The Greek orthodox church honors its saints as family members who continue to live with God after death. The word saint comes from the Greek language, which means “not of this world,” and all baptized Christians are regarded as saints. However, some saints are given special recognition for exhibiting superhuman strength during times of tribulation or spreading the Gospel with extraordinary zeal.
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Saints are honored in the Orthodox Church as members of God’s family who continue to dwell in God’s presence after death. The Greek word “saint” means “not of this world,” and all baptized Christians are saints. However, some saints receive special recognition and reverence for their exceptional holiness and efforts to spread the Gospel.
The Greek Orthodox Church has a large number of Saints. Usually, they are depicted with a symbol of protection and an instrument of salvation. In a statue of St. Nicholas, for example, he is holding a Gospel in one hand and raising the other hand in a blessing gesture. His hand is usually covered in reverence and his monastic robes are dark.
Traditionally, veneration of saints began in the local area. In some regions, veneration of a saint began long before the Catholic Church was formed. The diocesan bishop, in cooperation with a committee, would ask the Church to recognize a person as a saint. The committee would then conduct research on the life of the person and certify any miracles the person has performed. Once this process is complete, the new saint is recognized by the Holy Eparchial Synod. Other Orthodox Churches would then be notified of the new saint.
One of the most well-known Greek Orthodox saints is St. Dimitris. Dimitris was an army commander under Diocletian (a Roman emperor) and was appointed as his successor. His relics are said to produce the healing myrrh. He was also patronized by the shepherds and a great hero of the city of Thessalonika. His feast day is celebrated on the 26th and 27th October.
John the Forerunner is another Greek Orthodox saint. He was born six months before Jesus. Zachariah and Elizabeth were also made saints. Zachariah and Elizabeth, who were named after the angel Gabriel, were visited by the angel Gabriel. The Angel Gabriel told them that their son would be named John. John was then allowed to roam the wilderness preaching the message of God. After hearing about his reputation, Jesus sought him out. He baptised him in the River Jordan.
The Orthodox Church also venerates the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. She is also known as the ever-Virgin Mary, or Theotokos. The Blessed Mother of God is venerated throughout the Orthodox Church and is honored with a fasting period in August. There are many hymns dedicated to her images are traditionally painted above the Sanctuary.
St. John the Baptist
Saint John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ. He is regarded as the greatest prophet of all time. He preached repentance and prepared men for the ministry of Jesus. He was a kinsman of the Virgin Mary. He is one of the most popular Orthodox saints. His mother, Elizabeth, was a descendant of Aaron. His baptism is one of the earliest references to the Savior.
John was about six months old when Jesus was born. His mother was related to the woman who gave birth to Jesus. He began his public ministry when he was thirty years old. His sermons, which were often centered on the theme of repentance, caught the attention of everyone in the region. His voice was the first of the Spirit-inspired prophets to be heard in Palestine since Malachi the prophet four centuries earlier.
In the Greek Orthodox church, St. John the Baptist’s Feast Day is celebrated on the seventh of January. The Jewish travelling preacher is also celebrated as a prophet in Islam, Baha’i, and Mandaeism. His role was to prepare the world for the Messiah. In addition to being the forerunner of Christ, Saint John is also revered as a prophet of the Old Testament.
The head of Saint John the Baptist was found in Emesa on February 18, 452. The Church later re-established the veneration of icons and proclaimed the head of Saint John the Baptist to be “precious.” As a result, the head of Saint John the Baptist returned to the Byzantine capital around 850. The Second Finding of St. John the Baptist’s head is also commemorated on May 25/May 7 as the Third Finding.
Orthodox Christians believe that the new day begins on the evening before the new day. Therefore, the Great Vespers is a preparation for the Sunday Liturgy. It involves the singing of hymns and Psalms and evening offerings of incense. It also has themes related to creation and the Resurrection.