Saint Porphyrios

Monk, +1991

‘The words of blessed Elder Porphyrios (1906-1991) are the words of a holy Father, of a man with the gift of clear sight, who was ever retiring, humble, simple and ardent and whose life was a true and authentic witness to Christ, to His truth and to His joy. Through his presence, love, prayer, counsel and guidance he supported an untold number of people in the difficult hours of illness, mourning, pain, loss of faith and death. He is a god-bearing Father of our days, a true priest and teacher who in his ascetic way fell in love with Christ and faithfully served his fellow man.’ –Metropolitan Irenaeus of Chania [Source]

Saint Symeon the New Theologian

Monk, Priest, +1022

The writings of Saint Symeon (949-1022) “are marked by the Saint‘s burning conviction that the Christian life must be more than a routine observance of a rule, however strict that rule and exact its observance. To be at all meaningful there must be the personal experience of the presence and the power of the living Christ.” –Foreword, The Discourses

Saint Iakovos (Tsalikis)

Monk, Priest, +1992

“Saint Iakovos Tsalikis of Euboea (+1992) was born in 1920 in Livisi, Asia Minor into a pious and poor family. When he was eight years old St. Parasceva appeared to him and continued to appear and converse with him frequently. While still in the world he fasted strictly and nurtured the thought of becoming a monastic. He wanted to go to a monastery in the Holy Land, but first went to a local monastery dedicated to St. David to pray about it. On the way St. David himself appeared to him and invited him to stay in his monastery. Iakovos was tonsured and then ordained a priest in 1952. St. David’s relics began to pour forth miracles and Fr. Iakovos’ great love and zeal for God brought about a spiritual revival in the St. David Monastery and the surrounding countryside. Fr. Iakovos’ life bore an ascetic character almost unheard of in these times. The other world was as real to him as this one demons attacked him physically, and angels and saints appeared to him and strengthened him in his self-sacrificing labors for God and neighbor.” [Source: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood 2004 Calendar, slightly edited]

Saint Justin Popović

Saint Justin Popović

Monk, Priest, +1979

Saint Justin (1894-1979) was a theologian, a writer and archimandrite of the Monastery Ćelije, near Valjevo. He was formally glorified as saint by the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church on May 2, 2010, and commemorated on June 1 each year. (source, edited: orthodoxwiki)

Papa-Dimitri Gagastathis

Married priest, +1975

Papa-Dimitri (+1975) was a towering, prophetic figure of our days, a man of great faith, humility and simplicity; a married priest, and father of nine daughters. His life was "a continual miracle”, noted Blessed Elder Emilianos of Simonopetra. Oftentimes when Papa-Dimitri called upon the Archangels, they were swift to hear and help. During the Greek civil war, he stood up to the Communists who wanted to “make a clown priest out of him” by capitulating and just going along, but he weathered the storm of persecution and came through sanctified.

Saint Photios the Great

Saint Photios the Great

Bishop, +891

Patriarch of Constantinople, St. Photius (AD 895), went from layman to patriarch in six days, a man known for his great learning. He was a protector of the Orthodox Church from the power-seeking Roman Pope and Roman innovators of the Faith which inserted the phrase “and the Son” (Lat., filioque) into the Creed concerning the Holy Spirit’s procession. St. Photius commissioned Ss. Cyril and Methodius to evangelize the Slavic peoples of eastern Europe. [Source]

Saint Nikolai Velimirović

Apostle, Bishop, +1956

“The erudition of Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956), one of the most prolific writers in the history of the Serbian Orthodox Church, impresses anyone familiar with his writings. Besides receiving the highest education available to a priest in Serbia before the First World War, he went on to earn doctorates throughout his life from universities all over the world – including those of Berne in Switzerland, Oxford in Britain, and Columbia in America. Yet for all his scholarly learning, Bishop Nikolai never lost touch with the childlike simplicity of his Serbian soul; and it is this that makes his works so preciously unique. They reach into the heart, mind, and soul of every human being who thirsts for God and hungers for what matters in the eyes of eternity. Steeped in Christlike love and humility, but tempered by the tempestuous trials and tribulations endured by the Serbian people over the centuries, the colossal spiritual figure of Bishop Nikolai has dominated the realm of Serbian Orthodox Spirituality in the twentieth century. As one of his fervent disciples, the great theologian and dogmatician Archimandrite Justin Popovich, so succinctly wrote: ‘What did Bishop Nikolai give us, and what does it mean? ... He was an Apostle, an Evangelist, an Enlightener, and the greatest Teacher of the Serbian people since St. Sava. He was also a martyr. Bishop Nikolai revived our monasticism. All our monks and nuns of today are the spiritual children of the Saintly Bishop Nikolai and Saint Sava.’”
[Source: Back cover of The Faith of Chosen People, Grayslake, 1999.]

