Elder Ephraim’s Newest Nunnery: Orthodox Christian Sisterhood of the Holy Unmercenaries in Coolidge, AZ

Orthodox Christian Sisterhood Of The Holy Unmercenaries is an Arizona Non-Profit filed on January 25, 2017. The company’s filing status is listed as Good Standing and its File Number is 21554714; State Code is 21927003B.

The Registered Agent on file for this company is Alison Morgan (Gerondissa Pelagia) and is located at 2800 W Moore Road, Tucson, AZ 85755. The company’s principal address is 2800 W Moore Road, Tucson, AZ 85755. The Sisterhood itself existed for many years before it was officially incorporated with the State of Arizona and the house has been inhabited by Greek Orthodox nuns for almost 15 years.

2800 W Moore Rd, Tucson, AZ is a single family home that contains 9,400 sq ft and was built in 1975. It contains 15 rooms, 6 bathrooms and an outdoor pool. The property itself is 17.8 acres and was purchased by the monastery in 2003.

Orthodox Sisterhood of Unmercenaries Google Maps

In Pima County Records, the owner of the property is listed as Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. and past residents have included “Chris Arvanitakis” (aka Hieromonk Nektarios originally from St. Anthony’s Monastery).

The company has 3 principals on record:

  • Alison Morgan (Abbess Pelagia) from Tucson AZ,
  • Aristi Despina Moschonas (husband of Dr. Constantine Moschonas who runs the St. Stephens Foundation for Elder Ephraim) from Scottsdale AZ,
  • Linda W. Smith from Florence AZ.

One of the nuns, Adelfi Epistimi, is currently running a gofundme campaign for her twin sister, Presvytera Mihaela Zaharescu, who was recently widowed in July, 2018. So far, they’ve acquired $31,279 of their $150,000 goal: https://www.gofundme.com/help-the-zaharescu-family

Schema-Nun Thekla

One of the Monastery’s original nuns, Sister Thekla (Irini) Garrett passed away on December 19, 2012. She had been a nun there since 2008. Geronda tonusred her into the great schema in September of 2012, a common practice before one of his monks or nuns is about to die as it is considered a “second baptism”. Similar to the first baptism, it is suppose to wash all the monastic’s sins away. Both of the Elder’s monasteries in Tucson, AZ don’t have an “official” blessing or sanction to exist in the Greek Archdiocese (Metropolitan Gerasimos blessed them but instructed Elder Ephraim to keep them low key due to the anti-monastic politics and sentiment in the GOA). Due to this, Schema-Nun Thekla’s body was buried at St. Paraskevi Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. in Texas.

The nuns periodically sell their goods at SaddleBrooke Two Farmers & Artisan Market.


Orthodox Sisterhood of Unmercenaries tax inquiry

Orthodox Sisterhood of Unmercenaries Company Information

Orthodox Sisterhood of Unmercenaries Company Contacts

Orthodox Sisterhood of Unmercenaries

On Faith and Science (Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis, 2018)

NOTE: The following article is taken from Orthodox Witness. The evolutionist priest is confused why the monks at St. Anthony’s Monastery don’t believe in Evolution and have refused to sell his book for containing content that supports the theory. 

There are numerous reasons why the majority of monastics under Elder Ephraim reject the theory of evolution (some monastics have a degree in one of the sciences and don’t easily assimilate into the creationist, infallible scripture mindset of Elder Ephraim but they slowly adapt or just ignore their feelings on the subject). 

Elder Ephraim and his monastics believe that a theory or viewpoint is confirmed when it is validated by either the Holy Scriptures or the holy and God-bearing Fathers. St. Nektarios wrote a treatise entitled, The Theory of Evolution is WrongElder Joseph had a an experience where he met a pilgrim with a theology degree who emitted a foul stench and he knew something was seriously wrong with this individual. Afterwards, it came to light that this theologian wrote an entire book supporting Darwin’s theory of evolution. Some contemporary saints and theologians who are more traditional have also written apologetics against evolution; others have attempted to reconcile the scriptures with modern scientific discoveries. The monasteries don’t recognize evolution as true science.

The monasteries tend to side more with Ken Ham and other creationists minus their protestant beliefs. The result is a synthesis of creationism and orthodox patristics (mainly the portions that validate a literal interpretation of the scripture, i.e young earth, literal six days of creation, LXX timeline of 7,500+ years for earth/mankind’s existence, Noah’s Flood, etc.). Any of the sciences that contradict a literal interpretation of the bible are routinely dismissed as “just a theory, not fact”, “western atheist propaganda”, etc. The monasteries don’t place much emphasis on the sciences unless they corroborate something in orthodoxy (i.e. dating methods are dismissed as inaccurate if it contradicts the LXX timeline but the same dating methods are accepted if it validates a historical event in the Old Testament).

In the future, this blog will publish a few letters Papa Ephraim Poonen (AZ) sent to his family defending creationism: Modern Scientific Evidence Supporting Biblical Creation; How Long Were the “Days” in Creation Week?and a rebuttal of David Quammen’s 2004 article in National Geographic, Was Darwin Wrong?

The Heavenly Banquet

On Faith and Science

This post requires a small introduction. To our surprise, the St. Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona refused to carry our book The Heavenly Banquet: Understanding the Divine Liturgy in their bookstore, because of certain reservations. Eventually they requested another copy and returned it to us with three handwritten “post-it” notes, on which they wrote their objections to the book. Today’s post is the letter we sent back to them (2009), to which we have not received a reply.

Ἤδη δὲ οὔτε ἡ γνῶσις ἄνευ πίστεως, οὔθ᾽ ἡ πίστις ἄνευ γνώσεως. Clemens Alexandrinus (Strom. 5.1.3)

Dear Brother in Christ,

Although you chose to remain anonymous you are known to God, to Whom we pray for illumination from above and strength to do His will. 

Thank you kindly for sharing your thoughts on why, in your opinion, my book does not deserve to be on the shelves of the monastery’s bookstore, because of alleged errors contained in it.

I cannot hide the pain and the sadness that I experienced, that an Orthodox monk has found errors with my book, errors serious enough not to recommend its reading by Orthodox Christians.


[NOTE: St. Anthony’s Monastery has a rigid system of censoring and banning publications from their bookstore. Generally, most contemporary books published in North America, especially from Holy Cross Seminary and authors who support the WCC or ecumenism aren’t even read unless it’s an actual translation of a Church Father. Unfortunately, the unorthodox content of the introductions or Catholic terminology used in place of orthodox also render those books useless for the bookstore.

Most of the orthodox books about bioethics, modern science, evolution, etc. have been deemed incompatible because they contain opinions and teachings that contradict the “mind of the Church” and “orthodox traditions” (i.e. many concepts promoted in these books such as donating organs upon death, stem cell research, cloning, etc. are all forbidden by the orthodox church for numerous theological and ethical reasons). In some cases, St. Anthony’s Bookstore does carry writings by clergymen from Old Calendarist schismatic groups because they are more traditional and in line with authentic orthodox teaching despite the fact that these individuals are considered outside the Church and without grace.]

Truthfully, I was in a daze, having nightmares, that I was living in the Dark Ages, and I was standing before the Grand Inquisitor, pressured to recant the evils advocated in my book. Padre, per caritá! This is Orthodoxy and 21st century!

I was preparing to respond to you at length, defending the positions you criticize, when I came across an article written by Protopresbyter Dr. Georgios Metallinos, which addresses the issues raised in your notes.

I enclose it, thinking that you will accept the authority of this theologian, who certainly ranks among the top living Greek Orthodox theologians of our times. But if you take exception to his writings, I would be glad to adduce further witnesses in my defense.

Below I include your three comments, followed by comments by Fr. Metallinos’ in italics and my own comments and other quotations.

AZ Evolution 3

In your first comment you seem to object to the following paragraph in my book:

According to our understanding the Bible is not a scientific textbook, therefore we are not to take every geographic, historical, and scientific detail as error free, and we should not read it that way.

You seem to believe that the Holy Scripture is free from any kind of error (which I call “the erroneous principle of biblical inerrancy”), yet you do not provide your explanation of a few examples cited immediately after the above paragraph. Here they are:

The Holy Scriptures seem to follow the view that God created a stationary, flat earth, with the heaven being a dome over it, and the sun and the moon circling around it (Ps. 104); that He created the universe in six 24-hour days, some 10,000 years ago; and that He took mud to form man out of it, and woman out of his rib.

St. George Slaying the Dragon
Many Church Fathers wrote about and believed in the existence of dragons. This fits into the creationist belief that dinosaurs and man co-existed.

Please support the objective truthfulness of these biblical statements or assumptions, and many other similar, apparently unscientific statements, like references to, ‘the fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens being closed” (Gen. 8:2) or the “shutting in the sea with bars and doors” (Job 38:8.10). Are we to take literally the monsters Behemoth (Job 40:15), whose “bones are tubes of bronze, and his like bars of iron” (v. 18), and Leviathan (Job 41:1, see also Ps. 104:26)? Is he real? “His sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn. Out of his mouth go flaming torches; sparks of fire leap forth. Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. His breath kindles coals, and a flame comes forth from his mouth” (Job 42:18-21)? Read carefully the Prooimiakos Psalm 104 (103 LXX) and tell me how scientific are the lines, “who hast stretched out the heavens like a tent, who hast laid the beams of thy chambers on the waters” (vv. 2b-3a) and “Thou didst set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be shaken” (v. 5). Read also Proverbs 8:27-29 and tell me how factual are these verses: “When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command.” Also Isaiah 45:12: “I made the earth, and created man upon it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.”

[NOTE: The monasteries generally side with Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios who teaches in his homilies on Genesis and Revelations that the Holy Spirit uses the language of the times because that’s how people talked, believed or understood their environment during the different periods in which these scriptures were written; i.e. “I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth” (Rev. 7:1) doesn’t imply that Christians thought the earth was a square or that there were literally four corners of the earth but it’s figurative language]

This is what Fr. Metallinos says on the subject of understanding and using the Holy Scripture as an authority on any human endeavor (from the three quotes I underlined in the article I sent you):

[1] Thus the Holy Scripture and the works of the Holy Fathers (the scientists of the faith) may contain scientific errors, as they relate to the findings of the natural sciences which are continuously reappraised.

[2] God teaches in the Scripture the truth about Himself and not (the scientific knowledge) about creation.

[3] Thus as concerns scientific subjects there is a possibility of a change of opinion based on the new findings.

[4] The problem with religion starts from the acceptance of the sacred books (e.g. Holy Scripture or Koran) as scientific text[s].

[5] In Orthodoxy, when it is Orthodoxy, there cannot be a case of Galileo.

“The Gospels,” says St. Augustine, “do not tell us that our Lord said, ‘I will send you the Holy Ghost to teach you the course of the sun and moon;’ we should endeavor to become Christians, and not astronomers.” So it is with the Mosaic account of creation. Its purport is not to teach geology, physics, zoology, or astronomy, but to affirm in the most simple and direct manner the creative act of God and His sovereignty over all creatures. Its object is not to anticipate any of the truths of science or philosophy, but to guard the chosen people of God against the pernicious errors and idolatrous practices which were then everywhere prevalent.

This is your second note:

AZ Evolution 2

You did not explain, Father, why the statement, “Evolution and creation are not seen by us as two opposite theories of how the world came about, but one and the same described from two different perspectives” “is not at all correct.” I provide two examples, but you did not refute them. I don’t think you can!

George Matallinos

Apparently, you believe that evolution is a godless theory devised by atheists to tear down belief in God. It has been used that way, but it does not have to, and it does not oppose religion and enlightened understanding of the Holy Scripture. It may be a surprise to you, but as much as creation of the world by God is Orthodox, creationism (the literal interpretation of Genesis and of the Scripture in general) is unorthodox! (God does not have “two hands,” but He has a Son and a Holy Spirit.)

Fr. Metallinos provides concrete answers on the subject of evolution, quoting from St. Basil the Great (PG 29, 36B and 29, 1164) and St. Gregory the Theologian (PG 44, 72B and 44, 148C), to the effect that both accept an evolutionary course in creation.

Specifically, Fr. Metallinos states:

[6] Basil the Great does not expect [to receive] from Scripture all the answers, deeming the scientific research indispensable.

[7] Theology waits patiently the progress of science for the comprehension of its theological tenets.

[8] Theology does not oppose the scientific position, about the age of man on earth, for example.

[9] The theologians accept the freedom of scientific research…

[10] “Science offers a more certain way toward God than religion”

God, according to St. Augustine as well as according to St. Gregory of Nyssa, first created matter in an elementary or nebulous state. From this primordial matter—created ex nihilo [from nothing]—was evolved, by the action of physical laws imposed on it by the Creator, all the various forms of terrestrial life that subsequently appeared. In this process of evolution there was succession, but no division of time. The Almighty completed the work He had begun, not intermittently and by a series of special creations, but through the agency of secondary causes—by the operation of natural laws and forces—causales rationes [causal reasons]—of which He was the Author.

