The Veneration of the Holy Mother of God in the theology of St. Maximus the Greek13 February 2018
Neža-Agne Zajc (Нежа Златковна Зайц), Insitute of Cultural History, Scientific-Research Centre of Slovenian Academy of Sciencea and Arts, Ljubljana-Slovenia, firstname.lastname@example.org
This paper presents the circumstances of the trials against St. Maximus the Greek, and focuses particularly on the the second trial in 1531. The author focuses on the accusation of supposed heretical mistakes in his translation of the text The Hagiography of the Mother of God from Menologion of Symeon Metaphrastos. On the basis of the manuscript it is proposed that Maximus used the exact and careful method of translation based on patristic and hagiographic sources. More than that, in his writings he combined earlier hagiographic sources from the Eastern and Western early Christian traditions, such as the patristic and liturgical interpretations of the hagiographic material. Of particular interest is that the tradition of the Byzantine hymnography reflected in the works of St. Maximus the Greek, mainly in those that are defined as prayers, confessions and theological polemics that significantly showed his attachment to the protection of the Mother of God. The fact is that, as the Athonite monk, Maxim understood the Mother of Good as a part of the orthodox Holy Trinity, which he explained in his confessional texts. He often supported his arguments for the holiness of the Mother of God with exegetic examples from the Holy Scripture. Indeed, the verses from the Byzantine hymnographical odes, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and which flourished in the Holy Vatopaidi monastery, as well as in the Athonite period of the monk Maximus, present the essence of the works and personal theology of Maximus the Greek. Therefore, this unique monastic worldview, which combined very different sources of Christian knowledge (the Holy Scripture, hymnography, liturgy, patristic, iconography, and hagiography), was also marked by the special consideration of the Mother of God in Orthodox theology, which together make the theological system of Saint Maximus the Greek so original. Maximus the Greek thus presents in his works, and especially in his prayers, an important preservation of Athonite ascetic tradition, particularly connected with the Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi.
1.Introduction (biographical remarks)
As Mihail Trivolis, in 1506, he joined at the Holy Mount Athos the Vatopaidi Monastery, dedicated to the Annunciation of Mother of God. He was ordained and given the monastic name Maxim (after the monastic example of the Saint Maximus Confessor). In the Holy Vatopaidi Monastery, Maxim developed his extensive writing, translation and transcribing activities to which he added acquisition of the knowledge of Slavic languages. Not only the vicinity of the Serbian Hilandar Monastery on Athos, but also the Athonite archives, which kept the oldest Slavic, and even Glagolitic manuscripts, were possible records from which Maxim studied Slavic elements of liturgical language of Eastern Christian liturgy. As an experienced scribe, with calligraphic and linguistic skills, the Athonite monk Maxim was chosen for the mission to the Orthodox lands; in 1516 he was sent, therefore, as a translator from Greek to Old Church Slavonic, from Athos to Moscow, on the invitation of the Russian emperor Vasili III. He departed from Athos in June of 1516, staying in Constantinople in April 1517, and reaching the Crimea early in 1518.
In 4/5th of March 1518 Maxim arrived to Moscow, and very soon started to work. After his translation of Apostolic Works he started to translate an annotated “Psalter with commentaries”, to which he added an extended patristic interpretation of the canticles following the reading of 150 psalms. Maxim the Greek – as he was called in Russia – notably continued his previous theologically-polemical writing, translational and editing (redacting) activities. However, in 1525 Maxim the Greek, was in Moscow, accused of making heretical mistakes during his translational work, and remained imprisoned until almost his dying day. He was not only forbidden to communicate, read and write, but also to attend a liturgical service (the Divine Liturgy) and to receive the Holy Eucharist, which was the harshest punishment for an Athonite Orthodox monk. In 1531 he was accused of another offence, due to his translation of The Hagiographic life of the Mother of God, from the Menologion of Symeon Metaphrastos. Nevertheless, after that the conditions of his imprisonment became slightly milder, and he was at least allowed to write. Consequently, he began with an extensive writing with the main aim of defending his own careful work, devoted piety, sincere monasticism and strict and firm Orthodox theological system. He claimed that for him the knowledge of the language was near to the meaning of what he considered as Holy. The latter was clearly stated in his writing, entitled The Treatise of the Monk Maxim about Correcting the Russian Books, and About Those Who Say that the Body of Lord after the Resurrection was indescribable, where he spoke about his dealing with a Russian liturgical book (Triodion):
 For a brief acknowledgment with the biographical facts of Maximus the Greek see Zajc, Neža. Some Notes on the Life and Works of Maxim the Greek (Michael Trivolis, ca 1470 – Maksim Grek, 1555/1556). Part 1: Biography. Scrinium 11 (2015): 314-325.
 Ihor Ševčenko, On the Greek Poetic Output of Maksim Grek, Byzantinoslavica LVIII (1997): p. 63-64 (1-60). (cf. Н. В. Синицына, Послание Максима Грека Василию III об устройстве афонских монастырей (1518-1519 гг.), Византийский временник (1966), Москва, 118-119).
 Cf. V. Jagić, Разсуждения южнославянской и русской старины о церковно-славянском языке (Санкт-Петербургъ: 1896), The Treatises of South-Slavonic and Russian Antiquitiy About Old Church Slavonic, Sankt Peterburg, 1896, p. 301, p. 306.
“I do not corrupt Russian books, as I was falsely accused, but take great care in my fear of God to correct, with my common sense, what has spread from inept copyists, unfamiliar with the holy grammar – or from the memorable men and first translators of the Holy texts. Truth must be told. Sometimes the gist of Hellenic sayings was not fully apprehended, which led to steering away from the truth. Hellenic speech is often difficult to interpret; those who do not learn its grammar, poetry and above all philosophy, cannot clearly understand what was written, and can not translate it. The truth must be told that I carefully and diligently corrected what they misunderstood, the same must be explained to your Excellency with all honesty, in front of whom I humble myself as before God. Let me start with the following. I took the holy book of Triodion and noticed in the 9th hymn of the Maundy Thursday Canon: ‘In His nature non-created Son and Word of the Father Who is always without the beginning, Who is not in His nature non-created, as they sing about Him.’ I could not stand this great insult, so I amended the injury, as was handed to us by the most sublime Paraclete through the most blessed Kosmas in our books.”