Saint John of Kronstadt

Saint John of Kronstadt

Married priest, +1909

Saint John of Kronstadt (+1909) occupies a special place in the list of saints, being of great significance not only in spiritual terms, but also on a historical plane, having been sent by the Lord as Jonah was to Nineveh, in order to prophesy to the Russian people and to the whole world the coming universal cataclysm and the onset of apostasy, i.e. the end times. ... The gift of miracle-working made St. John renowned far beyond the bounds of Russia. It is totally impossible to enumerate all his miracles, a considerable number of which concerned the poor and illiterate people, who were unable to describe or publish what they had seen. Moreover, not all the press was sympathetic to St. John either. The atheistic intelligentsia and its press suppressed news of the manifestations of God’s power, while in 1905 they made use of the freedom of the press to abuse and malign St. John. Nevertheless, many of his miracles were recorded and retained in memory. [Source, edited]

Saint John Cassian

Monk, +435

Saint John Cassian (4th c) wrote Conferences, summaries of “important conversations that Cassian had with elders from the monastery at Scetis about principles of the spiritual and ascetic life...” “The book addresses specific problems of spiritual theology and the ascetic life” and “recommended as ‘absolutely necessary for possessing the perpetual awareness of God’” His “writings stress the role of prayer and personal asceticism in attaining salvation...” “His works are excerpted in the Philokalia.” [Source]

Saint Silouan the Athonite

Monk, +1938

Saint Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938), “having received from the Holy Spirit the Grace of actively experiencing Christ’s love for the world, he would pray all the time, with burning tears, for the whole of humankind, particularly the departed. He used to say: ‘Praying for people means shedding blood’. And he taught that the criterion for true faith is love for your enemies. He supported the world with his prayers and entreated the Lord that, through the Holy Spirit, all the peoples on earth would come to know Him. [Source, slightly edited]

Saint Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain

Monk, +1809

“According to his biographer, Saint Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain (1749-1809) was possessed of ‘great acuteness of mind, accurate perception, intellectual brightness, and vast memory’, qualities which were readily apparent to those who furthered him along in his learning.” ... “Nicodemos aligned himself with the monks known as Kollyvades, who sought a revival of traditional Orthodox practices and patristic literature, and he would spend the remainder of his life at work translating and publishing those works.” [Source]

Blessed Fr. Daniel Sysoev

Married priest, Martyr-Confessor, +2009

“Father Daniel Sysoev (1974-2009) knew God and loved Him with all his heart and soul. Father Daniel’s love for God was true and sacrificial. Father Daniel endured martyrdom for Christ. He has left considerable work for us to do, as well. For each and every Orthodox Christian the life in Christ is the most important part of living. And this good intention – to live in Christ – has an intercessor in Father Daniel, because the Orthodox know that he is alive, and is praying for all those who have gone astray.” [Source: http://mission-shop.com/fr-daniel-sysoev, slightly edited] * Though not officially declared a Saint yet, there is no doubt Fr. Daniel is a Saint (He was murdered in his church for preaching the truth of the Orthodox Faith to Muslims).

Eusebius

Bishop, +339

Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, (+339) was a 4th-century pioneer who wrote a chronological account of the development of Early Christianity from the 1st century to the 4th century. It was written in Koine Greek, and survives also in Latin, Syriac and Armenian manuscripts. The result was the first full-length historical narrative written from a Christian point of view. [Source, slightly edited]

Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

Priest, +1989

Father Epiphanios Theodoropoulos (1930-1989) was a celibate priest who lived his whole life in the world. “He didn’t retreat to Mt. Athos which he loved dearly, but lived in the city of Athens... many times he said that whatever he was in life he owed to God and Aunt Alexandra. He absolutely praised and loved his aunt, and also his grandmother. He said the two of them taught him to love Paradise. ... Through little interactions she taught him to evaluate everything he did in relationship to Paradise. ... He wanted to be a priest from the age of two and became very faithful to the fasts and services of the Church by the age of five. ... He was ordained a deacon at twenty-five, the canonical minimum age and published his first of 22 books entitled Holy Scripture and Evil Spirits. ... He was a great zealot for the canons, including the local canons and those of the holy fathers which were ratified by Ecumenical Councils. Many contemporary Churchmen accused him of having a pharisaical attachment to the canons, but he said that to reject the canons and not listen to them was to reject the gifts of the Holy Spirit. ... In addition to refusing to become bishop, he sacrificed a full professorship, the offer to become the chief secretary of the Synod of Bishops of the Church of Greece, to be the rector in a magnificent large church, and to be the director of a missionary brotherhood. He just wanted to live peacefully with his stole that he could put on people’s heads and reconcile them with God through Confession. Confession was his greatest happiness. [Source, edited] (*has not been declared a Saint)