And this is your third and final note:

AZ Evolution 1

Indeed science in many instances supports the biblical witness. But the faith of the Church does not stand or fall on whether God created the world in six solar days, or on whether “the earth was established above the waters,” as the psalm says, or on any area other than that of faith and morals. In those other areas the Holy Scripture may be wrong, as the Fathers who took it to the letter may also be wrong. Even the sacred and inspired writers used whatever human knowledge was available to them. We too use whatever knowledge we have today. Our faith remains the same, resting on a Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

Our faith cannot be challenged by science, because if any of its findings is true it will find acceptance by the Church.

The truths of faith and the truths of science belong to different categories indeed, but notwithstanding this fact they can never come into conflict. The truths of science are of the natural order, while the truths of faith belong to an order which is supernatural. Both have God for their author, and as He cannot contradict Himself, and as truth cannot be opposed to truth, so the truths of faith never can be at variance with the certain conclusions of science.

Draw, my dear brother in Christ, your conclusions, based not on fundamentalism, dogmatism, fanaticism, and “biblicalism,” but on the truth, no matter where it comes from. The truth is never our enemy. But if it challenges our beliefs, instead of finding fault with science we should perhaps re-check the foundation of our religious beliefs and revise them!

Someone said, The purpose of the Holy Scripture and of the Church is to teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go. Let’s leave that to science.

The last quote from St. Augustine reminds us of something profound that he has written, on which I very humbly invite you to prayerfully ponder upon and meditate, my dear brother in Christ:

If we come to read anything in Holy Scripture that is in keeping with the faith in which we are steeped, capable of several meanings, we must not by obstinately rushing in, so commit ourselves to any one of them that, when perhaps the truth is more thoroughly investigated, it rightly falls to the ground and we with it.

The following illuminating, pertinent quote comes also from the pen of the same saint:

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertions. [1 Timothy 1.7].

My hunch is that you are a convert from a fundamentalist Protestant denomination, and your conversion is not complete, because you don’t have the Orthodox phronema, and you don’t reflect the freedom the children of God enjoy.

It takes a great man to admit his error. I do not ask for apologies: just for your order to place a much-needed book on the shelves of your monastery bookstore, with the blessings of the Very Reverend Archimandrite Elder Ephraim.

Forgive me, brother.

Emmanuel Hatzidakis, Priest


Other writings by Fr. George Metallinos:

The Orthodox Scientist Today

Faith and Science as a Theological Problem

Orthodox Faith and Natural Science

Faith and Science in Orthodox Gnosiology and Methodology





Fr. Seraphim Rose: The Homosexual Atheist Who Found Orthodoxy and Became Sanctified (Michael Balchunas, 2001)

Background: The following article is taken from PCM Online, Spring 2001, Volume 37, No. 2. The original title was Lives of a Saint. The new title in use was inspired by one of the many Greek blogs that have translated this article. Other curious titles on Greek blogs are Fr. Seraphim Rose: The White Man’s Hour (or Time).


As a layman, Eugene Rose had homosexual relationships before his conversion to Orthodoxy. This has sometimes been a problematic issue for his biographers because homosexuality is condemned by the Orthodox Church (essentially, the only sex act blessed by God in Orthodoxy is vaginal penetration by a penis between a heterosexual couple married in a canonical orthodox church; i.e., no masturbation, oral, anal, fingering, premarital sex, etc.). Thus, Fr. Seraphim Rose’s pre-orthodox homosexual lifestyle is often not mentioned in his “official” biographies.

Over the years, editors would include Eugene’s homosexual inclinations on Fr. Seraphim’s Wikipedia page, as well as his Orthodox Wiki page. On these pages are claims that other biographers and scholars have questioned the authenticity of these sources, however, the editors haven’t cited any of these authors.

When Elder Ephraim first started building monasteries in America, some of the monastics spoke very freely about their low opinions concerning Fr. Seraphim Rose and the Platina Monastery. There were numerous reasons given. Some of the Philotheou monks did not like Fr. Seraphim’s style of writing. One of the theologians at Philotheou found numerous issues with the theology in a series of articles on Genesis and Creation that appeared in the periodical The Orthodox Word. These later were compiled and published as a book, Genesis, Creation and Early Man: The Orthodox Christian Vision, and was sold in many of Geronda Ephraim’s monastery bookstores.

Some of Geronda Ephraim’s spiritual children visited the various monasteries in America before they left the world to become monks on Mount Athos. One or two of these individuals who ended up at Philotheou and then in America, have said on more than one occasion that there was an underlying homosexual vibe and weirdness there (i.e. compared to how a “normal” monastery should function). Over the years, there have been accusations of homosexuality and molestation against Fr. Herman Podmoshensky who co-founded the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina. As well, there have been some in defense of Fr. Seraphim Rose articles attempting to dismiss the claims that he was a practising homosexual before he was chrismated.

But the biggest issue that Geronda Ephraim’s monastics had (have) with Fr. Seraphim Rose is the fact that he wasn’t received into the Orthodox Church via baptism but rather chrismation. According to Elder Ephraim, and the Patristic books sold at monasteries, only Orthodox baptism washes one’s sins away because Latins and heretics are unbaptized; i.e., there are no mysteries and Grace in non-orthodox churches so all their sacraments are invalid. Without baptism, the spiritual eyes remain closed. If an Orthodox Christian who was only received with chrismation enters Paradise, they will be blind because their spiritual eyes were never opened through Baptism (Geronda has said this more than once in relation to converts who were only received with chrismation and died without being baptized. So, there was always a dismissive and disdainful tone from the abbots of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries whenever Fr. Seraphim’s name came up. Of course, with laypeople they’d speak more tactfully because, after all, the bookstores still sold Fr. Seraphim’s books.

In 2000, Fr. Seraphim Rose’s monastery joined the Western American Diocese of the Church of Serbia. This meant that they were now in communion with the GOA which is the diocese Elder Ephraim’s monasteries are under. From this point on, the hard line opinions against Fr. Seraphim Rose weren’t expressed as freely in Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries and have become more “PC” over the years so as not to offend others. There is no longer open talk about the impossibility of him being canonically recognized as a saint due to his lack of baptism. Some have even theorized that St. John Maximovitch must have secretly baptized him like they do with adult converts in Elder Ephraim’s monasteries but there is no hint of this in any of his biographies.


Just south of Red Bluff on Interstate 5, there is a grisly sight: a detached, bleeding arm by the side of the highway, the white fingers reaching out toward the lanes of passing traffic.

It is riveting, even though it is just a painting. The arm, perhaps 30 feet long, is outlined in red on a semi-trailer set in a field. Painted above it, in big red letters, are the words, “This Blood Poured Out for Your Sins.” Then, as suddenly as it appears, the bleeding arm is past.

From Red Bluff, California 36 snakes westerly for 49 miles through sparsely populated foothills to the mountain hamlet of Platina, population 60, at the edge of the Trinity National Forest. Nearly trackless timberland stretches more than 100 miles to the north and to the south. To the west, tiny settlements with names such as Peanut and Mad River dot the state road as it wends toward the distant Pacific.

Here, on the broad shoulder of a mountain ridge high above Platina, is where Eugene Rose, a 1956 Pomona graduate, chose to leave the world.



For the first two days after death, the soul enjoys relative freedom and can visit places on Earth that were dear to it. On or about the third day, the soul passes through legions of evil spirits that obstruct its path and accuse it of various sins. The soul must pass these tests to avoid being immediately cast into Gehenna. If it successfully passes through, the soul for the next 37 days visits the abysses of heaven and hell, not knowing where it will remain. On the 40th day, its place is appointed. It will remain there until the resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgment.

This interpretation of ancient teachings of the Orthodox Church is summarized in a book, “The Soul After Death,” which is described by its publishers as Russia’s most popular work on the afterlife, although some Orthodox Christians strongly disagree with aspects of it. In Russia, despite the decades of Soviet suppression, Orthodoxy is, in effect, the national religion. Recent polls show that half to two-thirds of Russian citizens consider themselves Orthodox. Typewritten installments of “The Soul After Death” were distributed through the samizdat, the underground press, before the fall of communism.

Other works by the same reclusive Orthodox cleric, known as Fr. Seraphim, have also gained a following among the Russian faithful, and his ascetic life in the wilderness has assumed almost mythic proportions. Among some pious Russians, Fr. Seraphim is the object of veneration. In the dark hours when desperate people pray for miracles, some direct their prayers to him.

Before he became Fr. Seraphim, his name was Eugene Rose.

“You know, Father Seraphim is really for us Russians; he speaks to us in a special way,” a young Orthodox Russian told a recent visitor from America. Rose, however, visited Russia only in his heart; except for brief out-of-state travels, he spent his life in California. Born in 1934, he grew up in San Diego, where his father was a caretaker at Balboa Stadium. His mother was an ardent Protestant who sang in church choirs and frequently consulted the Bible.

“I think a large part of who Eugene was, was because of my grandmother,” says Rose’s niece Cathy Scott, author of a biography called Seraphim Rose: The True Story and Private Letters. Rose’s mother could be stern to an extreme, Scott says. After Eugene’s older brother, Franklin, accidentally set the garage on fire while playing with matches at age 4, his mother took Franklin inside and held his hand to a lighted stove to show him that fire hurt.

Rose’s mother had high expectations for her children, relatives say. Eugene excelled at school and received a scholarship to attend Pomona. During college, he immersed himself in philosophy, classical music and literature, theatre and languages. He moved within a circle of friends inclined toward intellectual and artistic pursuits.

“We were outsiders, and not unhappy about it,” says Laurence McGilvery ’54, an antiquarian. “We didn’t conform. We didn’t join fraternities, we didn’t drink beer; we were a more open and tolerant group in a time of heightened intolerance.” Rose, somewhat shy, was tall, slender and darkly handsome, with eyes that burned steadily, like blue flames. “He had an acute understanding of music, literature and philosophy,” McGilvery says.

“He was the most talented person I’ve known,” says Dirk van Nouhuys ’56, a writer. “He was always caring and thoughtful, and extremely intelligent and able. He was brilliant with languages and very talented at sports. I thought of him as a person with a broadly inquiring character and mind. He was someone who chose to make his own way in life to an unusual degree.”

It is a life both famous and obscure.

“We were the closest of friends, but there was this huge area of himself that he didn’t disclose to anybody,” says McGilvery. “And it’s clear now that it was the most important part.”

In the parlance of traditional Orthodox monasticism, a newly tonsured monk dies to the world and to his former life in order to find a new life in God. He forgets himself and leaves the world to seek true spiritual wisdom. Physical isolation helps the soul reject the worldly way of life.

The first time Eugene Rose died was when he was made a monk on the mountainside above Platina in 1970, at age 36. He and another man committed to Orthodoxy, a Russian American named Gleb Podmoshensky, had by then been living ascetic on the mountain for two years. They had established a skete, or small brotherhood, not as large or formal as a monastery. They cooked their meals outside on a camp stove, sometimes in knee-deep snow, and hauled water up from the base of the mountain in an old pickup truck. They published a journal they called The Orthodox Word, using a hand press Rose had bought for $200. They later bought a used Linotype machine and a generator to run it, and their flow of publications grew to include calendars and books.

Rose grew vegetables, with mixed results, in the reddish soil. The monks ate no meat, but did eat fish. The monastic rules they followed permitted no unnecessary talking, or casual reclining, or crossing one’s legs when seated. The skete was established not as a place of retreat but of seclusion and struggle. “We must have a minimum of ‘conveniences,'” Rose had written while planning his departure from the world, “…and trust in God instead of devices.”

Rose was a philosophy major when he started at Pomona in 1952.


“He was an unusual student,” says Professor of Philosophy Frederick Sontag. “He was unusual in his demeanor and the way he talked and the kinds of questions he asked.” Just before graduation, Rose asked Sontag for a letter of recommendation.

“Without question, Mr. Rose is an individualist,” Sontag wrote, “but, just because of this single-minded tendency, he is quite likely to make a name for himself in his chosen field. He is completely serious about his work, and his native intellectual ability is undoubtedly of the first order. Since his background was limited economically and intellectually prior to his college years, he is still exploring and trying to find his place in the academic world, but I feel that he is now very close to the specific area in which he may be able to make a significant contribution. He still has trouble with communication, but this should straighten itself out as he settles into his own area of specialty.”

