so he worked only on what it was possible to improve without a total revolution. He only attempted what he thought he could persuade the Athenians to accept, with a little compulsion. Wherever possible, Solon made use of euphemisms, such as calling taxes "contributions." With a judicious mixture of sweet with sour, justice with force, he managed to achieve some success. When afterwards Solon was asked whether he had made the best laws he could for the Athenians, he answered: "The best they were able to receive."

Solon's first reform was forbidding mortgages on bodies. Even with the consent of the debtor, the creditor could no longer legally enslave him and his family. Those who had already become slaves were liberated, and those who had been sold to foreigners returned to Athens as free men. Solon also ordered that all outstanding debts were forgiven, so all mortgages on land disappeared.

But here Solon was disappointed by his friends. Shortly before he published his law releasing all mortgages, he told some of his most trusted friends. They immediately went out and borrowed money to buy land, giving the purchased land as security for repayment of the loan. When the law was published, they had their land free and clear. For this, Solon was suspected, but when it came to be known that he himself had lost fifteen talents by his own law, he managed to escape serious damage to his reputation.

Neither the rich nor the poor got all they wanted from Solon's reforms. There was no complete redistribution of wealth as the poor had demanded, and the rich were angry about the loss of the money they were owed. Both the rich and the poor now hated Solon for not obeying their desires. Even those who had been friendly to him before now looked at him with grim faces, as an enemy. But with time and success came forgiveness. When the Athenians saw the good result of the release of debts, they appointed Solon general reformer of their law.

Solon repealed the laws of Dracon, which punished even small offenses with death, so it was said that the laws of Dracon (codified 621 B.C.) were written in blood instead of ink. When someone asked Dracon why he had made his laws so severe, he answered: "We need the death penalty to prevent small crimes, and for bigger ones I can't think of any greater punishment." Solon reserved the death penalty for murder and manslaughter.

Solon made it a law that anyone who refused to take sides in a revolution would lose all civil rights. By this law he made sure that the good would resist the bad and not hide hoping to save themselves, or wait until they could see which side will win.

When Solon was asked once which city he thought was well-governed, he said: "That city where those who have not been injured take up the cause of one who has, and prosecute the case as earnestly as if the wrong had been done to themselves." Accordingly, he allowed anyone to take up the cause of a poor man who had been injured.

Solon was willing to allow the rich men to continue to be the officers, but he wanted to allow the poor citizens to participate in the government. He therefore classed the citizens according to income. The lowest class, the thetes, were ineligible for election to any office. However, the thetes were allowed to come into the assembly, and as jurors they decided cases submitted to their vote. Since Solon's laws were deliberately obscure and ambiguous, the courts had significant powers of interpretation. What had seemed an insignificant concession to the poor turned out to be a significant privilege.

Solon created a supreme court, whose members were former archons [annual presidents] of Athens. Seeing that after the release of debts the people were beginning to be unruly and arrogant, Solon also created a council of four hundred -- one hundred from each of the four tribes in Athens. This was an additional legislative body, whose powers were limited to debating matters before they were submitted to the people for a vote. Nothing could be voted on until it had been vetted by the four hundred. With the supreme court and the council of four hundred as anchors, the turbulence of the people was restrained within safe limits.

Solon made it a crime to defame the dead. As for the living, attacks on character were prohibited in the council-chambers of the city and at certain festivals. Solon knew that spite is part of human nature, but he established certain places where it was illegal to indulge this weakness. To suppress it completely would have been impossible.

If the aim is to punish a few, moderately, as an example -- rather than many, severely, to no purpose -- the lawmaker must confine his law to the limits of human nature, and not try to legislate perfection.

Many people had come to Athens rather than struggle to scratch a living from the barren land of Attica. Without something to sell, Athens could not feed itself. Therefore crafts became essential to the city's prosperity. Solon made it a law that a son was not bound to relieve his father's old age unless the father had set him up in some craft. He also made it a law that every man had to report each year how he made his living, and anyone found to be unemployed was punished.

The laws promulgated by Solon were written on boards. Every one of the leading citizens publicly swore to observe them. But now Solon was besieged every day by people asking for an interpretation of some provision, or complaining about how a law affected them. Solon decided that he should leave the Athenians for a while so that they would cease bothering him, and work things out by themselves. He got permission to leave Athens and took a ship to Egypt (590 B.C.).

The priests of Egypt told Solon the ancient story of the lost continent of Atlantis. Solon translated the story of Atlantis into Greek verse, thinking that it would be a very good thing for the Greeks to know.

King Croesus of Sardis, who was at this time the richest man in the world, invited Solon to come and visit him at his palace. Solon arrived, and upon entering the palace he saw a man magnificently dressed and accompanied by a retinue of slaves and soldiers, so he assumed that this man must be Croesus. But he turned out to be only a minor official in Croesus' court. As Solon proceeded through the palace, he saw several other officials just as grand. Finally Solon was admitted to the king's chamber for the interview, and there was Croesus dressed in his most splendid clothes and jewelry.

Solon was not dazzled by this display of barbaric magnificence, which had awed so many others. So King Croesus commanded that his treasure houses be opened so that Solon could see how many beautiful clothes he had, and how much gold. SoŬon politely looked at everything, then came back to the king. "Well, Solon," said Croesus, "have you ever seen a man who was more fortunate than Croesus?"

Solon replied: "Yes, I have, and that was Tellus, a citizen of Athens. He was an honest man who left his children well provided for and with good will in the city. He lived to see grandchildren by his sons. Then he died gloriously, fighting for his country."

This frank answer enraged Croesus, but Solon pacified him by adding: "Oh mighty king of the Lydians, the gods have given us Greeks only small things, and our wisdom is only of small things and not the business of men as important as you. We consider how a man's life is so much subject to chance, and how disaster can come to us completely by surprise, so we don't consider any man to be successful until he has died well, with his good fortune intact to the end. Otherwise, if we should say that a living man is a success, when there is so much that can still happen to him, we would be like soldiers celebrating victory before the battle is over." After that speech, Solon made his exit and saved his life.

He happened to meet Aesop, the author of the famous fables, who also had been invited to the palace of Croesus. Aesop said: "Either we must not come to mighty men at all, or we must try to please them. "But Solon replied: Either we must not come to mighty men, or we must tell them the truth."

Afterwards, King Croesus was defeated by King Cyrus of Persia. Croesus lost his kingdom and was taken prisoner. He was tied to a stake, and was about to be burned alive for the amusement of Cyrus, when Croesus cried out Solon's name three times. Cyrus stopped the proceedings and asked Croesus whether this Solon was a man or one of the gods. Croesus answered: "He was one of the wise men of Greece, whom I invited to my palace. Not that I might learn anything, but so that he might witness my good fortune at that time. The loss of it now is more painful than its enjoyment was pleasant. My riches were really only words and opinion, and now they have brought me to be burned at the stake. Solon saw me in my foolish prosperity and foresaw my present misery. He warned me that I should consider the end of my life, and not boast on slippery ground, since no man is happy until he has died well. "Cyrus saw the teaching of Solon confirmed by such a notable example. He released Croesus and kept him at his court as one of his most honored counselors.

While Solon was gone, the three factions [Hill, Plain, and Shore] began to quarrel again. Although they kept his laws, each one looked forward to some kind of change that might give an advantage over the others. Solon was too old to take an active role when he arrived back in Athens, but he met privately with the leaders and tried to calm down the partisan rancor.

Pisistratus, who led the poor, seemed to be the most willing of all. Pisistratus was a smooth talker and a master of fraud. He fooled the poor and even old Solon, who said that if only the worm of ambition could be plucked from the head of Pisistratus there would be no better citizen.

One day, Pisistratus smeared blood over himself and dramatically appeared in the marketplace. He told the people that their enemies, the rich, had done this to him because he was the friend of the poor. One of his followers then made a motion to appoint a fifty-man bodyguard to protect this martyr of the people's cause. Solon saw through this trick, but the poor were determined to gratify Pisistratus, and the rich were afraid to resist him.

Solon told the Athenians that they were indeed shrewd as individuals, but collectively they made one big fool. And with that parting shot, Solon went away, saying that he was wiser than some and braver than others -- wiser than those who had fallen for the trick, and braver than those who understood what was happening but did not dare to speak out against the coming of a tyrant.

No one questioned Pisistratus as he gathered many more than fifty armed men around him. No one noticed what Pisistratus was doing until one day he seized the strongholds of the city and made himself tyrant (561 B.C.). The rich saved their lives by fleeing Athens. Solon was weak and old, and he had no man willing to stand by him, but he went to the marketplace and scolded the Athenians for being too afraid of Pisistratus and his gang to take back their liberty. "Before," he said, "you might have more easily stopped this tyranny, but now that it is already in place you can win even more glory by rooting it out."

But the Athenians did nothing, and Solon stayed home and wrote bitter poems. His friends warned him to get out of Athens, or at least not to anger Pisistratus with his free speech. They asked him why he thought he was safe to speak so boldly against the tyrant, and Solon answered: "My age." Pisistratus, however, continued to pay great respect to Solon, and continually consulted him. He kept most of Solon's laws, and even obeyed them himself.

Finishing the story of Atlantis proved to be too great a task for Solon in his old age. Instead, as he wrote:

But now the powers of Beauty, Song, and Wine,
which are most men's delights, are also mine.



Described by Homer in the Iliad as “The father of the gods and men”, Zeus was the supreme ruler on Mount Olympus and the head of the Pantheon of gods that dwelt there. His most common attribute was the thunderbolt, as he was the god of thunder, rain and clouds. He was also the god of justice. One of the most commonly told myths about Zeus was the one of his rise to the throne.

Before the birth of Zeus, reigned Uranus and his wife Gaea. Uranus and Gaea had twelve children known as the Titans who had been banished into the abyss called Tartarus by their father who was terribly afraid of them.

Their mother was appalled by the actions of their father and urged her children to rise up against him. Only Cronus, the youngest of the Titans, was brave enough to oppose Uranus. Gaea set him free and gave him a scythe with which to defeat his father.

A battle ensued and Cronus reigned victorious. Uranus was enraged and cursed Cronus, saying to him that one day he also, would be defeated and deposed by his own children.

It was to Cronus that the child Zeus was born. Cronus and his wife/sister, Rhea had together six children. In an attempt to escape the fulfillment of Uranus’ prophesy, Cronus had taken to swallowing his children right after they were born.

Rhea was appalled by her husband’s actions and when Zeus was born on the Island of Crete, he was entrusted to the care of the Melian nymphs who hid him in a cave on Mount Ida. A goat named Amalthea was given the role of nurse and the native Curetes clashed their weapons against their shields in order to dull Zeus’ cries from reaching the ears of his father.

Cronus, aware of Zeus’ birth, demanded that Rhea give him his latest progeny, so he could be rid of him also. Rhea wrapped a large stone in swaddling clothes and handed it to Cronus, who promptly swallowed it, thinking it to be his son.

When Zeus had grown to a young boy, under the counsel of his mother, he returned home to Mount Olympus and in a short battle did displace his father as was prophesied. Using a potion prepared by Metis, the daughter of Cronus’ brother Oceanus, Cronus was forced to bring up the children he had eaten – Poseidon, Pluto, Hestia, Demeter and Hera.

Zeus, now Ruler Supreme, divided the rule of his kingdom amongst his brothers. Poseidon became the ruler of the seas and Pluto, the ruler of the Underworld.

Along with all his siblings, the stone that had been Zeus’ deliverance also reappeared. Zeus brought this to Delphi, which was preserved as sacred afterwards.

But, peace was not yet restored. A ten-year battle erupted on Mount Olympus, as Zeus fought his father’s siblings, who did not support his theft of the throne. Aware of the strength of the Titans that opposed him, Zeus turned to the Cyclopes who had also been trapped in Tartarus as the Titans once were. He agreed to free them under the condition that they forge him thunderbolts, which became a lasting symbol of the great god Zeus. This done, the battle waged on until the Titans finally conceded. It was thought that this mighty battle was fought in the land of Thessaly, accounting for it’s rough, mountainous terrain.

But even with the Titans defeated, still Zeus’ place on the throne was not yet secure. Gaea was angry that her children were defeated and sent two monsters to depose Zeus. After a long struggle, Zeus won the fight and became the father of the gods and ruler supreme on Mount Olympus.

Zeus kept order in his kingdom. He punished those who opposed him or incurred his wrath and rewarded those who pleased him. His punishments could be cruel and unyielding as in the case of Prometheus and his rewards magnificent.

But there was also an amorous side to Zeus. Although he was married to his wife/sister Hera, he had many affairs with both gods and mortals and had many children.

Zeus’ affair with the Titan Mnemosyne resulted in the birth of nine girls who became known as the Muses, the goddesses of intellectual pursuit. His affair with Demeter, the goddess of the earth produced the goddess Persephone who became the wife of Hades and Goddess of the Underworld. His affair with Themis, another of the Titans ended with the birth of the Horae or the Season and the Fates.

In many of the affairs with mortals, Zeus used subversive means to seduce them. For instance, he appeared to Europa, the princess of Phoenicia as a bull and he carried her off to the Island of Crete where she bore him three children. To princess Danae, he appeared as a shower of gold and to the Spartan queen, Leda, he took the form of a swan. He bore many children from these liaisons creating and securing the foundation of the great Olympian dynasty.
The Olympians


In contrast to most Greek sites, Olympia is green and lush, amidst groves of trees. Here was the great Sanctuary of Zeus, the Altis, and the setting for the Olympic Games. For over a thousand years, in peace and war, the Greeks assembled here to celebrate this great festival. The simple crown of wild olive was sufficient to immortalize the victor, his family, and his city. The Greeks referred to the Sanctuary of Zeus as the Altis. The name Altis came from a corruption of the Elean word for grove, alsos . Sanctuaries were centers of religious worship where the Greeks built temples, treasuries, altars, statues, and other structures. The crowns made of olive leaves came from a wild olive tree in the Altis, which was called the olive of the Beautiful Crown. Olive trees, which supplied the Greeks with olive oil, olives, a cleaning agent for bathing, and a base for perfumes, were an important resource in the rocky and dry Greek environment. A Greek legend credited the hero Herakles (Hercules) with introducing the olive tree to Greece.

Where did the Olympic games come from?
There are many different stories about the beginning of the Olympics. One myth says that the guardians of the infant god Zeus held the first footrace, or that Zeus himself started the Games to celebrate his victory over his father Cronus for control of the world. Another tradition states that after the Greek hero Pelops won a chariot race against King Oenomaus to marry Oenomaus's daughter Hippodamia, he established the Games. Athletic games also were an important part of many religious festivals from early on in ancient Greek culture. In the Iliad, the famous warrior Achilles holds games as part of the funeral services for his best friend Patroclus. The events in them include a chariot race, a footrace, a discus match, boxing and wrestling.

Why were they held at Olympia?
Olympia was one of the oldest religious centers in the ancient Greek world. Since athletic contests were one way that the ancient Greeks honored their gods, it was logical to hold a recurring athletic competition at the site of a major temple. Also, Olympia is convenient geographically to reach by ship, which was a major concern for the Greeks. Athletes and spectators traveled from Greek colonies as far away as modern-day Spain, the Black Sea, or Egypt. An international truce among the Greeks was declared for the month before the Olympics to allow the athletes to reach Olympia safely. The judges had the authority to fine whole cities and ban their athletes from competition for breaking the truce. The Spartans once invaded Elis (the territory which included Olympia) after the Olympic truce had been declared. The Eleans demanded a large fine based on the number of soldiers in the advancing army and refused to allow any Spartan competitors during that Olympiad.

Were there other contests like the Olympics?
There were 3 other major games which were held on 2- or 4-year cycles: the Isthmean Games at Corinth, the Pythian Games at Delphi, and the Nemean Games at Nemea. Because it started 200 years before the other competitions, the Olympics remained the most famous athletic contest in the ancient Greek world. Many athletes competed at several athletic festivals. Inscriptions on victor's statues at Olympia often describe victories in 2, 3, or even all 4 major athletic festivals. Pausanias's description of Olympian architecture includes a list of the more famous victors' statues, and summaries of their inscriptions such as this one: "Polycles...likewise won a victory with a four-horse chariot, and his statue holds a ribbon in the right the inscription on him says, [he] also won the chariot-race at Pytho, the Isthmus and Nemea." (Pausanias 6.1.7)

Who could compete in the Olympics?
The Olympics were open to any free-born Greek in the world. There were separate mens' and boys' divisions for the events. The Elean judges divided youths into the boys' or men's divisions based as much on physical size and strength as age. Women were not allowed to compete in the Games themselves. However, they could enter equestrian events as the owner of a chariot team or an individual horse, and win victories that way. The winner of the first Olympic chariot and pair race is listed as "Belistiche, a woman from the seaboard of Macedonia." (Pausanias 5.8.11)

Were women allowed at the Olympics?
Not only were women not permitted to compete personally; married women were also barred from attending the games, under penalty of death. (Maidens were allowed to attend.) Pausanias tells the story of Callipateira, who broke this rule to see her son at the Games: "She, being a widow, disguised herself exactly like a gymnastic trainer, and brought her son to compete at Olympia. Peisirodus, for so her son was called, was victorious, and Callipateira, as she was jumping over the enclosure in which they keep the trainers shut up, bared her person. So her sex was discovered, but they let her go unpunished out of respect for her father, her brothers and her son, all of whom had been victorious at Olympia. But a law was passed that for the future trainers should strip before entering the arena." (Pausanias 5.6.8ff.) Athletic competitions for women did exist in ancient Greece. The most famous was a maidens' footrace in honor of the goddess Hera, which was held at the Olympic stadium. There were 3 separate races for girls, teenagers, and young women. The length of their racecourse was shorter than the men's track; 5/6 of a stade (about 160 m.) instead of a full stade (about 192 m.). The winners received olive crowns just like Olympic victors.

How were the athletes trained?
Athletics were a key part of education in ancient Greece. Many Greeks believed that developing the body was equally important as improving the mind for overall health. Also, regular exercise was important in a society where men were always needed for military service. Plato's Laws specifically mentions how athletics improved military skills. Greek youth therefore worked out in the wrestling-school (palaestra) whether they were serious Olympic contenders or not. The palaestra (wrestling-school) was one of the most popular places for Greek men of all ages to socialize. Many accounts of Greek daily life include scenes in these wrestling-schools, such as the opening of Plato's Charmides.

Young men worked with athletic trainers who used long sticks to point out incorrect body positions and other faults. Trainers paid close attention to balancing the types of physical exercise and the athlete's diet. The Greeks also thought that harmonious movement was very important, so athletes often exercised to flute music. After exercise, they cleaned themselves by rubbing oil over their bodies and scraping the mix of oil, sweat, and dirt off with a special instrument called a strigil.

Ancient competitors were required to train at Olympia for a month before the Games officially started, like modern competitors at the Olympic Village.

What prizes did Olympic victors get?
A victor received a crown made from olive leaves, and was entitled to have a statue of himself set up at Olympia. Although he did not receive money at the Olympics, the victor was treated much like a modern sports celebrity by his home city. His success increased the fame and reputation of his community in the Greek world. It was common for victors to receive benefits such as having all their meals at public expense or front-row seats at the theater and other public festivals. One city even built a private gym for their Olympic wrestling champion to exercise in. When an Olympic victor from Crotona re-entered the Games as a native of Syracuse (to impress the ruler of Syracuse) and won both times, the citizens of Crotona were so angry about being robbed of their rightful victories that they tore down the athlete's statue in their city and condemned his house to be a prison. Who were the Olympic judges? Unlike the modern Olympics, judges did not come from all over the Greek world, but were drawn from Elis, the local region which included Olympia. The number of judges increased to 10 as more events were added to the Olympics. Even though the judges were all Eleans, local Elean Greeks were still allowed to compete in the Olympics. The Elean people had such a reputation for fairness that an Elean cheating at the Games was a shock to other Greeks. "It is a wonder in any case if a man has so little respect for the god of Olympia as to take or give a bribe in the contests; it is an even greater wonder that one of the Eleans themselves has fallen so low. But it is said that the Elean Damonicus did so fall at the hundred and ninety second Festival. They say that collusion occurred between Polyctor the son of Damonicus and Sosander of Smyrna, of the same name as his father; these were competitors for the wrestling prize of wild-olive. Damonicus, it is alleged, being exceedingly ambitious that his son should win, bribed the father of Sosander. When the transaction became known, the umpires imposed a fine, but instead of imposing it on the sons they directed their anger against the fathers, for that they were the real sinners." Pausanias (5.21.16ff)

What was the penalty for cheating?
"... it is the custom for athletes, their fathers and their brothers, as well as their trainers, to swear an oath upon slices of boar's flesh that in nothing will they sin against the Olympic games."

The athletes take this further oath also, that for ten successive months they have strictly followed the regulations for training. An oath is also taken by those who examine the boys, or the foals entering for races, that they will decide fairly and without taking bribes, and that they will keep secret what they learn about a candidate, whether accepted or not."
Pausanias (5.24.9ff)

Anyone who violated the rules was fined by the judges. The money was used to set up statues of Zeus, the patron god of the Games at Olympia.

In addition to using bribes, other offenses included deliberately avoiding the training period at Olympia. One athlete claimed that bad winds kept his ship from arriving in time, but was later proved to have spent the training period traveling around Greece winning prize money in other competitions. Another athlete was so intimidated by his opponents that he left the Games the day before he was to compete, and was fined for cowardice.

Where did the marathon come from?
The marathon was never one of the ancient Olympic events, although its origin dates back to another episode in ancient Greek history. In the 5th century B.C., the Persians invaded Greece, landing at Marathon, a small town about 26 miles from the city of Athens.

The Athenian army was seriously outnumbered by the Persian army, so the Athenians sent messengers to cities all over Greece asking for help. The traditional origin of the marathon comes from the story how a herald named Phidippides ran the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory and died on the spot. Phidippides was sent by the Athenians to Sparta to ask for help; a man named Eukles announced the victory to the Athenians and then died.

Later sources confused the story of Phidippides, also called "Philippides," with that of Eukles. Although most ancient authors do not support this legend, the story has persisted and is the basis for the modern-day marathon.

The modern Olympic marathon is approximately 26 miles and usually takes over 2 hours for athletes to finish.

The Greek city-states and the religious festival:
One difference between the ancient and modern Olympic Games is that the ancient games were played within the context of a religious festival. The Games were held in honor of Zeus, the king of the Greek gods, and a sacrifice of 100 oxen was made to the god on the middle day of the festival. Athletes prayed to the gods for victory, and made gifts of animals, produce, or small cakes, in thanks for their successes.

According to legend, the altar of Zeus stood on a spot struck by a thunderbolt, which had been hurled by the god from his throne high atop Mount Olympus, where the gods assembled. Some coins from Elis had a thunderbolt design on the reverse, in honor of this legend.

Over time, the Games flourished, and Olympia became a central site for the worship of Zeus. Individuals and communities donated buildings, statues, altars and other dedications to the god. The most spectacular sight at Olympia was the gold and ivory cult statue of Zeus enthroned, which was made by the sculptor Pheidias and placed inside the temple. The statue was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and stood over 42 feet high. A spiral staircase took visitors to an upper floor of the temple, for a better view of the statue.

People who were not Greek could not compete in the Games, but Greek athletes traveled hundreds of miles, from colonies of the Greek city-states. These colonies were as far away as modern-day Spain, Italy, Libya, Egypt, the Ukraine, and Turkey.

A city-state, called a polis, was a typical Greek settlement, with a fortified city and a defensible citadel at the center of a territory, which might include other villages.

The polis of Attica was made up of Athens and its environs, for example, and the Acropolis was its fortress. The Greek city-states began to establish colonies from the mid-8th century on.

After the 2nd century A.D., the Roman empire brought even more competitors to the Olympic Games, but regional differences always gave the Olympics an international flavor.

...the glory of the temple persisted...on account both of the festal assembly and of the Olympian Games, in which the prize was a crown and which were regarded as sacred, the greatest games in the world. The temple was adorned by its numerous offerings, which were dedicated there from all parts of Greece. Strabo, Geography (8.3.30)

Early Buildings:
The earliest building remains at Olympia are a cluster of Bronze Age houses at the base of the Kronos hill. The ruins of one of these houses were preserved by the Greeks as the megaron of Oinomaos, the legendary king. Nearby was established the tumulus of Pelops, who defeated Oinomaos in a chariot race to Isthmia, and, in the same area, the Altar to Zeus was established.

A megaron was the large hall or main room of an early Greek house, with the roof supported by columns, the light entering through the doors, the smoke-hole, and the apertures just under the roof.

A tumulus is a large artificial mound built over a grave. According to legend, the hero Pelops entered a chariot race with King Oinomaos to compete for the hand of Oinomaos' daughter Hippodamia in marriage. Hippodamia fell in love with Pelops and convinced her father's groom to sabotage the racing chariot by removing the linchpins attaching the wheels. After Oinomaos' chariot was destroyed and he was dragged to his death by his horses, Pelops became king and ruled over the region, which he called the Peloponnese after himself.

Today, the southern part of the Greek mainland is still called by this name.

The legendary chariot race of Pelops and Oinomaos was commemorated with sculptures which decorated the East Pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, which was built between 470 and 457 B.C.

The First Temple:
During the 7th century, one of the very earliest monumental Greek temples was built here, originally a temple to both Zeus and Hera. But later, after the establishment of the great Temple of Zeus, it served Hera alone. In the 7th century, the temple was made of wood, but gradually was replaced in stone. The surviving capitals date to every period, from the late 7th century to Roman times. At the west end of the cella stood the archaic sculptures of Zeus and Hera, and the head of Hera has been recovered in the excavations. Here also was found the famous Hermes, sculpted by Praxiteles.

The temple of Hera was built in a system of regular proportions, so that many of the parts related to one another harmoniously. The width-to-length ratio of the temple was 3:8, and the number of pillars seen from the front and back (6) and the number seen from the sides (16) were in the same proportion. Also, the height of the columns was half the width of the temple's internal chamber, the cella.

Of all the treasures donated to the temple and put on display, the most impressive was a cedar chest inlaid with ivory and gold, and covered with five rows of intricate figures and inscriptions. The temple also housed the bronze discus inscribed with the Sacred Truce, and an ivory and gold table where the olive crowns given to the athletic victors were set out.

When the writer Pausanias visited the Temple of Hera in the 2nd century A.D., the tour guide told a gruesome story. In his youth, the roof of the temple needed repairs. When the Elean workers were fixing it, they found the corpse of a foot-soldier in the crawl space between the roof and the ceiling. They believed the soldier had crept in after being mortally wounded in a battle to defend the sanctuary, when the Eleans had climbed on the roof of the temple for an advantage in the fight.

The Olympic truce:
A truce (in Greek, ekecheiria, which literally means "holding of hands") was announced before and during each of the Olympic festivals, to allow visitors to travel safely to Olympia. An inscription describing the truce was written on a bronze discus which was displayed at Olympia. During the truce, wars were suspended, armies were prohibited from entering Elis or threatening the Games, and legal disputes and the carrying out of death penalties were forbidden.

Elis is in the northwestern part of the Peloponnese, which is the southern peninsula of mainland Greece. Because it receives more rain, Elis has better forests and pastures than the rest of Greece. The region was respected in ancient times as a holy and neutral place because of the sacred grove to Zeus, called the Altis, at Olympia.

The Olympic truce was faithfully observed, for the most part, although the historian Thucydides recounts that the Lacedaemonians were banned from participating in the Games, after they attacked a fortress in Lepreum, a town in Elis, during the truce. The Lacedaemonians complained that the truce had not yet been announced at the time of their attack. But the Eleans fined them two thousand minae, two for each soldier, as the law required.

A mina was equivalent to 100 drachmas, and one drachma was an average worker's daily wage, or the price of a sheep. Thus, the fine was a heavy one, equal to 200,000 drachmas.

Another international truce was enforced during the annual Mysteries, a religious rite held at the major sanctuary site of Eleusis. The truces of Olympia and Eleusis not only allowed worshippers and athletes to travel more safely; they also provided a common basis for peace among the Greeks. Lysistrata, the title character in a comic play by Aristophanes, makes this point when she tries to convince the Athenians and the Spartans to end their war.

In no uncertain terms I must reproach you,
both sides, and rightly. Don't you share a cup
at common altars, for common gods, like brothers,
at the Olympic games, Thermophylai and Delphi?
I needn't list the many, many others.
The world is full of foreigners you could fight,
but it's Greek men and cities you destroy!
Aristophanes, Lysistrata (1131)

The Context of the Games and the Olympic Spirit:
Today, the Olympic Games are the world's largest pageant of athletic skill and competitive spirit. They are also displays of nationalism, commerce and politics. These two opposing elements of the Olympics are not a modern invention. The conflict between the Olympic movement's high ideals and the commercialism or political acts which accompany the Games has been noted since ancient times.

Sotades at the ninety-ninth Festival was victorious in the long race and proclaimed a Cretan, as in fact he was. But at the next Festival he made himself an Ephesian, being bribed to do so by the Ephesian people. For this act he was banished by the Cretans. Pausanias, Description of Greece (6.18.6)

Excellence and the competitive spirit:
When the Persian military officer Tigranes "heard that the prize was not money but a crown of olive, he could not hold his peace, but cried, Good heavens, Mardonius, what kind of men are these that you have pitted us against? It is not for money they contend but for glory of achievement!" Herodotus, Histories (8.26.3)

Ancient athletes competed as individuals, not on national teams, as in the modern Games. The emphasis on individual athletic achievement through public competition was related to the Greek ideal of excellence, called arete. Aristocratic men who attained this ideal, through their outstanding words or deeds, won permanent glory and fame. Those who failed to measure up to this code feared public shame and disgrace.

Do you think, fellow citizens, that any man would ever have been willing to train for the pancratium or any other of the harder contests in the Olympic games...if the crown were given, not to the best man, but to the man who had successfully intrigued for it? No man would ever have been willing. But as it is, because the reward is rare...and because of the competition and the honor, and the undying fame that victory brings, men are willing to risk their bodies, and at the cost of the most severe discipline to carry the struggle to the end.
Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon (179)

Not all athletes lived up to this code of excellence. Those who were discovered cheating were fined, and the money was used to make bronze statues of Zeus, which were erected on the road to the stadium. The statues were inscribed with messages describing the offenses, warning others not to cheat, reminding athletes that victory was won by skill and not by money, and emphasizing the Olympic spirit of piety toward the gods and fair competition.

The earliest recorded cheater was Eupolus of Thessaly, who bribed boxers in the 98th Olympiad. Callippus of Athens bought off his competitors in the pentathlon during the 112th festival. Two Egyptian boxers, Didas and Sarapammon, were fined for fixing the outcome of their match at the 226th Olympics. All these men were immortalized as cheaters in the writer Pausanias' 2nd century A.D. guidebook to Greece, in which he describes the statues at Olympia and recounts the men's misdeeds.

The ancient athlete: amateur or professional?
Athletic training was a basic part of every Greek boy's education, and any boy who excelled in sport might set his sights on competing in the Olympics. The Olympic competition included preliminary matches or heats to select the best athletes for the final competition.

Ancient writers tell the stories of athletes who worked at other jobs and did not spend all their time in training. For example, one of Alexander the Great's couriers, Philonides, who was from Chersonesus in Crete, once won the pentathlon, which included discus, javelin, long jump, and wrestling competitions as well as running. However, just as in the modern Olympics, an ancient athlete needed mental dedication, top conditioning, and outstanding athletic ability in order to make the cut.

...When Hysmon of Elis was still a boy he was attacked by a flux in his muscles, and it was in order that by hard exercise he might be a healthy man free from disease that he practised the pentathlon. So his training was also to make him win famous victories in the games.
Pausanias, Description of Greece (6.3.9)

Glaucus, the son of Demylus, was a farmer. "The ploughshare one day fell out of the plough, and he fitted it into its place, using his hand as a hammer; Demylus happened to be a spectator of his son's performance, and thereupon brought him to Olympia to box. There Glaucus, inexperienced in boxing, was wounded... and he was thought to be fainting from the number of his wounds. Then they say that his father called out to him, 'Son, the plough touch.' So he dealt his opponent a more violent blow which... brought him the victory." Pausanias, Description of Greece (6.10.1)

Self-confidence was also an asset. A Libyan athlete, Eubotas, was so sure of his victory in a running event that he had his victory statue made before the Games were held. When he won, he was able to dedicate his statue on the same day.

Many athletes employed professional trainers to coach them, and they adhered to training and dietary routines much like athletes today. The Greeks debated the proper training methods. Aristotle wrote that overtraining was to be avoided, claiming that when boys trained too young, it actually sapped them of their strength. He believed that three years after puberty should be spent on other studies before a young man turned to athletic exertions, because physical and intellectual development could not occur at the same time.

Victorious athletes were professionals in the sense that they lived off the glory of their achievement ever afterwards. Their hometowns might reward them with free meals for the rest of their lives, cash, tax breaks, honorary appointments, or leadership positions in the community. The victors were memorialized in statues and also in victory odes, commissioned from famous poets.

The Stadium and the Events
The first Olympic event, and the only event for the first 13 Olympiads, was the foot-race, over a distance of one stade. By Classical times, there were 18 contests, including boxing, wrestling, horse races, and the pentathlon, as well as additional running events.

The stadium at Olympia was originally within the sacred precinct, where spectators could view the races from the hill of Kronos. Gradually, the stadium was pushed farther east, until the late classical period, when it reached its present location outside the precinct. All the embankments are of earth, and only a few stone seats were provided for officials. Connecting the sanctuary and stadium was a vaulted passageway, an early example of the use of vaulting by the Greeks.

Ancient Olympic Events
The ancient Olympics were rather different from the modern Games. There were fewer events, and only free men who spoke Greek could compete, instead of athletes from any country. Also, the games were always held at Olympia instead of moving around to different sites every time.

Like our Olympics, though, winning athletes were heroes who put their home towns on the map. One young Athenian nobleman defended his political reputation by mentioning how he entered seven chariots in the Olympic chariot-race. This high number of entries made both the aristocrat and Athens look very wealthy and powerful.

Ancient boxing had fewer rules than the modern sport. Boxers fought without rounds until one man was knocked out, or admitted he had been beaten. Unlike the modern sport, there was no rule against hitting an opponent when he was down. There were no weight classes within the mens' and boys' divisions; opponents for a match were chosen randomly. Instead of gloves, ancient boxers wrapped leather thongs (himantes) around their hands and wrists which left their fingers free. Plato makes fun of boxers' faces, calling them the "folk with the battered ears."
Plato, Gorgias (515e)

Equestrian events

Chariot racing
There were both 2-horse chariot and 4-horse chariot races, with separate races for chariots drawn by foals. Another race was between carts drawn by a team of 2 mules. The course was 12 laps around the stadium track (9 miles).

The course was 6 laps around the track (4.5 miles), and there were separate races for full-grown horses and foals. Jockeys rode without stirrups.

Only wealthy people could afford to pay for the training, equipment, and feed of both the driver (or jockey) and the horses. As a result, the owner received the olive wreath of victory instead of the driver or jockey.

Aristophanes, the comic playwright, describes the troubles of a father whose son has too-expensive tastes in horses:

"Creditors are eating me up alive...and all because of this horse-plague!"
Aristophanes, Clouds (l.240ff)

This event was a grueling combination of boxing and wrestling. Punches were allowed, although the fighters did not wrap their hands with the boxing himantes. Rules outlawed only biting and gouging an opponent's eyes, nose, or mouth with fingernails. Attacks such as kicking an opponent in the belly, which are against the rules in modern sports, were perfectly legal. Like boxing and wrestling, among others, this event had separate divisions for both men and boys. The poet Xenophanes describes the pankration as "that new and terrible contest...of all holds"
Xenophanes (2)

This was a 5-event combination of discus, javelin, jumping, running and wrestling.

Aristotle describes a young man's ultimate physical beauty: "a body capable of enduring all efforts, either of the racecourse or of bodily strength...This is why the athletes in the pentathlon are most beautiful."
Aristotle, Rhetoric (1361b)

The ancient Greeks considered the rhythm and precision of an athlete throwing the discus as important as his strength. The discus was made of stone, iron, bronze, or lead, and was shaped like a flying saucer. Sizes varied, since the boys' division was not expected to throw the same weight as the mens'.

The javelin was a man-high length of wood, with either a sharpened end or an attached metal point. It had a thong for a hurler's fingers attached to its center of gravity, which increased the precision and distance of a javelin's flight.

Athletes used lead or stone jump weights (halteres) shaped like telephone receivers to increase the length of their jump. The halteres were held in front of the athlete during his ascent, and forcibly thrust behind his back and dropped during his descent to help propel his body further. Jump weights also doubled as weight lifting equipment during training.

There were 4 types of races at Olympia. The stadion was the oldest event of the Games. Runners sprinted for 1 stade (192 m.), or the length of the stadium. The other races were a 2-stade race (384 m.), and a long-distance run which ranged from 7 to 24 stades (1,344 m. to 4,608 m.) And if these races weren't enough, the Greeks had one particularly grueling event which we lack. There was also a 2 to 4-stade (384 m. to 768 m.) race by athletes in armor. This race was especially useful in building the speed and stamina that Greek men needed during their military service. If we remember that the standard hoplite armor (helmet, shield, and greaves)weighed about 50-60 lbs, it is easy to imagine what such an event must have been like. The Phaiacian nobles entertain the hero Odysseus by competing in athletic games: "A course was marked out for them from the turning point, and they all sped swiftly, raising the dust of the plain, but among them noble Clytoneus was far the best at running...he shot to the front and the others were left behind."
Homer, Odyssey (8.121ff)

Like the modern sport, an athlete needed to throw his opponent on the ground, landing on a hip, shoulder, or back for a fair fall. 3 throws were necessary to win a match. Biting was not allowed, and genital holds were also illegal. Attacks such as breaking your opponent's fingers were permitted. In one of Aristophanes's comedies, one character recommends that another rub his neck with lard in preparation for a heated argument with an adversary. The debater replies, "Spoken like a finished wrestling coach."
Aristophanes, Knights (l.490ff)

Did politics ever affect the ancient Games?
Politics were present at the ancient Olympics in many forms. In 365 B.C., the Arcadians and the Pisatans took over the Altis, and they presided over the 104th Olympiad the next year. When the Eleans finally regained control of Olympia, they declared the 104th Games invalid.

Some valuable political deeds were recorded at Olympia. An inscription on a victory statue honored Pantarces of Elis not only for winning in the Olympic horse-races, but also for making peace between the Achaeans and the Eleans, and negotiating the release of both sides' prisoners of war.

While the Olympic Games were being celebrated, Alexander had it proclaimed in Olympia that all exiles should return to their cities, except those who had been charged with sacrilege or murder. He selected the oldest of his soldiers who were Macedonians and released them from service; there were ten thousand of these. He learned that many of them were in debt, and in a single day he paid their obligations...
Diodorus Siculus, Library (17.109.1-2)

Olympia was also a place for announcing political alliances. Thucydides describes a 100-year military treaty the Athenians, Argives, Mantineans, and Eleans entered into, which was recorded in public inscriptions on stone pillars at the first three cities, and on a bronze pillar at Olympia. The tyrant of Athens, Pisistratus, exiled Cimon, a wealthy aristocrat, blaming him for a military and political disaster. "While in exile [Cimon] happened to take the Olympic prize in the four-horse chariot...At the next Olympic games he won with the same horses, but permitted Pisistratus to be proclaimed victor, and by resigning the victory to him he came back from exile to his own property under truce."
Herodotus, Histories (6.103.2)

Cultural achievements and the Games
The Olympic festival not only celebrated excellence in athletics. It also provided the occasion for Greeks to produce lasting cultural achievements in architecture, mathematics, sculpture, and poetry.

The ancient Greeks were architectural innovators. The temple of Zeus, designed by the architect Libon, was one of the largest Doric temples built in Greece. Libon tried to build the temple in an ideal system of proportions, so that the distance between the columns was harmoniously proportional to their height, and the other architectural elements were sized proportionately as well. The Greek mathematician Euclid expressed this ideal ratio in his Elements, a book on geometry which is said to be the second most popular book of all time, after the Bible.

Greek sculptors developed new poses showing energetic movement, and depicting the muscles and shapes of the body naturally. Many sculptures were of athletes, such as Myron's famous statue of the Discus Thrower (Diskobolos).

We know the names of some sculptors because ancient authors, including the satirist Lucian, wrote them down:

"When you came in the hall," he said, "didn't you notice a totally gorgeous statue up there, by Demetrios the portraitist?" "Surely you don't mean the discus-thrower," said I, "the one bent over into the throwing-position, with his head turned back to the hand that holds the discus, and the opposite knee slightly flexed, like one who will spring up again after the throw?"

"Not that one," he said, "that's one of Myron's works, that Diskobolos you speak of..." Lucian,Philopseudes (18)

The cultural achievement most directly tied to the Olympic games was poetry commissioned in honor of athletic victors. These poems, called Epinicians, were written by the most famous poets of the day, including Pindar, Bacchylides, and Simonides, and they were extremely popular. Proof of this is that the playwright Aristophanes portrays an average, not especially literary Athenian man who asks his son to sing a particular forty-year-old epinician poem composed by Simonides. The poem, and the athlete, live on in people's memories long after the day of victory. The epinician odes were written to immortalize the athletic victors, and they have lasted longer than many of the statues and inscriptions which were made for the same purpose.

Athletes' Stories:
Like their modern counterparts, ancient athletes had a way of capturing the public's imagination. Several ancient authors such as Pindar, Pausanias, Strabo, and Dio Chrysostom record the noteworthy exploits of some of the best-known Olympic victors of ancient times.

Milo of Kroton
Six-time Olympic victor:
Won once in boys' wrestling, 60th Olympiad, 540 BCE

Five-time wrestling champion from 62nd to 66th Olympiad, 532 to 516 BCE. The most illustrious of athletes...
Strabo, Geography (6.1.12)

It is no great thing to possess strength, whatever kind it is, but to use it as one should. For of what advantage to Milo of Kroton was his enormous strength of body?...
Diodorus Siculus, Historical Library (9.14.1)

One of the most legendary athletes in the ancient world, Milo of Kroton, wore the victor's crown at Olympia no less than six times. Born in southern Italy, where Greece had many colonies, Milo won the boys' wrestling contest in 540 BCE.