Saint Theophylacht of Ochrid

Bishop, +1108

Blessed Theophylact (1050-1108 AD) (θεοφύλακτος, meaning "Guarded by God") was a true son of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire. He was a product of the highly developed cultural and religious civilization emanating from the “queen of cities,” Constantinople. Born on the Greek island of Euboia some time between 1050 and 1060, Theophylact went to Constantinople to study under the finest teachers of literature and rhetoric of his time. After his ordination, he served as deacon, assisting the Patriarch at Hagia Sophia, and soon gained renown as a preacher of the Gospel and master of rhetoric. The Emperor Alexios I Comnenos made him the tutor of his future son-in-law, the heir presumptive. ... Although a Byzantine by upbringing and outlook, he was a true father and archpastor of the Bulgarian Church, defending its interests and protecting its independence and prerogatives. He was instrumental in the spread of Byzantine culture that took place among the Balkan Slavs in the following centuries. As a language scholar, he also aided the development of a native Bulgarian Orthodox Church and literature, especially by the use of Old Church Slavonic in Scriptural and liturgical texts. ... He endured many slanderous accusations that were made against him both within the Diocese and in Constantinople, but he won the respect and love of the faithful who saw his tireless labors on their behalf. It is during this period of his life as Archbishop of Bulgaria that he wrote his Explanation of the New Testament, and of the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament. [source: Chrysostom Press]

Saint Paul the Apostle

Apostle, +68

“Saint Paul (+68) was of the tribe of Benjamin, and lived in Tarsus in Cilicia. He once described himself as a Hebrew, an Israelite of the seed of Abraham (2 Cor. 11:22). He was also a Pharisee and a tent-maker (Acts 18:3) who had studied the Law with Gamaliel at Jerusalem. At first, he was called Saul, and had persecuted the Church. He was present at the stoning of Saint Stephen (Acts 7: 58). Then, on the road to Damascus, he was converted when Christ appeared to him. Blinded by the vision, he was healed when Ananias laid his hands on him. After his cure, he was baptized (Acts 9:18). Saint Paul preached the Gospel in Greece, Asia Minor, and in Rome, and wrote fourteen Epistles. Tradition says that he was martyred in Rome...” [Source, slightly edited]

Saint Seraphim of Sarov

Monk, +1833

St. Seraphim of Sarov (1754-1833) “has much to teach the Orthodox Christians of these last times.” ... “St. Seraphim was born in Kursk, in the heart of Holy Russia, to a pious merchant family. Raised in the fear of God and strict Orthodox life, he also knew very early the mercies of God at first hand; at the age of ten he was miraculously healed of a serious affliction by the Mother of God through her Kursk Icon (which is now in America and continues to work miracles).” ... “At the age of twenty-seven St. Seraphim was tonsured a monk, and a few months later was ordained deacon. He served as deacon for nearly seven years, entering deeply into the meaning of the Church's services. Often he saw angels; and once, on Great Thursday, as he stood before the Royal Doors in the middle of the Liturgy, he saw Christ Himself in the air surrounded by angels. Unable to continue serving, he was conducted away and stood for several hours in ecstasy.” ... “In 1804 the saint was attacked by robbers and beaten almost to death. The Mother of God appeared to him in his affliction, together with the Apostles Peter and John the Theologian, saying of him: ‘This is one of our kind.’ After this attack he was bent over and walked always with a staff.” ... “For the last eight years of his life St. Seraphim lived in the forest of Sarov and received the thousands of pilgrims who came to him to ask his prayers and spiritual counsel. The saint now was manifest as a clairvoyant wonderworker, a grace-filled vessel of the action of the Holy Spirit. No one—monk, layman, or nun—left him without consolation and an answer to their spiritual need. He was in constant contact with the world above; twelve times in all, the Mother of God Herself appeared to him. He died kneeling before an icon of the Mother of God of ‘Tender Feeling’ on January 2, 1833.” [by Fr. Seraphim Rose. Source, edited]

Saint Kosmas Aitolos

Apostle, Monk, +1779

Saint Kosmas the Aitolian (+1779), is a figure in both church and national Greek history who in the 18th century cast his light upon the path which the Greeks would follow a little before the outbreak of the Struggle for Liberation. His aptitude for learning took him to the school run by the Vatopedi Monastery on the Holy Mountain, where he studied under teachers famed for their learning. St. Kosmas had a burning desire to be of service to his brothers in Christ who were suffering so many hardships. The enslavement of many years with the subsequent degradation of life, ignorance, and the decline into barbarity in behavior were the scourges of Christians. The reflections of St. Kosmas on this situation led him to go out to the people and begin a series of preaching tours. His words were simple, but filled with the Holy Spirit. He would speak to them about the services of the Church, explain to them the value of repentance and confession, warning them against sin and urging them to lead lives of goodness. The Saint was admired and even feared by many Turks, and hated by many Jews. They spread unfounded accusations against him and slandered him. On the pretext that the Pasha wished to see him, they took the Saint to a remote spot and hung him on August 24th, 1779. [source]

Saint John Chrysostom

Bishop, +407

“Saint John Chrysostom (349-407), Archbishop of Constantinople, is known for his preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom. The epithet Chrysostomos, anglicized as Chrysostom) means “golden-mouthed” in Greek and denotes his celebrated eloquence. Chrysostom was among the most prolific authors in the early Christian Church.” [Source, slightly edited]

Saint Nephon

Bishop, +450

St. Nephon, Patriarch of Constantinople (4th c.), was the son of а wealthy government official. He was “sent from Alexandria to Constantinople to further his studies. Having succumbed to the temptations of the great metropolis, he then pleased God with а life of deep repentance, ascetic struggles, watchfulness, and prayer. His fiery repentance cleansed his heart and he became а vessel of the Holy Spirit. He was then ordained bishop of the Church of Constantiana in Cyprus, where he distinguished himself as а shepherd of souls. His life was generally unknown as it was only recorded in ancient Byzantine manuscripts treasured in the monasteries of the Holy Mountain Athos. This book presents the life and timeless wisdom of Saint Nephon which are especially relevant to the youth of our times.” [Source]

Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian

Monk, +1924

St. Arsenios the Cappadocian (1840–1924) was the spiritual father of Saint Paisios’ family. He baptized Elder Paisios as an infant. Throughout his life Elder Paisios had great love and reverence for the memory of St. Arsenios ... St. Arsenios pastored his Greek Orthodox flock amidst extremely difficult conditions. He lived with his people in the village of Farasa in Cappadocia, which after 1453 had fallen into the hands of the Muslim Turks. Under the harsh yoke of the Turks, the Greek people of Farasa formed an oasis of Orthodox Christianity. They sought refuge in holy St. Arsenios, who was their teacher, their spiritual father, and the healer of their souls and bodies. His reputation as a healer was so great that not only Greek Christians but also Turkish Muslims came to him for healing. Many times his village was threatened with violence from marauding Turks, but each time it was preserved in a miraculous way by St. Arsenios. ... Since 1970, many apparitions and miracles have occurred near his holy relics, which reside in the Monastery of Souroti near Thessalonica. [Source, edited]

Saint Amphilochios (Makris)

Saint Amphilochios (Makris)

Apostle, Monk, Priest, +1970

Saint Amphilochios (Makris) (1889-1970) was completely dedicated to his monastic profession with missionary and ascetic zeal. “He loved the sinner, since the Redeemer of the world gave His sacred blood for him. The love of the Elder was similar to God‘s love. He sympathized with the more sinful, knowing how very difficult it was for them to repent, compared to those wounded by lesser sins.“ (source: Elder Amphilochios (Makris))

Saint Ieronymos of Aegina

Monk, +1966

Saint Ieronymos (1883-1966) was born in Cappadocia. He was ordained in his native land and served as a deacon at the Church of St. George in Constantinople. He became known as a gifted confessor, a healer, serving as a hospital chaplain, and as a clairvoyant. (source, edited: orthodoxwiki)

Saint Innocent of Alaska

Saint Innocent of Alaska

Apostle, Bishop, Married priest, +1879

“St. Innocent was born John Papov Aug.27, 1797 in Aginsk, a small village near Irkutsk, Siberia. At age 6, he was already a reader. At age 9 he entered Irkutsk seminary and remained there for 11 years. While he was young, he studied history and sciences. Additionally he learned carpentry, furniture making, blacksmithing, and construction of musical instruments. He got married and was ordained to the priesthood in 1821.”

“After landing in Unalaska, he met the natives. He quickly learned the local dialect of the Aleut. While he was there, he developed an alphabet, translated the Gospel of St. Matthew, and parts of the Divine Liturgy. He also compiled a dictionary for the natives. In addition, he wrote several books including Instructions for Missionaries Guidebook and A Guide to the Heavenly Kingdom. St. Innocent taught the natives carpentry and furniture making. They used these skills to make homes, chapels, and the Cathedral of the Ascension.”