As could be evident from the title of above-cited text, Maxim also opposed to the depictions and literal expressions about Jesus Christ which could not theologically properly express Christ’s divine and human nature (“consubstantial-homoousion”) and His equality to God the Father (“without beginning”). At the same time as Maxim argued for the eternal and everlasting being of God the Son (grammatical categories of the verb: gr/lat. aorist and perfect), at the same time he claimed that Jesus Christ must be visible to the believers, what Maxim based on such literal portraits of God the Son that could be found in the Holy Scripture. This was exactly defined on the First Council of Nicaea (325), to which Maxim often referred his own preaching writings, and was standing in the center of earlier (Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzen) and later patristic polemics (Maxim the Confessor) about the nature of our Lord. Theological problems, concerning the correct and valid presentation of God the Son in the poor human expressions (iconographical or literal) were main questions about what Maxim was writing in Russia. This is the reason why he safeguarded so carefully the proper pronunciation of the Holy Trinity and confronting so hard against the Latin innovation and inclusion to the apostolic Creed of the Orthodox Church, the controversial lat. filioque within which in 9th century was neglected also the liturgical act of the Holy Spirit (gr. epiklesis) during the Divine Liturgy.
From the above cited fragment it is also obvious that Maxim understood his work with Russian liturgical books in strictly pious manner: he more than once declared, that it had to be appreciated, that during his editing work he was guided directly by the Holy Spirit. That was explicit approval of his deep faith and devoted action. From Maxim’s point of view his correcting of linguistic mistakes in Russian books was not theologically doubtful, but corresponded to the the most humble doing that was trying to make the Russian manuscripts to be closer to the origins of the biblical text and to be more truthful, regarding the Greek sources. More than that, Maxim considered the grammatical validness of the language of the Holy Scripture as highly theologically authoritative. Only with the aid of the Holy Spirit he was also capable to use the holistic knowledge that he gained in North Italy (philological work with texts) and at the Holy Mount Athos (critical editing of liturgical manuscripts). The fact is that in Vatopaidi his previous education was welcomed and appreciative, because there the brothers trusted him the most precious and oldest manuscripts to work with (correct, fulfill etc.), and because of his experiences he was known among the Athonite clergy/monks as learned and well lettered monk. In his letter to Metropolitan Macarius, written in 1542, Maxim told that he was already, as a monk of the Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, writing against the heretical teaching («не точию здѣ у вас списав словеса доволна на большихъ ересей») and also preaching the Holy Orthodox faith («нашоу православную вѣроу свѣтлѣ и без обиновения въспроповѣдах благодатию покланяемого божественаго Параклита просвешен быв и оукреплен»). But nowhere he met such behavior and acting against him – like in Moscow, where he faced with the harvest injustice, unfair treatment and discrimination, as was the darkness in the monastery prison, the cold, the smoke, the starving because of which he was often on the edge of death almost died («нигде же во оузах падох ниже во темницах затворен бых ниж мразы и дымы и глады уморен бых елика случишась здѣ мнѣ»).
2. 1. Prayers
At the end of the letter to the Metropolitan Macarius Maxim the Greek asked for the three topics: he requested to return him his own Greek books (that he carried to Moscow), to give him the right for receiving a Holy Communion, and he also humbly requested to leave him back to Greece, to return to the Holy Mount Athos. That he expressed with a unique naming of the Holy Mount Athos: “Give me an opportunity to see the Holy Mount, the prayer-assistant for the whole world” (“Дадите ми видети святую гору, молитвенницу вселеней«) that was his monastic home, and also an implicit addressing of the Mother of God. It thus seems reasonable that Maxim was in this way forced to create his own prayers for a personal liturgy. Moreover, his prayers, dedicated to the three entities of the Holy Trinity, as well as to the Mother of God, can be understood as the basic monastic prayers that not only present Maxim’s preamble to writing a text but can also be seen as his substitutes for the standard liturgical prayers. The prayers of St. Maxim the Greek presented an important part of his argumentation with regard to the Orthodox theology, based on his special interpretation of the Holy Scripture that could be understood with the comprehension of Maxim’s liturgical contemplation. He wrote many of heterogeneous texts, that could be read as prayers (“The Ode to the Holy Trinity”, “The Prayer to All-pure Mother of God, and also About the Lord’s Sufferings”, “The Prayer On the Holy Dormition”, “The Prayer of Mother of God”, “The Great Canon to the Holy Paracletos”, “The Prayer of Mary of Egypt”, “The Prayer of Susanna”, “The Song about How St. Peter Cried Out, “The Third Poem of the Prophetess Anna”), that all reflected not only the very closeness of God the Son and Mother of God but also the appeal to include Mary in each thanksgiving Trinitarian prayer as the conclusion of each written text. He concluded most of his prayers and other texts with the final thankful words in the honor of Jesus Crist and simultaneously to the Holy Mother of God. Moreover, such contemplation was extremely important for Maxim’s spiritual survival in Russia, as he was confessing several times, for example as in his “Prayer to the Holy Mother of God, and partly about the Lord’s sufferings:”
“I pray to you, the most pure Mother of the Highest, and the only consolidation of my soul, the hope and the sweetness.”
 Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale: Mss. Slave 123, p. 259v.–260r.
 Cf. The Nicaean Creed, designed for bishops: “ …who exists everlastingly and did not at one time not exist … but the Scriptures described Him as validly and truly begotten as Son so that we believe Him to be immutable and unchangeable /…/ For He is the image, not of the will or of anything else, but of His Father’s very substance” (Leo Donald Davis, The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787), Their History and Theology, Delaware, 1987: Michael Glazier, 55).
 See more, Neža Zajc, Some Notes on the Life and Works of Maxim theGreek (Michael Trivolis, ca 1470 – Maksim Grek,1555/1556) Part 2: Maxim the Greek’s Slavic Idiolect, Scrinium 12 (2016), 375-382.
