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September 1


Saint of the day:
Saint Penelope 

Patron Saint of is the patron saint of getting a parking space when you are going to a charitable event. 

Patron Saint of swift and happy marriage, policemen, virgin girls, and peace!

Saint Penelope’s Story

Holy 40 virgin-martyrs and their teacher the Hieromartyr Ammon the Deacon at Heraclea in Thrace: Adamantine, Athena, Akrive, Antigone, Arivea, Aspasia, Aphrodite, Dione, Dodone, Elpinike, Erasmia, Erato, Ermeneia, Evterpe, Thaleia, Theanoe, Theano, Theonymphe, Theophane, Kalliroe, Kalliste, Kleio, Kleonike, Kleopatra, Koralia, Lambro, Margarita, Marianthe, Melpomene, Moscho, Ourania, Pandora, Penelope, Polymnia, Polynike, Sapfo, Terpsichore, Troada, Haido, and Harikleia.

The Holy Forty Virgin Martyrs with their teacher, Deacon Ammoun were captured by Baudos the governor, and were tortured because they would not offer sacrifice to idols. The holy martyrs endured many cruel torments, which were intended to force them to renounce Christ and worship idols. Later, they were sent to Heraclea in Thrace to appear before the tyrant Licinius. The valiant martyrs remained unshakeable, however. Saint Ammoun and eight of the virgins were beheaded, ten virgins were burned, six of them died after heated metal balls were put into their mouths, six were stabbed with knives, and the rest were struck in the mouth and stabbed in the heart with swords.

The world’s best known Penelope was the wife of Odysseus hero of first, the Iliad and Second, the Odyssey. Penelope endured ten years while her husband was away at war and then ten years it took him to get back. In all that time, he was presumed dead, but she refused to remarry and stayed faithful to him. Penelope is a fictional character, but I like to think of her name representing fidelity in marriage.

There is another story of Saint Penelope...

Saint Penelope's parents were devout pagans, and shut their daughter away to keep her from getting dangerous Christian ideas, because, you know, those wild Christians running around baptizing people were a serious threat back then. They, however, failed to remember that her tutor was a Christian.


Therefore, Saint Penelope was baptized, and she tried to convince her parents to become Christians too. She even went to the extraordinary step of destroying her father’s pagan idols.

This, of course, made her father mad. What did Penelope do next? I wondered, seeking some divine help for the next time when dad raged. Penelope’s dad tied her to the bottom of a wild horse, intending for her to be stamped to death with the whole pack of them as a punishment for converting to Christianity. However, the horses didn’t move, and one of them instead tore the father’s right hand from his arm, knocking him down, and the horses began to trample him.The bystanders then untied Penelope, and she prayed for her father. He arose from the trampling, with his hand miraculously intact.







Names...Penelope or Irene?

St. Irene of Thessaloniki

The holy Great Martyr Irene of Thessaloniki was born in the city of Magedon in Persia during the fourth century. She was the daughter of the pagan king Licinius, and her parents named her Penelope. The name Irene means peace. She is one of the twelve Virgin Martyrs who appeared to St. Seraphim of Sarov (January 2) and the Diveyevo nun Eupraxia on the Feast of the Annunciation in 1831, and her feast is celebrated on May 5. (Greek Orthodox)

Her Life

Penelope was very beautiful, and her father kept her isolated in a high tower from the time she was six so that she would not be exposed to Christianity. He also placed thirteen young maidens in the tower with her. An old tutor by the name of Apellian was assigned to give her the best possible education. Apellian was a Christian, and during her lessons, he told the girl about Christ the Savior and taught her the Christian Faith and the Christian virtues.

When Penelope reached adolescence, her parents began to think about her marriage. One day, a dove flew through the window carrying an olive branch in its beak, depositing it upon a table. Then an eagle swooped in with a wreath of flowers in its beak, and also placed it upon the table. Finally, a raven flew in carrying a snake, which it dropped on the table. Penelope was puzzled by these events and wondered what they meant.

Apellian explained that the dove signified her education, and the olive branch stood for the grace of God which is received in Baptism. The eagle with the wreath of flowers represented success in her future life. The raven and the snake foretold her future suffering and sorrow.

At the end of the conversation Apellianus said that the Lord wished to betroth her to Himself and that Penelope would undergo much suffering for her heavenly Bridegroom. After this Penelope refused marriage, was baptized by the priest Timothy, and she was named Irene (peace). She even urged her own parents to become Christians. Shortly after this, she destroyed all her father's idols.

Since St. Irene had dedicated herself to Christ, she refused to marry any of the suitors her father had chosen for her. When Licinius learned that his daughter refused to worship the pagan gods, he was furious. He attempted to turn her from Christ by having her tortured. She was tied up and thrown beneath the hooves of wild horses so that they might trample her to death, but he horses remained motionless. Instead of harming the saint, one of the horses charged Licinius, seized his right hand and tore it from his arm. Then it knocked Licinius down and began to trample him. They untied the holy virgin, and through her prayers Licinius rose unharmed in the presence of eyewitnesses with his hand intact.