“His primary work was converting the natives into Orthodoxy and educating them. Along with his wife Catherine, he established an orphanage and a school where kids learned trades as well as reading Aleut and Russian, writing, and arithmetic. He traveled throughout the Aleutian Islands to teach and baptize. In 1834, Father John was transferred to Sitka and received a membership in Russia’s prestigious Imperial Academy of Science.

After the death of his wife, he became a monk, taking the name of Innocent. He became bishop in 1840, Archbishop in 1850, and Metropolitan of Moscow in 1868, which was the highest rank of priesthood in the Russian Empire. Subsequent he established the Mission House and its Annunciation chapel which is the oldest structure still standing in Alaska. Furthermore, St. Michel’s cathedral was consecrated in 1848 in the presence of nearly 50 clergy of the Alaska mission. Another major accomplishment was his establishment of a seminary where native and creole, or mixed-race people, studied theology along with three native languages, medicine, and Latin. He founded the Orthodox Missionary Society in 1870. He increased the number of clergy and stressed the importance of Mission work.”

“He died March 31,1879 at the age of 82 on Holy Saturday. In 1977 he was canonized St. Innocent Enlightener of the Aleuts and Apostle to America.” [Source unknown]

Saint Barsanuphius

Monk, +500

“Saint Barsanuphius the Great [4th-5th c.], who was from Egypt, and his disciple, Saint John the Prophet, struggled in very strict reclusion during the sixth century at the monastery of Abba Seridus at Gaza of Palestine, and were endowed with amazing gifts of prophecy and spiritual discernment. They are mentioned by Saint Dorotheus of Gaza, their disciple, in his writings. Many of the counsels they sent to Christians who wrote to them are preserved in the book which bears their names. Once certain of the Fathers besought Saint Barsanuphius to pray that God stay His wrath and spare the world. Saint Barsanuphius wrote back that there were "three men perfect before God," whose prayers met at the throne of God and protected the whole world; to them it had been revealed that the wrath of God would not last long. These three, he said, were “John of Rome, Elias of Corinth, and another in the diocese of Jerusalem,” concealing the name of the last, since it was himself.” [Source]

Desert Fathers

Monk, +500

The Fathers who dwelled in the desert (4th-5th century) are much like the sacred icons of the Orthodox Church. By naturalistic standards, they are distorted, strange, and foreign to us, images at times seemingly appropriate to the fanciful. Nevertheless, just as icons draw us into their spiritual auras and become windows through which we see faint glimpses of the heavenly world, so the Fathers of the desert draw us into the sphere of their spiritual power and force us deep into the recesses of our consciences and allow us to look on the almost lost spiritual powers dwelling unheeded within ourselves. Their asceticism cannot be - perhaps should not be - imitated by many. They are simply a standard to which we should strive, a flame so bright as to kindle within us the spark of spiritual desire. [Edited excerpt from: The Ancient Fathers of the Desert, Hellenic College Press, 1980. p. 12.]

Saint Maximos the Confessor

Martyr-Confessor, Monk, +662

“Saint Maximus the Confessor (+662) was born in Constantinople around 580 and raised in a pious Christian family. He received an excellent education, studying philosophy, grammar, and rhetoric. He was well-read in the authors of antiquity and he also mastered philosophy and theology. When Saint Maximus entered into government service, he became first secretary (asekretis) and chief counselor to the emperor Heraclius (611-641), who was impressed by his knowledge and virtuous life. Saint Maximus soon realized that the emperor and many others had been corrupted by the Monothelite heresy, which was spreading rapidly through the East. He resigned from his duties at court, and went to the Chrysopolis monastery, where he received monastic tonsure. Because of his humility and wisdom, he soon won the love of the brethren and was chosen igumen of the monastery after a few years. Even in this position, he remained a simple monk. When Saint Maximus saw what turmoil this heresy caused in Constantinople and in the East, he decided to leave his monstery and seek refuge in the West, where Monothelitism had been completely rejected. ... The Monophysite heresy, which falsely taught that in the Lord Jesus Christ there was only one nature (the divine). Influenced by this erroneous opinion, the Monothelite heretics said that in Christ there was only one divine will (“thelema”) and only one divine energy (“energia”)”. ... For defending the truth, “the saint and two of his disciples were subjected to the cruelest torments. Each one’s tongue was cut out, and his right hand was cut off. Then they were exiled to Skemarum in Scythia, enduring many sufferings and difficulties on the journey. After three years, the Lord revaled to Saint Maximus the time of his death.” [Source]