 By Maxim’s knowledge should be understood the whole Christian erudition that includes hagiographic, liturgical, hymnographical, patristic information that built origins of Byzantine tradition and that Maxim obtained in during his Athonite monasticism in Vatopaidi monastery, and previously in North Italy.
 Н. В. Синицына, Максим Грек в России, Москва 1977, 155.
 Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, Mss. Slave 123, p. 79.
 Maxim the Greek directly linked the history of the Holy Mount to the patronage of the Mother of God, about which he wrote not only in the Letter to Vasili III (St. Maksim Grek, Works, vol. I, p. 123 (cf. N. V. Sinitsyna, The Letter of Maksim Grek to Vasili III. About the Arrangement of Athonite Monasteries, Византийский временник,1966, p.111-136), but also in other texts, connected with the oral tradition and the liturgical customs of the Holy Mount Athos (Moscow, Russian State Library (RGB), in the Mss. coll. Rum. 264, p. 195v.-199v; cf. V. F. Rzhiga, Unpublished Works of Maksim Grek, Byzantinoslavica, VI (1935/1936), p. 95-99, p. 133v.-134; Moscow, Russian Historical Museum (GIM), Mss. coll. Chlud 236, fol. 232 v.-236v. About the establishing of the Vatopaidi Monastery in the Letter to Vasili III: Moscow, The Historical Museum, Мss. coll. Chlud. 236, fol. p.240-242; about the Iviron Monastery and the Iviron icon he wrote in the text in the same Mss. Chlud 236, pp..236 v.-240p. The latter suggests the confirmation of the closest identification of the authorship of this manuscript, firstly attributed to the Novgorod locality, with the name of Maxim the Greek (cf. С. О. Шмидт, Памятники письменности в культуре познания истории России, т. 1, Допетровская Русь, книга 2, Москва: Языки славянских культур, 2008, p. 589–594).
 Cf. a similar canticle of St. Ambrose of Milan, ‘Super Luc. de poenit., distinct’ (P. Trubar, Articuli oli deili te prave stare vere kersanske. Tuebingen: Zavod za staroslovensko tipografii, 1562, p. 143).
 Only in Manuscript: Moscow, Russian State Library (RGB): Mss. Coll. Rum 264, 12-36. These three texts explain the wrong beliefs of astrological thinking and followed a short text, introducing a special veneration of the Eucharistic bread (of the Holy Communion) and the veneration of the Mother of God (Gr. Panaghia), while explaining the wrong beliefs of astrological thinking.
 »Праведенъ еси, и прави суди Твои, по божественному и покланяемому слову, яко наказания ради и обращения нашего, ниже самѣх Твоих святых и покланяемых щадищь храмовъ и образовъ Твоих и Пречистыа Ти Матере»; «обое о тебѣ, Богородице, смотрѣние бысть, рекше божественною силою преложишяся и побѣдишяся естественнии устави»; «от них же да избавит нас Господь, молитвами Пречистыя Владычици нашея Богородици и приснодѣвы Марии» (St. Maxim the Greek, The works, 2, Moscow 2014, Сочинения 2, p. 239, 283, 295).
 Paris, BN, Slave 123, p. 159v.
 Cf. »Еи, молю Тя, пречисая Мати Вышняго, моеи души едино утѣшение, упование, сладосте«
This could be understood as a realistic reflection of his prayer practice in Moscow that continued his Athonite monastic experience from the Holy Vatopaidi monastery. Such veneration of the Mother of God can be confirmed in theological doctrine only by the refusal of an addition to the Confessional Creed of lat. filioque, and this could explain also Maxim’s constant polemics against Catholicism. Maxim’s prayers, generally dedicated to the Holy Theotokos, have a triple structure: 1. Introduction with dedication, marked with a deeply personal expression of repentance. 2. Theological argumentation of the Orthodox and iconographically seen Trinitarian theology, especially concerning inspiration from the Holy Spirit. 3. Through the contamination and metamorphoses of the opposition of human darkness and Divine light, the author’s words are directed to the evangelical scene of the brightness of the attendance of the Holy marriage, sourced from Matthew 20, 1-16. Also in “The Prayer of St. Mary of Egypt,” Maxim repeated the strict dedication seen in the words of Mary of Egypt to the Holy Mother of God.
Nevertheless these prayers reflected Maxim’s theological-liturgical treatise of the main Orthodox controversies: in the prayer “On the Birth of the Lord and the Redeemer our Jesus Christ” he meanwhile polemically wrote against Jews; in three texts, entitled “The Third Poem of Anna” he argued against the astrological beliefs, what was one of his main polemical subjects etc. Therefore, it should be noted that the prayers of Maxim the Greek had a place in his theology very similar to the role of Byzantine hymnography in the Orthodox theology.
However, his theologically personal attitude to the Holy Theotokos could be considered as the most important item in Maxim’s theological approach to the Holy Trinity, which led to the kernel of his theological system with the specific theologically-liturgical and partly also iconographic understanding of Christian tradition.
2. 2. Apologetic writings (Defending himself)
In his earlier texts Maxim mainly fought against the Latin additions and modifications to/of the Credo of the Christian faith, such as the controversial filioque. On the other hand, his texts from the later period implicitly contain (are secretly permeated with) his objections to any diminution of the holiness of the Mother of God. Furthermore, it is quite reasonable that, due to the accusations against him of making heretical mistakes in honor of the Mother of God, Maxim the Greek later reorganized his writings into specific apologetic sequences.
Already at the beginning of his living in Moscow Maxim provided in “Annotated Psalter with Commentaries” a detailed interpretation of the biblical canticle, the Song of Mary, known in the western liturgical tradition as “Magnificat” (based on evangelical verses Lk 1, 46-55), that at the beginning of the explanation Maxim summarised as expressing glory to the Son of God. Maxim’s interpretation of “Magnificat” followed the hierarchy of cosmographical view from the theology of Gregory of Nazianzen, but also showed Maxim the Greek’s own affiliation that led to the ideas about the goodness of earthly life and the virtue of human creation. Maxim the Greek specifically connected the message of this liturgical song with the idea of the God’s benevolent love of humankind, as seen in the words with which he concluded his second translation of the “Liturgical Psalter” in 1552 (four years before his death in Moscow in 1556). Although the inseparability of Mother and the Son was iconographically established in early Christian ideality (ideology) that was renewed in the early European renaissance period especially because of the spreading of new heresies, Maxim’s theological and others writings confirmed his own personal attachment to Mother of God who protected him also during his imprisonment in Russia.
