The above warning was given to me when I first met Orthodoxy in 1986. Today [2009] it is even more perilous, even more difficult to find the Royal Path. For one thing there is a far greater abundance of misinformation. And many materials are missing, and other materials are being rapidly rewritten. For another thing there are fewer than ever guides remaining on the Royal Path, especially who speak English. Hopefully this website will be a place where Newcomers to the Faith can keep at least one foot on solid ground, while they are "exploring."

blog owner: Joanna Higginbotham


jurisdiction: ROCA under Vladyka Agafangel

who did not submit to the RocorMP union in 2007


14 September 2012

Full of Grace and Truth

Website Review


Many nice posts, but the blog is hard core new calendar and hard core world Orthodox.  Aside from the fact that it is out of sync with the Church [a post about the First Martyr Archdeacon Stephen appears in December], world orthodoxy de-selects and rearranges materials automatically.  The assumption made on this blog is that the EP Bartholomew [a known mason serving antichrist's ecumenism agenda] is real orthodoxy and we old calendarists are schismatics.   

An example of this is:
This life has been "adjusted" to justify the new calendar: 

New and Old Calendar
From the time when the Ecclesiastical Calendar changed in Greece, Sophia would keep the fasts of both the Old and New Calendar so as not to be an offense to anyone.

Unfortunately there is a tendency among Old Calendarists to distort facts and consider her one of their own, but this does not conform to reality as she was always in communion with the Church.

AHEM...  not so!

In reality:
This saint was tonsured a nun in her chosen [old calendar] Church before her repose:

Do you see how much sifting needs to be done on these world orthodox websites?   Sifting the good posts out from the ones that are incomplete or in some error.  Anything you find in this website needs to be verified before accepting it, especially be wary of anything recent (past 150 years).



“Saint Sophia” or “Saint Myrtidiotissa”?
Historical Truth as a Precondition for the Grace-Filled Presence of a Prototype in Its Icon
The Grave Responsibility of the Iconographer

At the link http://hsir.org/p/2u there is a posting by His Grace, Bishop Klemes of Gardikion, in which he presents some important testimony regarding a very serious ecclesiastical issue which has arisen. This issue inevitably has implications for iconology, since Orthodox iconography is at the service of the Church, which is the “pillar and ground of the truth,” according the Holy Apostle Paul (i St. Timothy 3:15).

Thus, we read the following comments in this justified—as we believe—and necessary testimony, which puts matters on the correct footing:

In the relevant materials that are being circulated (articles, Icons, etc.), the Saint is constantly presented as a simple lay woman, Sophia, with- out acknowledging the monastic vocation of the holy ascetic Eldress, and with absolutely not a single reference to her monastic name, viz.,
1Myrtidiotissa. ...[T]he holy Eldress was so fully conscious of and re- sponsive to her monastic vocation and her monastic name, that she appointed that it be given to a child who was born after her departure to the Lord.
** *
Since this matter has, in its iconological aspect, preoccupied us for some years now (from the time when we first saw a depiction of “St. Sophia” at an exhibition of Icons, which came—we must admit—as an unpleasant surprise), permit us to present, for the first time, a sign of the holy Eldress’ good pleasure at the holy Icon of her as “St. Myrtidiotissa”—not, of course, on account of its technical mastery, but because it portrays her in monastic garb and with her monastic name.

Following an obedience that we received from our spiritual Father, His Eminence, Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Phyle, we were vouchsafed, in 2001, to paint an Icon of the holy Ascetic.

We were intensely concerned about the problem of how she should be depicted in her Icon, since it is well known from her Life that she did not wear her monastic apparel, preferring to continue, even after her tonsure, the struggle of blessed foolishness for Christ’s sake.

What prevailed, however, was that Saints should not be portrayed in their holy Icons as they were (as in a photograph), something which does happen and is certainly not reprehensible in religious painting, but as they will be (in eternity), clearly expressing in this way the eschatological nature of Orthodox iconography.

For this reason, St. Myrtidiotissa was arrayed in especially decorous monastic attire, thereby enjoying in her Icon that of which she voluntarily deprived herself in her earthly life “in a fully conscious and responsive manner,” for love
of Christ.
** *
The Icon was painted at a Metochion (dependency) of our Monastery, and when, by the Grace of God, the painting was finished, it was conveyed to the Monastery and presented to His Eminence. We noticed a certain hesitancy in his expression when he first set eyes on the Icon and venerated it.

Having himself been in close contact with the Saint during his lifetime, he preserved in his memory her ascetic and unkempt ap- pearance. The Icon disclosed something “else,” something unwonted.

Kindly and discrete, as always, His Eminence was in no hurry to speak, offer observations, or reprove. He simply let his bemusement show somewhat and ordered that the Icon be placed on the Holy
Table in the Katholikon (main Church) of the Monastery for forty days, in keeping with the existing pious tradition.

