Thursday, October 31, 2013

What can ancient Greek mythology show us?

There are countless ancient Greek mythological stories, which we today revisit and even use as stories for the children. But what can these stories show us? Firstly they describe the ancients’ view of the world. However, the ancient mythology show the archetypes of heroes, the relationship between God and man, how the Greeks described their deity according to how they perceived themselves, emphasising on the centrality of the Greek world within the known world but also within the cosmos. 

Due to these countless myths, we today use terms based on the themes of these stories, for example the Oedipus complex or narcissism, referring to Oedipus and Narcissus. There is a reason that we still read these myths today, they are diachronic, timeless, showing how relevant they are. Despite having achieved great advancements in many fields, humanity has not altered in many respects, enjoying therefore the ancient narratives. Despite being culturally specific, a catholic understanding of the ancient world is evident, whereby human values are victorious; the good always beats the evil. Thus, the ancient myths of the ancient Greek world have lost none of their power!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

St Edmund of Abingdon

One of the colleges in Oxford has taken the name of a saint, i.e. St Edmund Hall. St Edmund of Abingdon, was born Edmund Rich in the town of Abingdon, just south of Oxford, in about 1175, the son of a merchant. After studies at Oxford and Paris, he taught (c. 1194-1200) in Paris and in Oxford, where he is supposed to have been the first to teach the philosophy of Aristotle. He taught at Oxford again from about 1214 to 1222. Outstanding priest, administrator, teacher, and man of peace and prayer, Edmund was in charge of the finances for the great cathedral of Salisbury, then being built, and in 1234 he was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury.

This was a time of great unrest and change; eighteen years before, the barons had forced from King John the famous statement of rights known as Magna Carta, while King John's own disputes with the Church had led to the Pope's imposition of the 'Great Interdict' when English church life was suspended, the buildings were closed and sacraments could not be celebrated. In trying to restore the balance after this stormy time, Edmund soon came into conflict with Henry III, by defending church rights and criticising the king's continental policies. In the end, Edmund departed for Rome, intending to place his case before the Curia, but poor health made him break off his journey at Soisy, where he died on Nov. 16, 1240. He was buried at Pontigny Abbey. Henry opposed his canonisation until 1247.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Byzantine Commonwealth

Byzantine Commonwealth is a term I did not know, hearing it for the first time recently. However, I found it intriguing; being coined by 20th century historians to refer to the area where Byzantine liturgical tradition was spread during the Middle Ages by Byzantine missionaries. The Byzantine liturgical tradition is the one celebrated to this day by the Eastern Orthodox Church. 

The Byzantine Commonwealth also pointed out the fact that these lands owed their faith to the Byzantine Empire, whilst also sharing its political, cultural and ethical ideals. This area covers approximately the modern day states of Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, FYROM, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Belarus. With the creation of diasporas, Orthodoxy inevitably spread to all corners of the world, showing evidently how the Byzantine Commonwealth expands even to this day. An important contribution towards this idea and historical reality is given by Dimitri Obolensky’s book, ‘The Byzantine Commonwealth’ (1971).  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Class rooms from around the world

This post here depicts a number of pictures of school class rooms from different countries from around the world. Here we can identify the different cultures, traditions, economic situation, which are unique in each country. Knowledge is crucial for the improvement of life, therefore this is a right both men and women have and people from all classes and backgrounds.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

St Dimitrios Orthodox Church, Thessalonica - Greece

The Church of Saint Dimitrios in Thessalonica, Greece is situated on the site of previous churches built over the ruins of the Roman bath where St. Dimitrios the Myrrh gusher was imprisoned and martyred. The present structure is a reconstruction of the seventh century church that was destroyed by fire in 1917. The church is a basilica with five apses, a narthex, and transept.

The first structure, a small chapel, was built over the ruins of a Roman bath, shortly after 313, This chapel and an earthen urn were discovered during excavations made when the present church was being rebuilt. The earthen urn contained earth with human blood, perhaps that of St Dimitrios.

During the fifth century, Eparch Leontios had a large basilica with three apses constructed on the site of the chapel. Between 626 and 634, the basilica burned down; soon after a new basilica was built that had five apses. The church remained in use until Thessalonica was captured by the Ottoman Turks in 1493, who converted the church into a mosque. When Greece gained independence from the Turks in 1912, the Church of St. Dimitrios was restored for Orthodox Christian services. In 1917, however, the church burned down.

Immediately, efforts to restore the church began. During these efforts the naos and crypt were opened. The restoration, however, was stopped in 1938 and not resumed again until 1946. At this time systematic excavations were made and the new church with five apses was built. By 1949, construction had progressed so that services were able to be conducted.

Preserved in the crypt of the new church is the bath in which St. Dimitrios was martyred and the remains of the first chapel built on the bath. Also, recovered was a large marble basin that was used to collect the holy myrrh that emanated from the grave of the martyred saint, which gave rise to the appellation Myrrh gusher for St. Dimitrios.

Saint Dimitrios is the protector of Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece. He lived between 280-284 AD to 303 or 305 AD. He was the son of a wealthy military commander of Thessaloniki and received a good education as a child. He joined the army and eventually became an officer. When he was young, he decided to get secretly baptised a Christian, something which was forbidden during that period, when idol Gods were still worshiped.

