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The Akathist Hymn is a profound, devotional poem or chant, which sings the praises of the Holy Mother and Ever-Virgin Mary (Theotokos). It is chanted in all Orthodox Churches throughout the world during the five Fridays in the Great Lent, and constitutes a very concrete spiritual preparation for the Holy Week and Easter Services.

Devotional Hymns to the Theotokos are as ancient as the first Christian Church. The Byzantine Empire from its very inception at Constantinople during the fourth century, closely allied itself to the Virgin Mary and always sort Her protection or intercessions. This we see from the Prayer Services to the Theotokos between the fifth and eighth centuries, and the reference to Constantinople as the ‘Queen City’.

The Akathist Hymn, which in its present form was added to by many Ecclesiastical Hymnographers, existed for most part even before it was formally accepted by the Church in 626 AD. The Kontakion “To the Invincible Champion… we ascribe the victory” was added then, and came to be recognized as the Akathist Hymn, because of the following described miracle attributed to the intercession of the Theotokos.

While the Emperor of Byzantium Heracleios was on an expedition to fight the aggression of the Persians on their own grounds, there appeared outside the walls of Constantinople barbaric hordes, mostly Avars. The siege lasted a few months, and it was apparent that the outnumbered troops of the Queen City were reaching desperation. However as history records, the faith of the people worked the impossible. The Venerable Patriarch Sergius with the Clergy and the Official of Byzantium Vonos, endlessly marched along the great walls of Constantinople with an Icon of the Theotokos in hand, and bolstered the faith of the defenders of freedom. The miracle came soon after. Unexpectedly, as the chronicler narrates, a great storm with huge tidal waves destroyed most of the fleet of the enemy, and full retreat ensued.

The faithful of Constantinople spontaneously filled the Church of the Theotokos at Vlachernae on the Golden Horn, and with the Patriarch Sergius officiating, they prayed all night singing praises to the Virgin Mary without sitting. Hence the title of the Hymn “Akathistos“, in Greek meaning ‘not seated‘.

The Akathist Hymn is a very important and indeed an integral part of our religious and ecclesiastical life. When we are present during the first Friday Service, we firmly realize that we commence to ascend the spiritual steps of the lengthy Lenten period, to finally reach the peak with our Lord’s Glorious Resurrection.

The Akathist Hymn was not strange to the Latin West even though apart from the Eastern Church. Pope Benedict XIV granted on May 4, 1746 an indulgence of 50 days to the Latin and Eastern Rite Roman Catholics, for each recitation of the Hymn.

Fr. Vincent McNabb, a Roman Catholic Priest in London, translated the Hymn into English in 1934. In his forward remarks he stated “No apology is needed for introducing the Akathistos to the Christian West. Indeed the West might well be apologetic about its neglect, or ignorance of such a liturgical and literary masterpiece”.

In any of our Service Books we can readily see that our glorious and Ever-Virgin Theotokos is the center of many of our Orthodox Services in which prayers abound for Her interceding to Her Son, and our God, for our Salvation. The Virgin Mary is the most exalted and most honoured person by God. She is the most revered and most loved by humans. She is a binding force for all Christians. She is the Unique Personality of the world, because of the unique fact of the Lord’s Incarnation. She is the daughter of Grace and the Crystal Vessel of the Grace of the Holy Spirit (see Luke 1:26-56).

Faith in the Almighty God is primary and all important to the Holy Orthodox Church. Our dependence on God is always beyond question, and from this faith we should strive not to stray. Therefore, Services, like the Akathist Hymn, should be a must and attended by all. Moveover, this particular Service links us so beautifully with a great and glorious period of our Christian history; it is also a very live tradition, which has never ceased in the Orthodox Church since its official acceptance in 626 AD.

Living in these trying times, when we are besieged by many forces of evil, it is hoped that the Akathist Hymn as well as our other Services may become the bulwark to withstand, and indeed to overcome these forces.

