Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
A PRAYER FOR THE PEOPLE AND THEIR CIVIC LEADERS
O Lord God, favor us and be our helper and our protector. Save those who are grieving, be merciful to the humble, raise those who have fallen, manifest Yourself to those who pray, heal the sick, and restore to Your people those who have gone astray. Satisfy the hungry, redeem the captives, raise up the afflicted, encourage and comfort the fainthearted.
May all the nations come to know You, O God, for You are the Only True God, the Father, with Your Son Jesus Christ and Your All-Holy Spirit, and we are Your people, the faithful flock within Your pastures.
Through Your activities in nature, O God, You reveal to us Your perennial providential care for the world and it sustenance. You, Lord, have created the whole world and are faithful to all the generations of mankind; You are righteous and just in Your judgments; You are marvelous in Your mighty power and Majesty; You are All-Wise in creating and prudent in providing for creation; You are indeed benevolent to those who look to You for help, and good to those who put their trust in You and pray to you. Amen.
On the October 28th (OXI Day, the day that Greece said "No!" to Benito Mussolini and Nazi Germany) Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Parasceva of Iconium; St. Kyriakos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and his Holy mother Anna; St. Athanasius I, Patriarch of Constantinople; Saints Terence, Africanus, Maximos, Pompeius, and 36 others, at Carthage; St. Stephen the Hymnographer of St. Savvas Monastery; St. Terence and Neonilla of Syria, and their children: Sarbelus, Photus, Theodulos, Hierax, Nitus, Bele, and Eunice; St. Fevronia, daughter of Emperor Heraclius; St. Arsenius I of Srem; St. Firmilian, Bishop of Caesarea; St. Neophytos, Bishop of Urbnisi; Saint Angelis, Manuel, George, and Nicholas of Crete; St. Job of Pochaev; St. Demetrios, Metropolitan of Rostov; St. Nestor of the Kiev Caves, the Unlettered; St. Theophilos, fool-for-Christ of Kiev, Holy Protection Feast.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Patriarchs, Holy Emperors, St. Hymnographers, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
OHI (OXI DAY)-28TH OF OCTOBER
The 28th of October is another very significant and special day full of pride for Hellenes all over the world.
A Brief History
In the fall of 1940 in Rome the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, was upset and frustrated. The reason was his accomplishments in the war (WWII) were not as big as Adolph Hitler's. He decided to show to Hitler that Italy was as good as Germany, by invading Greece. Greece had a population back then of about seven million people. Italy's population was 44 million!
In Greece, King George II had made General Ioannis Metaxas Prime Minister. Mussolini decided that the Italians would invade Greece from Albania. An ultimatum was delivered to Ioannis Metaxas by the Italian Ambassador in Greece, Emanuel Grazzi. Ioannis Metaxas read the demands at dawn of October 28th, 1940 at 4:00 A.M., after a party in the German embassy in Athens, demanded that Greece allow Axis forces to enter Greek territory and occupy certain unspecified "strategic locations" or otherwise face war. It was answered with a single laconic word ΟΧΙ! (ΝΟ!).
On the morning of October 28th the Hellenes took to the streets, irrespective of political affiliation, shouting "OXI!" (NO!). From 1942 Hellenes throughout the world celebrate this day as OXI DAY. The day that this little country of Greece stood up to two major Axis powers, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy and refused to surrender.
The Italians invaded Greece and met with the Greek army in Northern Epirus the northern part of Greece. In four weeks the Greek army pushed the Italian army back to Albania. They freed the southern part of Albania that is better known as Northern Epirus.
The war lasted six months until the exhausted, financially and military, Greece was attacked on the Bulgarian border by the joined forces of the Axis powers, Germany and Italy and Bulgaria. It is considered as one of the crucial points of WWII as it delayed the famous operation Barbarossa, the large offensive of the German army on the Russian front. The campaign ended on May 31st 1941 on the island of Crete, after the unarmed but highly motivated Cretans, thrashed much of the German army's highly acclaimed elite parachuters.
Apart from the importance of the military operations, the refusal of Greece to accept the Axis terms and the battles that followed were very significant on the moral front. Let us not forget that at the same period the German forces occupied their neighboring countries in a matter of days and their main opponent on the continent, the mighty France, in only eight days.
Hitler was forced to send troops to Greece. This may have been the reason that Germany delayed their invasion of the Former Soviet Union and by doing so the Nazi troops were confronted with one of the most severe winters in Russian history which led to their demise.
