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Question 2.

What is the difference between martyr, hieromartyr, ascetic-martyr etc. and how should they be commemorated.


Answer to Question 2.
Our Church separates the saints in various categories or ranks according to the peculiar service each offered to the Church. Thus we see in the prayer of the Anaphora read during the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, apart from the Mother of God and St. John the Baptist, a list of various ranks of saints "Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics." Almost the same division of the saints we also find in the Office of Oblation where the nine particles offered in honour of the saints represent a certain rank. Particles are offered for the Angels, Prophets, Apostles, Hierarchs, Martyrs, Ascetics and Selfless Physicians. In many hymns again we see this division of saints into ranks.

Taking each rank separately, when we say Forefathers we mean mainly Christ's ancestors from Adam until his incarnation in the flesh, but also all the holy men and women of the Old Testament who lived before Christ, the Righteous people like Enoch, Noah, Esdras and others.

By Prophets we mean those saintly men and women who during the period before Christ until St. John the Baptist, preached to the Jewish nation the word of God and foretold the coming of the Messiah, as did Moses, David, Elias, Isaiah and others. By Apostles we mean the disciples of Christ, the 12 as Andrew and Peter and the 70 as Cleopas and Ananias  But also the first disciples of the Apostles who also preached the Gospel as Titus and Timothy, Silas and others. In this category belong also the Evangelists and those we call Equal to the Apostles, in other words they were not of the Apostles, but because they offered great services to Christianity, out of gratitude and in recognition of their service, the Church bestowed upon the the title Equal to the Apostles. Among these are the first Christian Emperor Constantine, his mother Helen, Photina the Samaritan woman, Olga of Russia, Nina of Georgia, Cyril and Methodius Apostles to the Slavs.
By Martyrs we mean those faithful Christians from the First martyr Stephen up till the contemporary newmartyrs, who preferred to suffer the cruellest tortures and death rather that deny Christ who was first to became a martyr for our salvation.  To this category belong the Hieromartyrs, the clergy who suffered martyrdom like Sts. Charalambos, Blaise, Hermolaos and Eleutherios; the Ascetic martyrs, the martyr monks and nuns like Nikon and Eugenia; the Greatmartyrs, in other words the more well known and famed martyrs who suffered the most frightful tortures to make them offer sacrifices to idols like Sts. George, Demetrios, Theodore Stratelates and Theodore of Tyron; the Virgin martyrs, the virgins who suffered for Christ like Sts. Barbara and Catherine; the Ascetic-Virgin- Martyrs, the virgin nuns who suffered like St. Paraskeva and the Newmartyrs, our contemporary Christians who suffered at the hands of the Turks because they denied to change their faith like Sts. George of Ioannina, and Theodore the Byzantine; among the Newmartyrs are also the many who died at the hands of the communist government of Bolsheviks Russia.

The rank of the Confessors also belongs to the category of the Martyrs. They were Christians who during the times of persecution were dragged to the courts of the idol worshippers and confessed their faith in Christ. They were tortured to make them deny him, but for one reason or another, they were not sentenced to death like the martyrs. Among the Confessor Saints we have Sts. Chariton and Maximos.

By Ascetics we mean the monks and nuns who lived exemplary monastic lives. They did not offer their blood, but sacrificed their lives living a daily martyrdom of the strictest disciplines and obediences thus gaining the kingdom. In this rank belong Sts. Anthony, Euthymius, Savva, Athansius of Athos, Euphrosyne and a multitude of other men and women.

By Hierarchs and Teachers we mean those great Bishops who with holiness tended like good shepherds the people of God. They taught verbally or by writings the word of truth like the great Three Hierarchs Basil the Great, John Chrysostom and Gregory the Theologian.

The title "Fathers" is given literally to all those clerics who distinguished for the holiness of their lives and correct teaching, who made an impression in the wisdom of their writings, but in general all the holy clerics and monks.

And lastly the Selfless Physician. These were men of medicine who offered their services free of charge both to the rich and the poor. In Greek they are called the Anagyri meaning without silver. God blessed their healing with miraculous powers which often caused the envy of other doctors. Some died peacefully while others were murdered out of envy or received a martyr's death.