A particular understanding of the principal theological non-separativity of Mary and God the Son he expressed more clearly in his argumentation on the Holy Trinity (Mary as the one who is responsible for the incarnation-birth of the Christ-Word). This topic was one that Maxim indirectly but constantly attempted to clarify when working with Russian clerics and monks, as can be seen in a close reading of his text The Confession of the Orthodox Faith (written after April 1538). He strictly preserved the pronunciation of the Confessional Creed of Orthodox Church within the pronunciation of the Holy Trinity, to which he did not forget to add the dedication to the Holy Mother of God, because he considered that She was also responsible for the real incarnation of the Holy Christ. In his text “The Confession of the Orthodox Faith” he clearly stated:
“I also believe and confess always essential the Son and God the Word without beginning and born from God the Father without beginning and with the spreading grace and glorified act of the Holy Spirit in the most pure nature (being) of the most Holy, and the most Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.”
 In Moscow, Maxim also faced superstitions and false beliefs of Russian people as well as popular influences, spreading from the German Protestant theological writings that were many times in coincidence with the astrological thinking, which had been disseminated in Moscow by German surgeon Nicholas of Lubeck (presumably Blucher). In his writings against astrology, he usually spoke in the manner of the apology of the Orthodox theology, especially in the letters addressed to Fiodor Karpov. (D. Tschižewskij, History of Russian Literature, Graventage,1960, Mouton, p. 292).
 The Poetics (conditional term) of Maxim the Greek was fully realistic, on the same level as the biblical reality is in the relation with a mortal, human reality.
 Синицына Н. В. Максим Грек. Москва: Молодая гвардия, 2008, Жизнь замечательных людей. Серия биографий. Вып. 1362 (1162), p. 190.
 Cf. «Исповедание православной веры»: «Такожде вѣрую и исповѣдую ражаемаго безначялнѣ и присносущнѣ Сына// и Бога Слова от безначялнаго Бога и Отца, благоволениемъ Отчимъ и осѣнениемъ Святаго Духа зачята бывша въ пречистых ложеснах Пресвятыа и приснодевы Марии Божиа матери» – St. Maxim the Greek, Works 2, Moscow 2014, Сочинения 2, p. 52
Although, nowadays it could be regarded as traditional and dogmatic, his veneration of the Virgin Mary was quite exclusive and extremely important for his spiritual salvation in Russia. In fact, Maxim the Greek considered the Holy Theotokos as one of the main persons and divine entities that are responsible for the spiritual realization of the Orthodox Holy Trinity.
However, in the same manner as Maxim was arguing against the lat. filioque by stating that the Holy Spirit proceeds only from God the Father, he comparably was also repeating that at the Annunciation Mary accepted the Holy Spirit from the Angel Gabriel and with the gift of memorizing theologically irreproachable poetic words. Correspondingly that theological issue may be iconographically observed in the scenes of Annunciation (from the second half of the 11th century) and Deisis (from the end of 11th– to the beginning of 12th centuries) in the mosaics at the Vatopaidi Monastery, and was proclaimed by Andronikus II in 1301 in a chrysobull – a copy of which Maxim carried from Athos to Moscow in 1518. Indeed, it was during the time of Andronikus II in Vatopaidi that the honouring of Theotokos was perfected. Therefore, Maxim’s veneration of the Holy Theotokos was based on the specific and direct connection, with the supervision that on the Holy Vatopaidi monastery has a Holy Mother of God from many centuries from the past to nowadays.
2. 3. The missing aspect of his theological works
Maxim the Greek translated The Hagiographic Life of the Mother of God (from the Byzantine compilation of the hagiographic texts in the Menologion of Symeon the Logothet Metaphrastos) in the year 1521. Ten years later he was also because of that translation again accused that he made heretical mistakes in the translated text. When Maxim heard the accusations, immediately observed that Russian clergy did not correctly understood the message of the hagiographical text, but they were trying to see in his translation associations with the heresy of Judaizers which was very popular at that time in Russia. Maxim justified that he did not translate the words that could remind Judaizer’s teachings. On the basis of his corrections that he made in the manuscript, it seems that he was quite well aware of the possibility of improper interpretation of that hagiography of Mary. After that he defined in several of his writings the theologically wrong teaching of Judaizers. About that he alluded also in his prayer, that it is in the unique collection of Maxim the Greek’s manuscripts placed directly after his prayer to the Holy Theotokos, entitled “On the Birth of the Lord and the Redeemer our Jesus Christ, and also against the Juda”, which he began with words about the vicinity of the virginal and untouchable insight of the Mother of God and Her Son (“Се и вертепъ, и ясли, и новороженъ младенець в нихъ, въсклоненъ Материю Своею неискусомужною«).
