Το βιβλίο ” Λογοτεχνικές Διαδρομές στην Αγία Γη” σε όλα τα βιβλιοπωλεία μαζί με τα νέα βιβλία του Πρόμαχου

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Raitho and the incorrupt relics of Monk Gregory Skevofylax of Zakynthos

Raitho

the Land of Fruits

the biblical Elim

a stopping place for travellers

El-Tur

To read the poem ‘Raitho’ visit :http://winamop.com/sk1605.htm

The Incorrupt Relics of Monk Gregory Skevofylax of Zakynthos

MYSTAGOGY

My visit to Raitho this December has been a great blessing. I am still trying to get back to the normal and mundane rhythm of things but I have great difficulty getting back to earth. I feel an irrepressible desire to talk about present day El-Tor which is not much visited by foreign tourists, but this is ancient Raitho where, during the time of the Roman emperor Diocletian, the Holy Fathers of the Sinai were massacred by the Blemmyes of Africa. More poems coming up in the next few days, God willing.

Although Raitho is not so well-known by tourists, one can be impressed by the spititual beauty of the place.Despite the fact not much is left here,  a letter addressed by the Abbot John Hegoumenos of Raitho to “John the most worthy Hegoumenos of Mount Sinai” has survived. From this we learn that at the time of the Abbot John, there was a lavra (a group of hermit dwellings) at Raitho. Today, one can still see the ruins of a monastery built by Justinian, and there is also a more recent monastery with a splendid church dedicated to St. George and a guest house.

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The Greek Monastery at Raitou

The Greek Orthodox Monastery with the Church of St. George, is a medieval rebuilding of an earlier church located near the sea on adjacent land now part of the El-Kelany archaeological site. Within the Church of St. George are the incorrupt relics of “the second founder of the monastery”, Monk Gregory Skevofylax of Zakynthos. Monk Gregory helped re-establish the Monastery at Raithou with Monk Porphyrios in 1827. Recently his relics were discovered to be incorrupt. The Church of St. George was founded by Monk Gregory in 1885.There have been many appearances of Monk Gregory to devout Christians in Raitho, working many miracles.Upon seeing the incorrupt myrrh-giving relics of Monk Gregory of Raitou , I felt an inexpressible need to write about him as not much about him is known. Hope this article is the first of a series of articles and poems that will follow tracing the steps  of this Father as well as the other hermits who were  massacred by the Blemmyes of Africa and who are believed to be like the invisible hermits of Mount Athos. More coming up soon. Happy Reading!!!

“The apple of discord”poem by Sofia Kioroglou



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"The apple of discord" by Sofia Kioroglou

God created Adam and Eve

the fruit of the tree of knowledge

they were bidden not to eat

It is always an apple, the cause of discord,

the true Dead Sea apple or coaxing talking serpent 

that far famed fruit of the tree of Sodom

tempting to the eye, deceitful to the sense




*The poem is inspired by the life and death of Saint Christos the Gardener, a not so well-known saint.




Biography of Saint Christos the Gardener

Saint Christos was born in Albania. However, he lived in Constantinople, where he exercised the profession of gardening. One day while he was selling apples in the town market, a Turk came and wanted to buy all the apples in a humiliating price. Christos resisted and they came to a brawl. The Turk became angry and by wanting to take avenge, he went to the authorities and reported that Christos allegedly had said that he will become a Muslim. The judge asked Christos if this was true. "In the name of God," replied the poor gardener, "I never said such words. I am a Christian and can not change my faith even if I must be put into great suffering. Then the judge ordered and Christos was beaten vigorously with sticks. They even gave him a blow on the head and his head was soaked in blood. After that, he was tied up, taken to prison, and his legs were put in the punitive wood.
 At that time, it happened that the famous scholar monk Caesarius Dapontes was also in prison. He felt pity for Christos and asked the guardians to release his legs from the punitive wood and they released him. Caesarius Dapontes even managed to find some food and took it to him. "Thank you, Father" said Christos, "but why should I eat? Will I even live? Let me then die for my Lord Jesus Christ hungry and thirsty. And he took out and gave Caesarius a whetstone made from steel, which he was carrying on him. "Sell it," he said, "and make some liturgies and memorial services for my soul."
 That same day, the guards came and took the Martyr from prison and led him outside the city. He peaceful put his neck down and gave himself to Jesus Christ. So, the gardener of Constantinople left the gardens of the Bosporus to become a gardener of the heavenly Paradise. He was decapitated on the twelfth of February 1748. The monk Caesarius Dapontes wrote about the life and suffering of the Martyr.

The memory of Saint Christos the Gardener is celebrated on February 12.

“Be not Deceived” Sofia Kioroglou

A special thank you is in order to Writink Page for publishing my poem “Be not Deceived”. A great page full of interesting stuff that I cherish dearly.