Paraphrased from Fr. George Papadeas’
published by Patmos Press, DAYTONIA BEACH, FLORIDA, 1980

Brief outline

The Akathist Hymn is divided into 4 main parts, and briefly the content is as follows:

1 Stanzas 1 – 6
a. The Annunciation to the Virgin Mary.
b. The Virgin Mary’s purity.
c. The Virgin Mary’s visit to Elizabeth.
d. The doubts of Joseph the protector, and his joy upon learning of the supernatural Conception.
2 Stanzas 7 – 12
tell us of:
a. The shepherds hearing the Angels praising the birth of the Lord and their visit to the manger.
b. The adoration of the Magi.
c. The flight of the Holy Family to Egypt and the falling of the idols.
3 Stanzas 13 – 18
a. The new Creation which was wrought by the Incarnate Lord through the Theotokos.
b. The call for the uplifting of our minds to Heaven from where God descended.
c. The Lord’s Omnipresence, that while He came to earth, He was no less in Heaven.
d. The confounding of the philosophers and orators, who were at a loss to explain God’s condescension.
4 Stanzas 19 – 24
speak of:
a. The Theotokos as a protector of all the devout, and those who choose to flee unto Her.
b. God coming as one of us, amongst us, to draw us near to Him.
c. Our inability to adequately sing the praises of God, whose mercies are countless.
d. The Lord cancelling all the ancient spiritual debts, and the granting of His Grace to all. Our prayers and petitions to the Holy Mother to protect us from misfortunes and save us from the future condemnation.

The Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos
Having secretly received the command, the Archangel hastened into Joseph’s abode and spoke to the Holy Virgin. He Who bowed the Heavens with His descending, is wholly contained, yet unchanged in You. And seeing Him taking the likeness of a servant in your womb, I stand in amazement and cry unto you:

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin [3 times].  


Unto you, O Theotokos, invincible Champion, your City, in thanksgiving ascribes the victory for the deliverance from sufferings. And having your might unassailable, free us from all dangers, so that we may cry unto you:

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin.


The Archangel was sent from Heaven to cry ‘Rejoice!’ to the Theotokos. And beholding You, O Lord, taking bodily form, he stood in awe, and with his bodiless voice he cried aloud to her such things as these:

Rejoice, you through whom joy shall shine forth. Rejoice, you whom the curse will vanish.
Rejoice, the Restoration of fallen Adam. Rejoice, the Redemption of the tears of Eve.
Rejoice, O Height beyond human logic. Rejoice, O depth invisible even to the eyes of Angels.
Rejoice, for you are the King’s throne. Rejoice, you bear Him, Who bears the universe.
Rejoice, O Star revealing the Sun. Rejoice, O Womb of divine Incarnation.
Rejoice, you through whom creation is renewed. Rejoice, you through whom the Creator is born a Babe.

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin.


Beholding herself in purity, the holy one courageously said to Gabriel: Your strange voice seems almost unbelievable to my soul; for how do you speak of birth-giving without seed? crying aloud:



Seeking to know the incomprehensible knowledge, the Virgin cried to him who ministered to her: How many a Son be born from a virginal womb? Tell me! To her he answered in fear, yet crying thus:

Rejoice, O seer of the ineffable Will. Rejoice, O surety of those praying in silence.
Rejoice, you the Preface of Christ’s miracles. Rejoice, you the Pinnacle of His commandments.
Rejoice, O heavenly Ladder, by which God descended. Rejoice, O Bridge leading those from earth to Heaven.
Rejoice, O Miracle, much marveled of Angels. Rejoice, O trauma, much dirged of demons.
Rejoice, you who ineffably gave birth to the Light. Rejoice, you who revealed the mystery to none.
Rejoice, O knowledge superceding the wise. Rejoice, You who enlightens the minds of the faithful.

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin


The power of the Most High then overshadowed the Virgin, that she might conceive; and her fruitful womb He made a fertile meadow for all those desiring to reap salvation, as they chant:



Carrying God in her womb, the Virgin hastened to Elizabeth, whose unborn babe forthwith recognizing Mary’s salutation rejoiced, and with leaps as it were with songs, he cried out to the Theotokos:

Rejoice, O branch of the unwithering Vine. Rejoice, O Land yielding the untainted Fruit.
Rejoice, O Husbandry of the merciful Husbandman. Rejoice, O birthgiver to the Planter of our life.
Rejoice, O Field bearing abundant compassion. Rejoice, O Table laden with an abundance of mercies.
Rejoice, for you make the meadow produce contentment. Rejoice, for you prepare a haven for souls.
Rejoice, acceptable Incense of intercession. Rejoice, Oblation for all the world.
Rejoice, Favour of God to mortals. Rejoice, Access of mortals to God.

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin.