While at Pomona, Rose and some friends, including McGilvery, heard a lecture by a former Anglican priest, Alan Watts, who had become a celebrity convert to Zen Buddhism. Rose was captivated. He would go on to study under Watts, who was known as a “beatnik guru,” at the American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco. Rose eventually drifted from the influence of Watts, deriding him as an “armchair Buddhist.” But it was at the Academy that Rose met a Chinese Taoist scholar named Gi-ming Shien, who had an indelible effect on him. Shien’s work focused on the ancient Chinese approach to learning. He valued traditional Chinese viewpoints and original classical texts over modern interpretations. Rose learned to read ancient Chinese so he could plumb the early Taoist texts.

Shien’s viewpoint was similar to that of the French metaphysicist René Guénon, who had perhaps the greatest influence on Rose’s philosophical development. Rose devoured Guénon’s books, reading them in the original French when he could not find translations. Guénon decried the flagging of the spirit of ancient cultures in contemporary Western society. Equating newness with progress was wrong, he believed. The ultimate truth, he suggested, could be found in the wisdom of the ages.

“It was Rene Guénon who taught me to seek and love the Truth above all else and to be unsatisfied with anything else,” Rose once wrote.

“When we wish to call the passions by a common name,” said St. Isaac the Syrian, a seventh-century cleric and one of the Holy Fathers of Orthodoxy, “we call them the world. But when we wish to distinguish them by their special names, we call them passions. The passions are the following: love of riches, desire for possessions, bodily pleasure which comes from sexual passion, love of honor which gives rise to envy, lust for power, arrogance and pride of position, the craving to adorn oneself with luxurious clothes and vain ornaments, the itch for human glory which is a source of rancor and resentment, and physical fear. Where these passions cease to be active, there the world is dead … Someone has said of the Saints that while alive they were dead; for though living in the flesh, they did not live for the flesh.

“See for which of these passions you are alive. Then you will know how far you are alive to the world, and how far you are dead to it.”

At Platina, Rose lived for years in an uninsulated shack without running water or electricity, with a tiny wood-burning stove for warmth. He built the cabin himself of salvaged lumber on land his parents helped him and Podmoshensky buy. In winter, the silent pine forest that pressed in on their outpost was often deep in snow. In summer, the heat could be stifling.

The cabin, called a cell in the monastic tradition, was about 8 feet by 10 feet. A tiny room attached to the main structure contained a small shelf of books that served as Rose’s library. Rose slept in a corner on a bed made of two boards.

From this shadowy cell, lit with candles and oil lamps, came a torrent of writings that exalt an ancient, literal, traditionalist view of the Orthodox faith, one that is considered extreme, even fanatical, by some clerics. Rose’s monastic brethren call it “suffering Orthodoxy.”

From here also came Rose’s most famous line, an oft-repeated apocalyptic warning: “It’s later than you think! Hasten, therefore, to do the work of God.”

Russian Orthodoxy is rent by a long-running feud between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, to which Rose belonged, and the Church within Russia. Those loyal to the Church Abroad contend that it is the true, free Church, preserver of the piety that existed before the Bolsheviks. They say that the Church hierarchy within Russia has been corrupted by decades of subservience to the Soviet regime. The Church Abroad, on the other hand, is regarded by its critics in Orthodoxy as a separatist group mired in very old, obsolete doctrines.

Much of Rose’s work seemed to bypass Church hierarchy altogether, speaking directly to the Russian laity, as well as to American converts. His admiration for Russia’s people and their struggles was undisguised. Rose, fervently anti-communist, suggested that communism’s fall, and the resurrection of Holy Russia, would presage the end of the world.

“Russia, the first country to experience the Communist yoke, is also the first country to begin to wake up from it and survive it,” he said in a 1981 lecture. “Despite the continued reign of Communist tyranny, atheism has not captured the soul of Russia, and the religious awakening that can been seen now in Russia is undoubtedly only the beginning of something immense and elemental: the recovery of the soul of a whole nation.”

After Rose died to the world and became a monk, and later a hieromonk, or priest-monk, he would still come out of the mountains about once a year to visit his mother. They maintained a loving correspondence until shortly before his second, bodily death in 1982.

Once, while Rose was visiting his mother in the San Diego suburb of La Mesa, he walked to a shopping center a few miles from her home. It was August, according to Rose’s niece Cathy Scott, and the temperature was over 100 degrees. Rose strode through the suburban neighborhoods in his heavy wool cassock, a towering, mysterious figure, his graying beard curling in long tendrils over his chest. People stared.

His sister, worried about him in the heat, went to pick him up in her car. “You’d think they’d never seen a priest before,” Rose said jokingly to her. She asked him why he hadn’t just driven their mother’s car on the errand.

“She won’t let me use it,” he said. “I backed over her mailbox five years ago, and she’s never forgotten.”

On a cool late afternoon in June 1956, while waiting for a train in Los Angeles, Eugene Rose, who was just shy of 22, wrote a letter to Laurence McGilvery.

“My dear Larry,” it began, “I am slightly drunk, having drunk a bottle of chablis at Fred Harvey’s Railroad Restaurant (Taix’s had a long line; at Fred’s the waitress didn’t know what chablis was.) I am rather stupid for not having told you, to your face, certain things before. My slight drunkenness gives me an opportunity, though it’s about time I told you when sober. If we are friends at all, such things cannot be ‘hid.’

“Fact number one: my mother has discovered, rather illegitimately (I shall tell you of it later) that I am homosexual; if you have not surmised the fact already, it is time you know of it. I have not quite been kicked out of the house, but I probably shall not return after September. My mother was quite hysterical, but my father persuaded her that I am only ‘sick.’ I have agreed to go to my friend’s psychiatrist in S.F., which I was rather interested in doing for other reasons, at parental expense.

“I suppose you have also surmised by now that I shall live this summer, and sleep, with a young man I love, and who loves me.

“I have been very stupid in Claremont. I have hardly been a friend to you. Forgive me. It is perhaps not Claremont of which I was sick, but myself. I suppose I have not told you earlier of myself because I feared you would regard me a bug, a monster, or merely ‘sick,’ as my parents regard me. I am certainly ‘sick,’ as all men are sick who are ever absent from the love of God, but I regard my sexual inclinations as perfectly ‘normal,’ in a sense I do not as yet understand.

“I shall be happy to hear from you, and to see you sometime soon.”

McGilvery reassured Rose of their friendship. They remained close for years, even though McGilvery did not share Rose’s accelerating religious fervor. “He would have known that I would have scoffed at the idea of devils roaming around the Earth and holy oils that could cure something,” McGilvery says. “I could have argued about his beliefs to the end of my life.”

He never got the chance. After Rose became a monk, McGilvery never heard from him again. He sent Rose a Christmas card year after year, but there was never a response. Once, a mutual friend visited Rose at Platina and asked him whether he had gotten the cards. Rose said that he had, and the friend asked why he had not written McGilvery back. “What would I say to him?” Rose replied.

In a lecture titled “The Orthodox World-View,” delivered shortly before his death, Fr. Seraphim Rose said:

“Anyone who looks at our contemporary life from the perspective of the normal life lived by people in earlier times–say Russia, or America, or any country of Western Europe in the 19th century–cannot help but be struck by the fact of how abnormal life has become today. The whole concept of authority and obedience, of decency and politeness, of public and private behavior–all have changed drastically, have been turned upside down except in a few isolated pockets of people–usually Christians of some kind–who try to preserve the so-called ‘old-fashioned’ way of life…

“It is obvious to any Orthodox Christian who is aware of what is going on around him today, that the world is coming to its end. The signs of the times are so obvious that one might say that the world is crashing to its end.” Rose went on to list some of these signs, which included: “The abnormality of the world. Never have such weird and unnatural manifestations and behavior been accepted as a matter of course as in our days. Just look at the world around you: what is in the newspapers, what kind of movies are being shown, what is on television, what it is that people think is interesting and amusing, what they laugh at: it is absolutely weird…

“The wars and rumors of wars, each more cold and merciless than the preceding, and all overshadowed by the threat of the unthinkable universal nuclear war, which could be set off by the touch of a button.

“The increasing centralization of information on and power over the individual, represented in particular by [an] enormous new computer in Luxembourg, which has the capacity to keep a file of information on every man living; its code number is 666 and it is nicknamed ‘the beast’ by those who work on it…”

“I could go on with details like this, but my purpose is not to frighten you, but to make you aware of what is happening around us. It is truly later than we think; the Apocalypse is now.”

John Christensen was a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, when Fr. Seraphim Rose gave two lectures there in 1981.

“He was the real catalyst in my conversion to Orthodoxy,” says Christensen, now a hieromonk known as Fr. Damascene. “He changed my life. I felt that he was a very important, major figure for our times, someone who had found the answers to modern Western man’s search for God and the meaning in life. So, very soon after he reposed, I started gathering material about him and writing about him.”

About 10 years later, in 1993, Christensen published Not of This World: The Life and Teaching of Fr. Seraphim Rose, Pathfinder to the Heart of Ancient Christianity. The 1,000-page biography is richly detailed, drawing on interviews with Rose’s friends, letters, information from relatives, Rose’s own writings, school and college records and other sources.

“I think it’s a nice work of fiction,” says Cathy Scott, Rose’s niece, who faults in particular its depictions of Rose’s early years and of his relationships with his family and friends. Her biography, published last fall, presents a distinctly different but no less striking portrait of Rose, especially of the life he led before he joined the Orthodox Church. Her book is filled with examples of Rose’s letters to his friends–scattershot musings on life, God, philosophy and culture–and the simple, homey notes he sent his mother about snowfalls or gardening at Platina. It was Scott’s book that, to the consternation of many Orthodox Christians, publicly revealed Rose’s homosexual activity before his conversion; Christensen, though aware of it, had chosen not to mention it.

The foreword to Scott’s book was written by a convert to Orthodoxy named Craig Young, now known as Fr. Alexey. Rose had been appointed Young’s spiritual father, and the two spent considerable time together, keeping in touch by letter when Young left the Platina area. In a review of Christensen’s book published in the journal Orthodox America, Young called it “a treasure and a disappointment, a joy and a sadness, an inspiration and a scandal.” He says that the biography was distorted by the influence of Podmoshensky, who had bitter differences with the church hierarchy after Rose’s death.

As a biographer of Rose and disseminator of his teachings, Christensen, a fluent writer, has been to a large degree the caretaker of Rose’s legacy as well. He says he is not interested in debating whose biography presents a truer picture of Rose. But he defends the accuracy of his work and says there is a reason for the approach he took.

“If you follow the general tenor of our society today,” he says, “there’s a belief you should just tell everything. But from an Orthodox Christian point of view, you don’t necessarily need to tell everything about a person. Orthodox Christians, like all Christians who truly respect the Holy Scriptures, regard homosexual relations as a sin. Father Seraphim died to that when he converted to the Orthodox faith. When I researched the material about his life, I wanted to respect what Father Seraphim would have wished to be presented in the book. And I know that he would not have wished that to be presented.”

It was Rose’s gay partner in San Francisco who introduced him to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. But while Rose was immersing himself in the mystique of ancient Orthodoxy, his partner, who had written a book about the Church, was losing interest in it. Soon the Church took Rose wholly, and he and his partner split up.

A social doctrine adopted by the Council of Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate last year describes homosexuality as “a sinful injury to human nature” to be “treated by sacraments, prayer, fasting, repentance and the reading of the Holy Scriptures.”

Referring to his young adult years before he became fully involved in the Orthodox Church, Rose once said: “I was in hell. I know what hell is.”

A narrow, arched doorway in a high white stucco wall opens into the courtyard at the mountainside skete Rose co-founded, now a full-fledged monastery with about a dozen priests, monks and brothers in residence. Shadows grow long in mid-afternoon as the sun creeps behind the treed ridge rising above the compound. The quietude is occasionally pierced by unearthly shrieks from the monastery’s peacocks.

At 5 p.m., before the Vespers service, the church bell is rung nine times, in reference to the ninth hour–when Christ died–and silent, bearded men in black cassocks and black cylindrical hats called klobuks emerge from the compound’s library and print shop and from cells in the pine-shrouded woods. Inside the darkened church, icons of saints and other holy ones cover the walls and crowd every shadowed recess. Many are painted–written, in Orthodox terminology–in muted egg tempera tones, using a process perfected in the Middle Ages. Oil lamps cast a pale yellow glow, and the smell of frankincense is strong.

Arriving clerics bow deeply and cross themselves before entering the main body of the church, which is open, with no pews. Some cross themselves and bow twice before certain icons, touching the right hand to the floor, before moving forward to kiss the icons. The lips may not touch the face depicted on the icon, only the feet or hands or clothing.

In the dark, quiet church, a young monk sings in a hushed monotone: “Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy…” Although the prayerful chants are in English, they sound centuries old. In the December chill and the flickering light of the lampadas, the black-robed priests and monks sing of suffering and redemption and everlasting life. After the service, they gather at a long, thick wooden table in the nearby refectory, warmed by a wood-burning stove, for a supper of vegetable stew with bread, accompanied by the reading of a spiritual text. They will rise well before dawn for the Matins service.

