Church History Parents' Guide Schedule and Overview



Sample schedule of classes -- type in your own dates for the current year.

   Date                         Topic                                                   Special Notes             


Sept.    8          Opening Gala Movie Night, entire parish       Quo Vadis

                        Outdoor theater with bonfire

             9          Pentecost/Philip & Eunuch                            


16         Stephen                                                         


23        Conversion of Saul                                        


            30        Peter and Cornelius                            


Oct.      7         Council of Jerusalem              


           14        Spread of Gospel                                           


           21        John/Revelation                                 


           27        Movie Night (after vespers)                            Ben Hur

           28        Paul and Journeys                                           All Saint’s Party after Church School

                                                                                              in Social Hall – bring costumes


Nov.     4         Paul and Journeys                  


11        Peter                                                               


18        Dormition                                                       


             25        Persecutions                                                   


Dec.     1         St. Nicholas Festival   10AM-12noon                        Rehearsal of play following

            2         St. Nicholas Play                                                       Congregation during coffee hour

                                                                                                         Nursing Home afterwards


            9          Constantine                                                    


            16        Elevation of the Cross                                   


23        St. Mary of Egypt                                          


30        Canon of Scripture                                          Memory Work: Books of Bible

(Gospels and Acts for ages 3-7)

Theophany jars after Church School  


Jan.      6         Athanasius/Creed                               

            Council of Nicea                                             12:30 PM Three Kings Party


13        Chrysostom/Liturgy                                        Memory Work: Creed


20        Three Hierarchs                                               Homeless Bags after Church School


            27        Cyril of Alexandria/Councils                         


Feb.     3          St. Nina/St. Patrick/Councils                         


            9          Movie night after vespers                               El Cid

           10        Fall of Rome                                                  


            17        Byzantine Empire/Justinian                            Memory Work: Trisagion Prayers      

                                                                                                            (3-5 only thrice holy)

24        Rise of Islam                                                  


March  2          Icons/St. John of Damascus                            Art Day after Church School

             9         Monasticism/ St. Anthony/St. Seraphim        


16      Cyril and Methodius/ Baptism of Russia                     


23        St. Gregory Palamas                                       Memory work: Jesus Prayer


30        The Crusades                         


April    6         Fall of Constantinople                                               


12        Movie Night after vespers                              Becket or A Man for All Seasons

            13        Protestant Reformation                                  


20        Protestant Reformation                      


  1. PASCHA – no Church School
  2. Easter Egg Hunt and Cookout after Liturgy


 May    4          Armenia/Antioch   


           11      Ethiopia/Alexandria               


16-18   Camping Trip: No Class                     


25        Greece/Constantinople                                    Memory Work: “Lord Have Mercy” 

                                                                                                5 languages (3-5 only one)

June     1         Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria                             


             8         Japan                                                               Rehearsal during opening exercises                           

            15        Ukraine, Russia, OCA                                      Rehearsal during opening exercises


            21        Rehearsal after vespers                                   Balailaka on the Onion Dome

           Movie night                                                     Scarlet and Black

22        End of Year Play                                              Parish and Nursing Home

            Awards Presentation






            Several families have requested in past years a parents’ guide to help them in continuing their children’s Christian education at home and reinforcing what is being taught in Church School.  The following constitutes some suggestions you can use in your homes but, be creative!  Look at the topics yourselves and you’ll probably think of many even more exciting activities for you and your child(ren) to enjoy together.  This is geared to the smaller children (ages 10 and under); older children still have memory work and should begin reading the Scripture lessons and maybe even biographies of some of the saints (e.g. from the church library) of the time period.  There is a puzzle with each lesson for the older children plus coloring pages and activities for the younger. 


Remember each day to celebrate family prayers in your icon corner and to reread (or retell) the story we read in Church School at least once during the week. Your “home altar” could include icons (Jesus, Mary, family saints?), incense, candles, Bible, a jar of holy water, matches or lighter, prayer book. How about tablecloths or placemats or a piece of fabric or felt of the Liturgical colors to switch out seasonally. And, of course, include displays of specific artwork done by your child during the year for specific feasts and saints.


After the weekly suggestions, look through the stories, coloring icons, recipes, songs, maps, and fact sheets to help you with each week’s “homework”, but don’t ignore the church library, public library (lots of great children’s picture geography books, about every possible country), your own library, and the Internet for even more enrichment.


There is also some memory work for even the youngest children, as well as the older. These can be learned at home and recited in class or during the Opening Exercises, for a prize, of course. Here's a bookmark with all of the memory work for the year for easy reviewing in the car or at home. Line up to print front and back on cardstock and laminate or use clear adhesive sheets, or just print and glue to construction paper!



It is very important even for the very young child to have daily prayers (Do you have a family icon corner? What about setting up one in his room?) and Bible (or Bible story) reading, maybe right after dinner or at bedtime. Do you say grace after each meal? Each day they can practice crossing themselves, lighting candles, burning incense, etc. And on Saturday night, in preparation for Liturgy the next day, what about a time of private confession to the Lord? You could even “pray the hours” on days when you are home: 7 AM (First Hour) thanking God for His light, 9 AM (3rd Hour) thanking Him for His Holy Spirit, 12 Noon (6th Hour) thanking Him for His crucifixion, and 3 PM (9th Hour) praying with the wise thief, “Remember me, O Lord, in thy Kingdom.” Very little time spent, but a habit begun. Don’t forget a Jesse Tree and Advent wreath to bring Nativity closer to home.