He returned eight years later to win the first of five consecutive wrestling titles, a feat that seems incredible by modern standards. Rarely do modern-day Olympians compete in more than two or three Olympiads over the course of a career. Much like the boxer George Foreman, Milo resisted retirement: By the time of the 67th Olympiad in 512 BCE, Milo was probably forty or more years old but he competed anyhow. The challenger won not by overpowering Milo, but by avoiding the older wrestler and wearing him out.

According to our ancient sources, Milo enjoyed showing off his unrivaled strength. For instance, he would clasp a pomegranate in his hand and have others try to take it away from him. Even though he was holding it so tightly that no one could remove it, he never damaged the fruit. Sometimes, he would stand on a greased iron disk and challenge others to push him off of it. Another of his favorite exhibitions was tying a cord around his forehead, holding his breath, and breaking the cord with his bulging forehead veins. Other times, the wrestler would stand with his right arm at his side, his elbow against him, and hold out his hand with thumb pointed upwards and fingers spread. No one could successfully bend even his little finger.

Milo excelled even in warfare. When a neighboring town attacked Kroton, Milo entered the battle wearing his Olympic crowns and dressed like Herakles, in lion's skin and brandishing a club, and led his fellow citizens to victory.

A follower of the famous philosopher Pythagoras, Milo once saved his friends. It happened that the roof of the hall where the Pythagoreans were meeting began to collapse. Milo stood and supported the central pillar until the others escaped to safety and then dashed out, saving himself.

In the end, however, all of this fame and strength did not save Milo from a less than glorious death. Milo was wandering through the forest when he found an old tree trunk with wedges inserted into it. In an attempt to test his strength, Milo placed his hands and, perhaps his feet, into the cleft of the trunk and tried to split apart the wood. He succeeded in loosening the wedges, which fell out, but the trunk closed on his hands, trapping him. There, according to the tale, he fell prey to wild beasts.

Theagenes of Thasos
Boxer, Pankratiast & Runner
Victor in boxing in the 75th Olympiad, 480 BCE
Victor in the pankration in the 76th Olympiad, 476 BCE

His ambition was, I think, to rival Achilles by winning a prize for running in the fatherland of the swiftest of those who are called heroes. The total number of crowns that he won was one thousand four hundred. ...
Pausanias, Description of Greece (6.11.5)

At the young age of nine, Theagenes of Thasos became famous throughout Greece. It seems the boy was walking home from school, when he noticed a bronze statue of a god in the marketplace of Thasos. For some, strange reason, but probably out of admiration, Theagenes tore the statue from its base and took it home. This act outraged the citizens, who perceived it as highly disrespectful, and they debated whether or not they should execute the child for his deed. One elder, however, suggested that they have the boy return the statue to its proper place. Theagenes did this, his life was spared, and word of this amazing feat spread across Greece.

At the 75th Olympiad, Theagenes had designs on winning both the boxing prize and the pankration prize.

After defeating the boxer Euthymos, Theagenes was too tired to win a second crown for the pankration. Interestingly, the judges fined Theagenes for entering the boxing competition merely to spite Euthymos. Furthermore, Theagenes did not box in the 76th Olympiad. Pausanias implies that this was what we might nowadays call "unsportsmanlike conduct."

In addition to his two Olympic victories, one in boxing and one in the pankration, Theagenes won numerous victories in other games. When he traveled to Phthia, the traditional home of the legendary hero of the Iliad, "swift-footed" Achilles, Theagenes decided to compete in the footrace. Of course, he won.

Following his death, the people of Thasos memorialized Theagenes with a bronze statue. Allegedly, a man who never won a match against Theagenes came every night to the statue and beat it. One night, the statue came loose, fell on the angry opponent, and killed him. His sons prosecuted the statue for murder, a perfectly reasonable action under Greek law. (The Greeks felt that all murders must be punished, whether or not the murderer was a person, animal, or even an object!) The Thasians dropped the guilty statue of Theagenes into the ocean, presumably settling the matter. Then, in later years, famine and plague struck Thasos, and the people sought the advice of the oracle, who told the islanders to welcome back all exiles. The Thasians followed this command, but the crops still did not grow. Once more, they asked the oracle for assistance. The priestess replied that they had forgotten the great Theagenes. After some fishermen retrieved the statue of the athlete, the people of Thasos repositioned the statue in its original place, and they sacrificed to him as a healing god.

Diagoras of Rhodes
Victor in the 79th Olympiad, 464 BCE

And now, with the music of flute and lyre alike I have come to land with Diagoras, singing the sea-child of Aphrodite and bride of Helios, Rhodes, so that I may praise this straight-fighting, tremendous man who had himself crowned beside the Alpheus and near Castalia, as a recompense for his boxing... Pindar, Olympian 7, lines 13-17. The boxer Diagoras of Rhodes embodied every quality of the noble ancient athlete. Immortalized in one of the most famous odes of the poet Pindar, Diagoras was victorious in not only the Olympic games, but in every other major Greek athlethic festival as well. The extent and number of his triumphs certainly contributed to his fame, but the virtuous character of Diagoras was as important to the ancient Greeks as his success as a boxer.

We know that Diagoras' family was of the noble, ruling class on Rhodes, and the Rhodians claimed that the boxer himself was the son of the god Hermes. Such legends were a common means of explaining how mortal men could perform "super-human" athletic achivements. In his Ode for Diagoras, Olympian 7, Pindar praises the boxer as a "fair-fighter" and a "gigantic" man. Diagoras also "walks a straight course on a road that hates arrogance." In addition to his Olympic victory, Diagoras won four times at the Isthmian games, twice at Nemea, and at other games held in his native Rhodes, Athens, and elsewhere throughout the Greek world. We have no exact record of his career, but it is clear that Diagoras was a legend in his own time.

Olympia crowned three generations of Diagoras' family, adding to the fame that the boxer won in his own right and no doubt fueling other legends of the immortal ancestry of the Diagoras family. Even baseball's Griffey and Ripken families fall a generation short of imitating the achievements of Diagoras, his sons, and grandsons.

Polydamas of Skotoussa
Victor in the 93rd Olympiad, 408 BCE

Impelled by an ambition to rival the labors of Herakles... Pausanias, Description of Greece, 6.5.5. The death of Polydamas...made it clear to all men how precarious it is to have great strength but little sense. ...
Diodorus Siculus, Historical Library (9.14.2)

We know little about the Olympic victor Polydamas (also spelled "Pulydamas") of Skotoussa, a city in Thessaly. His background, family life, and even the details of his Olympic triumph are mysteries. Aside from the fact that Polydamas' statue was remarkably tall, we have no information on his appearance.

Like many modern athletes, Polydamas the pankratiast was as well-known for non-athletic exploits as he was for his prowess in the Olympic games. He was not quite as notorious as baseball's Albert Belle, though. Ancient authors tend to compare his feats to those of the legendary Greek hero Herakles. Polydamas once killed a lion with his bare hands on Mount Olympus in a quest to imitate the labors of Herakles, who slew the Nemean lion.

Pausanias adds that:
Polydamas ...went among a herd of cattle and seized the biggest and fiercest bull by one of its hind feet, holding fast the hoof in spite of the bull's leaps and struggles, until at last it put forth all its strength and escaped, leaving the hoof in the grasp of Polydamas.

In a similar way, Polydamas once stopped a fast-moving chariot and kept it from going forward.

Such exploits reached the ears of the Persians, and the king Dareius sent for Polydamas. There the athlete challenged three Persians, nicknamed the "Immortals" to fight him, three against one, and Polydamas was victorious.

In the end, however, Polydamas' strength could not prevent his demise. One summer, Polydamas and his friends were relaxing in a cave when the roof began to crumble down upon them. Believing his immense strength could prevent the cave-in, Polydamas held his hands up to the roof, trying to support it as the rocks crashed down around him. His friends fled the cave and reached safety, but the pankratiast died there.

Melankomas of Caria
Victor in the 207th Olympiad, 49 AD

Now since his was beauty of body, his was courage and a stout heart and, besides, self-control and the good fortune of never having been defeated, what man could be called happier than he? ...
Dio Chrysostom, Discourses (29.16)

The boxer Melankomas was from Caria, a region of what the Greeks called Asia Minor and is now known as Turkey. Born to an outstanding father, Melankomas was known for his handsome body and good looks.

This athlete, we are told, had a soul as brave as his body was beautiful. In an effort to prove his courage, Melankomas chose athletics, since this was the most honorable and most strenuous path open to him. Evidently some men believed that the training a soldier must endure is less difficult than that of an athlete, particularly that of a boxer.

Amazingly enough, Melankomas was undefeated throughout his career yet he never once hit an opponent or was hit by one.

His boxing style was to defend himself from the blows of the other boxer and avoid striking the other man. Invariably, the opponent would grow frustrated and lose his composure. This unique style won Melankomas much admiration for his strength and endurance. He could allegedly fight throughout the whole day, even in the summer, and he refused to strike his opponents even though he knew by doing so he would quickly end the match and secure an easy victory for himself.

No doubt his success was due in large part to his rigorous training. Melankomas exercised far more than the other atheletes. Indeed, one story relates that the boxer went for two straight days with his arms up, not once putting them down or resting.

Unfortunately, Melankomas died at a young age. Always the eager competitor, the boxer, lying on his deathbed, asked a friend how many days of the athletic meet were left. He would not live to compete again. Even so, his name lives on for his remarkable boxing skills.

Myths about the Ancient Games:
Many of those watching the Olympics in Athens will assume that the modern games are a true reflection of the ancient ones, that the events and ceremonies and the ideology of universal brotherhood and amateurism recall the Olympics of Greece's golden age. A generation ago scholars simply accepted such idealistic notions about who these athletes were and why they competed. Now, we are demythologizing the ancient Olympics, testing and revising ancient literary accounts of how athletes trained, worshiped, competed, won, and celebrated, and how they were motivated, rewarded, and honored.

Held in late summer, the ancient Olympics included various footraces and even a race in armor, but there was no ancient marathon. In chariot races the owners of the horses, not the hired drivers, were declared the victors. Alcibiades, the Athenian politician and general, entered seven chariots in the games of 416 B.C. We do not know if he personally drove any of them but he "won" first, second, and third or fourth place. In A.D. 67 the Roman emperor Nero made a travesty of the games by competing personally in a ten-horse chariot race held in his honor. Even though he fell from his chariot and did not finish the race, Nero was declared the victor. There was a pentathlon--discus throw, javelin throw, long jump, footrace, and wrestling--but no decathlon. Wrestling, boxing, and the pankration, a combination of the two, were known as "heavy" events because, without weight classes or time limits, bigger athletes dominated. In the pankration punching, kicking, choking, finger breaking, and blows to the genitals were allowed; only biting and eye gouging were prohibited.

By the sixth century athletes were specializing in particular events and hiring coaches. Training was intensive and there were experiments and fads concerning diet, exercise, and sex. Athletes from Kroton in southern Italy believed in the value of a meat diet and saw the consumption of beans as taboo. Milo of Kroton, the greatest Olympic wrestler, reputedly ate 40 pounds of meat and bread at one sitting, washing it down with eight quarts of wine. The basic equipment of an athlete consisted only of an unguent jar (aryballos) of oil and a scraping instrument (strigil) for anointing and cleaning himself, though for various events a competitor might need boxing thongs, jumping weights, discus, or javelin. He had no shoes, no jockstrap, no uniform, and no endorsements.

The prize wreath at Olympia was symbolic, but home cities rewarded Olympic victors substantially with cash bonuses, free meals, and more. In the sixth century Solon legislated rewards equal to more than $300,000 for Athenian Olympic victors. Athletes usually represented their native cities, but Astylos of Kroton, the first known free agent, won races in 488 and 484 for Kroton, then in 480 for Syracuse.

Although they swore a sacred oath to abide by the rules, ancient Olympians sought unfair advantages and sometimes crossed the line. False starting in a race brought whipping. As early as the sixth century the judges at Olympia were establishing rules against cheating in wrestling. By the fourth century bronze statues of Zeus, paid for from fines for lying, bribery and cheating, lined the route to the Olympic stadium. In 388 B.C. the boxer Eupolos of Thessaly bribed his opponents. In A.D. 93 an Alexandrian athlete who arrived late was expelled and fined for lying about being delayed by weather, when in fact he had been delayed by competing in prize games in Ionia.

Many aspects of our Olympic Games have been justified by specious ancient antecedents. Until recently we believed competitors had to be amateurs because we believed ancient Greek Olympians were amateurs, but the ancient Olympics had no such rule. A beguiling myth is that the five interlocked Olympic rings were an ancient Greek symbol, but the five rings were invented in 1913 by Pierre de Coubertin, president of the International Olympic Committee. The custom of lighting the flame at ancient Olympia and relaying the torch to the modern Olympic stadium is a legacy of the 1936 Berlin games, whose organizer, seeking to glamorize them with an ancient aura, staged the first lighting of the Olympic flame, now a hallowed ritual. The first Olympic torches were made by the Krupp Company, better known for providing weapons for two world wars.

Games of the I Olympiad:
The revival of the ancient Olympics attracted athletes from 14 nations, with the largest delegations coming from Greece, Germany and France. On 6 April 1896, the American James Connolly won the triple jump to become the first Olympic champion in more than 1,500 years. Winners were awarded a silver medal and a crown of olive branches. The German athlete Karl Schumann finished in the top four in four different events. The people of Athens greeted the Games with great enthusiasm. Their support was rewarded when a Greek shepherd, Spiridon Louis, won the most popular event, the marathon.

14 NOCs (Nations)
241 athletes (0 women, 241 men)
43 events

Athens 1896. Closure Ceremony. The procession of the medal-holders. At the head Louis Spiridon (GRE) 1st in the marathon.

Official opening of the Games by:
His Majesty The King George I

Lighting the Olympic Flame by: The Olympic flame was first lit during the opening ceremony of the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam.

Olympic Oath by:
The first athletes' oath was sworn at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium.

Official Oath by:
The first officials' oath was sworn at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

An Olympic Anthem composed by Spyros Samaras (music) and by Kostis Palamas (lyrics) was first played at the Games of the I Olympiad in Athens. Thereafter, a variety of musical offerings provided the backgrounds to the Opening Ceremonies until 1960, since which time the Samaras/Palamas composition has become the official Olympic Anthem.

Sport breaks down barriers, promotes self-esteem, and can teach life skills and healthy behaviour. Athletes can be an inspiration and role models for the youth of the world. The IOC and the world of sport have their role to play alongside civil society and the world’s governments in building the coordinated effort needed to combat all psychological and physical ailments that exist in todays world.

The tradition of the Olympic Truce dates back to the 9th century BC, in Ancient Greece. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to revive this ancient concept in order to protect the interests of the athletes and sport in general.

The tradition of the “Truce” or “Ekecheiria” was established in ancient Greece in the 9th century BC by the signature of a treaty between three kings. During the Truce period, the athletes, artists and their families, as well as ordinary pilgrims, could travel in total safety to participate in or attend the Olympic Games and return afterwards to their respective countries. As the opening of the Games approached, the sacred truce was proclaimed and announced by citizens of Elis who travelled throughout Greece to pass on the message.

Taking into account the global political reality in which sport and the Olympic Games exist, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to revive the ancient concept of the Olympic Truce with the view to protecting, as far as possible, the interests of the athletes and sport in general, and to contribute to searching for peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the conflicts around the world.

Through this global and symbolic concept, the IOC aims to:
- raise awareness and encourage political leaders to act in favour of peace
- mobilise youth for the promotion of the Olympic ideals
- establish contacts between communities in conflict
- offer humanitarian support in countries at war

And more generally:
- to create a window of opportunities for dialogue, reconciliation and the resolution of conflicts.

The IOC undertakings for the Olympic Truce extend beyond the period of the Olympic Games and have led to the implementation of a series of activities in favour of peace through its National Olympic Committees.

"The IOC wishes that this peaceful gathering of all Olympic athletes in Salt Lake City will inspire peace in the world"
Dr Jacques Rogge, IOC President, November 2001

"The Olympic Games are perhaps the greatest symbol of peace on the world stage. This symbol of their peace is something that rings the hearts of families. The Organising Committee (SLOC) is giving its time and resources to host an Olympic Games that would merit the attention of the world."
Mitt Romney, President of the Salt Lake City Organising Committee, May 2001

The Olympic Truce is symbolised by the dove of peace with the traditional Olympic flame in the background. In a world that is plagued by wars and animosity, the peace-dove symbol represents one of the IOC's ideals to build a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal. The Olympic flame has brought warm friendship to all the people of the world through sharing and global togetherness. In the symbol, the flame is made up of colourful effervescent elements - reminiscent of festivities experienced in the celebration of the human spirit. These elements represent people of all races coming together for the observance of the Truce.

In 1992, the first initiatives were launched by the IOC, in collaboration with the United Nations, allowing athletes of the former Republic of Yugoslavia to participate in the Barcelona Games. In 2000, during the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Games, the South and North Korean delegations paraded in the stadium together under the flag of the Korean peninsula.

The first initiatives were launched by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1992. In order for the project to have a greater impact, the IOC relayed it to the United Nations (UN). Since 1993, the UN General Assembly has repeatedly expressed its support for the IOC by unanimously adopting, every two years, one year before each edition of the Olympic Games, a resolution entitled "Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal". Through this symbolic resolution, the UN invites its member States to observe the Olympic Truce individually or collectively, and to seek, in conformity with the goals and principles of the United Nations Charter, the peaceful settling of all international conflicts through peaceful and diplomatic means, and recognising the importance of the IOC initiatives for human well-being and international understanding.

"Olympic ideals are also United Nations ideals: tolerance, equality, fair play and, most of all, peace. Together, the Olympics and the United Nations can be a winning team. But the contest will not be won easily. War, intolerance and deprivation continue to stalk the earth. We must fight back. Just as athletes strive for world records, so must we strive for world peace"
Kofi A. Annan, United Nations Secretary General, September 2000

Independent athletes of Yugoslavia, parading in a uniform bearing the Olympic rings1992: the IOC launched an Appeal for the observance of the Olympic Truce and negotiated with the United Nations to allow athletes of the former Republic of Yugoslavia to participate in the Games of the XXIII Olympiad in Barcelona.

A document in support of the appeal was signed by the members of the IOC Executive Board, the Presidents and Secretaries General of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), the Association of International Winter Federations (AIWF), the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) and representatives of the 169 National Olympic Committees which took part in the Games of the XXV Olympiad in Barcelona in 1992.

Appeal for the Olympic Truce. The International Olympic Committee:
Considering the frequency of conflicts which seriously affect the lives and future of the youth of the world.
Faithful to the mission which it has assigned itself, namely to contribute to peace.
Anxious in this respect to restore the Ancient Greek tradition of EKECHEIRIA” or “Olympic Truce Pledge” Calls on:
- all States (their Heads, governments and assemblies)
- all international and national organizations; to decide that:
1. During the period from the 7th day before the opening of the Olympic Games until the 7th day after the end of these Games, the “Olympic Truce” shall be observed.
2. During the Olympic Truce dedicated, as in Ancient Greece, to the spirit of brotherhood and understanding between peoples, all initiatives shall be taken and all group or individual efforts made to begin and continue to achieve by peaceful means the settlement of conflicts, whether or not of an international nature, with a view to establishing peace.
3. During the period, all armed conflicts, and any acts related to, inspired by or akin to such conflicts, shall cease, whatever the reason, cause or means of perpetration thereof.

Done in Barcelona, 21 July 1992

1993: the first resolution on the observance of the Olympic Truce was adopted by the 48th session of the UN General Assembly.

The Olympic Truce. The General Assembly:
Considering the appeal launched by the International Olympic Committee for an Olympic Truce, which was endorsed by 184 Olympic Committees and presented to the Secretary General.

Recognizing that the goal of the Olympic Movement is to build a peaceful and better world by educating the youth of the world through sport, practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding, promoted by friendship, solidarity and fair play.

Recognizing also the efforts of the International Olympic Committee to restore the ancient Greek tradition of the Ekecheiria, or “Olympic Truce”, in the interest of contributing to international understanding and the maintenance of peace.

Recalling resolution CM/Res.1472 (LVIII), which supports the appeal for an Olympic Truce, adopted by the Council of Ministers of the Organization of African Unity at its fifty-eighth ordinary session, held in Cairo from 21 to 26 June 1993, and endorsed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of that organization.

Recognizing further the valuable contribution that the appeal launched by the International Olympic Committee for an Olympic Truce could make towards advancing the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

1. Commends the International Olympic Committee, the International Sports Federations and the National Olympic Committees for their efforts to mobilize the youth of the world in the cause of peace.
2. Urges Member States to observe the Olympic Truce from the seventh day before the opening and the seventh day following the closing of each of the Olympic Games, in accordance with the appeal launched by the International Olympic Committee.
3. Notes the idea of the Olympic Truce, as dedicated in ancient Greece to the spirit of fraternity and understanding between peoples, and urges Member States to take the initiative to abide by the Truce, individually and collectively, and to pursue in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations the peaceful settlement of all international conflicts.
4. Calls upon all Member States to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee in its efforts to promote the Olympic Truce.
5. Requests the Secretary General to promote the observance of the Olympic Truce among Member States, drawing the attention of world public opinion to the contribution such a truce would make to the promotion of international understanding and the maintenance of peace and goodwill, and to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee in the realization of this objective.

36th plenary meeting - 25 October 1993

The IOC delegation upon it's arrival in Sarajevo1994: the year was proclaimed the International Year of Sport and the Olympic Ideal by the UN. The appeal for the observance of the Olympic Truce allowed the participation of athletes from the former Republic of Yugoslavia in the Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer. An IOC delegation visited Sarajevo, which was at war, to extend its solidarity with the city that hosted the XIV Olympic Winter Games in 1984.

1995: The IOC president attended the UN General Assembly for the first time in history.
1998: The Olympic Truce was taken into consideration by member States during the Olympic Winter Games in Nagano and contributed, to a certain extent, to avoid war in Iraq and to set up a mediation mission by the UN Secretary General, which led to the signature of a memorandum of understanding between the UN and the Iraqi government.
1999: A record number of 180 member States were co-sponsors of the resolution on the Olympic Truce.

Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal

The General Assembly:
Recalling its resolution 52/21 of 25 November 1997, in which it decided
to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fourth session the item
entitled "Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal" and to consider this item every two years in advance of each Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

Recalling also its resolution 48/11 of 25 October 1993, which, inter alia, revived the ancient Greek tradition of ekecheiria or "Olympic Truce", calling for all hostilities to cease during the Olympic Games, thereby mobilizing the youth of the world in the cause of peace.

Taking into account resolution CM/Res.1608 (LXII), adopted by the Council of Ministers of the Organization of African Unity at its sixty-second ordinary session, held in Addis Ababa from 21 to 23 June 1995, and endorsed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of that organization, which supports the appeal for an Olympic Truce.

Recognizing the valuable contribution that the appeal launched by the International Olympic Committee for an Olympic Truce, with which the National Olympic Committees of the Member States are associated, could make towards advancing the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

Reaffirming that the Olympic ideal promotes international understanding, particularly among the youth of the world, through sport and culture in order to advance the harmonious development of humankind.

Noting with satisfaction the flying of the United Nations flag at all competition sites of the Olympic Games and the increasing number of joint endeavours of the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations system, for example in the fields of development, humanitarian assistance, of the environment, health promotion, education, eradication of poverty, the fight against AIDS, drug abuse, violence and juvenile delinquency.

Noting also with satisfaction the joint organization by the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization of a Conference on Education and Sport for a Culture of Peace in Paris from 5 to 7 July 1999, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 52/13 of 20 November 1997, and their initiation of a programme of action pursuant to Assembly resolution 53/243 of 13 September 1999.

Urges Member States to observe the Olympic Truce during the Games
of the XXVII Olympiad, to be held in Sydney (Australia) from 15 September to 1 October 2000, the vision of which, at the dawn of the new millennium, is to be a highly harmonious, athlete-oriented, and environmentally committed Olympic Games.

Also urges Member States to take the initiative to abide by the Olympic
Truce, individually and collectively, and to pursue, in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the peaceful settlement of all international conflicts through diplomatic

Calls upon all Member States to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee in its efforts to use the Olympic Truce as an instrument to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict, beyond the Olympic Games period.

Reaffirms the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of
Peace, adopted in its resolution 53/243, and in this context welcomes the decision of the International Olympic Committee to mobilize all international sports organizations and National Olympic Committees of the Member States to undertake concrete action at the local, national, regional and world levels to promote and strengthen a culture of peace based on the spirit of the Olympic Truce.

Welcomes also the setting up by the International Olympic Committee of an International Olympic Forum for Development, a platform of concertation between intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations on issues related to the development of physical education and sport for all, and an International Centre for the Olympic Truce to promote peace and human values through sport and the Olympic ideal.

Requests the Secretary General to promote the observance of the Olympic Truce among Member States, drawing the attention of world public opinion to the contribution such a truce would make to the promotion of international understanding and the preservation of peace and goodwill, and to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee in the realization of this objective.

Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-sixth session the item entitled "Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal" and to consider this item before the XIX Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City (United States of America) in 2002.

2000: The United Nations Millennium Summit, held in New York with the participation of more than 150 heads of state and government, adopted a Millennium Declaration that included a paragraph on the observance of the Olympic Truce. During the Opening Ceremony of the Games of the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney, the South and North Korean delegations paraded in the stadium together under the flag of the Korean peninsula.

2001: The 56th UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the Olympic Truce in preparation for the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal.

The General Assembly:
Recalling its decision to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-sixth session the item entitled ‘Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal’ and to consider this item every two years in advance of each Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

Recalling also its resolution 48/11 of 25 October 1993, which, inter alia, revived the ancient Greek tradition of ekecheiria or ‘Olympic Truce’, with the intent of ensuring the safe passage and participation of athletes and others at the Games.

Taking into account the inclusion in the United Nations Millennium Declaration of an appeal for the observance of the Olympic Truce now and in the future, and to support the International Olympic Committee in its efforts to promote peace and human understanding through sport and the Olympic ideal.

Recognizing that the goal of the Olympic Movement is to build a peaceful and better world by educating the youth of the world through sport, practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding, promoted by friendship, solidarity and fair play, Recognizing also the valuable contribution that the appeal launched by the International Olympic Committee for an Olympic Truce, with which the National Olympic Committees of the Member States are associated, could make towards advancing the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United

Noting with satisfaction the flying of the United Nations flag at all competition sites of the
Olympic Games, and the joint endeavours of the International Olympic Committee and the United
Nations system in fields such as development, humanitarian assistance, health promotion, education,
women, eradication of poverty, the fight against human immunodeficiency virus/acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), drug abuse and juvenile delinquency.

Noting also with satisfaction the organization by the International Olympic Committee, with the cooperation of the United Nations Secretary-General, of round tables on sport for a culture of peace on different continents for countries that have been or are still in a conflict situation, in the framework of the International Year for the Culture of Peace and in accordance with General Assembly resolution 52/13 of 20 November 1997.

Welcoming the setting up by the International Olympic Committee, with the adherence of Member States and intergovernmental organizations, of a World Anti-Doping Agency,

1. Requests Member States to observe, within the framework of the Charter of the United Nations, the Olympic Truce during the XIX Olympic Winter Games to be held in Salt Lake City, United States of America, from 8 to 24 February 2002, by ensuring the safe passage and participation of athletes at the Games.
2. Welcomes the decision of the International Olympic Committee to mobilize all international sports organizations and that of the National Olympic Committees of the Member States to undertake concrete action at the local, national, regional and world levels to promote and strengthen a culture of peace based on the spirit of the Olympic Truce.
3. Requests the Secretary-General to promote the observance of the Olympic Truce among Member States, drawing the attention of world public opinion to the contribution such a truce would make to the promotion of international understanding, peace and goodwill, and to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee in the realization of this objective.
4. Welcomes the participation of the President in office of the General Assembly and also the representatives of the Secretary General and the Director-General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in the International Olympic Truce Foundation.
5. Urges the International Olympic Committee to devise a special programme of assistance for the development of physical education and sport for countries affected by conflicts and poverty.
6. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-eighth session the item entitled ‘Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal’ and to consider this item before the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, held in Athens, Greece, in 2004.

"The goal of Olympism is to place everywhere sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to encouraging the establishment of a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity"

Fundamental principles, Olympic Charter.
In accordance with its commitments to the United Nations and the celebration of the International Year for a Culture of Peace in 2000, the IOC organised six regional round tables.

The aim of these round tables were to exchange views on:
How to use sport and the Olympic ideal effectively as an instrument to promote a culture of peace and human understanding; and what concrete actions the Olympic Movement should carry out nationally to promote a culture of peace and the observance of the Olympic Truce.

In July 2000, the International Olympic Truce Foundation (IOTF) was created with a view to promoting peace through sport and the Olympic ideal.

Kofi Annan during the presentation of the Olympic Truce sculpture in the framework of promoting peace through sport and the Olympic ideal, the IOC established an International Olympic Truce Foundation (IOTF) in July 2000. As a non governmental organisation belonging to the Olympic Movement, the IOTF defines its actions around the following objectives:
To promote the Olympic ideals to serve peace, friendship and understanding in the world, and in particular, to promote the ancient Greek tradition of the Olympic Truce.
To initiate conflict prevention and resolution through sport, culture and the Olympic ideals, by cooperating with all inter and non-governmental organisations specialised in this field, by developing educational and research programmes, and by launching communications campaigns to promote the Olympic Truce.

To meet these objectives, the IOTF established an International Olympic Truce Centre (IOTC), which is responsible for the implementation of projects related to the global promotion of a culture of peace through sport and the Olympic ideal, in accordance with the principles and policies established by the Foundation. The Centre's main headquarters are located in Athens, Greece, with a liaison office in Lausanne, Switzerland, and a symbolic office in Olympia, Greece.


All Saints


A portrait of Christian Saints and their Icons
An anthology by Trifon Haitas


Many years have passed since I first asked about the origins of my name, ever since that first step of inquiry; I have been researching about the life and Martyrdom of Saint Tryphon and his community of Saints and Icons. In doing this research, I wish to share my findings with people interested in researching their Christian name, and the Christian names of their friends and or family members. Also, because of natural limits to any type of research, I encourage anyone who is interested in the study of theology to read the many documents made available by distinguished authors who have devoted their time and energy to create material that reflects their interpretation of the essence of Christianity. This document is created so that I may better understand the Christian faith.

As a humble gesture of appreciation, I dedicate this document to the Democratic freedom and religious tolerance that exists in my priceless country Canada, and to the individuals whose assistance was invaluable in my research of the Christian Orthodox faith. Their direction, kindness, and understanding have enriched me with insight that I will be grateful for throughout my entire life.

For my beloved wife Mary and our child Stavros
My great grandparents Martha and Stavros and Yiannoula and Zesis
My grandparents Helen and Trifon and Athena and Markos
My parents Elephtheria and Stavros, along with my brother Apostolos
My mother and father in law Kalliopi and Stephanos, along with my brother in law Konstantinos
My sister Helen and brother in law Ian, my nephew James and niece Nicole
My sister and brother in law Lyudmila and Demetre, my nieces Kalliopi and Lidia along with my nephew Stephanos
With love and affection

To all the incredible facilities and resources of the Toronto Public Library and its outstanding world-class librarians, and also to everyone who has assisted me in quenching my philosophical thirst, and have lent a hand to nurture and strengthen my understanding of Christianity so that I may in turn reiterate this observation to individuals interested in the study of Christian Saints, Martyrs and their respective Icons. I thank you all.

Saint Luke

A brief history of Iconography

In Orthodox Christianity, the worship of icons is fundamental. Literally, the word icon means, “image or picture”, but since the advent of Christianity it has developed to mean images of religious content. The art of iconography has been developed into an essential tradition due to the fact that a certain type of holiness has been placed on the depiction of saints and religious events. It is believed that Saint Luke was the very first individual to create an icon. During the reign of the Byzantine Empire, iconography had taken root and started to flourish during the 6th and 7th century AD. Since the Byzantine era, iconography has been an integral part in Orthodox churches and also in the homes of their devotees. It is considered by many art historians that iconography is amongst the world’s oldest artistic customs. The tradition of iconography continues to produce outstanding works of art to the present era.

The fact that icons have such a representative meaning to the worshipers signifies a permanent traditional fixture in the Orthodox faith. Since Christ is traditionally considered to be the human form of God, we never see a depiction of the almighty God in the Orthodox religion. The illumination of heaven is usually symbolized in gold leaf and is placed in the background of a saintly depiction. The value of an icon depends on the materials used as well as the amount of quality craftsmanship that has been put into creating that particular piece of art. When depicting two-dimensional or three-dimensional art, wood and oil based paint is usually the material of choice amongst seasoned iconographers. Their technique requires multiple layers of colour and lacquer to be applied meticulously onto one another in order to endure the worship of the faithful and to guarantee longevity. In today’s fast paced environment, one will find mass produced photomechanical silkscreen that does not focus on the quality of art, it’s focus is in bringing a low priced edition of an icon to the majority of the Christian population. Never the less quite a few traditionally skilled iconographers have survived to create exceptional hand carved and or hand painted work of art. Today many icons are found to depict a western style of art. Traditionalists believe that the Russian or Byzantine styles are more appealing to the eye however this can be interpreted as a matter of personal opinion and or taste.

In the Orthodox Christian faith, the main purpose of icons is to give instruction to the faithful via illustrative example. Its main purpose is to promote and encourage the Orthodox belief and to unite the faithful in the love of the angels, Christ, along with all the Martyrs and Saints in the Orthodox faith. Ultimately, iconography offers the Orthodox community a sense of visualization into the kingdom of God and is meant to instill in worshipers a reminder of the eternal presence of God.

Julian Calendar

A brief history of the two calendars of Orthodox Christianity

Orthodox Christian churches follow either the Julian or the Gregorian calendar depending on their allegiance. The original calendar is the Julian calendar followed mostly by the Eastern European Orthodox Christian worshipers. Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar in 46 BC, and implemented it the following year in 45 BC. After arduous consultation with the revered Alexandrian astronomer Sosigenes, the Julian calendar was designed to be similar in nature to the tropical year, which follows the sun, as viewed from earth, in its path along the celestial sphere amongst the stars. This system follows a 365-day cycle and is divided into 12 months. Every four years in February a leap day is added making an average of approximately 365.25 days for each Julian year.

Many Orthodox churches used the Julian calendar well into the 20th century until their governments decided that they would align themselves with the Gregorian calendar due to the fact that too many leap days needed to be added to stay synchronized with the astronomical seasons. The astronomical equinoxes and the solstices advance an average of 11 minutes per year against the Julian calendar year thus causing it to gain a day about every 134 years. It is thought that both the Hellenistic astronomer Hipparchus and Sosigenes where aware of the discrepancy and must have believed it to be of little or no concern. From the times of the Roman Empire up until 1582 this little unimportant value accumulated to the point forcing Pope Gregory XIII to consider the replacement of the Julian calendar with the more accurate Gregorian calendar.

Most catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar when Pope Gregory XIII promulgated it in 1582. Eventually, the Protestant countries followed suite. Great Britain made the official change to the Gregorian calendar in 1752. Sweden officially adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1753. Russia eventually decided the Gregorian calendar was to become their standard calendar after the Revolution of 1917. The government of Greece continued to use the Julian calendar up until their parliament voted to adopt the Gregorian calendar in 1923. All Eastern European countries adopted the Gregorian calendar on or before 1923 yet most of their national Eastern Orthodox Christian churches did not. The Gregorian calendar is described as being a mixed calendar combining the features of both pragmatic and theoretical calendars. Mixed calendars usually begin as theoretical calendars, but are adjusted pragmatically when some type of asynchrony becomes apparent; the shift from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar is such an example. The Gregorian calendar is complete, solar, and mixed. Thus the Gregorian calendar, has become the international standard, and is used almost everywhere in the world for civil purposes.

Saint Basil The Great

Saint Basil The Great commemorated on January the 1st

It was in Caesarea of Cappadocia, that Saint Basil the Great was born in the year 329 AD. His parents’ Basil and Emily were renowned for their learned ways and holiness. Many family members of Saint Basil the Great have attained sainthood. His grandmother Saint Macrina is commemorated on the 14th of January, his mother Saint Emily on the 19th of July, his elder sister Saint Macrina is commemorated on the 19th of July, his brother Saint Naucratius also attained sainthood along with his other brothers Saint Peter of Sabastia who is commemorated on the 9th of January, and Saint Gregory of Nyssa who is commemorated on the 10th of January. It was in Constantinople under the sophist Libanius that Saint Basil received his studies before traveling to Athens, where he formed his friendship with the young fellow Cappadocian Saint Gregory later known in the Christian world as Saint Gregory the Theologian. Saint Basil chose to abandon his worldly career and embraced the ascetical life through the influence of his sister Macrina. Before Saint Basil arrived to his hermitage to write his famous ascetical homilies near Annesi on the banks of the Iris river in Pontus, he followed the path first taken by his mother and sister Macrina visiting the monks in Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Mesopotamia. Upon the death of the bishop in 370 A.D., Saint Basil was elected to take the throne of the former bishop and entrusted with the church of Christ. Having no other responsibility than to defend Christian Orthodoxy as the does the successor of the Apostles, Saint Basil chose the life of voluntary poverty and strict asceticism throughout his eight-year tenure as Bishop. During this appointment to try and preserve his territory from what was believed to be Arian heresy when it was at its strongest influence, Saint Basil whose jurisdiction covered the bastion of Orthodox Christianity in all Capadocia, drew the attention of the Eparch of the east Modestus who was one in mind with the Emperor Valens. The Emperor and Eparch tried in vain with threats and torture to sway the bishop to their desired confession and where amazed at the fact that after all that tribulation Saint Basil did not succumb to their Arian influence choosing rather to stay true to his Christian faith. This being the case, Saint Basil proved himself to be a Martyr of volition.

Modestus could not believe the fearlessness expressed by Saint Basil in his presence and stated that no one had ever spoken to him in the confident and fearless manner that Saint Basil did. Saint Basil replied to the Eparch by stating that perhaps he had never met a Bishop before. The dignity and wisdom of Saint Basil also won over the admiration of the Emperor Valens to the point that when the Emperors’ son succumbed to severe illness Saint Basil was summoned to pray for his recuperation. Saint Basil gave his word that the Emperors son would be cured if he were baptized in the Christian faith, Emperor Valens agreed and his son was restored back to health until the Emperor had him baptized by Arians which in turn led to the death of his son. Urged by his counselors, the Emperor Valens was influenced to banish Saint Basil into exile because of his refusal to accept Arians into communion. Upon reading out the decree and finally signing the edict of banishment, the pen that was used by the Emperor to sign the document was broken in all three attempts. Overflowing with trepidation, the Emperor Valens tore the document to pieces and freed Saint Basil to practice as he saw fit. Saint basil made the rest of his life full of continual labors and ascetical practices right up until he departed to heaven on January the 1st in the year 379 A.D.

Out of the intensity of his wisdom and the magnificence of his sophistication, the honour of “the revealer of heavenly things” and “the Great” is bestowed upon Saint Basil. The Orthodox Church considers Basil a saint and one of the three Holy Hierarchs, which includes Saint Gregory Nazianzus and Saint John Chrysostom. Saint Basil, Saint Gregory Nazianzus, and Saint Basil’s brother Saint Gregory of Nyssa are known as the Cappadocian Fathers in the Orthodox faith. The Roman Catholic church also considers Basil as a saint, and as a Doctor of the church. The Basilian Fathers, also recognized as The Congregation of St. Basil, is an international order of Roman Catholic priests and students studying for the priesthood.

In the Orthodox tradition, his name was given to Father Christmas and is supposed to visit all good-natured children and bestow gifts upon them every January the 1st, when Saint Basil’s memory is celebrated. This tradition is unlike the custom of Saint Nicolas who comes to bestow gifts to all good-natured children during the Christmas celebrations. The most lasting tribute of all his Episcopal work was his care for the poor, which stands as a monumental institute before the gates of Caesarea; this institution was utilized as a poorhouse, a hospital, and a hospice to assist the impoverished. Theological writings of Saint Basil are his De Spiritu Sancto, an educational appeal to scripture and early Christian tradition that wished to promote and prove the divinity of the Holy Spirit. His Refutation of the Apology of the Impious Eunomius, written in approximately 363 A.D are writings against Eunomius of Cyzicus, the chief advocate of the ancient Greek Christian theologian Arius, who was known to be the founder of the Arian belief that Jesus Christ was the highest created being, however was not divine.

Saint Basil the Great must not be confused with Saint Basil the Confessor who lived approximately 400 years later. Also, he must not be confused with Saint Basil Fool for Christ, A Russian Christian Orthodox saint, after whom Saint Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square in the city of Moscow is named. Saint Basil of Ostrog, the Serbian Orthodox Christian saint, who built the Ostrog Monastery, which is presently caved in and stands on a very high hill between Danilovgrad and Niksic must also not be confused with Saint Basil the Great.

Saint Seraphim of Sarov

Saint Seraphim of Sarov commemorated on January the 2nd

Born on July 19th, 1759 and given the name Prokhor Moshnin by his parents, Saint Seraphim is amongst the most renowned Russian monks and mystics in the Orthodox Church. He is also considered to be amongst the greatest of the nineteenth century starsty (elder), and Saint Seraphim is acknowledged to be amongst the first if not the very first. Extending the monastic teachings of contemplation and self-denial to the layperson is what Saint Seraphim is most remembered for. One of his most revered teachings was that the purpose of Christian life is to acquire the Holy Spirit. Saint Seraphim was canonized by the Russian Orthodox church in 1903, and is commemorated on August 1st and January 15th, which are the dates of his birth and death according to the Revised Julian Calendar. The date of his death is his feast day, which the Gregorian calendar celebrates on January 2nd. Most of what we know about Saint Seraphim today is gathered from what was written by one of his spiritual children Nicholas Motovilov.