Having doubtful thoughts, the righteous Joseph was troubled; for he suspected a secret union as he beheld you unwed, O blameless one; but when he learned of your conception through the Holy Spirit, he cried:



On hearing the Angels praising the incarnate presence of Christ, the shepherds hastened as to a Shepherd, and beholding Him as a spotless Lamb, pastured in Mary’s womb, her they hymned, and said:

Rejoice, Mother of the Lamb and Shepherd. Rejoice, Fold of the rational sheep.
Rejoice, O Defense against invisible foes. Rejoice, Opener of the gates of Paradise.
Rejoice, for the things of Heaven rejoice with the earth. Rejoice, the things of earth join chorus with the Heavens.
Rejoice, never-silent Voice of the Apostles. Rejoice, never-conquered Courage of the Martyrs.
Rejoice, firm Support of the Faith. Rejoice, shining Token of grace.
Rejoice, you through whom Hades was laid bare. Rejoice, you through whom we are clothed with glory.

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin.


Beholding the Godward-pointing Star, the Magi followed it radiance; and holding it as a lantern, they sought through it the mighty King. And having approached the Unreachable, they rejoiced and cried to Him:



The sons of the Chaldees saw in the hands of the Virgin Him Who by His hand fashioned man; and sensing Him as Lord, even though He had taken the form of a servant, they hastened with gifts to do homage, and they cried out to her who is blessed:

Rejoice, Mother of the never-setting Star. Rejoice, Dawn of the mystic Day.
Rejoice, you who has quenched the fiery furnace of error. Rejoice, you who enlightens the initiates of the Trinity.
Rejoice, you who has removed the inhuman tyrant from power. Rejoice, you who has shown Christ, the man-befriending Lord.
Rejoice, you who has redeemed us from the pagan religion. Rejoice, you who has rescued us from the works of mire.
Rejoice, you who ceased the worship of fire. Rejoice, you who saves us from the flames of passions.
Rejoice, Guide of the faithful to chastity. Rejoice, O Delight of all generations.

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin.


Having become God-bearing heralds, the Magi returned to Babylon. Fulfilling Your prophecy, and having preached You as the Christ to all, they left Herod as a trifler, who knew not how to chant:



Having shed the light of truth in Egypt, You expelled the darkness of falsehood; and unable to bear Your strength, O Saviour, her idols fell; and they that were set free from them cried to the Theotokos:

Rejoice, Uplifting of men. Rejoice, Downfall of demons.
Rejoice, you who trampled upon the delusion of error. Rejoice, you who censured the deceit of the idols.
Rejoice,Sea which drowned the symbolic Pharoah. Rejoice, Rock which refreshed those thirsting for life.
Rejoice, Pillar of fire, guiding those in darkness. Rejoice, Protection of the world, more spacious than a cloud.
Rejoice, Nourishment, successor to manna. Rejoice, Minister of holy joy.
Rejoice, Land of promise. Rejoice, you from whom flows milk and honey.

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin.


When Symeon was prepared to leave from this age of deception, You were presented to him as a newborn Babe, but he recognized You as perfect God. Wherefore, he marvelled at Your ineffable wisdom, chanting:



New was the Creation which the Creator showed to us His creatures, when He sprang forth from the seedless womb; and He preserved it incorrupt, even as it was, that we, seeing this Miracle, may praise her saying:

Rejoice, Flower of incorruption. Rejoice, Crown of self-restraint.
Rejoice, O shining Token of Resurrection. Rejoice, you whom reflects the life of the Angels.
Rejoice, Tree of delectable Fruit that nourishes the faithful. Rejoice, well-shaded Tree under which many find shelter.
Rejoice you who bears the Guide of those astray. Rejoice, you who gives birth to the Redeemer of captives.
Rejoice, Intercession before the righteous Judge. Rejoice, Forgiveness for many transgressors.
Rejoice, Robe of confidence for those bare of courage. Rejoice, Tenderness conquering all desire.

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin.


Seeing a strange childbirth, let us estrange ourselves from the world by transporting our minds to Heaven; to this end the Most High God appeared on earth a lowly man, that He might draw to the heights those who cry out to Him:



The Infinite Word was wholly present with those on earth, yet never absent from those in Heaven; for this was a divine condescension and not a mere change of place; and His birth was from a Virgin chosen of God, who heard such words as these:

Rejoice, Land of the Uncontained God. Rejoice, Gate of the sacred mystery.
Rejoice, doubtful Rumour of the faithless. Rejoice, undoubtful Pride of the faithful.
Rejoice, all-holy Chariot of Him Who is above the Cherubim. Rejoice, most excellent Dwelling-place of Him Who is above the Seraphim.
Rejoice, you who conducts the opposites of unity. Rejoice, you who has woven maidenhood into motherhood.
Rejoice, you through whom transgression is annulled. Rejoice, you through whom Paradise is open.
Rejoice, Key of the Kingdom of Christ. Rejoice, Hope of eternal blessings.