In addition, don’t forget our parties, pageants, and the camping trip. These are designed to be part of the curriculum and real learning experiences, but fun as well! The Balalaika on the Onion Dome, performed with puppets and sung, will musically review the entire year for all of us.





                            CLAYS                                                                  PAINTS

SALT DOUGH                                                         FINGER PAINT (4 WAYS)

2 cups flour                                                                 Use pudding with food coloring!

1 cup salt                                                                     Mix liquid starch and food coloring.

about 1 cup water                                                       Mix 3 T sugar, ½ cup cornstarch, and

food coloring                                                                          2 cups cold water. Cook over

bath oil, vegetable oil, peppermint oil                                     low heat, stirring, till thick.

            Mix flour and salt. Add water                                      Pour into muffin tin. Add

slowly and mix with your fingers until                                   food coloring to each cup.

it makes dough. Knead in a few drops

food coloring and a splotch of oil (if                          SAND PAINT

desired). Store in air-tight container.                          Add dry tempera paint to corn meal.

                                                                                    Sprinkle over areas “painted” with thinned white glue.

SELF-HARDENING CLAY                                  

1 cup sand                                                                    Shake off excess.

½ cup cornstarch

1 tsp powdered alum                                                                          PASTES

¾ cup hot water                                                          PRIMARY PASTE

Food coloring if desired                                             Mix ½ cup water and 1 cup flour

            Mix sand, cornstarch and alum                                   in a bowl. Spoon into a jar

in large pot. Add hot water and stir                                         or squeeze bottle to store.

vigorously. Add food coloring if

desired. Cook over medium heat                                PAPIER MACHE PASTE

until thick, stirring constantly.                                    3 cups water

After cooling, store in airtight container.                    1 ½ cups flour

                                                                                                Mix flour with cold water until lumps are gone.

SAWDUST CLAY                                      

2 cups fine sawdust                                                    Dip pieces of newsprint in paste and mold around

1 cup flour                                                                   surface to be shaped. Air dry.

            Mix sawdust and flour in bowl

or bucket. Add a little water at a time,                       CORNSTARCH DOUGH

stirring till it is stiff but pliable. Knead                       2 cups cornstarch

till it’s elastic and easy to shape. Store                       4 cups baking soda     

in airtight container. Air dry.                                      2 ½ cups water

            Mix cornstarch and soda in large

            pot. Add water. Cook, stirring, over medium

            heat until thick like mashed potatoes. After

cool, knead on wax paper for 5 minutes. Store in an airtight container.

Air dry.




As the children eat their refreshments and prepare to go to class, we supplement the curriculum with a story each week. To introduce the story, try placing a small object or icon in a paper bag; let one of the children open the bag. What’s in there? Then tell the story, being sure to relate it to the object in the bag.    


   Date             Opening Exercises                                In the bag                             


Sept.    9          Peter heals the lame man                    a silver and a gold coin

After Pentecost, the apostles, who had been frightened men at the Crucifixion, moved with the power of the Holy Spirit. Read this story from your Bible story books, showing the pictures. There’s an old Sunday    School song: “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee, in the name of Jesus Christ Of Nazareth, Rise up and Walk! He went    walking and leaping and praising God! The children can walk around the   table and leap, working out some energy before class.


16         Ananias and Sapphira                        money, several coins

This story is also in the Bible, in Acts 2. Tell it, being careful to note that they did NOT drop dead because they failed to give all their money but because of their lie. Good time to review the 10 Commandments. Because of the difficulties the apostles had in taking care of the money and everyday concerns of the ever-growing church, they appointed the first deacons. Stephen, who we will study today, is one of those first 7 deacons, as was Philip we studied last week.


23        St. Barnabas                                        tiny gospel book

St. Barnabas was one of the seventy sent out by Jesus during His ministry. He studied with Saul in Jerusalem and was the first to welcome Saul after his conversion, which we are to study today. He traveled with Paul and Mark on his first missionary journey, then traveled with Mark alone. He went to Rome and then returned to his home island of Cyprus, where he was martyred and buried by Mark with a copy of the gospel of Matthew.


            30        St. Tabitha                                           sewing needle

Tabitha, also known as Dorcas, was a woman of the city of Joppa. She sewed clothing for the poor and was much loved. When she died, they sent for the apostle Peter, who prayed and she rose from the dead! While Peter was in Joppa, he also had the vision we are to study today.


Oct.      7         St. James the Just                                tiny model church

James was the son of Joseph by his first wife, step-brother of Jesus the Lord. He was one of the 70 and became the first bishop of Jerusalem. He wrote the first liturgy, which is still used on his feast day. He was so wise and fair that he was known even to unbelievers as James the Just. He presided over the Council in Jerusalem we are to study today. Finally, the Jews forced him to climb to the top of the temple and he was told there to deny Jesus. Instead, he preached loudly to all who could hear! He was pushed from the tower and martyred.


14        Destruction of Jerusalem                     small rock

                        60 years before the birth of Jesus, the Jewish people had been conquered by the Roman Empire and ruled by a king and a governor chosen by the Romans. Many Jews hated the Romans and some, called Zealots, tried over and over to attack the Romans and overthrow their rule. One of Jesus’ own disciples was called Simon the Zealot; Simon left his Zealot friends to follow our Lord. Remember how Jesus cried on seeing Jerusalem as He approached and foretold its destruction? Well, in 66 AD, the Jewish Zealots captured the city of Jerusalem from the government of Rome. The Romans were NOT going to let this happen. They laid siege to the city (surrounded it so no one and no food could get in or out) under the general Cestius Gallus. The Christians who were in Jerusalem at the time recognized the assault upon the city by Cestius Gallus as the fulfillment of the words of our Lord, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand): Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains:" Matthew 24:15-16. It is said that every Christian in the city fled. The Zealots did not, and with them thousands and thousands of Jews. Cestius Gallus did not succeed in winning the city back from the Jews, and a new general named Titus laid siege to the city. With battering rams, starvation, and finally fire that burned the entire temple, in 70 AD Titus captured the beautiful city of Jerusalem and tore it down to rubble until passers by could not even tell there had been a city there. One part of the Western Wall that had supported the Temple Mount was left to tell the tale of destruction; this wall is known to this day among Jews as the Wailing Wall. Later Titus became the Emperor of Rome and a monument there shows the story of his victory over Jerusalem to this day.


