Sunday, January 31, 2016

In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great: Further Reflections of an Epic Journey

The Greek Archaeological Committee (UK) is organising an illustrated lecture by Michael Wood entitled: 'In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great: Further Reflections of an Epic Journey.' This event will take place at the Hellenic Centre (16-18 Paddington Street, Marylebone, London, W1U 5AS) on Tuesday 9th February 2016. 
For further information:
Bookings at:

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Importance of Dialogue, According to St John Chrysostom

Dialogue is a great virtue in many areas of our lives. It is also important for the greater understanding of various peoples, countries, churches, traditions etc. Dialogue is the way of understanding the truth…God…Even God is in a dialogue status with His creation. St John Chrysostom here points out the important of dialogue and of preaching, seen as a form of dialogue, of understanding, of spreading the good news. St John explains:

‘But you will ask me, “How do you help by preaching?” I help if anyone hears me. I do my duty: he who sows, sows. The sower went out to sow. Some seeds fell beside the road, some on the rock, some among thorns, but some on good soil. Three parts perished and one was saved. He did not stop farming, but since one part survived, he did not cease from working the soil. Here also, when I have scattered such a quantity of seed, it is impossible that it should not bring forth some harvest for me. If not everyone listens, half will listen; if not half, a third; if not a third, a tenth; if not a tenth, if even a small thing for even one sheep to be saved, since that shepherd left the ninety-nine sheep and ran after the one which had strayed. I do not despise anyone; even if he is only one, he is a human being, the living creature for which God cares. Even if he is a slave, I may not despise him; I am not interested in his class, but his virtue; not his condition of master or slave, but his soul. Even if he is only one, he is a human being, for whom the heaven was stretched out, the sun appears, the moon changes, the air was poured out, the springs gush forth, the sea was spread out, the prophets were sent, the law was given-and why should I mention all these?- for whom the only-begotten Son of God became man. My Master was slain and poured out His blood for man. Shall I despise him? What pardon would I have? Do you not hear that the Lord conversed with the Samaritan woman, and spent many words? He did not despise her because she was a Samaritan, but because she had a soul, He cared for her. He did not neglect her because she was a harlot, but because she was going to be saved and had showed faith, she often benefited from His concern.’[1]

[1] Behr, John (ed.), St John Chrysostom – On Wealth and Poverty, (New York, SVSP, 1981), pp.99-100.

Friday, January 29, 2016



University of Oxford
 Monday 18 - Wednesday 20 July 2016
Pusey House; St. Cross College, Oxford

With the generous sponsorship of


Mark Edwards (Prof. of Early Christian Studies, University of Oxford), Georgios Steiris (Assist. Prof. of Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy, University of Athens), Dimitrios Pallis (DPhil Cand. of Byzantine Philosophy, University of Oxford; Res. and Teach. Fellow, University of Athens)

Georgios Arabatzis        (Assistant Professor, University of Athens)
Deirdre Carabine            (Professor, Virtual University of Uganda)
Maximos Constas           (Senior Research Scholar, Holy Cross Orthodox College)
Mark Edwards
Emiliano Fiori                  (Post-doctoral Researcher, Humbolt University of Berlin)
Wayne Hankey                                (Professor, Dalhousie University)
Theo Kobusch                 (Professor, University of Bonn)
Julia Konstantinovsky (Post-doctoral Researcher, University of Oxford)
Andrew Louth                  (Professor Emeritus, University of Durham)
Dimitrios Pallis
Paul Rorem                        (Professor, Princeton Theological Seminary)
Georgios Steiris
Torstein Tollefsen          (Professor, University of Oslo)


11.30 AM – 5.45 PM

Chair: Paul Rorem
11.30 ‒ 11:50: Welcome by Mark Edwards, Georgios Steiris and Dimitrios Pallis, Convening Committee
11:50 ‒ 12.00: Welcome by George Westhaver, Principal of Pusey House
12.00 ‒ 1.00: Andrew Louth, Introduction to the Corpus Dionysiacum

Chair: Dimitrios Pallis
2.15 ‒ 3.15: Emiliano Fiori, The Syriac Translation
3.30 ‒ 4.30: Maximos Constas, Maximos the Confessor
4.45 ‒ 5.45: Deirdre Carabine, John Scotus Eriugena

9:30 AM ‒ 6.45 PM

Chair: Wayne Hankey
9.30 ‒ 10.30: Georgios Arabatzis, Theodore the Studite
10:45 ‒ 11:45: Torstein Tollefsen, Gregory Palamas
12.00 ‒ 1.00: Georgios Steiris, Pletho Gemistos

Chair: Deirdre Carabine
2:00 ‒ 3.00: Wayne Hankey, Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas
3:15 ‒ 4.15: Paul Rorem, Hugh of St. Victor
4:30 ‒ 5.30: Theo Kobusch, Nicolas of Cusa
5.45 ‒ 6.45: Mark Edwards, John Sarracenus

9.30 AM3.30 PM

Chair: Maximos Constas
9:30 ‒ 10:30: Andrew Louth, The Anglican Reception
10:45 ‒ 11:45: Julia Konstantinovsky, The Russian émigré Orthodox Reception
12:00 ‒ 1:00: Dimitrios Pallis, The Modern Greek Orthodox Reception
1:15 ‒ 2:00: Conclusions
2:30 ‒ 3:30: Common Meal
Attendance fee:
Early regular registration £60 (before 10 April), regular £90
For enrolled students £40 and £75

Booking address:


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What makes someone a Christian?

There are many people who state that they are Christians. However, what does that mean? What does it mean to be a true Christians? The modern understanding of religious expression dictates that this is practiced on an individual level. Therefore, many believe that their individual prayer at home, away from the embrace of the Church is the way forward. However, this is quite wrong, going against the theology, practice and Tradition of the Orthodox Church. Christos Yannaras, in his book The Freedom of Morality, claims:

‘What makes someone a Christian is not his private virtue or ideas or convictions, but the fact that he participates organically in the life-giving body of Christ, being grafted into the liturgical unity of the Church. Sin is what cuts man off and alienated him from the body of the Church: virtue is what brings him in and grafts him into the “good olive” of grace.’ (p.83).

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Karabas Church, Cappadocia

Karabas Church, located in Soganli (Cappadocia), was built in the 6th century. The Church and the walls were rebuilt between the 11th and 13th centuries. In the beginning it was decorated with simple stripes and patters. Nevertheless, later it was adorned with icons, which were painted with earth colours during the 11th century. The Church’s walls depict the life of Christ, as well as other Saints, following the iconographic tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

2nd International Interdisciplinary Musicological Conference

2nd International Interdisciplinary Musicological Conference
of the Department of Psaltic Art and Musicology
of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies
June 9 – 11, 2016
Thessaly Conference Centre – Melissiatika, Volos, Greece

"Από Χορού και Ομοθυμαδόν"
(=all together and in the same mood)
Proceedings and perspectives 
of the Interdisciplinary research on Psaltiki

The 1st  International Interdisciplinary Musicological Conference of the Department of Psaltic Art and Musicology (Volos Academy for Theological Studies) had the title: «Psaltiki as an autonomous science: Scientific branches – Related Scienftific Fields – Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Interaction» aiming to highlighting a) the necessity for self-determination of the discipline of musicology on the psaltic art; b) the possibilities available for its interdisciplinary approach and c) the possibilities offered by the psaltic art as a tool for the support of other disciplines. Thus, this first Conference approached the study of Psaltiki as an autonomous science, a theoretical background of the interdisciplinarity was laid down and, for the first time, its scientific branches were defined (even if simply as suggestions, for some of them). The most important point was the strong interest expressed for for every kind of interdisciplinary collaboration, to all possible directions of research.
With the 2nd International Interdisciplinary Musicological Conference, with the title "Από Χορού και Ομοθυμαδόν" (=all together and in the same mood), the Department of Psaltic Art and Musicology of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies calls for actual, concrete suggestions of interdisciplinary collaboration on and about the Psaltiki, which can be formulated as topics for international research programs (even immediately, in round tables that can take place during the conference) and their realization can be planned for the near future.
As in the previous year, this time the Conference will again be open to all the scientific approaches on the study of Psaltic Art. Thus, since there are no separate thematic categories, there is an invitation to all the scientific disciplines to study the possibility of a correlation of their scientific fields with the Psaltic Art. Theology, Philosophy, Sociology, Anthropology, Philology, History, Law, Psychology, Medicine, Mathematics, Natural Science, Computer Science, Technology and, of course, Musicology; all the sciences are invited to find fields for studies in Psaltic art or topics for interaction with it.
The Conference will take place in the Conference Center of the Holy Metropolis of Demetrias, in Melissiatika, Volos, Greece, between June 9thand 11th, 2016.
Proposals for contribution in the Conference must be submitted to the Organizing Committee, to the e-mail address, not later than February 12th, 2016. Proposals must include title, abstract (not longer than 300 words) and CV of the speaker (not longer than 200 words). Alternatively, they can be submitted by ordinary post, to the address: Volos Academy of Theological Studies – Department of Psaltic Art and Musicology, P.O.Box 1308, Volos GR-38001 Greece.
Selection of proposals will be announced not later than February 22nd, 2016.
The confirmation of participation, along with the payment of the participation fee, must be not later than March 30th, 2019.
Presentations of individual papers must not be longer than 20 minutes and will be followed by a short 10-minute discussion.
Papers must be presented either in Greek or English language. There will be NO translation. Speakers who choose the Greek language are kindly requested to submit an English translation of their paper as well (or at least an extended summary), not later than June 1st, 2016 (in .doc or .pdf. form), in order to be disseminated to the participants who don't understand Greek. Translations of English papers into the Greek language are also welcome.
The Conference participation fee is fixed as 120 € per person, and it includes accommodation for two nights (in double bed rooms) in the Olympic Games Hostel of the Municipality of Volos, all meals starting with the dinner of June 9thand ending with the lunch of June 11th, the Conference folder, coffees and cookies for the breaks, and acceptance in all the musical activities that will accompany the Conference, as well as the publication of the Conference proceedings online (in pdf. form, as submitted by the participants). It does NOT include expenses for the case of printed publication of the Conference proceedings. Considering accommodation, there will be some versatility (for participants who wish to stay in a single bed room or who don't wish to stay in the Olympic Games Hostel) and the relevant details will be announced after the selection of the proposals. 
The proceeding of the Conference will be published online in digital format, and for the text formatting there will be concrete instructions right after the selection. THE ORGANISING COMMITTEE IS WILLING TO HAVE THE PROCEEDINGS PUBLISHED TILL THE DAYS OF THE CONFERENCE. TO THIS GOAL, IT WILL TAKE THE BEST POSSIBLE CARE TO BE ACCURATE TO THE DATES ANNOUNCED ABOVE.
Forthcoming information on the conference will be uploaded in our site
For all questions related to the Conference, you can contact the Department for Psaltic Art and Musicology at the above e-mail 
We kindly ask you to disseminate this message to everyone possibly interested.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Icons – The Bible of the Busy