Eugene Rose is buried on the slope that rises from the middle of the compound. Over his grave is a rectangular wooden platform with roughly hewn benches and handrails. In the center is an empty wooden sarcophagus adorned with an oil lamp and candle, with an Orthodox cross at the head. The boards of this cenotaph, beneath which Rose’s body lies buried in the ground, have been stained dark with oil and wax.

When some pious Orthodox visit the grave, they leave with a piece of wood from rotting boards or a handful of dirt or a few drops of oil from the lamp. In the Orthodox tradition, holy relics and remains of saints are objects of veneration.

Rose was pronounced dead Sept. 2, 1982, at a hospital in Redding. For days he had endured agonizing stomach pain and had kept to his cell, resisting entreaties that he go to a doctor. When his condition worsened, monks drove him to the emergency room. It was found during surgery that a blood clot had blocked a vein leading from the intestines, parts of which had become gray and gangrenous. He lingered for a week in intensive care.

Fr. Alexey Young was at his bedside near the end. “He was unable to speak at this point,” he says. “We began to softly sing his favorite church hymn, for Good Friday, in Russian chant. As we sang, we saw two tears come down his cheeks. And we wept also, knowing that soon he would hear this hymn sung not by mortal men and women, but by angels.”

Almost immediately, there were reports of visions and miracles. A woman whose son had received spiritual guidance from Rose said that, the day before Rose died, she received a visitation. “I was working in the back room,” she said, “and at the same time thinking how I wished I was at the hospital with all of you. Suddenly, time stopped, and in front of me I saw Father Seraphim all shining, wearing glittering, silvery vestments–these are the closest words I can use to describe the light. I caught my breath and said, ‘Oh, Father Seraphim!’ I was too astonished to say anything except ‘thanks.’ Time was not running–all was now. I will make no interpretation of this event, at this time or later. I felt comforted, and I hope that this event comforts you also. I am very unworthy, and I don’t know what more to say about this.”

Many who knew Rose, and some who have only read his works, say that he was a saint. Whether he will be approved for canonization in the Orthodox Church is another matter. The path to glorification begins with the faithful, when they turn from praying for the soul of the deceased to requesting his intercession before God. The extent of this veneration, including the writing of icons, is a factor, as are verified miracles before or after the righteous one’s death. Uncovering of the remains and transfer of the relics to a holy site have been a tradition of the glorification ritual since ancient times. If the remains are well preserved or the bones emit a sweet fragrance, it is often considered a sign the deceased has found favor with God.

Those who knew him saw very different sides of Eugene Rose.

“I wasn’t close to him,” says Cathy Scott, “but I don’t think anyone was. He wouldn’t let any of us in the family hug him, he was so disciplined. I think he was lonely. I think he was close to God.”

Dirk van Nouhuys says, “I thought of Eugene as a person who looks for answers to life’s problems. Most people keep on looking, but Eugene stopped. I think what we missed is the degree of suffering that was within him. His outward personality kind of obscured the inner desperation he must have felt to have embraced such a rigid system.”

Fr. Alexey Young said shortly after Rose’s death that some people, “who could not understand either his writings or his sermons, and judged him primarily by his appearance, saw his dusty and tattered robes and long, matted beard, and disdained him. Behind his back, he was more than once called a ‘dirty monk.’ The fact is, he was a true monk, an angel in the flesh, dead to this world but alive to the next, and more concerned about purifying his soul than adorning his body. His example was a reproach to us all.”

Gleb Podmoshensky, Rose’s monastic partner, once said of him: “Above all, Father Seraphim knew how to suffer.”

Fr. Damascene Christensen, who is working on the third edition of his biography of Rose, says, “The real Father Seraphim is the man that he became. He had been a lost but searching sinner, and in converting to Orthodox Christianity, he truly repented. He once wrote, ‘When I became a Christian I voluntarily crucified my mind, and all the suffering that I bear has only been a source of joy for me. I have lost nothing, but gained everything.’ He was able to cut through the deceptions of our times, the false philosophies, and go to the heart of the truth.”

Laurence McGilvery cherishes a different sort of memory. Well before Rose left the world to become an ascetic monk, he and McGilvery were lunching in San Francisco. “His sandwich came with a pickle and mine did not,” McGilvery says. “We both silently observed this, and finally he said, quietly, ‘Have a pickle,’ and I ate it. Years later, while he was walking with my wife, he told her: ‘Once Larry did the strangest thing when we were having lunch together. My plate had a pickle, and his did not. I said, ‘I have a pickle,’ and he inexplicably just picked it up and ate it.”

When his wife later told him what Rose had said, McGilvery, amused, wrote a note under the words “The Misunderstanding,” intending to hand it to Rose so he could watch his expression when he read it. The mystery’s resolution “was the kind of Zen moment he was so attracted to,” McGilvery says. More than 30 years later, McGilvery still has the note. “This was before he disappeared,” he says.

Although the daily rhythms of monastic life remained the same, there were changes at Platina in the years after Rose was buried there. Fr. Alexey described them in his Orthodox America article as “sad and, frankly, terrible events.” According to him, there was a falling out between Rose and Podmoshensky, known as Fr. Herman, shortly before Rose’s death.

Fr. Herman, the monastery’s abbot, was suspended from priestly duties in 1985 and formally defrocked four years later after conflicts with the church hierarchy. The brotherhood that he and Rose had co-founded in the 1960s was disassociated from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, but Fr. Herman continued to serve as a cleric under a non-canonical bishop. Last fall, he retired from active involvement in the brotherhood. He lives in seclusion not far from Platina.

In November, after existing for more than a decade outside ecclesiastically sanctioned Orthodoxy, the brotherhood was accepted into a diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Fr. Gerasim Eliel, a priest-monk who has lived at the monastery since 1981, was appointed by the Serbian Orthodox Church as the new abbot. The tiny cell that Rose constructed in the woods and named Optina, after a famous Russian hermitage bloodily suppressed under communism, is still in use. Fr. Damascene stays there now. –Michael Balchunas

Related Links

Site about Seraphim Rose, including articles, icons, and even miracles:

Books about Rose:

Texts concerning Rose’s “anti-Catholic” beliefs:

Veneration of Rose:


Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriot Starts Petition to Save St. Anthony’s Monastery from being Rezoned

Seraphim Larsen has been a spiritual child of Geronda Paisios, abbot of St. Anthony’s Monastery, almost since the beginning of the monastery’s establishment in Florence; circa 1995. Geronda Paisios baptized him into the orthodox faith during a secret ceremony. Seraphim was the chairman of the Pinal County Republican party.1 Furthermore, he is also a member of the Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots.2 It is no secret that Geronda Paisios has openly supported Ron Paul and other right-wing candidates when asked by his spiritual children who they should vote for. Greek edition books concerning the New World Order and Globalism that are sold in St. Anthony’s bookstore contain photocopies from English pamphlets distributed by American neo-Nazi groups.



According to the PRAVSLAVIE:3

A developer is proposing drastic changes to the zoning and land usage for parcels of land IMMEDIATELY ADJACENT to Saint Anthony’s Monastery. These changes would have a dramatic and significant negative impact to Saint Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery. It would also be a dramatic negative impact to all the local residents and out-of-state visitors who attend services there, to all the families who have relatives buried in the cemetery, and to everyone who currently enjoys the tranquil and graceful nature of the Monastery.

The proposed development is truly a drastic change:
• Over 200 new houses are to be developed on land north of the Monastery, including the area immediately adjacent to the Monastery Cemetery
• A new road is to be built extending from Paisano Road, then running in between the two Monastery hills, immediately at the base of the Prophet Elias Chapel, then very close to the cemetery. As this would be the only access road to the 200+ houses, traffic and noise would be greatly increased.
• The noise, traffic, housing, music, animals, etc. would bring a dramatic change to the whole community, disturbing not only the Monastery but the neighbors as well.
• The natural habitat and wildlife would be impacted by a big new development as well, disturbing several rare plant and animal species in the area.

YOUR URGENT ACTION IS REQUESTED! Public meetings are already scheduled for the coming week!! Please sign the petition immediately!

The petition simply asks the local authorities to leave the zoning of these properties unchanged. The purpose of zoning laws is to provide long-term expectations for property owners on how the land in their neighborhood is intended to be used. This allows people to plan and build in a manner appropriate to the existing neighborhood. The proposed new development represents a drastic change to current zoning usage and would have a strongly negative impact on the local community.

The petition also asks the Bureau of Land Management and the Arizona State Land Department simply to leave the usage of these properties unchanged. These agencies must approve any changes to the land usage where the developer wants to build the new road, since it passes through lands controlled by those agencies.

There is a private hearing early next week with Planning & Zoning and the local property owners (including the monastery). The monastery is hoping to bring as many signatures as possible (both paper petitions and printouts of the online petition) to that meeting.

If they don’t make a decision following that initial meeting, it’s likely they will have a public hearing sometime over the next few weeks.

Readers wishing to sign the petition can do so here: https://www.change.org/p/preserve-the-sacred-grounds-of-saint-anthony-s-monastery

Map showing the support from people all over the world.

Seraphim Larsen has also made a sample email for people to send:4

Send to: Pinal County Supervisors: Pete Rios <Pete.Rios@pinalcountyaz.gov>, Cheryl Chase <cheryl.chase@pinalcountyaz.gov>, Steve Miller <Steve.Miller@pinalcountyaz.gov>, Anthony Smith <Anthony.Smith@pinalcountyaz.gov>, Todd House <Todd.House@pinalcountyaz.gov>

Subject Line: Leave Zoning Unchanged near Saint Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery

Email Body:

Dear Pinal County Supervisors,

Thank you for all the great things you are doing for Pinal County!

I am writing to ask you to leave the zoning unchanged near Saint Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery at the end of Paisano Road in the Cactus Forest area immediately south of Florence.

Elmore/Brimhall LLC has submitted a rezoning application to the Pinal County Planning and Zoning Commission, asking that a large parcel immediately adjacent to the north border of the Monastery be rezoned from General Rural to a Residential classification for one-acre residential homes.

I am writing to you to express my strong opposition to this rezoning proposal. The Monastery is the spiritual home to thousands of Greek Orthodox faithful who regularly attend services and pray on the peaceful grounds of the Monastery. The Monastery is the actual residence to over fifty Greek Orthodox Monks who have devoted their lives to worship, prayer, and serving the community. The Monastery is world-renowned for its tranquil, beautiful, and holy grounds, a major tourist attraction where tens of thousands of people visit every year from Arizona and around the world. Many visitors have also expressed interest and concern about the natural habitat and wildlife, and the negative impact of significant development. Finally, the Cemetery at the Monastery is the resting place for many faithful people whose family and relatives would be greatly disturbed to have a busy new road and housing development immediately adjacent to the cemetery, with road noise, houses, animals, and music disturbing the peace of the holy grounds.

I strongly urge you to advise the Planning and Zoning Commission to deny this application for a zoning change.

Thank you for your time and consideration.




More than 5,000 signatures!

Seraphim Larsen

Florence, AZ

JUN 3, 2016 — We passed two significant milestones yesterday:

• We exceeded 5,000 signatures! The petition continues to build momentum!

• We had the meeting with the developer, with the Monastery and the other adjacent property owners.

The developer presented their plans and explained why they are asking for a change in zoning. They listened to the Monastery’s objections but gave no hint of conceding anything to the Monastery—they fully intend to go forward with their rezoning application. The one other neighbor who attended the meeting seemed sympathetic to the Monastery’s concerns, but their own concerns were more about how the development could impact access to their own property, which is at the far end of the development.

In other words, there weren’t any real surprises—this is the outcome we were expecting. The developer is not going to give up this project easily.

This meeting was required for the developer to complete the submission of their zoning application, which will all be turned over to the Planning and Zoning Commission in 1-2 weeks. A public hearing before the Planning & Zoning Commission will then be scheduled—we will be sure to let everyone know when that will happen and how you can speak at the hearing if you want.

It’s likely there will be more than one public hearing with Planning & Zoning, who will eventually make their recommendation to the County Board of Supervisors. The Supervisors will then address the question at another public meeting, at which they will approve or deny the rezoning application.

We will keep everyone informed every step of the way, and let you know what you can do to help. For now, please continue to email the Board of Supervisors—especially if you are local or in-state. See the link below for a sample message and all the contact information for the Board members.


Please also keep the Monastery in your prayers, and also the many people who are working to support the effort to block the rezoning.