21        Sts. Hermione and Myropee               tiny bottle of perfume or bath oil bead

            St. Hermione was the daughter of Philip, one of the earliest followers of Jesus. She traveled to

Ephesus to visit the Apostle John, but found he had already died a very old man. She stayed in Ephesus and became known as a wonderful doctor. She also was a prophet. Finally, the Emperor heard of this remarkable woman and found out she was a Christian. He ordered her into the pagan temple to deny Jesus – but instead she prayed and the statues of the idols and the entire temple crumbled into stones. She was sent to be killed by the soldiers, but she told the soldiers about Jesus and they became Christians, too, and hid her for many years in the hills.

After her death, many young Christian girls wanted to live near the grave of this wonderful woman of faith and prophecy. One of these was named Merope, but Merope loved to gather the sweet-smelling myrrh that flowed from the tomb of St. Hermione and give it to others. So she became known as Myropee. But, later, the governor decided he would rid the land of all Christians. He killed a young Christian soldier named Isidore and would not allow him to be buried. But, Myropee sneaked in at night when the guards were asleep and stole his body and anointed it with myrrh and buried it. The next day, the governor was furious! He ordered the guards who had fallen asleep to be killed unless they could find the person who stole the body. Myropee saved the guards by coming herself to the governor and confessing. She was killed and her body also flows with fragrant oil.


28        St. Timothy                                         sheep

                        St. Timothy lived in the early days of the church and was a very young man when he first met St. Paul as Paul traveled through Lystra in Asia Minor, where Timothy lived with his mother and grandmother, both Christians also. He traveled with Paul all over the Roman Empire and was sent by Paul on many missions, carrying his letters to the churches and helping the churches in the cities they had visited. Finally, St. Paul left Timothy in the city of Ephesus as its Bishop. Ephesus was a city devoted to the pagan goddess Artemis. In fact, St. Paul had almost been killed there when he first visited the city. After many years as a bishop, during which Paul wrote two lovely letters, or epistles, to his younger friend, Timothy was himself killed by the pagans of Ephesus, right on the steps of his Church. After many years, his body was moved to the beautiful Church of the Holy Apostles in the great city of Constantinople, to be venerated along with the remains of both St. Luke and St. Andrew.


Nov.     4         St. Thekla                                            tiny lion or matches

                                    Thekla lived in the city of Iconium. She became a Christian during a visit of St. Pau when she was only 18 years old. All of her friends and family were   pagans and worshipped idols. Thekla left home and family to travel to many lands to preach about Jesus and became very well known, so well known that the pagan ruler of the land was furious and arrested her! He tried many times to kill her – throwing her to wild beasts, casting her into the fire – each time she came through unhurt. Does that remind you of any stories from the Old Testament? Finally, the pagans grew tired of trying to kill Thekla, and she was set free. She lived to be 90 years old and has been given the honor of a martyr because of her willingness to die for the Lord and also Equal to the Apostles because of her preaching.


11        St. Markian                                          Incredible Hulk?

                        St. Peter traveled to the city of Antioch and preached about the Lord he knew and loved. Among the many people who became Christians (Did you know that we were first called Christians in Antioch?) was a giant of a man named Markian. Markian was over 7 feet tall, but, unlike Goliath in the Old Testament, he was a gentle man who loved peace.  St. Peter ordained Markian as bishop of the city of Syracuse on the island of Sicily. There the sick and suffering came from all around for his healing blessing; he never hurt anyone but only used prayer as a weapon. But, Markian’s prayers were so mighty, that many of the pagan temples of Syracuse started falling down and thousands of pagans became Christians! This made the rulers of the pagan temples so angry that, on evening, when Markian was praying alone, 25 of them came and hit him with huge stones and killed him.


18        St. Dionysios the Areopagite              hammer

                        Do you remember that St. Paul traveled to the city of Athens and preached there?  Athens is a beautiful city, with the magnificent   Acropolis overlooking the city, and next to it Mars Hill, the meeting place for centuries of the Greek supreme court. Someone who serves on Mars Hill is called an “Areopagite.” Dionysios was one of those judges. Dionysios traveled to Egypt as a young man to study philosophy. While he was there, a strange thing happened one day – the sky became totally dark, and it was not an eclipse of the sun! What was happening? Many years later, when Dionysios was a respected judge and lawyer in Athens, St. Paul came to preach. Dionysios invited St. Paul to his home and there heard about the Crucifixion of Christ, when the sky went dark that very day he had witnessed as a young man! Dionysios was soon baptized and became the first bishop of Athens. Dionysios also traveled to many lands preaching about Jesus and even visited with the Theotokos during a stay in Jerusalem.  Years later, she appeared to him in a vision and told him to return to Jerusalem; Dionysios was with the apostles at her Dormition. Finally, Dionysios traveled to the land of France, known then as Gaul, where he spent many years preaching until his martyrdom as an old man.                       