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin


All angel-kind was amazed by the great deed of Your Incarnation; for they saw the inaccessible God as Man accessible to all, dwelling among is and hearing from all:



Orators most eloquent do we behold mute as fish before you, O Theotokos; for they are at loss to explain how you could remain a virgin and yet give birth. But as for us, marvelling at this mystery, we cry with faith:

Rejoice, Vessel of the Wisdom of God. Rejoice, Treasury of His providence.
Rejoice, you who proves the philosophers fools. Rejoice, you who proves the logicians illogical.
Rejoice, for the subtle debaters are confounded. Rejoice, for the inventors of myths are faded away.
Rejoice, you who breaks the webs of the Athenians. Rejoice, you who fills the nets of the Fishermen.
Rejoice, who draws us from the depths of ignorance. Rejoice, you who enlightens many with knowledge.
Rejoice, Raft for those who desire to be saved. Rejoice, Haven for those who fare on the sea of life.

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin.


Wishing to save the world, to this end did the Ruler of all come of His own will; and, though as God He is the Shepherd, for us He appeared as a Man like us; for by this likeness He called those of like kind, yet as God He hears:



You are a fortress protecting all virgins, O Theotokos and Virgin; for the Master of heaven and earth prepared you, O Immaculate One, and dwelt in your womb, and taught all to cry out to you:

Rejoice, Pillar of virginity. Rejoice, Gate of salvation.
Rejoice, Leader of spiritual restoration. Rejoice, Bestower of divine goodness.
Rejoice, for you regenerated those conceived in shame. Rejoice, for you gave guidance to the thoughtless.
Rejoice, you who abolished the corrupter of hearts. Rejoice, you who gave birth to the Sower of chastity.
Rejoice, bridal Chamber of a seedless marriage. Rejoice, you who joined the faithful to the Lord.
Rejoice, fair Nursing-mother of virgins. Rejoice, bridal Escort of holy souls.

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin.


Defeated is every hymn that strives to pay homage to the multitude of Your many compassions; for even should we offer You, O holy King, odes of praise numberless as the sands, we should still have done nothing worthy of what You have given to us who cry to You:



As a brilliant beacon-light shining to those in darkness do we behold the holy Virgin; for she kindles the celestial Light and leads all to divine knowledge; she illuminates our minds with radiance and is honoured by these our cries:

Rejoice, Ray of the spiritual Sun. Rejoice, Beam of the innermost Splendour.
Rejoice, Lightning, enlightening our souls. Rejoice, Thunder, striking down the enemy.
Rejoice, for you caused the many-starred Light to dawn. Rejoice, for you caused the ever-flowing River to gush forth.
Rejoice, you who depicts the image of the Font of Siloam. Rejoice, you who washes away the stain of sin.
Rejoice, Laver purifying conscience. Rejoice, Wine-bowl over-filled with joy.
Rejoice, sweet-scented Fragrance of Christ. Rejoice, Life of mystic festival.

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin


Wishing to bestow His grace, He that forgives the ancient debts of all mankind came of His own will to dwell among those who departed from His favour; and tearing up writ of indebtedness, He hears from all:



Whilst praising your Offspring, we all praise you, O Theotokos, as a living temple; for the Lord, Who holds all things in His hand, dwelt in your womb, and He sanctified and glorified you, and taught all to cry to you:

Rejoice, Tabernacle of God the Word. Rejoice, Holy one, holier than the Hollies.
Rejoice, Ark made golden by the Spirit. Rejoice, inexhaustible Treasury of Life.
Rejoice, precious Diadem of godly kings. Rejoice, venerable Boast of faithful priests.
Rejoice, unshakeable Tower of the Church. Rejoice, impregnable fortress of the Kingdom.
Rejoice, you through whom trophies are raised up. Rejoice, you whom enemies are cast down.
Rejoice, Healing of my flesh. Rejoice, Salvation of my soul.

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin.


