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Monday, September 30, 2013

Byzantine herbs and drugs

Mandragora or Mandrake

I am so pleased to be able to bring you this piece about the uses and properties of the mandragora, ‘mandrake’ plant, by one of the blog’s first adherents, and regular commentator, Laura Diaz-Arnesto, who hails from Uruguay. Laura is a pharmacologist and has offered this piece to give us an opportunity to develop some understanding of an aspect of Byzantine medicine. It is well researched and authoritative. Although some time off this fits well with what I am told will be the subject of next year’s Runciman Lecture which will be on the subject of Byzantine medicine.

The 17th Century Church Schism: How Did It Divide Believers?


RIA-Novosti Infographics - During the reign of Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich, Patriarch Nikon Minin launched new studies of Russian sacred texts, comparing them with Greek models to identify discrepancies. The reform started with the convening of a Sobor in Moscow in 1654, which decided to bring the liturgical books in line with Greek manuscripts.

X-Files - The Mystery of the Tomb of Christ (VIDEO)

Pilgrims from every nation of the world pray at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.Six Christian groups occupy the church and offer religious services and liturgies  - Latin Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Armenians, Syrians, Copts, and Ethiopians.

Art of Byzantium Travels to U.S.


An exhibition titled "Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections" is expected to travel to the United States in the weeks to come, containing some 300 masterpieces from Greek museums, public and private collections and monasteries, as well as finds from recent excavations; it is going to be shown first at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC (October 6, 2013 – March 2, 2014), followed by the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa in Malibu, California (April 9–August 25, 2014).

Making Greek Spanakopita for the St. Anthony's International Festival in Bergenfield is a longtime tradition

WHAT: St. Anthony's International Festival. Greek, Middle Eastern and Slavic food, takeout and frozen food available; dancing, music, holiday shopping and raffles (a helicopter tour, Grand Cayman vacation, Broadway Weekend, among others).

Father Joseph Allen speaking to Robyn Ziemba in the kitchen of St. Anthony Antiochian Orthodox Church in Bergenfield as she prepares spanakopita.

Father Joseph Allen speaking to Robyn Ziemba in the kitchen of St. Anthony Antiochian Orthodox Church in Bergenfield as she prepares spanakopita.

UK: Theresa Villiers visits new Greek Orthodox school

Theresa Villiers visited St Andrew the Apostle Free School 

MP Theresa Villiers has had an exclusive tour around the UK’s first Greek Orthodox school.
The Chipping Barnet politician visited St Andrew the Apostle Free School in Brunswick Park last week to meet the teachers and pupils.

Symbol of faith given to hospital


A reflection of Nelson's growing multiculturalism now gleams from a cabinet shelf in Nelson Hospital's chapel.
The gold leaf Byzantine-style painting of Jesus holding a Bible is an icon of the Eastern European Orthodox Church, and was donated to the chapel in a small ceremony yesterday.

Violence against Christians in Egyptian town


Angry Muslims looted and destroyed Christian-owned businesses in the village of Zakaria after a 22-year-old Christian man had a consensual relationship with a Muslim woman of the same age, the Assyrian International News Agency reported.

The Demons of Moldova

In Europe’s poorest country, young people are turning to occult religious practices—even exorcisms—to escape everyday life.


REZINA, Moldova—Northern Moldova is one of the poorest regions in the poorest country in Europe. Two decades after the hardly-remembered War of Transdnistria, the battered region stands on little more than dust and remittances. What it does have—in ample quantity—is religion.

BREAKING NEWS>> Orthodox bishops kidnapped in Syria in April reported still alive

Two  Orthodox bishops who were kidnapped in April by rebel forces in Syria are still alive, according to a news agency specializing in the Middle East.

Russian Priests to Get Military Training

Russian Priests to Train at Moscow Military University 

MOSCOW, September 27 (RIA Novosti) – A group of Russian Orthodox priests will undergo military training at a Defense Ministry university in Moscow, the Russian army said Friday.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Louisiana pastor shot and killed while preaching

Watch this video 

(CNN) -- Bond is set at $1 million for a Louisiana man accused of shooting and killing a church pastor as he preached in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Friday night.

William Dorich: Jasenovac Then And Now: A Conspiracy of Silence

As the author of the book "Jasenovac Then And Now: A Conspiracy of Silence", (1997) It was encouraging that you published, "A Plea for Pope Francis to Pray at Jasenovac."  