Saint John of San Francisco

Saint John of San Francisco

Bishop, +1966

“Saint John (Maximovitch) (1896-1966) is believed by Orthodox Christians all over the world to be the holiest man of the 20th century. Manifesting many contrasting forms of sanctity, he was at once a God-inspired theologian and a “Fool-for-Christ,” a zealous missionary hierarch and a feeder of the poor, a severe ascetic and a loving father to orphans. Like Moses, he delivered his flock from oppression, bringing it from Communist China to the free world; like the first apostles, he was given power from God to heal wounded souls and ailing bodies. A man of intense and ceaseless prayer, he was a genuine Holy Elder in the tradition of the great Russian startsi. Piercing the veil of time and space, he would mystically hear and answer people‘s thoughts before they would express them. Now in heaven, he continues to visit and pray for those who call upon him, as is attested by miracles and healings which are now being chronicled around the world.” [Source: back cover of Man of God

Saint Ephraim of Katounakia

Monk, +1998

“Countless souls traveled the pathway to the ascetic dwelling of the Holy Saint Ephraim of Katounakia (+1998) – laity, monks, priests and bishops – visitors and beggars of spiritual mercy. The sick came and left healed. The burdened came and left feeling lighter. They came weak and left strong.”

“Obedience was his beloved topic. On an almost daily basis, he would refer one thing to all and relate to all, obedience. And with that expressive tone of his strong voice, with the persuasion and experience of an old Biblical figure, he would often come back to the topic so dear to him with a new surge of refreshing ascetic demeanor, to the sweetest lesson and the unique matter, obedience. This is the requirement of sacred humility and the coming of the Grace of the Holy Spirit, the cause of all fruitfulness, the pretext of pure prayer. "Do you have obedience? You have prayer. If you don't have obedience, you do not have prayer", he would say, without his words receiving any objection (and Father Ephraim insisted correctly). For, according to St John of Sinai, "obedience means that we place our own discernment into the care of the rich discernment of the spiritual father.” [Source: www.orthodoxchristian.info, quoting from “Voice of Orthodoxy”, 1998, v. 9(4). Slightly edited.]

Saint Paisius Velichkovsky

Monk, +1794

“Many people today know of the Philokalia, a compilation of mystical, ascetic texts from the ancient Christian tradition which contain teachings on unceasing prayer, interior silence, unseen warfare, and prayer of the heart. Few, however, know of the spiritual Elder who discovered these lost teachings after a painstaking search, and who devoted the rest of his life to disseminating them, putting them into practice, and helping other spiritual seekers to attain union with God through them. This man was Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky (1722-1794).”

“Having lived at the beginning of the modern age, Blessed Paisius has supplied us with a blueprint on how to live like the ancient holy ones even while in the midst of the contemporary atmosphere of confusion, despair, and abandonment of the truth. Today his legacy brought to America by St. Herman and other monks from the Russian monastery of Valaam, and preserved and cultivated through the eldership of Optina Monastery is more timely and needed than ever before.” [Source: Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky: The Man Behind the Philokalia (back cover)]

Saint Abba Dorotheos

Monk, +565

“The Holy Abba Dorotheus (+565) was a disciple of Saint John the Prophet in the Palestinian monastery of Abba Seridus in the sixth century. ... In his writings the personal experience of Abba Dorotheus is felt everywhere. His disciple, Saint Dositheus (February 19), says of him, “Towards the brethren laboring with him he responded with modesty, with humility, and was gracious without arrogance or audacity. He was good-natured and direct, he would engage in a dispute, but always preserved the principle of respect, of good will, and that which is sweeter than honey, oneness of soul, the mother of all virtues. ... The Discourses of Abba Dorotheus are preliminary books for entering upon the path of spiritual action. The simple advice, how to proceed in this or that instance, together with a most subtle analysis of thoughts and stirrings of soul provide guidance for anyone who resolves to read the works of Abba Dorotheus. Monks who begin to read this book, will never part from it throughout their life.” [Source]

Authors of the Philokalia

,

“The Philokalia is a collection of texts written between the 4th and 15th centuries by spiritual masters of the Eastern Orthodox Church hesychast tradition. They were originally written for the guidance and instruction of monks in the practice of the contemplative life. The collection was compiled in the eighteenth century by Nicodemus the Hagiorite and Macarius of Corinth. Volume [One] includes St. Isaiah the Solitary, Evagrius the Solitary, St. John Cassian, St. Mark the Ascetic, St. Hesychios the Priest, St. Neilos the Ascetic, St. Diadochos of Photiki, St. John of Karpathos and St. Anthony the Great.” [Source]