  1. http://sonoranalliance.com/pinal-county-republican-chairman-endorses-robert-graham-for-azgop-chairman/
  2. http://phoenixteaparty.ning.com/profile/SeraphimLarsen
  3. http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/93666.htm
  4. https://www.facebook.com/groups/PreserveSaintAnthonys/


Worshipers oppose development near Pinal monastery

Facing public outcry, landowners pull plan for subdivision near Florence monastery

Update on the Quebec Nuns’ Christmas Shopping Spree in Ohio

NOTE: A couple new articles on the Friends of St Nektarios Monastery Tumblr page sheds some light on the methodology used by Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries  to “invalidate” a story; i.e. to render a historical event and reality non-existent, as if it never happened. http://friendsofstnektariosmonastery.tumblr.com/


A few months ago, a story from the Lehman’s Country Store Blog about Geronda Ephraim’s nuns travelling 10 hours from Quebec to a small Ohio town to fill two vans with thousands of dollars worth of merchandise was circulating around the web. At the time of the nuns’ shopping spree, the Canadian dollar was very low (1 CAD = 0.72453 USD, thus 1,000.00 USD = 1,380.21 CAD; 1,000.00 CAD = 724.53 USD) The Loonie lost 17% of its value in 2015, the second-worst year it’s ever had. Also, most of the products purchased were readily available in stores close to the monastery and/or generally within the Quebec borders. Furthermore, the nuns bought a large amount of canned meat (designed for survivalist situations). However, monastics are forbidden to eat meat by the ecclesiastical canons, at these products are not fit to feed farm animals.

This blog posted the story a day after it was published on Lehman’s blog: https://scottnevinssuicide.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/canadian-nuns-drive-10-hours-to-ohio-to-purchase-armageddon-supplies/

Less than 3 months after this shopping extravaganza, the monastery in Quebec held an annual fundraiser dinner to raise more money for the monastery. In the past, the monasteries have not participated in policies of financial transparency. The amount of money they raised that night is not available to the public.


Montreal nuns 2a
Gerondissa Thekla, Metropolitan Sotirios and other priests celebrating the inauguration of the monastery’s new cheese-making facilities.

Someone identifying himself as a “concerned pilgrim” contacted the Metropolis in Canada and asked the Metropolitan about the nuns’ excessive spending, especially when the exchange rate was so low. The following is a brief synopsis of these events, followed by the entire email exchange at the end of the article.

Sisters Quebec
Screenshot of Lehman’s Facebook Page containing the detailed story of the nuns’ all day shopping spree. Lehman’s later deleted this story from their Facebook Page.

December 16, 2015, The day Lehman’s published the story a concerned pilgrim wrote their bishop, Metropolitan Sotirios and asked about this peculiar incident. The entire email exchange, spanning over 2 months and producing no answers or explanation, can be read at the end of this article.

December/January, Lehman’s social media sites start deleting the post about the nuns’ shopping spree.

January 10, 2015, a priest from Montreal responded to the pilgrim and essentially said, “You’re wrong, it is not true.” By this time, all the social media platforms belonging to Lehman’s had deleted the story, though their digital footprints still remain on the web.

January 17, 2016, the pilgrim responds to this priest and writes the bishop again concerning the unsatisfactory and offensive answer he received.

January 20, 2016, the Metropolitan responds, claiming “regarding the purchases of the nuns of Panagia the Comforter Monastery from the Lehman’s Hardware and Appliances Inc. I do not know anything about this. I have asked Abbess Thekla for an explanation and then I will write to you.”

February 19, 2016, the concerned pilgrim writes another inquiry due to having heard nothing in a month

February 23, 2016, Basil Roccas answers on behalf of the bishop, stating “Gerondissa Thekla fell sick with pneumonia while on a pilgrimage to Arizona recently, and as of last week was still in Arizona.  She presumably has not had the opportunity to reply to His Eminence’s letter, and this is why His Eminence has not replied to you.”

March 6, 2016, The Quebec Monastery has their annual fundraiser.

May 15, 2016, As of this date there has been no further response from the Metropolis. Ignoring people does not make them go away… lack of transparency does not inspire people to donate money, either.

Lehmans Tweetbear Page
Lehman’s original Tweet archived on Tweetbear

The Holy Light: Legend or Reality? (Fr. George Tetsis, Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, 2006)

NOTE: The following article is taken from the newspaper Vema, April 21, 2006. The article is followed by quotes from contemporary Greek Orthodox clergymen and theologians who openly admit that the Sleepless Lantern (i.e. the sanctuary oil lamp, which is supposed to be extinguished on Good Saturday) is in fact left lit! These quotes are followed by an English translation of the Patriarch’s Prayer.

  • “The Patriarch doesn’t pray to conduct the miracle.”
  • “The Holy Light from heaven is nothing but a legend.”
  • “The Patriarch lights his candle from the unsleeping oil lamp.”

The forthcoming feast of Pascha brought the issue of the Holy Light’s touch back to the limelight…

The happenings in Jerusalem and the risk of politicizing a basic liturgical act of our faith now gives the Church a unique opportunity to lift the veil of mystery that covers the Holy Light’s touch to this day; to enlighten the faithful regarding the theological background and symbolism of this beautiful an d delightful ceremony.

I will explain myself. For centuries now, there has been a widespread conviction among the pious, yet theologically and liturgically uneducated, orthodox faithful who search for “miracles” to fill a spiritual void: during the ceremony, the Holy Light descends miraculously “from heaven” to light the Patriarch’s candle.

However, as the eminent professor Constantine Kalokyres relates in his erudite book, The Architectural Complex of the Temple of the Resurrection in Jerusalem and the Subject of the Holy Light, concerns a legend that has been cultivated in the Holy Land after the Crusaders’ invasion and within the framework of the Orthodox-Latin-Armenian conflict in which each one claimed the privilege of “receiving the eternal light from heaven” for themselves.

The prayer that the Patriarch offers inside the Holy Sepulcher is clear and not open to any misinterpretation. The Patriarch does not pray to conduct the miracle. He simply “recalls” Christ’s sacrifice and Resurrection on the 3rd day and addresses Him, saying: “We piously take from the light that diligently and eternally burns on Your light-bearing Sepulcher, we spread it among those who believe in You, who are the true light, and we pray and plead with You, oh Holiest Despota, so that You will elevate [the light] into a gift of sanctification and fill it with Your divine grace…” This means that the Patriarch lights the candle from the unsleeping oil lamp located in the Holy Sepulcher. Every Patriarch and cleric does precisely that on the day of Pascha when he takes Christ’s Light from the unsleeping oil lamp located upon the Holy Table symbolizing the Lord’s Tomb.

However, the mystery that has been cultivated around the Holy Light ritual and the vulgar perceptions about it nowadays contributed to the appropriation and exploitation of this highly symbolic and compunctionate liturgical practice of our Church from external religious circles. The reason for the mockery of the Holy Light’s organized air transportation to Greece—escorted by governmental actors, honorary detachments, lightly-armed infantrymen, and boy scouts (and, of course, TV crews!)—is the Modern Greek celebrates “the authentic Greek Pascha.” As if our ancestors did not celebrate Christ’s Resurrection before the airplane was invented! Or, as if the Orthodox from the ends of the earth didn’t celebrate the Lord’s Pascha since the Olympic didn’t “fly” in their countries!


Protpresbyter George Metallinos

Fr. George publicly admitted his reservations about the Holy Light phenomenon on [Greek] national television: “When a specific Patriarch has faith and the grace of God, then the miracle takes place. When faith is lacking, the lamp may be used…” Of course, if the Patriarch can use the sanctuary lamp in case he’s not worthy, that means it has not been extinguished! Fr. George was severely criticized after this revelation.

In his book, Φωτομαχικά-Αντιφωτομαχικά, Fr. George writes that the key to understanding the ceremony and the nature of the light (“natural or supernatural”) we must see what the prayer says and the unforced conclusion is that the light is lit in a perfectly natural manner, its purpose is purely symbolic and its sanctity is derived from the fact that it comes from the Holy Sepulchre!

In the prayer recited by the Patriarch, “[…] there is not even a mention (not even a hint) about an immaterial light descending from above at that moment, but it is implied that the light is only natural and is lit in memory of the Risen Christ” (p. 33).

Fr. George distanced himself from the logic of the purposeful cover-up by the Church, characteristically stating that he prefers ‘the atheists’ who downright reject any possibility of a miracle, concerning the Holy Light to the concealment of the truth, […] for any reason. A truth indirectly confessed by the church through the prayer read during the Good Saturday ceremony.


Constantine Kalokyris

In his book, The Architectural Complex of the Temple of the Resurrection in Jerusalem and the Subject of the Holy Light, Constantine quotes and analyzes the Patriarch’s prayer in depth. He reaches the same conclusion that Fr. George Metallinos himself accepted in his 2001 study; i.e., that the light is lit in a perfectly natural manner, its purpose is purely symbolic and its sanctity is derived from the fact that it comes from the Holy Sepulcher!

Το αρχιτεκτονικό συγκρότημα τού Ναού της Αναστάσεως Ιεροσολύμων και το θέμα του Αγίου Φωτός

As Mr. Kalokyres notes “the prayer is very illuminating.” Indeed, there is no mention of a miraculously appearing light, but “it is implied that the light is natural and lit in remembrance of the Risen Christ, the only true light of the World.” So the Patriarch himself produces the light, in remembrance of that miracle, symbolically reproducing Christ’s Theophany. “And the Prayer […] goes on to explain where the light used to light the candles and then passed on to the faithful comes from. And the place is the Holy Sepulcher and the source of the light, which the Patriarch piously receives, is the holy lantern that CONTINUOUSLY burns and is always kept lit there.”

Completing his analysis, Mr. Kalokyres particularly stresses the word “elevate” (ἀναδείξῃς) which “clearly states that the light (not only isn’t being sent down from heaven, but) hasn’t yet been turned into a special ‘gift of sanctification’ […] However, if the light had been sent from heaven, then the Patriarch wouldn’t be asking for it to be elevated. And how will this elevation become possible? The prayer explains it: Through the grace of the Holy Sepulcher.”

In support of his interpretation Mr. Kalokyres points to the blessings of the Great Sanctification of the Waters during Theophany (which prays for the water to become ‘an apotropaic gift of sanctification’ (‘‘ὕδωρ ἁγιασμοῦ δῶρον καί … ἀναδειχθῆναι αὐτό ἀποτρόπαιον…”), and the transubstantiation prayer offered during the St. Basil’s Eucharist [the priest requests that God ‘bless, sanctify and elevate’ (‘‘εὐλογῆσαι, ἁγιάσαι και ἀναδεῖξαι”) the Holy Gifts. In both these prayers we have ‘sanctification’ and ‘elevation,’ just like in the Holy Light prayer.

On the matter of the body search that the Patriarch is (supposedly) subjected to, Mr. Kalokyres says that it is “a legend, the product of the lower, pious naivety of the people […] which degrades [the Patriarch’s] honest and flawless behavior and renders him as an accomplice to the production of a false miracle […].” For, “the removal of the vestments and his appearance with the sticharion alone is part of this ceremony of the Church. The process is meant to signify that the Patriarch, expressing humility and deep piety, before even approaching and crossing into the Most Holy Inner Sanctum is disrobed of all vestments that reveal his rank as a bishop” remaining with “the sticharium alone (the simplest and common vestment of all ranks of the clergy)!” There is a large gap between the process of voluntarily disrobing of all external vestments and an ‘exhaustive body search!’

Constantine Kalokyres

Mr. Kalokyres  gently ‘chastises’ the Church for its choice to “silently bypass the underlying religious enthusiasm and holy fervor” of the faithful (“perhaps not willing to shake the beliefs of the simple folk”). In the end he declares the Church free of any responsibility, since “the Church of Jerusalem has officially, with a special ceremony (i.e. the special prayer) expressed the whole truth about the Holy Light and its nature.” (Κ. Δ. Καλοκύρης, Το αρχιτεκτονικό συγκρότημα τού Ναού της Αναστάσεως Ιεροσολύμων και το θέμα του Αγίου Φωτός, University Studio Press, 1999, pp.164-165; 218-220)

Demetrios Kokoris

Even though this theologian clearly wrote in his book, The Holy Light (Άγιο Φως), that all flames are extinguished, during a talk show on Good Thursday he repeatedly claimed that there is a flame in the Chamber, but it just is not used!

