Eikons Basilike

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Eikons Basilike

Postby Theophilus » September 19th, 2010, 10:39 am

Prayers, Portraits and Meditations of Royal Saints

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King Alfred the Great's Prayer in Celebration of God's Perfections

    We pray to you, O Lord, who are the surpeme Truth, and all truth is from you.
    We beseech you, O Lord, who are the highest Wisdom, and all the wise depend on you for their wisdom.
    You are the supreme Joy, and all who are happy owe it to you.
    You are the Light of minds, and all receive their understanding from you.
    We love, we love you above all.
    We seek you, we follow you, and we are ready to serve you.
    We desire to dwell under your power for you are the King of all.
    Amen.
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Re: Eikons Basilike

Postby Theophilus » November 30th, 2010, 8:24 pm

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The holy and right-believing king Vakhtang I ascended the throne of Kartli at the age of fifteen. At that time Kartli was continually being invaded by the Persians from the south and by the Ossetians from the north. The situation was no better in western Georgia: the Byzantines had captured all the lands from Egrisi to Tsikhegoji.

After his coronation, the young King Vakhtang summoned his court and addressed his dedicated servants with great wisdom. He said that the sorrowful circumstances in which the nation had found itself were a manifestation of God’s anger at the sins of the king and the people. He called upon everyone to struggle in unity and selflessness on behalf of the Faith and motherland.

King Vakhtang led a victorious campaign against the Ossetians, freed the captive princess (his older sister), and signed several treaties with the Caucasian mountain tribes to secure their cooperation in the struggle against foreign conquerors. Then he carried out another campaign in western Georgia, freed that region from the Byzantines, reinforced the authority of King Gubaz, and returned in triumph to Kartli.

King Vakhtang was remarkable in faith, wisdom, grace, virtue, and appearance (he towered above all others at over 7 feet tall). He spent many nights in prayer and distributed alms to the poor, in this way dedicating his life to God. King Vakhtang could fight tirelessly in battle. Vested in armor and fully armed, he could carry a war-horse on his shoulders and climb from Mtskheta to the Armazi Fortress in the mountains outside the city. On foot he could outrun a deer. The holy king was judicious in politics, displayed great composure, and preserved a sense of calm even when critical decisions needed to be made.

On the brow of Vakhtang’s military helmet was depicted a wolf, and on the back, a lion. Catching a glimpse of the helmet with the wolf and lion, the Persians would cry out to one another: “Dar’ az gurgsar!” (“Beware of the wolf ’s head!”) This was the source of King Vakhtang’s appellation “Gorgasali.”

During King Vakhtang’s reign the Georgian Church was first recognized as autocephalous. When the holy king banished the pagan fire-worshippers from Georgia, he also sent a certain Bishop Michael—who was inclined to the Monophysite heresy, which had been planted in Georgia by the Persians—to Constantinople to be tried by the patriarch. The bishop had disgracefully cursed the king and his army for rising up against the Monophysites. In fact, he was so infuriated that when King Vakhtang approached him to receive his blessing, he kicked him in the mouth and broke several of his teeth.

The patriarch of Constantinople subsequently defrocked Bishop Michael and sent him to a monastery to repent.

More importantly perhaps, the patriarch and the Byzantine emperor then sent to the patriarch of Antioch several clergymen whom King Vakhtang had chosen for consecration. In Antioch the patriarch consecrated twelve of these clergymen as bishops and enthroned a certain Petre as the first Catholicos of Georgia.

Vakhtang fulfilled the will of Holy King Mirian by founding the Georgian Holy Cross Monastery in Jerusalem. In addition, he replaced a wooden church that had been built in Mtskheta at the time of St. Nino with a church made of stone. During his reign several new dioceses were founded. King Vakhtang built a cathedral in Nikozi (Inner Kartli) and established a new diocese there, to which he translated the holy relics of the Protomartyr Razhden.

King Vakhtang built fortresses at Tukhari, Artanuji, and Akhiza; founded monasteries in Klarjeti at Artanuji, Mere, Shindobi, and Akhiza; and established many other strongholds, churches, and monasteries as well. He built a new royal residence in Ujarma and laid the foundations of the new Georgian capital, Tbilisi. His political creed consisted of three parts: an equal union of the Georgian Church with the Byzantine Church, national independence, and the unity of the Church and nation.

In the year 502 the sixty-year-old King Vakhtang was obliged to defend his country for the last time. In a battle with the Persians he was fatally wounded when a poisoned arrow pierced him under the arm. Before he died, King Vakhtang summoned the clergy, his family and his court and urged them to be strong in the Faith and to seek death for Christ’s sake in order to gain eternal glory.

All of Georgia mourned the passing of the king. His body was moved from the royal residence in Ujarma to Mtskheta, to Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, which he had himself built. There he was buried with great honor.

Some fifteen centuries later, with the blessing of Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, an addition was built onto the Sioni Patriarchal Cathedral in Holy King Vakhtang Gorgasali’s name, and a cathedral in his honor was founded in the city of Rustavi.
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Re: Eikons Basilike

Postby Theophilus » March 27th, 2011, 8:31 pm

The Holy Nobleborn Georgian Emperor Demetrios the Second, called the Self-Sacrificed by the people, was descended from the Bagratid dynasty and was the son of the emperor David V (+ 1269). The Emperor Demetrios exerted much effort in the enlightening and peaceful prospering of his land. During his reign were annexed the Armenian provinces adjacent to it, which roused the displeasure of neighbouring Persia. But thanks to the wise actions of Saint Demetrios II, rendered in a series of services to the Persian sultan Akhmed, a clash with Persia was successfully averted over the course of some several years.

The new Persian sultan Argun, however, heeding the complaints of his court Jewish physician, conceived a strong hatred within him towards the Orthodox Emperor Demetrios, and he set out with a large army to the borders of Gruzia. Sultan Argun set up his encampment on the Mugan plain. Holy Emperor Demetrios, wanting to save his land from being overrun with devastation, came himself into the camp of the enemy and attempted to assure him of his peaceful intentions.

The sultan in an uncontrollable rage offered the saint a choice – death or the despoiling of Iveria. Saint Demetrios answered the tyrant: "I shall sacrifice my life for the welfare of my subjects". Saint Demetrios was executed (+ 1289). Georgian and Armenian historians relate, that several hours after the martyr's end of Saint Demetrios the sun suddenly darkened and terror overcame sultan Argun and his army. The Persians in fear quit Gruzia, without wreaking ruin upon it.

    "The memory of holy emperor Demetrios, named the Self-Sacrificed by the Iverians, is revered as holy in the land, which he did save from the tyrant by the sacrifice of his own life".
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Re: Eikons Basilike

Postby Theophilus » May 1st, 2011, 10:18 am

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In 1166 a daughter, Tamar, was born to King George III (1155–1184) and Queen Burdukhan of Georgia. The king proclaimed that he would share the throne with his daughter from the day she turned twelve years of age.

The royal court unanimously vowed its allegiance and service to Tamar, and father and daughter ruled the country together for five years. After King George’s death in 1184, the nobility recognized the young Tamar as the sole ruler of all Georgia. Queen Tamar was enthroned as ruler of all Georgia at the age of eighteen. She is called “King” in the Georgian language because her father had no male heir and so she ruled as a monarch and not as a consort.

At the beginning of her reign, Tamar convened a Church council and addressed the clergy with wisdom and humility:

“Judge according to righteousness, affirming good and condemning evil,” she advised. “Begin with me--if I sin I should be censured, for the royal crown is sent down from above as a sign of divine service. Allow neither the wealth of the nobles nor the poverty of the masses to hinder your work. You by word and I by deed, you by preaching and I by the law, you by upbringing and I by education will care for those souls whom God has entrusted to us, and together we will abide by the law of God, in order to escape eternal condemnation…. You as priests and I as ruler, you as stewards of good and I as the watchman of that good.”

