Orthodox icon of Prophet Noah (2). Icon of 16 cent Mount Athos Monastery of Stavronikita.
Noah's Ark icon
Orthodox icon of Noah's Ark. Icon of 12 cent. Saint Catherine's Monastery, Sinai
Noah's Ark icon (2)
Orthodox icon of Noah's Ark (2). Contemporary icon.
Ss. Martyrs of Tbilisi icon.
Orthodox icon of the 100.000 Martyrs of Tbilisi, Georgia
Commemorated October 31.
Ss. Myrrhbearers icon
Orthodox icon of the Holy Myrrhbearers.
Commemorated May 19 and the second Sunday following Pascha.
Holy Myrrh-bearing women Sts Mary Magdalene (July 22), Mary the wife of Clopas, Joanna (June 27), Salome, mother of the sons of Zebedee (August 3), Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus (June 4). The myrrh-bearers had brought funeral spices and ointments to finish committing Christ's body to the grave. They were the first to see the empty tomb and were instructed by the risen Lord to bring the joyful news to the apostles.
St. Macarius the Great icon
The Orthodox icon of Saint Macarius, Makarius, Makarios of Egypt, the Great.
Commemorated January 19.
Saint Macarius the Great of Egypt was born in the early fourth century in the village of Ptinapor in Egypt. At the wish of his parents he entered into marriage, but was soon widowed. After he buried his wife, Macarius told himself, “Take heed, Macarius, and have care for your soul. It is fitting that you forsake worldly life.”
The Lord rewarded the saint with a long life, but from that time the memory of death was constantly with him, impelling him to ascetic deeds of prayer and penitence. He began to visit the church of God more frequently and to be more deeply absorbed in Holy Scripture, but he did not leave his aged parents, thus fulfilling the commandment to honor one’s parents.
Until his parents died, Saint Macarius used his remaining substance to help them and he began to pray fervently that the Lord might show him a guide on the way to salvation. The Lord sent him an experienced Elder, who lived in the desert not far from the village. The Elder accepted the youth with love, guided him in the spiritual science of watchfulness, fasting and prayer, and taught him the handicraft of weaving baskets. After building a separate cell not far from his own, the Elder settled his disciple in it.
The local bishop arrived one day at Ptinapor and, knowing of the saint’s virtuous life, ordained him against his will. Saint Macarius was overwhelmed by this disturbance of his silence, and so he went secretly to another place. The Enemy of our salvation began a tenacious struggle with the ascetic, trying to terrify him, shaking his cell and suggesting sinful thoughts. Saint Macarius repelled the attacks of the devil, defending himself with prayer and the Sign of the Cross.
Evil people slandered the saint, accusing him of seducing a woman from a nearby village. They dragged him out of his cell and jeered at him. Saint Macarius endured the temptation with great humility. Without a murmur, he sent the money that he got for his baskets for the support of the pregnant woman.
The innocence of Saint Macarius was manifested when the woman, who suffered torment for many days, was not able to give birth. She confessed that she had slandered the hermit, and revealed the name of the real father. When her parents found out the truth, they were astonished and intended to go to the saint to ask forgiveness. Though Saint Macarius willingly accepted dishonor, he shunned the praise of men. He fled from that place by night and settled on Mt. Nitria in the Pharan desert.
Thus human wickedness contributed to the prospering of the righteous. Having dwelt in the desert for three years, he went to Saint Anthony the Great, the Father of Egyptian monasticism, for he had heard that he was still alive in the world, and he longed to see him. Abba Anthony received him with love, and Macarius became his devoted disciple and follower. Saint Macarius lived with him for a long time and then, on the advice of the saintly abba, he went off to the Skete monastery (in the northwest part of Egypt). He so shone forth in asceticism that he came to be called “a young Elder,” because he had distinguished himself as an experienced and mature monk, even though he was not quite thirty years old.
Saint Macarius survived many demonic attacks against him. Once, he was carrying palm branches for weaving baskets, and a devil met him on the way and wanted to strike him with a sickle, but he was not able to do this. He said, “Macarius, I suffer great anguish from you because I am unable to vanquish you. I do everything that you do. You fast, and I eat nothing at all. You keep vigil, and I never sleep. You surpass me only in one thing: humility.”