Isidore and Agatha Moshnin were the parents of Saint Seraphim. They lived a middle class lifestyle in Kursk, Russia. His father was a merchant in the building trade, and Saint Seraphim wanted nothing to do with that type of livelihood. Having acquired a great sense of spirituality at a young age, Saint Seraphim began a life that was very devout to the Christian faith and Orthodox Church. According to legend, as a young child, Saint Seraphim was healed by the icon of the Virgin Mary and was blessed with the ability to see angels. Saint Seraphim joined the Sarov monastery in 1777 as a novice at the tender age of nineteen. Having been bed-ridden from severe illness from 1780 to 1783, the saint officially took his monastic vows in 1786, and was granted the name Seraphim. In the Hebrew language Seraphim means “burning” or “fiery”. Saint Seraphim was said to celebrate mass daily, which was thought to be unusual by many at that time.

Saint Seraphim was ordained as a hierodeacon shortly after taking his vows. Then in 1793, he was ordained once again, this time as a hiermonk, thus becoming the spiritual leader of the Diveyevo convent. In 1794, he became a hermit and retreated into the forest near the Sarov monastery where he lived a solitary life in a log cabin for twenty-five years. During this time his feet became so swollen that he had trouble walking. After seeing how fragile Saint Seraphim was, a band of thieves decided to severely beat him mercilessly whilst he was chopping wood for his hearth. It is said that Saint Seraphim did not resist the brutality of his tormentors as he was beaten with his own axe handle. Soon after the thieves believed that the saint was dead, they pillaged the hut looking for money but found nothing more than an icon of the Virgin Mary. This incident left Saint Seraphim crippled with a hunched back for the rest of his life. The thieves were caught by local authorities and at their trial, Saint Seraphim pleaded for mercy on the behalf of the perpetrators.

Soon after the trail, Saint Seraphim dedicated a thousand successive nights on a rock continuously praying with outstretched arms raised up towards the open sky above. Abiding to a spiritual experience relating to the Virgin Mary in 1815, Saint Seraphim began welcoming and admitting pilgrims to his hermitage as confessor. Due to his apparent healing power and clairvoyance, Saint Seraphim became enormously popular. Hundreds of pilgrims visited him every day to ask a question and before they could do so, Saint Seraphim would answer their query.

Saint Seraphim was extremely and extraordinarily harsh to himself, and at the same time this gentle man was kind and courteous to others, always greeting his guests with a prostration, a kiss, and exclaiming, “Christ has risen!”. At the age of seventy three on January 2nd of the year 1833, Saint Seraphim passed away kneeling before an icon of the Virgin Mary with child at the Sarov monastery in Russia. In 1903 the Russian Christian Orthodox Church voted to have him Canonized for his inspirational lifestyle.

Two readings attributed to Saint Seraphim.

Troparion of Saint Seraphim of Sarov:

From thy youth up thou hast loved Christ, O blessed Saint, and aflame with the desire to work for Him alone thou has contended in unceasing prayer and laboured in the wilderness: and gaining by compunction of heart the love of Christ, thou hast appeared as the chosen of the Mother of God. Therefore we cry to thee: Save us by thy prayers, O Father Seraphim.

Kontakion of Saint Seraphim of Sarov:

Having left the beauty of the world and what is corrupt in it, O Saint, thou didst settle in Sarov Monastery. And having lived there an angelic life, thou wast for many the way to salvation. Wherefore Christ has glorified thee, O father Seraphim, and has enriched thee with the gift of healing and miracles. And so we cry to thee: Rejoice, O Seraphim our righteous father.

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus commemorated on January the 25th

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (329 – January 25, 389), also known as Saint Gregory the Theologian or Saint Gregory Nazianzen, was a 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople. He is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age. As a classically trained speaker and philosopher he infused Hellenism into the early church, establishing the paradigm of Byzantine theologians and church officials.

Saint Gregory made a significant impact on the shape of Trinitarian theology among both Greek-speaking and Latin-speaking theologians, and he is remembered as the “Trinitarian Theologian”. Much of his theological work continues to influence modern theologians, especially in regard to the relationship among the three Persons of the Trinity. Along with two brothers, Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory of Nyssa, he is known as one of the Cappadocian Fathers.

Saint Gregory is a saint in both Eastern and Western Christianity. In the Roman Catholic Church he is among the Doctors of the Church; in Eastern Orthodoxy and the Eastern Catholic Churches he is revered as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs along with Saint Basil the Great and Saint John Chrysostom.

Saint Gregory was born in Arianzus, near Nazianzus, in southwest Cappadocia. His parents, Gregory and Nonna, were wealthy land-owners. In AD 325 Nonna converted her husband to Christianity; he was subsequently consecrated bishop of Nazianzus in 328 or 329. The young Saint Gregory and his brother, Caesarius, first studied at home with their uncle Amphylokhios. Saint Gregory went on to study advanced rhetoric and philosophy in Nazianzus, Caesarea, Alexandria and Athens. While at Athens he developed a close friendship with fellow student Saint Basil of Caesarea and also made the acquaintance of Julian, the later emperor who would become known as Julian the Apostate. In Athens Saint Gregory studied under the famous rhetoricians Himerius and Proaeresius. Upon finishing his education, he also taught rhetoric in Athens for a short time.

In 361, Saint Gregory returned to Nazianzus and was ordained a presbyter by his father, who wanted him to assist with caring for local Christians. The younger Saint Gregory, who had been considering a monastic existence, resented his father’s decision to force him to choose between priestly services and a solitary existence, calling it an “act of tyranny”. Leaving home after a few days, he met his friend Basil at Annesoi, where the two lived as ascetics. However, Saint Basil urged him to return home to assist his father, which he did for the next year. Arriving at Nazianzus, Saint Gregory found the local Christian community split by theological differences and his father accused of heresy by local monks. Saint Gregory helped to heal the division through a combination of personal diplomacy and oratory.

By this time Emperor Julian had publicly come out in opposition to Christianity. In response to the emperor’s rejection of the Christian faith, Saint Gregory composed his Invectives Against Julian between 362 and 363. Disparaging the emperor’s morals and intellect, the Invectives assert that Christianity will overcome imperfect rulers such as Julian through love and patience. This process as described by Saint Gregory is the public manifestation of the process of deification (theosis), which leads to a spiritual elevation and mystical union with God. Julian resolved in late 362 to vigorously prosecute Saint Gregory and his other Christian critics; however, the emperor perished the following year during a campaign against the Persians. With the death of the emperor, Saint Gregory and the Eastern churches were no longer under the threat of persecution, as the new emperor Jovian was an avowed Christian and supporter of the church.

Saint Gregory spent the next few years combating the Arian heresy, which threatened to divide the region of Cappadocia. In this tense environment Saint Gregory interceded on behalf of his friend Saint Basil with Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (Maritima). The two friends then entered a period of close fraternal cooperation as they participated in a great rhetorical contest of the Caesarean church precipitated by the arrival of accomplished Arian theologians and rhetors. In the subsequent public debates, presided over by agents of the emperor Valens, Gregory and Basil emerged triumphant. This success confirmed for both Saint Gregory and Saint Basil that their futures lay in administration of the church. Saint Basil, who had long displayed inclinations to the episcopacy, was elected bishop of the see of Caesarea in Cappadocia in 370.

Saint Gregory was consecrated Bishop of Sasima in 372 by Basil. The ambitions of Saint Gregory’s father to have his son rise in the church hierarchy and the insistence of his friend Basil convinced Saint Gregory to accept this position despite his reservations. Saint Gregory would later refer to his episcopal ordination as forced upon him by his strong-willed father and Basil.

Following the deaths of his mother and father in 374, Saint Gregory continued to administer the diocese of Nazianzus but refused to be named bishop. Donating most of his inheritance to the needy, he lived an austere existence. At the end of 375 he withdrew to a monastery at Seleukia, living there for three years. Near the end of this period his friend Basil died. Although Saint Gregory’s health did not permit him to attend the funeral, he wrote a heartfelt letter of condolence to Basil’s brother, Saint Gregory of Nyssa and composed twelve memorial poems dedicated to the memory of his departed friend.

Saint Tryphon the Martyr

Saint Tryphon the Martyr commemorated on February the 1st

Saint Tryphon was born in Lampsakon and raised by a very devout Christian family. From a young age he was blessed with the divine power to cure any type of illness.

In the year 239 AD, Gordianos was the ruler of the Roman Empire, and even though he was a pagan he was not a Christian persecutor. The Emperor had an only child, a daughter. Many of the noblemen of the city desired to marry her, therefore her father locked her in a palace tower so that people could not see her. This girl became possessed and tortured by a demon.

When her parents saw that she could not be cured, they became distressed. They were informed by the demon that he would not leave the girl's body unless Saint Tryphon were present.

The Emperor sent messengers to every city and town of the Empire to find Saint Tryphon. He promised a large reward to the one who brought the Saint to Rome. They arrived in Lampsakon, where Saint Tryphon was watching over his geese. Seeing these noblemen, he knew immediately what their task was and said to them that he was Saint Tryphon, the person they were sent to find. At this time Saint Tryphon was 17 years old. They started immediately for their return to Rome. The demon knew of Tryphon's arrival three days prior to its occurrence and started to torment the girl even more than before. When Saint Tryphon arrived in Rome, the demon could not look at the Saint and left the girl. Gordianos welcomed Saint Tryphon as the person who had cured his daughter.

To make certain of Tryphon's validity, the Emperor asked him to make the demon appear before them so that he could ask him why he had possessed his daughter. The Saint fasted for six days, after which, he prayed to God to give him the power to perform his task. On the seventh day, the citizens of Rome gathered to see the miracle. After praying to God, Saint Tryphon ordered the demon, in the name of Jesus Christ, to appear in front of them so that they may see the epitome of ugliness and sickness. Suddenly, a large black dog appeared in front of them. Saint Tryphon then asked it why it had possessed the girl. The demon responded by saying that his father, Satan, who is the ruler of evil had sent it to torture the girl. The Saint continued his inquiry by asking, who gave the rulers of the underworld the authority to enter the bodies of the workers of God. He responded by saying that they had no authority to do so, but could only possess people who practised what the demon stood for.

The people were amazed when they saw and heard this. Gordianos rewarded the Saint with many gifts. Saint Tryphon was accompanied back to his home and after returning, he continued curing those who came to him.

After the death of Gordianos, the pious Philip became the ruler of the Roman Empire. He ruled only for a short time due to his death in battle. Decius then became ruler in 250 AD. He had no tolerance for Christians. Those who worshipped the idols were rewarded, those who remained Christians were persecuted.

The pagans of the Eastern part of the Empire would betray Christians to their ruler, Achilion. A complaint was thus lodged against Saint Tryphon. Achilion sent his envoys to find the Saint and he was taken to Nicaea to stand trial. When the Emperor saw that Saint Tryphon would not deny his beliefs, he ordered his soldiers to hang him on a cross and stab him with their spears. He faced the torture without fear. The Emperor admired this courage and tried to persuade Saint Tryphon to sacrifice to the gods and save himself. Seeing that he could not change the Christian's opinions, Achilion was extremely angered. He ordered that Saint Tryphon be taken down from the cross. Planning to go on a hunting trip, he decided to take Saint Tryphon with him. Saint Tryphon was tied behind a horse so that he would have to keep up with riding soldiers by walking. The Saint suffered greatly. After several days, Achilion returned to Nicaea and Saint Tryphon walked back to the city in the same manner.

Again, Achilion tried to persuade Saint Tryphon to change his beliefs and again the Saint stood firm in his convictions. Achilion ordered the Saint's feet bound in chains and he was taken to the centre of the city to be beaten. Afterwards, Saint Tryphon was burned with torches. During his agony, the martyr prayed to Christ not to forsake him.

Achilion gave Saint Tryphon his last chance to deny Christ and save himself. If Saint Tryphon refused, the soldiers were to behead him. The Saint looked toward heaven and prayed. So that his death could not be attributed to the tyrant, Saint Tryphon died just before the soldiers beheaded him. Several Christians of Nicaea wanted to bury his body near the city, however, the Saint appeared in their dreams and directed them to bury his body in Lampsakon, where later, many miracles were attributed to him.

Saint Tryphon is considered to be the Patron Saint to birds of prey and gardeners. Many agriculturalists believe that Saint Tryphon is also the protector of fields from pests and insects. Saint Tryphon’s day marks the time of year when the pruning of the vineyard is celebrated. Orthodox Christians go out to their vineyards on February the 1st, prune all of the vines in their field and pay homage to Saint Tryphon and their vinyard by pouring wine over the vines to ensure a healthy, plentiful and prosperous forthcoming season.

Many churches were dedicated to him, and the Eastern Emperor, Leo VI, the Philosopher (d. 912), delivered a eulogy upon Saint Tryphon. About the year 1005 the monk Theodoric of Fleury wrote an account of him based upon earlier written legends; in Theodoric's story Respicius appears as Saint Tryphon's companion. The relics of both were preserved together with those of a holy virgin named Nympha, at the Hospital of the Holy Ghost in Sassia. Catholic Christians celebrate Saint Tryphon's day on November the 10th.

Saint Charalambos the Hieromartyr

Saint Charalambos the Hieromartyr commemorated on February the 10th

Saint Charalambos (Greek: Άγιος Χαράλαμπος) (also variously Charalampos, Charalampus, Haralampus, Haralampos or Haralambos) was a Christian bishop in Magnesia, a region of Thessaly, in the diocese of the same name. His name Χαράλαμπος means joyful light in Greek. He lived during the reign of Septimius Severus (193-211), when Lucian was Proconsul of Magnesia. It is believed that at the time of his martyrdom in 202, Saint Charalambos was 113 years old.

Saint Charalambos was the Bishop of Magnesia, and spread the Gospel in that region for many years. However, when news of his preaching reached the authorities of the area, the proconsul Lucian and military commander Lucius, the Saint was arrested and brought to trial, where he confessed his faith in Christ and refused to offer sacrifice to idols.

Despite his advanced age, the bishop was subsequently tortured mercilessly. They lacerated his body with iron hooks, and scraped all the skin from his body. The Saint had only one thing to say to his tormentors: “Thank you, my brethren, for scraping off the old body and renewing my soul for new and eternal life.”

Legend maintains that upon witnessing Saint Charalambos’ endurance of these tortures, two soldiers named Porphyrius and Baptus openly confessed their faith in Christ, for which they were immediately beheaded with a sword. Three women who were watching the sufferings of Saint Charalambos also began to glorify Christ, and were quickly martyred as well.
The legend continues to say that Lucius, enraged, seized the instruments of torture and began to torture Saint Charalambos himself, but suddenly his forearms were cut off as if by a sword. The governor Lucian then spat in the face of the saint, and immediately his head was turned around so that he faced backwards. Apparently, Lucian and Lucius both prayed for mercy, and were healed by the Saint, and became Christians.

More tortures, the legend says, were wrought upon the Saint after he was brought to Septimius Severus himself. Condemned to death and led to the place of execution, Saint Charalambos raised his arms to heaven and prayed for all men: “Lord, Thou knowest that men are flesh and blood; forgive them their sins and pour out Thy blessing on all.” After praying this, the saint gave up his soul to God even before the executioner had laid his sword to his neck. Tradition says that Severus’ daughter Gallina was so moved by his death, that she was converted and buried Saint Charalambos herself.

The skull of Saint Charalambos is kept at the Monastery of Saint Stephen at Meteora. Many miracles are traditionally attributed to the fragments of his relics, which are to be found in many places in Greece and elsewhere. The miracles have made this saint, considered the most aged of all the martyrs, especially dear to the people of Greece. On some Greek islands, bulls are sacrificed on his feast day.

What has prompted the Orthodox Christians throughout the world to display such love and affection for Saint Haralambos? Why has he been so very close to the hearts of all of us for over 1700 years? Perhaps it is because of the fact that no other Priest in the history of Christianity suffered so much in one lifetime for his religious convictions.

Today we heard about the life of St. Haralambos. This holy Priest of the Orthodox Faith was horribly tortured, yet through it all, he continued to do the work of the Lord with zeal. From his jail cell, he healed the people that went to visit him.

Saint Haralambos fought the same fight we fight today. His battle was a more fierce and bloody one than we fight. He suffered from spikes and chains, we suffer from temptations and mental cruelty.

Our suffering is only temporary and our pain will vanish! While it seems that we cannot go on another minute, another hour, or another day, we must never forget that our soul belongs to the Lord, and nothing that any mortal man can do to us can destroy our soul. By holding this truth in our hearts, we can gain the immortal strength that Saint Haralambos possessed.

The feast of Saint Charalambos is normally commemorated on February 10th, the exception being when this date falls on the Saturday of the Souls preceding Lent or on Clean Monday (the first day of Lent), in which case the feast is celebrated on February 9th.

In Greek hagiography and iconography, Saint Charalambos is regarded as a priest, while Russian sources regard him as a bishop.

The Empress Saint Theodora

The Empress Saint Theodora commemorated on February the 11th

Saint Theodora (Greek Θεοδώρα, c. 815 - after 867) was the wife of the Byzantine emperor Theophilus. Originally from Paphlagonia, Theodora was of Armenian aristocratic descent. The names of her parents were preserved in Theophanes Continuatus, the continuation of the chronicle started by Theophanes the Confessor. They were Marinos, a drungarios, and Theoktiste Phlorina. Genealogies attribute Mamikonian ancestry to Marinos; he is an alleged son of Artavizd Mamikonian, who was head of the House in the 770s. Saint Theodora was a sister of Bardas and Petronas. Theophanes also records three sisters: Kalomaria, Sophia and Irene. Irene reportedly married Sergios, brother of Patriarch Photios I of Constantinople.

In 829, Theophilos succeeded to the throne. He was sixteen years old and unmarried. The following year his stepmother, Euphrosyne, proclaimed a bride-show. Potential brides from every theme travelled from their homelands to Constantinople, Saint Theodora among them. The poet Kassia was said to have taken part.

The bride-show took place in May, 830, and Saint Theodora was chosen to become empress, probably by her new mother-in-law. The marriage took place on 5 June 830, in Hagia Sophia. Euphrosyne soon retired to a convent and Saint Theodora remained the only Augusta.

The family of Saint Theodora seems to have followed her to court. Her brothers became officials and her sisters married into the court aristocracy. During her own marriage she bore Theophilus five daughters and two sons, the younger of whom became the future Michael III.

Despite the fact that Theophilus was an iconoclast, Saint Theodora held fast to the veneration of icons which she kept in her chambers in the imperial palace. One story holds that a servant witnessed her venerating her icons and reported her to the emperor. When her husband confronted her about the incident she stated that she had merely been "playing with dolls." Two of her icons are kept at the monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos to this day and are referred to as "Saint Theodora's Dolls". They are displayed annually on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

Saint Theodora is said to have intervened to save Lazarus Zographos from further torture under her husband. Whether their opposing religious beliefs strained their relationship is unclear. Theophilus' health however eventually failed and he died on 20 January 842. He was about twenty-nine years old.

Following the death of her husband, Theodora served as regent for her son Michael. She overrode Theophilus' ecclesiastical policy and summoned a council under the patriarch Methodius, in which the veneration, but not worship, of icons (images of Jesus Christ and the saints) was finally restored and the iconoclastic clergy deposed.

She carried on the government with a firm and judicious hand; she replenished the treasury and deterred the Bulgarians from an attempt at invasion. However, it was during her regency that a vigorous persecution of the Paulician 'heresy' commenced.
In order to perpetuate her power she purposely neglected her son's education, and therefore must be held responsible for the voluptuous character which he developed under the influence of his uncle Bardas, who was Saint Theodora's brother and likewise of Mamikonian heritage.

Saint Theodora endeavoured in vain to combat Bardas's authority; in 855 she was displaced from her regency at his prompting, and being subsequently convicted of intrigues against him was relegated to a monastery. She died after his assassination at the hands of Basil I, thus witnessing the end of the dynasty she had worked so hard to preserve. She was sainted in recompense for her zeal on behalf of the restoration of icons as objects of veneration. Her feastday is February 11.

Saint Theodora and Theophilus had seven children. Listed here in the order given by Theophanes:

Constantine, co-emperor from c. 833 to c. 835.
Thekla (born c. 831 - after 867). She was named Augusta and her image appears in coinage during the regency of her mother. Later exiled to a monastery by her brother Michael. She was recalled and was a mistress of Emperor Basil I the Macedonian.
Anna (born c. 832). Exiled into a monastery. Never recalled.
Anastasia (born c. 833). Exiled into a monastery. Never recalled.
Pulcheria (born c. 836). Exiled into a monastery. Never recalled.
Maria (born c. 838). Married the Caesar Alexios Mouseles.

Her husband was placed in command of Byzantine Sicily but was later accused of conspiring to gain the throne. Forced to retire into a monastery. Maria was not alive in 856 when her sisters were exiled from the court.

Michael III (19 January 840 - 23 September/24 September 867), who succeeded as emperor.

Her sacred incorrupt remains are found in Corfu, in the Church of the Most Holy Theotokos of the Cave, in the capital city of the island.

Saint Theodore of Amasea

Saint Theodore of Amasea commemorated on February the 17th

Saint Theodore of Amasea (d. 306; Amasenus, now Amasya, Turkey) is one of the Greek military saints of the 4th century, the earlier patron saint of Venice, now outshone there by Saint Mark, but still represented atop one of the two Byzantine columns standing in the Piazzetta of the Piazza San Marco, treading upon the sacred crocodile of Egypt.

According to his hagiography Saint Theodore was a soldier in the legions. He is often named Saint Theodore Tyro ("of Tyre"), according to some sources because for a time he belonged to the Cohors Tyronum; according to others because he was a tyro, or recent recruit. In Western Christianity he is usually called of Amasea from the ancient city in Pontus where he suffered martyrdom. Sometimes he is Saint Theodore Euchaita from the place, Euchais, to which his body had been carried, and where he was held in such veneration that the city came to be frequently spoken of as Theodoropolis. In Eastern Christianity he is more often known as Saint Theodore the Recruit.

His martyrdom and feast are dated in the Menologies February 17, 306, under the Emperors Galerius, Maximian and Maximinus. The Eastern Orthodox and Armenians honor him on the first Saturday of Great Lent, while the Roman Martyrology records him on November 9.

In the 12th century his body was transferred to Brindisi, and he is there honored as patron; his head is enshrined at Gaeta. There are churches bearing his name at Constantinople, Jerusalem, Damascus, and other places of the former Christian east. An ancient church of San Teodoro, Venice, is said to have been founded by Narses. At the foot of the Palatine in Rome is a very old church, circular in shape and dedicated to San Teodoro, whom the Roman people call San Toto, which was made a collegiate church by Felix IV. The people showed their confidence in the Saint by bringing their sick children to his temple, as to an asclepieion, or healing-temple. His martyrdom is represented in the choir of the cathedral of Chartres by thirty-eight 13th-century stained-glass panels. He is invoked against storms.

His encounter with a dragon (represented as a crocodile in his statue in Saint Mark's Square was transferred to the more widely venerated Saint George.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa delivered a panegyric on his feast day and gave several data concerning his life and martyrdom (Patrologia Graeca, XLVI, 741, and Thierry Ruinart, 505). The oldest text of the Martyrium S. Theodori Tironis was published by Delehaye in "Les legendes grecques des saints militaires", but the Bollandists is considered largely interpolated (Anal. XXX, 323).

Saint Theodore is said to have been born in the East (Syria or Armenia are mentioned). He enlisted in the army and was sent with his cohort to winter quarters in Pontus in Anatolia. When the edict against the Christians was issued by the emperors, he was brought before the magistrates at Amasea and ordered to offer sacrifice to the gods. When he refused, the magistrates gave him some time, because of his youth, for reflection. "This he employed in burning the Temple of Cybele", the Catholic Encyclopedia reports. He was quickly taken and burned at the stake.

Whatever a modern hearer may think of Saint Theodore's action, it must be comprehendible that the general population looked at Christians as a source of dangerous fanaticism, dangerous to the state, which depended on the good-will of the Great Mother of Anatolia, Cybele. There was a large enough Christian population at Amasea to be governed by a bishop, and Basil of Amasea was martyred in 391, the very year of the Edict of Milan, according to Jerome's interpolation in his Latin version of the church chronicle of Eusebius of Caesarea. Eusebius chronicles persecutions under Licinius as Amasea and other places, though Basil is not apparently mentioned. The fictional Acts of Basil have him drowned in the sea, an unusual martyrdom.

Saint Polycarp of Smyrna

Saint Polycarp of Smyrna commemorated on February the 23rd

Saint Polycarp of Smyrna (ca. 69- ca. 155) was a second century bishop of Smyrna. He died a martyr when he was stabbed after an attempt to burn him at the stake failed. Polycarp is recognized as a saint in both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

It is recorded that "He had been a disciple of John." This John may be identified with John the Apostle, John the Presbyter, or John the Evangelist.

With Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch, Saint Polycarp is one of three chief Apostolic Fathers. His sole surviving work is his Letter to the Philippians.

Saint Polycarp was a companion of Papias another "hearer of John" as Irenaeus interprets Papias' testimony, and a correspondent of Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius addressed a letter to him, and mentions him in the letters to the Ephesians and to the Magnesians. Saint Polycarp's famous pupil was Irenaeus, for whom the memory of Saint Polycarp was a link to the apostolic past.

Irenaeus relates how and when he became a Christian and in his letter to Florinus stated that he saw and heard him personally in lower Asia; in particular he heard the account of Saint Polycarp's discussion with John the Evangelist and with others who had seen Jesus. Irenaeus also reports that Saint Polycarp was converted to Christianity by apostles, was consecrated a bishop and communicated with many who had seen Jesus. He repeatedly emphasizes the very great age of Saint Polycarp. The Martyrdom has Saint Polycarp himself indicate his age on the day of his death, with the phrase "Eighty and six years I have served him", which is understood to mean that he was 86 years old, thus indicating that his family had accepted Christianity while he was an infant.

Saint Polycarp visited Rome during the time of his fellow Syrian, Anicetus, Bishop of Rome, in the 150s or 160s, and they might have found their customs for observing the Christian Passover differed, Saint Polycarp following the eastern practice of celebrating Passover on the 14th of Nisan, the day of the Jewish Passover, regardless of what day of the week it fell.

His sole surviving work is his Letter to the Philippians, a mosaic of references to the Greek Scriptures. It, and an account of The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp that takes the form of a circular letter from the church of Smyrna to the churches of Pontus, form part of the collection of writings termed "The Apostolic Fathers" to emphasize their particular closeness to the apostles in Church traditions. The Martyrdom is considered one of the earliest genuine accounts of a Christian martyrdom, and one of the very few genuine accounts from the actual age of the persecutions.

The date of Saint Polycarp's death is in dispute. Eusebius dates it to the reign of Marcus Aurelius, circa 166 – 167. However, a post-Eusebian addition to the Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp dates his death to Saturday, February 23 in the proconsulship of Statius Quadratus—which works out to be 155 or 156. These earlier dates better fit the tradition of his association with Ignatius and John the Evangelist. However, the addition to the Martyrdom cannot be considered reliable on only its own merits. Further, numerous lines of evidence have been given to place the dating of Saint Polycarp's death to the end of the 160s, perhaps even later. James Ussher, for example, calculated this to 169; William Killen seems to agree with this dating. Some of those evidences include that the Martyrdom uses the singular when referring to the Emperor and Marcus Aurelius only became the sole emperor of Rome in 169 (and beginning in 161); Eusebius and Jerome both state Saint Polycarp died under Marcus Aurelius; this martyrdom took place during a major persecution, which could correspond to the late 160s or the one in 177 with that of Lyons and Vienne . Lightfoot would argue for the earlier date of Saint Polycarp's death, to which others such as Killen would greatly disagree.

Because in the Smyrnaean letter known as the Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp it states that Saint Polycarp was taken on the day of the Sabbath and killed on the Great Sabbath, some believe that this is evidence that the Smyrnaeans under Saint Polycarp observed the seventh day Sabbath.

Historians such as William Cave who have written, "...the Sabbath or Saturday (for so the word sabbatum is constantly used in the writings of the fathers, when speaking of it as it relates to Christians) was held by them in great veneration, and especially in the Eastern parts honoured with all the public solemnities of religion."The observance of the Seventh-day Sabbath by Saint Polycarp would be in harmony with the teachings and practice of Jesus, Paul, and John, his mentor.

Some feel that the expression, the Great Sabbath refers to the Christian Passover or another annual holy day. If so, then the martyrdom would have had to occur between one and two months later as Nisan 14 (the date that Saint Polycarp observed Passover) cannot come before the end of March in any year. Other Great Sabbaths (if this is referring to what are commonly considered to be Jewish holy days, though observed by many early professors of Christ) come in the Spring, late summer, or Fall. None occur in the winter.

These conjectures would be at odds with the Biblical evidence that suggests the common practice for Christians was in keeping the first day of the week. The Great Sabbath may be alluded to in John 7:37. This is called the Last Great Day and is a stand-alone annual holy day immediately following the Feast of Tabernacles.

Saint Polycarp occupies an important place in the history of the Christian Church. He is among the earliest Christians whose writings survive. It is probable that he knew John the Apostle, the disciple of Jesus. He was an elder of an important congregation in an area where the apostles laboured. And he is from an era whose orthodoxy is widely accepted by Orthodox Churches, Oriental Churches, Seventh Day Church of God groups, Protestants and Catholics alike. All of this makes his writings of great interest.

Saint Polycarp was not a philosopher or theologian. He appears, from surviving accounts, to have been a practical leader and gifted teacher, "a man who was of much greater weight, and a more steadfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics," said Irenaeus, who remembered him from his youth. He lived in an age after the deaths of the apostles, when a variety of interpretations of the sayings of Jesus were being preached. His role was to authenticate orthodox teachings through his reputed connection with the apostle John. Surviving accounts of the bravery of this very old man in the face of death by burning at the stake added credence to his words.

His martyrdom is of particular importance in understanding the position of the church in the pagan era of the Roman Empire. While the persecution is supported by the local proconsul, the author of the account noted the bloodthirstiness of the crowd in their calls for the death of Saint Polycarp. Additionally, the account also demonstrates the complexity of the Roman government's position toward Christianity, since the Christians are given the opportunity to recant and are not punished immediately as confessed criminals. This rather odd judicial system toward the crime of Christianity would later be derided by Tertullian in his Apology.

Saint Polycarp was a great transmitter and authenticator of Christian Revelation in a period when the gospels and epistles were just beginning to achieve acceptance. Although his visit to Rome to meet Pope Anicetus was significant and has in the past been used by some in the Roman Catholic Church to buttress papal claims, the documented truth according to Catholic sources is that Saint Polycarp did not accept the authority of the Roman Bishops to change Passover (rather, they agreed to disagree, both believing their practice to be Apostolic) -- nor did some of those who have been suggested to be his spiritual successors, such as Melito of Sardis and Polycrates of Ephesus.

The chief sources of information concerning Saint Polycarp are four: the authentic epistles of Ignatius, which include one to Saint Polycarp; Saint Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians; passages in Irenaeus' Adversus Haeresis; and the letter of the Smyrnaeans recounting the martyrdom of Saint Polycarp.

Bishop Sophronius of Jerusalem

Bishop Sophronius of Jerusalem commemorated on March the 11th

Bishop Sophronius was of Arab descent and was born around 560 AD in Damascus, and died on March 11th, 638 in Jerusalem. Bishop Sophronius was the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem from 634 until his death. Before rising to become Patriarch, he was a monk and theologian who was the chief protagonist for orthodox teaching in the doctrinal controversy on the essential nature of Jesus and his volitional acts.

A teacher of rhetoric, Bishop Sophronius became an ascetic in Egypt around 580 and then entered the monastery of Saint Theodosius near Bethlehem. Traveling to monastic centres in Asia Minor, Egypt, and Rome, he accompanied the Byzantine chronicler John Moschus, who dedicated to him his celebrated tract titled “The Spiritual Meadow”. On the death of John Moschus in Rome in 619, Bishop Sophronius accompanied the body back to Jerusalem for monastic burial. He traveled to Alexandria, Egypt, and to Constantinople in the year 633 to persuade the respective patriarchs to renounce Monothelitism, a heterodox teaching that espoused a single, divine will in Christ to the exclusion of a human capacity for choice. Bishop Sophronius' extensive writings on this question are all lost.

Although unsuccessful in this mission, Bishop Sophronius was elected patriarch of Jerusalem in 634. Soon after his enthronement he forwarded his noted synodical letter to Pope Honorius I and to the Eastern patriarchs, explaining the orthodox belief in the two natures, human and divine, of Christ, as opposed to Monothelitism, which he viewed as a subtle form of heretical Monophysitism which posited a single divine nature for Christ. Moreover, he composed a Florilegium “Anthology” of some 600 texts from the Greek Church Fathers in favour of the orthodox tenet of Dyotheletism which posits both human and divine wills in Christ. This document also is lost.

In his Christmas sermon of 634, Bishop Sophronius was more concerned with keeping the clergy in line with the Chalcedonian view of god, giving only the most conventional of warnings of the Muslim-Arab advance on Palestine, and commenting that the Arabs already controlled Bethlehem. Bishop Sophronius, who viewed the Muslim control of Palestine as "unwitting representatives of God's inevitable chastisement of weak and wavering Christians", died soon after the fall of Jerusalem to the caliph Umar I in 637, but not before he had negotiated the recognition of civil and religious liberty for Christians in exchange for tribute - an agreement known as the Umari Treaty. The caliph himself came to Jerusalem, and met with the patriarch at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Bishop Sophronius invited Umar to pray there, but Umar declined, fearing to endanger the Church's status as a Christian temple. The reason behind this welcoming reception from Bishop Sophronius was that according to biblical prophecies known to the Christian church in Jerusalem at that time, he learned of a time when a humble but just and powerful man will come riding a donkey. This description matched the Umar at the time of his arrival. The prophecy also conveyed that this powerful man will actually prove to be a protector and an ally to the Christians of Jerusalem.

Beside polemics, Bishop Sophronius' writings included an encomium on the Alexandrian martyrs Cyrus and John in gratitude for an extraordinary cure of his failing vision. He also wrote 23 Anacreontic poems on such themes as the Arab siege of Jerusalem, and on various liturgical celebrations. His Anacreontica poems 19 and 20 seem to be an expression of the longing desire he had of the Holy City, possibly when he was absent from Jerusalem during one of his many journeys. The order of the two poems has to be inverted to establish a correct sequence of the diverse subjects. Arranged in this way, the two poems describe a complete circuit throughout the most important sanctuaries of Jerusalem at the end of the 6th century, described as the golden age of Christianity in the Holy Land. Themes of Anacreonticon 20 include the gates of Jerusalem also known as Solyma, the Anastasis, the Rock of the Cross, the Constantinian Basilica, Mount Sion, the Praetorium, Saint Mary at the Probatica, and Gethsemane. The Mount of Olives, Bethany, and Bethlehem come next in Anacreonticon 19.

The date and the circumstances of the death of Sophronius remain unclear. A neglected Latin text, the passion of the 60 martyrs of Gaza, suggests that he was executed by the Muslim authorities in Jerusalem in early 640 because of his role in persuading 60 Byzantine soldiers captured at Gaza not to convert to Islam in order to save their souls.

Archangel Gabriel

Archangel Gabriel Commemorated on March 26th

In Abrahamic religions Gabriel (Greek Γαβριήλ ), literally translates to "Master, of God", i.e., a Master, who is "of God"). Gabriel is an angel who is thought to serve as a messenger from God ("angel" literally translates to "messenger" from the Koine Greek; an "arch" angel is a "primary" or "chief" messenger). He first appears in the Book of Daniel in the Hebrew Bible. He is also referred to as the "Left Hand of God and the embodiment of the Holy Spirit". Christians and Muslims believe him to have foretold the births of John the Baptist and Jesus to Zacharias and the Virgin Mary, and Muslims further believe he was the medium through which God revealed the Qur’an to Muhammad. Muslims also believe he sent a message to most, if not all, Prophets revealing their obligation.

In Judaic Biblical tradition, Gabriel is sometimes regarded as the angel of death or one of God's messengers. In Islamic tradition, Gabriel is one of God's chief messengers but other above-mentioned titles are not given to him (for example, the angel of death in Islamic tradition is Azrael).
In the Christian tradition, Gabriel is known as one of the seven archangels. In Islamic tradition, Gabriel is called the chief of the four favoured angels and the spirit of truth, and in some views Gabriel is regarded to be the same as the Holy Spirit. Gabriel also finds mention in the writings of the Bahá'í Faith, most notably in Bahhá'u'llá’s mystical work The Seven Valleys.

Gabriel is also one of the only angels sometimes portrayed in art and literature as female.

The name Gabriel first appears in the Book of Daniel. The setting of the story is the Babylonian captivity of the Jewish peoples: The Jewish leader Daniel ponders the meanings of several visions he has experienced in exile, when Gabriel appears to him with a message about the "End of Days": "…And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, that I sought to understand it; and, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, who called, and said: “Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision”. So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was terrified, and fell upon my face; but he said to me: “Understand, son of man; for the vision belongs to the time of the end…"

In the Talmud, Gabriel appears as the destroyer of the hosts of Sennacherib, armed "with a sharpened scythe which has been ready since Creation". The archangel Gabriel is also attributed as the one who showed Joseph the way, the one who prevented Queen Vashti from appearing naked before King Ahasuerus and his guests, and as one of the angels who buried Moses. In Talmud Yoma, however, it is stated that Gabriel once fell into disgrace "for not obeying a command exactly as given, Gabriel remained for a while outside the heavenly Curtain". During this 21 day period, the guardian Angel of Persia, Dobiel, acted as Gabriel's proxy.

The Talmud described Gabriel as the only angel who can speak Syriac and Chaldee.

Gabriel is also, according to Judaism, the voice that told Noah to gather the animals before the great flood; the invisible force that prevented Abraham from slaying his only begotten son Isaac; the invisible force that wrestled with Jacob; and the voice of the burning bush.

In the Gospel of Luke, Gabriel reveals to the Jewish Pharisee and Priest Zechariah that John the Baptist will be born to Zechariah's wife Elizabeth, and visits Elizabeth's cousin Mary to reveal that she will give birth to Jesus. Gabriel's visit to Mary is often called "The Annunciation", an event that is celebrated on March 25th in the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches. It is also commemorated as the "First Joyful Mystery" of the rosary.

According to later legend, he is also the unidentified angel in the Book of Revelation (the Apocalypse of John) who blows the horn announcing the Judgment Day.

The Book of Enoch places the archangel Gabriel as The Left Hand of God, or seated on the left side of God's throne with Metatron. Gabriel is the ruler of the Cherubim and Seraphim surrounding the throne of the Almighty.
However, people have long thought that he was "God's Right Hand" upon the Earth, as if he switches roles in the transition from Heaven to Earth.

To Anglicans, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians he is St. Gabriel the Archangel, with Michael and Raphael, his feast day is celebrated on September 29th and November 8th for the Eastern Orthodox Christians.

Among the Eastern Orthodox, in addition to the September feast, he is also commemorated on March 26th and July 13th. March 26th is the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel and celebrates his role in the Annunciation. July 13th is also known as the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel, but celebrates all of appearances and miracles attributed to Gabriel throughout history. The feast was first established on Mount Athos in the ninth century, during the reign of Emperor Basil II and the Empress Constantina Porphyrogenitus and Patriarch Nicholas Chrysoverges, on the occasion of the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel in a cell near Karyes where he wrote on a stone tablet with his finger, the hymn to the Theotokos, "It is truly meet..."

In the Latter-day Saint theology, Gabriel lived in this mortal life as the patriarch Noah. Gabriel and Noah are regarded as the same individual; Noah being his mortal name and Gabriel being his heavenly name.

The Arabic name for Gabriel is Jibril, Muslims believe Gabriel to have been the angel who revealed theQur’an to the Prophet Muhammad.

Gabriel's physical appearance is described in the Hadith:
So did (God) convey The Inspiration to His slave (Gabriel) and then he (Gabriel) Conveyed (that to Muhammad). The Prophet had seen Gabriel having 600 wings.

Gabriel is regarded with the exact same respect by Muslims as all of the Prophets, and upon saying his name or referring to him a Muslim repeats: "upon him be peace". Gabriel's primary tasks are to bring messages from God to His messengers. As in Christianity, Gabriel is said to be the angel that informed Mary (Arabic Maryam) of how she would conceive Jesus (Arabic Isa):
She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her Our Ruh angel Jibrael (Gabriel), and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects. She said: "Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (God) from you, if you do fear God." (The angel) said: "I am only a Messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son." She said: "How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?" He said: "So (it will be), your Lord said: “That is easy for Me (God): And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (God), and it is a matter (already) decreed, (by God).”

Muslims believe Gabriel to have accompanied Muhammad in his ascension to the heavens, where Muhammad also is said to have met previous messengers of God, and was informed about the Islamic prayer named Bukhari. Muslims also believe that Gabriel descends to Earth on the night of Layat al-Qadr ("The Night of Destiny"), a night in the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar.

Gabriel is sometimes associated with the colour Blue, the direction west and the element of water; his horse is named Haizum. Gabriel is also variously identified as the angel of annunciation, resurrection, mercy, vengeance, death, and revelation. Furthermore, the archangel has also been identified in various sources to be one of the "Seven Archangels who stand in the presence of God"; he is also claimed variously to be a tafsarim (chief angelic prince) of the cherub, virtue, power, archangel, and angel celestial orders. The governor of the Moon and Monday also are ascribed to Gabriel; finally, the archangel Gabriel is also the ruler of Shamayim, the First Heaven.

In the tradition of Hermetic Qabalah, Gabriel is one of the four archangels invoked during the Lesser, Greater and Supreme Rituals of the Pentagram. He appears in the Western Cardinal direction and is the Angel whose mastery is that of Water. The western pentagram is as follows, with the Water Banishing/Invoking and the Enochian "Hcoma" and "Empeh Arsel Gaoil" with the spiritual and elemental pentagrams. The zodiacal sign associated with Gabriel is Cancer, or the sign of the Crab.

Working with Planetary magic in the Hermetic tradition, Gabriel is the angelic ruler of the sephira Yesod, which roughly translates to Foundation, the emanation located at the genital region of the Adam Kadmon and thus the Tree of life upon the middle pillar. To invoke Gabriel into the circle it would be proper to cast the hexagram of the moon for example on Monday at 1am, 8am, 3pm or 10pm with the vibration of "Shaddai El Chai". Some form of a lunar tincture would assist in the opening of this hexagram, for example, dew from the morning grass, or moon blood (menstrual blood, which has an ambiguous association with the moon.