Writink Page

Death never forgets.
Your sins will find you out
and come home to roost
So, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked:
for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap

“Be not Deceived”, by Sofia Kioroglou

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Το οργουελικό κράτος … “Η κορυφή του Παγόβουνου”

Το Οργουελικό κράτος… Η Κορυφή του Παγόβουνου

Σημεία Καιρών

Η δυστοπική νουβέλα του Τζόρτζ Όργουελ δημοσιεύτηκε το 1939 και αντικατοπτρίζει το όραμα του συγγραφέα για το έτος 1984.

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Ενας λεπρός που αγίασε… Όσιος Νικηφόρος 4/1/1964

Όσοι έχουν πάει προς Αιγάλεω μεριά, όλο και κάτι έχουν ακούσει…

Ο πατήρ Νικηφόρος (κατά κόσμον Νικόλαος) γεννήθηκε σ’ ένα ορεινό χωριό των Χανίων, στο Σηρικάρι. Οι γονείς του ήταν απλοί και ευλαβείς χωρικοί, οι οποίοι ενώ ακόμη ήταν μικρό παιδί πέθαναν και τον άφησαν ορφανό. Έτσι, σε ηλικία 13 ετών έφυγε από το σπίτι του, πήγε στα Χανιά κι άρχισε να εργάζεται εκεί σ’ ένα κουρείο.

Τότε ενεφάνισε και τα πρώτα σημεία της νόσου του Χάνσεν δηλ. την λέπρα. Εκείνη την εποχή, τούς λεπρούς τούς απομόνωναν στο νησί Σπιναλόγκα, διότι η λέπρα ως μεταδοτική αρρώστια αντιμετωπίζονταν με φόβο και αποτροπιασμό. Ο Νικόλαος όταν έγινε 16 ετών και όταν τα σημάδια της νόσου άρχισαν να γίνονται πιο εμφανή, για να αποφύγη τον εγκλεισμό του στην Σπιναλόγκα έφυγε με κάποιο καράβι για την Αίγυπτο. Εκεί έμενε εργαζόμενος στην Αλεξάνδρεια, πάλι σ’ ένα κουρείο, όμως τα σημάδια της νόσου γίνονταν όλο και πιο εμφανή, ιδίως στα χέρια και στο πρόσωπο. Γι’ αυτό με την μεσολάβηση ενός κληρικού κατέφυγε στην Χίο, όπου υπήρχε τότε ένα λεπροκομείο, στο όποιο ήταν Ιερεύς ο πατήρ Άνθιμος Βαγιανός, ο μετέπειτα Άγιος Άνθιμος.

Ο Νικόλαος έφτασε στη Χίο το 1914 σε ηλικία 24 ετών. Στο λεπροκομείο της Χίου, πού ήταν ένα συγκρότημα με πολλά ομοιόμορφα σπιτάκια, υπήρχε το εκκλησάκι του Αγίου Λαζάρου, όπου εφυλάσσετο η θαυματουργός εικόνα της Παναγίας της Υπακοής. Σ’ αυτόν τον χώρο άνοιξε το στάδιο των αρετών για τον Νικόλαο. Μέσα σε 2 χρόνια ο Άγιος Άνθιμος τον έκρινε έτοιμο για το αγγελικό σχήμα και τον έκειρε μοναχό με το όνομα Νικηφόρο. Η νόσος προχωρούσε και εξελίσσετο και ελλείψει καταλλήλων φαρμάκων, επέφερε πολλές και μεγάλες αλλοιώσεις (το φάρμακο βρέθηκε αργότερα το 1947).

Ο π. Νικηφόρος ζούσε με αδιάκριτη, γνήσια υπακοή, με νηστεία αυστηρή, εργαζόμενος στους κήπους. Μάλιστα κατέγραφε σε ένα κατάλογο και τα θαύματα του Αγίου Ανθίμου, τα όποια είχε δει «ιδίοις όμασιν» (πολλά αφορούσαν θεραπείες δαιμονιζομένων).

Υπήρχε μια ιδιαίτερη πνευματική σχέση του Αγίου Ανθίμου με τον μοναχό Νικηφόρο, ο όποιος «ουδέ εν βήμα εμάκρυνεν απ’ αυτού», όπως αναφέρει ο πατήρ Θεόκλητος Διονυσιάτης στο βιβλίο του «Ο Άγιος Άνθιμος της Χίου». Ο π. Νικηφόρος προσευχόταν τη νύχτα ώρες ατελείωτες, κάνοντας μετάνοιες αμέτρητες, δεν είχε λογοφέρει με κανένα ούτε χάλασε την καρδιά κάποιου κι ήταν ο κύριος ψάλτης του ναού. Εξ αιτίας της ασθενείας του όμως, σιγά-σιγά έχασε το φώς του κι έτσι έψαλλε τα περισσότερα τροπάρια και απήγγειλε τούς Αποστόλους από στήθους.