25        Sts. Demetrios and Theodore              toy sword

                        This is a tale of two soldier saints in the early days of the church.

Demetrios was born in the city of Thessalonica (remember St. Paul wrote two letters to the Thessalonians that are in the Bible?). He became a soldier in the Roman army, but also was a great public speaker, telling all who would listen about the Lord Jesus and converting hundreds to Christianity. When the Emperor Maximianus came to Thessalonica for the gladiator games and heard about Demetrios, one of his own soldiers preaching a forbidden religion, he immediately had Demetrios arrested and put in prison. Now the emperor had brought with him a giant of a gladiator, undefeated, named Lyaeus, while Demetrios had a young friend named Nestor who visited him in prison. Demetrios announced that he would pray and the Christian God would allow tiny Nestor to defeat the great gladiator Lyaeus. The entire city came for the match; in a few minutes, Nestor had defeated the giant! The emperor was so angry that he ordered both Nestor and Demetrios killed immediately, but the entire city of Thessalonica had seen for themselves the power of their God!

            Theodore was also a soldier in the Roman legions, in fact the most elite lefion of theme all. He became a Christian while serving in the army, but was known as one of the finest of the legion’s soldiers – strong, tall, and brave.  He became one of the top officers of the legion. But, there came to power another emperor, Emperor Maximian, who wanted to kill all Christians. He ordered all soldiers in his army to sacrifice to the pagan gods. Theodore would not do it; he went to the temple and instead burned it down! The Emperor decreed that Theodore would be burned to death as a punishment for burning down the temple. While in prison, Theodore wrote hymns and sang them; some are still sung in Christian churches today! Finally, Theodore was thrown into the flames, but his body was not burned. He died and there is a church in his name there in the land of Turkey to this day.


Dec.      2        St. Nicholas Play        


             9         Sts. Panteleimon,                                stethoscope

             Cosmas,and Damien

The name "Panteleimon" means "all-merciful". He was born in Nicomedia of a Christian mother and a pagan father and studied medicine as a young man. A priest, Hermolaus, discipled him in the faith and baptised him. The pagan doctors denounced Panteleimon as a Christian after he healed a blind man by calling on the Name of Christ. He was brought before Emperor Maximian. He openly confessed to being a Christian and healed a paralytic right there in the court. The Emperor had him tortured repeatedly, but the Lord would always appear and heal him immediately. The executioner tried to behead him with his sword, but it broke on the saint's neck as if made of wax. When Panteleimon was done his prayers, he gave the word to the executioner, who then beheaded him.

Cosmas and Damien were brothers who lived in the early years of the Christian Church. Their parents were very rich and both brothers went to the best schools of the Empire and became doctors. But, rather than become more and more wealthy, the brothers became the first “medical missionaries”, caring for the sick in their clinic in Cilicia while also telling them about Jesus and praying for their healing. And, the brothers gave their word never to accept any payment for their services; because of this they are called the “unmercenaries”. The brothers lived to an old age and died peacefully, serving the Lord.


            16        Old King Cole                                     bowl or pipe   

Nursery rhyme:

                        Old King Cole was a merry old soul

                        And a merry old soul was he.

                        He called for his pipe and he called for his bowl

                        And he called for his fiddlers three.

                        King Cole (Coel) was the father of  Helena and king of southern Britain. He raised her as a Christian. She was beautiful.  When Constantius Chlorus, a Roman officer, came to negotiate with the king, he fell in love with Helena. They married, uniting the kingdom with Rome, and having a son, Constantine, the same Constantine and Helena we’ve been studying!


  1.                St. Eudokia, St. Pelagia                       bag of chocolate gold coins

These saints’ lives are in many ways similar to that of Mary of Egypt. Eudokia was a Samaritan woman who earned great wealth through wicked deeds. One day, a monk named Germanus happened to move in next door. Every night he read his Psalms and a book on the judgment of God, Eudokia could hear him and listened to every word. When dawn came, she spoke with Germanus and learned of the faith and was baptized. She gave away all her money to the poor, freed her slaves, and lived the rest of her life as a monastic. She was finally martyred for her faith.

            Pelagia was also a woman of great beauty, believed to be the most beautiful in the entire world in her day. She also was very wealthy, with her riches earned thru wicked deeds. One day, as she walked by the church of St. Julian, she heard Bishop Nonnus preaching about the last judgment. She, too, was so moved, that she repented of her wicked deeds, gave away all she had to the poor, and lived the rest of her life as a hermit in a tiny cell in the Garden of Gethsemane.


  1. Memory Work: Books of Bible          Anyone can recite who’s ready; continue for next 2 weeks (Torah + Gospels & Acts ages 3-5) 

St. Lucian                                            tiny plastic dolphin

Lucian was a very, very smart boy and learned many languages even before he was grown up. He especially loved the Bible and translated the entire Old Testament into Greek. As a man, he was not only famous for his learning and wisdom, but also known as the “man who never ate” because he fasted so diligently that he ate only little bits of bread and water. When the wicked Roman emperor Maximian heard about this holy and wise man, a famous Christian, he had him arrested. Lucian spoke about Jesus to the soldiers who were sent to arrest him, and soon they were Christians, too! Finally he was thrown into prison with no food or water and died after 40 days. His body was thrown into the sea, but a dolphin carried him back to shore, where his friends buried him. St. Helen heard about this wonderful saint, and built a chapel at his grave.


