December 17

 

Saint of the day:
Saint Olympias


Saint Olympias' Story

Olympias born into a wealthy noble Constantinople family. She was orphaned when a child and was given over to the care of Theodosia by her uncle, the prefect Procopius. She married Nebridius, also a prefect, was widowed soon after, refused several offers of marriage, and had her fortune put in trust until she was thirty by Emperor Theodosius when she also refused his choice for a husband. When he restored her estate in 391, she was consecrated deaconess and with several other ladies founded a community. She was so lavish in her almsgiving that her good friend St. John Chrysostom remonstrated with her and when he became Patriarch of Constantinople in 398, he took her under his direction. She established a hospital and an orphanage, gave shelter to the expelled monks of Nitria, and was a firm supporter of Chrysostom when he was expelled in 404 from Constantinople and refused to accept the usurper Arsacius as Patriarch. She was fined by the prefect, Optatus, for refusing to accept Arsacius, and Arsacius' successor, Atticus, disbanded her community and ended her charitable works. She spent the last years of her life beset by illness and persecution but comforted by Chrysostom from his place of exile. She died in exile in Nicomedia on July 25, less than a year after the death of Chrysostom. 

Olympias, also known as Saint Olympias and sometimes known as Olympias the Younger to distinguish her from her aunt of the same name (Greek: Ὀλυμπιάς, sometime between 361 and 368-July 25, 408) was a Christian Roman noblewoman of Greek descent.

Olympias was born and raised either in Constantinople or Antioch. She was the daughter born to the Antiochian Greek noblewoman, Alexandra and the wealthy Greek Rhetor, Seleucus. Olympias had a sibling, who was a parent of Olympias and Seleucus. Olympias was the namesake of her late paternal aunt Olympias who was once engaged to the Roman emperor Constans who later married the Roman Client King of Arsacid Armenia Arsaces II (Arshak II). The paternal grandfather of Olympias was Flavius Ablabius who had held consular rank in Constantinople, while her maternal uncle was Calliopius the Rhetor who served as a grammaticus and assistant-teacher under the Rhetor, historian Libanius and later served as a Roman official under the Roman emperors Constantius II and Julian the Apostate.

Olympias is described as the ‘beloved daughter’ born to Seleucus and Alexandra. At eighteen years of age, Olympias married a nobleman called Nebridius who served as Prefect of Constantinople. But after two years of marriage, her husband died. After refusing many offers of marriage,[11] she dedicated her life to the church, serving as a deaconess. She would later become a friend of Saint John Chrysostom.

Her good works included building a hospital, an orphanage and even looking after Monks who had been led in exile from Nitria. All of this even led to John Chrysostom telling her that she had done almost too much. Her support for John Chrysostom led her to being exiled in 404, which resulted her in losing her house and living the rest of her life in exile at Nicomedia, where she would die on July 25, 408, after a long illness. Olympias is one of the 140 Colonnade saints which adorn Saint Peter's Square.

https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=797

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympias_the_Deaconess

http://faith.nd.edu/s/1210/faith/interior.aspx?sid=1210&gid=609&pgid=17403&cid=34531&ecid=34531&crid=0&calpgid=61&calcid=53508

https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2014/07/25/102087-holy-woman-olympias-olympiada-the-deaconess-of-constantinople

https://www.loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/saints/saints-stories-for-all-ages/saint-olympias/

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Prayer:
 

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Recipe

Christopsomo Greek Christmas Bread
Christopsomo literally means “Christ’s Bread”, which is made a few days before Christmas. Making Christopsomo is a tradition that dates back thousands of years and is considered sacred in Greece. There is always a cross on the top of the bread that represents the cross of Christ. Making an offering to Christ For the Greeks, making this Christmas bread is like making an offering to Christ. This offering is made this with special care and love. Greeks feel it will strengthen the wellbeing, health and happiness of their households. Traditionally the lady of the house makes the bread. She mixes wonderful ingredients like walnuts and raisins into the dough. To make the bread sweeter she adds some sugar or honey. After making the dough, she uses the largest part to make the Christmas bread. With what is left she makes smaller breads for her Vaftistiria, Godchildren. When they wait for her to bring presents for Christmas, they mostly care about the small Christopsomo. On Poros they call them Koutsounes.

 

Different Christopsomo Recipes

There is usually an entire walnut in the middle of the cross. Most decorate it with pieces of dough, nuts and sesame seeds. In some parts of Greece the dough is formed into elaborate decorations that would represent the family’s life and work, like a boat, fish, goats and so on. The Christopsomo recipe differs from place to place. 

Bless the Bread

When the Christopsomo is ready, the father of the house will bless the Christmas bread by making the sign of the cross before he cuts it and shares the pieces with the family all around the table. I hope you feel inspired to make Christopsomo for Christmas and you share it with your friends and family.

 

Christopsomo

Ingredients

  • 280 ml of water at room temperature

  • 7 grams of dry yeast

  • 60 grams granulated sugar

  • 50 ml olive oil

  • 1/2 kg of flour

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 100 grams walnuts (chopped)

  • 100 grams raisins

  • 1 egg (beaten)

 

For decoration

  • A few cloves

  • 1 walnut, in it’s shell

  • Some shelled walnuts

  • Some of the dough to form the decorations

  • Sesame seeds

  • Some almonds
     

Directions

  1. Mix the yeast with the warm water and the half of the sugar, stir until dissolved and set it aside until it bubbles.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the salt, cinnamon and ground cloves with the flour. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture and the olive oil. Mix until a soft dough forms, cover with waxed paper and a damp towel, and set aside to rise for 15 minutes.

  3. Punch the dough down and knead for several minutes. Add the raisins and the walnuts and knead well to a homogenous dough!

  4. Cover, and allow it to rise for 1/2 hour. Take a part of the dough and set it aside.

  5. Create a nice, soft ball from the dough, with your hands, and shape the bread as I have in the pictures. Cover a baking pan with ovenproof paper, put the dough on it, cover it with a damp cloth and let it rest while you are creating the decorations.

  6. Roll the saved dough into strips and create the cross. Brush the top of your bread with a beaten egg and set the cross on the top. Decorate it with walnuts and cloves or anything you like. Brush again with the rest of the egg.

  7. Bake in a hot oven at 200 °C for 25 to 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 170 °C and bake it for another 10 minutes.

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