Saint John Climacus

Saint John Climacus Commemorated on March 30th

Saint John Climacus (Ἰωάννης τῆς Κλίμακος c. 525 – 30 March 606), also known as John of the Ladder, John Scholasticus and John Sinaites, was a 6th century Christian monk at the monastery on Mount Sinai. He is revered as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Oriental Orthodox , Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches.

Saint John Climacus was born in Syria, and came to the monastery and became a novice when he was about 16 years old, taught by monk named Martyrius. After the death of Martyrius, John, wishing to practice greater asceticism, withdrew to a hermitage at the foot of the mountain. In this isolation he lived for some twenty years, constantly studying the lives of the saints and thus becoming one of the most learned doctors of the Church. In 600, when he was about seventy-five years of age, the monks of Sinai persuaded him to put himself at their head. He acquitted himself of his functions as abbot with the greatest wisdom, and his reputation spread so far that pope Gregory the Great wrote to recommend himself to his prayers, and sent him a sum of money for the hospital of Sinai, in which the pilgrims were wont to lodge. Four years later he resigned his charge and returned to his hermitage to prepare for death.

Saint John Climacus wrote a number of instructive books, the Climax (Latin: Scala) or Ladder of Divine Ascent, composed at the request of John, Abbot of Raithu, a monastery situated on the shores of the Red Sea; and his shorter work To the Pastor (Latin: Liber ad Pastorem). Often these two are found printed together.

The Ladder describes how to raise one's soul and body to God, as if on a ladder, the goal of which is theosis (mystical union with God). This book is one of the most widely-read among Eastern Orthodox Christians, especially during the season of Great Lent which immediately precedes Pascha (Easter). It is often read in the trapeza (refectory) in Orthodox monasteries, and in some places it is read in church as part of the Daily Office on Lenten weekdays. Climacus uses the analogy of Jacob's Ladder as the framework for his spiritual teaching. Each chapter is referred to as a "step", and deals with a separate spiritual subject. There are thirty steps of the ladder, which correspond with the age of Jesus at His baptism and the beginning of his earthly ministry. The first 23 steps give instruction on overcoming the vices and the remainder speak of building of the virtues. The Ladder holds dispassionateness (apatheia) as the ultimate contemplative and mystical good in a Christian.

The Ladder describes how to raise one's soul and body to God, as if on a ladder, the goal of which is theosis (mystical union with God). This book is one of the most widely-read among Eastern Orthodox Christians, especially during the season of Great Lent which immediately precedes Pascha (Easter). It is often read in the trapeza (refectory) in Orthodox monasteries, and in some places it is read in church as part of the Daily Office on Lenten weekdays.

Saint Climacus uses the analogy of Jacob's Ladder as the framework for his spiritual teaching. Each chapter is referred to as a "step", and deals with a separate spiritual subject. There are thirty steps of the ladder, which correspond with the age of Jesus at His baptism and the beginning of his earthly ministry. The first 23 steps give instruction on overcoming the vices and the remainder speak of building of the virtues. The Ladder holds dispassionateness (apatheia) as the ultimate contemplative and mystical good in a Christian.

An icon known by the same title, Ladder of Divine Ascent, depicts a ladder extending from earth to heaven (cf. Genesis 28:12) Several monks are depicted climbing a ladder; at the top is Jesus, prepared to receive the climbers into Heaven. Also shown are angels helping the climbers, and demons attempting to shoot with arrows or drag down the climbers, no matter how high up the ladder they may be. Most versions of the icon show at least one person falling. Often, in the lower right corner Saint John Climacus himself is depicted, gesturing towards the ladder, with rows of monastics behind him.

His feast day is March 30 in both the East and West. The Orthodox Church also commemorates him on the Fourth Sunday of the Great Lent. Many churches are dedicated to him in Russia, including a church and belltower in the Moscow Kremlin. Saint John Climacus was also known as "Scholasticus," but he is not to be confused with Saint John Scholasticus, Patriarch of Constantinople.

There is in existence an ancient life of the saint by a monk named Daniel of Raithu monastery. The translation of the Ladder by Arnauld d'Andilly (Paris, 1688) is preceded by a life of the saint by Le Maistre de Sacy.

Several translations into English have been made, including one by Holy Transfiguration Monastery (Boston, 1979). This volume contains the Life of St. John by Daniel, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, and To the Pastor, and provides footnotes explaining many of the concepts and terminology used from an Orthodox perspective as well as a General Index.

Saint Zosimas

Saint Zosimas Commemorated on April 4th

The Venerable Saint Zosimas of Palestine, also called Zosima, is a saint in the Eastern Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Churches. In the Orthodox Church, monastic saints are referred to as “Venerable” (Greek: Όσιος, Hosios). The term is unrelated to the Roman Catholic term which describes a candidate for sainthood. For the Orthodox, Venerable saints are considered to be fully glorifed (canonized) saints.

Saint Zosimas was born in the second half of the fifth century, during the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Younger. He became a monk in a monastery in Palestine at a very young age, gaining a reputation as a great elder and ascetic. At the age of fifty-three, now a hieromonk, he moved to a very strict monastery located in the wilderness close to the Jordan River, where he spent the remainder of his life.

He is best known for his encounter with Saint Mary of Egypt. It was the custom of that monastery for all of the brethren to go out into the desert for the forty days of Great Lent, spending the time in fasting and prayer, and not returning until Palm Sunday. While wandering in the desert he met Saint Mary, who told him her life story and asked him to meet her the next year on Holy Thursday on the banks of the Jordan, in order to bring her Holy Communion. He did so, and the third year came to her again in the desert, but he found that she had passed away and he buried her. Saint Zosimas is reputed to have lived to be almost one hundred years of age.

All that we know of Saint Zosimas’ life comes from the Vita of Saint Mary of Egypt, recorded by Saint Sophronius, who was the Patriarch of Jerusalem from 634 to 638. Sophronius based his work on oral tradition he had heard from Palestinian monks. This Vita is traditionally read as a part of the Matins of the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete, on the fifth Thursday of Great Lent. A Vita is the life of a saint, often the earliest formal hagiography of that particular individual.

The Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar describes and dictates the rhythm of the life of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Associated with each date are passages of Holy Scripture, Saints and events for commemoration, and many times special rules for fasting or feasting that correspond to the day of the week or time of year in relationship to the major feast days.

There are two types of feasts in the Orthodox Church calendar: fixed and movable. Fixed feasts occur on the same calendar day every year, while movable feasts change each year. The moveable feasts are generally relative to Pascha (Easter), and so the cycle of moveable feasts is referred to as the Paschal cycle.

Pascha is, by far, the most important day in the ecclesiastical year, and all other days, in one way or another, are dependent upon it. Pascha falls on different calendar dates from year to year, calculated according to a strict set of rules. While the Fixed Cycle begins on September 1, the new Paschal Cycle begins on “Zaccheus Sunday” (the beginning of the preparatory season before Great Lent), eleven Sundays before Pascha, and continues until the Zaccheus Sunday of the following year. The Epistle and Gospel readings at the Divine Liturgy throughout the year are determined by the date of Pascha.

There are Twelve Great Feasts throughout the church year—not counting Pascha, which is above and beyond all other feast days. These are feasts which celebrate major historical events in the lives of Jesus Christ or the Theotokos (Virgin Mary). Of these, three are on the Paschal Cycle:

Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Pascha)
Ascension (forty days after Pascha)
Pentecost (fifty days after Pascha)

The other Great Feasts are on the Fixed Cycle:

The Nativity of the Theotokos (September 8)
The Elevation of the Holy Cross (September 14)
The Presentation of the Theotokos (November 21)
The Nativity of the Lord (December 25)
The Theophany (Epiphany) of the Lord (January 6)
The Presentation of the Lord (February 2)
The Annunciation (March 25)
The Transfiguration (August 6)
The Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos (August 15)

In addition, the feast day of the patron saint of a parish church or monastery is counted as a Great Feast, and is celebrated with great solemnity.

Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius

Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius Commemorated on May 11th

Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius (Greek: Κύριλλος και Μεθόδιος, Old Church Slavonic: Кѷриллъ и Меѳодїи) were two Byzantine Greek brothers born in Thessaloniki in the 9th century, who became missionaries of Christianity amongst the Slavs of Great Moravia and Pannonia. Through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavic peoples for which they received the title “Apostles to the Slavs”. They are credited with devising the Glagolitic alphabet, the first alphabet used to transcribe the Old Church Slavonic language. The Cyrillic alphabet, which was based on the Glagolitic alphabet, is still used in a number of Slavic and other languages. After their death, their pupils continued their missionary work among other Slavic peoples. Both brothers are venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as saints with the title of "Equals to the Apostles". In 1880, Pope Leo XIII introduced their feast into the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1980, Pope John Paul II declared them Co-patrons of Europe, together with Saint Benedict of Nursia.

The two brothers, Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius were born in Thessaloniki in 827 and 826 respectively to a Byzantine Greek drungarios (a military rank) named Leon. Saint Cyril was reputedly the youngest of seven brothers, according to the Vita Cyrilli ("The Life of Cyril"). Saint Cyril's birth name was Constantine (Greek: Κωνσταντίνος Konstantínos) and he was probably renamed Cyril (Greek: 'Lordly') just before or after his death in Rome.

The two brothers lost their father when Saint Cyril was only fourteen, and their uncle Theoktistos (Greek: Θεόκτιστος) became their protector. Theoktistos was a "Logothetes tou dromou," a powerful Byzantine official, responsible for the postal services and the diplomatic relations of the Empire. He was also responsible, along with the regent Bardas, for initiating a far-reaching educational program within the Empire which culminated in the establishment of the University of Magnaura, where Saint Cyril was to teach. Theoktistos invited (843) Saint Cyril to Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, and helped him continue his studies at the University there. He also arranged the later placement of Saint Methodius (Greek: Μεθόδιος Methódios) as an abbot in the famous Greek monastery of Polychron (Μονή Πολυχρονίου) in Constantinople.

Photius is said to have been amongst Saint Cyril’s teachers; Anastasius Bibliothecarius mentions their later friendship, as well as a conflict between them on a point of doctrine. Saint Cyril learned an eclectic variety of knowledge including astronomy, geometry, rhetoric and music. However, it was in the field of linguistics that Saint Cyril particularly excelled. Besides his native Greek language, he was fluent in Latin, Arabic and Hebrew; according to the Vita Cyrilli, the Byzantine Emperor Michael III claimed that "all Thessalonians speak perfect Slavonic"

After the completion of his education Saint Cyril took holy orders and became a monk. He seems to have held the important position of chartophylax, or secretary to the patriarch and keeper of the archives, with some judicial functions also. After six months' quiet retirement in a monastery he began to teach philosophy and theology.

The fact that Saint Cyril was a master theologian with a good command of both the Arabic and Hebrew languages made him eligible for his first state mission to the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mutawakkil in order to discuss the principle of the Holy Trinity with the Arab theologian and to tighten the diplomatic relations between the Abbashid Caliphate and the Empire.

Saint Cyril also took an active role in relations with the other two great Judaic, monotheistic religions, Islam and Judaism. He penned fiercely anti-Jewish polemics, perhaps connected with his mission to the Khazar Khaganate, a state located near the Sea of Azov ruled by a Jewish king who allowed Jews, Muslims, and Christians to live peaceably side by side. He also undertook a mission to the Arabs with whom, according to the Vita, he held discussions. He is said to have learned the Hebrew, Samaritan and Arabic languages during this period.

The second mission in 860, requested by the Byzantine Emperor Michael III and the Patriarch of Constantinople Photius (a professor of Saint Cyril's at the University and his guiding light in earlier years) was a missionary expedition to the Khazar Khagan in order to prevent the expansion of Judaism there. This mission was unsuccessful, as later the Khagan imposed Judaism to his people as the national religion. It has been claimed that Saint Methodius also accompanied Saint Cyril on the mission to the Khazars, but this is probably a later invention. The account of his life presented in the Latin Legenda claims that he also learned the Khazar language while in Chersonesos, in Taurica (known today as the Crimea).

After his return to Constantinople, Saint Cyril assumed the role of professor of philosophy at the University while his brother had by this time become a significant player in Byzantine political and administrative affairs, and an abbot of his monastery.

In 862, both brothers were to enter upon the work which gives them their historical importance. That year the Prince Rastislav of Great Moravia requested that the Emperor Michael III and the Patriarch Photius send missionaries to evangelize his Slavic subjects. His motives in doing so were probably more political than religious. Rastislav had become king with the support of the Frankish ruler Louis the German, but subsequently sought to assert his independence from the Franks. He is said to have expelled missionaries of the Roman Church and instead turned to Constantinople for ecclesiastical assistance and, presumably, a degree of political support. The request provided a convenient opportunity to expand Byzantine influence, and the task was entrusted to Cyril and Methodius. Their first work seems to have been the training of assistants. In 863, they began the task of translating the Bible into the language now known as Old Church Slavonic and travelled to Great Moravia to promote it. They enjoyed considerable success in this endeavour. However, they came into conflict with German ecclesiastics who opposed their efforts to create a specifically Slavic liturgy.

For the purpose of this mission, they devised the Glagolitic alphabet, the first alphabet to be used for Slavonic manuscripts. The Glagolitic alphabet was suited to match the specific features of the Slavic language and its descendant alphabet, the Cyrillic Alphabet, is still used by many languages today.

They also translated Christian texts for Slavs into the language that is now called Old Church Slavonic and wrote the first Slavic Civil Code, which was used in Great Moravia. The language derived from Old Church Slavonic, known as Church Slavonic, is still used in liturgy by several Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches.

It is impossible to determine with certainty what portions of the Bible the brothers translated. The New Testament and the Psalms seem to have been the first, followed by other lessons from the Old Testament. The Translatio speaks only of a version of the Gospels by Saint Cyril, and the Vita Methodii only of the evangelium Slovenicum, though other liturgical selections may also have been translated.

It is not known for sure which liturgy, that of Rome or that of Constantinople, they took as a source. They may well have used the Roman, as suggested by liturgical fragments which adhere closely to the Latin type. This view is confirmed by the "Prague Fragments" and by certain Old Glagolitic liturgical fragments brought from Jerusalem to Kiev and there discovered by Saresnewsky-- probably the oldest document for the Slavonic tongue; these adhere closely to the Latin type, as is shown by the words "mass", "preface", and the name of one Felicitas. In any case, the circumstances were such that the brothers could hope for no permanent success without obtaining the authorization of Rome.

In 867, Pope Nicholas I invited the brothers to Rome. Their evangelizing mission in Moravia had by this time become the focus of a dispute with Theotmar, the Archbishop of Salzburg and bishop of Passau, who claimed ecclesiastical control of the same territory and wished to see it use the Latin liturgy exclusively. Travelling with the relics of Saint Clement and a retinue of disciples, and passing through Pannonia (the Balaton Principality), where they were well received by Prince Koceľ (Kocelj, Kozel), they finally arrived in Rome in 868 where they were warmly received. This was partly due to their bringing with them the relics of Saint Clement; while the rivalry with Constantinople, as to the jurisdiction over the territory of the Slavs would incline Rome to value the brothers and their influence.

The brothers were praised for their learning and cultivated for their influence in Constantinople. Anastasius would later call Saint Cyril "the teacher of the Apostolic See". Their project in Moravia found support from Pope Adrian II, who formally authorized the use of the new Slavic liturgy. The ordination of the brothers' Slav disciples was performed by Formosus and Gauderic, two prominent bishops, and the newly made priests officiated in their own tongue at the altars of some of the principal churches. Feeling his end approaching, Saint Cyril put on the monastic habit and died fifty days later (14 February 869). There is practically no basis for the assertion of the Translatio (ix.) that he was made a bishop; and the name of Cyril seems to have been given to him only after his death.

Saint Methodius now continued the work among the Slavs alone; not at first in Great Moravia, but in Pannonia (in the Balaton Principality), owing to the political circumstances of the former country, where Rastislav had been taken captive by his nephew Svatopluk, then delivered over to Carloman, and condemned in a diet of the empire at the end of 870.

Friendly relations, on the other hand, had been established with Koceľ on the journey to Rome. This activity in Pannonia, however, made a conflict inevitable with the German episcopate, and especially with the bishop of Salzburg, to whose jurisdiction Pannonia had belonged for seventy-five years. In 865, Bishop Adalwin is found exercising all Episcopal rights there, and the administration under him was in the hands of the archpriest Riehbald. The latter was obliged to retire to Salzburg, but his superior was naturally disinclined to abandon his claims. Saint Methodius sought support from Rome; the Vita asserts that Koceľ sent him thither with an honorable escort to receive Episcopal consecration.

The letter given as Adrian's in chap. viii., with its approval of the Slavonic mass, is a pure invention. It is noteworthy that the pope named Saint Methodius not bishop of Pannonia, but archbishop of Sirmium, thus superseding the claims of Salzburg by an older title. The statement of the Vita that Saint Methodius was made bishop in 870, and not raised to the dignity of an archbishop until 873 is contradicted by the brief of Pope John VIII, written in June, 879, according to which Adrian consecrated him archbishop; John includes in his jurisdiction not only Great Moravia and Pannonia, but Serbia as well.

The archiepiscopal claims of Saint Methodius were considered such an injury to the rights of Salzburg that he was forced to answer for them at a synod held at Regensburg in the presence of King Louis. The assembly, after a heated discussion, declared the deposition of the intruder, and ordered him to be sent to Germany, where he was kept a prisoner for two and a half years. In spite of the strong representations of the Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum, written in 871 to influence the pope, though not avowing this purpose, Rome declared emphatically for Saint Methodius, and sent a bishop, Paul of Ancons, to reinstate him and punish his enemies, after which both parties were commanded to appear in Rome with the legate.

The papal will prevailed, and Methodius secured his freedom and his archiepiscopal authority over both Great Moravia and Pannonia, though the use of Slavonic for the mass was still denied to him. His authority was restricted in Pannonia when after Koceľ's death the principality was administered by German nobles; but Svatopluk now ruled with practical independence in Great Moravia, and expelled the German clergy. This apparently secured an undisturbed field of operation for Saint Methodius; and the Vita (x.) depicts the next few years (873–879) as a period of fruitful progress. Saint Methodius seems to have disregarded, wholly or in part, the prohibition of the Slavonic liturgy; and when Frankish clerics again found their way into the country, and the archbishop's strictness had displeased the licentious Svatopluk, this was made a cause of complaint against him at Rome, coupled with charges regarding the Filioque.

Saint Methodius vindicated his orthodoxy at Rome, the more easily as the creed was still recited there without the Filioque, and promised to obey in regard to the liturgy. The other party was conciliated by giving him a Swabian, Wiching, as his coadjutor. When relations were strained between the two, John VIII steadfastly supported Saint Methodius; but after his death in December of 882, the archbishop's position became insecure, and his need of support induced Goetz to accept the statement of the Vita (xiii.) that he went to visit the Eastern emperor.

It was not, however, until after Saint Methodius' death, which is placed, though not with certainty, on 8 April 885, that the animosity erupted into an open conflict. Gorazd, whom Saint Methodius had designated as his successor, was not recognised by Pope Stephen V. The same Pope forbade the use of the Slavic liturgy and placed the infamous Wiching as Saint Methodius' successor. The later exiled the disciples of the two brothers from Great Moravia in 885. They fled to the First Bulgarian Empire, where they were welcomed and commissioned to establish theological schools. There they devised the Cyrillic Alphabet on the basis of the Glagolitic Alphabet. Cyrillic gradually replaced Glagolitic as the alphabet of the Old Church Slavonic (Old Bulgarian) language, which became the official language of the Bulgarian Empire and later spread to the Eastern Slav lands of Kievan Rus'. Cyrillic eventually spread throughout most of the Slavic world to become the standard alphabet in the Orthodox Slavic countries. Hence, Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius' efforts also paved the way for the spread of Christianity throughout Eastern Europe.

The Glagolitic alphabet or Glagolitsa, based primarily on the Greek uncial writing of the 9th century, is the oldest known Slavic alphabet and was created by the two brothers, in order to translate the Bible and other texts into the Slavic languages. The alphabet was then used in Great Moravia between 863 (with the arrival of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius) and 885 (with the expulsion of their students) for government and religious documents and books, and at the Great Moravian Academy (Veľkomoravské učilište) founded by Saint Cyril, where followers of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius were educated, by Saint Methodius himself among others. The alphabet has been traditionally attributed to Saint Cyril. That fact has been confirmed explicitly by the papal letter Industriae tuae (880) approving the use of Old Church Slavonic, which says that the alphabet was "invented by Constantine the Philosopher". The term invention need not exclude the possibility of the brothers having made use of earlier letters, but implies only that before that time the Slavic languages had no distinct script of their own.

The early Cyrillic alphabet was a simplification of the Glagolitic alphabet which more closely resembled the Greek alphabet. It has been attributed to Saint Clement of Ohrid, a disciple of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius. However, recent studies have suggested that the Cyrillic alphabet was more likely developed at the Preslav Literary School in northeastern Bulgaria in the early 10th century and was named so in honour of Saint Cyril.

A popular opinion among Slavic nations holds that Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius were themselves of Slavic background. Theories and positions of authors who have maintained such views range from Greek father and Slavic mother to purely Slavonic (or, more specifically, Bulgarian) origin. "It is a long lasting dispute: what was the ethnicity of Constantine-Cyril and Methodius—Greek or Bulgarian?".

The Bulgarian (or, in a wider form, Slavonic) version is probably the first explicitly documented one. It is based primarily on the evidence of the short variant of Saint Cyril's biography (so-called "Успение Кириллово" (Uspenie Kirillovo) - "Assumption of Saint Cyril"), an Old Slavonic text saying that Saint Cyril "родомъ сыи блъгаринь" (rodomŭ syi blŭgarinĭ, "being Bulgarian by birth"). Two copies of the text (one belongs to the beginning of the 15th century, another from late 15th - early 16th century) are published in: Боню Ст. Ангелов (Boniu Saint Angelov), Из старата българска, руска и сръбска литература (From old Bulgarian, Russian and Serbian literature), Sofia, 1978, pp. 7-10 and 13-16. This version is popular mostly among Bulgarian scholars. Critics say that "Assumption of Saint Cyril" is not a very reliable source: it is a relatively late evidence, and it contains a lot of other dubious statements.

The mixed origin version stipulates that the brothers were born to a Greek father and a Slavic mother. One argument for this version (and or Slavonic origin version as well), the following evidence from the earliest and most detailed Cyrilo-Methodian source—"Life of Saint Cyril": "as a suckling, he did not accept the foster-mother, and only the milk of his own mother could feed him". As a symbolic presage of his further life—service for the Slavonic people—it can be interpreted as service to the people of his mother.

One more point of view is popular in Slavonic literature and is shared by Florya himself: "при имеющемся состоянии источников вопрос об этническом происхождении Кирилла и Мефодия определенно решен быть не может" (under existing state of the primary sources, the question about a Slavic origin of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius cannot be solved determinately—Florya, op. cit., p. 205). Or: "станем поэтому в вопросе о национальности Кирилла и Мефодия на более мудрые позиции и признаем их славянами по языку и самосознанию, не заглядывая в вопрос об их крови — славянской, греческой или иной" (therefore, let us stand in the problem of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius' ethnicity on a wiser position: let us confess them Slavs in language and in self-consciousness, not looking into the question of their blood—Slavonic, Greek, or other.

Saint Cyril was canonized as a saint by the eastern Church, with the Roman Catholic Church canonizing him separately in 1880 along with Methodius. The two brothers are known as the "Apostles of the Slavs" and are still highly regarded by Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Saint Cyril's feast day is celebrated on February 14 (Catholic Church) or May 11 (Orthodox Church). The two brothers were declared "Patrons of Europe". Saint Cyril Peak on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named for Saint Cyril.

Saints Cyril and Methodius Day is a holiday, usually celebrated on 24 May in countries which observe Eastern Orthodox tradition, and on 5 July in countries that observe Roman Catholic tradition. It commemorates the creation of the Slavic Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabets by the brothers Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius. There is evidence that the Cyrillic alphabet was not created by Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius but by their pupil, Saint Clement of Ohrid, but the alphabet bears Saint Cyril's name nonetheless, and the evidence is still not enough to disprove that fact. The celebration also commemorates the introduction of literacy and the preaching of the gospels in the Slavonic language by the brothers.

According to old Bulgarian chronicles, the day of the holy brothers used to be celebrated ecclesiastically as early as the XI Century. The first recorded secular celebration of the Saints Cyril and Methodius Day as the "Day of the Bulgarian script", as it is traditionally accepted by Bulgarian science, was held in the town of Plovdiv on May 11, 1851, when a local Bulgarian school was named "Saints Cyril and Methodius", both acts on initiative of the prominent Bulgarian enlightener Naiden Gerov, although an Armenian traveller mentioned his visit at the "celebration of the Bulgarian script" in the town of Shumen on May 22, 1803.

Nowadays, the day is celebrated as a public holiday in the following countries:

In Bulgaria it is celebrated on 24 May, and is known as the Bulgarian Education and Culture, and Slavonic Literature Day (Bulgarian: Ден на българската просвета и култура и на славянската писменост), a national holiday celebrating Bulgarian culture and literature as well as the alphabet. It is also known as Alphabet, Culture, and Education Day (Bulgarian: Ден на азбуката, културата и просвещението).

In the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, it is celebrated on the 24th of May, and is known as the Saints Cyril and Methodius, Slavonic Enlighteners' Day (Slavo Macedonian: Св. Кирил и Методиј, Ден на сесловенските просветители), a national holiday. The FYROM Government took the decision for the statute of national holiday in October 2006, and FYROM Parliament passed a corresponding law in the beginning of 2007. Before that it was celebrated only in the schools. It is also known as the day of the "Solun Brothers" (Slavic Macedonian: Солунските браќа).

In the Czech Republic it is celebrated on 5 July as Slavic Missionaries Cyril and Methodius Day (Czech: Den slovanských věrozvěstů Cyrila a Metoděje).

In Russia, it is celebrated on 24 May and is known as the Slavonic Literature and Culture Day (Russian: День славянской письменности и культуры), celebrating Slavonic culture and literature as well as the alphabet. Its celebration is ecclesiastical, and it is not a public holiday in Russia.

In Slovakia it is celebrated on 5 July as St. Cyril and Metod Day. (Slovak: Sviatok svätého Cyrila a Metoda).

The saints' feast day is celebrated by the Eastern Orthodox Church on May 11 and by the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church on 14 February as Saints Cyril and Methodius Day. Lutheran Churches commemorate the two saints either on 14 February or 11 May. It is a public holiday in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Slovakia; it is celebrated in Russia as a holiday associated with the two brothers, who are considered patrons of learning and education.

In the Czech lands and Slovakia, the two brothers were originally commemorated on March 9, but Pope Pius IX changed this date to July 5. Today, the Saints Cyril and Methodius Day, believed to be the date of the arrival of the two brothers to Great Moravia in 863, is a national holiday both in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Saints Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria and in Trnava, Slovakia bear the name of the two saints.

Saint Cyril Peak and Saint Methodius Peak on Livingston Island in the Tangra Mountains, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica are named for the two brothers.

Saint Cyril's remains are interred in a shrine-chapel within the Basilica di San Clemente in Rome, Italy. The chapel holds a Madonna by Sassoferrato.

The Basilica of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Danville, Pennsylvania (the only Roman Catholic basilica dedicated to Saints Cyril & Methodius in the world) is the Motherhouse chapel of the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius, a Roman Catholic women's religious community of pontifical rite dedicated to apostolic works of ecumenism, education, evangelization, and care for the elderly.

Saint Helena

Saint Helena commemorated on May 21st

Flavia Iulia Helena Augusta, also known as Saint Helena, Saint Helen, Saint Helena Augusta or Saint Helena of Constantinople (ca. 250 – ca. 330) was consort of Constantius Chlorus, and the mother of Emperor Saint Constantine I. Saint Helena is traditionally credited with finding the relics of the True Cross.

Saint Helena was a native of Bithynia and the daughter of an innkeeper. She was a woman of personal dignity, mystical piety and emotional passion. Her son Saint Constantine renamed the city of Drepanum on the Gulf of Nicomedia “Helenopolis” in her honour, and the new name gave rise to the belief that Drepanum was her birthplace.

Despite her humble birth, she married Constantius Chlorus, a Roman general in 270 and gave birth to Saint Constantine I in 272. In 293, Constantius was ordered by emperor Diocletian to divorce her in order to qualify as Caesar of the Western Roman Empire, and he was married to the step-daughter of Maximian, Theodora. Saint Helena never remarried and lived in obscurity, though close to her only son, who had a deep regard and affection for her.

Saint Constantine was proclaimed Augustus of the Roman Empire in 306 by Constantius’ troops after the latter had died, and following his elevation his mother was brought back to the public life and the imperial court, and received the title of Augusta in 325. Saint Helena died in 330 with her son at her side. Her sarcophagus is on display in the Pio-Clementino Vatican Museum. During her life, she gave many presents to the poor, released prisoners and mingled with the ordinary worshippers in modest attire, exhibiting a true Christian spirit.

She is considered by the Orthodox and Catholic churches as a saint, famed for her piety. Her feast day as a saint of the Orthodox Christian Church is celebrated with her son on May 21, the Feast of the Holy Great Sovereigns Saint Constantine and Saint Helen, Equal to the Apostles. Her feast day in the Roman Catholic Church falls on August 18. Her feast day in the Coptic Orthodox Church is on 9 Pashons. Eusebius records the details of her pilgrimage to Palestine and other eastern provinces (though not her discovery of the True Cross). She is the patron saint of archaeologists. The names “Saint Eleanor” and “Saint Eleanora” are usually synonymous for Saint Helen.

In 325, Helena was in charge of a journey to Jerusalem to gather Christian relics, by her son Emperor Saint Constantine I, who had recently declared Rome as a Christian city. Jerusalem was still rebuilding from the destruction of Hadrian, a previous emperor, who had built a temple to Venus over the site of the Jesus’ tomb, near Calvary.

According to legend, Saint Helena entered the temple with Bishop Macarius, ordered the temple torn down and chose a site to begin excavating, which led to the recovery of three different crosses. Refused to be swayed by anything but solid proof, a woman from Jerusalem, who was already at the point of death from a certain disease, was brought; when the woman touched a cross suddenly recovered and Saint Helena declared the cross with which the woman had been touched to be the True Cross. On the site of discovery, she built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, while she continued building churches on every Holy site.

She also found the nails of the crucifixion. To use their miraculous power to aid her son, Saint Helena allegedly had one placed in Saint Constantine’s helmet, and another in the bridle of his horse. Saint Helena left Jerusalem and the eastern provinces in 327 to return to Rome, bringing with her large parts of the True Cross and other relics, which were then stored in her palace’s private chapel, where they can be still seen today. Her palace was later converted into the Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.

In Great Britain, later legend, mentioned by Henry of Huntingdon but made popular by Geoffrey of Monmouth, claimed that Saint Helena was a daughter of the King of Britain, Cole of Camulodunum, who allied with Constantius to avoid more war between the Britons and Rome. Geoffrey further states that she was brought up in the manner of a queen, as she had no brothers to inherit the throne of Britain. Monmouth and Huntingdon’s source may have been Sozomen. However, Sozomen doesn’t claim Saint Helena was British though he does claim in Historia Ecclesiastica that her son, Saint Constantine I, picked up his Christianity there. There is no other surviving evidence to support this legend, which may be due to confusion with Saint Elen, wife of the later Emperor, Magnus Maximus.

At least twenty-five holy wells currently exist in the United Kingdom that are dedicated to Saint Helen or Elen. She is also the patron saint of Colchester and Abingdon.

Saint Constantine I

Saint Constantine I commemorated on May 21st

The relationship between Saint Constantine I and Christianity entails both the nature of the conversion of the emperor to Christianity, and his relations with the Christian Church. Though Emperor Saint Constantine I was exposed to Christianity by his mother, Saint Helena, there is scholarly controversy as to whether he adopted his mother's Christianity in his youth, or whether he adopted it gradually over the course of his life. Whatever the case, the accession of Saint Constantine was a turning point for the Christian Church. In 313, Saint Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, legalizing Christian worship, and the emperor would be a great patron of the Church and set a precedent for the position of the Christian Emperor within the Church that would be followed for centuries. Saint Constantine was over 40 when he finally declared himself a Christian. Writing to Christians, Saint Constantine made clear that he owed his successes to the protection of that High God alone.

Christian sources record that Saint Constantine experienced a dramatic event in 312 at the Battle of Milvian Bridge, after which Saint Constantine would claim the emperorship in the West. According to these sources, Saint Constantine looked up to the sun before the battle and saw a cross of light above it, and with it the Greek words "Εν Τουτω Νικα" ("by this, conquer!", often rendered in the Latin "in hoc signo vinces"); Saint Constantine commanded his troops to adorn their shields with a Christian symbol (the Chi-Ro), and thereafter they were victorious.

Following the battle, Saint Constantine ignored the altars to the gods prepared on the Capitoline to receive sacrifices appropriate for the celebration of his victorious entry into Rome, and the new emperor instead went straight to the imperial palace without performing any sacrifice. How much Christianity Saint Constantine adopted at this point, however, is difficult to discern; most influential people in the empire, especially high military officials, were still pagan, and Saint Constantine's rule exhibited at least a willingness to appease these factions. The Roman coins minted up to eight years after the battle still bore the images of Roman gods. Neither did the monuments he first commissioned, such as the Arch of Saint Constantine, contain a reference to Christianity.

In 313 Saint Constantine I and Licinius announced toleration of Christianity in the Edict of Milan, which removed penalties for professing Christianity (under which many had been martyred in previous persecutions of Christians) and returned confiscated Church property. Since 306 there had already had been several edicts that granted Christians religious toleration in the Empire, but the Edict of Milan removed all obstacles to the Christian faith. This edict made the Empire officially neutral with regard to religious worship, it neither made paganism illegal nor made Christianity the state religion; these were later actions of the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I.

The accession of Saint Constantine was a turning point for the Christian Church, generally considered the beginning of Christendom. After his victory, Saint Constantine I took over the role of the patron for the Christian faith. He supported the Church financially, had an extraordinary number of basilicas built, granted privileges (e.g. exemption from certain taxes) to clergy, promoted Christians to high ranking offices, and returned property confiscated during the Great Persecution of Diocletian, and endowed the church with land and other wealth. Between 324 and 330, Saint Constantine built, virtually from scratch, a new imperial capital at Byzantium on the Bosphorus (it came to be named for him: Constantinople) – the city employed overtly Christian architecture, contained churches within the city walls (unlike "old" Rome), and had no pagan temples.

In doing this, however, Saint Constantine I required the Pagans "to foot the bill". Christian chroniclers tell that it appeared necessary to Saint Constantine "to teach his subjects to give up their rites and to accustom them to despise their temples and the images contained therein," This led to the closure of pagan temples due to a lack of support, their wealth flowing to the imperial treasure; Saint Constantine I did not need to use force to implement this, although his subjects are said to simply have obeyed him out of fear. Only the chronicler Theophanes has added that temples "were annihilated", but this is considered "not true" by contemporary historians.

Once imperial favor was granted to Christianity by the Edict, new avenues were opened to Christians, including the right to compete with pagan Romans in the traditional cursus honorum for high government positions, and greater acceptance into general civil society. Saint Constantine respected cultivation, and his court was composed of older, respected, and honored men. Leading Roman families that refused Christianity were denied positions of power, yet pagans still received appointments, even up to the end of his life, and two-thirds of his top government was non-Christian. In 313 he issued the Edict of Milan, which allowed Christians to practice their religion in the Roman Empire.

Saint Constantine's laws enforced and reflected his Christian reforms. Crucifixion was abolished for reasons of Christian piety, but was replaced with hanging, to show there was Roman law and justice. On March 7, 321, Sunday was declared the official day of rest, on which markets were banned and public offices were closed (except for the purpose of freeing slaves). However, there were no restrictions on farming work (which was the work of the great majority of the population). Some were even humane in the modern sense, possibly originating in his Christianity: a prisoner was no longer to be kept in total darkness, but must be given the outdoors and daylight, a condemned man was allowed to die in the arena, but he could not be branded on his "heavenly beautified" face, just on the feet (because God made man in his image), gladiatorial games were ordered to be eliminated in 325, although this had little real effect, and a slave master's rights were limited, but a slave could still be beaten to death.

In 331, Saint Constantine commissioned Eusebius to deliver fifty Bibles for the Church of Constantinople. Athanasius recorded Alexandrian scribes around 340 preparing Bibles . Little else is known, though there is plenty of speculation. For example, it is speculated that this may have provided motivation for canon lists, and that Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus are examples of these Bibles. Together with the Peshitta, these are the earliest extant Christian Bibles.

The reign of Constantine established a precedent for the position of the Christian Emperor in the Church. Emperors considered themselves responsible to God for the spiritual health of their subjects, and thus they had a duty to maintain orthodoxy. The emperor did not decide doctrine - that was the responsibility of the bishops - rather his role was to enforce doctrine, root out heresy, and uphold ecclesiastical unity. The emperor ensured that God was properly worshiped in his empire; what proper worship consisted of was for the Church to determine. In 316, Saint Constantine acted as a judge in a North African dispute concerning the Donatist controversy. More significantly, in 325 he summoned the First Council of Nicaea, effectively the first Ecumenical Council (unless the Council of Jerusalem is so classified), to deal mostly with the Arian controversy.

Saint Constantine, though he made his allegiance clear, did not outlaw paganism; in the words of an early edict, he decreed that polytheists could "celebrate the rites of an outmoded illusion," so long as they did not force Christians to join them. In a letter to the King of Persia, Saint Constantine wrote how he shunned the "abominable blood and hateful odors" of pagan sacrifices, and instead worshiped the High God "on bended knee", and in the new capital city he built, Saint Constantine made sure that there were no pagan temples built. Sporadically, however, Saint Constantine took measures to render pagan worship incapable of being performed in public and closed pagan temples; very little pressure, however, was put on individual pagans, and there were no pagan martyrs.

During the course of his life he progressively became more Christian and turned away from any syncretic tendencies he appeared to favour at times and thus demonstrating, according to his biographers, that "The God of the Christians was indeed a jealous God who tolerated no other gods beside him. The Church could never acknowledge that she stood on the same plane with other religious bodies, she conquered for herself one domain after another".

According to the historian Ramsay MacMullen Saint Constantine desired to obliterate non-Christians but lacking the means he had to be content with robbing their temples towards the end of his reign. He resorted to derogatory and contemptuous comments relating to the old religion; writing of the "obstinacy" of the pagans, of their "misguided rites and ceremonial", and of their "temples of lying" contrasted with "the splendours of the home of truth".

Saint Constantine is celebrated as a major saint of Eastern Orthodoxy, but not Catholicism or any other protestant faith, together with his mother Saint Helena (both feasted on 21 May). The emperor is not only considered an example of a "Christian monarch" (isapostolos - "equal to the Apostles"), he is associated, albeit in retrospect, with the idea of a "Second Rome" - the Byzantine Empire.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria

Saint Cyril of Alexandria commemorated on June 9th

Saint Cyril of Alexandria (ca. 378 - ca. 444) was the Pope of Alexandria when the city was at its height of influence and power within the Roman Empire. Saint Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries. He was a central figure in the First Council of Ephesus in 431 which led to the deposition of Nestorius as Archbishop of Constantinople. Saint Cyril is among the patristic fathers, and the Doctors of the Church, and his reputation within the Christian world has resulted in his titles "Pillar of Faith" and "Seal of all the Fathers". The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates his feast day on June 9 and also, together with Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, on January 18. The Roman Catholic Church did not commemorate him in the Tridentine Calendar. It later added his feast, assigning to it the date of 9 February, the date on which Traditionalist Catholics celebrate it, as in the General Roman Calendar of 1962. In 1969, it assigned to the feast the date of 27 June, considered to be the day of his death. The same date has been chosen for the Lutheran calendar.

Saint Cyril was born about 378 in the small town of Theodosios, Egypt, near modern day El-Mahalla El-Kubra. A few years after his birth, his mother's brother Theophilus rose to the powerful position of Patriarch of Alexandria. His mother remained close to her brother and under his guidance, Saint Cyril was well educated. His education showed through his knowledge, in his writings, of Christian writers of his day, including Eusebius, Origen, Didymus, and writers of the Alexandrian church. He received the formal education standard for his day: he studied grammar from age twelve to fourteen (390-392), rhetoric and humanities from fifteen to twenty (393-397) and finally theology and biblical studies (398-402).

He was tonsured a reader by his uncle, Pope Theophilus, and under his guidance advanced in knowledge and position. In 403, he accompanied his uncle to Constantinople, where Theophilus presided at the "Synod of the Oak" that deposed John Chrysostom as archbishop of Constantinople. Saint Cyrill supported this act as an issue of discipline, not of doctrine, as he later celebrated John's purity of doctrine as an example in his struggle with Nestorius.

Theophilus died on October 15, 412, and Saint Cyril was made Pope on October 18, 412, against the a party favouring Archdeacon Timothy.
Thus, Saint Cyril followed his uncle in a position that had become powerful and influential, rivaling that of the city prefect in a time of turmoil and (frequently violent) conflict between the cosmopolitan city's pagan, Jewish, and Christian inhabitants. He began to exert his authority by causing the churches of the Novatians to be closed and their sacred vessels to be seized. Next he moved against the Jews and demanded that they be removed from the city. Orestes, prefect of the city, refused but Saint Cyril led a mob of Christians against the Jews in the city, plundering and destroying the synagogues, as well as killing Orestes. According to some historians, all Jews were expelled from Alexandria, while others consider this an exaggeration and that only a portion of the local Jewish population was expelled.

Some of the tensions between Jews and Christians was prompted by a slaughter of Christians at the hands of Alexandrian Jews who, after instigating the death of monk Hierax, lured Christians in the streets at night claiming that the church was on fire. During his conflict with Orestes, Saint Cyril was also involved in the murder of the female mathematician and philosopher Hypatia, who was a frequent guest of Orestes'. Newer studies show Hypatia's death as the result of a struggle between two Christian factions, the moderate Orestes, supported by Hypatia, and the more rigid Saint Cyril.