Cornelius, Metropolitan of Petra, twice the locum tenens of the Jerusalem Patriarchal Throne

“The prayers have the power to sanctify the natural light and here we’re speaking about a natural light. But the prayers that are read by the Patriarch also consecrate the natural light and therefore it has the grace of the holy light. The invocation or prayer of the priest is the miracle and the light is sanctified. It is the natural light that is lit from the sleepless oil lamp which is kept in the sacristy of the Church of the Resurrection” Watch the 6:50 mark of the following video:

One of the biggest religious lies is—as it seems—the ‘miracle’ of the Holy Light, which every Pascha ‘miraculously’ illuminates the Holy Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem. I. Kardasis, a correspondent of the newspaper “Orthodox Press” (01/05/25), wrote on the subject of ‘Holy Fire’ and raised major questions that should be asked and answered by every sincere Christian. Let us pay attention to what he writes about the non-miraculous elements of the ‘Holy Fire’:

  1. On Great Wednesday (04.11.2001), Metropolitan Cornelius was interviewed about the Holy Fire on the “Mega” channel show “Grey Zones.” If the four of us heard and understood well, the above Prelate, who will be given the Holy Light in three days, said among other things, the following:
  2. a) The Patriarch divests himself of every stole and remains in his white esoraso not to check for any flammable materials, but to remain in the white robe symbolizing the angels’ robe.
  3. b) The Patriarch enters the Tomb with candle and prays saying a special prayer and lights up the Light from the light Sleepless Oil Lamp. The natural light of the oil lamp is transformed into Holy Light with this special prayer. So natural light is sanctified and transformed into the Holy Light. Then he exits the tomb and delivers the Holy Light to the crowd in the Holy Church and thereby to the whole world. (…)

MEGA Channel on 11/4/2001 http://www.tyxikos.gr/01-78-6.html


Makarios III (Mouskos), Archbishop of Cyprus (1950-1977)

“These days we host the sacred archbishopric echelon by the metropolitans from the Jerusalem Patriarchate. One night after supper, Archbishop Makarios proposed we take our coffee in the great Synodicon. So we were discussing various issues there. Makarios asked the visiting Metropolitans: ‘Holy brothers, now that you’re here, it is an opportunity for you to solve a question I have.’ They told him, ‘we are at your disposal Makarios if we can, why not’. And Makarios said to them: ‘Holy brothers, please tell me what happens with the miracle of the Holy Fire. Is it indeed a miracle?’

“The Metropolitans from Jerusalem smirked and told him: ‘Makarios, we’re fooling the people, it is our shame to fool you also.’ Makarios said: ‘Are you saying that it’s not a miracle?’ They replied, ‘No, it is not a miracle!’ Makarios asked, ‘Well, what is it, then?’ They responded, ‘Beatitude, it is a ceremony that takes place every Great Saturday in the Church of the Resurrection.’ Makarios aksed them: ‘Why don’t you tell people the truth?’ And they replied: ‘Beatitude who would dare to tell the truth to the people? They would lynch us!’ This was the Archpriest’s story” (Told by a Cypriot Hieromonk; see video below)

Benedict, Patriarch of Jersualem (1957-1980)

“Once the pilgrim sets foot in Jerusalem, there is a clique, a gang, which is authorized by the Patriarchate to receive pilgrims upon their arrival. Indeed, they have a way to pester, daze, and blind them, to se and not to see…The Patriarchate’s clappers tell them, ‘Now we will give you the so-called indulgence…and they pay a pound!’ All these things occurred under Patriarch Benedict.” (Told by Haralmabos Katenidis, Archdeacon of the Jerusalem Patriarchate)

“Absolution Certificate” of Patriarch Benedict of Jerusalem, issued in 1957.

Haralmabos Katenidis, Archdeacon of the Jerusalem Patriarchate

In a video documentary interview with ecclesiastical writer, Stylianos Charlampakis, the Archdeacon reveals the Holy Light fraud! (September 7, 1965)
“Details about the so-called miracle of the holy light cannot be communicated because of scandal. But happily, since you asked me, I will tell you in summary how the ceremony happens and how you receive the ‘holy’ light. On Great Friday, after the procession of the Epitaph around the Holy Sepulchre, the Patriarch puts the Epitaph on the Tomb. After this, they extinguish all the oil lamps inside and outside the Tomb. The following day, Great Saturday, the Sacristan carries a special lit oil lamp—veiled with silver cover—which is placed in the Holy Sepulchre. Then the governor of Jerusalem seals the Sepulchre. While all the lights and oil lamps are always extinguished, the special oil lamp within the tomb remains lit. At the 10th hour, after the relative litanies around the Holy Sepulchre during which they chant the “O Joyous Light” (φως ιλαρόν), the gates of the Temple of the Holy Sepulchre are opened and the people enter. Simultaneously, the gate of the Kouvouklion where the tomb is located opens and the Patriarch enters, after typically he removes his sacerdotal vestments and remains only with sticharion. After a relative typical prayer, he takes the ‘holy’ light, certainly not miraculously, to be honest, but he lights his torch from the lit special oil lamp that the sacristan had previously transferred. This, in short, is the procedure for the ‘holy’ light.”

NOTE: There is also a second way to get this fake light. Spread the Tomb plate with phosphorus the day before and then the Patriarch rubs the plate with cotton and the light emerges.

Archbishop Nikeforos Theotokes

In 1880, the Archbishop stated that the light doesn’t miraculously descend from heaven, but is rather lit by the Patriarch and then distributed sanctified to the faithful, with the church being unable to cure ‘the people’s vulgar perception’ (Φωτομαχικά-Αντιφωτομαχικά, pp. 29-30)

“The Patriarch produces fire over the Life-giving Sepulchre by striking a flint”

Spyros Karatheodoris

In his unpublished work, Objection (Αντίρρησις 1832-1836),  Spyros criticizes Koraes for his polemic against the Jerusalem Patriarchs but leaves no margin for misinterpretation on the matter of the ‘Holy Light:’

  • “[…]it became customary to ignite light over the Holy Sepulchre and from that other festive lights[…]””
  • Concerning the Holy Light of Jerusalem, none of the patriarchs, bishops, priests and those with [decent] ecclesiastical background believe it to be miraculous […]”
  • “But why do they call it ‘Holy Light’? Yes! Holy Light! Because it is lit on the Holy Sepulchre and the faithful piously receive it, but this piety has degenerated into superstition, because of the ignorance of the many, and made stronger amongst the naivest of our brothers the belief, which the papal priests always spread, that the light is lit miraculously.”
  • “Therefore, the light is blessed for no other reason than for the fact that it is lit on the Lord’s Sepulchre, on the day the great mystery of the resurrection transpired […]”

(Φωτομαχικά-Αντιφωτομαχικά, pp.350-351)

Archimandrite Prokopios Dendrinos of Mount Athos

In his unpublished treatise On the Holy Light (Τα περί του Αγίου φωτός) [ca. 1833], Fr. Prokopios  heavily criticizes all the secrecy surrounding the ‘miracle,’ calling it directly suspicious and misleading. He even directs an incredible challenge to the Fraternity of the Holy Sepulcher:

“Let them leave the lanterns of the Temple unprepared, without oil and wicks, the Chamber doors open, so anyone can see the plaque over the tomb, so everything is visible, as was the case with prophet Elijah. Let the doormen step away, or even better, conduct a diligent search of the Tomb and clean the entire plaque with clear water and then pour an entire amphorae over it. Have them even restrict entry even to the representative of the Patriarch from Good Thursday morning till Sunday morning. And then let the “light-producer” enter and receive the Light! All this secrecy is suspicious and is not meant to prevent the introduction of man-made light -since this is impossible- but so that the preparations, i.e. the fraud, won’t become obvious. For, the candles are prepared by the Patriarchal Warden and not the laymen who do the temple chores as usual. The candles are covered with a flammable material and no one else is allowed to receive the light; not even the most prestigious clerics and pilgrims. Everything suggests that this is a downright human fabrication and this is even whispered among the Sepulcher Fraternity.” (Φωτομαχικά-Αντιφωτομαχικά, pp. 128, 361)

Bishop Porphyrius Uspensky (1804-1885)

In his diaries, the Bishop wrote that the clergy in Jerusalem knew that the Holy Fire was fraudulent.

First, Bishop Porphyrius quotes a certain Hierodeacon Gregory, who “upon entering the chapel of the Sepulcher at the time when, according to common belief, the Holy Fire descends, saw with horror that the fire was being lit simply from a lampada which is always [kept] burning; and so the Holy Fire is not a miracle. He himself [Hierodeacon Gregory] told me about it today.”

Second is the following story, which he says he heard directly from Metropol­itan Dionysius:

In the same year that the famous Ibrahim, Pasha of Egypt and lord of Syria and Palestine, was in Jerusalem, it was found to be that the fire received at the Lord’s Sepulcher on Holy Saturday is a ‘not-holy fire’ [lit.: not grace-filled] but is kindled in the way that all flames are kindled. How? The Pasha wanted to see for himself if the fire really does suddenly and miraculously appear on the roof of the Sepulcher of Christ or if it is lit by an ordinary sulfur match. What did he do? He announced to the Patriarch’s representative hierarchs that it would be his pleasure to sit in the chapel itself during the receiving of the fire and watch vigilantly to see how it appears; and he added that if the miracle proved to be true, he would give [to the Church] 5000 poungs (2.5 million piasters); and if it turned out to be a lie, then they would [be forced to] give him all the money collected from the deceived worshippers, and he would print about the dirty fraud in all the newspapers of Europe. The Patriarchal representatives—Archbishop Misail of Petroaravisk, Metropolitan Daniel of Nazareth and Bishop Dion­ysius then of Philadelphia [in Asia Minor], now of Bethlehem—gathered to decide what to do. During the meet­ing, Misail admitted that in the inner-chapel he lights the fire from a lampa­da concealed behind the marble icon of the Resurrection of Christ located near the very Sepulcher. After this admission, it was deci­ded to humble request Ibrahim not to meddle with religious affairs; and to the Pasha was sent the dragoman [interpreter] of the Holy Sepul­cher Monastery, who informed the Pasha that there would be no benefit for His Radiance to get to know the sacraments and mysteries of Christian church-services and that the Russian Emperor Nicholas [I] would be greatly displeased if he started learning about these sacraments. Pasha Ibra­him heard the dragoman out, made a giving-up-the-idea gesture with his hand, and fell silent. But from that time on, the Holy-Sepulcher clerics no longer believe in the miraculous app­ear­ance of the fire. Having said all this, the metropolitan added that only from God can be expected the discontinuance of (our) pious lie. As He knows and is able, he soothes the people, who believe now in the miraculous fire of Holy Saturday. And for us is forbidden even to consider such a revolutionary act [of revealing the lie]; they would tear us pieces at the very chapel of the Holy Sepulcher.”

The Book of My Life: Diaries and Notes of Bishop Porphyrius Uspensky, St Petersburg, 1894 Part 1, p.671 and The Book of My Life, St Petersburg, 1896 Part 3, pp.299-301.

Ephraim II, Patriarch of Jerusalem (1766-1771)

This absurdity and supernatural perception of churchmen and theologians who claim the ‘holy light’ is not only a miracle but God-given (θεόδοτο) is unacceptable. The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Efraim, who died in 1771, recounts his personal experience and describes the whole ceremony, characterizing it as “handmade engineering” and those involved as “light-makers.”

Γ. Καμπούρογλου, Μνημεία της ιστορίας των Αθηναίων

Hierodeacon Neophytos of Kavsokalyvia (1713-1784)

The author of The 1777 Anonymous Manual on Continuous Reception of the Holy Communion, made statements about a “sleight of hand” regarding the Holy Fire.

Νικηφόρου Θεοτόκη, στὸ Κ.᾿Ι. Δυοβουνιώτου, «Περὶ τοῦ ἐν ῾Ιεροσολύμοις ῾Αγίου Φωτός», «᾿Επετηρὶς ῾Εταιρείας Βυζαντινῶν Σπουδῶν», ἔτος ΙΒʹ, ᾿Αθῆναι 1936, σελ. 5.

From the official Website of the Jerusalem Patriarchate:

At 12pm, midday…It is necessary for us to stress that the heterodox have in advance searched the entire interior of the Holy Sepulcher, in order to certify that there is no lit vigil lamp or some other source of light” [They don’t mention that the monk Metrophanes hid twice in the Sepulcher without anyone seeing him! http://www.holyfire.org/eng/AchileousISawHolyLight.htm ]

At 12am…the lamp/candlestick [They don’t mention if it is extinguished or lit], if it becomes useful [they don’t mention what its use is] in the holy ceremony, is transferred…to the Holy Sepulcher for a prompter path.

The important thing is that the holy light for a few minutes [it doesn’t mention how much] does not have fire. Namely, if you rest the holy light on your hands, it will not burn [They don’t mention any time span whatsoever for non-burning, nor let it be for 30 seconds in a motionless hand!]