When the saint reached the age of forty, he was ordained to the priesthood and made the head of the monks living in the desert of Skete. During these years, Saint Macarius often visited with Saint Anthony the Great, receiving guidance from him in spiritual conversations. Abba Macarius was deemed worthy to be present at the death of Saint Anthony and he received his staff. He also received a double portion of the Anthony’s spiritual power, just as the prophet Elisha once received a double portion of the grace of the prophet Elias, along with the mantle that he dropped from the fiery chariot.
Saint Macarius worked many healings. People thronged to him from various places for help and for advice, asking his holy prayers. All this unsettled the quietude of the saint. He therefore dug out a deep cave under his cell, and hid there for prayer and meditation.
Saint Macarius attained such boldness before God that, through his prayers, the Lord raised the dead. Despite attaining such heights of holiness, he continued to preserve his unusual humility. One time the holy abba caught a thief loadng his things on a donkey standing near the cell. Without revealing that he was the owner of these things, the monk began to help tie up the load. Having removed himself from the world, the monk told himself, “We bring nothing at all into this world; clearly, it is not possible to take anything out from it. Blessed be the Lord for all things!”
Once, Saint Macarius was walking and saw a skull lying upon the ground. He asked, “Who are you?” The skull answered, “I was a chief priest of the pagans. When you, Abba, pray for those in hell, we receive some mitigation.”
The monk asked, “What are these torments?” “We are sitting in a great fire,” replied the skull, “and we do not see one another. When you pray, we begin to see each other somewhat, and this affords us some comfort.” Having heard such words, the saint began to weep and asked, “Are there still more fiercesome torments?” The skull answered, “Down below us are those who knew the Name of God, but spurned Him and did not keep His commandments. They endure even more grievous torments.”
Once, while he was praying, Saint Macarius heard a voice: “Macarius, you have not yet attained such perfection in virtue as two women who live in the city.” The humble ascetic went to the city, found the house where the women lived, and knocked. The women received him with joy, and he said, “I have come from the desert seeking you in order to learn of your good deeds. Tell me about them, and conceal nothing.”
The women answered with surprise, “We live with our husbands, and we have not such virtues.” But the saint continued to insist, and the women then told him, “We married two brothers. After living together in one house for fifteen years, we have not uttered a single malicious nor shameful word, and we never quarrel among ourselves. We asked our husbands to allow us to enter a women’s monastery, but they would not agree. We vowed not to utter a single worldly word until our death.”
Saint Macarius glorified God and said, “In truth, the Lord seeks neither virgins nor married women, and neither monks nor laymen, but values a person’s free intent, accepting it as the deed itself. He grants to everyone’s free will the grace of the Holy Spirit, which operates in an individual and directs the life of all who yearn to be saved.”
During the years of the reign of the Arian emperor Valens (364-378), Saint Macarius the Great and Saint Macarius of Alexandria was subjected to persecution by the followers of the Arian bishop Lucius. They seized both Elders and put them on a ship, sending them to an island where only pagans lived. By the prayers of the saints, the daughter of a pagan priest was delivered from an evil spirit. After this, the pagan priest and all the inhabitants of the island were baptized. When he heard what had happened, the Arian bishop feared an uprising and permitted the Elders to return to their monasteries.
The meekness and humility of the monk transformed human souls. “A harmful word,” said Abba Macarius, “makes good things bad, but a good word makes bad things good.” When the monks asked him how to pray properly, he answered, “Prayer does not require many words. It is needful to say only, “Lord, as Thou wilt and as Thou knowest, have mercy on me.” If an enemy should fall upon you, you need only say, “Lord, have mercy!” The Lord knows that which is useful for us, and grants us mercy.”
When the brethren asked how a monk ought to comport himself, the saint replied, “Forgive me, I am not yet a monk, but I have seen monks. I asked them what I must do to be a monk. They answered, ‘If a man does not withdraw himself from everything which is in the world, it is not possible to be a monk.’ Then I said, ‘I am weak and cannot be as you are.’ The monks responded, ‘If you cannot renounce the world as we have, then go to your cell and weep for your sins.’”
Saint Macarius gave advice to a young man who wished to become a monk: “Flee from people and you shall be saved.” That one asked: “What does it mean to flee from people?” The monk answered: “Sit in your cell and repent of your sins.”
Saint Macarius sent him to a cemetery to rebuke and then to praise the dead. Then he asked him what they said to him. The young man replied, “They were silent to both praise and reproach.” “If you wish to be saved, be as one dead. Do not become angry when insulted, nor puffed up when praised.” And further: “If slander is like praise for you, poverty like riches, insufficiency like abundance, then you shall not perish.”