Jan.      6         St. Spyridon                                        tiny stuffed sheep + continue to hear recitations

                        Spyridon was known as the Shepherd Bishop. He was a shepherd boy on the island of Cyprus. He never went to school and could not even read, but memorized the   entire Bible from hearing it at Church. Even after he was ordained a priest, he continued to tend his sheep. He was arrested by the Romans and was beaten so badly that he lost his right eye. But still he served the Lord. He met St. Nicholas at the Council of Nicea (which we’re studying today) and they became good friends. To this day, the body of St. Spyridon is well preserved by the Lord and thousands come to Greece to venerate him on his feast day.


13        Memory Work: Creed

            St. Zoticos                                           tiny baby doll

            We celebrate the feast of St. Zoticos on New Year’s Eve. When Emperor Constantine decided to move his capital from Rome to the new city of Constantinople, he brought many of his friends with him. Zoticos was his chief magistrate. But, one year a terrible illness broke out in the city; people died by the thousands. Constantine ordered all sick people to be killed to try to stop the plague; there was no way to treat it. Zoticos asked Constantine for some money to buy precious jewels. With the money, Zoticos bribed the executioners and carried hundreds of the sick outside the city, where he cared for them. Many lived…even the daughter of Constantine’s son Constantius. But later, when Constantius became emperor, he wanted the jewels that Zoticos had bought with the treasury. Zoticos took him outside the city and showed him all those he had saved from certain death, including his own daughter – truly jewels in God’s sight. But, Constantius was furious and killed Zoticos. Since Zoticos saved so many children from death, he is considered the patron saint of orphans and an orphanage stands at the site of his death, where a miraculous spring now gives healing waters.


20        St. Porphyrios the Mimic                                mask or clown nose

                        Porphyrios lived during the rule of the Emperor Julian, nephew to the great Emperor Constantine who ascended to the throne after the violent deaths of all                of Constantine’s sons. Julian was a pagan and wanted to bring back the pagan gods of Rome. Because of this, to this day he is known as Julian the Apostate.

Julian had in his court a clown named Porphyrios, known as a mimic because of his ability to imitate people. He asked Porphyrios to put on  a show for Julian’s birthday that would make fun of the Christian faith. Porphyrios decided to get his pagan friends together and have a fake baptism. But…when Porphyrios was being dressed in the white clothing that followed his pretend baptism, while everyone else was laughing, Porphyrios heard the voice of an angel of the Lord, telling him that, even though he had been baptized only in fun, he was now a servant of the Lord Jesus! Porphyrios fell to his knees and immediately became a Christian. Then, he rose and told everyone in the emperor’s court all about Jesus.  Emperor Julian was so angry that Porphyrios was beheaded that very evening, a martyr for the Lord.

  1. St. Romanos the Melodist                               music note or piece of candy

                        Romanos is thought to be the greatest songwriter of the Orthodox church. But, he was not always a great singer, oh, no…Romanos was born in Syria and became a deacon as a young man. He was devoted to the Lord and to His Church, but had a terrible voice. He could not sing at all! This made Romanos very sad, because he could not sing to praise his Lord.  When he was sent to the great city of Constantinople to serve the Lord, he prayed and prayed to the Theotokos for a voice to sing with. When he fell asleep, he had a vision of the Theotokos, who gave him a sweet-tasting scroll to eat. When Romanos awoke, he began singing the great hymn of Christmas, given to him by the Theotokos herself, with a new, wonderful, and powerful voice.  We sing this hymn to this day: “ The Virgin today brings forth the all-powerful, and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. Angels with shepherds glorfy Him; the wise men journey with the Star. Since for our sakes was born as a young child, He, Who is from eternity God.” Did you hear us singing this great hymn at Christmas? It is one of more than a thousand hymns written by the new Romanos, the Romanos famous for his wonderful voice!


Feb.     3          St. Euphemia                                                   tiny book or scroll

                                    St. Euphemia was a young woman from the city of Chalcedon who loved the Lord and was burned to death for her faith just before the days of the  Emperor Constantine. For many years after her death, Christians visited her tomb in a small chapel and hundreds were healed of their illnesses. But, Euphemia is most famous for what she did almost 150 years later during the council held in the city of Chalcedon. In that day, the church was divided again over what to believe.  Some believed that Jesus was both God and Man, while others thought He was only God. Which was right? The council could not agree. So…the casket of St. Euphemia, patron saint of Chalcedon, was opened and two books were put inside – one about the two natures of Christ and one about the one nature. When the casket was reopened, the book of two natures was in the hands of the saint, while the other was under her feet. So the holy council proclaimed the Orthodox belief taught to this day, that Jesus is both God and Man.


10        St. Peter the Tax Collector                              piece of bread

The life of Peter, a North African tax collector and banker, is a lot like that of Charles Dickens’ fictional character, Ebenezer Scrooge. Have you read “A Christmas Carol” or seen one of the many movies about Scrooge? Do you remember some other tax collectors in the Bible? (Matthew and Zaccheus) Peter was a merciless miser, cruel to the poor, who dubbed him “the stingy one.” Once when a baker was delivering bread to Peter at his door, a pauper ran up begging for food. Out of anger, Peter threw a loaf at the head of the poor man, who was thrilled to receive the food he so desperately needed. Two days later, Peter became very ill. While he was sick,  he had a terrifying vision of the divine judgment. He saw a balancing scale, on one pan of which a hoard of devils piled his many sins. On the other side were angels who had nothing to place on the opposite pan other than the one loaf Peter had angrily hurled at the pauper. The vision completely changed Peter. Soon he donated all his possessions to the poor. After giving his own tunic to a pauper, Peter saw a vision of Christ clothed in the same garment.