According to lexicographer William Smith, "She was accused of too much familiarity with Orestes, prefect of Alexandria, and the charge spread among the clergy, who took up the notion that she interrupted the friendship of Orestes with their archbishop, Cyril." Others contend that neither the riots nor the murder of Hypatia can rightly be attributed to Cyril. In the case of the riots, he had intended only to lead a delegation to the Jews, but he lost control of the situation; and in the murder of Hypatia, a group of his followers acted on their own initiative without consulting him. As John Anthony McGuckin puts it, "At this time Cyril is revealed as at the head of dangerously volatile forces: at their head, but not always in command of them."

Another major conflict was that between the Alexandrian and Antiochian schools of ecclesiastical reflection, piety, and discourse. The conflict came to a head in 428 after Nestorius, who originated in Antioch, was made Archbishop of Constantinople.

Nestorius intervened in an argument about the proper rendition of Mary’s position in relation to Christ by renouncing both the terms "mother of man" and "mother of God" as improper, suggesting "mother of Christ" instead. This however only stoked the fires. Finally, Emperor Theodosius II convoked an council to Ephesus to solve the dispute. Ephesus was friendly to Saint Cyril and after months of maneuvering the Council of Ephesus in 431 ended with Nestorius being deposed and exiled.

Saint Cyril died on about 444, but the controversies were to continue for decades, from the "Robber Synod" of Ephesus (449) to the Council of Chalcedon (451) and beyond.

Saint Cyril regarded the embodiment of God in the person of Jesus Christ to be so mystically powerful that it spread out from the body of the God-man into the rest of the race, to reconstitute human nature into a graced and deified condition of the saints, one that promised immortality and transfiguration to believers. Nestorius, on the other hand, saw the incarnation as primarily a moral and ethical example to the faithful, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Saint Cyril's constant stress was on the simple idea that it was God who walked the streets of Nazareth (hence Mary was Theotokos (Mother of God)), and God who had appeared in a transfigured humanity. Nestorius spoke of the distinct 'Jesus the man' and 'the divine Logos' in ways that Saint Cyril thought were too dichotomous, widening the ontological gap between man and God in a way that would annihilate the person of Christ.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria became noted in Church history, because of his spirited fight for the title “Mother of God” during the Council of Ephesus (431). His writings include the homily given in Ephesus and several other sermons. Some of his alleged homilies are in dispute as to his authorship. In several writings, Saint Cyril focuses on the love of Jesus to his mother. On the Cross, he overcomes his pain and thinks of his mother. At the wedding in Canan, he bows to her wishes. The overwhelming merit of Saint Cyril of Alexandria is the cementation of the centre of dogmatic mariology for all times. Saint Cyril is credited with creating a basis for all other mariological developments through his teaching of the blessed Virgin Mary, as the Mother of God.

Saint Cyril was a scholarly archbishop and a prolific writer. In the early years of his active life in the Church he wrote several exegeses. Among these were: Commentaries on the Old Testament, Discourse Against Arians, Commentary on Saint John's Gospel, and Dialogues on the Trinity. In 429 as the Christological controversies increased, his output of writings was that which his opponents could not match. His writings and his theology have remained central to tradition of the Fathers and to all Orthodox to this day.

Saint Bartholomew

Saint Bartholomew commemorated on June 11th
Saint Bartholomew was one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus. Bartholomew (Greek: Βαρθολομαίος, transliterated "Bartholomaios") comes from the Aramaic bar-Tôlmay (תולמי‎‎‎‎‎-בר‎‎), meaning son of Tolmay (Ptolemy) or son of the furrows (perhaps a ploughman). Many have, based on this meaning, assumed it was not a given name, but a family name.

The festival of Saint Bartholomew is celebrated on August 24 in the western Church and on June 11 in the Eastern churches. The Armenian Apostolic Church honours Saint Bartholomew, along with Saint Thaddeus as their patron saint. The Coptic Church remembers him on January 1. The festival in August has been a traditional occasion for markets and fairs.

Saint Bartholomew is listed among the Twelve Apostles in the three Synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. He also appears as one of the witnesses of the Ascension (Acts 1:4, 12, 13).

Beginning in about the 9th century, he became associated with Nathanael, mentioned only in the Gospel according to John. In the Synoptic gospels, Philip and Bartholomew are always mentioned together, while Nathanael is never mentioned; in John's gospel, on the other hand, Philip and Nathanael are similarly mentioned together, but nothing is said of Saint Bartholomew. Some Biblical scholars reject this identification, however.

In the Gospel of John (John 1:45-51), Nathanael is introduced as a friend of Philip. He is described as initially being skeptical about the Messiah coming from Nazareth, saying: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?", but nonetheless, follows Philip's invitation. Jesus immediately characterizes him as "an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit". Some scholars hold that Jesus' quote "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you", is based on a Jewish figure of speech referring to studying the Torah. Nathanael recognizes Jesus as "the Son of God" and "the King of Israel". Nathanael reappears at the end of John's gospel (John 21:2) as one of the disciples to whom Jesus appeared at the Sea of Tiberias after the Resurrection.

According to Syriac tradition, Saint Bartholomew's original name was Jesus, which caused him to adopt another name.

Eusebius of Caesarea's Ecclesiastical History states that after the Ascension, Saint Bartholomew went on a missionary tour to India, where he left behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew. Other traditions record him as serving as a missionary in Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, Parthia, and Lycaonia.

Along with his fellow Apostle Jude, Saint Bartholomew is reputed to have brought Christianity to Armenia in the 1st century. Thus both saints are considered the patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church. There is also a local tradition that he was martyred at the site of the Maiden Tower in Baku, Azerbaijan, by being flayed alive and then crucified head down.

After his martyrdom in this country, his body is said to have been washed to Lipari (a small island off the coast of Sicily), where a large piece of his skin and many bones are kept in the Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle. Holy Roman Emperor Otto II brought his relics to Rome (at the basilica of San Bartolomeo all'Isola) in 983. In time, the church here inherited an old pagan medical center. This association with medicine in course caused his name to often be associated with medicine and hospitals. Some of his skull was transferred to Frankfurt, while an arm is venerated in the Canterbury Cathedral today.

Of the many miracles performed by Saint Bartholomew before and after his death, two very popular ones are known by the town-folk of the small island of Lipari. When Saint Bartholomew's body was found off the shore, the Bishop of Saint Christopher's Church of Lipari ordered many men to get the body. When this failed due to its extreme weight, the Bishop then sent out the children. The children easily brought the body ashore.

Ever since his discovery on the island, the people of Lipari celebrated his feast day annually. The tradition of the people was to take the solid silver and gold statue from inside the Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew and carry it through the town. When taking the statue down the hill towards the town, it suddenly got very heavy and had to be set down. When the men carrying the statue regained their strength they lifted it a second time. After another few seconds, it got even heavier. They set it down and attempted once more to pick it up. They managed to lift it but had to put it down one last time. Within seconds, the walls further downhill collapsed. If the statue had been able to be lifted, all of the townspeople would have been killed.

The island has been invaded in its history. During one invasion, the king of the invading country discovered the statue and ordered it to be taken to be melted down. The statue was taken to the kingdom and weighed. It was found to weigh only two ounces and was thought to be hollow. It was returned to its place in the cathedral in Lipari. In reality, the statue weighs several tons and it is considered a miracle that it was not melted down.

Saint Bartholomew is credited with many other miracles having to do with the weight of objects.

In works of art he is often represented with a large knife, or, as in Michelangelo's Last Judgment, with his own skin hanging over his arm. Tradition holds that in Armenia he was flayed alive and then crucified upside down. This fate has led to him being adopted as the patron saint of tanners.

Saint Bartholomew plays a part in Francis Bacon's Utopian tale The New Atlantis. The tale is about a mythical isolated land Bensalem populated by a people dedicated to reason and natural philosophy. Some twenty years after the ascension of Christ the people of Bensalem found the arc floating off their shore. The arc contained a letter as well as the books of the Old and New Testaments. The letter was from Saint Bartholomew the Apostle and declared that an angel told him to set the arc and its contents afloat. Thus the scientists of Bensalem received the revelation of the Word of God.

Saint Barnabas

Saint Barnabas commemorated on June 11th

Saint Barnabas was an early Christian mentioned in the New Testament. His Hellenic Jewish parents called him Joseph (although the Byzantine text-type calls him Ιὠσης, Iōsēs, 'Joses', a Greek variant of 'Joseph'), but when he sold all his goods and gave the money to the apostles in Jerusalem, they gave him a new name: Barnabas. This name appears to be from the Aramaic בר נביא, bar naḇyā, meaning 'the (son of the) prophet'. However, the Greek text of the Acts 4:36 explains the name as υἱός παρακλήσεως, hyios paraklēseōs, meaning 'son of exhortation/encouragement'. From the evidence of Acts 13.1 and 15.32, this wording can be seen as suggesting someone who exercises a prophetic ministry. In Acts 14.14, he is listed ahead of Saint Paul, "Barnabas and Paul", instead of the usual reverse ordering of their names, and both are called ἀπόστολοι, apostoloi, 'apostles'. Whether Saint Barnabas was an apostle became an important political issue, which was debated in the Middle Ages. Saint Barnabas' feast day is June 11.

Saint Barnabas is one of the first prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1). He was born of Jewish parents of the tribe of Levi. His aunt was the mother of John, surnamed Mark (Colossians 4:10), widely assumed to be the same Mark as the person traditionally believed to be the author of the Gospel of Mark. He was a native of Cyprus, where he possessed land (Acts 4:36, 37), which he sold, and gave the proceeds to the church in Jerusalem. When Saint Paul returned to Jerusalem after his conversion, Saint Barnabas took him and introduced him to the apostles (9:27); it is possible that they had been fellow students in the school of Gamaliel.

The prosperity of the church at Antioch led the apostles and brethren at Jerusalem to send Saint Barnabas there to superintend the movement. He found the work so extensive and weighty that he went to Tarsus in search of Paul to assist him. Paul returned with him to Antioch and labored with him for a whole year (Acts 11:25, 26). At the end of this period, the two were sent up to Jerusalem (AD 44) with the contributions the church at Antioch had made for the poorer members of the Jerusalem church (11:28-30).

Shortly after they returned, bringing John Mark with them, they were appointed as missionaries to Asia Minor, and in this capacity visited Cyprus and some of the principal cities of Pamphylia, Pisidia, and Lycaonia (Acts 13:14). With the conversion of Sergius Paulus, Saint Paul begins to gain prominence over Saint Barnabas from the point where the name "Paul" is substituted for "Saul" (13:9); instead of "Barnabas and Saul" as heretofore (11:30; 12:25; 13:2, 7) we now read "Paul and Barnabas" (13:43, 46, 50; 14:20; 15:2, 22, 35); only in 14:14 and 15:12, 25 does Saint Barnabas again occupy the first place, in the first passage with recollection of 14:12, in the last two, because Saint Barnabas stood in closer relation to the Jerusalem church than Saint Paul. Saint Paul appears as the preaching missionary (13:16; 14:8-9, 19-20), whence the Lystrans regarded him as Hermes, Saint Barnabas as Zeus (14:12). Returning from this first missionary journey to Antioch, they were again sent up to Jerusalem to consult with the church there regarding the relation of Gentiles to the church (Acts 15:2; Galatians 2:1). According to Gal. 2:9-10, Saint Barnabas was included with Saint Paul in the agreement made between them, on the one hand, and James, Saint Peter, and Saint John, on the other, that the two former should in the future preach to the pagans, not forgetting the poor at Jerusalem. This matter having been settled, they returned again to Antioch, bringing the agreement of the council that Gentiles were to be admitted into the church.

Having returned to Antioch and spent some time there (15:35), Saint Paul asked Saint Barnabas to accompany him on another journey (15:36). Saint Barnabas wished to take John Mark along, but Saint Paul did not, as he had left them on the former journey (15:37-38). The dispute ended by Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas taking separate routes. Saint Paul took Silas as his companion, and journeyed through Syria and Cilicia; while Saint Barnabas took his younger cousin, John Mark, to visit Cyprus (15:36-41).

Saint Barnabas is not mentioned again by Saint Luke in the Acts of the Apostles. However, in Gal. 2:13 a little more is learned about him, and his weakness under the taunts of the Jewish Christians is evident; and from 1 Corinthians 9:6 it may be gathered that he continued to labor as missionary.

Certain Jews coming to Syria and Salamis, where Saint Barnabas was then preaching the gospel, being highly exasperated at his extraordinary success, fell upon him as he was disputing in the synagogue, dragged him out, and, after the most inhumane tortures, stoned him to death. His kinsman, John Mark, who was a spectator of this barbarous action, privately interred his body in a cave, where it remained till the time of the Emperor Zeno, in the year 485 AD. A monastery built in his name at Salamis, Cyprus, is where a tomb reputed to hold his remains was found in 488. He is venerated as the Patron Saint of Cyprus.

Other sources bring Saint Barnabas to Rome and Alexandria. In the "Clementine Recognitions" he is depicted as preaching in Rome even during Christ's lifetime, and Clement of Alexandria makes him one of the Seventy Disciples that are mentioned in the Gospel of Luke.

Not older than the 3rd century is the tradition of the later activity and martyrdom of Saint Barnabas in Cyprus, where his remains are said to have been discovered under the Emperor Zeno. The Cypriot Church claimed Saint Barnabas as its founder in order to rid itself of the supremacy of the Patriarch of Antioch, as it also did of the Archbishop of Milan afterward, to become more independent of Rome. In this connection, the question whether Saint Barnabas was an apostle became important, and was often discussed during the Middle Ages. The statements as to the year of Saint Barnabas's death are discrepant and untrustworthy.

Tertullian and other Western writers regard Saint Barnabas as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. This may have been the Roman tradition which Tertullian usually follows, and in Rome the epistle may have had its first readers. But the tradition has weighty considerations against it.

According to Photius (Quaest. in Amphil., 123), Saint Barnabas wrote the Acts of the Apostles. He is also traditionally associated with the Epistle of Barnabas, although modern scholars think it more likely that that epistle was written in Alexandria in the 130s. A book named the "Gospel of Barnabas" is listed in two early catalogs of apocryphal texts.

Another book using that same title, Gospel of Barnabas survives in two post-medieval manuscripts in Italian and Spanish. Contrary to the canonical Christian Gospels, and in accordance with the Islamic view of Jesus, this later Gospel of Barnabas states that Jesus was not the son of God, but academics agree it was written hundreds of years after the events it describes, and not written by Barnabas.

Saint Elissaios

The Prophet Saint Elissaios commemorated on June 14th

Elisha (Hebrew: אֱלִישַׁע, Standard Elišaʿ Tiberian ʾĔlîšaʿ ; "My God is salvation", Greek: Ελισσαίος, Elissaios) is a Biblical prophet. In Greek and Latin, (and in English to many Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox) he is known as Saint Eliseus; however, the standard English form of the name has been "Elisha," at least since the introduction of the King James Version of the Bible. He is also a prophet in Islam under the name Al-Yasa.

Saint Elissaios was the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah; he became the attendant and disciple of Elijah (1 Kings 19:16-19), and Horeb, that Saint Elissaios, the son of Shaphat, had been selected by God as his successor in the prophetic office, Elijah set out to make known the Divine will. On his way from Sinai to Damascus, Elijah found Saint Elissaios "one of them that were ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen". Saint Elissaios delayed only long enough to kill the yoke of oxen, whose flesh he boiled with the very wood of his plough. He went over to him, threw his mantle over Saint Elissaios’ shoulders, and at once adopted him as a son, investing him with the prophetic office. Saint Elissaios accepted this call about four years before the death of Israel's King Ahab. For the next seven or eight years Saint Elissaios became Elijah's close attendant until Elijah was taken up into heaven. During all these years we hear nothing of Elisha except in connection with the closing scenes of Elijah's life.

After he had shared this farewell repast with his father, mother, and friends, the newly chosen Prophet "followed Elijah and ministered to him". (1 Kings 19:8-21) He went with his master from Galgal to Bethel, to Jericho, and thence to the eastern side of the Jordan, the waters of which, touched by the mantle, divided, so as to permit both to pass over on dry ground. Saint Elissaios then beheld Elijah in a fiery chariot taken up by a whirlwind into heaven. By means of the mantle let fall from Elijah, Saint Elissaios miraculously re-crossed the Jordan, and so won from the prophets at Jericho the recognition that "the spirit of Elias hath rested upon Saint Elissaios " (2 Kings 2:1-15). He won the gratitude of the people of Jericho for healing with salt its barren ground and its waters. Saint Elissaios also knew how to strike with salutary fear the adorers of the calf in Bethel, for a mob of 42 children, on being cursed in the name of the Lord, were torn by "two bears out of the forest" (2 Kings 2:23-25; cf. Leviticus 26:21-22). But many feel this episode conflicts with the image of a loving and forgiving God and some Christians feel the need to offer explanations of it.

Before Elijah was taken up into the whirlwind, Saint Elissaios asked to "inherit a double-portion" of Elijah's spirit. This is indicative of the property inheritance customs of the time, where the oldest son received twice as much of the father's inheritance as the younger sons. For example, if a man had 3 sons, his property was divided into fourths. Each son received one-fourth, with the oldest receiving two-fourths (twice as much as the others). In this instance with Elijah, Saint Elissaios is not asking to become twice as powerful as Elijah, but that he may be seen as the "rightful heir" to the work of the Lord that Elijah had done.

Before he settled in Samaria, the Prophet passed some time on Mount Carmel (2 Kings 2:25). When the armies of Judah, Israel and Edom, then allied against Mesa, the Moabite king, were being tortured by drought in the Idumæan desert, Saint Elissaios consented to intervene. His double prediction regarding relief from drought and victory over the Moabites was fulfilled on the following morning (2 Kings 3:4-24).

That Saint Elissaios inherited the wonder-working power of Elijah is shown throughout the whole course of his life. To relieve the widow importuned by a hard creditor, Saint Elissaios so multiplied a little oil as to enable her, not only to pay her indebtedness, but to provide for her family needs (2 Kings 4:1-7). To reward the rich lady of Shunam for her hospitality, he obtained for her from God, at first the birth of a son, and subsequently the resurrection of her child (2 Kings 4:8-37). To nourish the sons of the prophets pressed by famine, Saint Elissaios changed into wholesome food the pottage made from poisonous gourds (2 Kings 4:38-41). By the cure of Naaman, who was afflicted with leprosy, Elisha, little impressed by the possessions of the Syrian general, whilst willing to free King Joram from his perplexity, principally intended to show "that there is a prophet in Israel". Naaman, at first reluctant, obeyed the Prophet, and washed seven times in the Jordan. Finding his flesh "restored like the flesh of a little child", the general was so impressed by this evidence of God's power, and by the disinterestedness of His Prophet, as to express his deep conviction that "there is no other God in all the earth, but only in Israel". (2 Kings 5:1-19) It is to this Christ referred when He said: "And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Saint Elissaios the prophet: and none of them was cleansed but Naaman the Syrian" (Luke 4:27).

In punishing the avarice of his servant Giezi (2 Kings 5:20-27), in saving "not once nor twice" King Joram from the ambuscades planned by Benadad (2 Kings 6:8-23), in ordering the ancients to shut the door against the messenger of Israel's ungrateful king (2 Kings 6:25-32), in bewildering with a strange blindness the soldiers of the Syrian king (2 Kings 6:13-23), in making the iron swim to relieve from embarrassment a son of a prophet (2 Kings 6:1-7), in confidently predicting the sudden flight of the enemy and the consequent cessation of the famine (2 Kings 7:1-20), in unmasking the treachery of Hazael (2 Kings 8:7-15), Saint Elissaios proved himself the Divinely appointed Prophet of the one true God, Whose knowledge and power he was privileged to share.

After Elijah's departure, Saint Elissaios returned to Jericho, and there healed the spring of water by casting salt into it (2 Kings 2:21). We next find him at Bethel (2:23), where, with the sternness of his master, he curses the youths who have come out and ridiculed him as a prophet of God: "Go up, thou bald head." The youths mockingly tell Saint Elissaios to follow his master in a chariot to heaven, and make fun of his appearance. Saint Elissaios then pronounces a curse upon them, pleading God for retribution. The judgment is said to have at once taken effect: two she-bears come out of the woods and kill 42 of the youths.

Saint Elissaios is next encountered in Scripture when he predicts a fall of rain when the army of Jehoram was faint from thirst (2 Kings 3:9-20). Other miracles Saint Elissaios accomplishes include multiplying the poor widow's cruse of oil (4:1-7), restoring to life the son of the woman of Shunem (4:18-37), and multiplying the twenty loaves of new barley into a sufficient supply for a hundred men (4:42-44). During the military incursions of Syria into Israel, Saint Elissaios cures Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy (5:1-27), punishes his servant Gehazi for his falsehood and his greed, and recovers an axe lost in the waters of the Jordan (6:1-7). He administered the miracle at Dothan, half-way on the road between Samaria and Jezreel, and at the siege of Samaria by the king of Syria, Elisha prophesied about the terrible sufferings of the people of Samaria and their eventual relief (2 Kings 6:24-7:2).

Elisha then journeyed to Damascus and anointed Hazael king over Syria (2 Kings 8:7-15); thereafter he directs one of the sons of the prophets to anoint Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Israel, instead of Ahab. Mindful of the order given to Elias (1 Kings 19:16), Saint Elissaios delegated a son of one of the prophets to quietly anoint Jehu King of Israel, and to commission him to cut off the house of Achab (2 Kings 9:1-10). The death of Joram, pierced by an arrow from Jehu's bow, the ignominious end of Jezabel, the slaughter of Achab's seventy sons, proved how faithfully executed was the Divine command (2 Kings 9:11-10:30). After predicting to Joas his victory over the Syrians at Aphec, as well as three other subsequent victories, ever bold before kings, ever kindly towards the lowly, "Saint Elissaios died, and they buried him" (2 Kings 13:14-20).

While Saint Elissaios lies on his death-bed in his own house (2 Kings 13:14-19). Joash, the grandson of Jehu, comes to mourn over his approaching departure, and utters the same words as those of Elisha when Elijah was taken away, indicating his value to him: "My father, my father! the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof."

The very touch of his corpse served to resuscitate a dead man. "In his life he did great wonders, and in death he wrought miracles" (Ecclesiasticus, xlviii, 15). After his death, a dead body was laid in Saint Elissaios’ grave a year after his burial. No sooner does it touch Saint Elissaios’ remains than the man "revived, and stood up on his feet" (2 Kings 13:20-21).

He is venerated as a saint in a number of Christian Churches. His feast day is on June 14, on the Eastern Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic liturgical calendars (for those churches which use the traditional Julian Calendar, June 14 falls on June 27 of the modern Gregorian Calendar). St. John of Damascus composed a canon in honor of the Prophet Saint Elissaios, and a church was built at Constantinople in his honour.

In Western Christianity he is commemorated on the Carmelite religious order's calendar of saints. He is also commemorated as a prophet on the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. Both calendars also celebrate him on June 14.

Julian the Apostate (361-363) gave orders to burn the relics of the prophets Saint Elissaios, Obadiah and John the Baptist, but they were rescued by the Christians, and part of them were transferred to Alexandria. Today, the relics of the prophet Saint Elissaios are claimed to be among the possessions of the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great in Scetes, Egypt.

Saints Leontius, Theodoulos and Ypatios

Saints Leontius, Theodoulos and Ypatios commemorated on June 18th

The Holy Martyrs Saints Leontius, Ypatios, and Theodoulos were Roman soldiers. The holy Martyr Saint Leontius, a Greek by origin, served as a military-chief in the imperial army in the Phoenician city of Tripoli during the reign of Vespasian (70-79). Saint Leontius was distinguished for his bravery and good sense, and the people of Tripoli held him in deep respect because of his virtue.

The emperor appointed the Roman senator Adrian as governor of the Phoenician district, with full powers to hunt out Christians, and in case of their refusal to offer sacrifice to the Roman gods, to give them over to torture and death. And on his way to Phoenicia Adrian received a report that Saint Leontius had turned many away from worshipping the pagan gods. The governor sent the tribune Saint Ypatios with a detachment of soldiers to Tripoli so as to find and arrest the Christian Saint Leontius. Along the way the tribune Saint Ypatios fell seriously ill, and being near death, he saw in a dream an angel, which said: "If you wish to be healed, you and your soldiers should say three times: 'God of Saint Leontius, help me.'"

Opening his eyes Saint Ypatios beheld the angel and said: "I was sent to arrest Saint Leontius, how is it that I should appeal to his God?" At this moment the angel became invisible. Saint Ypatios told his dream to the soldiers, among whom was his friend Saint Theodoulos, and all of them together asked for help from the God Whom Saint Leontius confessed. Saint Ypatios was immediately healed to the great joy of his soldiers, but only Saint Theodoulus sat aside, pondering the miracle. His soul was filled with love for God, and he told Saint Ypatios to proceed twice as quickly to the city in search of Saint Leontius.

Upon their arrival in the city, a stranger met them and invited them to his house, where he lavishly hosted the travelers. Learning that their hospitable host was Saint Leontius, they fell on their knees and asked him to enlighten them with faith in the True God. They were baptized here, and when Saint Leontius prayed over them calling on the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, a luminous cloud overshadowed the newly-baptized and poured forth rain. The remaining soldiers in search of their commander arrived in Tripoli, where the governor Adrian had also arrived. Learning what had happened, he ordered Saints Leontius, Ypatios, and Saint Theodoulos to be brought to him. After threatening them with torture and death, he demanded that they renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the Roman gods.

All the martyrs firmly confessed their faith in Christ. Saint Ypatios was put under a column and raked with iron claws, and Saint Theodoulos was mercilessly beaten with rods. Seeing the steadfastness of the saints, they beheaded them. And after torture, they sent Saint Leontius to prison. In the morning he came before the governor. Adrian tried to entice the holy martyr with honors and rewards, and accomplishing nothing, he gave him over to new tortures. The holy martyr was suspended head downwards from a pillar with a heavy stone about his neck, but nothing could make him renounce Christ. The governor gave orders to beat the sufferer with rods until he died. They then threw the body of the holy Martyr Saint Leontius outside the city, but Christians reverently gave it burial near Tripoli. The death of the holy martyrs occurred between 70-79 AD.

The accusation against Saint Leontius, and his sufferings and death are recorded on tin tablets prepared by the court scribe commentarisius. These tablets were placed at the grave of the holy martyr.

Saint Judas Thaddaeus

Saint Judas Thaddaeus the Apostle commemorated on June 19th

Saint Judas (or Jude) is a Christian saint identified as both Jude of James and Thaddeus in the New Testament. He is also called Lebbaeus, Thaddaeus, or Judas Thaddaeus. Though both bear the same first name Ιούδας in the Greek original New Testament, Jude should not be confused with Judas Iscariot, another disciple and later the betrayer of Jesus. Their name is a Greek variant of Judah and was common among Jews at the time.

Saint Judas' attribute is a club. He is also often shown in icons with a flame around his head. This represents his presence at Pentecost, when he received the Holy Spirit with the other apostles. He is shown with a flame around his head because he is the patron of lost causes and can perform great miracles for the hopeless. He is shown with this because just as the Holy Spirit performs miracles, Saint Judas performs them as well. Occasionally he is represented holding an axe or halberd, as he was brought to death by one of these weapons. In some instances he may be shown with a scroll or a book (the Epistle of Judas) or holding a carpenter's rule.

In Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13, the Twelve Apostles are listed with Saint Judas of James; in Matthew, on the other hand, Saint Judas is omitted, but there is a Thaddaeus (or, in some manuscripts, Lebbaeus) listed in his place. This has led many Christians since early times to harmonize the lists by positing a "Judas Thaddaeus", known by either name. Modern Biblical scholars are nearly unanimous in rejecting this theory, holding that Judas and Thaddaeus did not represent the same person. Various scholars have proposed alternate theories to explain the discrepancy: an unrecorded replacement of one for the other during the ministry of Jesus to apostacy or death; the possibility that "twelve" was a symbolic number and an estimation; and the obvious possibility that the names were not recorded perfectly by the early church.

Some early Christian writers, by contrast, have argued that the multiplicity of names for this apostle is caused by a concern to distinguish this Apostle from Judas Iscariot:

"Even in the Gospels the evangelists were embarrassed to mention the name of Judas. Their prejudice is quite apparent. In the one passage in which Saint John spoke of Thaddaeus, he hurried over the name, and was quick to add, "Judas, not the Iscariot..." Even more striking is the fact that both Matthew and Mark never mentioned the full name of this apostle, Judas Thaddaeus, but merely called him by his surname, Thaddaeus. One can correctly assume that the evangelists wanted to reestablish a good name for this apostle among his companions and especially among the people. By using only his surname, they could remove any stigma his name might have given him" —Otto Hophan, The Apostle ch. X.

The name by which Luke calls the Apostle, "Judas of James" is ambiguous as to the relationship of Saint Judas to this James. Though such a construction commonly denotes a relationship of father and son, it has been traditionally interpreted as "Judas, brother of James."

The Gospel of John 14:22 also mentions a disciple called Judas, who during the Last Supper asks Jesus: "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" The passage takes care to distinguish the disciple from the subsequent traitor by the wording "Judas (not Iscariot)." Scholars are uncertain whether this refers to Saint Judas of James or not. Almost universally accepted, however, is that this Judas is not the same as Judas the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55-57, but compare John 7:5) or the author of the Epistle of Judas. Identifying the apostle Judas with the writer of the epistle is problematic, not least because in verse 17 there is a reference to "the apostles" implying the writer does not include himself. Although the name "Judas" was common in 1st century Palestine, tradition has conflated the persons (as was the case for various figures named Mary and John).

Since tradition also numbered a Thaddaeus among the Seventy Disciples mentioned in Luke 10:1-24, some scholars have argued that another Thaddaeus was one of the Seventy. However, the identification of the two names has been virtually universal, leading to the name of Judas Thaddaeus. But Eusebius wrote in his Historia Ecclesiastica, I, xiii: "Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, under divine impulse sent Thaddeus, who was also numbered among the seventy disciples of Christ, to Edessa, as a preacher and evangelist of the teaching of Christ."

The legend reports that Saint Judas was born into a Jewish family in Paneas, a town in Galilee later rebuilt by the Romans and renamed Caesarea Philippi. In all probability he spoke both Greek and Aramaic, like almost all of his contemporaries in that area, and was a farmer by trade. According to the legend, Saint Judas was a son of Clopas and his wife Mary, a cousin of the Virgin Mary. Tradition has it that Judas' father, Clopas, was murdered because of his forthright and outspoken devotion to the risen Christ. After Mary's death, miracles were attributed to her intercession.

Though Saint Gregory the Illuminator is credited as the "Apostle to the Armenians", when he baptised King Tiridates III of Armenia in 301, converting the Armenians, the Apostles Saints Judas and Bartholomew are traditionally believed to have been the first to bring Christianity to Armenia, and are therefore venerated as the patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Linked to this tradition is the Thaddaeus Monastery.

The Armenian Apostolic Church honours Thaddaeus along with Saint Bartholomew as her patron saints. In the Roman Catholic Church he is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes. According to the Armenian tradition, Saint Judas suffered martyrdom about AD 65 in Beirut, Lebanon together with the apostle Simon the Zealot, with whom he is usually connected. Their acts and martyrdom were recorded in an Acts of Simon and Judas that was among the collection of passions and legends traditionally associated with the legendary Abdias, bishop of Babylon, and said to have been translated into Latin by his disciple Tropaeus Africanus, according to the Golden Legend account of the saints. Saints Simon and Judas are venerated together in the Roman Catholic Church on October 28.

Sometime after his death, Saint Juda's body was brought from Beirut, Lebanon to Rome and placed in a crypt in Saint Peter's Basilica which is visited by many devotees. According to popular tradition, the remains of Saint Judas were preserved in a monastery on an island in the northern part of Issyk-Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan at least until mid-15th century. Later legend either denounced the remains as being preserved there or moved to yet more desolate stronghold in the Pamir mountains. Recent discovery of the ruins of what could be that monastery may put an end to the dispute.

Saint Judas is traditionally depicted carrying the image of Jesus in his hand or close to his chest, betokening the legend of the Image of Edessa, recorded in apocryphal correspondence between Jesus and Abgarus which is reproduced in Eusebius' History Ecclesiastica, I, xiii. According to it, King Abgar of Edessa (a city located in what is now southeast Turkey) sent a letter to Jesus to cure him of an illness that afflicts him, and sent the envoy Hannan, the keeper of the archives, offering his own home city to Jesus as a safe dwelling place. The envoy painted a likeness of Jesus with choice paints, or impressed with Abgar's great faith, Jesus pressed his face into a cloth and gave it to Hannan to take to Abgar with his answer. Upon seeing Jesus' image, the king placed it with great honour in one of his palatial houses. After Christ had ascended to heaven, Saint Judas was sent to King Abgar by the Apostle Saint Thomas. The king was cured and astonished. He converted to Christianity along with most of the people under his rule. Additionally, Saint Judas is often depicted with a flame above his head. This represents his presence at Pentecost, when he received the Holy Spirit with the other apostles.

Saint Jude Thaddaeus is invoked in desperate situations because his New Testament letter stresses that the faithful should persevere in the environment of harsh, difficult circumstances, just as their forefathers had done before them. Therefore, he is the patron saint of desperate cases. The epithet is also commonly rendered as the patron saint of lost causes.

Many Christians, especially in the past, reckoned him as Judas Iscariot and avoided prayers on behalf of him. Therefore he was also called the "Forgotten Saint". The Order of Preachers (the Dominicans) began working in present day Armenia soon after their founding in 1216. There was a substantial devotion to Saint Judas in this area at that time, by both Roman and Orthodox Catholics. This lasted until persecution drove Christians from the area in the 1700s. Devotion to Saint Judas began again in earnest in the 1800s, starting in Italy and Spain, spreading to South America, and finally to the U.S. (starting in the area around Chicago) owing to the influence of the Claretians and the Dominicans in the 1920s. Novena prayers to Saint Judas helped people, especially newly arrived immigrants from Europe, deal with the pressures caused by the Great Depression, World War II, and the changing workplace and family life.

Saint Jude is the patron saint of the Chicago Police Department and of Clube de Regatas do Flamengo (a popular football (soccer) team in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). His other patronages include desperate situations and hospitals. One of his namesakes is Saint Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, which has helped many children with terminal illnesses and their families since its founding in 1962. His feast day is October 28 (Roman Catholic Church and Lutheran Church) and June 19 (Eastern Orthodox Church). A common Roman Catholic prayer is:

Most holy apostle, Saint Judas, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor who delivered thy beloved Master into the hands of His enemies hath caused thee to be forgotten by many, but the Church honours and invokes thee universally as the patron of hopeless cases, of things despaired of. Pray for me, who am so miserable. Make use, I implore thee, of that particular privilege accorded to thee, to bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and succor of Heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly -- (Mention your request) and that I may praise God with thee and all the elect throughout eternity. I promise, O blessed Judas, to be ever mindful of this great favour, and I will never cease to honour thee as my special and powerful patron, and to do all in my power to encourage devotion to thee. Amen.

Alternative prayer is:

Saint Judas, Hope of the Hopeless, Pray for me.

Saint Julianos of Antioch

Saint Julianos of Antioch commemorated on June 21st

Saint Julianos of Antioch (sometimes called Julian of Cilicia, Julian of Anazarbus, Julian of Tarsus) is venerated as a Christian martyr of the fourth century. His date of death is given as 305 AD.

Of senatorial rank, he was killed during the persecutions of Diocletian. His legend states that he was subjected to terrible tortures and paraded daily for a whole year through various cities of Cilicia. He was then sewn up in a sack half-filled with scorpions, sand, and vipers, and cast into the sea. The sea carried his body to Alexandria, and was buried there before being moved to Antioch.

Saint John Chrysostom preached a homily in Julian's honour at Antioch, whose basilica was said to be the final resting place for Julian's relics.

His feast day is June 21 in the Eastern Orthodox Church, March 16 in the Catholic Church.

Saint John the Baptist

Nativity of Saint John the Baptist commemorated on June 24th

The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist (or Birth of John the Baptist, or Nativity of the Forerunner) is a Christian feast day celebrating the birth of Jesus’ cousin, Saint John the Baptist.

Christians have long interpreted the life of John the Baptist as a preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ, and the circumstances of his birth, as recorded in the New Testament, are just as miraculous. The sole biblical account of birth of John the Baptist comes from the Gospel of Luke. Saint John’s parents, Zechariah or Zachary — a Jewish priest — and Elizabeth, were without children and both were beyond the age of child-bearing. During Zechariah's rotation to serve in the Temple in Jerusalem, he was chosen by lot to offer incense at the Golden Altar in the Holy Place. The Archangel Gabriel appeared to him and announced that he and his wife would give birth to a child, and that they should name John. However, because Zechariah did not believe the message of Gabriel, he was rendered speechless until the time of Saint John's birth; at that time, his relatives wanted to name the child after his father, and Zechariah wrote, "His name is John" and could speak (Luke 1:5-25; 1:57-66). Following Zechariah's obedience to the command of God, he was given the gift of prophecy, and foretold the future ministry of John (Luke 1:67-79).

At the Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary to inform her that she would conceive of the Holy Ghost Jesus, he also informed her that Elizabeth, her cousin, was already six months pregnant (Luke 1:36). Mary then journeyed to visit Elizabeth. Luke’s Gospel recounts that the baby “leapt” in Elizabeth’s womb at the greeting of Mary (Luke 1:44). This is interpreted by Christians as Saint John's first act of prophecy.

The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist is one of the oldest festivals of the Christian church, being listed by the Council of Agde in 506 as one of that region's principal festivals, where it was a day of rest and, like Christmas, was celebrated with three Masses: a vigil, at dawn, and at midday.

The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on June 24 comes three months after the celebration on March 25th of the Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel told Our Lady that her cousin Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy, and six months before the Christmas celebration of the birth of Jesus. The purpose of these festivals isn't to celebrate the exact dates of these events, but simply to commemorate them in an interlinking way.

The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, though not a widespread public holiday, is a high-ranking liturgical feast, kept in the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Churches. In the Roman Rite, when this feast falls on a Sunday, the readings and prayers associated with this feast take precedence over that of Sunday Mass. The Reformed and free churches give this celebration less prominence.

The day of a Saint's death is usually celebrated as his or her feast day, but Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint John the Baptist are the exceptions to this rule. The death of each of these is also celebrated: on Good Friday (Jesus), the Assumption of Mary (August 15) and the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (August 29).

Apart from the feasts of his birth and death, some Lutherans also commemorate Saint John's parents Zechariah and Elizabeth on September 5. Saint John's baptism of Jesus is celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church on the Sunday after January 6, a custom followed also by Anglicans and Lutherans.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church and other Eastern Christian Churches, Saint John the Baptist is usually called Saint John the Forerunner, a title used also in the West ("Πρόδρομος" in Greek, "Precursor" in Latin). This title indicates that the purpose of his ministry was to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ. In the East also, the Feast of his Nativity is celebrated on June 24. It is a major feast day and is celebrated with an All-Night Vigil. It has an Afterfeast of one day. The feast always falls during the Apostles' Fast.

The Armenian Apostolic Church commemorates the "Birth of John the Forerunner" on January 15, and June 7 is the "Commemoration Day of Saint John the Forerunner." August 30 is the Feast of "Saints John the Forerunner and Job the Righteous."

The question would naturally arise as to why the celebration falls on June 24 rather than June 25 if the date is to be precisely six months before Christmas. It has often been claimed that the Church authorities wanted to "Christianize" the pagan solstice celebrations and for this reason advanced Saint John's feast as a substitute for the former pagan festival. This explanation appears to be erroneous because in those centuries the solstice took place around the middle of June due to the inaccuracy of the Julian calendar. It was only in 1582, through the Gregorian calendar reform, that the solstice fell on June 23.

Therefore, a more likely reason why the festival falls on June 24 lies in the Roman way of counting, which proceeded backward from the Kalends (first day) of the succeeding month. Christmas was "the eighth day before the Kalends of January" (Octavo Kalendas Januarii). Consequently, Saint John's Nativity was put on the "eighth day before the Kalends of July." However, since June has only thirty days, in our present (Germanic) way of counting, the feast falls on June 24.

Nevertheless, the significance of the feast falling around the time of the solstice is considered by many to be significant, recalling the words of Saint John the Baptist with regard to Jesus: "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).

As mentioned above, the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Birth of Saint John the Baptist on January 15, where it is related to the Nativity and the Baptism of Christ.

Beyond the religious commemoration, many regional customs associated with the Nativity of John the Baptist are in fact more related to the concurrent celebration of midsummer which are themselves remnants of pre-Christian pagan midsummer festivals. In the 7th century, Saint Eligius warned against midsummer activities and encouraged new converts to avoid them in favour of the celebration of Saint John the Baptist’s birth.

Saint John the Baptist (Latin Io(h)annes Baptista, Hebrew Jochanan ben Sacharja, Arabic يحيى Yaḥyā or يوحنا Yūḥanna, Aramaic Yohanoun) (died c. 30) was a Jewish preacher and ascetic. He drew large crowds on the banks of the Jordan River, demanding from them repentance and baptism in view of the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God. Jesus was one of those whom he baptized. He was killed by Herod Antipas, whom he had denounced for his (incestuous) marriage. The historian Josephus writes that Herod had John killed for fear that John might raise a rebellion. Jesus' own ministry followed Saint John's, and some of Jesus' early followers had been followers of Saint John. Saint John, like Jesus, preached at a time of political, social, and religious conflict, and he prophesied that fire was coming to destroy the wicked.

Christians commonly refer to John as the Precursor or Forerunner of Jesus Christ, since in the gospels, John announces Jesus' coming. He is also identified with Elijah, and as related to Jesus (Luke 1:36). In view of Luke 1:41, Early Church tradition describes Saint John as endowed with prenatal grace, so the feast day of his birth (June 24) is celebrated more solemnly than that marking his martyrdom and death (August 29). Muslims, following the Quran, regard John as a prophet. Mandaeans, a tiny Gnostic religion, consider Saint John a divine prophet but reject Jesus as a false prophet. In the Bahá'í Faith, John is also regarded as a prophet.

Saint John followed the example of previous Hebrew prophets, living austerely, challenging sinful rulers, calling for repentance, and promising God's justice. The early Christian church used baptism, combined with imposition of hands, as a rite conferring membership in the church. Baptism is a nearly universal practice among Christians today.