O all-hymned Mother, worthy of all praise, who brought forth the Word, the Holiest of all Saints [3 times], as you receive this our offering, rescue us all from every calamity, and deliver from future torment those who cry with one voice: Who is more


1st Stanza

The Archangel was sent from Heaven to cry: Rejoice! to the Theotokos. And beholding You, O Lord, taking bodily form, he stood in awe, and with his bodiless voice he cried aloud to her such things as:

Rejoice, you through whom joy shall shine. Rejoice, you the Redemption of the tears of Eve.
Rejoice, Height hard to climb for human thought. Rejoice, Depth hard to explore even for the eyes of Angels.
Rejoice, for you are the Throne of the King. Rejoice, for you sustained the Sustainer of all.
Rejoice, Star that causes the Sun to appear. Rejoice, Womb of the divine Incarnation.
Rejoice, you through whom creation is renewed. Rejoice, you whom the Creator is born a Babe.

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin


Unto you, O Theotokos, invincible Champion, your City, in thanksgiving ascribes the victory for the deliverance from sufferings. And having your might unassailable, free us from all dangers, so that we may cry unto you:

Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin.

download (100)The Hilandar Appeal Luncheon

16 January 2016

Tickets cost £50 per person, with £25 from each participant going to the Hilandar Appeal.


Spectral appearance of the once beautiful Hilandar courtyard ravaged by fire in 2004.

The Friends of Mount Athos (FOMA) have announced that  a fund-raising lunch will take place on 16th January at the New Club in Cheltenham.   The lunch will feature special guest speaker Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia.  His Eminence will give a talk about the Hillandar Monastery, a Serbian Orthodox monastery on Mount Athos in Greece. It was founded in 1198 by the first Serbian Archbishop Saint Sava and his father, Serbian Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja, who later became a monk there. More about the Hilandar Appealhere

Kallistos 3Dr Holley Martlew, an acclaimed authority on Greek antiquity, who lives in Cheltenham, will be hosting the lunch.  She has asked the committee of FOMA to reserve places for members of the Greek and Russian Orthodox community in Cheltenham, who would like to attend.

To reserve a place for this special event, please arrange payment through one of the following options, and send this form, including your menu choices, to Frances Jennings, c/o Rawlinson & Hunter, Eighth Floor, 6 New Street Square, New Fetter Lane, London EC4A 3AQ or email it to Donations towards the appeal from those who cannot attend will be greatly

Please either enclose a cheque addressed to the Friends of Mount Athos along with the form below or, if preferable, you can arrange a transfer to the following account:

Account Name: The Friends of Mount Athos – Hilandar Appeal

Sort Code: 30-96-64

Account Number: 01196134

IBAN: GB97 LOYD 3096 6401 1961 34


The last date for applications is Friday 18th December. As this is a charity event, once your place has been reserved the price will be non-refundable.



I would like to reserve …… place(s) at £50.00 for the Hilandar Appeal Luncheon at The New Club, Cheltenham on Saturday 16 January 2016. I enclose a cheque for £…….. payable to The Friends of Mount Athos I have arranged a transfer of £……… to the above account details Name(s) ……………………………………….. Email ……………………………………………… Address………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Menu Choices

Roasted Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup

Smoked Mackerel with Apple and Celeriac

Salad Duck Liver Parfait, Toasted Brioche, Whisky Marmalade


Lamb Tajine with Roasted Vegetable Cous Cous

Steamed Fillet of Hake, Buttered Spinach, Lemon Sauce

Sautéed Breast of Guinea Fowl, Rocket, Sweet Potato Mash


Chocolate and Brandy Roulade

Bread & Butter Pudding

Orange Posset with Spiced Walnuts


A ½ Bottle of Wine Per Person is Included




592052_218121508350963_575018438_nANNUAL DINNER AND DANCE 24TH JANUARY 2016

PLACE: The Cheltenham Chase Hotel, Shurdington Rd, Brockworth, GL3 4PB.CheltenhamExteriorNight

TIME: Starts 18.00 till late evening.

ENTERTAINMENT: Greek Music & Dancing including late bar plus raffle!

COST:      Adults = £30.00             Children (under 12) = £12.00








For information and tickets please contact:

Mr Bambos Charis:                 Work: 01242 529125,             Mob: 07743 709114

Mr Haris Christodoulou:         01386 552824,                       Mob: 07876 793838

Mr Tasos Zodiates:                  Home: 01453 759422           Mob: 07765 454524

Please confirm your choice of menu and request for tickets by January 17th.