Icons were widely known and used as the Bible of the illiterate. This applied in the past; however, today we do not have that problem, at least on the same level that it existed in the past centuries. Nevertheless, the icons seem to have adopted a new and important role. Many people today, due to work, family issues and obligations and life moving much faster than it did, in general, they do not seem to have enough time to read the Bible or examine their faith in depth. Now, this is another issue (important, yes), which will be probably analysed in another post; nevertheless, it seems to be a reality today. However, upon entering an Orthodox Church, or opening a book quickly, one sees an icon and understands a number of events and beliefs we have as Christians.

Also, the fact that we live in the digital age, where icons (pictures) and short videos prevail it is only logical that an icon will attract someone, even for just a while. Therefore, we could state that the icon is the ‘Bible of the Busy’. Maybe the Church could use the icons more than it currently does, in order to proclaim its faith and message to the Christian believer. St John Damascene gives a beautiful exegesis of this, explaining: ‘What the book does for those who understand letters, the image does for the illiterate; the word appeals to hearing, the image appeals to sight; it conveys understanding.’ [Treatise I, 17]. A modern understanding of this phrase would be to replace the word illiterate for the term busy, and thus we can apply it to our time. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Olympics and religion

Religion pervaded the ancient Olympics. Zeus was thought to look down on the competitors, favouring some and denying victory to others. 'You could spur on a man with natural talent to strive towards great glory with the help of the gods', says Pindar in a victory-ode. If an athlete was fined for cheating or bribery (human nature stays much the same over a few millennia), the money exacted was used to make a cult statue of Zeus.

A grand sacrifice of 100 oxen was made to Zeus during the Games, and Zeus the apomuios, or 'averter of flies', was invoked to keep the sacrificial meat fly-free. Olympia was home to one of Greece's great oracles, an oracle to Zeus, with an altar to him consisting of the bonfire-heap created by burnt sacrificial offerings. As the offerings were burnt, they were examined by a priest, who pronounced an oracle - an enigmatic and often ambiguous prediction of the future - according to his interpretation of what he saw. Athletes consulted the oracle to learn what their chances in the Games were.

Friday, January 22, 2016

'A Monk of Venerable Religion'—St Brihtwold of Wilton

Today, 22 January on the Orthodox calendar, we commemorate St Brihtwold (Brithwald) of Wilton (c. 975-1045). He was a Benedictine monk at the legendary Abbey of Glastonbury, in Somersetshire. John of Glastonbury calls him ‘a monk of venerable religion’ (James P. Carley, The Chronicle of Glastonbury Abbey: An Edition, Translation, and Study of John of Glastonbury’s Cronica sive Antiquitates Glastoniensis Ecclesie, ed. James P. Carley, trans. David Townsend [Rochester, NY: Boydell, 2009], p. 151). In 1005, St Brihtwold was consecrated as the Bishop of Ramsbury, where he served faithfully for forty years. According to F. Vere Hodge ‘he seems to have felt cut off from the monastic life, and probably went back to Glastonbury when he could’ (Glastonbury Gleanings [Norwich: Canterbury, 1991], p. 24). John of Glastonbury painstakingly details St Brihtwold’s numerous gifts to the monastery during his episcopacy, of which the most interesting perhaps are three shrines, for Ss Guthlac, George, and Oswald, inscribed with the following verses (Hodge, p. 25):