The occupation of Greece by the Axis Powers (Greek: Η Κατοχή, meaning "The occupation") began on April 1941 after Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany invaded Greece, and lasted until Germany and its satellite Bulgaria withdrew from mainland Greece on October 1944. German garrisons remained in control of Crete and other Aegean Islands until after the end of World War II, surrendering to the Allies on May and June of 1945.
The occupation brought about terrible hardships on the Greek civilian population. Over 300.000 civilians died in Athens alone from starvation, tens of thousands more died because of reprisals. by Nazis and collaborators, and the country's economy was ruined. At the same time the Greek Resistance, one of the most effective resistance movements in Occupied Europe, was formed. These resistance groups launched guerilla attacks against the occupying powers, fought against the collaborationist Security Battalions, and set up large espionage networks.
Increasing attacks by partisans in the latter years of the occupation resulted in a number of executions and wholesale slaughter of civilians in reprisal. In total, the Nazi's executed some 21,000 Greeks, the Bulgarians 40,000 and the Italians 9,000.
THE HOLOCAUST IN GREECE
Prior to World War II, there existed twq main groups of Jews in Greece: the scattered Romaniote communities which had existed in Greece since antiquity; and the approximately 50,000 strong Sephardi Jewish community of Thessaloniki, originally formed from Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition and affected by the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1942. The latter had played a prominent part in the city's life for five centuries, but as the city had only become a part of the modern Greek state during the First Balkan War, it was not as well-integrated.
When the occupation zones were drawn up, Thessaloniki passed under German control. Thrace passed under Bulgarian control. Despite initial assurances to the contrary, the Nazis and Bulgarians gradually imposed a series of anti-Jewish measures. Jewish newspapers were closed down, local anti-Semites were encouraged to post anti-Jewish notices around the cities. Jews in the German and Bulgarian zones were forced to wear the Star of David so they could be easily identified and further isolated from the rest of the Greeks. Jewish families were kicked out of their homes and arrested while the Nazi-controlled press turned public opinion against them. By December 1942, the Germans began to demolish the old Jewish cemetery in Thessaloniki so the ancient tombstones could be used as building material for sidewalks and walls.
Despite warnings of impending deportations, most Jews were reluctant to leave their homes, although several hundred were able to flee the city. The Germans and Bulgarians began mass deportations in March 1943, sending the Jews of Thessaloniki and Thrace in packed boxcars to the distant Auschwitz and Treblinka death camps.
On September 1943, after the Italian collapse, the Germans turned their attention to the Jews living in Athens and the rest of formerly Italian-occupied Greece. There their propaganda was not as effective, as the ancient Romaniote Jewish communities were well-integrated into the Orthodox Greek society and could not easily be singled out from the Orthodox Christians, who in turn were more ready to resist the Nazi demands. The Archbishop of Athens Damaskinos ordered his priests to ask their congregations to help the Jews and sent a strong-worded letter of protest to the collaborationist authorities and the Germans. Many Greek Orthodox Christians risked their lives hiding Jews in their apartments and homes, despite threat of imprisonment. Even the Greek police ignored instructions to turn over Jews to the Germans.
In total, at least 81% (ca, 60,000) of Greece's total pre-war Jewish population perished, with the percentage ranging from Thessaloniki's 91% to just 50% in Athens, or even less in other provincial areas such as Volos (36%) in the Bulgarian zone, death rates surpassed 90% . In the notable case of the Ionian island of Zakynthos, all 275 Jews survived being hidden in the island's interior.
Why Greeks Celebrate the Holy Protection (Agia Skepi) on October 28th.
While Most of the Orthodox Christian world celebrates the Holy Protection, or Agia Skepi, of the Theotokos on October 1st according to ancient tradition, Greeks celebrate the Holy Protection on October 28th as a special holy day in order to invite the secular government of Greece to honor the Theotokos for her special protection over the Greek people during World War II.
The celebration of Holy Protection dates back to 626 A.D., when the miraculous intervention of the Theotokos saved the city of Constantinople from the Avars (Turkish-Mongolian Nomads), and it was officially established that October 1st be the date to honor this miracle. All Orthodox Christians celebrated this feast on October 1st until 21 October 1952 when the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece decreed that from henceforth there was to be celebrated in Greece a dual feast of the Holy Protection and the National Holiday of "OXI", which commemorates Greek freedom from Italian and Nazi occupation, on October 28th. A Service was specially written by Elder Gerasimos Mikragiannanites for this feast on October 28th.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God