Petit Pois & Mint Soup, Natural Yoghurt;

Cream of Vegetable soup;

Smoked chicken salad, cos lettuce, roasted cherry tomatoes, tarragon mayonnaise;

Chilled Salmon, Egg & Potato Niçoise, Beans, Olives & Lemon Vinaigrette;


Roast breast of chicken, smoked bacon, chestnut mushrooms, market vegetables, Yorkshire pudding & roast potatoes;

Fillet of salmon, spinach, chestnut mushrooms, market vegetables & roast potatoes;

Roast vegetable and puy lentil pithivier, celeriac puree, savoy cabbage; (V)


Cut Fruit Plate, Honey-Syrup

Coffee chocolate tiramisu

Lemon Posset, Almond Shortbread,

Selection of Winstones Cotswolds ice cream

Coffee or Tea



photo anthimos

Dear Friends
Please note dates for your diary:


Next Divine Liturgy, Cheltenham, Bentham Church

Даты следующих Богослужений

Saturday 14th  June 2014 at 10.00 hrs / 14 июня, в субботу, 10.00

Divine Liturgy in Church Slavonic with English, Prayers for Ukraine and Russia and Prayers for Father Anthimos [Location: St Vladimir’s Parish at the Greek Orthodox Church, Bentham, Cheltenham GL3 4UD]


Memorial Service for Father Anthimos Papandreou, Cheltenham, Bentham Church

Sunday 15th June at 10.00am / 15 июня, в воскресенье, 10.00

Divine Liturgy in Greek with English [Location: Parish of St John Chrysostom, Greek Orthodox Church, Bentham, Cheltenham GL3 4UD]

BBQ & Family Fun Day organised by the Greek Orthodox Parish

Sunday 15th June at 13.00 – 17.00hrs / 15 июня, в воскресенье, 13.00 – 17.00

[Location: Parish of St John Chrysostom, Greek Orthodox Church, Bentham, Cheltenham GL3 4UD]


Catechism Class, Montpellier, Cheltenham

Tuesday 17th  June 18.30 hrs

Catechism Class (Theme: Divine Liturgy & Holy Sacraments) with Father Stephen Platt in English, with explanation in Russian if required [Location: Glendale House, Montpellier Terrace, Montpellier, Cheltenham GL50 1UX]

(Please confirm your attendance)


If anyone requires assistance with transport or directions or requires and additional information, please contact


07957 345188 (English)

0778 3278457 (Russian/русский)


In Christ,




Philip Hicks


Church warden (Старостa) & Secretary

M: 07957 345188



Наш адрес:


GL51 4UT, Greek Orthodox Church of St John Chrysostom, Bentham Lane, Bentham, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire


Наш Приход находится под омофором Его Высокопреосвященства Архиепископа Марка Берлинско-Германского и Великобританского, епархия Русской Православной Церкви Заграницей.




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May dates for your diary


27192880-calendar-on-white-background-3-may-3d-illustrationSaturday 3rd May 09.30hrs                                                                                                                                                   Divine Liturgy in Church Slavonic with English [Location:  St Vladimir’s Parish at the Greek Orthodox Church,  Bentham, Cheltenham GL3 4UD]






Tuesday  6th May 18.30hrs                                                                                                                                                                       Catechism Class – instruction in English with Russian available if required [Location: Glendale House, Montpellier Terrace, Montpellier, Cheltenham GL50 1UX]

Details of Catechism classes: Orthodox catechism classes in Cheltenham 2014

Posted in Uncategorized



7804_530293183695704_1595576881_n1It is our sad duty to report that our beloved Rector, Priest and shepherd of our Greek Orthodox Parish in Cheltenham Father Anthimos Papandreou Reposed in the Lord Saturday 15th March 2014 following a courageous battle against cancer. He will be remembered by all of us and our prayers and heartfelt sympathy go out to his wife Jean and his children both here in the UK and in the US.

Prayers will be offered at the next Divine Liturgy (in Greek and English) Sunday 16th March at 10am

A funeral service is scheduled to be held at the Greek Orthodox Church of St John Chrysostom, Bentham, Cheltenham on Wednesday 26th March at 11.30am.



journey to kingdomInterview with Fr. Vassilios Papavassiliou, author of “Journey to the Kingdom: An Insider’s Look at the Liturgy and Beliefs of the Eastern Orthodox Church”



Pathfinder to the Truth: A guide book for an Orthodox life

‘Journey to the Kingdom’ An Insider’s Look at the Liturgy and Beliefs of the Eastern Church

Author: Father Vassilios papavassiliou

Published by Paraclete Press and available in book stores and online including the St George Information Service


Once in a while a new book makes us wonder why it wasn’t written before and I think I’ve just had the pleasure of being presented with one such example. They often say the best things are simply made and if we take that maxim to heart then the ‘Journey to the Kingdom’ An Insider’s Look at the Liturgy and Beliefs of the Eastern Church is exactly that.

