Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Saints Who Read "Salvation of Sinners": St. Kosmas the Aitolos (+ 1779)


In his Third Teaching, St. Kosmas the Aitolos tells two stories directly from the miracles of the Mother of God listed in the Salvation of Sinners, and at the end of the first story even exhorts the people to read the Salvation of Sinners.

By St. Kosmas the Aitolos

A Thief Named John

A man named John was defeated and he became a thief. He became the captain of a band of one hundred thieves, but he had great reverence for the Theotokos. Each morning and evening he read the service of Supplication to the Theotokos.

Wishing to save him because of the great reverence he had for the Theotokos, the gracious God sent a holy monk who was immediately captured by the thieves.

The monk said to them: "I beg you to take me to your captain because I have something to tell you for your own good."

They took him to the captain and he said: "Ask all the men to come so that I can tell you something."

The captain called them and they came. The monk said: "Aren't there any more?"

"I have a cook," the captain replied.

"Ask him to come." But when he came, the cook was unable to look at the monk and turned his face aside.

The monk then said to the cook: "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I command you to tell me who you are, who sent you, and what you are doing here."

The cook replied and said: "I'm a liar and I always speak falsely. But since you have bound me with the name of Christ, I can't but tell you the truth. I'm the devil and I was sent by my superior to work for the captain and to wait for the day when he wouldn't read the service of Supplication to the Theotokos to put him into hell. I have been watching him now for fourteen years and I have never found a day when he hasn't read the service."

The monk said: "I command you in the name of the Holy Trinity to disappear and no longer tempt Christians." And immediately the devil disappeared like smoke.

The monk then taught the thieves. Some became monks, others married and did good works and were saved. This is why I advise you all, men and women, to learn the service of Supplication and to use it in your prayers. And if you wish, take the book the Salvation of Sinners, which contains the seventy miracles of the Theotokos, of which I told you one so that you might understand.

A Maiden Named Mary

There was a maiden named Mary whose father was a Christian and sought to have her married. But she didn't want to, wishing to preserve her virginity. He placed her in a nunnery and handed her over to the abbess to keep her as her child.After her father had died, a new ruler took over that land. One day he went to the monastery where Mary was, and as soon as he saw her, he immediately was overcome by a satanic love for her. Returning to his home, he sent a letter to the abbess which said: "Send Mary to me immediately, because I have seen her and she has seen me. She has fallen in love with me and I with her."

The abbess read the letter and called Mary and said to her: "My child, what good did you see in the Pasha which made you look upon him with love? Look what he writes to me here."

Mary answered: "I don't know anything about it. I looked at him with a different purpose in mind. I said to myself: 'My God, will the Pasha have the same glory in the next world which he has in this one?' But he looked at me with a diabolical purpose. If I wanted marriage, my father would have given me [in marriage], and I would have married a Christian."

The abbess then wrote to the Pasha: "I would prefer to send you my head rather than send you Mary."

The Pasha sent another letter which said: "Either you send me Mary or I will come and take her myself and I will burn down the monastery."

Mary heard this and said to the abbess: "When the Pasha's men come, send them to my cell and I shall answer them."

When they came to Mary's cell she asked them what they wanted. They replied: "The Pasha sent us to take you because he saw your eyes and he desires them."

She asked them to wait for her to go to the church. She then took a knife and a dish and, standing before the icon of Christ, she said: "My Lord, you gave me earthly eyes so that I might walk along the good road, and for me to go voluntarily along the bad road is not right; and because these earthly eyes will take out my spiritual eyes, see how I take them out for your love, so that I can escape from the mire of sin."

And she immediately put the knife to her eye and plucked it out and placed it in the dish. She then went before the icon of the Theotokos and took out the other eye and put them together. She then sent them to the Pasha. When he saw them his satanic love was transformed into contrition and reverence. He immediately got up and went to the monastery and begged the nuns to pray to God to heal Mary.

All the nuns accompanied the Pasha. They fell on their knees, and begged Christ and the Theotokos to return Mary's sight.

The Theotokos then appeared as lightning to Mary and said to her: "Hail, Mary. Because you preferred to put out your eyes for the love of my Son and for me, behold take back your eyes and no longer will you be tempted."

Seeing the miracle, those who were present rejoiced greatly and glorified God and the Panagia. Then the Pasha gave the monastery a lot of gold and he was forgiven by the nuns. He left and did good things and was saved.

Did you hear, my brethren, what Mary did with the power of the Panagia? This is why we too must honor the All-Holy Theotokos by doing good works.


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