Το 1957 έκλεισε το Λωβοκομεΐο της Χίου και τούς εναπομείναντος ασθενείς μαζί με τον πατέρα Νικηφόρο τούς έστειλαν στόν Αντιλεπρικό Σταθμό Αγίας Βαρβάρας Αθηνών, στο Αιγάλεω. Την εποχή εκείνη ο πατήρ Νικηφόρος ήταν περίπου 67 ετών. Τα μέλη του και τα μάτια του είχαν τελείως αλλοιωθεί και παραμορφωθεί από την νόσο.

Εκεί, στόν Αντιλεπρικό σταθμό ζούσε και ο πατήρ Ευμένιος, ο όποιος είχε κι αυτός προσβληθεί από την νόσο του Χάνσεν, αλλά με την επιτυχή φαρμακευτική αγωγή θεραπεύτηκε τελείως. Απεφάσισε όμως να μείνη όλο το υπόλοιπο της ζωής του μέσα στον Αντιλεπρικό σταθμό κοντά στους συνασθενείς του, τούς οποίους φρόντιζε με πολλή αγάπη. Έτσι έγινε και υποτακτικός στον πατέρα Νικηφόρο, στον όποιο ως ανταμοιβή της υπομονής του ο Κύριος του είχε δώσει πολλά χαρίσματα. Πλήθος κόσμου συνέρρεε στο ταπεινό κελλάκι του λεπρού μονάχου Νικηφόρου, στην Αγία Βαρβάρα του Αιγάλεω, για να πάρει την ευχή του. Να τι αναφέρουν μεταξύ των άλλων όσοι τον εγνώρισαν τότε:

Ενώ ο ίδιος του ήταν κατάκοιτος, με πληγές και πόνους, δεν εγόγγυζε αλλά έδειχνε μεγάλη καρτερία. Είχε το χάρισμα της παρηγοριάς των θλιβομένων. Τα μάτια του ήταν μονίμως ερεθισμένα, η όραση του ελα¬χίστη, είχε αγκυλώσεις στα χέρια και παράλυση στα κάτω άκρα. Παρ’ όλα αυτά ήταν γλυκύτατος, μειλίχιος, χαμογελαστός, εδιηγείτο χαριτωμένα περιστατικά, ήταν ευχάριστος, αξιαγάπητος. Το πρόσωπο του, πού ήταν φαγωμένο από τα στίγματα της ασθένειας, και τις πληγές, έλαμπε κι έπαιρναν χαρά όσοι τον έβλεπαν αυτόν τον πάμπτωχο και φαινομενικά ασθενή άνθρωπο πού έλεγε: «Ας είναι δοξασμένο το Άγιο Όνομα Του».
Σε ηλικία 74 ετών, στις 4 Ιανουαρίου του 1964, κοιμήθηκε ο πατήρ Νικηφόρος. Μετά την εκταφή, τα άγια του λείψανα ευωδίαζαν. Ο πατήρ Ευμένιος, και άλλοι πιστοί ανέφεραν πολλές περιπτώσεις, όπου έγιναν θαύματα με την επίκληση των πρεσβειών προς τον Θεό, του πατρός Νικηφόρου.

(Από το βιβλίο «ΝΙΚΗΦΟΡΟΣ Ο ΛΕΠΡΟΣ ΤΗΣ ΚΑΡΤΕΡΙΑΣ ΑΘΛΗΤΗΣ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΣ», υπό Σίμωνος μοναχού, Γ’ εκδ. «ΑΓ. ΣΤΕΦΑΝΟΣ», Αθήναι 2007).

«Παιδιά μου, προσεύχεσθε; και πώς προσεύχεσθε; …με την ευχή του Ιησού να προσεύχεσθε, με το ΚΥΡΙΕ ΙΗΣΟΥ ΧΡΙΣΤΕ, ΕΛΕΗΣΟΝ ΜΕ. Έτσι να προσεύχεσθε. Έτσι είναι καλά» (πατήρ Νικηφόρος).

  1. Πηγή: Ενας λεπρός που αγίασε… Όσιος Νικηφόρος 4/1/1964

Sofia’s poem ” Sinai” in Verse-Virtual and a few words about the Holy Monastery of Sinai

The poem “Sinai at http://www.verse-virtual.com/sofia-kioroglou-2016-february.html

Sinai
God-trodden Mount
of the Ten Commandments
The Holy Mountain of Moses
Heaven

THE BEDOUIN AND THE HOLY MONASTERY OF SINAI

The term “bedouin” in the Arabic language refers to one who lives out in the open, in the desert. Eutyches, the ninth century Patriarch of Alexandria, writes that when Justinian built the monastery, he settled next to it with some two hundred families brought from the Pontos of Anatolia, and from Alexandria, in order to guard, defend, and assist the monks. The modern-day bedouin are considered to be the descendants of those families that were converted to Islam in the seventh century, and that today form the Sinai bedouin families that make up the Jebeliya tribe. Its members to this day trace their lineage to these soldiers, and are proud of their Greek and Roman origins, as well as of this denomination and cultural identity.