By that I don’t mean to dumb down the obvious effort that has been put into it by the author, London-based Greek Orthodox priest Father Vassilios Papavassiliou, attached to the Cathedral Church of All Saints.

Far from it; this book takes a potentially complex subject and sets it out so we can understand the steps. The author is our guide on this journey. The book is crafted with love and care, and that has evidently meant much work to get to the finished product in his bid to explain that the Orthodox Church is a way of life, not just a place to visit. Father Vassilios has subscribed to the philosophy of ‘less is more’ and by that I mean he has done the job of conveying the threads of the Orthodox Liturgy without too much emphasis on academic references or side tracks into long-winded explanations of the key elements. There are, of course, annotated references handily listed at the back, but these tidy up the explanations rather than become a hindrance as with so many religious guides.

What we have is an exciting journey made all the more pleasurable through a wholesome serving of reality in this easily digestible ‘pick-up’ and read book. It is also one of those books that you like to retrace and re-read. Not because it is difficult to understand – far from it – but because, for someone like me who was not formally schooled in Theology – there are wonderful insights and nuggets of information that allow us to understand why things happen (or don’t happen) in the Divine Liturgy, irrespective of tradition, Russian, Greek, Arab amongst others. Like the trusty A to Z, it promises to become a reference and guide that makes absolute sense to not only those who think they know Orthodoxy inside and out, but importantly is a helping hand to newcomers to the true Church. Moreover, it will allow them to appreciate how this wonderful jigsaw of the Divine Liturgy is put together, from the Hours and Matins to Dismissal via entrance of the Gospel and Epistle, Creed and Holy Oblation.

This book is peppered with understanding and advice from the role of repentance to the numbering of the Psalms. Take for example, The Cherubic Hymn and Entrance of the Holy Gifts. We should expect quotes from the Church Fathers and they are provided, this time from St John Chrysostom, but this book drills down to answer the enquiring mind. ‘In order to appreciate the meaning of this beautiful hymn, we must understand what the Cherubim are. They are not just listed with definitions but brought into sharp focus. ‘The Cherubim could also be described as those angels who ‘carry’ God, in a similar way that kings were carried upon the shoulders of their closest and most devoted servants.’

Modern references include Fr Alexander Schmemann, C.S.Lewis and  Vladimir Lossky, but the author skilfully picks from a spectrum of commentators and intersperses with his own narrative. In this way we can all come to understand this book, whatever our Orthodox pedigree.

Not afraid to put the Liturgy into the context of today, Fr Vassilios asks of the Resurrection and the new Creation to come: ‘But does all this really matter? Many people today think the Church is failing in its duty to make the world a better place by being focused on the ‘world to come’.

The answer is simple, says the author: ‘how we fare in the next life depends on how we live this one.’ That’s a smart response and exemplifies the crisp thinking throughout this book which had so many opportunities to get bogged down in polemics and writing just for the sake of it.

For anyone interested in the Divine Liturgy and how Orthodoxy fits into our life there’s no better starting place than this primer. I know that I’ll be leafing through this for years to come. Move over A to Z!


Review, Philip Hicks, Starotsa ‘Churchwarden’ at the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR) Cheltenham mission

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2013: Encyclical on the Dormition Feast
Dearly Beloved and cherished children in the Lord,Our Mother, the Church, is again inviting us to celebrate the Dormition of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary and Mother of our God. Events relating to the lives of the Saints are a cause for joy, sacred contemplation, and opportunities for prayer and the worship of God glorified in Trinity.


The month of August is a remarkable one for the Orthodox Church, for during this month we celebrate two great and historic events.