In my interview with the late Patriarch Pavle, head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, he told me he invited the Pope to come to Jasenovac to join him in a mass/liturgy to commemorate the dead on this 50th anniversary in 1991. The Pope refused saying, "Its too dangerous to come to the Balkans at this time." However, in 1993 the first pope in history went to Croatia at the height of the Bosnian Civil War. His first official duty was to lay a wreath on the tomb of Archbishop Stepinac, an ally convicted war criminal. The Roman church has beatified this criminal priest, an insult to Serbs and their murdered relatives. 

At the end of WWII, 740 Roman Catholic priests fled to Argentina through the "Vatican Ratline." I list them by name including their war crimes in my book. These priests murdered thousands of Serbs with their own hands, and escaped justice making the current sex crimes against children by Catholic priests pale in comparison.

As the first Plaintiff in a law suit against the Vatican Bank for "money laundering," the only crime for which we can sue, it is past due that a Pope apologize for the crimes of the Roman Catholic church and to compensate the relatives of their victims who were killed at Jasenovac, including 90,000 Serbian children under the age of ten. 

President Franjo Tudjman destroyed and bulldozed the Jasenovac Concentration camp and museum in 1995.

William Dorich, Beverly Hills 

CS Lewis celebrated 50 years after death

A local historian shows CS Lewis enthusiasts the writer's home, The Kilns. Photo: ChristianToday 

A festival in celebration of Christian apologist and Chronicles of Narnia author CS Lewis is underway in Oxford.

BBC: A new Greek way of getting dinner

The traditional way of getting dinner is buy food and cook it, or to go to a restaurant. But what if someone in a nearby street has cooked more than they need and is ready to share it for a small fee? It's already happening in the Greek capital and will soon be starting in London.

Marilena Zachou making tabbouleh in her kitchen
Marilena Zachou making tabbouleh in her kitchen

"It is a win-win situation," says the 26-year-old Gkontas. "The cooks get to earn a little extra, while foodies get nutritious home-cooked dishes for cheaper than if they were to get a takeaway."

The Founders of the Orthodox West

Who are the great historical figures of Western Europe who define its identity? The answers of the secular world to this question are quite different from those of the Church. The Western secular world exalts secular figures like Charlemagne, Charles V, or Napoleon as “great Europeans”. But all three of these left Europe full of graves. Indeed, Charlemagne and Charles V were renowned for their massacres and, as for Napoleon, he declared that he would have had Christ hanged as a fanatic.[1]

Crowd before an illuminated Santiago cathedral during the festivity of Saint James the Apostle. Santiago de Compostela, Photo: A Coruña,Turgalicia
Crowd before an illuminated Santiago cathedral during the festivity of 
Saint James the Apostle. 
Santiago de Compostela, Photo: A Coruña,Turgalicia
The catalogues of the Church exclude all such tyrants, for the true identity of Western Europe is defined not by them, but by the thousands upon thousands of Western Saints.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Christians are being thrown to the lions again


Archbishop Justin Welby’s choice of the word “martyrs” to describe the 81 Pakistani Christians killed when their church in Peshawar was targeted by suicide bombers has raised eyebrows. It is the sort of language avoided nowadays in the secular, sceptical West, with its taken-for-granted religious freedoms, in case it makes people feel uncomfortable.

Church leaders in Ukraine reject EU demand for new gay rights laws

Ukrainian Catholic leader Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk (CNS) 

Churches in Ukraine have said they oppose expanded freedoms for gay people as a precondition for closer ties with the European Union.

Up On The Holy Mountains

SOFT rain drifted across the small town of Karyes and mist hung over the slopes of Mount Athos as our small band of pilgrims unfolded from the cramped confines of a battered taxi on Holy Ghost Street.



Get a taste of Greece at this annual festival (food aside, it’s worth going just to see the lovely church where it’s held). There’ll be plenty of gyros, spanakopita, dolmas and baklava, as well as Greek wine and beer, live music and traditional folk dancing.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How many more Christians should lose their lives in Pakistan?

 Pakistani Christian worshippers, some of them who survived Sunday's suicide bombing, pray during a special mass for the victims of the bombing, at the Church where the attack took place, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Monday, Sept. 23, 2013. Angry Pakistani Christians denounced the deadliest attack ever in this country against members of their faith. A pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up amid hundreds of worshippers outside a historic church in northwestern Pakistan.

I work supporting persecuted Pakistani Christians and hear often the horror stories of abduction, rape, false blasphemy accusations, and murders that they suffer. However, much like the rest of the world, I have been shocked by the scale of the attack on All Saints church in Peshawar.

The BBC and Christians: speak now!