The humble priest, Brihtwold by name,
To the Highest Lord and His mother Mary,
Grants this small gift with a devout heart,
Committing it to the old church of Glastonbury
So that he may win the sweet delights of eternal life.
St Brihtwold is perhaps best remembered, however, for his prophetic gifts, having famously prophesied about St Edward the Confessor. John of Glastonbury tells the story as follows:
Once, in the time of King Cnut [1016 – 1035], this man [St Brihtwold] spent the night awake in heavenly vigils, contemplating the royal stock of the English, which was then almost obliterated. As he meditated, sleep crept upon him, and behold, he was carried up to the heights and saw Peter, the prince of the apostles, consecrating St Edward as king (Edward was the son of Æthelred, who was father of Edmund Ironside; he was then an exile in Normandy); he saw Peter reveal Edward’s sanctity by the number of the twenty-three years for which he would reign. And when the monk asked about Edward’s posterity and the kingdom’s succession, Peter responded, ‘The kingdom of the English is God’s kingdom; after Edward God will provide a king according to his own will.’ (p. 151) St Brihtwold fell asleep in the Lord in 1045 and was buried in the monastery of his repentance.[1]

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Receiving Forgiveness

Forgiveness is an interesting but also a great virtue. It is a term and a reality found in Holy Scripture and in the Tradition of the Orthodox Church. We Christians should endeavour to forgive those who wrong us, our friends and our enemies. In the Lord’s Prayer we recite ‘. . . And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. . .’ Here we see that it is not only important to forgive, but also to receive forgiveness, to ask for it. Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh expands on this and claims:

‘Judgement would hold nothing but terror for us if we had no sure hope of forgiveness. And the gift of forgiveness itself is implicit in God’s and people’s love. Yet it is not enough to be granted forgiveness, we must be prepared to receive it, to accept it.
We must consent to be forgiven by an act of daring faith and generous hope, welcome the gift humbly, as a miracle which love alone, love human and divine, can work, and forever be grateful for its gratuity, its restoring, healing, reintegrating power.
We must never confuse forgiving with forgetting, or imagine that these two things go together. Not only do they not belong together, but they are mutually exclusive. To wipe out the past has little to do with constructive, imaginative, fruitful forgiveness; the only thing that must go, be erased from the past, is its venom; the bitterness, the resentment, the estrangement; but not the memory.’[1] 

[1] Anthony of Sourozh, Creative Prayer, 2004, p.72. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Selime Cathedral, Cappadocia

Located in Guzelyurt of Aksaray province, Selime Cathedral is the largest in Cappadocia. The cathedral has a multi-storey structure carved into rocks at a high point, and it has a magnificent beauty. Selime Cathedral served in Byzantium as a significant centre for religious activities for the Orthodox Christians. In addition, Selime Cathedral was also an important military base. The locals utilised the Cathedral as a castle in a number of occasions. They managed to defend themselves by building trenches and fortifications in various points around the complex.

The Cathedral is made up of tens of rooms connected to each other via tunnels and passages. There are two lines of columns inside the Cathedral. These columns divide it into three sections. The Church is formed as a basilica, dating back to the 8th-9th centuries AD, whilst the frescoes inside date back to the 10th-11th centuries.

The high corridor that stands in front of the Cathedral entrance is a part of the caravan road that was used for commerce. As a result of the bazaar in Selime, caravans frequently arrived there and they were taken into the middle part of the Cathedral for security reasons. Located 100 metres east of the cathedral, Mother Mary Church is a beautiful rock carved Church. There are a number of wonderful chimney rocks in front of the Church.

Many significant religious figures were educated in Selime Cathedral and its surrounding area, which lay in the northern entrance of Ihlara Valley. This area was among the most important locations for Orthodox Christian during the Byzantine era. However, even under the rule of the Seljuk Turks Christianity was able to exist during the following centuries, after this area fell to the Turks.

Selime Cathedral was used as a military base during the Seljuk period. Commander Ali Pasha carried a successful defence there, against the Mongols. They were only able to take the castle by cheating them, claiming that they wished to make a deal. This, however, resulted in Ali Pasha and his men being murdered. His tomb and shrine are located in the west of the cathedral. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Writing on Icons

Visiting many Orthodox churches and monasteries in Cappadocia, located in the centre of modern day Turkey, one comes across some magnificent icons, following a unique school of iconography, not evident in any other part of the Orthodox world.

However, most churches and monasteries have been vandalised for centuries. Some churches have no icons, others have the eyes crossed out and many wrote on the icons, either names, dates, or even events. The writing, found in the Cappadocian churches, are in both Greek and Turkish. This is an interesting reality. So are we to understand that the Greeks, together with the Turks – Muslims, wished to vandalise the Orthodox churches in the area?

This was my initial thought. However, my good friend Lambros Psomas pointed out another understanding of this reality. A church was and is an important building within the local community. Percentage wise, a church is more likely to exist for longer, in comparison to a house or a public building. Therefore, someone who wished to maintain a historical event or a significant name, they would write it, or carve it, in a church. It is unfortunate that they chose to do this on icons. But, in some cases that is how events were known for future generations. Therefore, this opens up a new reality for us. Maybe we need to undergo further research on this writings and carvings to identify their significance for us today. Some, I’m sure, are irrelevant and followed a vandalising tradition of the unbelievers towards the Orthodox churches. Nevertheless, maybe they have something to tell us, which we have yet to understand and research. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

AECA Annual Pilgrimage - Greece 2016 (June 16-25)

The Anglican and Eastern Churches Association is organising its annual pilgrimage. This year the Association is travelling to Greece, led by the Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall and Fr Anastasios Salapatas.
The Pilgrimage Itinerary is as follows: 

Day 1 - Thursday 16 June
12:15 departure from London Heathrow to Athens with Aegean A3 601. From Athens we take an internal flight. Arrival at Macedonia Airport in Thessaloniki at 19:55. Overnight staying in Thessaloniki. 
Day 2 - Friday 17 June
Early morning start to reach Ouranoupolis were we take a boat cruise alongside of Mount Athos. Light lunch on the boat. In the afternoon we reach Ierissos and explore Kavala and Nea Karvali were we find the Relics of St Gregory the Theologian. Overnight stay in Thessaloniki. 
Day 3 - Saturday 18 June
Today we spend the whole day in Thessaloniki with the visit to the monastery where we meet the local bishop. We visit historical churches of St Dimitrios, St Sophia and the Rotonda. After the visit - Dinner with music as an extra option.
Day 4 - Sunday 19 June
We journey to Meteora with the overnight stay in Kalambaka. 
Day 5 - Monday 20 June
View of monasteries in Meteora. Then heading to Athens in the evening. On the way we view the Thermopylae, the place where the 300 Spartans fought against the forces of the Persian Empire. Reaching Athens in about 8 pm. Dinner in the hotel. 
Day 6 - Tuesday 21 June
The morning we spend in Athens, Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. After lunch we visit the Monastery of St Ephraim. In the evening there is a possible visit to the Holy Synod of Greece. Veneration of the relics of St Paraskevi. 
Day 7 - Wednesday 22 June
Visit to St Nectarios - Aegina and Aphaia Temple. overnight boat journey to Patmos. St John's place of exile (about 95 A.D.), where he wrote the Apocalypse. 
Day 8 - Thursday 23 June
In the morning we are resting in the local hotel and later visit the famous monastery of Apocalypses. In the evening we return to Athens. 
Day 9 - Friday 24 June
A free day to relax with the optional visit to centre of Athens (Monastiraki). Overnight stay in Athens. 
Day 10 - Saturday 25 June - Homeward bound
We leave Athens for the airport to catch an evening flight at 7:10 pm. On the way we stop at Ancient Corinth. We arrive back at Heathrow at 9:15 pm. 

The cost of this ten day tour is 1,665 Euros per person sharing a twin-bedded room with
private facilities; Coach transportation; Breakfast, and dinner are included daily in the tour
price, except for lunches. The lunches will be taken at various restaurants en route as we follow
our programme of visits. We will be accompanied on our journey by a local Christian tour
guide. Travel insurance (with Interamerican), coach, boat and ferry tickets, flights, airport and
security taxes are included in the tour cost. The charge of the tour with the single room
requirement is available at the cost of 2,080 Euros.
Please note: The boat trip to and from Patmos does not include a cabin. The tickets are for the
deck only. Should you wish to book a cabin this can be done either on the day or at an extra
cost of 60 Euros appx. one way when you make your final payment .
The only other extras include one meal a day; entrance into museums and archaeological sites,
optional entertainment provided by the tour leader and a 45 Euros for gratuities (to be
collected by your tour leader on arrival).
Full flight and accommodation details will be sent to you two weeks before departure.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

'The Saint Sergius Institute: Celebrating 90 Years of Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue'

'The Saint Sergius Institute: Celebrating 90 Years of Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue'

on Saturday 13th February 2016
in the Winstanley Lecture Theatre, Trinity College, Cambridge
To be followed by a drinks reception
Registration Fee: £20

To mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Saint Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute, Paris, and the publication of the first Agreed Statement of International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue: 'In the Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology', a special conference has been organised:
This conference will take place on Saturday 13th February 2016 in the Winstanley Lecture Theatre, Trinity College, Cambridge, and will be followed by a drinks reception. This conference will explore the history and present state of the Anglican-Orthodox dialogue and of the role of the Institut Saint-Serge within that exchange, while also considering the continued importance of the thought of Saint-Serge in contemporary Anglican and Orthodox theology.


10:00 – 10:45       Registration
10:45 – 11:00       Welcome and Introduction
11:00 – 12:00       The Healing of the "Terrible Wound": Anglican-Orthodox
                              Encounters in the Early History of the Institut Saint-Serge
                              Dr. Brandon Gallaher (University of Exeter)
12:00 – 13:00        Orthodoxy, Anglicanism and Sophiology
                              Professor John Milbank (University of Nottingham)
13:00 – 14:30        Lunch (opportunity to visit an exhibition of liturgical books in the
                              Wren Library)
14:30 – 14:45        Screening of archive photos and footage from the St. Sergius
14:45 – 15:45        Panel Discussion
                              Chaired by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia (tbc)
15:45 – 16:45        Sergii Bulgakov and Vasilii Kandinskii: Two Visionaries of the
                              Wisdom of God
                               Dr. Antoine Arjakovsky (Collège des Bernadins, Paris)
16:45 – 17:00         Concluding Remarks
17:00 – 18:00         Drinks Reception
                               Old Combination Room, Trinity College

For the full programme and details of how to register, visit:

For more information and to register, please email:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition – Royal Mail First Day Cover

The new Royal Mail First Day Cover is dedicated to Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition. Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-17 aimed to make the first coast to coast crossing of Antarctica. After setting sail from Plymouth in August 1914, Endurance and her 28-man crew entered the Weddell Sea in Antarctica in mid-December, but by 19 January 1915 she had become trapped by the dense pack ice. The currents carried Endurance past the Antarctica coastline into uncharted waters and by February 1915 all hopes of release had gone. Cut off from civilisation with no means of communication, the crew prepared for the bitter Antarctic winter when the sun disappeared for over four months and temperatures plummeted far below zero. As the months passed, Endurance was slowly crushed by the enormous build-up of ice pressure. By the end of October 1915, Shackleton had no choice but to abandon both ship and expedition. Endurance sank a month later, leaving the crew camped in flimsy tents on a slowly moving ice floe, a thousand miles from safety.

Since entrapment, the currents had carried the party around 2000 miles but by April 1916 open water was sighted and the group’s three small lifeboats were finally put to sea. After a week in turbulent waters, the men reached Elephant Island and stood on dry land for the first time in 497 days. Shackleton then made the brave decision to leave 22 men behind and take five men on the James Caird lifeboat to fetch rescue from South Georgia. Using minimal navigational aids, the 800 mile voyage took 17 days. After battling hurricanes, exhaustion and severe thirst, the beleaguered party landed on South Georgia on 10 May 1916. A few days later, Shackleton and two men trekked for 36 hours across South Georgia’s unmapped mountains and glaciers before reaching Stomness Whaling Station on 20 May 1916. Heavy park ice foiled three attempts to rescue the 22 crew members stranded on Elephant Island, but Shackleton finally broke through with his fourth effort and picked them up with the help of the Chilean Navy on 30 August 1916. It would be over 40 years before the first successful overland crossing of Antarctica was achieved in 1958. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, St Dunstan-in-the-West

The Guild Church of St Dunstan-in-the-West (186A Fleet Street, London, EC4A 2HR) is celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with a Pontifical Solemn Evensong. This event will take place at the church, on Wednesday 20 January 2016, 7.00 pm.

The Officiant will be the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham. Preacher will be His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Refreshments will be served after the service. All are welcome. In order to assist with catering please advise the if you plan to attend.  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Virgin Mary Faneromeni, Vouliagmeni, Athens

The Greek Orthodox Church of the Panayia Faneromeni (the Revealed Virgin Mary), located in Vouliagmeni, Southern Athens, is a church building which unites traditional Byzantine architecture together with a modern twist to it. It also reminds the visitor of a semi-Aegean island architectural style. Nevertheless, it does follow the traditional expression of an Orthodox Church, whereby it has a dome and the Church is shaped in a cross shape.

Interestingly enough, the icon painting of the interior of the Church was completed by my professor, from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of Theology, George Kordis, who has a unique way of icon painting. His work is identifiable straight away, due to the way he paints the Saints and the colours he uses. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that the priest in-charge of this parish is Fr George Atzoulatos, a family friend.

It is also important to mention the Martinou family, who built this wonderful Church paying for all the expenses for the completion of this parish Church. If anyone is in the Greek capital and wishes to see a different and modern Church, which marries well the Byzantine and modern ecclesiastical architectural style, then Panayia Faneromeni is the Church to go. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

‘The role of religion in our world,’ Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

What is the role of religion in our modern society? Does it have a role or is it marginalised? I think it’s fair to say that religion has taken a central role, especially since 9/11, where a war of religions, of ideologies, of cultures has become central to politics, news and discussions worldwide. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew explained, in a talk he gave in Oxford (November 2015), the positive and profound role religion places in our modern world. He stated:

‘There is a vital sign of our times at the beginning of this new millennium, and that is what we might call “the return of God” – that is to say, the reevaluation of the function and responsibility of religion in the public square. Religion today comprises a central dimension of human life, both on the personal and the social network. No longer can religion be relegated to a matter of individual preference or private practice.
Religion is becoming increasingly meaningful and momentous in appreciating the past, analysing the present, and even assessing the future of our world. In our day, religion claims a public face and a social profile; and it is invited to participate in contemporary communal discourse.’[1]

[1] Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch, ‘Creation Care and Ecological Justice: Reflections,’ Koinonia, New Series No.66, Allsaintstide 2015, p.42.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Saint Benedict Biscop

Saint Benedict Biscop was Abbot of St. Augustine's, Canterbury, Abbot of Wearmouth, Abbot of Jarrow. He died on 12th January AD 689 at Wearmouth, Co Durham.
Biscop Baducing was born in Northumbria in AD 628, of a noble English family. When quite a young man, he stood high in the Royal favour and was rewarded for his services to King Oswiu by the gift of a possession in land suitable to his rank...
But, it would seem, to the astonishment of King and courtiers alike, when he was only twenty-five, and had all bright prospects opening out before him, "he lightly esteemed this transitory inheritance in order that he might obtain that which is eternal; he despised the warfare of this World, with its corruptible rewards, that he might be the soldier of the true King, and be thought worthy to possess an everlasting kingdom in the heavenly city. He forsook home, kindred and country for the sake of Christ and his gospel, that he might receive a hundredfold and possess the life which is eternal."
This was in AD 653, just at the time that St. Wilfred (the Elder) had determined to leave his country for his first visit to Rome and, as his close friend, Biscop hailed with joy the opportunity to accompany him. Thus, the two friends started off together; but when Wilfred was detained at Lyons, Biscop hastened onwards without him, "being anxious personally to visit and worship at the places in which were deposited even the bodies of the blessed Apostles, towards whom it had always been his wont to feel an ardent devotion."

