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Constantius of Sinai

(219 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] (1770, Constantinople – Jan 5, 1859, Constantinople) was the nephew of the Sinai bishop Cyril II and officiated as archbishop of Sinai from 1804 until his death in 1859. He studied at Constantinople, Iaşi, and Kiev, and was afterwards known as “the Byzantine” on account of his education. In 1795, he became a Sinai monk in Cairo and, in 1797, abbot of the subsidiary monastery in Kiev. In 1804, he was appointed archbishop of Sinai as Constantius II…


(132 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] (Gk) is a large cloth, embroidered with the burial of Christ, as an icon. In the Orthdox Good Friday vespers, the epitaphios is displayed for veneration in the middle of the church on a table, a symbolic grave decorated with flowers. In the evening service of mourning, it is borne around the church in a procession and in some places also through the streets. During the Easter season, it…


(105 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] one of the Princes' islands in the Marmara Sea opposite Istanbul (Constantinople). With the establishment of Chalki Theological College in Holy Trinity monastery in 1844, Chalki became an important training center for monks, bishops and professors. In 1971 the Turkish state closed the accommodation, the grammar school and the theological college, which through its guest students had in the meantime become a place of ecumenical encounter.…


(220 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] Panagia, Greek Παναγία, “All-holy,” a title and attribute of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. In Orthodox liturgical usage, Mary is addressed by a title (e.g. Theotokos, Our Lady; Mary, Veneration of: II) instead of by name, with the adjective All-holy generally added. The commonest form is Panagia Theotokos. In the course of time, the adjective came to be used independently as both a title and a personal name. The male Greek forename Panagiotis is a derivative. The use of the prefix pan to express the superlative of the adjective is still in everyday use; Panagia is used …

Meletius Metaxakis

(182 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] (Sep 21, 1871, Parsas, Crete – Jul 7, 1935, Alexandria) studied in Jerusalem, was ordained deacon in Antioch in 1891, and worked until 1909 in Jerusalem as secretary to the patriarchate. In 1910 he became metropolitan of Kition (Cyprus). From 1918 to 1920, as metropolitan of Athens, he was a zealous reformer. He was uncanonically deposed, went to the United States, and became patriarch of Constantinople on Nov 25, 1921, as Meletius IV. He founded metropolitan sees for Western Euro…

Zoe Movement

(259 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] (from Gk ζωή/ zoḗ, “life”), founded in Greece in 1907 as a fellowship of Orthodox theologians; it has monastic features, but is neither a monastery nor an order. It is organized as a registered association, and is thus independent of ecclesiastical supervision; its leaders are mainly lay. It sees its task as ¶ the religious revival and evangelization of the Greek people, especially by preaching, Sunday schools throughout the country, holiday camps, and an immense output of publications, particularly of a conservative ethical and mor…


(230 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] Confirmation (Catholic) takes place in all Eastern churches as a direct continuation of baptism ¶ (IV, 2). The priest anoints (Anointing; Gk chrisma) the newly baptized with aromatic olive oil (myron or chrism) in the form of the cross on forehead, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, chest, hands, and feet, with the accompanying formula: “Seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Baptism is already understood to mediate the Spirit; confirmation is its consummation and seal. For that reason, it is also bestowed …


(87 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] (Gk) is a cloth on the altar on which plate and chalice are placed in the Orthodox liturgy for consecration. It is understood as a symbol of Christ's burial. The antimension was also originally an eileton with relics and a portrayal of the burial sewn in for use in celebrations of the Eucharist on unconsecrated altars. Today the eileton is used as a cover for the antimension. Martin Petzolt Bibliography S. Heitz, Mysterium der Anbetung, 1986, 359 A. Kallis, Liturgie, 1989, 88, 90, 251.

Nilus of Sinai

(180 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] was the author of a Sinai story, probably from the end of the 4th century. In this autobiography, which reads like fiction, with detailed topographical references, he tells how he and his son became monks on Moses’ mountain, and fell under Saracen attack. Since Nilus of Ancyra (end of 4th cent. – c. 430) in a letter ( Ep. IV 62) reports a similar event in a eulogy of St. Platon, the two have been identified as one and the same person, and this monk from Galatia was wrongly named “Sinaites.” In his monastic and exegetical writings, Nilus …

Cosmas the Aetolian, Saint

(179 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] (1714, Central Greece – Aug 24, 1779, Epirus), a saint in the Greek Orthodox Church, “teacher of the nation,” “apostle-equal,” and “neo-martyr,” whose feast day is August 24. He studied in Sigditsa and the Athos School, and became a monk in the Athos monastery of Philotheou with the name Cosmas (baptismal name: Constas). He was ordained to priesthood in 1759. With the permission of the monastery, he went to Constantinople, taught at the Patriarch…

Koukouselis, John (Saint)