The prayer of Saint Macarius saved many in perilous circumstances of life, and preserved them from harm and temptation. His benevolence was so great that they said of him: “Just as God sees the whole world, but does not chastize sinners, so also does Abba Macarius cover his neighbor’s weaknesses, which he seemed to see without seeing, and heard without hearing.”
The monk lived until the age of ninety. Shortly before his death, Saints Anthony and Pachomius appeared to him, bringing the joyful message of his departure to eternal life in nine days. After instructing his disciples to preserve the monastic Rule and the traditions of the Fathers, he blessed them and began to prepare for death. Saint Macarius departed to the Lord saying, “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”
Abba Macarius spent sixty years in the wilderness, being dead to the world. He spent most of his time in conversation with God, often in a state of spiritual rapture. But he never ceased to weep, to repent and to work. The saint’s profound theological writings are based on his own personal experience. Fifty Spiritual Homilies and seven Ascetic Treatises survive as the precious legacy of his spiritual wisdom. Several prayers composed by Saint Macarius the Great are still used by the Church in the Prayers Before Sleep and also in the Morning Prayers.
Man’s highest goal and purpose, the union of the soul with God, is a primary principle in the works of Saint Macarius. Describing the methods for attaining mystical communion, the saint relies upon the experience of the great teachers of Egyptian monasticism and on his own experience. The way to God and the experience of the holy ascetics of union with God is revealed to each believer’s heart.
Earthly life, according to Saint Macarius, has only a relative significance: to prepare the soul, to make it capable of perceiving the heavenly Kingdom, and to establish in the soul an affinity with the heavenly homeland.
“For those truly believing in Christ, it is necessary to change and transform the soul from its present degraded nature into another, divine nature, and to be fashioned anew by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
This is possible, if we truly believe and we truly love God and have observed all His holy commandments. If one betrothed to Christ at Baptism does not seek and receive the divine light of the Holy Spirit in the present life, “then when he departs from the body, he is separated into the regions of darkness on the left side. He does not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but has his end in hell with the devil and his angels” (Homily 30:6).
In the teaching of Saint Macarius, the inner action of the Christian determines the extent of his perception of divine truth and love. Each of us acquires salvation through grace and the divine gift of the Holy Spirit, but to attain a perfect measure of virtue, which is necessary for the soul’s assimilation of this divine gift, is possible only “by faith and by love with the strengthening of free will.” Thus, the Christian inherits eternal life “as much by grace, as by truth.”
Salvation is a divine-human action, and we attain complete spiritual success “not only by divine power and grace, but also by the accomplishing of the proper labors.” On the other hand, it is not just within “the measure of freedom and purity” that we arrive at the proper solicitude, it is not without “the cooperation of the hand of God above.” The participation of man determines the actual condition of his soul, thus inclining him to good or evil. “If a soul still in the world does not possess in itself the sanctity of the Spirit for great faith and for prayer, and does not strive for the oneness of divine communion, then it is unfit for the heavenly kingdom.”
The miracles and visions of Blessed Macarius are recorded in a book by the presbyter Rufinus, and his Life was compiled by Saint Serapion, bishop of Tmuntis (Lower Egypt), one of the renowned workers of the Church in the fourth century. His holy relics are in the city of Amalfi, Italy.
St. Macrina Icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Macrina, Makrina.
Commemorated July 19th.
Protector Saint of : Siblings
Saint Macrina was the sister of the holy hierarchs Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa. When all the children grew up and left the parental home, St Macrina convinced her mother, St Emilia, to enter a women's monastery. After the death of her mother, St Macrina guided the sisters of the monastery.
St Macrina was granted the gift of wonderworking. St Macrina died in the year 380. Saint Gregory of Nyssa wrote a "Dialogue on the Soul and Resurrection" to commemorate Macrina, in which he describes the conversation he had with Macrina on her deathbed.
St. Mamas, protector of animals icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Mamas.
Protector Saint of : Adopted Children and their parents, Animals.
Commemorated September 2.
The Holy Great Martyr Mamas was born in Paphlagonia, Asia Minor in the third century of pious and illustrious parents, the Christians Theodotus and Rufina. The parents of the saint were arrested by the pagans for their open confession of their faith and locked up in prison in Caesarea in Cappadocia. Mamass was tortured for his faith by the governor of Caesarea and was then sent before the Roman Emperor Aurelian, who tortured him again.