What do you think of the way the world's leading news broadcaster covers Christians and their faith? Is it fair? Is it balanced? Is there even enough of it upon which to comment?

Turkish military linked to Christian murders

Turkish police officers stand guard as the coffin of Tilmann Geske is carried out from a hospital in Malatya, central Turkey, in this photo dated Friday, April 20, 2007.
Nearly six years into the court trial over the murder of three Christians in southeastern Turkey, documents have emerged confirming that secret military units were involved in those assassinations and others.
Malatya's 3rd Criminal Court is forcing prosecutors and the military to turn over previously secret documents, throwing light on a shadowy network believed to be behind several decades of assassination and coup plots in Turkey.

Chicken casserole with onions and white wine

Chicken casserole with onions and white wine (kotopoulo stifado) 

Bread and butter pudding

Bread and butter pudding


Saganaki - Everybody's favourite meze - Greek fried cheese


Stuffed green peppers with feta

Stuffed green peppers with feta 

Snapper pie, slow braised green beans, fennel, kataifi

Snapper pie, slow braised green beans, fennel, kataifi


Souvlaki (grilled lamb on skewer)

Souvlaki (grilled lamb on skewer)
Kalamaki souvlaki

In different parts of the world skewed meat is called shish kabab or shashlilik, to Greeks it's a souvlaki. Souvla is the Greek word for skewer or spit. When roasting an entire lamb for Easter the souvla is a long metal rod.
The recipe below dates back to before 1000 B.C. In those days lamb was marinated and skewred on a sword and grilled over a fire. These days ordinary skewres and charcoal grill will do fine. Or you could just grill it.
NOTE: day before preparation
12 large mushrooms
2 tablespoons of whit wine or lemon juice
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 large bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 small leg of lamb (aprox. 1 1/4 kilos) deboned and cut into cubes for skewering
1 1/2 tablespoons oregano
4 large tomatoes or 18 cherry tomatoes
3 large green bell peppers
2 large onions or 18 pearl onions (pearl onions are the ones we use for stifado)
1. Clean mushrooms, sprinkle them with 2 tablespoons of white wine or lemon juice, cover an refrigerate (this prevent them form turning dark)
2. Combine olive oil, 1/3 cup lemon juice, red wine, garlic and bay leaves in large steel pot or glass mixing bowl and mix well
3. Sprinkle meat with salt, pepper, oregano and place in marinade
4. Remove stems of cherry tomatoes and add to marinade
5. Fill a pot with water, add one teaspoon salt and bring to rapid boil
6. Wash green peppers and cut into squares. Add peppers into boiling water and leave for 5 minutes, take out with of water and drain and sprinkle with cold water and add to marinade with meat.
7. Peel large onion, quarter them, put in same water and par boil them for 5 minutes, take out and spray with cold water. If using pearl onions par boil unpeeled for five minutes, rinse with cold water and you will find that the peel slips off. Add onions to marinade.
8. Cover this bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. It is advisable to sit the marinade every now and then to make sure that all meat is evenly marinated. NOTE: the meat will begin to cook in the acid from the wine and lemon juice
9. Next day, add the mushrooms to marinade and toss
10. Light the barbecue one hour ahead (if using charcoal)
11. Prepare skewers by threading meat, pepper, onion tomato with a mushroom to cap.
12. Put skewers at least 5 cm above hot charcoal and grill for 15 minutes on one side; then turn skewers over the grill for another 10 - 15 minutes.
13. Meat is perfect if it is barely pink in centre and nice and crusty on outside

Marinated lamb

Marinated lamb 



Roast lamb with crispy potatoes

Roast lamb with crispy potatoes 

Pickled octopus

Pickled octopus 

Baked sardines

Baked sardines 

Broad beans in tomato sauce

Looking for a side dish? Try this recipe for that perfect accompaniment to any meat or chicken dish, or just eat is with bread for a vegetarian meal

Broad beans in tomato sauce 


Images from a sci-fi film? No, the 'lost world' of Socotra, a remote island with plants up to 20 MILLION years old (PHOTOS)

  • Socotra Island is home to around 800 rare species of flora and fauna
  • A third of the species found on the Indian Ocean island are endemic and cannot be seen anywhere else on Earth
  • The trees and plants on the island have evolved to suit its hostile climate and some varieties of plant are a staggering 20 million years

 A dragon's blood tree is pictured

The landscape of remote Socotra Island looks as if it comes from a sci-fi film but in fact has evolved to look so other-worldy as the 'lost world' island has been separated from mainland Africa for between six and seven million years.


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