Saint Theophan the Recluse

Bishop, +1894

Saint Theophan (1815-1894) was the son of an Orthodox Christian priest. He grew up in an ecclesiastical environment, about which he wrote later that it is the most beneficial factor for the proper upbringing of children. While studying theology in Kiev, he was attracted by the monastic life and was tonsured a monk a few months before the end of his studies. He became a teacher of philosophy, psychology, ethics, logic, and Latin at several schools. He also visited Mount Athos and studied Greek Orthodox Monasticism for seven years. After twenty-five years of fruitful service to the Church, he retreated in a poor monastery cell in the Vishensk desert to live there the remaining twenty-eight years of his life. St. Theophan was a prolific writer. A comment by Leo Tolstoi’s sister is in fact indicative: “Two of our contemporaries wrote much: my brother Leo and bishop Theophan. The difference being that the former wrote unto perdition of souls, whereas the latter unto salvation.” St. Theophan’s works are divided into ethics, hermeneutics, and translations. He translated the famous text of the Philokalia from Greek into Russian. In addition, thousands of letters on various issues came to his cell from all over Russia, and he tried to reply to all of them. His cell became a beacon of Orthodox spirituality. Though the fervent sermons of the brilliant bishop had ceased, his letters and writings flooded the vast Russian land. [Source, edited]

Saint Sophrony of Essex

Monk, +1993

Saint Sophrony (+1993) is “one of the most beloved orthodox Christian elders of our times, revealed to the world his own experience of union with God, and the path to that union, drawing near to God with intense love and longing accompanied by struggle, self-emptying and searing repentance, Fr. Sophrony was granted to participate in the life of God Himself through His uncreated Energies. Like orthodox saints throughout the centuries, he experienced God's grace as an ineffable, uncreated Light. ... Born into a Russian Orthodox family in Moscow in 1896, Archimandrite Sophrony embarked on a successful career as a painter in Paris. There he delved into Eastern religions for a time, before repenting bitterly of this and returning to the faith of his childhood. After a brief period of theological study in Paris, he left for the ancient Orthodox monastic republic of Mount Athos in Greece, where he spent fifteen years in a monastery and a further seven as a hermit ‘in the desert’. On Mount Athos he became the spiritual son of a simple monk of holy life, Elder Silouan. It was under the guidance of Saint Silouan that Fr. Sophrony experienced divine illumination, knowing God...” [Source: Description of We Shall See Him As He Is

Saint Basil the Great

Bishop, +374

Saint Basil the Great (~374 A.D.). As a young student in Athens, “‘he studied everything thoroughly, more than others are wont to study a single subject. He studied each science in its very totality, as though he would study nothing else.’ Philosopher, philologist, orator, jurist, naturalist, possessing profound knowledge in astronomy, mathematics and medicine, ‘he was a ship fully laden with learning, to the extent permitted by human nature.’”

Saint Gregory Palamas

Saint Gregory Palamas

Bishop, +1359

St. Gregory, Archbishop of Thessalonica, (1296-1359) was born in Constantinople, in a noble family of imperial court dignitaries, who had come from Asia Minor. From childhood he was reared in the royal court of Constantinople. At the age of 20 he decided to become a monk in Mt. Athos and persuaded all the members of his family to follow his example (mother, two brothers and two sisters). At the canonical age of 30 he was ordained, unwillingly, priest. He spent most of his life living an ascetic life in a hermitage in Mt. Athos or in Thessalonica, living in total seclusion and “quietude” (esychia), except for weekends, to share the Eucharist and some fellowship with his brothers. ... The Saint’s teachings, summarized, are: l) Knowledge of God is not obtained through study, but through a participation of the entire human being in the divine life. 2) God is totally inaccessible in His essence, but He is approachable through His divine energies (power, love, wisdom, grace, etc.), which are uncreated and are His divine life communicated to His creatures. [Source: Fr. EH]

Saint Anthony the Great

Monk, +356

Saint Anthony (+356), the Father of monks, was born in Egypt in 251 of pious parents who departed this life while he was yet young. On hearing the words of the Gospel: “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell what thou hast, and give to the poor” (Matt. 19:21), he immediately put it into action. Distributing to the poor all he had, and fleeing from all the turmoil of the world, he departed to the desert. The manifold temptations he endured continually for the span of twenty years are incredible. His ascetic struggles by day and by night, whereby he mortified the uprisings of the passions and attained to the height of dispassion, surpass the bounds of nature; and the report of his deeds of virtue drew such a multitude to follow him that the desert was transformed into a city, while he became, so to speak, the governor, lawgiver, and master-trainer of all the citizens of this newly-formed city. When the Church was troubled by the Arians, he went with zeal to Alexandria in 335 and struggled against them in behalf of Orthodoxy. During this time, by the grace of his words, he also turned many unbelievers to Christ. Saint Athanasius says of him that “his countenance had a great and wonderful grace. This gift also he had from the Saviour. For if he were present in a great company of monks, and any one who did not know him previously wished to see him, immediately coming forward he passed by the rest, and hurried to Anthony, as though attracted by his appearance. Yet neither in height nor breadth was he conspicuous above others, but in the serenity of his manner and the purity of his soul.” [Source, slightly edited]