The new researches confirmed that the hagiographical text of Symeon Metaphrastos about the life of Mother of God might have originated from an older text that could be identified as the very rare manuscript of the “Life of the Virgin”, attributed to St. Maximus the Confessor, and which has until today survived only in a manuscript originally translated to Georgian and held by the Athonite Iviron Monastery. On the contrary, Maxim the Greek began The Hagiographic Life of Mother of God with an apology of untouched nature of the Mother of God that could not be expressed in earthly terms. Further on, the text was referred to the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Athanasius of Alexandria, and St. Dionysius the Areopagite, thus underlining important patristic writings, along with bringing extensive biblical (canonical and non-canonical texts, reflecting the critical reading of the Infancy gospels and Thomas’s Gospel) and other patristic sources. Thus, Maxim’s translations included also unique references such as to Juvenalius of Jerusalem that fought against Nestorians. Indeed, “The life of the Virgin” of Maximus the Confessor presented a theologically very important text for the medieval worship of the Holy unit of the Mother of God and Her Holy Son (Her Son’s ministry and Her leadership of the early Christian community) that was often spread by liturgical tradition. That text was implicitly responsible for the specific piety and warm devotion also in the Christian West. We could only presume that Maxim the Greek knew the Confessor’s “The Life of the Virgin”, but he did certainly refer also to pre-metaphrastos editions. This manuscript, that contains also Maxim the Greek’s corrections of certain words (his own autograph), shows how he translated the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa into a special prepositional order that reflected Greek morphological ability to express the main grammatical categories, more than the principle of the syntax, as known in the West. The latter confirmed the last author’s correction in the manuscript of The Hagiography of the Mother of God, indicating that Mary is responsible for the glory of Jesus Christ and the final redemption of the human: “To Mother of God, the Grace, confessing and to her Son, the Redeemer of all and the King Who all on her benefit and redemption built.” It was important that this text could serve to Maxim as a valid source of a special field of the canonical Christian knowledge in which the information about the holiness of the Mother of God was passed on and survived. That was in the Orthodox poetical prayers of the main early Christian, Eastern patristic theologians and hymnographers, in whose liturgical odes the unique knowledge, concerning the life of Mary, had been preserved. More exactly, in those poetical prayers, the holy nature of the Mother of God was properly theologically confirmed, because it was built in the accordance with liturgical awareness of the worship of Mother of God, Whose beauty was only a part of Her spiritual unit with God the Son, very close to Nicolas Cabasilas’ Christological conception, where Mary takes place as a co-cause who shares a unique degree in Christ’s redemption.
 Le Mont Athos et l’Empire Byzantine -Tresors de la Sainte Montagne, Paris 2009, p.136, no. 45.
 С. М. Каштанов, »К истории русско-греческих культурных связей в XVI в.«, in: Моcxobia, Москва, 2001, p. 214.
 Каштанов, К истории русско-греческих культурных связей в XVI в., 215.
 Once considered that the original of the translation was lost (Белокуров С.А. О библиотеке московских государей в XVI столетии. М., 1899. p. 317–318, 331), it was then published on the basis of manuscript in 1917 (Basilius Latyšev. Menologii byzantini saeculi X supersunt. 2 vols. S-Pb, 1912. V. 2.P. 374–383. ).
 Судные списки Максима Грека и Исака Собаки / Подг. Н.Н. Покровского. Мoscow, 1971, 127-129.
 Paris, BN, Slave 123, 155v-160, 160-166v.
 Maximus the Confessor, The Life of the Virgin, transl. and Introduction by S. J. Shoemaker, New Haven-London: Yale University Press, 2012, p. 8-14.
 S-Petersburg, National Library of Sankt Petersburg, RNB, Mss. coll. Sof. 1498, p. 119 v, 121 v.
 Успенский Ф. И. История византийской империи. т.1. Москва 2016. p. 338.
 Cf. S. J. Shoemaker, Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption, Oxford Early Christians Studies 2006: Oxford University Press; S. J. Shoemaker, The Georgian Life of the Virgin attributed to Maximus the Confessor: Its Authenticity (?) and Importance, Scrinium (2006), pp. 307–328; Simone Claude Mimouni, Les traditions anciennes sur la Dormition et l’Assomption de Marie, Etudes literraire, historique et doctrinales, Leiden-Boston , 2011, Brill.
 In the text from the page 132r, further also on the margins.
 Cf. R. H. Robins, The Byzantine Grammarians, Berlin-New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1993, p. 32.
 Sank Petersburg, Russian National Library (RNB): Mss. coll. Sof. 1498, p. 158 v.
 Cf. Moscow (RGB), Mss. fond 113, coll. Volokolamskoe № 488, fol. 65 v, p. 66r.
 The latter explicitly found a reflection on the icon of Mother of God, iconographically known as Elousis-Umylenie, widely spread after the end of twelfth century in Byzantium as well as in the West.
 N. Cabasilas, The three Marian homilies of Cabasilas, On the Dormition, p. 12; W. Kallistos, “The Earthy Heaven”, in: W. M. McLoughlin, J. Pinnock (ed.), Mary for Earth and Heaven, Leominster, 2002, pp. 355-364.
Maxim the Greek spread these theological topics in several of his personal writings.
In the text Against Those Who are Blemishing the Holiness of the Mother of God Maxim applied to the Virgin a biblical language taken from the Mosaic law (the snake and Moses), with more complexity than Nicolas Cabasilas did. He involved not only the Old Testament metaphorical predictions from the psalms (Ps 31: 4; Ps 44: 10, 11, 14; Ps 45, 5-6; Ps 67: 16-17; Ps 109: 3; Ps 81, 1; Ps 88, 37-38) but also the vision of Isaiah in the desert (Is: 11, 1), the pre-echoes in women personalities of the Old Testament (Esther, Leah, Mariam, etc.) as the biblical prophetical testimony of the Holy Virgin, and connected them with three authoritative Apostles: James, John and Peter. Firstly, he mentioned that the Ladder of St. James is the confirmation of the Mother of God. Secondly, he referred to the first eirmos of the third canticle (the second tone) from the Sunday Matins after the first reading of the “Liturgical Psalter”, which is associated with the Feast of Apostle John the Theologian (26 September). In that context he explained a Greek expression of lily (gr. kriin), which enriched the desert, that, according to Maxim’s words, adequately symbolized the Trinitarian purpose of the Holy Mother of God in the Church of believers. Moreover, Maxim expressed that the Mother of God is “standing at the right hand of the Lord” by which he reaffirmed his faith that Mary lives in the same timelessness, as well as in the eternal presence of Her Son, Godman Jesus Christ. With Apostle Peter it was connected the liturgical and hagiographical tradition of the Feast of Dormition (the verse: Christ’s invitation to His Mother: “Come, and be my bride; Angels were frightened, seeing how the Lord is carrying in His hand the soul of a woman”), that might originated from the Prayer “On Dormition”, attributed to Symeon Metaphrastos, that Maxim also wrote down in Russia. That prayer contains outstanding and expressive verses that act in the rhythmical prose as a refrain:
“Inspire me, Empress, with the power of the words and give me a stronghold (fortress) of pre(o)-images, to feel the divine entities with heart compassion.”
