General Information: Lives of Saints

With these words of St. Justin before us, we might well ask ourselves if Orthodox spiritual life is even possible without the testimony of the Lives of the Saints. The answer to this, I believe, must be "no." True spiritual life begins when we live in Christ and Christ lives in us, right here on this earth. And the Lives of the Saints bear witness to us that the Life of Christ on earth did not end with His Ascension into Heaven, nor with the martyrdom of His Apostles. His Life continues to this day in His Church, and is seen most brilliantly in His Saints. And we, too, in our own spiritual lives, are to enter into that continuing, never-ending Life.

The Place of Lives of Saints in the Spiritual Life, by Hieromonk Damascene.

"All the Saints," wrote St. John of Kronstadt, "are our older brothers in the one House of the Heavenly Father. Having departed from earth to heaven, they are always with us in God.... They serve together with us, they sing, they speak, they instruct, they help us in various temptations and sorrows. Call upon them as living with you under a single roof; glorify them, thank them, converse with them as with living people; and you will believe in the Church."

Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works, p. 974.

If we live with all the saints (Eph. 3:18) by attentively reading their lives each day as we walk in the spiritual garden of the Synaxarion, we shall discover little by little those whom our heart especially goes out to. They will become our close friends in whom we love to confide our joys and sorrows; whose lives we love to read time and again, as well as to chant their troparia and to venerate their icons. These close friends will be the guides of our choice and a great comfort to us along the strait and narrow way that leads to Christ (Matt. 7:14).

Introduction to The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church,
by Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra, Mount Athos


Articles About the Saints

The Place of Lives of Saints in the Spiritual Life, by Hieromonk Damascene. One of the most important articles I've ever read!

Introduction to The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, by Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra, Mount Athos.

Introduction to the Lives of the Saints, by St. Justin Popovich of Chelije. Excerpt from Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ published by the Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies.

The Saints of the Orthodox Church, George Bebis, Ph.D., Holy Cross School of Theology

On Saints and Their Writings, from Bishop Alexander's Orthodox Missionary Booklets site.

We Were Guests at St. Seraphim's. An account of a pilgrimage to Sarov and Diveyevo, by Dr. A. P. Timofievich.

Archimandrite Sebastian Dabovich: Honoring an American Apostle, by Hieromonk Damascene.

Collections of Lives of Saints

Feasts and Saints of the Orthodox Church, by the Orthodox Church in America (OCA)

Lives of the Saints, from St. John's Cathedral. Their whole site is a wealth of information. Spend some time there!

The Prologue from Ochrid, by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich.

God is Wonderful in His Saints: Orthodox Resources from AbbaMoses.com.

Orthodox England, a superb Orthodox resource, with many articles and Lives of Western Saints.

The Great Collection of The Lives of the Saints, compiled by Saint Demetrius of Rostov. Translated from the original Slavonic text by Fr. Thomas Marretta.

Holy Fathers of the Serbian Orthodox Church, official web site of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Diocese of Western America.

Lives and Legends of the Georgian Orthodox Saints

Collection of Lives of Western Saints: compiled by Katherine I. Rabenstein. I cautiously recommend this site as it is compiled by a Roman Catholic. However, I am told that this is one of the best sites on the web for  pre-Schism (pre-1054) Saints of Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Danish, Breton, French, etc., background.

Selected Individual Lives of Saints and Holy Ones

Life of the Holy New Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth, by Metropolitan Anastassy.

The Life of Our Holy Father Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch. From Orthodox Life (1981). The way St. Meletius handled the difficult situation in Antioch during the Arian controversy is highly instructive for our own troubled times.

Life of St. Nikolai Velimirovich (+1956), by Father Daniel Rogich. Commemorated March 5/18.

Life of St. Kosmas Aitolos, the complete text of Apostle to the Poor, by Nomikos Michael Vaporis. Commemorated August 24th.

St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco the Wonderworker (+1966). A Web site dedicated to this great Saint of our times! Commemorated June 19/July 2.

The Simple Shepherd—Papa Nicholas Planas, by Fr. Alexey Young [now Hieromonk Ambrose].

Introduction to Apostle to Zaire: The Life and Legacy of Blessed Father Cosmas of Grigoriou.

Excerpts from The New Saint of the Russian Church, Seraphim of Viritsa (+1949). Translated by Fr. Nicholas Palis.

Excerpts from Elder Gervasios (Paraskevopoulos) of Patras, by Hierodeacon Cyril (Kostopoulos). The exemplary life and pastoral work of a parish Priest of our times.

St Vincent of Lérins: Homily 24 from Made Perfect in Faith, by Fr. James Thornton.

Saint Gregory the Dialogist, Pope of Rome: Homily 27 from Made Perfect in Faith, by Fr. James Thornton.

Saint Isaac the Syrian, Bishop of Nineveh: Homily 30 from Made Perfect in Faith, by Fr. James Thornton.

Three homilies from Of Whom the World was not Worthy: Sermons on the Lives and Works of the Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament, by Protopresbyter James Thornton:

Recommended Books

Fortunately there are numerous individual Lives of Saints as well as collections available in English. It is not necessary for me to list them here as any complete Orthodox bookstore will carry them and be able to help you. The problem for many is simply where to begin! I cannot recommend too highly that one start by purchasing or reading online the four volume Prologue from Ocrid by the Blessed Serbian Hierarch Nicholai Velimorovich. This is an exceptional, highly edifying work that should be read daily by all Orthodox Christians. Also, you should buy Made Perfect in Faith (Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 2006). See the linked excerpts, above!

For more information on reading the Lives of Saints, see "How to Read the Holy Fathers."