  1.      Hoy Fathers of Mt. Sinai                                 tiny lego tower

                        Do you remember Mt. Sinai, the mountain of Moses in the Old Testament? Here God gave the Jewish people the burning bush and the 10 Commandments; it has been known for 1000s of years as a holy mountain. And, for this reason, soon after the days of Jesus, Christians also began to dedicate themselves to prayer and meditation in the deserts of Mt. Sinai. By the time of King Constantine, there were thousands of monks living there in the caves and valleys. Constantine himself had a tower built at the base of the holy mountain to protect the monks from wandering tribesmen, who would attack and kill the holy fathers. But, it was a small tower, not much protection, and many, many monks suffered martyrdom there, beginning with 38 in the early years of the church. Finally, the great Emperor Justinian built a huge monastery at the foot of the mountain with great walls to protect the Holy Fathers of Mt. Sinae. This monastery, St. Catherine, built 1500 years ago, still stands as the world’s oldest monastery.


                        Memory Work: Trisagion

                     The Trisagion: “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.” Tradition states that around the year 440 AD, on September 24, Constantinople was struck by an earthquake. As the Emperor Theodosius II and Patriarch Proclus were praying with all the people, a small boy was lifted high in the air. When he descended,  he told all to pray the Trisagion and then fell asleep in the Lord. As the people prayed, the city was saved. This is one of the oldest prayers of the church and was prayed at the Council of Chalcedon.


24        St. Sophia                                            tiny baby doll or Greek vase

Sophia lived during the greatest days of the Byzantine empire. She was beautiful, rich, intelligent, and well-educated – and became a wonderful wife and mother at a very young age. She loved her 6 children. But, when she was only 34 years old, all her children and her husband died in a great plague. Sophia never lost faith in God. She adopted over a hundred orphans and became known as the “Mother of Orphans”. She gave all her money to the poor and turned her beautiful palace into an orphanage. Whenever a visitor would enter her home, she would pour a glass of wine from a large Greek urn (like a vase). This went on for years and years – a wonderful-tasting wine. Finally Sophia had to admit that the urn filled itself! It continued to be full year after year and she continued to pour wine for her visitors!

March  2          A Tale of Two Leos                            cup of water

Leo the Great: When he was a young man, Leo was walking in a forested area near Constantinople when he saw a blind man who asked him for water to quench his thirst. It was then that Leo heard a message from a voice saying that there was water deep within the woods that the man could drink. The clay from its waters would be able to heal the man's eyes. The Theotokos also prophesied at this time that Leo would one day become emperor of Constantinople. Leo listened to the voice, quenched the man's thirst, and allowed him to gain sight just as the Mother of God proclaimed. He then built a church in her name. The blessed water has continued to work miracles to this day and has been given the name “The Life-Giving Spring.”

Leo III, the Isaurian: Leo III became Emperor by overthrowing the Emperor with his armies.

What a general he was indeed! He defeated the armies of the Muslims from Syria with the use of Greek fire thrown from the walls of the city of Constantinople on troops that laid siege to it and boats encircling it by sea. He stretched a great chain across the strait to keep the enemy ships from the city. By turning back the Muslim invaders trying to reach Europe by the short route, he set the stage for the much longer invasion of Europe across Africa, up thru Spain, and finally stopped by Charles Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne. But the story digresses…During the early years of Leo’s reign, Constantinople, and the entire middle East, was struck by a severe earthquake. Leo felt God was punishing the people because they were using icons in the churches and declared that all icons must be destroyed. He led the movement that became known as iconoclasm, the destruction of icons…but he never succeeded in his aim. The pious Christians hid their icons, the monks hid the icons of the churches, waiting for a better day – the Triumph of Orthodoxy!


   9       St. Michael the Confessor                  tiny icon

Michael is known as a “Confessor,” not because he had to go to confession a lot, but because he constantly “confessed” to others his faith in Christ. He was a priest in the 7th century after Christ and soon was made a bishop.  But, he was bishop during the reign of Leo the Armenian, the emperor who tried to destroy all the icons in the churches and homes. People who want to destroy icons are called iconoclasts. Can you say “iconoclast”? But, Michael not only refused to obey this command, but he even went to the Emperor and tried to persuade him to stop destroying the icons. The Emperor sent Michael far, far away in the East, where he lived away from all he knew and loved for 50 years. There, Michael died, but his body is now entombed on Mt. Athos in the famous and oldest monastery of Aghia Lavra.


            16        St. Philaretos the Merciful                  small crown

Do you remember the story of Job in the Old Testament? Listen to the life of Philaretos: Not all saints are monks or martyrs. Philaretos was just a citizen of the Byzantine Empire. His father was a wealthy farmer and Philaretos inherited the entire estate. But, he was a kind man, a loving husband and father, and became known as “the Merciful” because he gave so much to the poor and even built orphanages and hospitals. He never turned away anyone in need. But suddenly misfortune struck and he lost all his great wealth. Still, he never complained and continued to trust God. The giver was now the receiver. His wife and children complained bitterly, but Philaretos tried to encourage them.

Then, one day, a visitor came from the court of the Empress Irene in Constantinople. The officials of the royal palace were seeking a bride for her son, Prince Constantine. The entire village brought food for a great banquet. Who was serving the tables? The beautiful niece of Philaretos.  Soon the entire family was invited to the palace. The Empress was much impressed with Philaretos, his entire family, and, of course, his niece. Constantine took her for his bride, and the entire family was given a magnificent home with servants right there in the great city. But, Philaretos continued to give to the poor and to love the Lord, in wealth, then in poverty, and then again in even greater wealth.