After no long time, Biscop returned to his own country, full of fervour and enthusiasm, inspired by all he had heard and seen in his travels, and from this time onward his life was filled with perpetual journeys backwards and forwards between England and Rome; journeys not lightly or idly undertaken, but each with its definite purpose and each taken for the good of the English Church. Twelve years after his first visit, Biscop returned again, accompanied by Prince Alchfrith, and "on this," says Bede, "as on the former occasion, he imbibed the sweets of no small amount of salutary learning." After a stay of some few months, he started on his homeward journey, but stopped short at Lerins, an island off the south coast of France, where there stood the far-famed monastery of St. Honorat. Here Biscop went through a course of instruction and took upon him the vows of a monastic life. Two years were spent in seclusion and then once more, this time under the name of Benedict, he set out for Rome and paid his third visit to the Papal See.
It was just at this time that Pope Vitalian, in compliance with a request of the two chief English kings, was in the process of sending the great Archbishop Theodore to Britain. Being a Greek, however, he was in need of someone who might act as his interpreter and explain to him the customs of the English nation. And who so well suited for this as Benedict, most fortunately just at that time in Rome? Accordingly, the Pope, "observing that the venerable Benedict was a man of a mind fraught with wisdom, perseverance, religion and nobleness, entrusted to his care the bishop whom he had ordained, together with all his party; and enjoined him to abandon the pilgrimage which he had undertaken for Christ's sake, and out of regard to a higher advantage, to return homewards to introduce into England that teacher of the truth whom it had so earnestly sought after; to whom he might become both a guide on the journey, and an interpreter in his teaching after his arrival." Benedict, we are told, did as he was commanded and, together, the two arrived in Kent, where they were most cordially received.
Theodore ascended the throne of the Archiepiscopal See, while Benedict, at his request, undertook the government of the monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul (St. Augustine's) in the same city. Here Benedict laboured for two years, at the end of which the indefatigable traveller paid a fourth visit to Rome, "with his usual good success," says Bede. England was at that time behind the countries of the continent, both in arts and in literature, and Benedict had probably felt the lack of books from which to teach the scholars whom he gathered around him at Canterbury. He undertook this journey for the purpose of supplying the want he had experienced. Nor was his journey in vain, "he brought back with him no inconsiderable number of books on every branch of sacred literature, which he had either bought at a price or received as presents from his friends." On his return to England he bent his steps northward, being anxious to revisit his own people and the region in which he had been born: and so came to the kingdom of Northumbria. Here, he was well received by King Egfrith, to whom he gave a glowing account of the foreign monasteries and schools of learning and displayed the treasures that he had secured on his journey.
The King caught Benedict's enthusiasm and, in AD 674, gave him a tract of land where he might found a monastery; and here, in a short time, rose the walls of the monastery of St. Peter at Wearmouth, on the left bank of the river from which the spot takes its name. Benedict must have been a good sailor, for he had to go far and cross the sea before he could find men capable of building a church of stone in the Romanesque style; but nothing daunted, he crossed over to France and brought back with him masons ready and able to do the work he wanted. If a stone church was a rarity in those days, glazed windows were positively unknown in this country; but Benedict was determined that nothing should be wanting to his new church, and so sent messengers again to France. Bede's account of this is curious and interesting. "He sent messengers," he tells us, "to bring over glass-makers (a kind of workman hitherto unknown in Britain) to glaze the windows of the church, and its aisles and chancels. And so it happened that when they came they not only accomplished that particular work which was required of them, but from this time they caused the English nation to understand and learn this kind of handicraft, which was of no inconsiderable utility for the enclosing of the lamps of the church, or for various uses to which vessels are put." Great was the astonishment of the good folk of Northumbria at this innovation introduced first in the church of Monkwearmouth, and shortly afterwards, in Jarrow. So much so that a tradition sprang up, which was handed down for many generations, that, because of its glazed windows, it never was dark in old Jarrow church.
Once the building was finished and Benedict had ransacked the treasures of France to provide "whatever related to the ministry of the altar and the church and holy vessels and vestments." But there were still some things that he wanted, which he could not discover even in France, and so, in AD 679, he set out for a fifth time for Rome. Here he obtained all that he could desire and returned literally laden with spoil. In the first place, says Bede, he imported a numberless collection of all kinds of books; secondly, he introduced some relics of the saints, which were highly esteemed in those days; thirdly, he brought in to his own monastery the order of chanting, singing and ministering in the church, according to the Roman manner - bringing back with him a precentor, John by name, who was to become the future master of his own monastery, and of the English nation; fourthly, he obtained, from the Pope, with the express permission of the King, a grant of certain privileges to his monastery; and lastly, he carried home with him paintings of holy subjects for the ornamentation of the church. There were paintings of the Blessed Virgin and of the Apostles at the east end; along the south side ran a series of figures of the Gospel history, while the north wall was filled with the sublime images of the Visions of St. John the Divine in the Revelation. We are told his reason for thus decorating his church was "to the intent that all who entered the church, even if ignorant of letters, might be able to contemplate, in what direction so ever they looked, the ever gracious countenance of Christ and his saints, even though it were in a representation; or, with a more wakeful mind, might be reminded of the grace of our Lord's incarnation or, having as it were, the strictness of the last judgment before their eyes, should thereby be cautioned to examine themselves with more narrow scrutiny."
And so his great work was finished, and the monastery which he founded rapidly grew and flourished, so that, in the short space of a year (AD 682), he sent out from it a colony of twenty-two monks, under St. Ceolfrith, and founded a sister monastery of St. Paul at Jarrow, with the hope "that mutual peace and concord, mutual and perpetual affection and kindness should be continued between the two places." Scarcely ten miles apart, the two monasteries were to all intents and purposes but one.
Benedict was now growing old; but his new church at Jarrow was to be no less glorious than that at Wearmouth, and so, in spite of age and infirmities, in AD 685, he crossed the sea once more, and for the sixth and last time repaired to Rome; "returning, as was his custom, enriched with countless gifts for ecclesiastical purposes, with a large supply of sacred volumes and no less an abundance of paintings than on previous occasions. Some of these were scenes from the life of our Lord, which he placed in the old church; while, for the church of Jarrow, he brought back an excellent series of paintings showing the harmony between the Old and the New Testaments. For instance, side by side, the paintings represented such subjects as Isaac bearing the wood on which he was to be slain and our Lord carrying the cross on which he was to suffer; or the serpent raised up by Moses in the wilderness, and the Son of Man exalted upon the cross."
Thus he lived long enough to see both monasteries fairly at work and their buildings completed, and then his work was over. Shortly after his return from Rome, he was seized with a creeping paralysis. For three years, the disease gradually gained upon him, yet he never lost his cheerfulness, nor ceased to praise God and exhort the brethren. He was often troubled by sleepless nights, when, to alleviate his weariness, he would call one of his monks and desire to have read to him the story of the patience of Job, or some other passage of scripture by which a sick man might be comforted, or one bent down by infirmities might be more spiritually raised to heavenly things. Nor did he neglect the regular hours of prayer, but as he was unable to rise from his bed to prayer and could scarcely raise his voice in praise, he would call some of the brethren to him that they might sing the psalms in two choirs, he himself joining with them to the best of his ability. Eventually, the end came. On 12th January AD 689, he died as he had lived, surrounded by the brethren of the monasteries of his own creation, and was buried in the stone church that he had reared at Wearmouth, in the midst of the treasures that he had collected.[1]