The next day, after the Divine Liturgy, the bell was rung. At a special assembly of the Brotherhood, His Eminence, wearing an ex- pression of manifest enthusiasm and emotion, made known what had happened to him that morning.

When he entered the Altar and venerated the Holy Table, he prayerfully took the Icon of the Saint in his hands in order to kiss it. The same sense of doubt induced hesitation and perplexity in his mind, as he told us, and led him to pray at greater length on this subject.

A miraculous heavenly fragrance then emanated from the Icon and enveloped him. His Eminence, attentive and humble, as usual, neither accepted nor rejected the sign, but merely puzzled over what had happened.

He attended the Divine Liturgy in a prayerful spirit, communed of the Immaculate Mysteries, and, as he was leaving the Altar, went to venerate the Icon of the Holy Eldress once again.

The same fragrance, more intense this time, wrought in him the “good transformation” and informed him, as he told us, of the good pleasure of the Holy Eldress regarding her Icon, dispelling all thoughts of doubt that he had and granting him a sense of the Saint’s presence and protection.
** *
In his detailed study of iconology, “The Grace-Filled Presence of a Prototype in Its Icon, According to the Iconology of the Church,” Professor Demetrios Tselengides makes the following important points, among others:

Orthodox Iconography, in accord with the theology of the Church, en- deavors, through its technique, to render perceptible the presence of uncreated Divine Grace and Energy in the Icons of its deified members. In this way, the Orthodox Icon corresponds to the truth of the persons of the ‘new Creation’ that it portrays, since it strives both to affirm the historicity of the persons depicted and to express the Divine Grace that is inseparably united with them.... Through the iconographic represen- tation of the Saints, the Church underscores for its faithful the personal identity of its glorified members.
** *
It became evident from the foregoing that it was necessary to write this article for the purpose of averting the confusion that prevails on this particular issue by reason of certain misunderstandings about iconography.

We chose the subtitle, “The Grave Responsibility of the Iconographer,” in order to communicate the extent to which an iconogra- pher ought to weigh his every choice, since, according to the wise Solomon, “A passionate man acts inconsiderately, but a sensible man bears up under many things” (Proverbs 14:17).

We consciously phrased the title in the form of a question, “‘Saint Sophia’ or ‘Saint Myrtidiotissa’?” in order to make it clear that the foregoing commentary was written, not in a spirit of reproof, but in a collegial spirit. It is addressed with love to our fellow iconographers, in conformity with the Scripture: “Give an opportunity to a wise man, and he will be wiser: instruct a just man, and he will receive more instruction” (Proverbs 9:9).

Monk Gabriel Director of the Icon Studio of the Holy Monastery of Sts. Cyprian and Justina, Phyle, Attica
The Chapel dedicated to St. Myrtidiotissa the Ascetic at our Monastery, constructed in 2001.


A Testimonial About and Verification of Her Monastic Vocation and Monastic Name

ecently, there has been an observable and active movement towards the official Proclamation of the Sainthood of the holy ascetic Eldress Myrtidiótissa, known in the world as Sophía Chotokourídou [interdum “Chortokopídes” or “Chortokopídou], who was a native of Póntos and who struggled in asceticism at the Monastery of the Mother of God in Kleissoúra, in Western Macedonia (Greece), reposing on the Feast Day of St. George, April 23, 1974, according to the Church Calendar [i.e., Old Style].

These days, there is a feverish effort by the New Calendarist Metropolis of Kastoriá to hold her “Hagiokatátaxis” [the service for entering her name among the Church’s Saints—sometimes called, in English, the “Glorification” of a Saint, and wrongly called a “Canonization”], with the participa- tion of ecumenist Patriarch Bartholomew.

In the relevant materials that are being circulated (articles, Icons, etc.), the Saint is con- stantly presented as a simple lay woman, Sophia, without acknowledging the monastic vocation of the holy ascetic Eldress, and with absolutely not a single reference to her monas- tic name, viz., Myrtidiotissa.

This assuredly does nothing to commend these contemporary devotees of the holy Eldress and demonstrates the magnitude of their persistent impiety, since they dare posthumously to remove her Monastic Schema and to deny her monastic vocation. May God forgive them and may the holy Eldress call them to account for their impudence.

The holy Eldress Myrtidiotissa was licitly and canonically tonsured a nun, and we are obliged to underscore this emphatically, bear- ing in mind that the Monastic Schema is an indelible Gift of God’s Grace and cannot be taken away by anyone in any way!

The holy Eldress received the Great and Angelic Schema in October of 1971—her name being changed from Sophia to the Nun Myrtidiotissa—from the hand of Archimandrite Father Cyprian (later the Old Calendarist Metropolitan of Óropos and Phylé), Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Sts. Cyprian and Justina in Phyle, Áttica (Athens), Greece. Serving as her sponsor was the now reposed nun, Eldress Maria Myr- tidiotissa, Foundress and Abbess of the Holy Convent of the Annunciation of the Theotókos, in Oinoússes, on the island of Chíos.