Herod's stepdaughter, to whom the name Salome was later attributed, is said in Matthew 14:8 and Mark 6:25 to have asked him for Saint John's head on a platter, and the presentation of his severed head often appears in art. Another theme of Christian art is his beheading, which is mentioned not only in these two gospels, but also in Luke 9:9. He is also depicted as an ascetic wearing camel hair and with a staff and scroll inscribed "Ecce Agnus Dei" (Latin, "Behold the Lamb of God" - John 1:29) or bearing a book or dish with a lamb on it. In Orthodox icons, he often has angel's wings, since Mark 1:2 applies to him a prophecy about an ἄγγελος (angelos), a word that can mean a messenger, but also an angel.

All four Gospels record John the Baptist's ministry. They depict him as proclaiming Christ's arrival. In the Synoptics (Mark, Matthew, and Luke), Jesus is baptized. In Matthew and John, the Baptist recognizes Jesus as the one he had foretold.

The Gospel of Luke includes an account of John's infancy, introducing him as the son of St. Zachary/Zachariah and Saint Elizabeth, who previously "had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years". His birth, name, and office were foretold by the angel Gabriel to Zachariah, while Zachariah was performing his functions as a priest in the temple of Jerusalem. According to Luke, Zachariah was a priest of the course of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was of the daughters of Aaron; consequently Saint John automatically held the priesthood of Aaron.

Luke states that Saint John was born about six months before Jesus. Zachariah had lost his speech at the behest and prophecy of the angel Gabriel, and it was restored on the occasion of Zachariah naming John. On the basis of Luke's account, the Catholic calendar placed the feast of John the Baptist on June 24, six months before Christmas. According to Luke, Jesus and Saint John the Baptist were related, their mothers being cousins Luke 1:36; there is no mention of this in the other Gospels, and the scholar Raymond E. Brown has described the relationship as 'of dubious historicity'; Géza Vermes has called it "artificial and undoubtedly Luke's creation".

All four canonical gospels relate John's ministry, his preaching and baptism in the River Jordan. Most notably, according to the Bible, he is the one who recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and on Jesus' request, baptised him. The baptism marked the beginning of Jesus' ministry.

The Gospels of Mark, Matthew and (less clearly) Luke relate that Jesus came from Galilee to John and was baptized by him, whereupon the Spirit descended upon him and a voice from Heaven told him he was God's Son. Their lives (e.g, births) are believed to have been similar, although in Christianity, John is thought of as last prophet and Jesus as the Messiah.

The problem that Jesus, considered by Christians to be without sin, received Saint John's baptism, which was for the forgiveness of sins, is addressed in the Gospel of Matthew's account, which has John refusing to baptize Jesus, saying, "I need to be baptized by you," until Jesus convinces him to baptize him nonetheless (Matthew 3:13-15).

The Gospel of John does not describe saint John baptizing Jesus but has John introducing Jesus to his disciples as the "Lamb of God" (John 1:29-34).

The Gospel of John reports that Jesus' disciples were baptizing and that a debate broke out between some of the disciples of Saint John and another Jew about purification with Saint John explaining that Jesus "must become greater" while he, John, "must become less" (John 3:22-36). The Gospel of Saint John then points out that Jesus' disciples were baptizing more people than Saint John (John 4:2).

Later, the Gospel relates Jesus regarding John as "a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light". (John 5:35).

The book of Acts portrays the disciples of John as eventually merging into the followers of Jesus (Acts 18:24-19:6), a development not reported by the Gospels except for the early case of Andrew, Simon Peter's brother (John 1:35-42).

On various occasions the Gospels relate Saint John denying any claim to be the Messiah and clearly acknowledging his inferiority to Jesus. However, scholars such as Harold W. Attridge contend that Saint John's status as a "self-conscious and deliberate forerunner of Jesus" is likely to be an invention by early Christians, arguing that "for the early church it would have been something of an embarrassment to say that Jesus, who was in their minds superior to Saint John the Baptist, had been baptized by him."

According to the canonical Gospels, Saint John the Baptist's public ministry was brought to a close when he was imprisoned on orders of Herod Antipas, probably about seven months after he had baptized Jesus. The synoptic Gospels state that Herod reacted to Saint John's condemnation of Herod's marriage to Herodias, the wife of Herod's brother Philip (Luke 3:19; Matthew 14:3-5). Josephus locates Saint John's imprisonment in the fortress of Machaerus on the southern extremity of Peraea, nine miles (14 km) east of the Dead Sea.

Matthew relates that during the time he was imprisoned, Saint John sent messengers to Jesus to ask him whether he was the Messiah. Jesus indirectly answered in the affirmative and described Saint John in terms of a return of the prophet Elijah (Matthew 11:2-15).

Regarding Saint John's death, Josephus states that Herod had Saint John killed to preempt a possible uprising. Matthew links Saint John's death as well with Herodias, as he related that her daughter Salome so much delighted Antipas with a dance that he vowed to grant her any wish to which, after being prompted by her mother (Herodias), she demanded the head of Saint John the Baptist. (Matthew 14:6-8).

The Gospels date Saint John's death before the crucifixion of Jesus. Josephus places Saint John's death no later than 36 CE. Some scholars believe that Herod Antipas did not marry his brother's wife until his brother Philip died in 34 CE, placing these events after the date in the Gospel account.

Neither Josephus nor the Gospels state where Saint John was buried, though the Gospels state that Saint John's disciples took his body and placed it in a tomb and then told Jesus all that had occurred (Matthew 14:3-12).

In the time of Julian the Apostate, however, his tomb was shown at Samaria, where the inhabitants opened it and burned part of his bones. The rest of the alleged remains were saved by some Christians, who carried them to an abbot of Jerusalem named Philip.

Christians believe that Saint John the Baptist had a specific role ordained by God which was to be the forerunner or precursor to the Messiah, whom they believe to be Jesus. "To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:17 and also Luke 1:76 "...thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; 1:77 "To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins."

There are several passages within the Old Testament which are interpreted by Christians as being prophetic of Saint John the Baptist in this role. These include a passage in the Book of Malachi that refers to a prophet who would prepare the way of the Lord:

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts (Malachi 3:1).

Though the interpretation of this passage as referring to a forerunner of the Messiah was uncommon amongst Jews prior to the 2nd century BC, it became significantly more common under Hellenic, and later Christian, influences.

Christians interpreted Isaiah (40:3-5) as referring prophetically to Saint John, based on Saint John's own statement as written in (John 1:22-23). He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness", "Make straight the way of the Lord", as the prophet Isaiah said.

An account of Saint John the Baptist is found in all extant manuscripts of the Jewish Antiquities (book 18, chapter 5, 2) by Flavius Josephus (37-100).

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against Saint John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing with water would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away or the remission of some sins only, but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now when many others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved or pleased by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence Saint John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise), thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle that I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure to him.

Jesus-mythicist Frank Zindler argues that the passage is an interpolation by a Sabian but his opinion is beyond the pale of mainstream scholarship. The passage dates to at least the early third century as it is quoted by Origen in Contra Celsum. It was also quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea in the fourth century.

According to this passage, the execution of Saint John was blamed for a defeat Herod suffered in around 36. Divergences between the passage's presentation and the Biblical accounts of Saint John include the following:

Baptism for those whose souls have already been "purified beforehand by righteousness" is for purification of the body, not general repentance of sin (Mark 1:4).

Biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan differentiates between Josephus' account of Saint John and Jesus: "Saint John had a monopoly, but Jesus had a franchise." To get baptized, Crossan writes, you went only to Saint John. Stopping the movement meant only stopping Saint John. His movement ended with his death. Jesus invited all to come and see how he and his companions had already accepted the Government of God, entered it and were living it. Such a communal praxis was not just for himself, but could survive without him, unlike Saint John's movement.

The Eastern Orthodox believe that Saint John was the last of the Old Testament prophets, thus serving as a bridge between that period of revelation and the New Covenant. They also teach that, following his death, Saint John descended into Hades and there once more preached that Jesus the Messiah was coming, so he was the Forerunner of Christ in death as he had been in life. According to Sacred Tradition, Saint John the Baptist appears at the time of death to those who have not heard the Gospel of Christ, and preaches the Good News to them, that all may have the opportunity to be saved.

Orthodox churches will often have an icon of Saint John the Baptist in a place of honour on the iconostasis, and he is frequently mentioned during the Divine Services. Every Tuesday throughout the year is dedicated to his memory.

The Eastern Orthodox Church remembers Saint John the Forerunner on six separate feast days, listed here in order in which they occur during the church year (which begins on September 1):

September 23 - Conception of Saint John the Forerunner
January 7 - The Synaxis of Saint John the Forerunner. This is his main feast day, immediately after Theophany on January 6 (January 7 also commemorates the transfer of the relic of the right hand of Saint John the Baptist from Antioch to Constantinople in 956
February 24 - First and Second Finding of the Head of St. John the Forerunner
May 25 - Third Finding of the Head of St. John the Forerunner
June 24 - Nativity of St. John the Forerunner
August 29 - The Beheading of St. John the Forerunner

In addition to the above, September 5th is the commemoration of Zechariah and Elisabeth, Saint John's parents.

The Russian Orthodox Church observes October 12 as the Transfer of the Right Hand of the Forerunner from Malta to Gatchina (1799).

The Roman Catholic Church commemorates St. John the Baptist on two feast days:

June 24 The Nativity of St. John the Baptist
August 29 The Beheading of St. John the Baptist

Saint John the Baptist is the patron saint of Puerto Rico, and its capital city San Juan bears his name. In 1521, the island was given its formal name "San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico", following the usual custom of christening the town with both its formal name and the name which Christopher Columbus had originally given the island, honouring John the Baptist. The indistinct use of "San Juan Bautista" and "Puerto Rico" for calling both the city and the island led to a reversal in practical use by most inhabitants due largely to a map-making error. Therefore by 1746 the name for the city (Puerto Rico) had become that of the entire island, while the name for the island (San Juan Bautista) had become the name for the city. The official motto for the island of Puerto Rico also references the saint, Joannes Est Nomen Eius (translated, "John is his name").

He is also a patron saint of French Canada, and Newfoundland. The Canadian cities of Saint John's, Newfoundland (1497) and Saint John, New Brunswick (1604) were both named in his honor. In the UK Saint John the Baptist is the patron saint of Penzance, Cornwall. His feast day is June 24, celebrated in Quebec as the Fête nationale du Québec (la Fête St-Jean-Baptiste), and in Newfoundland as Discovery Day.

Also on the night from 23rd to 24th June, Saint John is celebrated as the patron saint of Porto, the second largest city in Portugal. An article from June 2004 in The Guardian, remarked that "Porto's Festa de São João is one of Europe's liveliest street festivals, yet it is relatively unknown outside the country."

He is also patron of the Knights Hospitaller of Jerusalem, Florence, and Genoa, Italy. Saint John the Baptist is also the patron saint of Jordan, his beheading is believed to have taken place in Machaerus in central Jordan. Saint John is also the patron saint of Lian, Batangas, San Juan, Metro Manila (Philippines) and the entire state of South Carolina. Saint John the Baptist is (along with Saint John the Evangelist) claimed as a Patron Saint by the fraternal society of Free and Accepted Masons (better known as the Freemasons).

According to ancient tradition, the burial-place of John the Baptist was at Sebaste in Samaria, and mention is made of his relics being honored there around the middle of the fourth century. The historians Rufinus and Theodoretus record that the shrine was desecrated under Julian the Apostate around 362, the bones being partly burned. A portion of the rescued relics were carried to Jerusalem, then to Alexandria, where on 27 May 395, they were laid in the basilica that was newly-dedicated to the Forerunner on the former site of the temple of Serapis. The tomb at Sebaste continued, nevertheless, to be visited by pious pilgrims, and Saint Jerome bears witness to miracles being worked there.

What became of the head of Saint John the Baptist is difficult to determine. Nicephorus and Symeon Metaphrastes say that Herodias had it buried in the fortress of Machaerus (in accordance with Josephus). Other writers say that it was interred in Herod's palace at Jerusalem; there it was found during the reign of Saint Constantine I, and thence secretly taken to Emesa, in Phoenicia, where it was concealed, the place remaining unknown for years, until it was manifested by revelation in 453.

The Coptic Christian Orthodox Church also claim to hold the relics of Saint John the Baptist. These are to be found in a monastery in Lower Egypt between Cairo and Alexandria. It is possible, with permission from the monks, to see the original tomb where the remains were found.

Over the centuries, there have been many discrepancies in the various legends and claimed relics throughout the Christian world. Several different locations claim to possess the severed head of John the Baptist. Among the various claimants are:

The Knights Templar. In medieval times it was rumored that they had possession of the saint's severed head, and multiple records from their Inquisition in the early 1300s make reference to some form of head being worshiped by the Knights
San Silvestro in Capite in Rome
Amiens Cathedral, France, brought home by Wallon de Sarton from the Fourth Crusade in Constantinople
Turkish Antioch
The Umayyad Mosque in Damascus

Istanbul claims to possess the saint's arm and a piece of his skull in the Topkapi Palace, as does the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great in Scetes, Egypt,[25] while John's right hand, with which he baptised Jesus, is said to be in the possession of the Serbian Orthodox Cetinje monastery in Montenegro, and also at the Romanian skete of the Forerunner on Mount Athos.

Saint John the Baptist plays a large part in some Mandaean writings, especially those dating from the Islamic period. Mandaeans highly revere him and may possibly have some remote connection with his original disciples. They believe Saint John the Baptist, called Yahya in the Sidra d-Yahia ("Book of John"), was the last and greatest of the prophets. While Mandaeans agree that he baptized Jesus (Yeshu), they reject the latter as either a saviour or prophet. They view Saint John as the only true Messiah. According to the text of the Ginza Rba, Saint John died at the hand of an angel. The angel appeared as a three-year-old child, coming to John for baptism. Saint John knew the angel for what it was, and that once he touched its hand, he would die immediately. John performed the baptism anyway, and died in the process. Afterward, the angel covered Saint John's body with mud.

Saint John the Baptist is known as Yahya in Arabic and in the Qur'an. The Qur'an, in the sura Maryam, identifies John as the son of Zachariah and maternal cousin of Jesus. It relates an account similar to that of the Gospel of Saint Luke, including the barrenness of Zachariah's unnamed wife and his doubts, though Zachariah is not described as actually mute but only that the sign of the coming of Saint John was that he would not speak for three nights. Saint John, whose tidings are foretold by the angels, is exhorted to hold fast to the Scripture and was given wisdom by God while still child (Surah 19:7-12). He is described as "pure", "devout", "dutiful towards his parents" and as "not arrogant or rebellious" (Surah 19:7-15) and is called "a Prophet of the Righteous" coming "to confirm a word from Allah" (Surah 3:39).

There are numerous quotations in the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, Founder of the Bahá'í Faith mentioning Saint John the Baptist. He is regarded by Bahá'ís as a lesser Prophet. Bahá'u'lláh claimed that His Forerunner, the Báb, was the spiritual return of Saint John the Baptist. In His letter to Pope Pius IX, Bahá'u'lláh wrote:

"O followers of the Son! We have once again sent John unto you, and He, verily, hath cried out in the wilderness of the Bayán: O peoples of the world! Cleanse your eyes! The Day whereon ye can behold the Promised One and attain unto Him hath drawn nigh! O followers of the Gospel! Prepare the way! The Day of the advent of the Glorious Lord is at hand! Make ready to enter the Kingdom. Thus hath it been ordained by God, He Who causeth the dawn to break."

However, Bahá'ís consider the Báb to be a greater Prophet (Manifestation of God) and thus possessed of a far greater station than Saint John the Baptist.

In Gnosticism, Saint John the Baptist was a "personification" of the Old Testament prophet Elijah. As an Old Testament prophet, Elijah did not know the True God (the God of the New Testament), and thus had to be reincarnated in Gnostic theology. As predicted by the Old Testament prophet Malachi, Elijah must "come first" to herald the coming of Jesus Christ.

Modern anthroposophy, initiated by Rudolf Steiner, concurs with the idea that the Baptist was a reincarnation of Elijah, in line with the Synoptic Gospels (e.g. Mark 9:11-13,Matthew 11:13-14,Luke 7:27), although the Gospel of Saint John explicitly denies this (John 1:21). Furthermore, after his beheading at Machaerus his soul is said to have become the inspiring group genius of Christ's disciples. According to Steiner, the painter Raphael and the poet Novalis were more recent incarnations of Saint John the Baptist.

The Unification Church teaches that God intended that Saint John help Jesus during his public ministry in Israel. In particular, Saint John should have done everything in his power to persuade the Jewish people that Jesus was the Messiah. He was to become Jesus' greatest disciple. Saint John's failure to do so was the chief obstacle to the fulfillment of Jesus' mission (Divine Principle Chapter 4, Section 2).

According to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, latter-day revelation confirms the biblical account and also makes known additional events in the ministry of Saint John the Baptist. According to this tradition, revelation reveals that Saint John was "ordained by an angel," when he was 8 days of age, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews and to prepare the people for the Lord. They also claim that he was baptized while yet in his childhood (Doctrine and Covenants 84:27-28).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that Saint John the Baptist appeared on the banks of the Susquehanna River near Harmony Township, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania (present-day Oakton), as a resurrected being, to Joseph Smith, Jr. and Oliver Cowdery on 15 May 1829, and ordained them to the Aaronic priesthood. According to this tradition, Saint John the Baptist's ministry has operated in three dispensations: the last of the prophets under the law of Moses, the first of the New Testament prophets, and the bringer of the Aaronic priesthood to the dispensation of the fulness of times. They also believe Saint John's ministry was foretold by two prophets in the Book of Mormon: Lehi and his son, Nephi (1 Nephi 11:27; 2 Nephi 31:4-18).

Apostle Saint Peter

Apostle Saint Peter commemorated on June the 29th

Saint Peter (Greek Πετρος, "rock") was one of the Twelve Apostles whom Jesus chose. His life is prominently featured in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. Peter is also known as Shimon "Keipha" Ben-Yonah/Bar-Yonah, Simon Peter, Cephas and Keipha (Keipha and Cephas also mean rock)—original name Shimon or Simeon (Hebrew: שמעון‎) (Acts 15:14). Peter was a Galilean fisherman assigned a leadership role by Jesus (Matthew 16:18; John 21:15–16). He was with Jesus during events witnessed by only a few apostles, such as the Transfiguration. Early Christian writers provided more details about his life and asserted his primacy. Tradition describes him as the first bishop of Rome, the author of two canonical epistles, and a martyr under Nero, crucified head down and buried in Rome. His memoirs are traditionally cited as the source of the Gospel of Mark.

The Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Anglican Communion, consider Simon Peter a saint. Roman Catholics regard the Pope as Peter's successor and therefore the rightful superior of all other bishops. Eastern and Oriental Orthodox also recognise the Bishop of Rome as the successor of Saint Peter and the Ecumenical Patriarch sends a delegation each year to Rome to participate in the celebration of his feast. In the "Ravenna Document" of 13 October 2007, the representatives of the Eastern Orthodox Church agreed that "Rome, as the Church that 'presides in love' according to the phrase of Saint Ignatius of Antioch (To the Romans, Prologue), occupied the first place in the taxis, and that the bishop of Rome was therefore the protos among the patriarchs. They disagree, however, on the interpretation of the historical evidence from this era regarding the prerogatives of the bishop of Rome as protos, a matter that was already understood in different ways in the first millennium."

The historical accuracy of the accounts of Peter's role in Rome is a matter of ongoing debate.

In art, he is often depicted holding the keys to the kingdom of heaven (interpreted by Roman Catholics as the sign of his primacy over the Church), a reference to Matthew 16:19.

Peter's life story relies on the New Testament, since there are few other first-century accounts of his life and death. In the New Testament, he is the first of the disciples during Jesus' ministry, and the first of the apostles in the early church.

The first New Testament texts written were Saint Paul's epistles. Galatians depicts Saint Peter as a pillar of the Jerusalem church, and accepting Saint Paul and Barnabas' position as apostles to the Gentiles. He is also as an obstacle in Saint Paul's efforts to bring Gentiles into the church. Next, come Saints Mark, Matthew, Luke, Acts, and John, in which he is a pre-eminent apostle and the church's ordained leader. In all four gospels, Saint Peter proclaims Jesus to be the Messiah. Saint Matthew, the only gospel to mention the church, says that it was founded on Saint Peter and his confession of faith. Saint Matthew also ascribes to Saint Peter, as well as to the church in general, the authority to prohibit and permit actions ("bind" and "loose"). Acts, written to appeal to Gentiles, portrays Saint Peter as the chosen instrument to bring them in. Saint John's epilogue focuses largely on Saint Peter.

Saint Peter was born in Bethsaida (John 1:44), named Simon, son of Jonah or John. He was married, and his wife believed in her husbands call to discipleship.

In the synoptics, Saint Peter (then Simon) was a fisherman along with his brother Saint Andrew. The Gospel of Saint John also depicts Saint Peter fishing, but only after the resurrection in the story of the Catch of 153 fish.

In Matthew and Mark, Jesus called Simon and his brother Andrew to be "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:18–19; Mark 1:16–17).
In Luke, Simon owns the boat that Jesus uses to preach to the multitudes who were pressing on him at the shore of Lake Gennesaret (Luke 5:3). Jesus then amazes Simon and his companions James and John (Andrew is not mentioned) by telling them to lower their nets, whereupon they catch a huge number of fish. Immediately after this, they follow him (Luke 5:4–11).
The Gospel of Saint John gives a slightly different, though compatible account (John 1:35–42). Saint Andrew, we are told, was originally a disciple of Saint John the Baptist. Along with one other disciple, Saint Andrew heard Saint John the Baptist describe Jesus as the "Lamb of God," whereupon he followed Jesus. He then went and fetched his brother Simon, said, "We have found the Messiah," and brought him to Jesus. Jesus then gave Simon the name "Cephas," meaning 'rock', in Aramaic. 'Petros', a masculine form of the feminine 'petra' (rock) is the Greek equivalent of this. It had not previously been used as a name, but in the Greek-speaking world it became a popular Christian name after the tradition of Peter's prominence in the early Christian church had been established.

Saint Peter is always mentioned first in the lists of the Twelve. He is also frequently mentioned in the Gospels as forming with Saint James the Elder and Saint John a special group within the Twelve Apostles, present at incidents to which the others were not party, such as at the Transfiguration of Jesus. He confesses his faith in Jesus as the Messiah.

Saint Peter is also often depicted in the Gospels as spokesman of all the apostles, and as one to whom Jesus gave special authority. In contrast, Jewish Christians are said to have argued that Saint James the Just was the leader of the group. Some argue Saint James was the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and that this position at times gave him privilege in some (but not all) situations.

Saint Paul affirms that Saint Peter had the special charge of being apostle to the Jews, just as he, Paul, was apostle to the Gentiles.

All four canonical Gospels recount Jesus walking on the water. Saint Matthew additionally describes Saint Peter walking on the water, but sinking when he lost his faith and courage (Matthew 14:28–31).

John 13:2-11 recounts that at the beginning of the Last Supper Jesus washed his disciples' feet; Peter initially refused to let Jesus wash his feet, but when Jesus responded: "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me", Peter replied: "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head".
The washing of feet is often repeated at Mass on Holy Thursday in the Roman Catholic Church and at similar services by other groups.

All four canonical Gospels mention that, when Jesus was arrested, someone cut off the ear of the high priest's slave, an action that Jesus rebuked. Saint John names the slave as Malchus, and the man with the sword as Saint Peter. Saint Luke adds that Jesus touched the ear and healed it.

All four canonical gospels recount that, during the Last Supper, Jesus foretold that Saint Peter would deny association with him three times that same night. In Saint Matthew's account, this is reported as:

Jesus said unto him, "Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice."

While Jesus was on trial before the high priest. The three Synoptics describe the three denials as follows:

A denial when a female servant of the high priest spots Simon Peter, saying that he had been with Jesus.

A denial when Simon Peter had gone out to the gateway, away from the firelight, but the same servant girl or another told the bystanders he was a follower of Jesus.

A denial came when recognition of Saint Peter as a Galilean was taken as proof that he was indeed a disciple of Jesus. Saint Matthew adds that it was his accent that gave him away as coming from Galilee. Saint Luke deviates slightly from this by stating that, rather than a crowd accusing Simon Peter, it was a third individual. The Gospel of Saint John places the second denial while Saint Peter was still warming himself at the fire, and gives as the occasion of the third denial a claim by someone to have seen him in the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested.

In the Gospel of Saint Luke, Jesus' prediction of Saint Peter's denial is coupled with a prediction that all the apostles ("you," plural) would be "sifted like wheat," but that it would be Saint Peter's task ("you," singular), when he had turned again, to strengthen his brethren.

In a reminiscent scene in Saint John's epilogue, Saint Peter affirms three times that he loves Jesus.

In Saint John's gospel, Saint Peter is the first person to enter the empty tomb, although the women and the beloved disciple see it before him (John 20:1–9). In Saint Luke's account, the women's report of the empty tomb is dismissed by the apostles and Saint Peter is the only one who goes to check for himself. After seeing the graveclothes he goes home, apparently without informing the other disciples (Luke 24:1–12).

Saint Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15: 3-7) contains a list of resurrection appearances of Jesus, the first of which is an appearance to "Cephas" (Peter). Here Saint Paul follows a very early tradition that Saint Peter was the first to see the risen Christ. Luke 24:34 also mentions an appearance to "Simon" as the first in Jerusalem, more or less contemporaneous with the appearance to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus.

In the final chapter of the Gospel of Saint John, Saint Peter, in one of the resurrection appearances of Jesus, three times affirmed his love for Jesus, balancing his threefold denial, and Jesus reconfirmed Peter's position (John 21:15–17). Some scholars hypothesize that it was added later to bolster Saint Peter's status.

The author of the Acts of the Apostles portrays Saint Peter as an extremely important figure within the early Christian community, with Saint Peter delivering a significant open-air sermon during Pentecost. According to the same book, Saint Peter took the lead in selecting a replacement for Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:15). He was twice arraigned, with John, before the Sanhedrin and directly defied them (Acts 4:7–22, Acts 5:18–42). He undertook a missionary journey to Lydda, Joppa and Caesarea (Acts 9:32–10:2), becoming instrumental in the decision to evangelise the Gentiles (Acts 10). About halfway through, the Acts of the Apostles turns its attention away from Saint Peter and to the activities of Saint Paul, and the Bible is fairly silent on what occurred to Saint Peter afterwards.

A fleeting mention of Saint Peter visiting Antioch is made in the Epistle to the Galatians (Galatians 2:11-14) where Saint Paul rebuked him for treating Gentile converts as inferior to Jewish Christians. The Liber Pontificalis (9th century) mentions Saint Peter as having served as bishop of Antioch before his journey to Rome. Historians have furnished other evidence of Saint Peter's sojourn in Antioch. Subsequent tradition held that Saint Peter had been the first Patriarch of Antioch. He might have visited Corinth, as a party of "Cephas" existed there.

At the council of Jerusalem (c 50), the early Christian church, Saint Paul and the leaders of the Jerusalem church met and decided to embrace Gentile converts. In Galatians, Saint Paul depicts Saint Peter as supporting Saint Paul's mission among the Gentiles, shaking hands on it, along with Saint James and Saint John. In the same epistle, he declares Christianity independent from Judaism and himself independent of the Jerusalem church, owing the other apostles there "nothing." Acts portrays Saint Peter as successfully opposing the Christian Pharisees who insisted on circumcision and the rest of the Mosaic law.

In the epilogue of the Gospel of Saint John, Jesus hints at the death by which Saint Peter would glorify God (John 21:18–19), saying "'…when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and take you where you do not want to go.'" This is understood as a reference to Saint Peter's crucifixion.

In church tradition, Saint Peter is said to have founded the church in Rome (with Saint Paul), served as its bishop, authored two epistles, and then met martyrdom there along with Paul.

Saint Clement of Rome identifies Saint Peter and Saint Paul as the outstanding heroes of the faith. Papias reported that the Gospel of Saint Mark was based on Saint Peter's memoirs, a tradition still accepted by some scholars today.

The Annuario Pontificio gives the year of Saint Peter's death as A.D. 64 or A.D. 67. Some scholars believe that he died on October 13 A.D. 64. Traditionally,Roman authorities sentenced him to death by crucifixion. According to the apocryphal Acts of Peter, he was crucified head down. Tradition also locates his burial place where the Basilica of Saint Peter was later built, directly beneath the Basilica's high altar.

Early church tradition says that Saint Peter was martyred probably at the time of the Great Fire of Rome of the year 64, for which the Emperor Nero blamed the Christians, met martyrdom in Rome.

Clement of Rome, in his Letter to the Corinthians (Chapter 5), written c. 80-98, speaks of Saint Peter's martyrdom in the following terms: "Let us take the noble examples of our own generation. Through jealousy and envy the greatest and most just pillars of the Church were persecuted, and came even unto death… Saint Peter, through unjust envy, endured not one or two but many labours, and at last, having delivered his testimony, departed unto the place of glory due to him."

Traditions originating in or recorded in the apocryphal Acts of Peter, say that the Romans crucified Saint Peter upside down at his request because he did not wish to be equated with Jesus. Acts of Peter is also thought to be the source for the tradition about the famous phrase "Quo vadis, Domine?" (or "Pou Hupageis, Kurios?" which means, "Whither goest Thou, Master?"), a question that, according to this tradition, Saint Peter, fleeing Rome to avoid execution, asked a vision of Jesus, and to which Jesus responded that he was "going to Rome, to be crucified again," causing Peter to decide to return to the city and accept martyrdom. This story is commemorated in an Annibale Carracci painting. The Church of Quo Vadis, near the Catacombs of Saint Callistus, contains a stone in which Jesus' footprints from this event are supposedly preserved, though this was actually apparently an ex-voto from a pilgrim, and indeed a copy of the original, housed in the Basilica of Saint Sebastian.

The ancient historian Josephus describes how Roman soldiers would amuse themselves by crucifying criminals in different positions, and it is likely that this would have been known to the author of the Acts of Saint Peter. The position attributed to Saint Peter's crucifixion is thus plausible, either as having happened historically or as being an invention by the author of the Acts of Peter. Death, after crucifixion head down, is unlikely to be caused by suffocation, the usual cause of death in ordinary crucifixion. A medieval misconception was that the Mamertine Prison in Rome is the place where Peter was imprisoned before his execution.

In 1950, human bones were found buried underneath the altar of Saint Peter's Basilica. The bones have been claimed by many to have been those of Saint Peter. An attempt to contradict these claims was made in 1953 by the excavation of what some believe to be Saint Peter's tomb in Jerusalem. However along with supposed tomb of Saint Peter bearing his previous name Simon, tombs bearing the names of Jesus, Mary, James, John, and the rest of the apostles were also found at the same excavation.

In 1968 further excavations were made beneath Saint Peters Basilica, and the bones of a male person were located. A forensic examination found them to be a male of about 61 years of age from the first century. This caused Pope Paul VI to announce them most likely to be the relics of Saint Peter.

The Eastern Orthodox Church regards Saint Peter, together with Saint Paul, as "Preeminent Apostles". Another title used for Peter is Coryphaeus, which could be translated as "Choir-director", or lead singer. The church recognizes Saint Peter's leadership role in the early church, especially in the very early days at Jerusalem, but does not consider him to have had any "princely" role over his fellow Apostles. The New Testament is not seen by the Orthodox as supporting any extraordinary authority for Saint Peter with regard to faith or morals. The Orthodox also hold that Saint Peter did not act as leader at the Council of Jerusalem, but as merely one of a number who spoke. The final decision regarding the non-necessity of circumcision (and certain prohibitions) was spelled out by Saint James, the Brother of the Lord (though Catholics hold Saint James merely reiterated and fleshed out what Saint Peter had said, regarding the latter's earlier divine revelation regarding the inclusion of Gentiles). With regard to Jesus' words to Peter, "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church", the Orthodox hold Christ is referring to the confession of faith, not the person of Saint Peter as that upon which he will build the church. This is allegedly shown by the fact that the original Greek uses the feminine demonstrative pronoun when he says "upon this rock" (ταύτι τή πέτρα); whereas, grammatically, if he had been referring to Saint Peter, he would allegedly have used the masculine. This "gender distinction" argument is also held by some Protestants.

Apostle Saint Paul

Apostle Saint Paul commemorated June 29th

Saint Paul the apostle (Hebrew: שאול התרסי‎ Šaʾul HaTarsi, meaning "Saul of Tarsus", Ancient Greek: Σαούλ Saul and Σαῦλος Saulos and Παῦλος Paulos), the "Apostle to the Gentiles" (ca 5 - 67CE) was, together with Saints Peter and James the Just, the most notable of early Christian missionaries. Unlike the Twelve Apostles, there is no indication that Saint Paul, born in Tarsus, ever met Jesus before the latter's crucifixion. According to Acts, his conversion took place as he was traveling the road to Damascus, and experienced a vision of the resurrected Jesus. Saint Paul asserts that he received the Gospel not from man, but by "the revelation of Jesus Christ".

Fourteen epistles in the New Testament are traditionally attributed to Saint Paul, though in some cases the authorship is disputed. Saint Paul had often employed an amanuensis, only occasionally writing himself. As a sign of authenticity, the writers of these epistles sometimes employ a passage presented as being in Saint Paul's own handwriting. These epistles were circulated within the Christian community. They were prominent in the first New Testament canon ever proposed (by Marcion), and they were eventually included in the orthodox Christian canon of Scripture. They are believed to be the earliest-written books of the New Testament.

Saint Paul's influence on Christian thinking arguably has been more significant than any other New Testament author. His influence on the main strands of Christian thought has been demonstrable: from Saint Augustine of Hippo to the controversies between Gottschalk and Hincmar of Reims; between Thomism and Molinism; Martin Luther, John Calvin and the Arminians; to Jansenism and the Jesuit theologians, and even to the German church of the twentieth century through the writings of the scholar Karl Barth, whose commentary on the Letter to the Romans had a political as well as theological impact.

In trying to reconstruct the events of Saint Paul's life, the main sources are Paul's own letters and the Acts of the Apostles, traditionally attributed to Saint Luke. Different views are held as to the reliability of the latter. Some scholars, such as Hans Conzelmann and 20th century theologian John Knox (not the 16th century John Knox), dispute the historical accuracy of Acts. Even allowing for omissions in Saint Paul's own account, which is found particularly in Galatians, there are many differences between his account and that in Acts. (Please see the full discussion in Acts of the Apostles). The Acts of Saint Paul and the Clementine literature also contain information about Saint Paul.

According to Acts, Saint Paul was born in Tarsus, Cilicia in Asia Minor, or modern-day Turkey, under the name Saul, "an Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised on the eighth day" (Philippians 3:5). However, Paul's own letters never mention this as his birthplace, nor is the name "Saul" alluded to. Acts records that Saint Paul was a Roman citizen, a privilege he used a number of times in his defence, appealing against convictions in Judaea to Rome (Acts 22:25 and Acts 27–28). According to Christian tradition, his parents lived in Jish, Galilee. According to Acts 22:3, he studied in Jerusalem under the Rabbi Gamaliel, well known in Saint Paul's time. There is at least some doubt about this story, as Saint Paul writes that he was unknown by face to those in Jerusalem before visiting there as an adult. He described himself as a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5). He supported himself during his travels and while preaching, a fact he alludes to a number of times (e.g., 1 Corinthians 9:13–15). According to Acts 18:3 he worked as a tentmaker.

Although Saul was educated as a Pharisee in House of Hillel Halakha under Gamaliel, Epiphanius cites an Ebionite tradition that in order to marry the High Priest's daughter, Saint Paul converted to the Sadduccee faction which controlled the Sanhedrin at the time. He first appears in the pages of the New Testament as a witness to the martyrdom of Saint Stephen (Acts 7:57-8:3). He was, as he described himself, a persistent persecutor of the Church (1 Corinthians 15:9, Galatians 1:13) (almost all of whose members were Jewish or Jewish proselytes), until his experience on the Road to Damascus which resulted in his conversion. Ebionite tradition recorded by Eusebius asserts that he joined the Jesus movement only after his love for the High Priest's daughter was spurned. Saint Paul himself is very disinclined to talk about the precise character of his conversion (Galatians 1:11–24) though he uses it as authority for his independence from the apostles. In Acts there are three accounts of his conversion experience:

The first is a description of the event itself (Acts 9:1–20) in which he is described as falling to the ground, as a result of a flash of light from the sky, hearing the words "Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?"

The second is Saint Paul's witness to the event before the crowd in Jerusalem (Acts 22:1–22).

The third is his testimony before King Agrippa II (Acts 26:1–24).

In the accounts, he is described as being led by those he was traveling with, blinded by the light, to Damascus where his sight was restored by a disciple called Ananias then he was baptized.

Following his stay in Damascus after his conversion, where he was baptized, Saint Paul says that he first went to Arabia, and then came back to Damascus (Galatians 1:17). According to Acts, his preaching in the local synagogues got him into trouble there, and he was forced to escape, being let down over the wall in a basket (Acts 9:23). He describes in Galatians, how three years after his conversion, he went to Jerusalem, where he met Saint James, and stayed with Saint Simon Peter for 15 days (Galatians 1:13–24). According to Acts, he apparently attempted to join the disciples and was accepted only owing to the intercession of Barnabas, they were all understandably afraid of him as one who had been a persecutor of the Church (Acts 9:26–27). Again, according to Acts, he got into trouble for disputing with "Hellenists" (Koine Greek speaking Jews and Gentile God-fearers) and so he was sent back to Tarsus.

Saint Paul's narrative in Galatians states that 14 years after his conversion he went again to Jerusalem. It is not known exactly what happened during these so-called "unknown years," but both Acts and Galatians provide some details. At the end of this time, Saint Barnabas went to find Saint Paul and brought him back to Antioch (Acts 11:26).

When a famine occurred in Judaea, around 45–46, Saint Paul, along with Saint Barnabas and a Gentile named Titus, journeyed to Jerusalem to deliver financial support from the Antioch community. According to Acts, Antioch had become an alternative centre for Christians, following the dispersion after the death of Saint Stephen. It was at this time in Antioch, Acts reports, the followers of Jesus were first called "Christians."

Saint Paul’s first missionary journey begins in Acts 13 in Antioch in approximately AD 47. During this period the Christian church here grew in prominence partially owing to Jewish Christians fleeing from Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit, speaking through one of the prophets listed in Acts 13:1, identifies Barnabas and Saul to be appointed “for the work which I have called them to.” The group then releases the pair from the church to spread the Gospel into the predominantly Gentile mission field. The significance of the Holy Spirit selecting him can be seen in Galatians 1:1 when Saint Paul states that he is made an apostle “not through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father.”

Traveling via the port of Seleucia Pieria, Saint Barnabas and Saul’s initial destination is the island of Cyprus of which Barnabas had intimate knowledge, as he grew up there Acts 4:36. Preaching throughout the island, it is not until reaching the city of Paphos that they meet the magician and false prophet Bar-Jesus, described by Saint Luke as “full of deceit and all fraud”. The two rebuke the magician, causing him to go blind and, upon seeing this Sergius Paulus, is astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Once having left Cyprus, Saul exchanges his Hebrew name for the more appropriate Greco-Roman name of Paul for ministering to the Gentiles. It is also here that their helper John Mark departs them, an act which later becomes a source of much tension between Saints Paul and Barnabas and ultimately leading to their split in Acts 15:36-41. The two then set about strategically preaching to major cities as they make their way across the provinces of Asia Minor. Traveling on to Lystra where no mention is made of any God fearing gentiles, it can be assumed that there was most likely no synagogue here. With no formal place to preach in they come across a man who has been crippled from birth. Seeing that the man has faith enough to be healed at Saint Paul's instruction, he gets up and walks. In spite of this the Lystrians are now convinced that the two are the human incarnation of Zeus and Hermes and proceed to sacrifice oxen before them. Saints Paul and Barnabas are so distraught at this that they tear off their clothes and cry out to the people. Pleading with the crowd, the style of preaching becomes more basic as Lystra has no knowledge of God. Saint Paul starts from the basics by stating that God is a living God who made the heavens, earth and seas (Acts 14:15).

Saint Paul is then hunted by disgruntled Jews from Antioch and Iconium and is stoned to the point where he is thought to be dead. Amazingly he gets to his feet and flees to Derbe and preaches the word there. He then opts to return to the cities he visited to encourage disciples, establish churches and appoint elders. This emphasis on the role of the whole church is strengthened once at home in Antioch where he finally gathers together the unified church to report to them on all his experiences. Here he summarises the aim of his journey well, to “give God the honour and the glory” (Acts 15:4).

Part of this first missionary journey can be walked today in the Saint Paul Trail, a long-distance footpath in Turkey.

And following a dispute between Saints Paul and Barnabas over whether they should take John Mark with them, they go on separate journeys (Acts 15:36–41). Saint Barnabas journeys with John Mark, and Saint Paul with Silas.

Following Acts 16:1–18:22, Saint Paul and Silas go to Derbe and then Lystra. They are joined by Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman and a Greek man. According to Acts 16:3, Saint Paul circumcises Timothy before leaving.

They continue to Phrygia and northern Galatia to Troas, when, inspired by a vision they set off for Macedonia. At Philippi they meet and bring to faith a wealthy woman named Lydia of Thyatira, they then baptize her and her household; there Saint Paul is also arrested and badly beaten. According to Acts, Saint Paul then sets off for Thessalonica. This accords with Saint Paul's own account (1 Thessalonians 2:2), though, given that he had been in Philippi only "some days," the church must have been founded by someone other than Saint Paul. According to Acts, Saint Paul then comes to Athens where he gives his speech in the Areopagus; in this speech, he tells Athenians that the "Unknown God" to whom they had a shrine is in fact known, as the God who had raised Jesus from the dead. (Acts 17:16–34).

Thereafter Saint Paul travelled to Corinth, where he settled for three years and where he may have written 1 Thessalonians which is estimated to have been written in 50 or 51 AD. At Corinth, (Acts 18:12–17) the "Jews united" and charged Paul with "persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law"; the proconsul Gallio then judged that it was an internal religious dispute and dismissed the charges. "Then all of them (Other ancient authorities read all the Greeks) seized Sosthenes, the official of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of these things." From an inscription in Delphi that mentions Gallio held office from 51–52 or 52–53, the year of the hearing must have been in this time period, which is the only fixed date in the chronology of Saint Paul's life.