The Church and the royal court chose a suitor for Tamar: Yuri, the son of Prince Andrei Bogoliubsky of Vladimir-Suzdal (in Georgia Yuri was known as “George the Russian”). The handsome George Rusi was a valiant soldier, and under his command the Georgians returned victorious from many battles. His marriage to Tamar, however, exposed many of the coarser sides of his character. He was often drunk and inclined toward immoral deeds. In the end, Tamar’s court sent him away from Georgia to Constantinople, armed with a generous recompense. Many Middle Eastern rulers were drawn to Queen Tamar’s beauty and desired to marry her, but she rejected them all. Finally at the insistence of her court, she agreed to wed a second time to ensure the preservation of the dynasty. This time, however, she asked her aunt and nurse Rusudan (the sister of King George III) to find her a suitor. The man she chose, Davit-Soslan Bagrationi, was the son of the Ossetian ruler and a descendant of King George I (1014-1027).

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In 1195 a joint Muslim military campaign against Georgia was planned under the leadership of Atabeg (a military commander) Abu Bakr of Persian Azerbaijan. At Queen Tamar’s command, a call to arms was issued. The faithful were instructed by Metropolitan Anton of Chqondidi to celebrate All-night Vigils and Liturgies and to generously distribute alms so that the poor could rest from their labors in order to pray. In ten days the army was prepared, and Queen Tamar addressed the Georgian soldiers for the last time before the battle began. “My brothers! Do not allow your hearts to tremble before the multitude of enemies, for God is with us…. Trust God alone, turn your hearts to Him in righteousness, and place your every hope in the Cross of Christ and in the Most Holy Theotokos!” she exhorted them.

Having taken off her shoes, Queen Tamar climbed the hill to the Metekhi Church of the Theotokos (in Tbilisi) and knelt before the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. She prayed without ceasing until the good news arrived: the battle near Shamkori had ended in the unquestionable victory of the Georgian army.


Georgia’s military successes alarmed the Islamic world. Sultan Rukn al-Din was certain that a united Muslim force could definitively decide the issue of power in the region, and he marched on Georgia around the year 1203, commanding an enormous army.

Having encamped near Basiani, Rukn al-Din sent a messenger to Queen Tamar with an audacious demand: to surrender without a fight. In reward for her obedience, the sultan promised to marry her on the condition that she embrace Islam; if Tamar were to cleave to Christianity, he would number her among the other unfortunate concubines in his harem. When the messenger relayed the sultan’s demand, a certain nobleman, Zakaria Mkhargrdzelidze, was so outraged that he slapped him on the face, knocking him unconscious.

At Queen Tamar’s command, the court generously bestowed gifts upon the ambassador and sent him away with a Georgian envoy and a letter of reply. “Your proposal takes into consideration your wealth and the vastness of your armies, but fails to account for divine judgment,” Tamar wrote, “while I place my trust not in any army or worldly thing but in the right hand of the Almighty God and the infinite aid of the Cross, which you curse. The will of God--and not your own--shall be fulfilled, and the judgment of God--and not your judgment--shall reign!”

The Georgian soldiers were summoned without delay. Queen Tamar prayed for victory before the Vardzia Icon of the Theotokos, then, barefoot, led her army to the gates of the city.

Hoping in the Lord and the fervent prayers of Queen Tamar, the Georgian army marched toward Basiani. The enemy was routed. The victory at Basiani was an enormous event not only for Georgia, but for the entire Christian world.

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George II and his daughter, Tamar

The military victories increased Queen Tamar’s faith. In the daytime she shone in all her royal finery and wisely administered the affairs of the government; during the night, on bended knees, she beseeched the Lord tearfully to strengthen the Georgian Church. She busied herself with needlework and distributed her embroidery to the poor.

Once, exhausted from her prayers and needlework, Tamar dozed off and saw a vision. Entering a luxuriously furnished home, she saw a gold throne studded with jewels, and she turned to approach it, but was suddenly stopped by an old man crowned with a halo. “Who is more worthy than I to receive such a glorious throne?” Queen Tamar asked him.

He answered her, saying, “This throne is intended for your maidservant, who sewed vestments for twelve priests with her own hands. You are already the possessor of great treasure in this world.” And he pointed her in a different direction.

Having awakened, Holy Queen Tamar immediately took to her work and with her own hands sewed vestments for twelve priests.

During Queen Tamar’s reign a veritable monastic city was carved in the rocks of Vardzia, and the God-fearing Georgian ruler would labor there during the Great Fast. The churches of Pitareti, Kvabtakhevi, Betania, and many others were also built at that time. Holy Queen Tamar generously endowed the churches and monasteries not only on Georgian territory but also outside her borders: in Palestine, Cyprus, Mt. Sinai, the Black Mountains, Greece, Mt. Athos, Petritsoni (Bulgaria), Macedonia, Thrace, Romania, Isauria and Constantinople. The divinely guided Queen Tamar abolished the death penalty and all forms of bodily torture.

A regular, secret observance of a strict ascetic regime--fasting, a stone bed, and litanies chanted in bare feet--finally took its toll on Queen Tamar’s health. For a long time she refrained from speaking to anyone about her condition, but when the pain became unbearable she finally sought help. The best physicians of the time were unable to diagnose her illness, and all of Georgia was seized with fear of disaster. Everyone from the small to the great prayed fervently for Georgia’s ruler and defender. The people were prepared to offer not only their own lives, but even the lives of their children, for the sake of their beloved ruler.

God sent Tamar a sign when He was ready to receive her into His Kingdom. Then the pious ruler bade farewell to her court and turned in prayer to an icon of Christ and the Life-giving Cross: “Lord Jesus Christ! Omnipotent Master of heaven and earth! To Thee I deliver the nation and people that were entrusted to my care and purchased by Thy Precious Blood, the children whom Thou didst bestow upon me, and to Thee I surrender my soul, O Lord!”

The burial place of Queen Tamar has remained a mystery to this day. Some sources claim that her tomb is in Gelati, in a branch of burial vaults belonging to the Bagrationi dynasty, while others argue that her holy relics are preserved in a vault at the Holy Cross Monastery in Jerusalem.
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Re: Eikons Basilike

Postby Theophilus » July 2nd, 2011, 10:03 pm

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Saint Stephen the Great succeeded his father, Prince Bogdan II, as Prince of Moldavia on April 12, 1457 soon after the latter was murdered. He defended his country against the Turks, and he also built many churches and monasteries.

St Stephen was a spiritual son of St Daniel the Hesychast (December 18), who told him that if he built a church after every battle he would be victorious in all his wars. Following St Daniel's counsel, St Stephen won forty-seven battles and built forty-eight churches or monasteries. He also built the Putna Dormition Monastery in northern Moldavia in 1466 when St Daniel urged him to do so.

In 1476, St Stephen lost the battle of Razboieni to the Turks. He went to visit St Daniel at the Voronets Monastery to ask whether or not he should surrender the country to the Moslems. St Daniel told him not to surrender, because he would soon win a decisive victory. St Daniel also told him that after he had saved the nation, Stephen should build a monastery in honor of St George at that place. Having faith in St Daniel's prophecy, Stephen went forth with his army and drove the Turks from the country.

St Stephen fell asleep in the Lord on July 2, 1504, and was buried at the Putna Monastery.
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Re: Eikons Basilike

Postby Theophilus » July 17th, 2011, 9:05 am

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Saint Nicholas, the last Russian Tsar, was born in 1868. As a child, he was very religious, guileless and free from malice.

Nicholas II was crowned as Tsar in 1894, following the death of his father Tsar Alexander. He began his reign with lofty hopes for peace, urging other nations to reduce the size of their armies, and to seek the peaceful settlement of international disputes. The Peace Conference at the Hague in 1899 laid the groundwork for the League of Nations and the United Nations.

He married Princess Alice of Hesse, who converted to Orthodoxy and took the name Alexandra. Their children were Olga (1895), Tatiana (1897), Maria (1899), Anastasia (1901), and Alexis (1904).

The glorification of St Seraphim of Sarov took place on July 19, 1903, and Tsar Nicholas attended the ceremonies at Sarov with his family. At that time he was given a letter written by St Seraphim more than seventy years before, which seemed to disturb him. Although the Sovereign never revealed the letter's contents, it is believed that it was a prophecy of the bloodshed that would engulf Russia in less than fifteen years.

St Nicholas was executed by the Soviets at Ekaterinburg on July 4 (according to the Julian calendar, July 17 in the Gregorian calendar), 1918 along with his family and servants. The prisoners were awakened late at night and ordered to get dressed for travel. They went down to the cellar of the home in which they were being held, waiting for the word to leave. The Tsar sat on a chair in the middle of the room holding his son Alexis in his lap, while his wife and daughters stood around them.

The executioners entered the room and read out the order for their execution. Sts Nicholas and Alexandra died under the hail of bullets, but the children did not die right away. They were stabbed and clubbed with the butts of rifles. Their bodies were taken to an abandoned mine, cut into pieces, then piled in front of the mine. Sulphur and gasoline were poured on the bloody mound and set on fire. When the fire went out two days later, whatever remained of the bodies was thrown into the mine and grenades were tossed into it. Then the ground was plowed so that no trace of the disposal of the bodies remained.


The Holy Royal Martyrs in the Light of History and God’s Providence
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Re: Eikons Basilike

Postby Theophilus » December 3rd, 2011, 10:00 pm

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The holy and right-believing King Edmund the Martyr was a king and martyr of East Anglia in the ninth century. He succeeded to the throne of East Anglia in 855 as a fourteen year old. He died a martyr’s death battling the “Great Heathen Army”, a large army of Vikings that pillaged and conquered much of England in the late ninth century. He was venerated early and became popular among the Anglo-Norman nobility.

Edmund was born in 841. Early accounts and stories provide a cloud over who is his father. The sources considered the most reliable represent Edmund as descended from the preceding kings of East Anglia. When King Ethelweard died in 854, it was Edmund, while only fourteen years old, who succeeded to the throne.

Little is known of Edmund’s next fourteen years. His reign was said to be that of a model king. He was said to have treated all with equal justice and was unbending to flatters. He was said to have spend a year at his residence at Hunstanton learning the Psalter which he was able to recite from memory.

The sources description of his martyrdom vary. The Danes of the Great Heathen Army advanced on East Anglia in 869 and were confronted by King Edmund and his army. While Edmund may have been killed in battle, popular traditions are that Edmund refused the heathen Danes’ demands that he renounce Christ or that he could hold his kingdom as a vassal under heathen overlords. Both stories date from soon after his death and it is not known which may be correct.

According to an early biographer, Abbo of Fleury, Edmund chose, in the manner of Christ, not to strike arms with the heathen Danes and was captured and taken to Hoxne in Suffolk. There he was beaten and then tied to a stout tree where he was again beaten. Hearing Edmund’s calls to Christ for courage, the Danes further attacked him, shooting many arrows into the bound king who showed no desire to renounce Christ. Finally, he was beheaded on Nov 20/Dec 3, 869.

Edmund’s body was interred at Beadoriceworth, the modern Bury St Edmunds. This place became a shrine of Edmund that greatly increased his fame. His popularity among the nobility of England grew and lasted. His banner became a symbol among the Anglo-Normans in their expeditions to Ireland and to Caerlaverock Castle. His crest was borne on a banner at the Battle of Agincourt. Churches and colleges throughout England have been named after St Edmund.
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