23        St. John of the Ladder (Climacus)      small plastic ladder

            Almost 1500 years ago, there lived a young boy named John. John was only 16 years old when he left his home for the monastery at Mt. Sinai. Do you remember Mt. Sinai? (burning bush, 10 commandments) There he learned every day from an elder monk and worked and prayed. After 19 years, his elder died and John went into the desert to stay all by himself, praying all day. John lived in the desert for 40 years!

Even though he was all alone most of the time, John loved people and prayed for them whenever they were sick or in need. Once, there was no rain for many months and people were starving because there was no rain for the crops. John prayed day and night, day after day – finally clouds appeared and then rain! Another time, a monk was traveling and sat down to rest in the shade of a huge rock, when he heard John’s voice calling him. He jumped up, frightened, and suddenly the rock broke off and fell down – right on the place he’d been resting! At that very moment, John had been resting and heard a voice telling him to pray for the monk because he was in danger.

On Sundays, when he went to the monastery for Holy Communion, John would teach the other monks. His teachings were so wise, they asked him to write them down. He wrote a book called “The Ladder” about 30 steps we can take to become closer to God. His book is still read today. (if you have a copy of the icon of the ladder, show it). John was very serious about our need to become closer and closer to God, but he also puts lots of little stories in his book to help us understand. Today in class, we’ll study St. Gregory Palamas, who, with the Jesus Prayer, also found a way for us to draw closer to God.

Memory work: Jesus Prayer


30        St. Agapios                                         pirate flag

St. Agapios lived around 1200 years after the time of Christ, just about the same time as the Crusades. As a very young man, he gave his life to the Lord and went to live on Mt. Athos. Mt. Athos is the Holy Mountain, just off the coast of Macedonia and Greece. From the earliest days, holy men would leave their homes to live there alone with the Lord in prayer. The first monastery was built in 961 A.D., and, by the time of St. Agapios, there were tens of thousands of monks living in fortress-like monasteries all over the mountain. Agapios lived in the monastery called Vatopedi. But, one day, the island was attacked by Saracen pirates, followers of Islam. Agapios was taken prisoner and spent many years as a slave. Finally, he escaped and returned to his monastery -- what rejoicing there must have been! But, his Elder told him that he must go back to his master and ask for his freedom. Does that remind you of a story from the life of St. Paul? (Onesimus and Philemon) Agapios returned and soon his Saracen master became a Christian with his entire family and they ALL went to Mt. Athos, where they were baptized.


April    6         St. Elias the New Saint                       small plastic bull or piece of rope

                                    Did you think that all the martyrs lived in the days of the Roman Emperors? No, there are also modern-day martyrs… those who give their lives rather than deny Christ. Elias is among those new martyr saints. He lived about 300 years ago in the country of Greece. Constantinople had fallen to the Muslim invaders, and Greece was at that time ruled by their Turkish conquerers, believers in Islam. Do you remember Mohammed and the religion he started called Islam? Elias was a Christian and became a barber. But, soon he began speaking up for the Greeks to the Turkish conquerers. One day, he was arguing for peace between the Turks and the Greeks and offered to become a Turk if it would bring peace. But, soon Elias repented of his denial of his Christian faith and lived for years in prayer as a monk on Mt. Athos, where he took the name Elias for the great prophet of the Old Testament. Finally, he returned to his home. But, when he told the Turks that he had returned to Christianity, they were very angry. The beat him and threw him in jail. He still refused to deny Jesus and was hanged, but the rope wouldn’t kill him! Finally, he was cast into the arena with wild animals, just like the Christians under the wicked Roman emperor Nero, and was killed by the horn of a raging bull. To this day, a beautiful church stands in his honor and at his tomb many have been healed.


            13        St. Akilina the Neo-Martyr                 small whip

                        St. Philothea of Athens

            In the days of the Turks, many women also became new, or neo-martyrs. Philothea lived in the great city of Athens about 350 years ago. Her parents were Christians and very rich, and by the age of 15, Philothea was married, and by the age of 16, her husband had died and she as a widow. She became an Orthodox nun and, after the death of her parents, gave away her great riches building convents and churches all over Athens. Many were becoming interested in the Christian church because of her work, so many that the Turkish rulers grew angry. Finally, during vespers, a group of Turks burst into the church and killed Philothea. She was only 39 years old when she gave her life for the Lord.

Akilina lived about 250 years ago in the Salonika in the country of Greece. In that day, Greece was still ruled by the Turks, Muslims. But, they could not kill the Orthodox faith of the Christians of Greece. Many, many Greek Christians gave their lives rather than convert to the religion started by Mohammed 1000 years before. But, some did give in to find favor with the Turkish rulers. One of these was the father of Akilina; he became a Turk and promised that he would also present his baby daughter as a Turk at age 18. But, Akilina grew up to love the Lord. When she turned 18, she was the most beautiful girl in all Salonika. The Turkish ruler demanded that she also become a Turk, as did her father 18 years before. Akilina refused. The ruler even offered his son in marriage, but she still refused. Finally, Akilina was whipped and beaten and died for her Lord.


20        St. Alexander of Salonika                   tiny plastic sword (like for hors d’ouvres)

                        Alexander lived in the Greek city of Salonika only about 200 years ago, but still during the rule of the Turks. He was the handsomest young man in all Greece. But, during his days as a student in the city of Smyrna, he decided to become a Turk and to join the order of the Turkish Dervishes. He even made a pilgrimage to the city of Mecca (Who was from Mecca?). After only a few years, Alexander realized he’d made a terrible mistake. He returned to the Christian faith and even went around preaching about Jesus in his Turkish Dervish robes. He knew he could not hide, so Alexander went before the magistrates and told them that he had chosen to leave the darkness of Islam and return to the light of Christ. Did that make the rulers happy? NO! Alexander was only 33 years old when he was taken to the town square. There, for 8 hours, a sword was held over his head while he prayed. Finally the sword descended and Alexander was beheaded for his Lord.


  1. PASCHA – no Church School


 May    4          Forty Martyrs at Sebastia                    ice cube

                                    In the days of the Romans, there was an army legion with 40 Christian soldiers. The Emperor Licinius ordered all Christians to be killed. So, the commander ordered them all stoned, but the stones bounced back on the stoners and even broke the teeth of the commander himself. This made the commander so angry that he ordered them thrown into a lake. The other soldiers lined up around the lake to make sure no one could escape. It was very, very cold that night – so cold the lake froze. The guards built fires and heated baths, trying to tempt the Christians to leave the freezing water and get warm. One did…the other 39 remained faithful to the Lord. The Lord sent a light from heaven to warm the lake. Soon 39 wreaths descended from heaven to hang over their bodies. One of the watching soldiers was so moved, that he became a Christian right then and jumped in; the 40th wreath descended on him. The next day, the saints were still alive! After three days, they were martyrs and had given their lives for the Lord.

           11     St. Moses the Ethiopian                      bandana (to put on the bottom of the face like a bandit)

     Moses was a black man, a slave, very strong and very tall. He lived in Ethiopia, until he was sent away because of his violent ways. Soon Moses lived in the desert, leader of a band of highway robbers who terrorized the entire land of Egypt. He told all who knew him that the devil gave him his strength and cleverness; whole armies could not catch him. Finally,  Moses attacked a Christian monastery. The saintly abbot looked right into the eyes of the fearsome robber and Moses became sorry for all of his terrible deeds. Moses became a Christian and gave up being a bandit and robber and became a monk. Travelers were again safe! Moses later retired to the desert and founded a great monastery with thousands of followers.

16-18   Camping Trip: No Class                    

25        St. Nektarios                                       small bottle of oil

            Memory Work: “Lord Have Mercy” -- 5 languages (3-5 only one)

                        Nektarios lived only about 100 years ago, a modern saint. He was born in the country of Turkey and went to the city of Constantinople (now known as Istanbul) when he was only 14 years old  to find work. There he also learned to read and write and soon entered a monastery.  Soon after, he was sent to study in Egypt and Greece. After his studies, Nektarios was ordained Bishop of Cairo in Egypt by the Patriarch Sophronios. But, some people who didn’t like him lied to the patriarch and said he’d done bad things and Nektarios was sent back to Greece in disgrace. There, he preached and taught, and, after awhile, founded a convent for nuns called the Convent to the Holy Trinity on the island of Aegina. He spent his last 10 years there, preaching and teaching. People would come from all over for his prayers of healing. And, even though Nektarios died in 1920, people still come to his tomb to pray for miracles – miracles of healing that still happen.



June     1         St. Sebastian Dabovich, Serbian Apostle to America            

                        Sebastian was born John Dabovich in San Francisco, California, of Serbian parents. After studying in Russia, he was tonsured a monk and given the name of Sebastian. He was sent back to San Francisco a deacon and there was ordained a priest. The first Serbian Orthodox Church he founded was in Jackson, California. With the blessing of Bishop Tikhon, he founded churches from Alaska to Arizona. As more Serbians came to the new land, he led the Serbian Missian of the Orthodox Church, spreading his ministry all the way to Chicago. Finally, he returned to Serbia to lead the Orthodox Church there as the country fell to the Communists and was renamed Yugoslavia.



             8         St. Alexis Toth

                        St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre was born in Slovakia as a Uniate, a church with Byzantine rites but with the Pope of Rome as bishop. There he was educated, became a priest, married, and had a son. Soon his wife and son died. He answered the call of the Uniates in the US to come to St. Mary’s Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, and there celebrated liturgy on Thanksgiving Day. But, when he went to show his credentials to the Roman Catholic bishop, John Ireland, he was rejected, as were all of the Uniate priests, and was told he should return to Europe. He and his warden, after meeting with the other Uniate priests, traveled to see the Orthodox bishop in San Francisco, and were warmly welcomed. Fr. Alexis led his church, St. Mary’s, into the Orthodox Church in 1891. He traveled then in 1892 to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where there were many Uniate parishes, also struggling to be accepted by the Roman church. In all, he led 20,000 Carpatho-Russian immigrants from the Uniate church into the Orthodox church.                    


            15        St. John Maximovitch

                        Our saint was born with the name Michael in a village in what is now Ukraine. He was sickly as a child but love going to church. His family had to flee the Bolshevik revolution and settled in Serbia, where he continued his education and taught. There he was tonsured a monk and given the name, John. Soon he was named bishop and was sent in 1934 to Shanghai, China. There he built churches while ministering constantly to the poor and needy. But, again, the country fell to the Communists. He led the flight of 5000 refugees in 1949 to the Philippines and finally to the US. He spent many years in France with the ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) as archpastor of the French Orthodox Church. Finally, he was sent to San Francisco, where he brought unity to the many divided groups and led to the building of a cathedral. But, he never gave up his care for the poor and needy, eating and sleeping very little himself and devoting his life to prayer and fasting.


22        End of Year Play

            Awards Presentation


In addition, as part of the opening exercises, keep a

timeline on a huge piece of paper roll and add

events and people to it as you study them. Here

is a partial outline with some of the major events

already listed.



For your interest, with older students each


week, you can review the timing of events.

This is a more detailed timeline: