Theology

Venerable Alexis the Man of God

Saint Alexis was born at Rome into the family of the pious and poverty-loving Euphemianus and Aglais. The couple was childless for a long time and constantly prayed the Lord to grant them a child. And the Lord consoled the couple with the birth of their son Alexis.

At six years of age the child began to read and successfully studied the mundane sciences, but it was with particular diligence that he read Holy Scripture. When he was a young man, he began to imitate his parents: he fasted strictly, distributed alms and beneath his fine clothing he secretly wore a hair shirt. Early on there burned within him the desire to leave the world and serve God. His parents, however, had arranged for Alexis to marry a beautiful and virtuous bride.

Venerable Benedict of Nursia

Saint Benedict, founder of Western monasticism, was born in the Italian city of Nursia in the year 480. When he was fourteen years of age, the saint’s parents sent him to Rome to study. Unsettled by the immorality around him, he decided to devote himself to a different sort of life.

At first Saint Benedict settled near the church of the holy Apostle Peter in the village of Effedum, but news of his ascetic life compelled him to go farther into the mountains. There he encountered the hermit Romanus, who tonsured him into monasticism and directed him to live in a remote cave at Subiaco. From time to time, the hermit would bring him food.

St. Gregory Dialogus, the Pope of Rome

Saint Gregory Dialogus, Pope of Rome, was born in Rome around the year 540. His grandfather was Pope Felix, and his mother Sylvia (November 4) and aunts Tarsilla and Emiliana were also numbered among the saints by the Roman Church. Having received a most excellent secular education, he attained high government positions.

Leading a God-pleasing life, he yearned for monasticism with all his soul. After the death of his father, Saint Gregory used his inheritance to establish six monasteries. At Rome he founded a monastery dedicated to the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, where he received monastic tonsure. Later, on a commission of Pope Pelagius II, Saint Gregory lived for a while in Constantinople. There he wrote his Commentary on the Book of Job.

Venerable Simeon the New Theologian

Saint Simeon the New Theologian was born in the year 949 in the city of Galatea (Paphlagonia), and he was educated at Constantinople. His father prepared him for a career at court, and for a certain while the youth occupied a high position at the imperial court. When he was fourteen, he met the renowned Elder Simeon the Pious at the Studion Monastery, who would be a major influence in his spiritual development. He remained in the world for several years preparing himself for the monastic life under the Elder’s guidance, and finally entered the monastery at the age of twenty-seven.

St. Sophronius the Patriarch of Jerusalem

Saint Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, was born in Damascus around 560. From his youth he was distinguished for his piety and his love for classical studies. He was especially proficient in philosophy, and so he was known as Sophronius the Wise. The future hierarch, however, sought the true philosophy of monasticism, and conversations with the desert-dwellers.

He arrived in Jerusalem at the monastery of Saint Theodosius, and there he became close with the hieromonk John Moschus, becoming his spiritual son and submitting himself to him in obedience. They visited several monasteries, writing down the lives and spiritual wisdom of the ascetics they met. From these notes emerged their renowned book, the LEIMONARION or SPIRITUAL MEADOW, which was highly esteemed at the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

The Orthodox Aestetics in the Hagiography of St Arsenius of Srem

Fresco painting depicting the burial service of St Arsenius
in The Patriarchate of Pec

An opening discussion for further research

At this historical moment of our struggle to keep Kosovo and Metohija within the boundaries of Serbia, and in the light of 1220th anniversary of 1st Ecumenical Council, it seems sensible to discuss the topic of burial services as presented on frescoes and icons in the Patriarchate of Pec. A new iconoclasm has been present in Kosovo and Metohija in the course of recent years. We have recently visited Pec, i.e. on the occasion of celebrating the Feast of Holy Protection of Тheotocos and once again experienced silent prayers of this sanctuary area, the See of Serbian Archbishops and Patriarchs; it is a sanctuary in wich holy relics of saints and icons speak a wordless language. The peace of the Sanctuary takes us into another dimension; it is witnessing of the one crying in the contemporary wilderness spreading the voice of the Truth.

The Heavenly-earthly Citizenship of the City of God

by Bishop Jovan (Puric)

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have been invited to make a presentation before this eminent gathering, in the briefest possible manner, a sort of introduction to the Christian understanding of the city and citizenship in Byzantium, within the framework of the topic we have chosen – “The Heavenly-Earthly Citizenship of the City of God.”

As is well known, the topic of city and citizenship is quite current in the civilization and the time we live in. I think that Christian witnessing can make a valuable contribution to this topic, in underlining the originally Christian and primarily theological aspects of this topic, which often remain outside the bounds of consideration in philosophical, anthropological, sociological and, in general, culturological approaches, or are, even, totally ignored.