It is quite amazing to read about the martyrdom of the Seven Maccabee brothers, their mother Solomone, and their teacher Eleazar. The Church celebrates their memory on August 1st, and the account of their martyrdom is written in the Old Testament, in 2 Maccabees 6:18-7:40 and 4 Maccabees 15-18. Even though they lived in the 2nd century before Christ, their faith in the true God was admired by the great Fathers and Teachers of the Church. St. Ambrose, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, and St. John Chrysostom all wrote in praise of these great martyrs. They are called Maccabees, because they belonged to the segment of the Jewish people in Jerusalem who remained faithful to the true God. They struggled to protect the Temple from being defiled by conquerors who worshipped idols, and they fought for the freedom of their people.

St. Panteleimon is a Saint well-known for miraculous healings, including people with incurable diseases. He came from Nicomedia in Bithynia, located in Asia Minor (now the city of Izmit, Turkey). It was here that the cruel Roman emperor Diocletian established his seat to rule the Eastern part of the Empire, and where countless Christians suffered horrific martyrdom by his order. Among those we honor are the 20,000 Holy Martyrs of Nicomedia (December 28th), who were burned during the persecutions. St. Panteleimon’s mother was a devout Christian named Euboula. From an early age, she took great care in giving a Christian education to her child, whose birth name was Pantoleon. She reposed early in the Saint’s life, and has also been declared a saint, commemorated on March 30th. Pantoleon’s father was Eustorgios, a pagan, senator and counselor of Diocletian. Seeing his son's inclination towards medical science, Eustorgios instructed the local medical teacher, Efrosynos, a palace physician, to teach Pantoleon in medical studies. Pantoleon distinguished himself among his peers, and began his career in medical studies with great success.

We stand strong in the presence of these thousands of Saints of our local Church of Pisidia, Side, and Antalya, the Synaxsis (ecclesiastical gathering) that we celebrate today. Among them are 18 hierarchs, known to us by name, who served as shepherds of our Church here during the 5th century, and took part in the Fourth Ecumenical Council. This Council, convened in Chalcedon in 451 and involving hundreds of other Holy Fathers, is also commemorated today. Along with them, we celebrate the memory of all the Saints of Pisidia and Pamphylia who, like bright clouds, shine in the sky. Of course, each one has their own feast day, which is celebrated throughout the Church year, but the Ecumenical Patriarchate also decided to establish this common feast for all of our local Saints, who lived from the time of the Apostles to the 19th century.

Antioch of Pisidia, which is located on the western plateau of the Taurus Mountains, had the honor of being the first place in all of Asia Minor to hear the preaching of St. Paul (noted by St. Luke in Acts 13:16-41). With this, the Church of Antioch was founded, and from there the Gospel of Christ spread to the wider region. While we can feel grateful to the Great Apostle for this saving work, the Jewish leaders of the Antiochian Synagogue at that time were not. They were greatly alarmed when they saw the Christian population of the city and surrounding villages grow. These zealots appealed to the authorities, who then harassed and expelled Sts. Paul and Barnabas from the Province. Their troubles did not end there, for the Saints were also persecuted in Iconium and Lystra. In fact, it was in Lystra that St. Paul was stoned to the point where his enemies left him for dead (see Acts 14:19). He miraculously survived, but the persecution and sorrows never left him. In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, he lays out the suffering he has endured for the Gospel: Illness, hunger, thirst, cold from lack of clothes and shelter, exhaustion from his travels with the constant threat of robbery, shipwreck (on his way to Rome), being beaten with sticks and stones, and 4 years of imprisonment. There is also the “thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan” that the Saint struggled with constantly (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-33; 12:7).

St. John, the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, is greatly honored in the Orthodox Church. The Lord Himself said, "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist" (Matthew 11:11). The birth of the Forerunner, as the Lord also said, was foretold by the Prophets (see Matthew 11:10). St. Luke gives a detailed account in his Gospel of the miraculous circumstances surrounding St. Johns birth (Luke 1: 5-25, 57-80). The Archangel Gabriel, six months before the Annunciation, appeared to Zacharias, a priest in the Temple of Jerusalem. While he was censing, the Archangel appeared and said to him: Your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John” (Luke 1:13). He regularly prayed to the Lord for a child, and God gave him a son, who is the greatest of all the Prophets. What was later written by St. Paul the Apostle is fulfilled: "God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).


Schedule of services on August 2020

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