The latter expression of ‘pre(o)images’ could be also theologically explained with a biblical exegesis by which the holiness of the Mother of God was foretold also in certain verses of the Psalms, and in certain pre-Christian oracles as a proto-forms of the unshakable faith in the Son of God, in which the oral Christian tradition of the pronouncement of the “future” biblical reality was shown. The latter texts were known to Maxim, who also translated a short poem of Sibylla, with an Acrostic to Jesus Christ.
In one of his most important works and very personally marked text, entitled About This Unfortunate Century, Maxim the Greek created a unique, female personage, marked with the humane and ethical value of his reception of the biblical time. Thus it could be as well associated with the portrait of the Mother of God.
In the beginning of the text, a narrator (an author) a lonesome traveler meets near a steep road a woman in black, a very sad widow. She identifies herself as name Basileusa/Vasileusa and tells him about the miseries of the world in a lament, consistent with the writing manner of the Byzantine court of the eleventh century. It is expected to have an association within the Moscow political situation at that time, notably with the short, but extremely unpleasant period of the reign of a widow, Elena Glinskaya, but this is only surface of more complex message of this text, in which a literary form of the personificated prayer was literally realized and transformed into a spiritual being (prosopopoeia).
However, the last speech of Basileusa is descending into a prayer:
“I do not have Samuil, the great priest who was reacting against the sinner Saul, I do not have Nathan who cured David with a virtuous parable and with that saved him from a harvest sin, I do not have adherents-zealots like Elijah and Elisha, who were not ashamed before the aggressive Emperor Samaritan, I do not have Ambrose, the marvellous priest of God, who did not fear the greatness of the empire of Emperor Theodosius, I do not have Basil the Great, who was enlightened in the shrine and had wisdom, and with most clever teachings threatened Valent the persecutor of my sister, I do not have a John with a golden mouth (that means Chrysostom), who noticed the greedy Eudoxia and was aware of the tears of the poor widow …”
The lamentation of Basileusa with Old Testament prophets-emperors and Church fathers from the fourth to sixth centuries, the sense of time is transposed, through the vacuum of temporality, non-contiguous or not-contemporaneous but representative human beings or individuals who faithfully served Christ.
 N. Cabasilas, On the Nativity to the Mother of God, 3, 13; On the Annunciation, 2.
 Cf. The eirmos: “The desert, the barren church of the gentiles, blossomed as a lily at your coming, Lord”.
 RGB, coll. Rum. 264. p. 64-66v; Russian National Library of Saint Petersburg, RNB-РНБ, собр. ОЛДМ (CLXXVI), л. 188-190.
 Maksim Grek was explaining the poetics of the verse acrostic as the personal defence which the authors-hymnographers presumably used to protect themselves from “those who look for the glory of others.”
 The text, concerning primarily the ruthless and merciless rulers of this age, is thematically continued in the letter of Maxim the Greek to Metropolitan Macarius, which follows About This Unfortunate Century in Mss. Slave 123 (Paris, BN).
 See more: Zajc, Neža. St Maxim the Greek (1470-1556) : some notes on his understanding of the sacred time, Slavia Meridionalis, 16 (2016): 329-368.
 It is worth to mention that Maxim wrote down also “A Crying of the Wife of Maurice” (Moscow, Russian Historical Museum (GIM): Mss, coll. Eparh, p. 191), the Byzantine Emperor and a martyr. Her name was, however, Constanti(n)a. The notification gave the opportunity to indicate the time when in Byzantium the Emperor started to name himself ‘Basileus, who is faithful to God (C. Diehl, A Byzantium (Greatness and Decline), 10th ed., New Jersey, 1957, p. 29).
 Georgina Buckler, Anna Comnena, Oxford 1929: Clarendon Press, 1929, pp. 241– 243.
 В. Ф. Ржига, Опыти по истории русской публицистики XVI века: Максим Грек как публицист, [V. F. Rzhiga, »The Investigations about the History of Russian Publicity: Maksim Grek as a Publicist«, in: TODRL], ТОДРЛ 1(1934), pp. 51–59, 103, 107.
Such an interpretation of the pious females in Holy Scripture could be associated with St. Ambrose’s writings about virginity (‘De virginibus’ and ‘De virginitate’) and his discourse on the death of Theodosius (‘De obitu Theodosii’), in which among the patriarchs of Genesis in the heavenly company also Constantine the Great could be reached. This was rarely given in the early patristic tradition, but was accepted in the liturgical poetry by the Byzantine hymnographer Romanos the Melodist, who opened the new stage in the church poetry by achieving the bondage of classical tradition and liturgical service. From Romanus Maxim the Greek might have known such scheme of the genealogy of irreproachable female personalities of the Bible. But such a strictly biblical interpretation of the eternal meaning of the heritage of the Mother of God as seen in Maxim’s theology could also be noticed in the Patristic of St. Gregory of Nyssa, particularly in his meditation on “The Song of Songs”, where he assigned the place for the Church of Christ in the role of Christ’s bride, which allowed him the perception of a certain timeless theological doctrine. However, the introduction of Basileusa’s prayer with the words “I do not have …” – must be recognized as the beginning of the prayer to the icon of the Mother of God of the Holy Vatopaidi Monastery.