Following this hearing, Saint Paul continued his preaching, usually called his "third missionary journey" (Acts 18:23–21:26), traveling again through Asia Minor and Macedonia, to Antioch and back. He caused a great uproar in the theatre in Ephesus, where local silversmiths feared loss of income due to Saint Paul's activities. Their income relied on the sale of silver statues (idols) of the goddess Artemis, whom they worshipped; the resulting mob almost killed Saint Paul (Acts 19:21–41) and his companions. Later, as Saint Paul was passing near Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem, Saint Paul chose not to stop, since he was in haste to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost. The church here, however, was so highly regarded by Saint Paul that he called the elders to Miletus to meet with him (Acts 20:16–38).

According to Acts 15, Saint Paul attended a meeting of the apostles and elders held in Jerusalem where they discussed the question of circumcision of Gentile Christians and whether Christians should follow the Mosaic law. Traditionally, this meeting is called the Council of Jerusalem, though nowhere is it called so in the text of the New Testament. Saint Paul and the apostles apparently met at Jerusalem several times. Unfortunately, there is some difficulty in determining the sequence of the meetings and exact course of events. Some Jerusalem meetings are mentioned in Acts, some meetings are mentioned in Saint Paul's letters, and some appear to be mentioned in both. For example, it has been suggested that the Jerusalem visit for famine relief implied in Acts 11:27–30 corresponds to the "first visit" (to Cephas and James only) narrated in Galatians 1:18–20. In Galatians 2:1, Saint Paul describes a "second visit" to Jerusalem as a private occasion, whereas Acts 15 describes a public meeting in Jerusalem addressed by Saint James at its conclusion. Thus, while most think that Galatians 2:1 corresponds to the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, others think that Saint Paul is referring to the meeting in Acts 11 (the "famine visit"). Other conjectures have been offered: the "fourteen years" could be from Saint Paul's conversion rather than the first visit; If there was a public rather than a private meeting, it seems likely that it took place after Galatians was written.

According to Acts, Saints Paul and Barnabas were appointed to go to Jerusalem to speak with the apostles and elders and were welcomed by them. The key question raised (in both Acts and Galatians and which is not in dispute) was whether Gentile converts needed to be circumcised (Acts 15:2ff; Galatians 2:1ff). Saint Paul states that he had attended "in response to a revelation and to lay before them the gospel that I preached among the Gentiles" (Galatians 2:2). Saint Peter publicly reaffirmed a decision he had made previously (Acts 10-11), proclaiming: "God put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9), echoing an earlier statement: "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). Saint James concurred: "We should not trouble those of the Gentiles who are turning to God" (Acts 15:19–21), and a letter (later known as the Apostolic Decree) was sent back with Saint Paul to the Gentiles who Honoured God's name enjoining them from idolatry, from bloodshed, from unkashered meat, and from sexual immorality (Acts 15:29), which some consider related to Noahide Law while others instead see a connection to Leviticus 17 and 18.

Despite the agreement they achieved at the meeting as understood by Saint Paul, Saint Paul recounts how he later publicly confronted Saint Peter, also called the "Incident at Antioch" over his reluctance to share a meal with Gentile Christians in Antioch. Saint Paul later wrote: "I opposed Peter to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong" and said to the apostle: "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" (Galatians 2:11–14). Saint Paul also mentioned that even Saint Barnabas sided with Saint Peter. On the incident, the Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers: The Incident at Antioch states: "Saint Paul's account of the incident leaves no doubt that Saint Peter saw the justice of the rebuke." However, L. Michael White's From Jesus to Christianity states: "The blowup with Saint Peter was a total failure of political bravado, and Saint Paul soon left Antioch as persona non grata, never again to return." Acts does not record this event, saying only that "some time later," Saint Paul decided to leave Antioch (usually considered the beginning of his "Second Missionary Journey," (Acts 15:36–18:22) with the object of visiting the believers in the towns where he and Saint Barnabas had preached earlier, but this time without Saint Barnabas. At this point the Galatians witness ceases.

According to Acts 21:17–26, upon his arrival in Jerusalem, the Apostle Saint Paul provided a detailed account to Saint James regarding his ministry among the Gentiles, it states further that all the Elders were present. Saint James and the Elders praised God for the report which they received. Afterward the elders informed him of rumors that had been circulating, which stated that he was teaching Jews to forsake observance of the Mosaic law, and the customs of the Jews; including circumcision. To rebut these rumors, the elders asked Saint Paul to join with four other men in performing the vow of purification according to Mosaic law, in order to disprove the accusations of the Jews. Saint Paul agreed, and proceeded to perform the vow.

Some of the Jews had seen Saint Paul accompanied by a Gentile, and assumed that he had brought the Gentile into the temple, which if he had been found guilty of such, would have carried the death penalty. The Jews were on the verge of killing Saint Paul when Roman soldiers intervened. The Roman commander took Saint Paul into custody to be scourged and questioned, and imprisoned him, first in Jerusalem, and then in Caesarea.

Saint Paul claimed his right as a Roman citizen to be tried in Rome, but owing to the inaction of the governor Antonius Felix, Saint Paul languished in confinement at Caesarea for two years. When a new governor (Porcius Festus) took office, Saint Paul was sent by sea to Rome. During this trip to Rome, Saint Paul was shipwrecked on Malta, where Acts states that he preached the Gospel, and the people converted to Christianity. The Roman Catholic church has named the Apostle Saint Paul as the patron saint of Malta in observance of his work there. It is thought that Saint Paul continued his journey by sea to Syracuse, on the Italian island of Sicily before eventually going to Rome. According to Acts 28:30–31, Saint Paul spent another two years in Rome under house arrest, where he continued to preach the gospel and teach about Jesus being the Christ.

Of his detention in Rome, Philippians provides some additional support. It was clearly written from prison and references to the "praetorian guard" and "Caesar's household," which may suggest that it was written from Rome.

Whether Saint Paul died in Rome, or was able to go to Spain as he had hoped, as noted in his letter to the Romans (Romans 15:22–27), is uncertain. 1 Clement reports this about Saint Paul:

"By reason of jealousy and strife Saint Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After that he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith, having taught righteousness unto the whole world and having reached the farthest bounds of the West; and when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance."

Commenting on this passage, Raymond Brown writes that while it "does not explicitly say" that Saint Paul was martyred in Rome, "such a martydom is the most reasonable interpretation."

Eusebius of Caesarea, who wrote in the fourth century, states that Saint Paul was beheaded in the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. This event has been dated either to the year 64, when Rome was devastated by a fire, or a few years later, to 67. A Roman Catholic liturgical solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, celebrated on June 29, may reflect the day of his martyrdom, other sources have articulated the tradition that Saints Peter and Paul died on the same day (and possibly the same year). Some hold the view that he could have revisited Greece and Asia Minor after his trip to Spain, and might then have been arrested in Troas, and taken to Rome and executed (2 Timothy 4:13). A Roman Catholic tradition holds that Saint Paul was interred with Saint Peter at Catacumbas by the via Appia until moved to what is now the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History, writes that Pope Vitalian in 665 gave Saint Paul's relics (including a cross made from his prison chains) from the crypts of Lucina to King Oswy of Northumbria, northern Britain. However, Bede's use of the word "relic" was not limited to corporal remains.

Saint Paul is the second most prolific contributor to the New Testament (after Saint Luke, whose two books amount to nearly a third of the New Testament). Thirteen letters are attributed to him with varying degrees of confidence. The letters are written in Koine Greek and it may be that he employed an amanuensis, only occasionally writing himself. The undisputed Pauline epistles contain the earliest systematic account of Christian doctrine, and provide information on the life of the infant Church. They are arguably the oldest part of the New Testament. Saint Paul also appears in the pages of the Acts of the Apostles, attributed to Saint Luke, so that it is possible to compare the account of his life in the Acts with his own account in his various letters. His letters are largely written to churches which he had founded or visited; he was a great traveler, visiting Cyprus, Asia Minor (modern Turkey), Macedonia, mainland Greece, Crete, and Rome bringing the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth with him. His letters are full of expositions of what Christians should believe and how they should live. He does not tell his correspondents (or the modern reader) much about the life of Jesus; his most explicit references are to the Last Supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-34) and the crucifixion and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15 1 Corinthians 15). His specific references to Jesus' teaching are likewise sparse (1 Corinthians 7:10-11, 9:14), raising the question, still disputed, as to how consistent his account of the faith is with that of the four canonical Gospels, Acts, and the Epistle of Saint James. The view that Saint Paul's Christ is very different from the historical Jesus has been expounded by Adolf Harnack among many others. Nevertheless, he provides the first written account of what it is to be a Christian and thus of Christian spirituality.

Of the thirteen letters traditionally attributed to Saint Paul and included in the Western New Testament canon, there is little or no dispute that Saint Paul actually wrote at least seven, those being Romans, First Corinthians, Second Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, First Thessalonians, and Philemon. Hebrews, which was ascribed to him in antiquity, was questioned even then, never having an ancient attribution, and in modern times is considered by most experts as not by Saint Paul. The authorship of the remaining six Pauline epistles is disputed to varying degrees.

The authenticity of Colossians has been questioned on the grounds that it contains an otherwise unparalleled description (among his writings) of Jesus as "the image of the invisible God," a Christology found elsewhere only in Saint John's gospel. On the other hand, the personal notes in the letter connect it to Philemon, unquestionably the work of Saint Paul. More problematic is Ephesians, a very similar letter to Colossians, but which reads more like a manifesto than a letter. It is almost entirely lacking in personal reminiscences. Its style is unique; it lacks the emphasis on the cross to be found in other Pauline writings, reference to the Second Coming is missing, and Christian marriage is exalted in a way which contrasts with the grudging reference in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9. Finally it exalts the Church in a way suggestive of a second generation of Christians, "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets" now past. The defenders of its Pauline authorship argue that it was intended to be read by a number of different churches and that it marks the final stage of the development of Saint Paul of Tarsus's thinking.

The Pastoral Epistles, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus have likewise been put in question as Pauline works. Three main reasons are advanced: first, their difference in vocabulary, style and theology from Saint Paul's acknowledged writings; secondly, the difficulty in fitting them into Saint Paul's biography as we have it. They, like Colossians and Ephesians, were written from prison but suppose Saint Paul's release and travel thereafter. Finally, the concerns expressed are very much the practical ones as to how a church should function. They are more about maintenance than about mission.

2 Thessalonians, like Colossians, is questioned on stylistic grounds, with scholars noting, among other peculiarities, a dependence on 1 Thessalonians yet a distinctiveness in language from the Pauline corpus.

Little can be deduced about the historical life of Jesus from Saint Paul's letters. He mentions specifically the Last Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23ff), his death by crucifixion (1 Corinthians 2:2; Philippians 2:8), and his resurrection (Philippians 2:9). In addition, Saint Paul states that Jesus was a Jew of the line of David (Romans 1:3) who was betrayed (1 Corinthians 11:12). Saint Paul concentrates instead on the nature of Christians' relationship with Christ and, in particular, on Christ's saving work. In Saint Mark's gospel, Jesus is recorded as saying that he was to "give up his life as a ransom for many." Saint Paul's account of this idea of a saving act is more fully articulated in various places in his letters, most notably in his letter to the Romans.

What Christ has achieved for those who believe in him is variously described: as sinners under the law, they are "justified by his grace as a gift"; they are "redeemed" by Jesus who was put forward by God as expiation; they are "reconciled" by his death; his death was a propitiatory or expiatory sacrifice or a ransom paid. The gift (grace) is to be received in faith (Romans 3:24; Romans 5:9).

Justification derives from the law courts. Those who are justified are acquitted of an offence. Since the sinner is guilty, he or she can only be acquitted by someone else, Jesus, standing in for them, which has led many Christians to believe in the teaching known as the doctrine of penal substitution. The sinner is, in Saint Paul's words "justified by faith" (Romans 5:1), that is, by adhering to Christ, the sinner becomes at one with Christ in his death and resurrection (hence the word "atonement").

Acquittal, however, is achieved not on the grounds that we share in Christ's innocence, but on the grounds of his sacrifice (crucifixion), i.e., his innocent undergoing of punishment on behalf of sinners who should have suffered divine retribution for their sins. They deserved to be punished and he took their punishment. They are justified by his death, and now "so much more we are saved by him from divine retribution" (Romans 5:9).

For an understanding of the meaning of faith as that which justifies, Saint Paul turns to Abraham, who trusted God's promise that he would be father of many nations. Abraham preceded the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. Abraham could not, of course, have faith in the living Christ but, in Saint Paul's view, "the gospel was preached to him beforehand" (Galatians 3:8); this is in line with Saint Paul's belief in the pre-existence of Christ (cf. Philippians 2:5–11.

Within the last three decades, a number of theologians have put forward a "new perspective" on Saint Paul's doctrine of justification, and even more specifically on what he says about justification by faith. Justification by faith means God accepts Gentiles in addition to Jews, since both believe in God. Saint Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith" (Romans 3:28-30). Faith is the central component of Saint Paul's doctrine of justification. This means that Gentiles don't need to become Israelites when they convert to Christianity, because God is not just the God of one nation, but of Gentile and Jew alike.

Redemption has a different origin, that of the freeing of slaves; it is similar in character as a transaction to the paying of a ransom, (cf. Mark 10:45) though the circumstances are different. Money was paid in order to set free a slave who was in the ownership of another. Here the price was the costly act of Christ's death. On the other hand, no price was paid to anyone — Saint Paul does not suggest, for instance, that the price be paid to the devil — though this has been suggested by learned writers, ancient and modern, such as Origen and Saint Augustine, as a reversal of the Fall by which the devil gained power over humankind.

A third expression, reconciliation, is about the making of peace (Colossians 1:20 and Romans 5:9), another variant of the same theme. Elsewhere (Ephesians 2:14) he writes of Christ breaking down the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile, which the law constituted.

Sacrifice is an idea often elided with justification, but carries with it either the notion of appeasing the wrath of God (propitiation) or dealing with sin (expiation).

As to how a person appropriates this gift, Saint Paul writes of a mystical union with Christ through baptism: "we who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death" (Romans 6:4). He writes also of our being "in Christ Jesus" and alternately, of "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Thus, the objection that one person cannot be punished on behalf of another is met with the idea of the identification of the Christian with Christ through baptism.

These expressions, some of which are to be found in the course of the same exposition, have been interpreted by some scholars, such as the mediaeval teacher Peter Abelard and, much more recently, Hastings Rashdall, as metaphors for the effects of Christ's death upon those who followed him. This is known as the "subjective theory of the atonement." On this view, rather than writing a systematic theology, Paul is trying to express something inexpressible. According to Ian Markham, on the other hand, the letter to the Romans is "muddled."

But others, ancient and modern, Protestant and Catholic, have sought to elaborate from his writing objective theories of the Atonement on which they have, however, disagreed. The doctrine of justification by faith alone was the major source of the division of western Christianity known as the Protestant Reformation which took place in the sixteenth century. Justification by faith was set against salvation by works of the law — in this case, the acquiring of indulgences from the Church and even such good works as the corporal works of mercy. The result of the dispute, which undermined the system of endowed prayers and the doctrine of purgatory, contributed to the creation of Protestant churches in Western Europe, set against the Roman Catholic Church. Solifidianism (from sola fide, the Latin for "faith alone"), the name often given to these views, is associated with the works of Martin Luther (1483 — 1546) and his followers.

The various doctrines of the atonement have been associated with such theologians as Anselm; John Calvin; and more recently Gustaf Aulén; none found their way into the Creeds. The substitutionary theory, in particular, has fiercely divided Christendom; some pronouncing it essential and others repugnant. (In law, no one can be punished instead of another and the punishment of the innocent is a prime example of injustice — which tells against too precise an interpretation of the atonement as a legal act.)

Further, because salvation could not be achieved by merit, Saint Paul lays some stress on the notion of its being a free gift, a matter of Grace. Whereas grace is most often associated specifically with the Holy Spirit, in Saint Paul's writing, grace is received through Jesus (Romans 1:5), from God through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24, and especially in 2 Corinthians 13:14). On the other hand, the Spirit he describes is the Spirit of Christ. The notion of free gift, not the subject of entitlement, has been associated with belief in predestination and, more controversially, double predestination: that God has chosen whom He wills to have mercy on and those whose will He has hardened (Romans 9:18f.).

Saint Paul's concern with what Christ had done, as described above, was matched by his desire to say also who Jesus was (and is). At the beginning of his letter to the Romans, he describes Jesus as the "Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead"; in the letter to the Colossians, he is much more explicit, describing Jesus as "the image of the invisible God," (Colossians 1:15) as rich and exalted a picture of Jesus as can be found anywhere in the New Testament (which is one reason why some doubt its authenticity) On the other hand, in the undisputedly Pauline letter to the Church at Philippi, he describes Jesus as "in the form of God" who "did not count equality with God as a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men he humbled himself and became obedient to death" (Philippians 2:5-7).

In considering the manifestations of the Spirit, Saint Paul is varied in his instructions. Thus, when discussing the gift of tongues in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 14), as against the unintelligible words of ecstasy, he commends, by contrast, intelligibility and order.

Saint Paul argues that not all things permissible are good; he condemns eating meats that have been offered to pagan idols, frequenting pagan temples, and orgiastic feasting. On the contrary, he calls the Spirit a uniting force, manifesting Himself through the common purpose expressed in the exercise of their different gifts (1 Corinthians 12) He compares the Christian community to a human body, with its different limbs and organs, and the Spirit as the Spirit of Christ. The gifts range from administration to teaching, encouragement to healing, prophecy to the working of miracles. The fruits are the virtues of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:22). Love is the "most excellent" of all (1 Corinthians 13).

Furthermore, the new life is the life of the Spirit, as against the life of the flesh, which Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, so that one becomes a son of God. God is our Father and we are fellow heirs of Christ (Romans 8:14).

Saint Paul, himself a circumcised Jew, appeared to praise Jewish circumcision in Romans 3:1–2, but says that circumcision doesn't matter in 1 Corinthians 7:19. In Galatians, meanwhile, he accuses those who promote circumcision of wanting to make a good showing in the flesh and boasting or glorying in the flesh in Galatians 6:11–13. He also questions the authority of the law, and though he may have opposed observance by Gentiles he also opposed Saint Peter for his partial observance. In a later letter, Philippians 3:2, he is reported as warning Christians to beware the "mutilation" and to "watch out for those dogs." He writes that there is neither Jew nor Greek, but Christ is all and in all. On the other hand, in Acts, he is described as submitting to taking a Nazirite vow, and earlier to having had Timothy circumcised to placate "certain Jews". He also wrote that among the Jews he became as a Jew in order to win Jews (1 Corinthians 9:20) and to the Romans: "So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good" (Romans 7:12).

However, considerable disagreement at the time and subsequently has been raised as to the significance of Works of the Law. In the same letter in which Saint Paul writes of justification by faith, he says of the Gentiles: "It is not by hearing the law, but by doing it that men will be justified by God." (Romans 2:12). Those who think Saint Paul was consistent have judged him not to be a Solifidianist himself; others hold that he is merely demonstrating that both Jews and Gentiles are in the same condition of sin.

Some scholars find that Saint Paul's agreement to perform the vow of purification noted in Acts 21:18–26 and his circumcision of Timothy noted in Acts 16:3, are difficult to reconcile with his personally expressed attitude to the Law in portions of Galatians and Philippians. For example, J. W. McGarvey's Commentary on Acts 21:18–26 states:

“This I confess to be the most difficult passage in Acts to fully understand, and to reconcile with the teaching of Saint Paul on the subject of the Mosaic law.”

And his Commentary on Acts 16:3 states:

“The circumcision of Timothy is quite a remarkable event in the history of Saint Paul, and presents a serious injury as to the consistency of his teaching and of his practice, in reference to this Abrahamic rite. It demands of us, at this place, as full consideration as our limits will admit.”

This is generally reconciled by arguing that Saint Paul's attitude to the Law was flexible, for instance the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia writes:

“Saint Paul, on the other hand, not only did not object to the observance of the Mosaic Law, as long as it did not interfere with the liberty of the Gentiles, but he conformed to its prescriptions when occasion required (1 Corinthians 9:20).”

The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia article on Gentile: Gentiles May Not Be Taught the Torah notes the following reconciliation:

“R. Emden, in a remarkable apology for Christianity contained in his appendix to "Seder 'Olam" (pp. 32b-34b, Hamburg, 1752), gives it as his opinion that the original intention of Jesus, and especially of Saint Paul, was to convert only the Gentiles to the seven moral laws of Noah and to let the Jews follow the Mosaic law — which explains the apparent contradictions in the New Testament regarding the laws of Moses and the Sabbath.”

E. P. Sanders in 1977 reframed the context to make law-keeping and good works a sign of being in the Covenant (marking out the Jews as the people of God) rather than deeds performed in order to accomplish salvation (so-called Legalism (theology), a pattern of religion he termed "covenantal nomism." If Sanders' perspective is valid, the traditional Protestant understanding of the doctrine of justification may have needed rethinking, for the interpretive framework of Martin Luther was called into question.

Sanders' work has since been taken up by Professor James Dunn and N.T. Wright, Anglican Bishop of Durham, and the New Perspective. Wright, noting the apparent discrepancy between Romans and Galatians, the former being much more positive about the continuing covenantal relationship between God and his ancient people, than the latter, contends that works are not insignificant (Romans 2:13ff) and that Saint Paul distinguishes between works which are signs of ethnic identity and those which are a sign of obedience to Christ.

Saint Paul appears to develop his ideas in response to the particular congregation to whom he is writing (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). He writes of the hope given to all who belong to Christ, including those who have already died and been baptised vicariously by others on their behalf so that they may be included among the saved (1 Corinthians 15:29) (whether or not Saint Paul of Tarsus approved of the practice, he was apparently prepared to use it as part of his argument in favour of the resurrection of the dead).

Saint Paul's teaching about the end of the world is expressed most clearly in his letters to the Christians at Thessalonica. Heavily persecuted, it appears that they had written asking him first about those who had died already, and, secondly, when they should expect the end. Saint Paul regarded the age as passing and, in such difficult times, he therefore encouraged marriage as a means of happiness. He assures them that the dead will rise first and be followed by those left alive (1 Thessalonians 4:16ff). This suggests an imminence of the end but he is unspecific about times and seasons, and encourages his hearers to expect a delay. The form of the end will be a battle between Jesus and the man of lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:3ff) whose conclusion is the triumph of Christ.

The delay in the coming of the end has been interpreted in different ways: on one view, Saint Paul of Tarsus and the early Christians were simply mistaken; on another, that of Austin Farrer, his presentation of a single ending can be interpreted to accommodate the fact that endings occur all the time and that, subjectively, we all stand an instant from judgement. The delay is also accounted for by God's patience ((2 Thessalonians 2:6).

As for the form of the end, the Catholic Encyclopedia presents two distinct ideas. First, universal judgement, with neither the good nor the wicked omitted (Romans 14:10–12), nor even the angels (1 Corinthians 6:3). Second, and more controversially, judgment will be according to faith and works, mentioned concerning sinners (2 Corinthians 11:15), the just (2 Timothy 4:14), and men in general (Romans 2:6–9).

Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton and an authority on Gnosticism, argues that Saint Paul was a Gnostic and that the anti-Gnostic Pastoral Epistles were "pseudo-Pauline" forgeries written to rebut this. Pagels maintains that the majority of the Christian churches in the second century went with the majority of the middle class in opposing the trend toward equality for women. By the year 200, the majority of Christian communities endorsed as canonical the "pseudo-Pauline" letter to Timothy. That letter, according to Pagels, stresses and exaggerates the antifeminist element in Saint Paul's views: "Let a woman learn in silence in all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent." She believes the letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians, which order women to "be subject in everything to their husbands," do not express what she says were Saint Paul's very favorable attitudes toward women, but also were "pseudo-Pauline" forgeries.

Theologian Robert Cramer agrees that the "pseudo-Pauline" epistles were written to marginalize women, especially in the church and in marriage:

Since it is now widely concluded that the Pastoral Epistles were written around 115 AD, these words were written most likely about 50 years after Saint Paul's martyrdom. Considering the similarity between 1 Corinthians 14:35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12, conclusions that I and others continue to draw are:

That Saint Paul wrote the bulk of what was in 1 Corinthians but that he did not write 1 Timothy, and that around 115 AD, the writer of 1 Timothy or a group associated with him added the 1 Corinthians 14:33-36 pericope to the body of letters that later became 1 Corinthians.

In this scenario this would have been done in part to lend further authority to a later (or more culturally acceptable) teaching that marginalized women.

Father Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, O.P., in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, agrees that the verses not favorable to women were "post-Pauline interpolations":

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are not a Corinthian slogan, as some have argued, but a post-Pauline interpolation. Not only is the appeal to the law (possibly Genesis 3:16) un-Pauline, but the verses contradict 1 Corinthians 11:5. The injunctions reflect the misogyny of 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and probably stem from the same circle. Some mss. place these verses after 40.

Talmudic scholar Hyam Maccoby contends that the Saint Paul as described in the Book of Acts and the view of Saint Paul gleaned from his own writings are very different people. Some difficulties have been noted in the account of his life.

Additionally, the speeches of Saint Paul, as recorded in Acts, have been argued to show a different turn of mind. Saint Paul as described in the Book of Acts is much more interested in factual history, less in theology; ideas such as justification by faith are absent as are references to the Spirit.

On the other hand, according to Maccoby, there are no references to Saint John the Baptist in the Pauline Epistles, but Saint Paul mentions him several times in the Book of Acts. F.C.Baur (1792–1860), professor of theology at Tübingen in Germany and founder of the so-called Tübingen School of theology, argued that Saint Paul, as the apostle to the Gentiles, was in violent opposition to the older disciples. Baur considers the Acts of the Apostles were late and unreliable. This debate has continued ever since, with Adolf Deissmann (1866–1937) and Richard Reitzenstein (1861–1931) emphasising Saint Paul's Greek inheritance and Albert Schweitzer stressing his dependence on Judaism.

Maccoby theorizes that Saint Paul synthesized Judaism, Gnosticism, and mysticism to create Christianity as a cosmic savior religion. According to Maccoby, Saint Paul's Pharisaism was his own invention, though actually he was probably associated with the Sadducees. Maccoby attributes the origins of Christian anti-Semitism to Saint Paul and claims that Saint Paul's view of women, though inconsistent, reflects his Gnosticism in its misogynist aspects.

Professor Robert Eisenman of California State University at Long Beach argues that Saint Paul was a member of the family of Herod the Great. Professor Eisenman makes a connection between Saint Paul and an individual identified by Josephus as "Saulus," a "kinsman of Agrippa." Another often cited element of the case for Saint Paul as a member of Herod's family is found in Romans, 16:11 where Saint Paul writes, "greet Herodion, my kinsman." This is a minority view in the academic community.

Among the critics of Saint Paul the Apostle was Thomas Jefferson, who wrote that Saint Paul was the "first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus". Howard Brenton's play Paul also takes a sceptical account as to his conversion.

It has been suggested that Saint Paul suffered from a condition of Ophthalmia. This has been referenced in many of Saint Paul's writings. They are, most notably, 2 Corinthians 12:7. Others include Galatians 4:15, 1 Corinthians 2:3-4, 2 Corinthians 10:10. C.I. Scofield made this observation in his Study Bible. There is no record of Saint Paul curing himself.


Saint Euphemia

Saint Euphemia commemorated on July 11th & September 16th

The Greatmartyr Saint Euphemia, known as the All-praised is a Christian saint, who was martyred for her faith at Chalcedon. Euphemia was the daughter of a senator named Philophronos and his wife Theodosia in Chalcedon, located across the Bosporus from the city of Byzantium (which later became Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul). From her youth she was consecrated to virginity, desiring only Christ for her Bridegroom.

The governor of Chalcedon, Priscus, had made a decree that all of the inhabitants of the city take part in sacrifices to the pagan deity Ares. Saint Euphemia was discovered with other Christians who were hiding in a house and worshipping the Christian God, in defiance of the governor's orders. They were tortured for a number of days, and then handed over to the Emperor for further torture. Saint Euphemia, the youngest among them, was separated from her companions and subjected to particularly harsh torments, including the wheel, in hopes of breaking her spirit. It is believed that she died of wounds from a wild bear in the arena under emperor Diocletian between 284 and 305 AD. A magnificent cathedral was built in Chalcedon over her grave to commemorate her martyrdom.

The Council of Chalcedon was the second Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church which took place in the city of Chalcedon in the year 451. It repudiated the Eutychian doctrine of monophysitism, and set forth the Chalcedonian Creed, which describes the "full humanity and full divinity" of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. The council sat in the cathedral consecrated in her name. Present at the council were 630 representatives from all the local Christian Churches. Both the Monophysite and Orthodox parties were well-represented at the council, so the meetings were quite contentious, and no decisive consensus could be reached. Patriarch Anatolius of Constantinople suggested that the council submit the decision to the Holy Spirit, acting through Saint Euphemia. Both parties wrote a confession of their faith and placed them in the tomb of the Saint Euphemia which was sealed in the presence of the emperor Marcian between 450 and 457 AD, who placed the imperial seal on it and set a guard to watch over it for three days. During these days both sides fasted and prayed. After three days the tomb was opened and the scroll with the Orthodox confession was seen in the right hand of Saint Euphemia while the scroll of the Monphysites lay at her feet.

This miracle is attested by a letter sent by the council to Pope Leo I. "For it was God who worked, and the triumphant Euphemia who crowned the meeting as for a bridal, and who, taking our definition of the Faith as her own confession, presented it to her Bridegroom by our most religious Emperor and Christ-loving Empress, appeasing all the tumult of opponents and establishing our confession of the Truth as acceptable to Him, and with hand and tongue setting her seal to the votes of us all in proclamation thereof."

Around the year 620 AD, in the wake of the conquest of Chalcedon by the Persians under Khosrau I in the year 617 AD, the relics of Saint Euphema were transferred to Constantinople. There, during the persecutions of the Iconoclasts, her reliquary was said to have been thrown into the sea, from which it was recovered by the ship owning brothers Sergius and Sergonos, who belonged to the Orthodox party, and who gave it over to the local bishop who hid them in a secret crypt. The relics were afterwards taken to the Island of Lemnos, and in 796 AD they were returned to Constantinople. Her relics were later stolen by the Crusaders. The saint's head was taken by the Knights Templar to their preceptory in Nicosia on Cyprus. Today it is believed that the majority of her relics are kept inside Saint Euphemia's basilica in Rovinj, Croatia.

The primary feast day of Saint Euphemia, celebrated by both Eastern and Western Christians is September 16 in commemoration of her martyrdom. Eastern Orthodox Christians commemorate her miracle at the Council of Chalcedon on July 11.

Saint Euphemia is a widely venerated saint among all Eastern Orthodox Christians, not only for her virginity and martyrdom, but also for her strengthening of the Orthodox Faith, and her feast days are celebrated with special solemnity. Churches in her honour have been erected all over the Christian world.

Euphemia (typically abbreviated to "Effie") is a common baptismal name in Protestant Scotland and amongst the Christian Orthodox of Greece.

Saint Symeon Stylites

Saint Symeon Stylites commemorated on September 1st

Saint Symeon Stylites is sometimes called "Symeon Stylites the Elder." Saint Symeon Stylites or Symeon the Stylite (390 – to the 2nd of September 459AD) was an Arab Christian ascetic saint who achieved fame because he lived for 37 years on a small platform on top of a pillar in Syria. Several other stylites later followed his model (the Greek word style means pillar). He is known formally as Saint Symeon Stylites the Elder to distinguish him from another stylite named Symeon Stylites the Younger.

Saint Symeon was born at Sisan in northern Syria, the son of a shepherd. With the partition of the Roman Empire in 395, Syria was incorporated in what would become the Byzantine Empire and Christianity grew quickly.

Reportedly under the influence of his mother Martha (who is also a saint), he developed a zeal for Christianity at the age of 13, following a lecture of the Beatitudes. He subjected himself to ever-increasing bodily austerities from an early age, especially fasting, and entered a monastery before the age of 16.

On one occasion, moving nearby, he commenced a severe regimen of fasting for Great Lent and was visited by the head of the monastery, who left him some water and loaves. A number of days later, Saint Symeon was discovered unconscious, with the water and loaves untouched. When he was brought back to the monastery, it was discovered that he had bound his waist with a girdle made of palm fronds so tightly that days of soaking were required to remove the fibres from the wound formed. At this, Saint Symeon was requested to leave the monastery.

He then shut himself up for three years in a hut, where he passed the whole of Lent without eating or drinking (it should be noted that the Sabbath is not counted among the days of Lent, allowing those who fast to eat every seven days). He later took to standing continually upright so long as his limbs would sustain him (a practice still employed by some sadhus in today's India).

After three years in his hut, Saint Symeon sought a rocky eminence on the slopes of what is now the Sheik Barakat Mountain and compelled himself to remain a prisoner within a narrow space, less than 20 meters in diameter. But crowds of pilgrims invaded the area to seek him out, asking his counsel or his prayers, and leaving him insufficient time for his own devotions. This at last led him to adopt a new way of life.

In order to get away from the ever increasing number of people who frequently came to him for prayers and advice, leaving him little if any time for his private austerities, Saint Symeon discovered a pillar which had survived amongst ruins, formed a small platform at the top, and upon this determined to live out his life. It has been stated that, as he seemed to be unable to avoid escaping the world horizontally, he may have thought it an attempt to try to escape it vertically.

When the monastic Elders living in the desert heard about Saint Symeon, who had chosen a new and strange form of asceticism, they wanted to test him to determine whether his extreme feats were founded in humility or pride. They decided to tell Saint Symeon under obedience to come down from the pillar. If he disobeyed they would forcibly drag him to the ground, but if he was willing to submit, they were to leave him on his pillar. Saint Symeon displayed complete obedience and humility, and the monks told him to stay where he was.

This first pillar was little more than four meters high, but his wellwishers subsequently replaced it with others, the last in the series being apparently over 15 meters from the ground. At the top of the pillar was a platform, with a baluster, which is believed to have been about twelve feet square.

According to his hagiography, Saint Symeon would not allow any woman to come near his pillar, not even his own mother, reportedly telling her, "If we are worthy, we shall see one another in the life to come." Saint Martha submitted to this. Remaining in the area, she also embraced the monastic life of silence and prayer. When she died, Saint Symeon asked that her remains be brought to him. He reverently bid farewell to his dead mother, and according to the account, a smile appeared on her face.

Edward Gibbon in his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire critically describes Saint Symeon's existence as follows:

In this last and lofty station, the Syrian Anachoret resisted the heat of thirty summers, and the cold of as many winters. Habit and exercise instructed him to maintain his dangerous situation without fear or giddiness, and successively to assume the different postures of devotion. He sometimes prayed in an erect attitude, with his outstretched arms in the figure of a cross, but his most familiar practice was that of bending his meagre skeleton from the forehead to the feet; and a curious spectator, after numbering twelve hundred and forty- four repetitions, at length desisted from the endless account. The progress of an ulcer in his thigh 72 might shorten, but it could not disturb, this celestial life; and the patient Hermit expired, without descending from his column.

Isaac Asimov, who read the Decline and Fall twice while still in his twenties, was more charitable in his characterization: "What his life on such a pillar must have been like is most unpleasant to think of and many men could not help but doubt whether this sort of thing could be truly pleasing to God."

Even on the highest of his columns, Saint Symeon was not withdrawn from the world. If anything, the new pillar drew even more people, not only the pilgrims who had come earlier but now sightseers as well. Saint Symeon made himself available to these visitors every afternoon. By means of a ladder, visitors were able to ascend, and it is known that he wrote letters, the text of some of which survived to this day, that he instructed disciples, and that he also delivered addresses to those assembled beneath, preaching especially against profanity and usury.

In contrast to the extreme austerity that he demanded of himself, his preaching conveyed temperance and compassion, and was marked with common sense and freedom from fanaticism.

Saint Symeon's fame spread throughout the Empire. The Emperor Theodosius and his wife Eudocia greatly respected the saint and listened to his counsels, while the Emperor Leo paid respectful attention to a letter he sent in favour of the Council of Chalcedon. Saint Symeon is also said to have corresponded with Saint Genevieve of Paris.

Saint Symeon became so influential that a church delegation was sent to him to demand that he descend from his pillar as a sign of submission. When, however, he showed himself willing to comply, the request was withdrawn. Once when he was ill, Theodosius sent three bishops to beg him to come down and allow himself to be attended by physicians, but Saint Symeon preferred to leave his cure in the hands of God, and before long he recovered.

After spending 37 years on his pillar, Saint Symeon died on the 2nd of September 459AD. He inspired many imitators, and, for the next century, ascetics living on pillars, stylites, were a common sight throughout the Byzantine Levant.

He is commemorated as a saint in the Coptic Orthodox Church, where his feast is on 29 Pashons. He is commemorated on the 1st of September by the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches, and 5 January in the Roman Catholic Church.

A contest arose between Antioch and Constantinople for the possession of Saint Symeon's remains. The preference was given to Antioch, and the greater part of his relics were left there as a protection to the unwalled city.

The ruins of the vast edifice erected in his honour and known in Arabic as the Qal at Simân "the Mansion of Symeon" can still be seen. They are located about 30 km northwest of Aleppo (36°20′03″N, 36°50′38″E Coordinates: 36°20′03″N, 36°50′38″E) and consist of four basilicas built out from an octagonal court towards the four points of the compass to form a large cross. In the centre of the court stands the base of the style or column on which Saint Symeon stood.

Saint Zacharias

Saint Zacharias commemorated on September 5th

According to the Gospel of Saint Luke, Saint Zacharias was a Jewish Priest and Pharisee of the line of Abijah, during the reign of King Herod the Great, and husband of Saint Elizabeth, a woman from the priestly family of Aaron. The parentage of John the Baptist is not recorded in the other Gospels. The evangelist states that both the parents were righteous before God, since they were blameless in observing the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. When the events related in Luke commenced, their marriage was still childless, because Saint Elizabeth was barren and, like her husband, was advanced in years.

The duties at the temple in Jerusalem alternated between each of the families that had descended from those appointed by King David. The offering of incense was one of the most solemn parts of the daily worship and, owing to the large number of eligible priests; no priest could hope to perform the task more than once during his lifetime. Luke states that during the week when it was the duty of his family to serve at the temple in Jerusalem, the lot for performing the incense offering had fallen to Saint Zacharias.

The Gospel of Luke states that while Saint Zacharias ministered at the golden altar of incense, an angel of God announced to him that his wife would give birth to a son, whom he was to name John, and that this son would be the forerunner of the long-expected Messiah. Citing their advanced age, Saint Zacharias asked with disbelief for a sign whereby he would know the truth of this prophecy. In reply, the angel identified himself as the Archangel Gabriel, sent especially by God to make this announcement, and added that because of Saint Zacharias’ doubt he would be struck dumb and not able to speak until the day that these things happen. Consequently, when Saint Zacharias went out to the waiting worshippers in the temple’s outer courts, he was unable to pronounce the customary blessing.

On his return home Saint Elizabeth duly conceived. During Saint Elizabeth’s pregnancy, her cousin Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel, overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and still a virgin, became pregnant with Jesus. Mary then travelled to visit her cousin Saint Elizabeth to share the good news of Mary’s expected child and discovered that her much older cousin was also expecting the birth of a son. Eight days after Saint Elizabeth gave birth, when their son was to be circumcised according to Jewish tradition, their family members and neighbours assumed that he was to be named after his father, as was the custom. Saint Elizabeth, however, insisted that his name was to be John; so the family then questioned her husband. As soon as Saint Zacharias had written on a writing tablet: His name is John, he regained the power of speech, and praised God with a prophecy known as the Benedictus. The child grew up and became strong in spirit, but remained in the desert of Judaea until he assumed the ministry that was to earn him the name John the Baptist.

The theologian Origen suggested that the Saint Zacharias mentioned in Matthew 23:35 as having been killed between the temple and the altar may be the father of John the Baptist. Apocryphal Christian tradition recounts that, at the time of the massacre of the Innocents, when King Herod ordered the slaughter of all males under the age of two in an attempt to prevent the prophesied Messiah from coming to Israel, Saint Zacharias refused to divulge the whereabouts of his son who was in hiding, and he was therefore murdered by Herod’s soldiers. This is also recorded in the Infancy Gospel of Saint James, an apocryphal work from the second century. Since Mary was a relative of Saint Elizabeth, Saint Zacharias may have lived in the same area where Mary’s family originated.

The Roman Catholic Church commemorates Saint Zacharias, along with Saint Elizabeth, on the 23rd of September. He is also venerated as a prophet in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church on September 5. The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates the feast day of Saint Zacharias on September 5th, together with Saint Elizabeth, who is considered a matriarch. Saint Zacharias and Saint Elizabeth are invoked in several prayers during the Orthodox Mystery of Crowning (Sacrament of Marriage), as the priest blesses the newly-married couple, saying “Thou who didst accept Saint Zacharias and Saint Elizabeth, and didst make their offspring the Forerunner and bless them, O Lord our God, as Thou didst Saint Zacharias and Saint Elizabeth.” In the Greek Orthodox calendar, Saint Zacharias and Saint Elizabeth are also commemorated on the 24th of June. Islam also believes in the historical existence of Zechariah as the father of John the Baptist, and Muslims regard him as one of the Prophets of Islam. In Islam his name is commonly spelled Zakariya, from the Arabic زكريا.


Saints Cosmas and Damian

Saints Cosmas and Damian commemorated on October 17th

Saints Cosmas and Damian (Κοσμάς και Δαμιανός) (died ca. 303) were twin brothers and early Christian martyrs, born in Cilicia, or in Arabia, who practiced the art of healing in the seaport of Aegea (modern Ayas) in the Gulf of Issus (modern Gulf of Iskanderun), then in the Roman province of Syria. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, they accepted no payment for their services, which led them to be nicknamed anargyroi or The Silverless—most commonly translated into English as "Unmercenaries". It is said that by this, they led many to the Christian faith. Cosmas's name is rendered as Côme in French, as Cosma in Italian, as Cosme in Portuguese, as Kuisma in Finnish, as Kuzma in Croatian, as Козма (Kozma) in Serbian and Bulgarian, as Кузман (Kuzman) in Albanian or Kozman as is the same in Coptic.