When his father died, the Roman Emperor Maximian ordered him to chase and kill the Christians of Thessaloniki. Dimitrios refused to do so, revealing thus his faith. He was then asked to change his religious beliefs; however, he refused once again and expressed his disgust for paganism. Therefore, he was put to prison; he was tortured and martyred for his God. Before he was killed, he donated all his wealth to the poor. His bravery and sacrifice made him an Orthodox Saint.

Saint Dimitrios became the patron saint of the city in 1912, during the First Balkan War, when the Greek army entered the city of Thessaloniki on his name day, i.e. the 26th of October, and delivered the city from the Turks. Today, his memory is celebrated all around the Orthodox World, mainly in Greece, Cyprus, Serbia, Russia and Romania, where many are named after this great Saint. A non-well known fact, nevertheless, is that St. Dimitrios is not only the protector and patron Saint of Thessaloniki, he is also regarded as the protector of Siberia, Russia.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Church ‘symbolically portrays man’

St. Maximus the Confessor follows the belief claimed by St. Dionysios the Areopagite that the Church ‘symbolically portrays man’. Both Church Fathers claim that in the Church we have the Sanctuary and within that the Alter and the nave. The Sanctuary symbolises the soul. The Holy Alter resembles the nous, which is the holiest place and the centre of the soul. The union with God takes place there; it is the place where the Divine Eucharist is centred, where the bread and wine becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Man’s body is symbolised in the Temple proper, the main body of the Church, where the faithful stand and pray during the Mysteries of the Church. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Talk on the Importance of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius for the Relations between Anglicans and Orthodox

The London Branch of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius is organising a talk by Dimitris Salapatas on Saturday 16th November 2013 at 11 am at St. Sava’s Serbian Orthodox Church (Lancaster Rd., W11, close to Ladbroke Grove tube station). The talk will be on “The Importance of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius for the Relations between Anglican and Orthodox”.

The Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius has played an important role in its unofficial work in Anglican Orthodox Relations and Dialogue, not only in the British Isles but also on a global level, through its numerous and important branches. It has attracted important academics and prominent members of both the Anglican Communion and the Orthodox Church (such as Fr. George Florovski, Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, Dr Nicolas Zernov, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, Canon Donald Allchin, Archbishop Rowan Williams and many more). For more information on the Fellowship please visit
Just before the talk on the 16th of November, coffee and tea will be available at 10.45 and after the talk, which will be followed for a short break and the London Branch AGM.

Information on the talk can also be found here,

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Christ’s Objective

What was the reason for Christ’s incarnation? Why did God become man? What do we learn from Scripture and the life of the Church? What did Christ say when he came and was born of a Virgin? It is apparent that Jesus Christ came for the salvation of man; his objective was to win people for the Kingdom of God. Fr. Dumitru Staniloae comments, on Christ’s plan for the salvation of man, explaining:

“St. Matthew writes in his Gospel about the beginning of Christ’s proclamation: ‘From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”’ (Matt 4:17). And then he says, ‘And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23). Christ teaches us to pray to God, to call Him Father and ask, ‘Your Kingdom come’. In the Beatitudes He promises the poor in spirit and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake that theirs is the kingdom of heaven. In the Sermon on the Mount he tells men, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you’ (Matt 6:33). This verse shows how we should prepare for the kingdom of heaven. In the Sermon on the Mount, in which He gives all the commands of love to mankind, the Saviour says, ‘Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and  teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt 5:19). The commandments that He asks us to keep are those of love, of mercy, and of forgiving to the extent of turning the other cheek when someone slaps you. Dominion in the kingdom of heaven is not for the proud but for the humble: ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt 18:3). In order to be a part of this kingdom, we must be ‘children of our Father in heaven’, together with His Son, who humbled Himself in love to the point of taking the form of a man. The children of our heavenly Father bless those who curse them and love their enemies (Matt 5:44-45)”[1].

[1] Staniloae, Dumitru, The Holy Trinity, (Brookline, Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2012), p. 45-46

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Agioi Anargiroi - Kastoria

One of the most ancient churches in Kastoria, the three-aisled, initially a tile-roof basilica with a narthex (the space in front of the main church), Agioi Anargyroi is located at the northern side of the city. The narthex is linked to the church that has three arcades, the most southern of which is not used since the Byzantine era. The decoration of the church’s facades includes alternations of shapes of ceramic bricks and irregular stones as well as marbles. 

The interior of the church has two layers of wall paintings. The first is dated back to early 11th century, while the second one in the 1180-90 decade and depicts the founder, Thodoros Limniotis together with his wife, Anna Radini, and their son, Ioannis, offering the model of the church to Virgin Mary. The decoration of the church is attributed to three artist of different origins. The most significant frescoes are said to have been painted by an anonymous painter that scholars have named as “A”. 

The figures are delicate, very tall, with flowing pleats, very close to the body. Moreover, he has painted the faces so as to show emotionally intense expressions. The researchers link this technique to the so-called “dynamic” method, works of which can be found in Macedonia, Crete, Sicily, Cyprus and Russia. The fact that the specific technique has been applied at areas that are far away from each other, indicates that it had flourished at some great artistic center of Constantinople.