In Russia this kind of prayer was known a century later, in the 17th century, when it was assimilated into a prayer to the icon called ‘Всех скорбящих радость’-‘The Joy of all Who Suffer,’ which in some aspects replaced late-Byzantine forms and Western presentations of the iconographical motif named Pieta. Not accidently Maxim the Greek, while he noticed that the iconographical motif of Pieta was wrongly interpreted among Russian, he provided an explanation of this image. In the text About the Image Called Melancholy he defined the meaning of ‘Pieta’, which was in Russia misunderstood as spiritual dejection (what is one of the great sins and a sign of lack of personal humbleness). He distinguished the Latin meaning of the word (that Maxim named as ‘Roman’) from its later use, mainly connected with the Virgin Mary, whom Western and late-Byzantine 13th century presentations depicted as crying or grieving Mother. He wrote that “Pieta” has to be interpreted as an image, related to a special reflection and impression of Jesus Christ. According to Maxim’s explanation ‘Pieta’ means a compassion, merciful attitude and piousness, in its relation to the image of Jesus Christ, Who ordered such portrait to be depicted, as was shown to believers during the time of Divine Liturgy, exactly when in the vision of the pope Gregory I. in the moment of putting the fourth part of the Holy Lamb into the chalice. That story Maxim remembered because the pious Italian people related to him when he was young and still secular.
It could be said, that Maxim’s presentation of Basileusa is not a rhetorical allegory, but a literal realization (Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία) of the Gospel form of the Heavenly Celestial City or the Kingdom of Heaven. But in the context of temporal closure, caused by an absence of gentle devotees, Basileusa listed various male figures from the Old Testament and the pious men of the fourth century Patristic and Imperial circles. Indeed, these were the centuries before and after the life of the Virgin Mary, within which was expressed the Byzantine hagiographic belief in the eternal presence of the Mary in the consciousness of the believers and in the liturgical tradition of humble prayers to Her.
This concept, especially reserved for ‘the expression of the inexpressible’ (such as apophatic and mystical context of the presence of Christ’s Mother in the Holy Scripture), and developed in the Byzantine hymnography, could be defined in Maxim’s theological works as part of the unique pattern of the so called ‘Theology of the Mother of God’ that he expanded in his confessional writings about the Orthodox faith. It could be confirmed that Maxim the Greek with his works exactly revealed that field within which the canonical Christian knowledge of the holiness of the Mother of God survived. As already mentioned, within the Orthodox prayers, liturgical hymns and homiletic works of the early Christian, Eastern and patristic theologians and hymnographers was the specific awareness of the temporal presence of the Mother of God transmitted to the consciousness of the believers, focusing on the prayers to the Christian God in the Holy Trinity.
However, Maxim the Greek’s main source of the information about the holiness of the Mother of God were the hymns of Byzantine liturgical tradition, especially those of Joseph Hymnograph and Cosma of Jerusalem. His meaningful argumentation of the beatitude of Mary with the aid of fragments from Byzantine hymnography could be understood as a unique characteristic of his reception of the heritage of Mother of God. Yet, Maxim’s works could be connected also with the centuries later on, from 11th to the 13th, when the liturgical veneration of the Mother of God was significantly increasing not only in the Byzantine Empire, but also in the Christian West (in South and North Italy) – as well in the Old Church Slavonic literature. It was then on the eve of the early Renaissance period when a number of early Christian heretical controversies, very similar to previous Arians, Nestorians, and Eutychians, were again a basic subject of theological polemics, but Maxim argued in his writings also against Latins and Muslims, and against the heresy of Judaizers. But more exactly, Maxim was, veritably, seeking for the right manifestation of the Holy Trinity. In Byzantine hymnography such poetic battles against heresies were known from Acathyst hymns, the structure of which is in undertone reflected in Maxim’s prayers, especially in the long prayer Canon-service to the Holy Paracletos (РГБ, ф. 274, № 302, л. 432-440), that present the manifestation of the Maxim’s spiritually devoted contemplation of the Orthodox economy and the divine Providence. In this long prayer his synthetic management of the theological vision is the most clearly pronounced. That Canon he wrote down with an ash on the wall of the cell, when he was in monastery prison in the deep dark and completely solitude during his first imprisonment (in Iosifo-Volokolam). To such degree his prayerful creation then combined several aspects of a confessing prayer.
 J. Moorhead, Ambrose: Church and society in the late Roman world, Michigan, 1999, pp. 52–54, 67, n. 44
 Tillyard, Byzantine Music and Hymnography, 1923, p. 11.
 See more, A. Louth , ‘From beginning to beginning’: Endless spiritual progress in St Gregory of Nyssa: Lecture at the XXI Conference on the Orthodox Spirituality, Bose 2013, in: E. Bianchi (Ed.), The Proceedings of the XXI International Ecumenical Conference on Orthodox spirituality “The Ages of the Spiritual Life”.
 Чудотворные иконы Пресвятой Богородицы (автор и сост. С. Алексеев), Санкт-Петербург 2012, 40.
 Молитвослов, [The Prayer Book], Москва: Изд. Сретенского монастыря ХПП «Софрино», 1998, p.192–193. In present time, the similar verses could be found in the prayer before the “Kazanskaya” icon of the Mother of God. The latter was significantly related to the Muscovite period of Maxim in Russia: he wrote a prayer to the Holy Mother of God ‘Who saves the Pius Land During the Invasion of Non-Christians’ after the victory of Ivan IV over the Khaganate of Kazan on 2 October 1552. It seems that the prayer Maxim the Greek gave to Rus’ proved one of the main source for the prayers to the Holy Mother of God celebrated in the month of October/ November.
 While celebrating Divine Liturgy, Gregory I. recognized the image of Jesus Christ. He was so touched that he began to cry and therefore ordered the icon painters to depict in the future only that kind of the Holy icon of God the Son (cf. H. Gombrich, The Story of Art, Phaidon, 2006, 16. ed., p. 107).
 Joseph of Sicille (Wellesz Е. A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography. Oxford (2. изд.), 1998. С. 443)
 It is worth mentioned that inseparability of the Holy Mother and Her Holy Son was known also previously that on the icon, called Ελεούσα, at the images in the catacombs of the early Roman christian tombs, from the period of Constantine I. when Christian iconography was only slowly began to formulate.
After the introduction of that Canon, Maxim the Greek contemplated – in an authentic ‘diataxis’ form of the Vatopaidi Monastery 16th century prayer – about the interior of the Temple or Church (“Joy the God, the door that could not be entered/which is without entrance”). The latter form was an implicit address to Mother of God of the icon of Vatopaidi, called ‘Paramythia’ (the 13th century), or the icon of Theotokos of Iviron, called the ‘Doorkeeper’. However, in this Canon with the basic principles of monastic prayers and liturgical chants, Maxim followed the special ascetic rule. After the pronunciation of 50 Psalm a respect of the special sequence of obligatory odes/praises/hymns is defined in the short versions of prayers that could be identified as special variants of Kyrieleison (Jesus’ prayer, similar to the prayer of the evangelical tax-collector, Lk 18, 13). These short prayers are addressed to the persons of the Holy Trinity, among which is founded a place for praising the Mother of God. If the mentioned textual correspondences could be understood as a direct and truthful reflection of Maxim’s position in the condition of his writing down the text, this prayer could be regarded as an invocatory moment for the beginning of his intensive writing. That were then possibly Maxim’s personal prayers that opened his introductory dedication in significant order: a prayer on repentance “merciful Lord, Christ, the God, have a mercy upon me, sinful being; as to the Holy Trinity, glory to you, the Holy Trinity, our God, glory to you; as to the Holy Paracletos, merciful Lord, Paracletos, the God, have a mercy upon me, the sinful.” To these short prayers are added two verses in the honour of the Holy Mother of God. These verses could be identified as a version of the “New Kontakion” to the Annunciation of the Mother of God as Maxim the Greek defined them in the Greek Psalter (in Russia) in which he wrote down a parallel Greek-Slavic verses with analogue correspondences. The most impressive is the fact, that such consequence of dedication (to God the Son, Jesus Christ; to Holy Trinity; to Holy Paraclete), within the imperative praise to Theotokos, is respected in every single ode of nine hymns in this long prayer. The first ode/hymn represents the praise to the incarnation of the Logos, wholly presented on earth, which expressed the Orthodox view against Apollinius of Laodicea (against him and Juda Maxim the Greek also wrote a polemic text), but in the concluded yell is at the same time the praise to Mother of God, represented as the Holy Earth; the second ode is missing, according to the earliest editions; but the third ode is – after the brief mentioning of the Holy Trinity – dedicated to the Holy Spirit, and again, at the same time, to the Holy Theotokos. After the final prayer to the Holy Spirit it is placed a short prayer to the Holy Mother of God as the last hymn (hallelujah) that presents an expression of direct gratitude to Christ’s Mother for protecting and preserving the souls of all believers. This prayer to the Holy Mother of God Maxim importantly ascribed as the obligatory end of all prayers – acts and one’s lifetime – that should offer to him/to the believer a pious end peaceful vision of the Second coming of Christ.
This kind of incorporation of the verses in the honor of Theotokos among the nine hymns was known already in the Canons of Andrew of Crete in 7th century. Yet, it was known also in Slavonic tradition, when in the 9th century in Old Church Slavonic the first Slavic church poet, Constantine the Philosopher (a brother of Methodius), used such hymnographical formula in the “Canon to the great and saint martyr of Christ, Demetrius.” Nevertheless Maxim the Greek’s “Canon to the Holy Paracletos” has certain characteristics of the Akathystos hymn it does not reflect concrete imitations of the forms of the Great Canon of Andrew of Crete. We could thus conclude that none of his sources could be considered as directly repeated or literally translated by Maxim into Old Church Slavonic language. However, nevertheless the Mother of God is the conclusion of each ode of the Canon and also of each Maxim’s Trinitarian veneration, Maxim the Greek dedicated this long intercessory prayer to the Holy Paracletos, not to the Holy Theotokos.
Indeed, Maxim created in Slavonic an equivalent of the oldest patterns of Christian liturgy, as might be found in the oldest Greek liturgical manuscripts from the ninth century on. Maxim managed to create his own Slavonic language with the aim to pray properly in concordance with the Greek Orthodox theology. The truth is that Maxim the Greek polished the Old Church Slavic liturgical language to a certain level that it could serve him as analogous and parallel voice to the Greek of the Gospels, focusing on the prayerfulness to the Christian God in the Holy Trinity. In truth, Maxim the Greek’s wish was to balance the veneration among the voices of the Orthodox Trinity, and on the global level – to make fully apprehensible, intelligible and unmistakable the Orthodox Christian Theology.
 Н. Д. Успенский, Византийская литургия: историко-литургическое исследование – анафора: опыт историко-литургического анализа, Москва: Изд. Совет русской православной церкви, 2006 [N. D. Uspenski, The Byzantine Liturgy: Historical-liturgical Research – anaphora: the Historical-Liturgical Analyse, Moscow, 2006], p. 212.
 Moscow, Russian Government Library, RGB, Mss. Coll. Rog. Kladbishe, No. 302, fol. 432v.; Moscow, RGB, MDA, 173/I, no. 42, additional chapters (without a numbers), there are added the following words: ‘Joy the walls and Intercession/the Protection to whom we are running to.’
 It was a liturgical custum with a rule to worship the icon of Vatopaidi before leaving the Church, and Igumen of monastery was every time pass the keys from the doors of monastery to a doorkeeper.
 Maxim the Greek’s text about the Vatopaidi Icon of the Mother of God, is in Moscow, Historical Museum, (GIM), Mss. coll. Чуд. № 34, pp. 236v -240r. The copy of this icon was transmitted to Russia in 17th century on the request of the Patriarch Nicon.
 Sank Petersburg, Russian National Library, Mss. Coll. Sof. 78, fol. 160 v.
 Paris, BN, Slave 123, p. .
 E. Wellesz, The “Akathistos”, A Study in Byzantine Hymnography, Dumbarton Oaks Papers (1955), p. 147.
 P. F. Krypiakiewicz, “De hymni Acathisti auctore”, Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XVIII (1909), p. 361.
 Andrej Kritski, Veliki kanon, Ljubljana, 2013, pp. 23-43.
 Tillyard H. J. W. Byzantine Music and Himnography. Oxford 1923. С. 20.
 R. Jakobson, Selected Writings. VI, Early Slavic Paths and Crossroads, I, Berlin-New York-Amsterdam: Mouton, 1985, p. 306).
 Cf. Tillyard, ibid., p. 19.