During the persecution under Diocletian, Cosmas and Damian were arrested by order of the Prefect of Cilicia, one Lysias who is otherwise unknown, who ordered them under torture to recant. However, according to legend they stayed true to their faith, enduring being hung on a cross, stoned and shotten by arrows and finally suffered execution by beheading. Anthimus, Leontius and Euprepius, their younger brothers, who were inseparable from them throughout life, shared in their martyrdom.

Their most famous miraculous exploit was the grafting of a leg from a recently deceased Ethiopian to replace a patient's ulcered leg, and was the subject of many paintings and illuminations.

As early as the 4th century, churches dedicated to the twin saints were established at Jerusalem, in Egypt and in Mesopotamia. Theodoret records the division of their relics. Their relics, deemed miraculous, were buried in the city of Cyrus in Syria (CE). Churches were built in their honor by Archbishop Proclus and by Emperor Justinian I (527-565), who sumptuously restored the city of Cyrus and dedicated it to the twins, but brought their relics to Constantinople; there, following his cure, ascribed to the intercession of Cosmas and Damian, Justinian, in gratitude also built and adorned their church at Constantinople, and it became a celebrated place of pilgrimage. At Rome Pope Felix IV (526-530) rededicated the Library of Peace (Bibliotheca Pacis) as a basilica of Santi Cosma e Damiano in the Forum of Vespasian in their honour. The church is much rebuilt but still famed for its sixth-century mosaics illustrating the saints.

What are said to be their skulls are venerated in the convent of the Clares in Madrid, where they have been since 1581, the gift of Maria, daughter of Emperor Charles V. They had previously been removed from Rome to Bremen in the tenth century, and thence to Bamberg (Matthews). Other skulls said to be theirs are enshrined in the church St. Michael in Munich. According to the inscription, the shrine was manufactured in Bremen around 1400 and brought with the relics to St. Michael in 1649 by Maximilian I of Bavaria (born about 100 years later in 1756).

The martyr twins are invoked in the liturgy of the Mass at the beginning of the Canon of the Mass prior to the Consecration, during the prayer known as the Communicantes (from the first Latin word of the prayer, "Communicantes, et memoriam venerantes in primis gloriosae semper Virginis Mariae..."). The prayer invokes the memory of "the blessed Apostles and Martyrs Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon, and Thaddeus; Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, and of all Thy Saints."

Their feast day in the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints was 27 September, but was moved to 26 September, because 27 September is the dies natalis (day of "birth" into heaven) of Saint Vincent de Paul. Cosmas and Damian are regarded as the patrons of physicians and surgeons and are sometimes represented with medical emblems. They are invoked in the Canon of the Mass and in the Litany of the Saints.

Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803) reported that, among the wax representations of body parts then presented as offerings to the two doctor saints at Isernia, near Naples, on their feast day, those of the penis were the most common. They were in fact venerated as phallic saints.

In Brazil, the twin saints are regarded as protectors of children, and the 27th of September is commemorated by giving children bags of candy with the saints' effigy printed on them. Saint Cosmas and Damian Church, in Igarassu, Pernambuco is Brazil's oldest church, built in 1535. In the UK Saint Damian is the dexter side support of the arms of the British Dental Association.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, Saints Cosmas and Damian are venerated as a type of saint known as Unmercenary Physicians (Greek: άναργυροι, anargyroi). This classification of saints is unique to the Eastern Church and refers to those who heal purely out of love for God and man, strictly observing the command of Jesus: "Freely have you received, freely give." («Δωρεάν ελάβετε, δωρεάν δότε...» Matthew 10:8) While each of the Unmercenaries have their own feast days, all are commemorated together on the first Sunday in November, in a feast known as the Synaxis of the Unmercenary Physicians.

The Orthodox celebrate no less than three different sets of saints by the name of Cosmas and Damian, each with its own distinct feast day:

Saints Cosmas and Damian of Asia Minor—alternately, of Mesopotamia (November 1) Twin sons of Saint Theodota. Died peacefully and were buried together at Thereman in Mesopotamia.

Saints Cosmas and Damian of Rome (July 1) Brothers, they were martyred outside Rome by a jealous pagan physician during the reign of the Roman Emperor Carinus (283-284).

Saints Cosmas and Damian of Cilicia (Arabia) (October 17) Brothers, they were beaten and beheaded together with three other Christians: Leontius, Anthimus, and Eutropius.

Orthodox icons of the saints depict them vested as laymen holding medicine boxes. Often each will also hold a spoon with which to dispense medicine. The handle of the spoon is normally shaped like a cross to indicate the importance of spiritual as well as physical healing, and that all cures come from God.


Apples: A good source of pectin, a fibre that lowers cholesterol and glucose levels. Apples are also a good source of vitamin C, an important antioxidant that helps the body absorb iron and folate.

Almonds: Full of fibre, riboflavin, magnesium, iron, calcium and vitamin E, these nuts are good for the heart. And most of the fat in almonds is monounsaturated, which can help lower bad cholesterol levels when substituted for other fats.

Artichoke: Has medicinal properties and detoxifies our bodies especially the liver. It is full of Calcium, magnesium, Iron, B Vitamins and at only 60 calories each.

Remove any small leaves on the stem using a knife or by hand pulling down wards. Pull away the outer leaves working your way round the globe. You will begin to notice that the leaves start snapping and have a white fleshing hard edible portion approximately one third.

They do not need washing just bite away and discard the eaten leaves.
You will then reach finer inner leaves and the furry heart.

Again it can be eaten raw. You will need a sharp knife to cut away the furry line to leave a fleshy heart. Put this immediately into a bowl of cold water and lemon juice to prevent it from discolouring.

You need to also chop off the stem, peel and remove the outer layer and, depending on how fresh it is, can also be eaten. If it is a mature plant it will be very chewy and you cannot.

You can serve these in quarters or slices with lots of lemon juice as an aperitif or as a starter with a selection of olives and bread.

They may be cooked with a beaten egg or two and very small chunks of potato fried with a little olive oil.

Broccoli: Contains calcium, potassium, folate, fibre and phytonutrients - compounds that may help prevent diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. It also contains the antioxidant beta-carotene and is an excellent source of vitamin C.

Blueberries: A low-calorie source of fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients; they may improve short-term memory and reduce cell damage linked to aging.

Red beans: Small red, pinto and kidney - red beans are an excellent low-fat source of antioxidants, protein, dietary fibre, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and thiamine.

Salmon: Great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to provide heart benefits. It's low in saturated fat and cholesterol and is a good source of protein. Choose wild salmon, if possible, as it is less likely to contain unwanted chemicals such as mercury.

Spinach: High in vitamin A, and is a solid source of calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, riboflavin and vitamins B-6 and C. The plant compounds spinach contains may boost the immune system and help prevent certain types of cancer.

Sweet potatoes: High in beta-carotene and vitamin C, sweet potatoes are also a good source of fibre, vitamin B-6 and potassium and are fat-free and relatively low in calories.

Vegetable juice: Vegetable juices contain most of the same vitamins, minerals and other nutrients the source vegetables do. Tomato juice, and vegetable juices which include tomatoes, are good sources of lycopene - an antioxidant that may lower the risk of heart attack and certain cancers. Low-sodium varieties are best.

Wheat germ: A concentrated source of nutrients, two tablespoons provide thiamine, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. Can be worked into a diet as a topping for cereals, yogurt and salads, or an ingredient baked into muffins, cookies and pancakes.
Feeling like you are a little absent-minded lately? Here are some memory-improving strategies to keep your brain alert. Ginkgo is one of the oldest surviving species of tree. It has been traced back 300 million years and is one of the most widely studied plants. The leaf of the ginkgo tree is shaped like a human brain, and some believe this is why, in Asia, it has always had a reputation of benefiting the mental processes.

A dwindling memory and decreased concentration is largely caused by decreased blood flow to the brain and loss of brain cells; ginkgo has been confirmed to boost circulation to the brain and other organs, improving memory and cognitive functions. Additionally, ginkgo is used far and wide as a longevity tonic in Asia, Europe and the America’s.
The best-known and most commonly available form of ginkgo is as teas and herbal extracts, but ginkgo nut, used in the culinary traditions of Asian cultures, is also used for its therapeutic properties that assist to strengthen our lungs.
Mental gymnastics help to keep our mind wide-awake. It is normal to become more absent-minded as we age, and in fact, most people over the age of 40 may experience some type of memory loss. The most likely causes of a forgetful memory include poor concentration due to anxiety, brain-chemical imbalance, depression, sleep disorders and tiredness. 

If you find you are more forgetful than usual, you may try these steps and see if there is any improvement in your cognitive clarity:

Do a half an hour of cardiovascular exercise every day, such as brisk walking, slow jogging, biking, or swimming. This will improve circulation and increase blood flow to the brain. Try turning yourself upside down for a couple of minutes daily. Get an uninterrupted eight hours of sleep each night.

Mental fitness activities are very important. It assists in preventing age-related psychological decline. Add up the grocery bill in your head whilst shopping, do crossword puzzles, find new hobbies, memorize the alphabet forward and backwards, read and learn new things; all these may stimulate brain cell activities and in some cases even grow new brain cells.

Work with your family doctor to find a diet that may help to decrease the proliferation of neurodegeneration. Memory-enhancing supplements and herbs include alpha-lipoic acid, B-complex vitamins, Chinese club moss, CoQ10, fish oil, flax seed oil, ginkgo, ginseng and magnesium. Including these supplements and herbs in your diet lowers stress response, promotes the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that enhance our ability to concentrate and help to increase the odds of retaining a greater portion of our memory.
Eating for longevity begins in the kitchen. You may be eating only organic, antioxidant-rich foods, but if you cooked your food on the toxic surface of your stovetop in a carcinogenic no-stick pan, you just might be doing more harm than good. Find out how to make over your kitchen for health and long life!

Cut the Grease Without the Toxins
When you are facing a stovetop with a buildup of baked-on grease, don’t turn to commercial oven and stovetop cleaners - that is like cleaning with poison.

Instead, try baking soda. Just sprinkle baking soda on your stovetop, let it sit for five minutes and then scour the surface with either steel wool or scrubber. For the stubborn spots that refuse to be removed, try spraying this mixture on: mix dishwashing liquid, borax, and warm water together; let it sit for 20 minutes, and then scour it.

Microwave: Nothing to Rave About
People in the U. S. think microwaves are an ingenious time-saving device and wonder how anyone ever lived without one. Think again!

Microwaves use super-fast particles to literally radiate the contents of water inside food and bring it to boil. Not only has microwave use been linked to causing infertility in men, but it also denatures many of the essential proteins in the food making them virtually indigestible.

If you must, use the low setting just to heat the foods. Or better yet, get a small toaster oven or steam oven and warm your foods. Take your time and warm up your food in a safe and healthy way.

Poisonous Pots and Pans
Are your pots and pans poisoning you? If you are using copper or aluminum cookware, they might be. These metals interact with heat and food, and leach into your diet; gradually these will accumulate in your body, sometimes reaching the point of toxicity.

Toxic levels of aluminum have been linked to memory loss, headaches, indigestion, and brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. High levels of copper can debilitate the immune system and enable cancer cells to proliferate.

After scouring with abrasives, even stainless steel can release small amounts of toxic metals like chromium and nickel. Nonstick pans - although convenient in the kitchen - contain Teflon, a plastic that in recent years has been linked to immune disorders and possible cancer conditions.

My suggestion is to use cookware with porcelain enamel coating or made of glass, cast iron, or lead-free, terra-cotta clay.

Bad News About Canned Goods
In today’s industrialized world, it is more important than ever to search out fresh food, as much for the health benefits of locally grown produce as for the health dangers presented by the alternative.

Canned foods, though easier to use than cooking from scratch, are a threat to your health. The substance bisphenol A, used to line food cans, is classified as an endocrine disruptor, a compound that can act like a hormone when it enters the human system.

Scientists have discovered that exposure to these chemicals can contribute to prostate cancer, breast cancer, cystic ovaries, and endometriosis.

Vitamin A/B Carotene (spinach, green vegetable, carrot, water melon, broccoli, apricot, milk & cereals)
Helps vision, growing, maintaining our skin healthy & normal function of the immunity system

Vitamin D (Milk, cereals, salmon & sardine)
Helps our bones.

Vitamin E (plant oils, walnuts, seeds & cereals)
Helps the healthy maintenance of our cells’ membrane and has antioxydotic functions

Vitamin K (green vegetables, milk)
Helps the coagulation of our blood

Vitamin B1 (whole grain cereals & meat)
Helps our nevro system

Vitamin B2 (Milk, spinach & mushroom)
Helps the maintenance of energy in the food.

Vitamin B3 (Mushroom, fish, chicken, peanuts, cereals & beef)
Helps the maintenance of energy in the food

Vitamin B6 (meat, fish, chicken, spinach, nuts, cereals)
Helps our body treat the proteins and keeps our nerve system healthy

Pholic acid (green vegetables, orange juice, meat offals)
Protects our genetic material and prevents pregnancy problems

Vitamin B12 (meat products & cereals)
Keeps our nerve system healthy

Vitamin C (acidic fruits, strawberries, green vegetables, tomato, kiwi)
Antioxydotic actiον

Potassium (spinach, courgette, banana, orange, tomato, water melon, milk & cereals)
Keeps our nerve system healthy

Calcium (milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, leaf vegetables and tofou)
For health bones and teeth

Coper (Beans, walnuts, cereals)
For growing and aenemia prevention

Iron (meat, brocolli, sea food)
Prevention of aenemia and for our immunogenic system

Magnicium (Green vegetables, walnuts, chocolate and beans)
For strong bones

Celinium (Meat, eggs, fish, cereal)

Zinc (Sea food, meat,vegetables, cereal)
For healthy growing and prevention from illness

Plant fibres
25gr of fibres are necessary for our wellness!
Cereals, fruits and vegetables!

Try to consume daily 3 parts of whole grain products (whole grain bread, brown rice or pasta, cereals ect.) Plant fibers are absolutely necessary for the normal function of our digestive system and also support cardiovascular health.

Healthy fats
Walnuts, avocado and oil of olive for great healthy fats. Ocean fish fats help us avoid cardiovascular diseases when consumed 3-4 times a week. Other fats such as oils, butter, margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressings should be avoided. Healthy fats are necessary for normal growing of the human brain and its function.

The power of protein
With protein we build and maintain strong muscles and it also controls our hunger.

Try to consume at least 75-100gr. of proteins per day. Chicken or turkey, the white part of the eggs, fish and shells can provide us with great quantities of protein. Be careful: full fat cheese is a very good source of protein but contains lot’s of fat, so preferably choose low fat cheeses for your nutrition. Soya products are the greatest source of protein and should replace some of our regularly consumed products such as milk.

EXTRA TIP: I believe you've all heard about a new plant containing great quantity of protein named spirulina. The official letter of the Worldwide Health Organisation indicates that of course spirulina is a great source of protein but the scientific world has not yet checked the quality level of this protein. So soya remains the king of protein!

60% of the human body consists of water! 60% !!! Adults need at least 2lt of water per day. For athletes and people whose jobs include body effort this quantity is surely bigger. Research has proven that almost 30% of global population suffers from dehydration and dehydration causes tiredness, headache and mental disorder. Imagine that when sometimes we feel thirst we think that we feel hunger! Dehydration is one the reasons of obesity!

Water is the gate for our body’s detoxification!!! Very important factor for our wellness!

Last but not least water is a great weapon for the good function of our digestive system!

Tip #1: drink 1-2 glasses of water the moment you feel tired, dizzy or headache.
Tip #2: have a glass of water always on you desk while you’re working. This glass of water will remind you that you have to drink it.
Tip #3: drinking one glass of water is the first thing we should do the moment we wake up!
Tip #4: avoid drinking water in the middle of your meals. Why? The chemical substances of our stomach become less effective when mixed with water and this fact may be an obstacle for the absorbance of some precious nutritious components.

Prevent illnesses through water consumption: Drinking 5 glasses of water per day reduces 45% the danger of thick intestine, 79% breast cancer and 50% urinary bladder.

Ease a cough with chocolate
Active ingredient is Theobromine
Theobromine suppresses activity in the vagus nerve, which causes coughing. It is one-third more effective at stopping a persistent cough than a placebo. Suggested serving size One 50-gram bar of dark chocolate or two cups (500 mL) of hot cocoa (made with real cocoa, not hot chocolate mix) per day.

Stave off a cold with garlic
Active ingredient is Allicin
Allicin boosts the immune system and kills off viral and bacterial infections. Suggested serving size Four cloves, two times a week during cold season. You'll get more allicin from raw garlic, so try mashing it on whole wheat bread, pasta or salad.

Curb diarrhea with coconut
Active ingredient is Potassium
What it does: Coconut water hydrates better than a sports drink. It's also high in potassium, which helps replenish electrolytes (natural salt substances that maintain cell function) lost through diarrhea. Suggested serving size Up to two cups (500 mL) of coconut water (it's now available in cartons) per day until diarrhea stops.

Kill a yeast infection with yogurt
Active ingredient is Bacteria
Eating plain unsweetened yogurt promotes the growth of good bacteria in the vagina. Yogurt is also slightly acidic, which adjusts vaginal pH to kill yeast. Suggested serving size One cup (250 mL) per day until infection clears. After that, eat at least one cup (250 mL) of yogurt two to three times per week to maintain healthy bacteria levels.

Fight acne with watermelon
Active ingredient is Lycopene
The juicy fruit contains almost 40 per cent more skin-soothing lycopene than raw tomatoes. This antioxidant protects skin from oxygen damage, which weakens the skin's outer layer and makes it easier for acne-causing bacteria to invade. Suggested serving size One cup (250 mL) of fresh mushed watermelon per day.

Ward off rosacea with red peppers
Active ingredient is Vitamin C
Vitamin C boosts collagen production, which keeps skin moisturized and helps reduce wrinkles. This powerful antioxidant also stabilizes the skin surrounding blood vessels, which may reduce blushing. Suggested serving size 1/4 cup (50 mL) per day of chopped raw peppers (cooking reduces vitamin C content).

Tackle PMS with milk
Active ingredients are Calcium and vitamin D
Women who had diets high in calcium and vitamin D (1200 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D daily) experienced less severe PMS symptoms. Researchers suggest that decreased levels of estrogen during the latter half of the menstrual cycle may interfere with the absorption of both nutrients, but they're unsure why this might trigger PMS. Suggested serving size Four cups (250 mL each) of skim milk or fortified soy milk per day. Substitute a 1/2-cup (125-mL) serving of a yogurt containing both calcium and vitamin D for one to two milk servings. If you're sensitive to dairy, try a calcium and vitamin D supplement.

Heal a wound with pumpkin seeds
Active ingredients are Zinc and protein
Like vitamin C, zinc supports collagen production, which strengthens skin and blood vessels. Suggested serving size 1/4 cup (50 mL) of roasted or raw seeds per day until the cut is healed.

Boost fertility with cremini mushrooms
Active ingredient is Selenium
This variety of mushrooms is especially packed with selenium, a mineral that protects your eggs - and uterine cells - from damaging free radicals. Suggested serving size Two to 2 1/2 cups (500 to 625 mL) of cooked mushrooms three times a week until you conceive. Cooking shrinks the mushrooms but doesn't compromise the nutrition. It also packs more selenium into each serving.

Reduce bloating with peppermint tea
Active ingredient is Peppermint
Peppermint soothes the digestive tract and relaxes muscles to encourage flatulence. The tea also eases indigestion and speeds up the passage of food by improving the flow of bile - necessary for fat digestion. Suggested serving size One cup (250 mL) or more of peppermint tea, whenever you feel bloated or gassy. Steer clear of this remedy if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease. Peppermint can worsen symptoms such as heartburn and indigestion by relaxing the system so much that stomach acid flows back up the esophagus.

Relieve bowel trouble with black beans
Active ingredient is Fibre
Black beans are a great source of soluble fibre - a half cup (125 mL) contains 6.4 grams, an amount recommended you eat every day. Soluble fibre eases constipation by softening stool, making it easier to pass. It also adds bulk to the colon - thickening things up to avoid diarrhea. Suggested serving size One cup (250 mL) of canned black beans per day until you're back to normal.

Protect your bones with kale
Active ingredients are Calcium and vitamin K
Kale is a good source of both calcium and vitamin K. Just a half cup (125 mL) of the chopped leafy green covers your daily recommended intake of vitamin K - essential in producing the proteins needed to create strong bones. Calcium further bolsters bone strength to speed healing and prevent future fractures. Suggested serving size A half cup (125 mL) of chopped, cooked kale per day until break heals. If Kale is much too bitter for you, add kale foods such as pasta sauce, salad or soup. And choose a bunch with smaller leaves - they have a milder flavour.

A combination of cornmeal and flour gives this cornbread a light texture. Try to use fresh sage; dried just doesn’t have quite the same flavor, plus any extra fresh sage leaves make a nice garnish for the cornbread.

Directions: Preheat oven to 375F. Coat an 8x8-inch square pan (or 8-inch round pan) with nonstick cooking spray. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl.

Whisk together eggs, soymilk and oil in mixing bowl. Add to dry ingredients, and mix just until blended. Fold in sage.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes, or until top is lightly browned and springs back when touched. Set pan on wire rack, and let cool 5 minutes. Cut into squares, and serve.

ingredient list serves 8

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow or white cornmeal
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 cup soymilk or buttermilk
1/4 cup canola or corn oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Calories 310
Protein 8g
Total fat 12g
Carbs 43g
Cholesterol 70mg
Sodium 420mg
Fiber 3g
Sugars 9g

An elegant soup made of wild rice and cranberries laced with sherry.

Yield 4-6 servings
Time 1½ hours
heavy saucepan with lid
Dutch oven or large saucepan
wooden spoon
½ c wild rice
2 c water
½ t salt
4 T butter
1 carrot, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
½ c onion, minced
3 T flour
3 c vegetable stock
½ c dried cranberries
1 c milk or half-and-half
2 T dry sherry (optional)

Directions: Rinse the wild rice, then place in heavy pan with water and salt over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 45-50 minutes, until slightly chewy. Drain and set aside.

In the Dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter, then add carrot, celery, and onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes, until carrot is tender.

Stir in flour, then gradually add stock, whisking constantly. Increase heat to medium-high and continue whisking for about 5 minutes, until thickened.

Add rice and cranberries, lower heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes, until cranberries are soft and rehydrated.

Add milk and sherry and heat through, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, and serve hot, topped with parsley.

You can replace the entire first step with 1½ c of leftover wild rice.

To turn this tasty dish into an even more elegant entrée, decorate it with delicate leaves made with scraps of puff pastry.

Directions: Heat oil in pot over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms, onion, celery, garlic and thyme. Cover, and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, increase heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes more, or until mushrooms begin to brown. Add wine; simmer 2 minutes, or until liquid evaporates.

Add squash, potatoes, green beans, corn and 5 cups water. Cover, and simmer 7 minutes.
Whisk cornstarch with 1/2 cup liquid from vegetable mixture. Stir cornstarch mixture into vegetables. Simmer 1 minute, or until thickened. If making ahead, cool, and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 425F. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. Cut 4 circles from one puff pastry sheet. Repeat with remaining sheet. Cut 1-inch hole in center of each circle. Cut leaves from dough scraps, then chill tops and leaves 15 minutes. Adhere leaves to tops by brushing with water. Bake 15 minutes, or until brown and puffy. Store cooled tops up to 2 days in airtight container.

Reheat filling, and warm tops in oven, if needed. Ladle filling into small pie dishes or ramekins. Top with crusts, and serve.

Ingredient list serves 8

2 Tbs. olive oil
12 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
3 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lb. butternut squash, cubed
5 small red potatoes, sliced
1/2 lb. green beans, halved
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1 17.3-oz pkg. frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories 465
Protein 11g
Total fat 20g
Carbs 62g
Cholesterol mg
Sodium 483mg
Fiber 7g
Sugars 7g

A superb fusion of flavors permeates this nourishing dish. Always rinse canned chickpeas and other beans before using to reduce sodium as well as improve their flavor.

Meal Plan: While potatoes are steaming, bring large pot of water to a boil for cooking corn on the cob. Serve the sweet potato stew with corn on the cob, warmed pita bread and a salad of diced tomatoes and cucumbers in yogurt.

Directions: In large saucepan fitted with steamer basket, bring 2 inches water to a boil over high heat. Add diced sweet potatoes, cover and cook until just tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another large saucepan, combine chickpeas, tomatoes and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add spinach, cover and cook just until wilted, about 3 minutes.
Stir in sweet potatoes, cilantro, sgreen onions, curry powder, cumin, cinnamon and salt to taste until well combined. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until flavors have blended, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Ingredient list 4 to 6 servings

2 large sweet potatoes (2 lbs.), peeled and diced
16- to 20-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
10 to 12 oz. fresh spinach, preferably organic, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 green onions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced
1 to 2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Nutritional Information per serving:

Calories 309
Protein 10g
Total fat 2g
Carbs 67g
Cholesterol mg
Sodium 318mg
Fiber 12g
Sugars g

A rich, creamy, pumpkin flavored cheesecake laced with spice and swirled with chocolate.

Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350F. To make Chocolate Crust: Coat 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter in medium bowl. Press into prepared pan, and bake 10 minutes.

2. Melt chocolate in bowl in microwave on medium power, stirring every 30 seconds to heat evenly. Set aside. Blend cottage cheese in food processor 3 minutes, until smooth. Add Neufchâtel cheese, brown sugar, eggs and flour, and process until smooth. Add pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg, and process 1 minute, or until smooth.

3. Whisk 1 cup cream cheese batter into melted chocolate. Pour remaining batter into crust. Spoon dollops of chocolate mixture onto batter, and swirl with knife.

4. Bake cheesecake 1 1/2 hours, or until top is firm and cake is beginning to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely on wire rack, then chill well before unmolding and serving.

Ingredient list serves 24

Chocolate Crust
1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
2 8-oz. pkg. Neufchâtel cheese, softened
2 cups light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/3 cup flour
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
1 1/2 Tbs. ground ginger
1 1/2 Tbs. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground nutmeg

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories 218
Protein 6g
Total fat 9g
Carbs 29g
Cholesterol 47mg
Sodium 177mg
Fiber 1g
Sugars 22g

Wrapped sablefish with Dungeness crab and gala-apple vinaigrette

500g sablefish, skin-off fillet
100g Oyama prosciutto, thinly sliced

Directions: Lay prosciutto (width of the sablefish) onto your counter. Wrap prosciutto around the sablefish and wrap cling wrap around the fish. Let sit for 24 hours. Remove cling wrap. Using a non-stick pan and a small amount of vegetable oil, caramelize the prosciutto roll on all sides. Let rest in pan for 15 minutes and then slice and serve with vinaigrette.

250g Dungeness crab
6pc gala apples, diced finely
6pc shallot, finely julienned
100ml apple-cider vinegar
50g chives, finely minced
2pc lemon, juiced, and zest
50ml extra virgin olive oil
30 ml honey
5g espelette chilies

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let stand 1 hour prior to serving. Place on top of the sablefish and serve with rosemary potatoes.


Half-tuck (one minute).
A: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Tuck your fingertips just under each side of your waist, palms down.
B: Engage your abs and as you exhale, slowly lift both feet off the floor until your bent knees are directly over your hips. Inhale, then exhale again and slowly lower your feet to the floor. Repeat six to 10 times.

Make sure both your feet lift off together and touch down together; keep constant contact between your waist and fingertips so your back doesn't arch.

How to make it easier?
Lift one foot at a time or remove your shoes.
This site does not provide medical or any other health care or fitness advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The site and its services, including the information above, are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical or health advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before starting any new treatment, making any changes to existing treatment, or altering in any way your current exercise or diet regimen. Do not delay seeking or disregard medical advice based on information on this site. Medical information changes rapidly and while AVC! and its content providers make efforts to update the content on the site, some information may be out of date. No health information on AVC!, including information about herbal therapies and other dietary supplements, is regulated or evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and therefore the information should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease without the supervision of a medical doctor.

(Warning ~ Intended for mature minded audience)

The Mole Family
A mama mole, a papa mole, and a baby mole all live in a little mole hole.
One day the papa mole sticks his head out of the hole, sniffs the air and says,"Yum! I smell maple syrup!"
The mama mole sticks her head out of the hole, sniffs the air and says "Yum! I smell honey!"
The baby mole tries to stick his head out of the hole to sniff the air, but can't because the bigger moles are in the way so he says, "Geez, all I can smell is.... MOLASSES!



The Natural Poet
Born to be a natural poet, means raising oneself up from the ground and honing the literary skills so that the world may one day come to know it. An entire existence made to help create an enormous stage, for people to read a book and realize the meaning written down on every page. To many people it may seem, that this bold initiative is but a dreamers dream. That certainly may be true, but who are we to tell an individual what to do. For in the end, when a gentle life has come and past. One more dreamer found a way to make the memory last.
We are all born into this life out from the grace of fire and ice.

For it is through the eternal flame of the fire, that we all seek its warmth and comfort to nurture our soul and to satisfy our insatiable hunger for our material desire.

And it is the glittering hard as stone ice which reminds us all of the cold reality, that even the strongest of men melt before its shimmering presence like they were as meek and helpless as mice.

So next time you find yourself thinking about your material strife, remember that we are all privileged to feel the cold and warm comforts of fire and ice when we struggle to find the meaning of this precious gift we’ve named life.
I awoke one day with a strange kind of feeling.

Sitting back down again the feeling turned into a thought

My thought then slowly turned into an idea

I laid my body back down and allowed the idea to enter my mind in the form of a vision

Before to long the vision was seen as though it were a dream

When I awoke from my daze I had no choice but to set out and turn my dream into a reality.
Concern for living organisms and their fate must always be at the forefront amongst all technical endeavours. Lest we dismiss this whilst pitching our grand designs, and promising calculations.

Aquila’s Odyssey

Out from the sky there came an eagle, from this eagle we can hear a cry

Listening to its eternal wisdom, we realize that we too may learn to fly

As we fly over cities built on fertile soil, we learn why people burn their reservoirs of incense and holy oil

Looking through the eyes of love and listening to songs the eagle sings with its friend the dove, our spirit soars into the open skies above

Coming back down and planting our feet firmly to our sacred ground, we realize our once lost soul has now been found

Come forth and take hold of my hand, for together we may learn to share this abundant land

The fruits of our garden, after their seeds have been sown, will relieve our weary minds once we see how their trees have grown

This nectar that is created on earth will overflow like an everlasting stream, and turn into reality what is for now but a dream

How beautiful it is that Mother Nature instills in everyone the wisdom we need, to establish the great peace, so all may be freed
Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today...
Imagine there's no countries,
It isnt hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...
Imagine no possesions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...
You may say Im a dreamer,
but Im not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.
~ John Lennon

Buddha Break


The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
~ Albert Einstein

To my parents I owe my life, to my teachers' I owe more than my life.
~ Alexander the Great

There is no delight than to be conscious of sincerity of self-examination.
~ Confucius

This is our world, we need to keep it clean. It is in our hands to ensure it stays green.

Never reach out your hand unless you're willing to extend an arm.
~ Elizabeth Fuller

A series of failures may culminate in the best possible result.
~ Gisela Richter

Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.
~ Kahlil Gibran

Too many people overestimate what they are not and underestimate what they are.
~ Malcolm Forbes

A miracle worker is not geared toward fighting the world that is, but toward creating the world that could be.
~ Marianne Williamson

To find a difficult is easy; to do better may be difficult
~ Plutarch

Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be
attained through understanding.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

For I am not an Athenian, I am not a Greek, I am a citizen of the world.
~ Socrates

Real difficulties can be overcome, it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.
~ Theodore N. Vail

If there is a sin superior to every other, it is that of willful and offensive war.
~ Thomas Paine

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit ATROCITIES.
~ Voltaire

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
~ W. Shakespeare

I was once a babe in the woods. Now I have grown to become a man in a clear cut forest.


Roots have spread out from the Tree of Great Peace, one to the north, one to the east, one to the south and one to the west. These are the Great White Roots and their nature is Peace and Strength.

If any man or any nation outside of the Five Nations shall obey the laws of the Great Peace (Gayanerekowa) and shall make this known to the statesmen of the League, they may trace back the roots of the Tree. If their minds are clean and if they are obedient and promise to obey the wishes of the Council and of the League, they shall be welcomed to take shelter beneath the Tree of the Long Leaves.

We place at the top of the Tree of Great Peace an eagle who is able to see afar. If he sees in the distance any danger threatening, he will at once warn the people of the League.

What is the Great Law of Peace?

The Great Law is the founding constitution of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy. It is an oral tradition, codified in a series of wampum belts now held by the Onondaga Nation. It defines the functions of the Grand Council and how the native nations can resolve disputes between themselves and maintain peace.

The Peace Maker travelled among the Iroquois for many years, spreading his message of peace, unity and the power of the good mind. Oral history says that it may have taken him forty some years to reach everyone. Born of a Huron woman who was still a virgin, the Peace Maker, grew rapidly and one day announced that he had to journey forth to deliver a message from the Creator. He selected a white stone canoe to carry him to the Iroquois as proof of the power of his message. But he was met with much skepticism and the men that he came across refused to listen to him. After Jikohnsaseh rejuvenated his spirit, he continued and was able to persuade fifty leaders to receive his message. He gathered them together and recited the passages of the Great Law of Peace. He assigned duties to each of the leaders. To honor the role of Jikohnsaseh, he selected women as the Clan Mothers, to lead the family clans and select the male chiefs.

Women were given the right to the chief's titles and the power to remove dissident chiefs. Jikohnsaseh, by hearing of her actions, taught me to respect women and honor their role. Women are the connection to the earth and have the responsibility for the future of the nation. Men will want to fight. Women know the true price of war and must encourage the chiefs to seek a peaceful resolution.

The Peace Maker then established clans among the Haudenosaunee as a way to unite the Five Nations and as a form of social order. It is said that after he had assembled the leaders together around the Tree of Peace, he bestowed Chieftainship and clan affiliation on the fifty men who stood in a circle. He would assign clans based upon the order of animals that he saw that day. Some say that he sent each chief out into the woods and would report back on the first animal that they encountered, and that animal became their clan. A clan is a group of families that share a common female ancestry. Members of one clan are considered relatives and intermarriage in the same clan is forbidden. Clans are named after animals that have special assistance to the people - water (turtle, eel, beaver); land (bear, deer, wolf), sky (snipe, heron, hawk) Clanship identity is very important to the Haudenosaunee.

The Great Law is like a Great White Mat of Law upon which the Chiefs sit as they deliberate on the affairs of the nations. Burning before the assembled chiefs is the council fire, called "the great light," that never dies as long as the people believe in the Great Law. The kindling the council fire, considered sacred in that it purifies the words of those assembled, obligates the Chiefs to speak the truth. Also holding a council only in the daylight is another cultural mechanism to assure clear thinking. Meeting held at night are considered inappropriate and meant for foster dissent.

The Chiefs were to use the power of their mind to reason, to figure out what was best for the welfare of the people. The three main principles of the Great Law of Peace are: Righteousness (Good News), Civil Authority (Power), and also Mind (Reason) and the welfare work." We are to view the chiefs like a circle of standing trees, supporting the Tree of Peace that grows in the middle. They help to keep it from falling over. With each Chief was to be a helper, to keep the Chief standing tall.

Take the word Gaihwiyo, which has been translated in this document to mean righteousness. It's meaning is more like a wholesome doctrine that is good to be heard, because it teaches ethical behavior and communal values. But it also denotes the idea of justice, of being right because of the customs, manners, beliefs and ritualistic summations of the past experiences of the people. It is putting words into action.

The hardest part of the Great Law is to understand the meaning of the concept of peace. Peace is not simply the absence of war. In the Iroquoian mind, peace is a state of mind. Power, which can easily be thought of as military strength, but more appropriately, it means that one heart, one mind, one head, and one body allowed the Confederacy to remain united in the face of many enemies. Certainly, historians have painted a picture of the Iroquois as cruel expansionists. Iroquois fighting power was legendary. So the question arises: how can the Great Law promote peace if one of the conditions is to have power over weaker nations? Power can be the united strength of the Confederacy, standing together, negotiating together. Unity of action allowed the Iroquois to enjoy great success in dealing with the warring colonial powers.

But there is also a different kind of power in the Iroquoian universe. Each individual has a base spiritual power. As you go through life as Haudenosaunee, experience different things, learn more, comprehend more and tap into other forms of spiritual power, your own spirit grows as well. The old timers called it orenda. Everyone is thought to have it to some degree. It effects how we do things. Good minds have strong orenda. So the ultimate power of the Great Law rests in how well the individual person develops their sense of self, but develops that sense in regard to the well-being of the others, in the clan, in the village, in the nation and in the Confederacy of the Six Nations.

There have been several written versions of the Great Law, called Gawyehnehshehgowa. Today, no one version is preferred over the other and many traditional leaders feel that none of the written versions have all of the known oral history included. In examining the written versions the following common elements of the story of the Great Law of Peace become evident:

1) The Birth and Growth of the Peacemaker
A boy is born to the virgin daughter of a Huron woman. Ashamed and depressed, the grandmother tries to destroy the baby three times, until she is told in a dream that the boy is destined to bring forth a good message from the Creator. He grows rapidly and is honest, generous and peaceful.

2) The Journey to the Mohawks
The Peacemaker leaves in a white stone canoe for the land of the Mohawks where he finds war, killing, destruction and cannibalism. He announces that he is there to deliver a message from the Creator that war must cease.

3) Jikonsahseh Accepts the Message
The Mother of Nations takes in the weary Peacemaker and feeds him. He explains the principles of Peace, Righteousness and Power and the concept of the longhouse as a metaphor for the Great Law. She accepts the message, and in doing so, women are given priority in the League as Clan Mothers.

4) Ayenwatha Converts to Peace
Looking into the smoke hole of a house, the Peacemaker sees a man carrying a human body to the cooking fire. About to eat the flesh, the man appears into the pot but sees the face of the Peacemaker and is magically transformed. The Peacemaker teaches him to bury the body and eat deer meat instead. The antlers of the deer will be symbols of authority. The former cannibal, Ayenwatha, accepts the message of peace.

5) Peacemaker proves himself to the Mohawks
To prove his power, the Peacemaker sat in a tall tree that was chopped down into a deep ravine but emerged unharmed. The Mohawk chiefs accept the message.

6) The Confrontation with Tododaho
An evil and deadly wizard of the Onondaga with a twisted body and snakes for hair, blocked the path to peace. Tododaho made it so that the chiefs could not gather, making the waterways tip over their canoes.

7) Ayenwatha'''s Daughters are killed
A witch, Osinoh, transformed into an owl and killed the daughters, casting Ayenwatha into a deep depression.

8) Ayenwatha Leaves Onondaga
He left his home at Onondaga and became lost in his sorrow. He "split the sky" heading southward.

9) Ayenwatha invents wampum
Using either twigs, bird quills or shell beads, Ayenwatha makes strings of wampum that he hangs across a suspended wooden pole in an attempt to sooth himself.

10) Ayenwatha institutes protocols
He visits a Mohawk community and is given a honored seat as a chief. He teaches them to make a signal fire at the edge of the clearing to announce the arrival of a peaceful visitor, how to make wampum, and how to use the wampum strings to deliver messages. He leaves to continue his search for consolation.

11) The Peacemaker Condoles Ayenwatha
Using 8 of the 13 wampum strings made by Ayenwatha, the Peacemaker removes the pain and suffering of Ayenwatha and restores his mind so they can bring forth the message of the Creator. The Peacemaker decides that wampum will be used to carry that message.

12) Emissaries seek out Tododaho
The Peacemaker sends transformed animals - crows, bears, deer - to locate Tododaho.

13) The Cayuga, Oneida and Seneca Join
The two messengers visit the various nations as well as several visits with Tododaho. The other nations accepts the message. Tododaho still refuses.

14) Hai Hai - The Peace Hymn
With the combined power of all the assembled leaders who had accepted the message, the two messengers lead a procession, singing a magic song to soothe Tododaho. The song thanked the League, the Great Peace, the Honored Ancestors, the warriors, the women, and the families. Tododaho shouted his objection as the procession approached his encampment.

15) Tododaho is Transformed
With all of the other chiefs assembled, the Peacemaker promised to give Tododaho a central position in the Confederacy and to make Onondaga the capital for the Grand Council. He finally accepted the message and the messengers combed the snakes from his hair, straightened his body and dressed him properly. Tododaho became a man of peace.

16) The Circle of Chiefs
The messengers established the chieftainships as the protectors of peace. They were given instruction about what it takes to be a good chief. They announced the roll call of chiefs by nation and clan. The protocols for selecting chiefs, operating the council, and the role of the Clan Mothers was described. Warnings of the future were given. Deer antlers were placed on the heads of the chiefs, a wing fan to sweep dirt away from the council fire, and a pole to flick creatures away from the fire. The League was completed.

17) The Cultural Metaphors

The Peacemaker established the symbols of the Great Law. The longhouse has five fireplaces but one family. Wampum will record the messages. The Tree of Peace was planted in the center of the circle of chiefs. An eagle was placed on top to watch out for enemies. The White Roots of Peace stretched out across the land. The weapons of war were buried under the Tree. A meal of beaver tail was shared. Five arrows were bound together. The council fire was kindled and the smoke pierced the sky. These are all symbols of power that comes from the unity of peace.

18) The Protection of the League
Laws for adoption, emigration and rights of individuals and nations were established to allow those who seek peace to join. Warring nations would be given three warning they would be subdued.

19) The Condolence Ceremony
The same procedure used on Ayenwatha will be used when a chief dies in order to console the mourners and reaffirm life. This Requickening Address will maintain the stability and mental health of the Chiefs and the Confederacy.

20) The Peacemaker Departs
The message delivered and the Confederacy completed, the Peacemaker leaves but announces that in a future time of strife he will return. He also asked that his name not be used except in special cases.



Please contact our association at your earliest convenience.

President of Cultural Affairs
(416) 871 4288