Friday, June 28, 2019

Saints Who Read "Salvation of Sinners": Holy New Martyr Zacharias of Patras (+ 1782)

Saints Who Read Salvation of Sinners

Holy New Martyr Zacharias of Patras

The Holy New Martyr Zacharias was from the Peloponnesos in Greece in the region of Arta. He renounced Christ to become a Muslim, then went to old Patras and worked there as a furrier, establishing a workshop to manufacture furs. He had a book, titled Salvation of Sinners, which he often read in secret. The book moved him to repentance, and he wept bitterly for the great evil he had done.

Zacharias, unable any longer to bear the pangs of conscience, met a certain Elder and told him of his sin. Having confessed his apostasy to a priest renowned for his virtue, he revealed his desire to confess Christ before the Turks. The Elder advised prudence and told him to spend forty days alone in fasting and prayer in order to put his resolution to the test.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Welcome to Salvation of Sinners!

Dear Readers:

In 1641 a monk from Crete named Agapios Landos, who had lived for some time as an ascetic on Mount Athos, had a book published in Venice with the title Amartolon Sotiria ("Salvation of Sinners"). During that difficult time of the Turkish occupation it became one of the most popular devotional books for Greek Orthodox Christians, and helped revive faith and piety among the people. This was a book often given to those who were preparing for martyrdom to inspire them towards deeper faith and hope and zeal, as we read in the biographies of the New Martyrs who refused to embrace Islam and in turn were tortured and killed. We find this book to be a major influence among ecclesiastical personalities in their sermons and writings, such as St. Kosmas the Aitolos and St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite. Even till this day it is a favorite among Greek Orthodox Christians and continues to be republished.

This magnum opus of Monk Agapios is an edifying discussion about the issues that concerned Orthodox Christians at the time, and continue to do so, such as miracles, virtue, penance, money and fasting. The author himself saw it as a handbook of asceticism for people in parishes. The work consists of three parts, dealing with a) different types of sins, b) Confession, the Eucharist and Eschatology, and c) the miracles of the Mother of God. Agapios compiled Salvation of Sinners from various sources, amongst them some Italian which are non-Orthodox in origin, making it not without some controversy. When the book was published in Venice in 1641, it enjoyed tremendous popularity among the suffering Greek people. By 1972, 34 editions had appeared, and we know of translations into Arabic, Romanian, Turkish and other languages, including Modern Greek. We know that the Arabic translation made soon after its original publication was also very successful, and was in most church libraries under the Patriarchate of Antioch and later in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. It is worth noting that the work transcended confessional boundaries as copies are also to be found in Syrian Catholic, Maronite and Melkite libraries.

Unfortunately, however, this book has never been translated into English. As I begin the process of translating this book into English for the first time, with the goal of publication, it will be offered here gradually for free. I ask that the contents of this website not be reproduced or copied, as the intention is to publish this book.

With love in Christ,

John Sanidopoulos