The first is the feast of our Lord’s Transfiguration – an event that is intimately connected with our pure Orthodox Faith, for it reminds us of our own transfiguration, a change that must take place in us, and our own relationship with Christ the Saviour, as the author of the hymn reminds us:


“You were transfigured on Mount Tabor, showing the exchange mortal men shall make with Your glory at Your fearful Second Coming, O Saviour. Elijah and Moses conversed with You, and You called three of Your disciples to be with You. As they gazed upon Your glory, O Master, they were astounded by Your blinding light. O Lord, who then had shone upon them with Your light, give light now to our souls.” (Feast of the Transfiguration, 1st Kathisma)


The event of Christ’s Transfiguration is narrated by the holy authors of the New Testament as a miracle which occurred on Mount Tabor, and which revealed the majesty of Christ’s divinity. The three disciples, together with the Old Testament prophets who saw God, Moses and Elijah, tasted the divine light and uncreated energies of God, although they were carnal beings still bound to earthly things. Orthodox Christians celebrate this theological Feast with prayer and joy and sacred expectation, for the God-man thus revealed His divinity, and taught us that we shall be participants and sharers in the gifts of His heavenly glory which He promised to those who believe in Him, who become members of His Church and inheritors of His heavenly Kingdom.


The second event is the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. Our celebration of the assumption of the Mother of God and Ever-virgin Mary is preceded by fervent supplications (the Paracleses), and accompanied by joyful hope and assurance in the power of faith in Christ and the existential relationship of the living and the dead with their Creator.


The first fifteen days of August therefore play a crucial role in the life of Orthodox Christians. With joyful sorrow we sing of death, which is a fact of life for the natural world and for sinful and fallen humanity, and even for the saints and the Most-holy Mother of Christ, the God-man.


The sacred services of the Paraclesis in the first fifteen days of August are unique spiritual works and religious poems, fragrant with faith in God and hope that He hears and receives the sighs of our heart and the cries of human weakness and sinfulness. They remind us also that Christ’s Mother is the “protection of Christians that cannot be put to shame, unfailing mediation with the Maker”, an intercessor in our sorrows, and a physician of the infirmities and afflictions of life, a “swift and speedy helper”. The supplications and prayers of the Saints for humanity are part and parcel of holiness in which share the friends of God, and especially His Mother, who was counted worthy to receive Him in her womb in a way beyond understanding, in order that the Only-begotten Son and Word of God may enter human history, as St John the Evangelist teaches us: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).


We too partake in this glory and joy – we who have been privileged to receive and inherit the Gospel Message, the message of the joy of Christ’s Resurrection. The first to experience it was His Most-holy Mother, whose Dormition and heavenly assumption is being celebrated by Christians throughout the world.


Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, our Mother, the Church, is reminding us of God’s love for His creation, and is inviting us to follow the Most-holy Mother of God to heaven. This is what the angels and the holy Apostles did: from the corners of the earth they went to Gethsemane to receive her blessing. With them, we devoutly run to Christ the Saviour and Redeemer of mankind, to place before Him our prayers and requests like fragrant spiritual incense, and we ask Him to make us sharers in His glory and Kingdom. Let us ask the Virgin Mary to pray for us, to give peace to our souls, and to unburden us of the cares of this life. This is something we need more than ever, given the unemployment and economic crisis which are currently plaguing many people and nations, creating confusion and insecurity in society, and troubling families and young people who are striving to make a better, more just, and more peaceful future.


Do you, O Most-holy Lady, pray to your Only-begotten Son for the peace of the whole world, for families and children, for the sick and the poor, for those who lack basic needs, for those at war, for those in captivity and for those who are missing. Enlighten the world’s leaders that they may have patience, that they may grow in righteousness, harmony, peace, co-operation and solidarity, that they may protect the weak and uphold orphans and widows, and all those who turn to you to find rest and solace and a motherly response to their requests and daily worries. Lead people to entrust their lives to your Only-begotten Son, who sent down the Manna from Heaven and the Good News of divine Love and charity to reunite us with our Father and Creator.


As your father and brother in Christ, I urge Orthodox Christians to go to church and sing the Paracleses with all their heart, to seek aid and solace from the Most-holy Mother of God, who always hears and receives our prayers with tears, and always carries them to the throne of our Lord Jesus Christ. During these first fifteen days of August, let us prepare in body and soul for the summer Pascha of Orthodox Christians by participating in the Church’s services, with humble and devout prayer, with fasting and preparation for the Mystery of Holy Communion and the universal joy of the Saints.


Lord Jesus Christ, Son and Word of the living God, at the intercessions of our Lady Mother of God and Ever-virgin Mary and of all Your Saints, have mercy on us and save Your people, for You are a merciful God Who is good and loves mankind. Amen.


August 2013.


Gregorios, Archbishop of

Thyateira & Great Britain