Orthodox believers worship a number of holy men and women who have been instrumental to their faith. These individuals include Saint John the Baptist, St. Paul, St. John the Evangelist, and St. Nicholas. These men and women have all been instrumental in the spread of Christianity. So, how do they get recognized as a saint?
St. John the Baptist
During the early centuries of Christianity, orthodox believers hailed Saint John the Baptist as a great prophet. In fact, John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ, as the prophet’s father, Zacharias, had been foretold of the baby’s birth by an angel. John was also a prophet who taught repentance and prepared men for the ministry of Jesus. He was a Nazarite by birth, living in the mountainous region of Judea. He ate wild honey and locusts.
In the United States, St. John the Baptist Church is much like the hundreds of other Orthodox parishes that were established between 1910 and 1938. These parishes were founded by thousands of faithful Orthodox Christians who left their homelands and arrived in the United States, carrying with them their faith in Almighty God and the desire to establish a House of Worship. While adjusting to unfamiliar cultures, language, and customs, these faithful Christians persevered.
Orthodox Christians view saints as people who lived lives of holiness and reflected Christ’s light in the world. They also venerate Holy Scriptures, which they consider to be the Word of God. However, the definition of a saint can vary from one Church to another.
Some Orthodox Christians may not understand how the practice of veneration of saints differs from the worship of God. For example, Orthodox Christians worship Mary and the dead saints as important human instruments of God. These practices are not accepted by evangelical Christians, who see the worship of saints as an abuse of the Bible’s command to worship the Creator.
Orthodox Christians do not worship saints, but they do pray to them. While this practice may seem like idolatry, it is not. In fact, praying to saints is an expression of humility. While Webster’s Dictionary defines a saint as a Christian who has attained perfection in his or her faith, Orthodox Christians view sainthood as a gift from God. Saints are recognized for their exemplary life and serve as examples to others.
Many people are able to learn about and pray to saints by observing their feast days. There are five main feast days associated with each saint. Many of them are not necessarily recognizable to people outside of the Orthodox faith. But a common symbol associated with each saint is the monogram of Christ. These saints are usually depicted holding a Gospel. Their hoods are often covered to show reverence for them.
St. Nicholas of Myrrh
Do orthodox believers worship Saint Nicholas of Mysrrh? The answer is yes! This holy saint is a patron of the poor, sick, and falsely accused. During his life, he intervened on their behalf and even protected them from danger. He lived a god-pleasing life, and died peacefully in the Lord. He is revered around the world. His relics were taken to Italy, where they are now found in the city of Bari.
Saint Nicholas was born in 270 AD. At the time, Orthodox Christians were persecuted, and many were executed for their faith. His parents, who were Christians, raised him to love the Lord and to do good deeds. When they died, he inherited a large sum of money, which he used to help the poor, hungry, and sick. He did these things secretly because he wanted to earn his reward in Heaven, not on earth.
Orthodox Christians worship saints. Saints are holy people who lived exemplary lives that reflect the light of Christ. They are considered to be models of holiness and help ordinary people in their everyday lives. Orthodox Christians often seek out the advice and prayers of these holy people. The powerful concept of theosis underlies the worship of saints. The Christian gospel is replete with stories of holy people becoming gods. Even the early fathers of Christianity referred to saints as gods.
The lives of saints are preserved in moving synaxaria, which is Greek for “meeting” in a church. In the eighteenth century, many of the saints’ lives were written down. These include St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and Fr. George Poulos. There are also books available in English, such as St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain.