Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Date Set for the Reopening of the Chora Church as a Mosque

The Monastery of Chora, known today in Turkish as Kariye Camii, was an 11th century Orthodox Christian monastery in Constantinople that was converted by the Ottomans into a mosque in the 16th century. It operated as a museum since 1958, though after the decision of the Turkish Supreme Court in 2019 and a presidential decree on August 21, 2020, it was reconverted into a mosque as was nearby Hagia Sophia before it, despite Istanbul having already 3,113 mosques. However, soon after this decree was issued, the reconverted mosque closed in order to make preparations for its regular use as a house of worship for Muslims, with an undetermined date for its reopening. While the restoration process was continuing, Kariye Camii was kept open to visitors as a museum.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

What Was Paidomazoma (Devshirme) and Who Were the Janissaries?

By Marios Novakopoulos, Internationalist

Paidomazoma, or the mass kidnapping of children. This word resonates to this day as one of the most painful memories of the Turkish occupation, which both as a human tragedy and as a tool of biological oppression haunts the conscience of the Greeks.

Paidomazoma, Devshirme in Turkish, is the compulsory recruitment of the children of the Christian subjects of the Ottoman Empire, to staff the army and administration of the sultan. The most famous body that absorbed the victims of paidomazoma was the famous Janissary guard.

The system of paidomazoma was introduced around 1430 by Sultan Murat I, but individual conscriptions had started since the time of Sultan Bayezid in 1395. But why did the Ottomans implement such a policy? The answer lies in the deepest needs of Sultanate politics.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Young Muslim Man Baptized Orthodox Christian in Victoria, Australia


On Monday, 13 February 2023, with the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, His Grace Bishop Evmenios of Kerasounta, Archiepiscopal Vicar of Northcote in Victoria, welcomed into the Orthodox Church, through the Mystery of Holy Baptism, a young man who comes from the Islamic faith.

The 28-year-old Ahmad Khodr, who after his baptism received the name Angelos, was born and raised in Lebanon. From a young age, but also after his migration to Australia, he was constantly searching for the truth about faith and the true God, without resting on what he had been taught in the early years of his life.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Saint Paisios the Athonite and the Japanese Buddhist

In May 1990, during one of my visits to Elder Paisios, we were about twenty pilgrims in his outdoor guesthouse.

Among us was a Japanese man, a chemical engineer of a large pharmaceutical company, who did not know Greek.

On this occasion, the Elder spoke about the Buddha and, addressing the Japanese man, told him that the Buddha was just a wise and intelligent man of his time. And how the world, admiring his wisdom, made him almost a god.

Friday, May 27, 2022

A Christian Miracle to a Muslim in Mecca (From the Life of St. John the Russian)

Icon depicting an angel transporting a platter of hot pilaf from St. John to his master in Mecca.

Saint John the Russian (+ May 27, 1730) was a soldier who was taken as a slave and sold to a Turkish master who was a cavalry officer in Prokopion of Asia Minor. The Saint, though treated with contempt and abuse, with his kindness and gentle nature he had an effect on the souls of both the master and the other slaves. Saint John brought a blessing to his master simply by living in his household. The cavalry officer became rich, and was soon one of the most powerful men in Prokopion. He knew very well why his home had been blessed, and he did not hesitate to tell others.

One day the officer, being cheerful at his unanticipated success, left Prokopion and went to Mecca on pilgrimage with a great retinue to fulfill his religious duty as a Muslim. A few weeks later, his wife gave a banquet and invited her husband's friends and relatives, asking them to pray for her husband's safe return. Saint John served at the table, and he put down a dish of pilaf, his master's favorite food. The hostess said, "How much pleasure your master would have if he could be here to eat this pilaf with us." Saint John asked for a dish of pilaf, saying that he would send it to his master in Mecca. The guests laughed when they heard his words. The mistress, however, ordered the cook to give him a dish of pilaf, thinking he would eat it himself, or give it to some poor family as he was accustomed to do.