The monastery has become an integral part of their lives as they care for it, due to the fact that the monastery has always respected their rights and sought for solutions to their various difficulties. They are peace-loving and cultivated, and they are courteous, joyful, frugal, and hospitable in spite of their poverty. They consider the monastery and the Archbishop of Sinai as the traditional administrative and judiciary authority of their tribe. They are linked with the monastery in that they work for it, taking part in its everyday life and activities. Now, thanks to the great interest shown by the contemporary Egyptian state for them as well as for the whole of the South Sinai, their living conditions have been greatly improved.

The bedouin inhabitants of the region, of old, and up to this day, honor the Holy Monastery of Sinai, the trustee of the seventeen centuries long spiritual and cultural tradition of the South Sinai area, as well as the recipient of the honor and respect that are due to its patron, Saint Catherine. The inclusion of the Holy Monastery of Sinai and its surrounding area in the UNESCO catalogue of World Heritage Monuments, further guarantees the maintenance of the physical environment in which the bedouin live.

Sinai fathers

The unobtrusive as well as the humble conduct that characterizes the Sinai fathers’ way of life across the ages has greatly contributed to the fact that the pilgrim sites of the Sinai area are held in great respect, while the fathers’ prayers continue to be exercised without any hindrance to such an extent that at various periods this ministry has been sustained by great historic leaders who have placed the Holy Monastery of Sinai under their protection. Indeed, in our days, this tradition is continued by contemporary leaders as well as by important persons both within and without the Arab Republic of Egypt, and who, with great zeal, aid the monastery so that under the present conditions it might continue in the exercise of its spiritual, philanthropic, and cultural tradition.

The initial appeal not only of the simple people, of the anchorites or of the bedouin, but even that of great religious and political leaders for the blessing of the Most Holy Virgin of the Burning Bush and from a certain period and onwards the taking recourse to the protection of Saint Catherine creates an important tradition in the seventeen centuries long life of the Holy Monastery of Sinai, regardless of the fact that it might be situated in a remote area of the South Sinai. Parallel with this, the outstanding spiritual and cultural tradition of the holy monastery, combined with the great reverence that is reserved for Saint Catherine, particularly in the Western world, have contributed to the fact of everyone wishing either to proceed with the offering of precious ex votos or with participating in various efforts aiming at the safeguarding of the holy monastery’s pilgrimage sites. In this field, of a tantamount importance has been the factor that the holy monastery represents a point of encounter not only for the faithful of the Christian world, but also for Jews and Moslems.

The summit

From the summit, the views of the surrounding mountains and valleys are great! The climb is certainly worth the effort.

When to do it. Seeing sunrise or sunset from the top is traditional, but we chose to climb to the summit during the day, missing the crowds at sunrise and sunset, and really enjoyed the experience.
Geology of the mountain. The mountain is made of granite.
The summit is not visible from the Monastery, but the ascent up the mountain is visible off the northwest corner of the Monastery. The stone step path that rises to the summit was likely constructed in the sixth or seventh century.
Summit altitude of 2,285 meters. This amounts to a 685 meter climb, given an altitude of 1,600 meters at the gates of St Catherine’s.
Climbing to the summit. You can take two different routes to the top:
The camel track (ascent takes 2.5-3 hours up). This is a less taxing route and certainly riding a camel reduces the climbing strain, but probably not the riding sores. 😉
The 3700 steps (ascent takes 1.5-2 hours, descent takes 1 hour). We would definitely recommend this route (we went up and down this route). It is much prettier, not to mention faster, plus it is the “historical” route taken by pilgrims up the mountain. Although many guidebooks warn about this being a brutal ascent, with some steps over a meter high, we did not find it difficult and certainly did not encounter any meter-high steps! We would recommend taking a flashlight (for each person) if you are going to undertake this at night or during the early morning.
Further, no matter which route you select, certainly bring a jacket because the wind really blows at the top.

The photos are from my visit to Sinai Monastery on St.Catherine’feast day last year. Only 16 daring Greeks defied the gloomy mumbo-jumbo on TV about the dangers lurking regarding this trip. Yeah, sure there is strife but the monastery is revered by everyone in the region.Believe me the experience is unbeatable and the climb to the summit simply amazing.

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