You know, there is nothing quite like the feeling of having accomplished something yourself. Nor is there anything quite like wanting to accomplish something yourself, asking for help, and having your helper do it for you. Especially when he has nothing whatsoever to prove.
A bookmarklet for your browsing satisfaction. It will take today’s date, or one you provide, and retrieve the synaxarion from the Orthodox Church in America website. Saints of the Day. (As with all bookmarklets, right-click [or ctrl-click on Mac OS] and choose “Bookmark This Link” or “Add to Favorites” to use it, or just drag-n-drop.) That’s courtesy of Tim. I came up with a faster, if slightly less robust form, Today’s Saints. (Geek out: If you look at the code, you can see Tim killed me by using a regular expression, which made it possible to use a prompt and then separate the month and day out from the user data. Also, I copied his simplified assignment of the months to the array. My original used the long version — var foo = new Array(); foo[n]="bar"; — to do the assignment. Grossly inefficient. As I said, he really had nothing to prove.)
So, what exactly is a synaxarion? In Greek, the language in which the Christian Scriptures were written, the word synaxis means “assembly.” The Divine Liturgy, the service normally served on Sundays and holy days, is a synaxis or assembly of the people of God. The synaxarion, then, tells us who we commemorate on each day of the year and why.
In the beginning, almost all Christians were martyrs — martyria means “witness” — the martyr’s death was the ultimate witness to the lordship of Christ. It became customary to mark their martyrdom with a feast or a celebration, since the day of their martyrdom was the day of their entrance into the presence of God. After martyrdom became less common, thanks to St. Constantine, it remained customary to mark the death of especially virtuous Christians as a day of rejoicing. As you can imagine, after 2000 years, there are a lot of holy men and women to remember!