The ‘Secret Prayer’ of the Patriarch

Wondrous myths and legends have been woven around the special prayer chanted by the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch; the common denominator being that it is a special prayer that only he knows! This is in no way true. The prayer was first published in 1933 by Archimandrite Kallistos Meliaras (professor of the University of Athens) and published again in 1967 in the “New Zion” (Νέα Σιών) magazine, official publication of the Jerusalem Patriarchate. It is obvious that we’re not talking about a big secret, to which no one has access other than the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch, but a text that has been in circulation for more than 80 years! (π. Γ. Δ. Μεταλληνός, Φωτομαχικά-Αντιφωτομαχικά, εκδ. Κάτοπτρο-Ιστορητής, 2001, p.33)


Despota Lord Jesus Christ, the originally shining wisdom of the without beginning Father. You who dwells in the unapproachable Light;* You who commanded that Light shine forth from the darkness, who said let it be Light and there was Light. Oh Lord provider of Light who took us out of the delusion of darkness and led us to the miraculous Light of Your awareness. You filled with light and joy the earth through Your incarnate presence and the underworld through Your descent to Hades and after these through Your Apostles You announced the light to all nations.

We thank You because through pious faith, you brought us from darkness to light and we became sons through holy baptism, seeing your glory full of grace and truth. However, oh light-giver Lord, oh great light, who said the people living in darkness.* Despota, Lord, the true light that illumines every man who comes in the world. The only light of the world and light of the lives of people, through whose glory the universe was filled, you brought the light to the world through Your economy of incarnation even though people loved the darkness rather than the light.

You Lord, giver of light, listen to us sinners and unworthy servants who, at this moment stand by this Your Most Holy and light bearing Tomb, and accept us who honour Your Holy Passion, Your most holy Crucifixion, Your voluntary death, the laying of Your divine body in this holy tomb, Your burial and Your resurrection after three days, which we joyfully have already started celebrating, remembering Your descent to Hades, through which the souls of the righteous You freed in a kingly manner with the lightning of Your divine light filling the underworld.

So with happy heart and spiritual joy, on this most blessed Saturday, Your most salvific mysteries which You divinely executed on earth and under the earth we celebrate, and remembering You, the exhilarating and appealing light which You divinely shone in the underworld, we produce this light, as an icon of Your congenial divine appearance to us.Because during the salvific and bright night everything was filled with light, the heaven, the earth and the underworld through the supernatural mystery of Your descent to Hades and Your resurrection from the tomb after three days.

For this reason, we piously take from the light that diligently and eternally burns on Your light-bearing Sepulchre, we spread it among those who believe in You, who are the true light, and we pray and plead with You, oh Holiest Despota, so that You will elevate [the light] into a gift of sanctification and fill it with Your divine grace, through the grace of Your Most holy and light-bearing Sepulchre. And those who touch it with piety, bless and sanctify them, free them from the darkness of passions and make them worthy of Your brightest dwellings, where the unsetting light of Your divinity shines. Lord, grant them health and good life and fill their homes with everything good.

Yes, Lord, the Light-giver, listen to me the sinner at this moment, and grant to me and to them to walk in Your light and remain in it as long as we have the light of this temporary life. Lord grant us that the light of our good works shine in front of the people together with Your without beginning Father and the Holy Spirit. You appointed us to be the light to the nations that we shine to those walking in the darkness. But we have loved the darkness rather than the light, committing evil works.

Anyone who does evil works hates the light according to Your faultless word. For this we stumble every day due to our sinning because we walk in the darkness. But make us worthy to live the rest of our life with the eyes of our minds enlightened. Grant us to live as sons of light and walk in the light of Your commandments. The bright garment of our baptism which we have blackened by our evil works, whiten it like the light, you who wears the light like a garment. Grant us to dress ourselves with the weapons of light, that we may overcome the lord of darkness, who transforms himself into an angel of light.

Yes, Lord, as You shone the light to those who are in darkness and under the shadow of death, likewise, today, shine in our hearts with Your pure light, so that becoming illumined and warmed up in faith, glorify You the one and only originally shining light, exhilarating light to everlasting ages. Amen.


From the Greek Wikipedia Page

There is a viewpoint that the Holy Light is an occult implementation organized by the Jerusalem Patriarchate clergy for centuries. One version proposes that the candles are previously immersed in phosphorus, which has the property of self-ignition after some time. Phosphorus as a chemical element was discovered in the 17th century and is not found free in nature. For the proponents of this view, some “miracle substances” or “fountains” (sources) exhibiting such phenomena were nevertheless known long before in the Middle East. This in turn can mean that either the entire Holy Sepulchre is located in such an area that either used such an ancient “miracle substance” (compound) whose name and composition are preserved today as a “closely guarded” sacerdotal secret. However, the view supported by the faithful is the flame from the Holy Light is brought to illuminate but not to cause combustion within the first 33 minutes, in contrast to the natural action of the fire. Of course, in this case it is obvious that the comparison is made ​​with reference not to the light, but the fire.

The author Michael Kalopoulos has published research indicating that the self-igniting materials and religious pyrotechnics that were known in ancient times are sufficient to produce the effect described as the “holy light.” Of course this estimate ignores the fact that the candles not self-ignite unexpectedly, although the supply is made ​​by open spaces or stores, which have the goods exposed to air, and even the supply of candles, often several days before the Resurrection, while in other cases, the faithful remain in the Church of the Resurrection of the evening of Great Friday.
Note: There are many narratives from Jerusalem about candles self-igniting completely unexpectedly. But there is a way to ignite after a long time.


From the English Wikipedia Page

In 2005, in a live demonstration on Greek television, Michael Kalopoulos, author and historian of religion, dipped three candles in white phosphorus. The candles spontaneously ignited after approximately 20 minutes due to the self-ignition properties of white phosphorus when in contact with air. According to Kalopoulos’ website:

If phosphorus is dissolved in an appropriate organic solvent, self-ignition is delayed until the solvent has almost completely evaporated. Repeated experiments showed that the ignition can be delayed for half an hour or more, depending on the density of the solution and the solvent employed.

Kalopoulos also points out that chemical reactions of this nature were well known in ancient times, quoting Strabo, who states: “In Babylon there are two kinds of naphtha springs, a white and a black. The white naphtha is the one that ignites with fire.” (Strabon Geographica He further states that phosphorus was used by Chaldean magicians in the early fifth century BC, and by the ancient Greeks, in a way similar to its supposed use today by the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.


Adamantis Korais

The famous Greek intellectual of the Age of Enlightenment, Adamantios Korais (1748-1833), denounced the ‘Holy Light’ as a fraud and urged the Eastern Orthodox Church to discontinue the practice, arguing that “no true religion is in need of such false miracles.” In his treatise On the Holy Light of Jerusalem, Korais was adamant against religious fraud and theurgy. He referred to the recurring ‘miracle’ as “machinations of fraudulent priests” and to the unholy light of Jerusalem as “a profiteers’ miracle.” With deep sorrow, the Greek sage contemplated in his writings that “while Greeks are content to have the ‘Holy Light,’ people in Europe of his time are living among people of objective knowledge, surrounded by Academies, and Lyceums, and schools of every kind of art and science. Europeans have open, splendid public libraries, and their print presses buzz with activity daily and without pause.”

One can read his entire treatise in the Greek language here: http://greatlie.com/index.php/el/xristianismos/agio-fos/790-adamantiou-korai-qperi-tou-en-ierousolumis-agiou-fotosq-olokliro-to-biblio






Marriage and Divorce in the Orthodox Church according to St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite († 1809)

NOTE: The following article is taken from the Rudder, which was published in 1800:

The Rudder (Pedalion). The “Talmud” of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Canon 48 of the Holy Apostles

“If any layman who has divorced his wife takes another, or one divorced by another man, let him be excommunicated”


Inasmuch as the Lord decreed in His Gospel that “Whosoever shall divorce his wife, except on account of fornication, is causing her to commit adultery; and whoever marries her who hath been divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32; 19: 9), therefore the divine Apostles too, following the Lord’s decree, say in their present Canon: If any layman who insists upon divorcing his wife, except on the ground of fornication, which is to say adultery (for the Evangelist here used the word fornication instead of adultery. Concerning this point see also Canon IV of Nyssa), and takes another woman that is free to marry, let him be excommunicated. Likewise let him be excommunicated if, after being divorced from his wife without the ground of fornication, he takes another woman who is one also divorced from her husband without the ground of fornication, or, in other words, of adultery. These things, which we have said with reference to the husband, must be understood to apply also to the wife who leaves her husband, except on account of fornication, and takes another man as her husband. As for any man or any woman who separates from his or her spouse without a reasonable cause and remarries or is remarried, he or she shall be canonized to have no communion for seven years according to Canon LXXXVII of the 6th Ecumenical Synod, Canon XX of Ancyra, and Canons LXXVII and XXXVII of Basil. Read also Canon XLIII of Carthage which prescribes that if a married couple separate without the commission of fornication on the part of either spouse, either they must remain unmarried or they must become reconciled and be reunited, as St. Paul also says in Chapter 7 of his First Epistle to the Corinthians.

Holy Apostles

Footnote 68 to the 85 Apostolic Canons Concerning Marriage & Divorce

Strictness and the Lord’s decree are equally averse to letting a man divorce his wife, or a woman her husband. For the Lord said in regard to both the man and the woman: “Whoever shall divorce his wife and marry another, commits adultery against her” (Matthew 19:9); and “If a woman shall divorce her husband and be married to another, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:12), without adding except it be for fornication either in the case of the man only or in the case of the woman only, but He left this to be understood by us indifferently as regarding both.

The custom of the Church is to allow the man authority to divorce his wife when he finds her to be fornicating or committing adultery, but not to let a woman divorce her husband even though she find him to be fornicating or committing adultery. If on the other hand, she should divorce him on grounds of fornication or adultery, and he, being unable to suffer should marry a second woman, the first women who divorced him will have the sin of such a separation, whereas the husband deserves a pardon for having married a second time, and his second wife is not condemned as an adulteress. Gregory the Theologian did not accept this custom, which came into the Church from Roman civil law. For he says in his (Discourse on the saying in the Gospel, when Jesus spoke the previous words); “I see many men belonging to the common people to be judging perilously regarding temperance. And I see their law as being unequal and inconsistent”. For what reason does the law chastise a woman if she fornicates, but allows a man the liberty to do the same. And if a woman betrays the bed of her husband, she is judged an adulteress, but if a man who has a wife fornicates with other women, is he guiltless? I do not accept that legislation; I do not praise the custom. It was men who made that law, and on this account they only legislated against women.

For those same legislators of this civil law made a law for children to be under the control of their father, but as for the weaker side that is, the mother who is a weak woman, they left her without care, not having made a law for her children to be under her control. However, God made no such law. On the contrary, He says, “ Honor your father and your mother,” which is the first commandment among the promises, “that it may go well with you” (Deuteronomy 5:16; Exodus 20:12; Sirach 8:8; Matthew 19:19; Mark 7:10; Luke 18:20) and “He that speaks evil against his father or mother, let him die the death” (Exodus 20:12; Leviticus 19:3; Deuteronomy 5:16). Both in the case of the father and in the case of the mother, He equally honored obedience and chastised insolence. And “A father’s blessing firmly establishes the houses of children, but a mother’s curse uproots the foundations” (Proverbs 19:14).

New Martyr Argyre of Proussa, Patron Saint of Marriage (+ 1725)
New Martyr Argyre of Proussa, Patron Saint of Marriage (+ 1725)

Herein do you not see the equality of the legislation? The Creator of man and woman is one. Both of them are of one and the same clay. One and the same law governs them both. There is but one resurrection. We have been born quite as much by a woman as by a man; children owe their parents a single debt. How then is it that you the legislator being a man, demand temperance of women, when you yourself are intemperate?

How is it that you ask for what you do not give? How is it that you enact unlike legislation for woman notwithstanding that your body is like that of woman? But can it be that if you are thinking of the evils attending disobedience because the woman sinned? Why, did not Adam also sin? The serpent deceived them both. Accordingly, it cannot be said either that the woman proved the weaker of the two in being deceived, or that the man proved to be the stronger of the two in that he avoided being deceived. Or if you are thinking of the good results attending reformation remember that Christ saved them both with His passion. He became flesh for man, but also for woman.

He died for man, but woman too is saved through His death. Perhaps you think that He honored man because He was born of David’s seed. But in being born of the Virgin He honored women. “They shall be one flesh,” it says (Genesis 2:24): that one flesh accordingly must deserve equal honor. St. Paul, also lays down a law of temperance for man. How? “This is a great mystery; I am speaking concerning Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5:32).

It is well for a woman to revere Christ by means of the reverence which she shows toward her husband. It is also well for a man not to dishonor the Church of Christ by means of the dishonor toward his wife by fornicating with another.

The Patron Saints of Marriage, Love, Family and Fidelity. Celebrated in Russia up to 1917. Saints Peter and Fevronia.
The Patron Saints of Marriage, Love, Family and Fidelity. Celebrated in Russia up to 1917. Saints Peter and Fevronia.

In the same way, Chrysostom also testifies to the same view in his fifth sermon on the First Epistle to the Thessalonians. “I beg,” he says, “that we guard ourselves against this sin. For just as we men chastise our wives when they betray their honor to others, so does God, if not the laws of the Romans, chastise us when we betray the honor of our wives, and fornicate with another, since the sin of men with other women is also adultery. For adultery is not only when a married woman commits adultery with another man, but also when a married man commits adultery with any other woman. Give attention to the accuracy of what I say to you. Adultery is not only when married men sin with a strange woman who is married, but also when they sin with an unmarried woman, which is also adultery. For notwithstanding that the woman with whom they sin is not tied to a man, they themselves are tied to a woman. And for this reason it can be said that they have violated the law and have wronged their own flesh. For why should they chastise their wife if she fornicates with a man that is not married? Of course, it is adultery, despite the fact that the man who fornicated with her has no wife, also simply because his wife is tied to a man. So they also, since they are tied to a wife, if they fornicate with an unmarried woman, are committing adultery by their act of fornication.

“Whosoever shall divorce his wife,” says the Lord, “except on account of fornication, is causing her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32; 19:9). And if this is so, is not one committing adultery even more so, who has a wife when he joins in self-corruption with an unmarried woman? Yes.

That is obvious to everyone. Not only St. Gregory and St. Chrysostom, but even Basil himself cannot bear to follow that custom which disregards the commandment delivered by God, as he makes known in other pages as well as in the twelfth definition of his Ethics. But he also says in his Canon XXXV: “When a woman abandons her husband, we must inquire into the reason why she left him. Then, if it appears that the woman left him unreasonably and without cause, the man is to merit a pardon, but the woman, a canon and penalty, as having become the cause of the evil.” No other reasonable cause for the separation of a married couple can be found besides that of fornication or of adultery of a man and or a woman.

St. Justinian the Great

But Justinian Novel l17, situated in Book 28 of the Basilica, Title VII, ordains that if any man has another woman either in the city where he is dwelling or under the roof of his house, and is corrupting himself with her, if his real wife should tell him to abstain from the other woman, and should he refuse to abstain from her, permission is granted to be released from the marriage due to the jealousy of his wife. For such jealousy leads many wives to drink poison and commit suicide, and others to lose their mind, others to jump off a precipice, and others to still other absurd things, as may be seen from such examples which are daily occurrences in nearly every city and island and town.

For just as a man’s anger is full of jealousy for his wife if she has committed adultery, as Solomon says (Proverbs 6:34), “and he will not spare in the day of vengeance, nor will he forgo his enmity for any amount of ransom, neither will he be coaxed to remit it in exchange for a multitude of gifts.” In much the same way (or even more) is a woman’s anger, and her heart is full of jealousy for her husband if he has committed adultery.

However, note that though the Lord allowed husbands to separate from their wife on account of fornication, that is because of adultery, yet a bishop ought not to give them permission to enter into a second marriage, but ought to leave them thus separated for a long space of time, until the one who committed fornication, which is adultery, comes to repent of his or her act, to fall at the feet of the other, and to promise that henceforth he or she will keep the honor of the other mate, and in this manner they are finally reunited.

For even the Lord did not allow them to be separated only on account of adultery, but mainly because of the jealousy which results from such adultery, and the murder which often follows as a result of the jealousy. A second reason for allowing a separation is to prevent the confusion and bastardization of the offspring that follows as a result of such adultery as St. Gregory the Theologian says. So that, as Zonaras says in his interpretation of Canon IX and XXI of St. Basil, a man is not forced to keep his adulteress wife if he does not want to do so, but if he wants her, he may without prejudice keep her and live with her. What am I saying, without prejudice? Why that man is to be praised and to be esteemed very wise indeed who takes his wife back even after she has committed fornication (on the promise, however, that she will sin no more) for two good and sufficient reasons.

First, on account of the love and sympathy he is thus showing for his own flesh — I mean for his own wife — by emulating the very Master and God of all things, who notwithstanding that human nature was formerly an adulteress and had formerly committed fornication with idols, He condescended to make her His bride by virtue of the incarnate economy, and to save her through repentance and union with Him. And just as it is the part of a prudent man when any of his members is wounded or injured not to cut it off, but to make it his business to give it medical treatment, so is it the part of a prudent man, when his own member sins, that is his own wife, not to divorce her, but to take even greater care of her and to cure her by means of repentance and by giving her an opportunity to return. And secondly, because when such an impure condition has developed between a husband and wife, it is by God’s concession, and as a result of previous sins that it ensued. (And let everyone examine his own conscience, and he will find our words true.)

Saints Timothy and Maura,
Saints Timothy and Maura, Married Saints and Martyrs for Christ

Hence both parties must have patience with each other, and not insist upon a separation. Even the Apostle says that a faithful husband ought to cohabit even with his unfaithful wife, and conversely, a faithful wife ought to cohabit with her unfaithful husband, for the hope of salvation of both of them. “For how do you know, wife, whether you shall save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you shall save your wife?” (1Corinthians 7:16). How much more ought a husband and wife, then, to cohabit with and not separate, even after fornication has occurred, at a time when impiety, the worst of all sins, will not separate it? Of course all that we have said concerning the husband, is to be understood also as pertaining to the wife. Nevertheless, that the author of Proverbs says: “Whoever retains an adulteress is foolish and impious” (Proverbs 18:22; this saying reflects the harshness and severity of the old Law, and not the leniency of the most sweet Law of the Gospel.

Rather should the Old Covenant be quoted from the mouth of Malachias, who says: “Do not abandon the wife of your youth: but if after coming to hate her you send her away, a feeling of impiety will darken your recollections, says the Lord Almighty”’ (Malachias 2:15).

If, however, in the end no way, nor device, can be found to reunite the couple henceforth, the innocent party may, as a matter of great necessity, marry a second time, but never the party guilty of fornication who became the cause of the separation.

This party, instead of second nuptials and wedding candles ought rather to sit mourning and weeping over his sin, and find solace in the darkness of sorrow of a widow or widower, because of the fact that whom God joined he or she rent apart. What am I saying? Why, the party that was the cause of the separation ought to pay damages, as the imperial laws command, according to St. Chrysostom (Discourse on a woman bound by law, etc.); and that the guilty party in the couple ought not to be allowed to marry may be inferred from Novel 88 of Leo. For this Novel says that the husband of a woman guilty of adultery is to receive her dowry, while the woman herself is to be placed in a monastery and compelled even against her will to become a nun.

Whatever property she had over and above her dowry is to be divided between her children and the monastery; or if she has no children, her parents and relatives are to have it. Justinian Novel 117 also commands that if the husband of a woman confined in a monastery for adultery should die within the two years before taking her back, she is to become a confined nun and not be allowed to remarry).

Orthodox Wedding at Cana Icon
Wedding at Cana

That the husband is not permitted to take back his wife after she has been guilty of committing adultery is attested on the one hand by Armenopoulos (Book 6, Title II), and on the other hand by holy Photios (Title I, Chapter 2). Novel 184 of Justinian (inserted in Book 28 of the Basilica, according to Balsamon), ordains that the husband can take back his guilty wife within two years after she committed the adultery and was sentenced to the monastery for the act of adultery, and that he can cohabit with her freely without fearing any danger on this account and without injury to his marriage as a result of the previous sin and separation. St. Basil the Great, also says in his dissertation on virginity that if a woman who has been left by her husband repents and corrects the cause on account of which he left her, the husband ought to have compassion on her because of her because she corrected herself, and to take her back as his own member again. Moreover, Canon XCIII of the 6th Ecumenical Synod permits a soldier to take back his own wife if he so chooses, even though she has taken another husband because of his many years’ absence from the country in foreign lands. Canon VIII of Neocaesarea likewise appears to permit a priest to live with his wife when she is guilty of adultery if he cares to, though he must be deposed.

Note also the fact that not everyone can start suit for adultery, but only five persons listed, and these must be the most intimate and nearest relative of the woman, namely, father, brother, uncle on the father’s side, and uncle on the mother’s side, and exceptionally and especially and above all her husband. As long as the marriage is in force nobody else is permitted to start such a suit except only the husband of the woman, by means of five witnesses attesting in fear of God that they all saw her in the very act of committing adultery. A suit for adultery may be started at any time within five years, and not late (Armenopoulos, Book 1, Title III).

Besides any of these things, it ought to be known to everyone that the civil and imperial laws never permit husbands to kill their wives, even though they have caught them as adulteresses. Hence there is no excuse for those who kill either their wives, or their sisters and daughters or relatives of any other kind, on the ground that they have been guilty of fornication or of adultery.

So, inasmuch as it may be inferred, from all that we have said, that a married couple ought not to be separated, therefore it is necessary for one side of the couple to bear with the other patiently, according to St. Gregory the Theologian. Thus, the wife ought to put up with her husband even though he insults and beats her, even though he spends her dowry, and no matter what else he may do to her; and just as much ought the husband to put up with his wife even though she is possessed by demons, as mentioned in I Timothy 4:1, and even though she is suffering from other defects, and has diseases, according to St. Chrysostom (in his Discourse on a woman bound by law, etc.). And yet that imperial and external laws on many accounts permit married couples to separate and be divorced, St. Chrysostom (in the same place), in the course of voicing opposition to them, says: “God is not going to judge in accordance with those laws, but in accordance with the laws which He himself has laid down with regard to marriage.

There is but one reasonable ground for divorce, and that is the one ordained by the laws, according to Emperors Leo and Constantine, when one party plots against the life of the other (Title XIII, of the selection of laws). A married couple may be divorced reasonably enough, again, when one party is an Orthodox Christian, and the other party is a heretic, according to Canon LXXII of the 6th Ecumenical Synod; or when there is a blood relationship by marriage, according to Canon LIV of the same Synod; or a relationship due to baptism, according to Canon LIII of the same Synod; and also when the lord of the couple will not consent to their being wedded, according to Canons XL, XLI, and XLII of St. Basil. As to the proper form of a Letter of Divorce, see at the end of this Rudder. (pp. 320 -329)

Thomais of Lesvos - patron saint of marriage
St. Thomais of Lesvos – patron saint of marriage.

Form for a Canonical Divorce

With our humbleness in the chair and surrounded by a simultaneous session of the most honorable Clerics, most reverent Priests, and most honest Magistrates (and Provosts), there appeared before all of us most honest Sir George, of the village or parish ( name ), accusing his wife Mary of the crime of adultery, and asserting that he found her really defiling her part in the bed of her husband and being caught in the very act of being polluted with adultery by another man. When interrogated about this, he also produced credible witnesses to the fact, named (So-and So and So-and-So and So-and-So), who with fear of God and a heavy conscience, before all of us testified as concerning this man’s wife that she has not truly kept due faith with her own husband, but, having abandoned her own sobriety, has acted as an adulteress. And therefore our humbleness, after being told and informed of these facts, allowed this case to be postponed. And indeed after later employing various arguments and inducements and ways and means, with a view to persuading the said George to take back and accept his wife (for this is permissible according to the divine laws), overlooking this misdeed of hers, seeing that she bitterly repents it, and promises never again to do such a thing, and after having negotiated all these aspects for a sufficient length of time, yet unable to induce him to be persuaded in her favor. Hence, following the decision rendered by our Lord in the Gospels, wherein He says that “whosoever shall divorce his wife, except on the ground of fornication, is causing her to commit adultery” (Matthew 5:32; cf. 19:7, 9). And reflecting that this is the only legal and reasonable excuse for separating a husband from his wife – the ground, that is to say, of adultery, just as the Lord declared; yet at the same time exercising due foresight lest anything more terrible may result hereafter from their cohabitation, seeing that adultery engenders jealousy in most cases, and that jealousy leads to murder: on this account and for this reason our humbleness pronounces the said George to be divorced and set free from his wife Mary, in accordance with the decision of our Lord and the divine Canons, Apostolic as well as Synodal; and furthermore gives him permission to take another woman to wife, whereas with regard to his aforesaid wife Mary our humbleness will never give her permission to take another man to husband, on the ground that she has become the cause of this separation and divorce. For she ought, instead of having another wedding and enjoying nuptial pleasures, to continue thus weeping and mourning throughout her life over her sin, since what God had joined she put asunder (Matthew 19:6), and since otherwise too, she committed adultery while her husband was living, whom she herself divorced by reason of her licentiousness, a fear subsists lest she become an adulteress again in case she is allowed to become a wife to another man (Romans 7:3), according to St. Paul, who elsewhere says that “if a woman be divorced from her husband, let her remain unmarried” (I Corinthians 7:11). Hence in evidence thereof the present Divorce was drawn up, and was given to the repeatedly aforementioned George 3 in the year of the Lord . . .”(1796) and in the month of August. (pp. 1808-1809)

Detail of the Imperial Gate mosaic in Hagia Sophia showing Leo VI the Wise
Detail of the Imperial Gate mosaic in Hagia Sophia showing Leo VI the Wise