Seeing such a miracle, Licinius and his wife, and many of the people, (about 3000 men) believed in Christ and turned from the pagan gods. Resigning his administrative duties, Licinius devoted himself to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ. St. Irene lived in the house of her teacher Apellian, and she began to preach Christ among the pagans, converting them to the path of salvation.

When Sedecius, the new governor of the city, heard of this miracle he summoned Apellian and questioned him about Irene's manner of life. Apellian replied that Irene, like other Christians, lived in strict temperance, devoting herself to constant prayer and reading holy books. Sedecius summoned the saint to him and urged her to stop preaching about Christ. He also attempted to force her to sacrifice to the idols. St. Irene staunchly confessed her faith before the governor, not fearing his wrath, and prepared to undergo suffering for Christ. By order of Sedecius she was thrown into a pit filled with vipers and serpents. The saint spent ten days in the pit and remained unharmed, for an angel of the Lord protected her and brought her food. Sedecius ascribed this miracle to sorcery, and he subjected St. Irene to many other tortures, but she remained unharmed. Under the influence of her preaching and miracles even more people were converted to Christ, and turned away from the worship of inanimate idols.

Sedecius was deposed by his son Savorus, who persecuted Christians with an even greater zeal than his father had done. St. Irene went to her home town of Magedon in Persia to meet Savorus and his army, and ask him to end the persecution. When he refused, St. Irene prayed and his entire army was blinded. She prayed again and they received their sight once more. In spite of this, Savorus refused to recognize the power of God. Because of his insolence, he was struck and killed by a bolt of lightning.

After this, St. Irene walked into the city and performed many miracles. She returned to the tower built by her father, accompanied by the priest Timothy. Through her teaching, she converted five thousand people to Christ.
Next, the saint went to the city of Callinicus, or Callinicum (possibly on the Euphrates River in Syria). The ruler of that place was King Numerian, the son of Sebastian. When she began to teach about Christ, she was arrested and tortured by the pagan authorities. She was placed into three bronze oxen which were heated by fire. She was transferred from one to another, but miraculously she remained uninjured. Thousands of idolaters embraced Christianity as a result of this wondrous event.

Sensing the approach of death, Numerian instructed his eparch Babdonus to continue torturing the saint in order to force her to sacrifice to idols. Once again, the tortures were ineffective, and many people turned to Christ.

Christ's holy martyr then traveled to the city of Constantina, forty miles northeast of Edessa. By 330, the Persian king Sapor II (309-379) had heard of St. Irene's great miracles. To prevent her from winning more people to Christ, she was arrested, beheaded, and then buried. However, God sent an angel to raise her up again, and she went into the city of Mesembria. After seeing her alive and hearing her preach, the local king was baptized with many of his subjects.

Wishing to convert even more pagans to Christianity, St. Irene went to Ephesus, where she taught the people and performed many miracles. The Lord revealed to her that the end of her life was approaching. Then St. Irene left the city accompanied by six people, including her former teacher Apellian. On the outskirts of the town, she found a new tomb in which no one had ever been buried. After making the Sign of the Cross, she went inside, directing her companions to close the entrance to the cave with a large stone, which they did. When Christians visited the cave four days later, they did not find the body of the saint.

Apellian returned after only two days, and found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Thus did God glorify St. Irene, who loved Him and devoted her life to serving Him. Although many of these miracles may seem improbable to those who are skeptical, nothing is impossible with God.

St. Irene led thousands of people to Christ through her preaching, and by her example. The Church continues to honor her memory and to seek her heavenly intercession.

The holy, glorious Great Martyr Irene is invoked by those wishing to effect a swift and happy marriage. In Greece, she is also the patron saint of policemen. By her holy prayers, may the Lord have mercy upon us and save us.




Ephesus, Turkey







Khoresh Bademjan

A Persian summer stew made with Japanese eggplant and sour grapes. 
Khoresh Bademjan translated: "Khoresh" translates to "Stew" and "Bademjan" translates to "Eggplant."



  • 4 lbs. chicken if using a whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces

  • 5 Japanese eggplants sliced in half lengthwise

  • 1 onion diced

  • 16 oz. tomato sauce can

  • 3 oz. tomato paste

  • 1/2 cup sour grapes*

  • 2 tbsp canola oil

  • 1/4 tsp turmeric

  • 1 pinch saffron brewed in 3 tablespoon hot water

  • Salt and pepper


  1. Fry the eggplants in canola oil until very tender. Set aside on paper towels.

  2. Sautee the onion in the canola oil over medium-high heat until translucent. Add the chicken, turmeric, salt, and pepper and sautee until brown on all sides.

  3. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and sour grapes (or dried limes). Bring to boil. Lower to simmer. Simmer for 90 minutes.

  4. Before serving, add the eggplants and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Then, add the saffron and water brew and mix.

  5. Serve with basmati rice.

Note: You can substitute 3 dried limes for the sour grapes since sour grapes are only in season once a year. You can find both at middle-easter markets.

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