All these saints the Church calls upon during various services as intercessors that through their prayers our petitions will be more acceptable before God. There is no service, prayer of sacrament that does not mention some of the saints. All services end with a dismissal which makes mention of a great number of the saints and to which can be added local saints and those who are commemorated on the day. For the usual dismissals, the Priest should have no problem with the correct order as these are found printed in the Priest's Liturgical Handbook. Many Priest, especially those new to the priesthood, have difficulty adding the name of the saint for the day correctly. This is not as difficult as it might seem as long as we pay attention to the rank of the saint and his/her epithet. Instructions can be found at the end of the Great  Vespers service under the Hieratikon listings, which are also listed below.


Instructions on how to give the Dismissals

The Priest should give special attention to the following:
1) If the temple is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, or to Christ the Saviour, or to the Mother of God, or to the Precious Cross, or to the Archangels, or to the Forerunner John the Baptist, then commemoration of them is not made at the place appointed for the saint to whom the Church is dedicated.
2) If the feast being celebrated is a feast of the Lord, commemoration of it is not made at the place appointed for the saint of the day because characterization of the feast is made at the beginning of the Dismissal.
3) At the place appointed for the saint of the day, commemoration is never made
a) Of the Lord’s Feasts,
b) The Forefeasts and the Afterfeasts,
c) the leave-taking of the feast,
d) a remembrance of an event, e.g. the remembrance of a consecration, an earthquake, the finding of an Icon or the finding of relics etc.
4) Commemoration of the saint of the day is not always made at the appointed place e.g.
a) Feasts of the mother of God: having said “By the prayers of His most holy Mother” we add the characterization of the feast saying, whose Dormition [or Entry into the temple, or Birth, etc] we celebrate.
b) Feasts of the Precious Cross: having said “By the power of the precious and life-giving Cross” we add, whose Exaltation [or Veneration, or Procession] we celebrate.
c) Feasts of St. John the Baptist: having said “through the supplications of the glorious Forerunner and Prophet John the Baptist” we add, whose Birth [or Conception, or Beheading etc] we celebrate.
5) Saints who are commemorated in the Dismissal throughout the year can be commemorated in their appointed place and there add the words “to whose memory we dedicate this day” or can be removed from there and inserted in the place for the saint of the day.
6) Feasts that commemorate the translation of a saint’s relics are commemorated by adding the words “of whose translation of his [her] relics we celebrate.

The various ranks of saints are commemorated thus:
PROPHET - of the holy and righteous Prophet…
FOREFATHER - of the holy and righteous Forefather…
RIGHTEOUS - of the holy and righteous…
APOSTLE - of the holy and all-glorious Apostle…


EVANGELIST - of the holy and all-glorious Apostle and Evangelist…

EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES - of the holy and all-glorious and equal to the Apostles...

MARTYR - of the holy and glorious Martyr [Greatmartyr, Protomartyr, Newmartyr, Hieromartyr]…

HIERARCH - of our father among the saints…
ASCETIC - of our holy God-bearing father…
                - of our holy mother…
ASCETIC MARTYR - of our holy father and martyr…
                                - of our holy mother and martyr…


SELFLESS PHYSICIANS - of the holy wonderworker and selfless physician...
In the Church calendar many saints have the same name. To distinguish one saint from the other, they are given a special epithet after their name e.g. the Wonderworker, the Outpourer of myrrh, the Victory bearer, the Sanctified, the Great, the Stylite, the Theologian, etc.

Thus to commemorate the Great martyr George we say: Of the holy and glorious Greatmartyr George the Victory bearer. To commemorate St. Savva the Sanctified we say: Of our holy God-bearing father Savva the Sanctified
Most Hierarchs are distinguished by the place of their See e.g. Nicholas of Myra, Athanasius of Alexandria. John Chrysostom Archbishop of Constantinople, Spiridon of Trimythounta, etc.

Thus St. Nicholas will be commemorated as: Of our father among the saints Nicholas of Myra, for St. Basil we will say; Of our father among the saints Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia.
Many other saints also have place names for epithets or their nationality e.g. Theodore of Tyro, Seraphim of Sarov, James the Persian, Isaac the Syrian, Silouan the Athonite, etc.