The Mammes legend states that an angel then liberated him and ordered him to hide himself on a mountain near Caesarea.Mamams was later thrown to the lions, but managed to make the beasts docile. He preached to animals in the fields, and a lion remained with him as companion. Accompanied by the lion, he visited Duke Alexander, who condemned him to death. He was struck in the stomach with a trident. Bleeding, Mammes dragged himself to a spot near a theater before his soul was carried into heaven by angels.
St Basil the Great speaks thus about the holy Martyr Mamas in a sermon to the people: Remember the holy martyr, you who live here and have him as a helper. You who call on his name have been helped by him. Those in error he has guided into life. Those whom he has healed of infirmity, those whose children were dead he has restored to life, those whose life he has prolonged: let us all come together as one, and praise the martyr!
Orthodox icon of Mary Magdalen, Magdalene, The Myrrh-bearer and Equal to Apostles.
Commemorated July 22.
This Orthodox icon depicts the Holy Myrrh-Bearer Equal of the Apostles Mary Magdalene. On the banks of Lake Genesareth (Galilee), between the cities of Capharnum and Tiberias, was the small city of Magdala, the remains of which have survived to our day. Now only the small village of Mejhdel stands on the site. A woman whose name has entered forever into the Gospel account was born and grew up in Magdala. The Gospel tells us nothing of Mary's younger years, but Tradition informs us that Mary of Magdala was young and pretty, and led a sinful life. It says in the Gospels that the Lord expelled seven devils from Mary (Luke. 8:2).
From the moment of her healing Mary led a new life, and became a true disciple of the Savior. The Gospel relates that Mary followed after the Lord, when He went with the Apostles through the cities and villages of Judea and Galilee preaching about the Kingdom of God. Together with the pious women Joanna, wife of Choza (steward of Herod), Susanna and others, she served Him from her own possessions (Luke 8:1-3) and undoubtedly shared with the Apostles the evangelic tasks in common with the other women.
The Evangelist Luke, evidently, has her in view together with the other women, stating that at the moment of the Procession of Christ onto Golgotha, when after the Scourging He took on Himself the heavy Cross, collapsing under its weight, the women followed after Him weeping and wailing, but He consoled them. The Gospel relates that Mary Magdalene was present on Golgotha at the moment of the Lord's Crucifixion.
While all the disciples of the Savior ran away, she remained fearlessly at the Cross together with the Mother of God and the Apostle John. The Evangelists also list among those standing at the Cross the mother of the Apostle James, and Salome, and other women followers of the Lord from Galilee, but all mention Mary Magdalene first. St John, in addition to the Mother of God, names only her and Mary Cleopas. This indicates how much she stood out from all the women who gathered around the Lord. She was faithful to Him not only in the days of His Glory, but also at the moment of His extreme humiliation and insult.
As the Evangelist Matthew relates, she was present at the Burial of the Lord. Before her eyes Joseph and Nicodemus went out to the tomb with His lifeless Body. She watched as they covered over the entrance to the cave with a large stone, entombing the Source of Life. Faithful to the Law in which she was raised, Mary together with the other women spent following day at rest, because it was the great day of the Sabbath, coinciding with the Feast of Passover. But all the rest of the peaceful day the women gathered spices to go to the Grave of the Lord at dawn on Sunday and anoint His Body according to the custom of the Jews.
It is necessary to mention that, having agreed to go on the first day of the week to the Tomb early in the morning, the holy women had no possibility of meeting with one another on Saturday. They went separately on Friday evening to their own homes. They went out only at dawn the following day to go to the Sepulchre, not all together, but each from her own house. The Evangelist Matthew writes that the women came to the grave at dawn, or as the Evangelist Mark expresses, extremely early before the rising of the sun. The Evangelist John, elaborating upon these, says that Mary came to the grave so early that it was still dark. Obviously, she waited impatiently for the end of night, but it was not yet daybreak.
She ran to the place where the Lord's Body lay. Mary went to the tomb alone. Seeing the stone pushed away from the cave, she ran away in fear to tell the close Apostles of Christ, Peter and John. Hearing the strange message that the Lord was gone from the tomb, both Apostles ran to the tomb and, seeing the shroud and winding cloths, they were amazed. The Apostles went and said nothing to anyone, but Mary stood about the entrance to the tomb and wept. Here in this dark tomb so recently lay her lifeless Lord. Wanting proof that the tomb really was empty, she went down to it and saw a strange sight.
She saw two angels in white garments, one sitting at the head, the other at the foot, where the Body of Jesus had been placed. They asked her, Woman, why weepiest thou? She answered them with the words which she had said to the Apostles, They have taken my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him. At that moment, she turned around and saw the Risen Jesus standing near the grave, but she did not recognize Him. He asked Mary, Woman, why weepest thou? Whom dost thou seek? She answered thinking that she was seeing the gardener, Sir, if thou hast taken him, tell where thou hast put Him, and I will take Him away. Then she recognized the Lord's voice.
This was the voice she heard in those days and years, when she followed the Lord through all the cities and places where He preached. He spoke her name, and she gave a joyful shout, Rabbi (Teacher). Respect and love, fondness and deep veneration, a feeling of thankfulness and recognition at His Splendor as great Teacher, all came together in this single outcry. She was able to say nothing more and she threw herself down at the feet of her Teacher to wash them with tears of joy. But the Lord said to her: ouch me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and tell them: I ascend to My Father, and your Father; to My God and to your God.
She came to herself and again ran to the Apostles, to do the will of Him sending her to preach. Again she ran into the house, where the Apostles still remained in dismay, and proclaimed to them the joyous message, u201cI have seen the Lord!u201d This was the first preaching in the world about the Resurrection. The Apostles proclaimed the Glad Tidings to the world, but she proclaimed it to the Apostles themselves.
St. Maria Magdalen icon (2)
Orthodox icon of Saint Maria the Magdalen, Magdalene, Equal to Apostles. Icon of 16 cent. Monastery of Dionysiou Mount Athos.
Commemorated July 22nd
St. Maria Magdalen icon (3)
Orthodox icon of Mary Magdalen, Magdalene, The Myrrh-bearer and Equal to Apostles (3).
Commemorated July 22.
St. Marianthe icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Marianthe.
Commemorated September 1.
St. Marina the Great Martyr icon (1)
Orthodox icon of Holy Great Martyr Marina.
Commemorated July 17.
The Holy Great Martyr Marina was born in Asia Minor, in the city of Antioch of Pisidia (southern Asia Minor), into the family of a pagan priest. In infancy she lost her mother, and her father gave her into the care of a nursemaid, who raised Marina in the Orthodox Faith. Upon learning that his daughter had become a Christian, the father angrily disowned her. During the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), when she was fifteen years old, St Marina was arrested and locked up in prison.
With firm trust in the will of God and His help, the young prisoner prepared for her impending fate. The governor Olymbrios, charmed with the beautiful girl, tried to persuade her to renounce the Christian Faith and become his wife. But the saint, unswayed, refused his offers. The vexed governor gave the holy martyr over to torture. Having beaten her fiercely, they fastened the saint with nails to a board and tore at her body with tridents.
The governor himself, unable to bear the horror of these tortures, hid his face in his hands. But the holy martyr remained unyielding. Thrown for the night into prison, she was granted heavenly aid and healed of her wounds. They stripped her and tied her to a tree, then burned the martyr with fire. Barely alive, the martyr prayed: Lord, You have granted me to go through fire for Your Name, grant me also to go through the water of holy Baptism. Hearing the word water, the governor gave orders to drown the saint in a large cauldron.
The martyr besought the Lord that this manner of execution should become for her holy Baptism. When they plunged her into the water, there suddenly shone a light, and a snow-white dove came down from Heaven, bearing in its beak a golden crown. The fetters put upon St Marina came apart by themselves. The martyr stood up in the fount of Baptism glorifying the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. St Marina emerged from the fount completely healed, without any trace of burns.
Amazed at this miracle, the people glorified the True God, and many came to believe. This brought the governor into a rage, and he gave orders to kill anyone who might confess the Name of Christ. 15,000 Christians perished there, and the holy Martyr Marina was beheaded. The sufferings of the Great Martyr Marina were described by an eyewitness of the event, named Theotimos. Up until the taking of Constantinople by Western crusaders in the year 1204, the relics of the Great Martyr Marina were in the Panteponteia monastery.
According to other sources, they were located in Antioch until the year 908 and from there transferred to Italy. Now they are in Athens, in a church dedicated to the holy Virgin Martyr. Her venerable hand was transferred to Mount Athos, to the Batopedi monastery.