Monday, August 15, 2005

Orthodox Feasts of the First Saviour, Second Saviour, and Third Saviour

"In the month of August there are three holidays related to the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, which in church parlance are called the First Saviour, the Second Saviour, and the Third Saviour. All three feasts of the Saviour connect between them the days of the Dormition Fast, which lasts from August 14th to the 28th."


"On August 19th (the 6th by the old calendar) the Second Saviour – the Transfiguration of Our Lord is celebrated. This important event in Christ’s life on earth occurred not long before His Crucifixion. In order to sustain His disciples’ faith when they would see Him suffering, the Lord first showed them His divine glory. Taking along three of His disciples – Peter, John and James, the Lord ascended a high mountain, called Mount Tabor, to pray. While Christ was praying, the disciples fell asleep from fatigue. When they awoke, they saw that Christ was transfigured: His face shone like the sun, while His garments had become radiant as light. Two prophets – Moses and Elias – appeared to Him in their heavenly glory and spoke with Him about His forthcoming suffering and death. Seeing all this, the disciples’ hearts were filled with extraordinary joy. When they saw that the prophets were about to withdraw from Christ, Peter, trying to hold them back, cried out: “Lord! It is good for us to be here; if You wish, we will make three tents here: one for You, one for Moses and one for Elias.”

Suddenly a bright cloud enveloped them and out of the cloud they heard the voice of God the Father: “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” In great fear the disciples fell to the ground.

Christ came and touched them, and said: “Arise and do not be afraid.” The disciples arose and saw Christ in His usual appearance. Through His glorious Transfiguration the Lord also showed us how mankind will appear in future life, in the Heavenly Kingdom, and how our entire world will then be transfigured.

In Russian [and Slavonic] folkore the feast of the Second Saviour is associated with the custom of eating apples and other fruits that had been blessed in church, and with the following events in nature:

Ripe apples are picked on this day and blessed in church.
The nights are becoming cold.
The cranes begin to fly away.
It is customary not to eat any fruits or vegetables before the Second Saviour, except cucumbers.
On the feast of the Second Saviour even a beggar will eat an apple."

Source: Transfiguration of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Transfiguration Icon, Vilshanitsia, Lviv region, ca. 1600
National Museum Of Ukrainian Art - Lviv
(Arguably, the most beautiful museum of art in Ukraine,
based on its large collection of Ukrainian icons from towns and
villages on both sides of the current Polish - Ukrainian border.)


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