On Saturday, March 27, 2021, the name day of Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem was celebrated by transference as “Parresia” (Boldness) according to the Status Quo at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
In the afternoon of the previous day, after the reading of the ninth Hour at the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen, the Patriarchal Entourage marched in Procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Vespers was officiated in the Catholicon by Patriarch Theophilos, with Hagiotaphite Archbishops praying inside the Altar and the co-celebration of the Service was held by Hagiotaphite Hieromonks.
On Feast Day, the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom was officiated by Patriarch Theophilos at the Catholicon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Co-celebrants to Patriarch Theophilos were Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, the Archbishops; Damascene of Yaffo, Theophanes of Gerassa, Aristarchos of Constantina, Theodosios of Sebastia, Demetrios of Lydda, Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis and Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, Archdeacon Mark and other Deacons.
The chanting was delivered by the Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod Hierodeacon Simeon, the Patriarchal Representative in Acre-Ptolemais Reverend Archimandrite Philotheos and Vasilios Gotsopoulos, at the presence of the Consul General of Greece, Evangelos Vlioras, monks, nuns and members of the Greek Community of the Patriarchate’s flock.
After the Divine Liturgy, there was a Doxology for the commemoration of the Holy Forty Martyrs and the event of the celebration of Patriarch Theophilos’s Name Day.
Patriarch Theophilos thanked all who addressed Him with the following:
“We are not going to admire only one, not even only two…but forty men, who have shown one soul in separate bodies, in one accord and unity of faith, one endurance in the sufferings and boldness for the truth,” Saint Basil says, praising the Forty Martyrs.
Your Excellency, Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras,
Reverend Holy Fathers and Brethren,
Noble Christians and pilgrims
“O Lord of hosts, who is like unto Thee? Mighty art Thou, O Lord, and Thy truth is round about Thee” (Psalm 88:8) the Holy Church of Christ cries out loud through the psalmist, on the sacred commemoration of the godly chorea of the Holy Forty Martyrs, who suffered their martyrdom in the city of Sebastia.
These Forty Martyrs, as if having one soul in separate bodies, “courageously entered the water of the lake, and while being contracted by the cold, sent up a song unto the Lord: Be not wroth with us in the rivers O Lord; be not wroth with us in the rivers O Friend of man. Lighten the burden and the bitterness of the air; for with our own blood have our feet been dyed, and Thou, O God, hast led us into Thine everlasting tabernacles, that the bosom of the Patriarch Abraham may warm us” (Minaion, March 9, Matins, Praises Troparion of 2nd Tone), their hymnographer exclaims.
The Holy Forty Martyrs said to the Lord as if having one mouth, “with our own blood have our feet been dyed”, following the true witness of Saint John the Theologian: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). In this faith in Christ did the holy Martyrs see the true light, “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Phil. 4:7) and the “unspeakable joy” (1 Peter 1:8), for these, they zealously sought the cleansing of their sins through their martyrs’ blood.
Today’s celebrated commemoration of the Holy Forty Martyrs and especially of their co-martyr Theophilos, as Our Mediocrity bears his name, is a blessed action by God. And this, because the Martyrs who turned the earth into heaven, became luminaries of the universe, namely preachers of the Passion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on the Cross, and His Resurrection, saying along with Saint Paul: “in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Phil. 1:20).
This distinctive characteristic is noted by Saint Basil the Great, by saying that the Holy Forty Martyrs “have shown one accord and unity of faith, one endurance in the sufferings and boldness for the truth”.
Our Holy Church of Jerusalem, as an eye-and-ear witness of the death on the Cross and the three-day burial and Resurrection of our Lord, honouring the sacred commemoration of the Holy athletes and Martyrs, and especially of their co-martyr Theophilos, held the “mystical blessing”, that is the great Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, officiated by Our Mediocrity, surrounded by the members of our Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, Archbishops, Priests and Hierodeacons, with the participation in prayer of noble Christians of our flock, glorifying thus the One who has glorified His Saints.
Moreover, we offered a Doxology to the Holy God in one Trinity for Our name day, with the celebration of the Holy athlete and Martyr Theophilos. “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20), Saint Paul orders.
The celebrated commemoration of the Holy Forty Martyrs and especially of their co-martyr Theophilos in the liturgic time of the Church, does not only refer to Our Mediocrity, but especially and primarily to the Apostolic Patriarchal institution, through which it is shown that Christ “is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:17-18), “which He hath purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). The Holy Forty Martyrs became communicants and shared this very blood, the blood of Christ.
Amidst the current test of humanity by the deadly Corona disease, the honoured Holy Forty Martyrs “speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3). And this, because according to Saint Basil, “they are common guardians of the humankind, benign, care participants, prayer accomplices, mighty strong ambassadors, stars of the universe, flowers of the Churches”. “Theirs is the voice; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place” (Psalm 66:12).
The Holy Martyrs again talk to us about “the one mind and unity of the faith”, namely the unity of the local Orthodox Churches. “There was not one homeland for the Saints”, Saint Basil says, “for each one retreated to a different place… As for their human nation, it was different for each of them, while the spiritual [nation] was one for all. For their common Father is God, and all are brethren, not born from one man and one woman, but from the adoption of the Spirit they have been interlocked in the concord of love with one another”. In other words, theirs is the voice, “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
To this calling of the testimony of unity, peace and the love of the Gospel of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ we are called, my dear brethren, especially during this blessed period of the Great Lent, having the Holy Forty Martyrs helpers, along with their co-martyr Theophilos, and the Most Blessed Mother of God, the Ever-Virgin Mary. Let us entreat them, that in peace, humility and repentance, we may be granted the luminous Resurrection of our God and Saviour of our souls.
For these, we call upon all who prayed along with Us, and honoured Us in this commemoration of the Saints, to have strength from on high, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the grace of the All-holy and Life-giving Tomb, patience, and every blessing from God, expressing also warm thanks to all who addressed Us; Geronda Secretary-General, Most Reverend Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, who spoke on behalf of the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod and the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, His Excellency the Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras, Reverend Archimandrite Alexander, representative of the Brotherly Church of Russia, who read the wishes of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscow Cyril, His Eminence Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Nazareth, His Eminence Archbishop Damascene of Yaffo, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Yaffo, His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba, who spoke on behalf of the newly-established Beersheba Community, Reverend Father Farah Bandour, who spoke on behalf of Saint James’ Cathedral, Reverend Archimandrite Philotheos, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Acre-Ptolemais, Reverend Archimandrite Niphon, on behalf of the Community of Remla, and all who attended this celebration.
To the health of all of you!”
Source: Patriarchate of Jerusalem