A description of the miracles that took place during this richly blessed event is set forth in a book by His Eminence, Metropolitan Cyprian, Γερόντισσα Μυρτιδιώτισσα, Ἀσκήτρια τῆς Κλεισούρας, 1886-1974 (Φυλὴ Ἀττικῆς: 1998), pp. 153-159 [an English translation of His Eminence’s book, Eldress Μyrtidiotissa: The Ascetic Struggler of Κlissoura (1886-1974), is avail- able from the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, Etna, CA]. Indeed, the spiritual relation- ship of the holy Eldress with her biographer, His Eminence, Metropolitan Cyprian, was so warm and infrangible that St. Myrtidiotissa proclaimed that she held in her heart, just after Christ, Father Cyprian.

The following miracle, published here for the first time, in every way demonstrates and verifies that the holy Eldress was so fully conscious of and responsive to her monastic vocation and her monastic name, that she appointed that it be given to a child who was born after her departure to the Lord.

This indubitable incident, which is not the only of its kind, speaks for itself; it both honors the holy Eldress Myrtidiotissa and makes culpable those who fall to the unforgivable sin of denying God’s Gift of Grace.

The pious Evthymía Nikolaΐdou, a resident of Thessaloníke and a spiritual child of the then
Archimandrite Father Cyprian, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Sts. Cyprian and Justina, in Phyle, regularly visited the holy Eldress Myrtidiotissa at the Monastery of the Theotokos, in Kleissoura, to speak with her.

During one visit, a few months before the repose of the ascetic Saint, the Eldress revealed to her the following:

“Now that you are returning to Thessalonike, you will find an engaged couple that is looking for a sponsor to stand witness at their wedding. Stand witness at their wedding and sponsor [as Godparent] the first child that they have, who will be a girl, and give the child my name: call her MYRTIDIOTISSA!”

In fact, when she returned, the woman met the couple, Nicholas Grámbas, fourth son of the vet- eran struggler for the Old Calendar, Antónios Grambas (†1996), and Theodora Klessiáres, daughter of Constantine Klessiares, a resident of Kýmina (a suburb of Thessalonike). She proposed to them all that she was told by the holy Eldress, though she did not tell them anything about the gender and name of their first child, but only that she had made a promise to name their first child. They accept- ed this.

The wedding took place at the Old Calendarist Church of the Holy Apostles [in Kymina] in November of 1974, while the Eldress Myrtidiotissa had already reposed in the Lord about seven months before. And the Baptism of the couple’s first child, which was indeed a girl, also took place at the Church of the Holy Apostles, in 1976. To the insistent inquiries from the father, as to what name the child would be given, the Godmother answered: “Do not worry. The name that I will give to the child is one that you will like; it is a very lovely name.”

When the relatives heard the name MYRTIDIOTISSA [an unusual name in Greece], they were taken aback. In fact, one of the two grandmothers said (half in Greek and half in Bulgarian [in Greek Macedonia, Slavic dialects are often spoken as a second language]: “Σιὸ [τὶ] ὄνουμα [ὄνομα] εἶνει [εἶναι] αὐτό, Mατσανιώτισσα?!” (What kind of name is that—Matsaniótissa?!) But shortly this passed—with the help of the Godmother, to be sure, who explained to them in detail about the prophetic words of the holy Eldress Myrtidiotissa of Kleissoura and told them: “If you like, you can call her MYRTÓ [an ancient Greek name—Socrates’ second wife and one of the Amazons had this name—and a nickname for Myrtidiotissa], but when she communes and when she gets married, the Priest must use her correct name, MYRTIDIOTISSA.

Myrtidiotissa (Myrto) Grambas is married today and lives in Néa Málgara (a suburb of Thessalonike), and her parents, Nicholas and Theodora, are residents of Kymina and parishioners of the Church of the Holy Twelve Apostles. Her pious Godmother, Evthymia Nikolaïdou, reposed in the Lord around 1979-1980, when her Godchild was still very young.

May the Holy Eldress St. Myrtidiotissa intercede to God for all Orthodox, that we might always be true in the Faith and in Life and be worthy of Divine Blessedness!

Compiled and composed by Bishop Κlémes of Gardíkion (June 12/25, 2012). Gratitude is owed to all of those who helped in the collection of particulars about this miracle and especially to Μr. Nicholas Polýchros for first recording them.

Bracketed addenda or explanations are those of the translator. The first citation of a Greek word is provid- ed with the proper syllable accented, so as to make the words easier for an English speaker. Except for certain place and proper names, transliteration is according to the classical style.