(184 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] (Papadopulos), a prominent Byzantine composer, singer, and musical theorist of the 14th century. Canonized by the Orthodox Church, his feast is celebrated on Oct 1. Almost nothing is known of his life, since only two legendary Greek accounts from the 15th to the 17th centuries exist. Some evidence suggests that he had Bulgarian origins, although he was raised and educated in Constantinople and spent his life as a monk of the Great Laura on Mount Athos. Also called Maistoros or Magistor, Koukouselis initiated a shift of style towards long melismatic melodies i…

Sinai, St. Catherine’s Monastery

(324 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] The Greek Orthodox monastery of St. Catherine of Alexandria on Sinai (Sinai/Sinai traditions) had its beginnings in the earliest monastic settlements in the late 4th century. Hermits lived in grottos at the foot of what is called Mount Moses, in the vicinity of a “chapel of the burning bush” dedicated to the Theotokos. Around 550, when retreat to a defensive tower was no longer sufficient, Emperor Justinian I ordered the construction of a defensive wall and a basilica with a mosai…

Meletius Pegas

(176 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] (patriarch of Alexandria, 1549, Chandaka [Heraklion], Crete – Sep 13, 1601, Alexandria). As an Orthodox Greek on Venetian Crete, on Zakynthos and in Italy he received a Humanist education, giving him a good knowledge of Latin theology and Scholasticism. He continued to feel this tension throughout his life. He became a monk, and an abbot at the age of 20, but because of Orthodox catechesis was driven out of Crete. In 1579 he became priest for Alexandria, and assumed responsibility…

Prayer Cord

(170 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] (Gk κομποσχοίνι/ komposchoíni, Russ. čëtki) is used in Orthodox churches when reciting the Prayer of the Heart (Heart, Prayer of the). It is intended to aid concentration and help keep count of repetitions, for instance during more intense exercises including bows or prostrations (metanies). A prayer cord is made from a twisted cotton cord, with 100, 50, 300, or 33 knots along its length, often with pearls set between. The two ends come together in a cross, with a tassel attached. The…

Greek Monasteries

(411 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] Greek monasteries emerged in the 1st millennium ce mainly in Asia Minor, particularly in Cappadocia, Palestine, Egypt and Constantinople. The monasteries in modern-day Greece were founded from the 10th century onwards: Hosios Lukas (1st half of the 10th cent.), Athos (963), Daphni (11th cent., but dates from the 6th cent.) Kaisariani and other small monasteries in Attica (11th cent.), Nea Moni on Chios (mid-11th cent.), the Monastery of John on Patmos (1088), Kechrovouni on Tinos (12th c…

Philotheus of Sinai (Saint)

(155 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] Philotheus was the hēgoumenos (“superior”; Monasticism: III) of the monastery of the burning bush (Sinai, St. Catherine’s monastery), though not a bishop. Local tradition dates him to the 9th century; in any case he probably lived before 1100. As a spiritual disciple of John Climacus informed by Sinaitic Hesychasm, he wrote on monastic spirituality and achieved great renown. His 40 νηπτικὰ κεφάλαια/ nēptiká kephálaia (“chapters on sobriety”) were incorporated into the Philocalia, a standard collection of works on spirituality. He was concerne…

Christodoulos of Patmos, Saint

(204 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] (c. 1020 – c. 1101) came from Asia Minor near Nicea and became a young monk on Mount Olympus there. In 1043, he became acquainted with the Cluniacensian reform (Cluny) in Rome. In a tumultuous and dangerous time, he lived in several monasteries on the Jordan, in the Anatolian Miletus, on Mount Latros, on the island of Cos, and in Thessalia. Finally, in 1088, he received the island of Patmos as a gift from emperor Alexios I, to found the Monastery…

John the Almsgiver, Saint

(172 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] (born on Cyprus – c. 620, Cyprus), feast day Nov 12. John was married and had children, but after the death of all the members of his family he withdrew to asceticism and, in 610, became patriarch of Alexandria as John V. With him, the imperial church, unpopular in Egypt since the Schism, gained strength, particularly since Heraklios had become emperor and Sergius patriarch of Constantinople at the same time. John gained a reputation especially for his extraordinary benevolence – hence the epithet Ἐλεήμων/ Eleēmōn, the “almsgiver” –, which extended to all church …

Metéora Monasteries

(537 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] Metéora Monasteries, named after the rock formations of Metéora in Greek Thessaly, which rise steeply like pillars above the Pineios Valley. Probably because of its safe and protected location, hermits began settling there from the 11th century, hiding on the steep rock pinnacles and in caves. The first written evidence is the mention of a Mother of God Monastery from 1336, referring to an originally loose community of hermits which, as a sect of Stagon, stood under the authority …


(181 words)

Author(s): Petzolt, Martin
[German Version] pl. stichera, a poetic hymn strophe in the daily office (Liturgy of the Hours: IV) of the Orthodox Church. It is derived from στῖχος/ stíchos, “verse,” because it is sung in alternation with consecutive psalm verses. At Vespers six to ten stichera follow each of the final verses of Psalms 141/142; at Orthros or Matins, they are used with the Lauds Psalms 148–150. In both services, there are aposticha with other psalm verses. On weekdays the stichera focus on the particular feast or saint’s day; on Sunday…
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