Prophets

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Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, Amos, Micah, King David

Saint Justin the Martyr

Saint Justin the Martyr

Martyr-Confessor, +165

“St. Justin the Martyr (AD 100- 165) was born into paganism at Flavia Neapolis, now Nablus, in Palestine, between the years 100 and 110 A. D. As a young man he attached himself successively to the various philosophical schools, being first a Stoic, then a Peripatetic, a Pythagorean, a Platonist, and finally he came to know Christianity. What we know of his life comes to us mostly through biographical details revealed in his own writings. As a Christian philosopher he became an itinerant, eventually arriving in Rome, where he founded a school in which he had Tatian the Syrian for a pupil. The Martyrium SS. Justini et sociorum is the authentic account of his martyrdom, according to which he, along with six companions, was beheaded between the years 163 and 167 A. D., most probably in 165 A. D.

St. Justin was a rather prolific writer, but only two or three of his writings have come down to us, along with a few fragments of other works. The two Apologies sometimes reckoned as but a single work, and the Dialogue with Trypho the Jew are extant in a single manuscript (Paris, No. 450) of the 14th century. St. Justin is regarded generally as the most important of the 2nd century apologists.” [Source: The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol.1, Jurgens, William A.. Slightly edited.]

Prophet King David

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St. John Chrysostom has said: “If we keep vigil in church, David comes first, last and central. If early in the morning we want songs and hymns, first, last and central is David again. If we are occupied with the funeral solemnities of those who have fallen asleep, or if virgins sit at home and spin, David is first, last and central. O amazing wonder! Many who have made little progress in literature know the Psalter by heart. Nor is it only in cities and churches that David is famous; in the village market, in the desert, and in uninhabitable land, he excites the praise of God. In monasteries, among those holy choirs of angelic armies, David is first, last and central. In the convents of virgins, where are the communities of those who imitate Mary; in the deserts where there are men crucified to the world, who live their life in heaven with God, David is first, last and central. All other men at night are overcome by sleep. David alone is active, and gathering the servants of God into seraphic bands, he turns earth into heaven, and converts men into angels.” [source]

Saint Joseph the Hesychast

Monk, +1959

Saint Joseph (+1959) “lived on the Holy Mountain for almost forty years in anonymity. Twenty years after his repose some of his letters and his biography were published and the world became aware of his teachings and his virtuous life in Christ. ... Elder Joseph was extremely strong and brave with an iron will. He began his monastic life with great intensity and fervent zeal, something very rare nowadays. He never lost this zeal not even at the end of his life but had even increased it, something which is rarely achieved. He carried the cross of the love for effort and hardship in a spirit of utter self-disregard. He practiced fasting, all night vigils and praying to the utmost. ... For the first eight years of his struggles, he never slept on a bed but sleep would overcome him sitting on a small stool. He persevered in all night vigils from sunset till dawn unto the end of his life. ... He was relentless on himself and would not omit his regime of fasting and vigils even if he was sick. He was inventing ways to suffer hardship which seem unbelievable to our generation, because he was scared, as he used to say, of the monk’s worst enemy: negligence.” [Source]

Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk

Bishop, +1783

“Saint Tikhon lived from 1724 to 1783 ... Monastic struggle, his adoration of God, and love for neighbor were the main spring of his life. He dedicated much time to the composition of spiritual texts, so that many hungry souls would be nourished. He gave alms. He visited prisons and institutions as an unknown bringing material help. He especially supported children and the destitute by his tender compassion. He distributed all his stipend on alms.” —Introduction to the Greek Edition of Journey to Heaven.

Saint Paisios

Saint Paisios the Athonite

Monk, +1994

“Saint Paisios (+1994) was born to pious parents in the town of Farasa, Cappadocia of Asia Minor. The family’s spiritual father, the priest-monk Arsenios (the now canonized St. Arsenios of Cappadocia), baptized the babe with his own name, prophesying his future profession as a monk.” ... As a monk, “Elder Paisios’ fame as a God-bearing elder grew, drawing to him the sick and suffering people of God. He received them all day long, dedicating the night to God in prayer, vigil and spiritual struggle. His regime of prayer and ascetiscm left him with which he served God and his fellow man, his strictness with himself, the austerity of his regime, and his sensitive nature made him increasingly prone to sickness. ... Elder Paisios, perhaps more than any other contemporary elder, has captured the minds and hearts of Greek people.” [Source, quoted from the book, Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit: The Lives and Counsels of Contemporary Elders of Greece.

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