The Rudder (Pedalion) – Volume 1

of the Metaphorical Ship of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church


RELEASED – 12/24/22


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Wisdom has built her house with Seven Pillars” – Proverbs 9:1

The Rudder (also called the “Pedalion” in Greek) is a compilation of all of the Holy Canons in the Orthodox church. It was compiled by Nicodemus the Hagiorite and Agapius the Monk of Mount Athos in the year 1800. The fifth edition of the Greek text was translated into English by Denver Cummings in 1957 and published by the Orthodox Christian Education Society of Chicago, Illinois. This extensive work includes the 85 Canons of the Holy Apostles, the Canons of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, the Canons of the Region Synods, and the Canons of the Holy Fathers of the Church, in addition to other instructions and forms used within the Church. This new edition of The Rudder is divided into two volumes and replicates the complete material and formatting of the 1957 version published in English, including the full introduction and related editor commentaries added throughout the book from the Orthodox Christian Education Society. Volume I contains the Canons of the Apostles and Seven Ecumenical Councils, while Volume II includes the Canons of the Regional Synods and Holy Fathers.

The Cover artwork of the book is based on iconography used in the Orthodox Church showing the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as a ship at sea. Jesus Christ is often depicted as the navigator of the ship. The sea is symbolic of our journey through life, with the rudder of the ship represented by the Holy Canons of the church. These canons are the critical navigation instruments to keep the Church on course and safe from corruption and danger through the treacherous ‘rough seas’ of heresy and assure us that by staying the course, the gates of Hell will never prevail against the Church-Bride. She is the Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, symbolized in the scriptures as Seven Pillars and Seven Thunders (Rev. 10) – the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Nicodemus the Hagiorite (Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain) is a saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He was an Orthodox Christian monk at the Dionysiou monastery of Mount Athos who was also the co-author of THE RUDDER, Nicodemus was also a theologian, philosopher, and writer of liturgical poetry and author of other famous works such as The Philokalia. Born in Naxos, Greece in 1749, he reposed in the year 1809 and was canonized as a Saint by the Orthodox Church in 1955. His feast day is celebrated on July 14.



To Thy sacred embrace, O common Mother of Orthodox Christians, holy great CHURCH OF CHRIST. is dedicated this Rudder of the catholic Church, the present handbook interpretative of the divine Canons; and the dedication is one that is most proper and on every score of rightness fitting. For, I well know, all persons, none excepted, will concur in the admission that to the same extent that a mariner’s compass is needed by sailors, and the rudder is necessary to ships, the collection of the Sacred Canons, too—this figurative Compass, that is to say—is needful and this spiritual Rudder is necessary and indispensable to Thee, the spiritual and venerable SHIP prefiguring and representing the ecumenical universal transport of the Catholic Church. And, indeed, this canonical handbook is a sort of rudder and spiritual compass; since it alone, in truth, points accurately and undeviatingly to the Pole—that is to say, to Heaven itself. With it, as with a rudder, the Church of Christ can very surely and very safely steer her course on her voyage to that really calm Harbor of that blissful and wantless destination. In fact, this figurative Rudder was constructed in yoretime by the Holy Spirit through the agency of the Godly-learned Apostles and, from time to time, of Holy Councils, Ecumenical as well as Regional, and of individual great hierarchs of the Church. Many others, after them, as collaborators and adjutories, who steered with it joined hands in mending it, and interpreted parts thereof that were hard to understand, harmonizing well enough passages that somehow seemed to conflict with one another. It is from these, indeed, that we too have compiled the interpretations, and, having compendiously gathered them together under one cover, so far as was possible, we offer this present labor in simple language to THEE, the supernal Mother of us all. With this in mind, O divine Mother, open Thy most sacred arms, like the Lawyer Priest of old, and receive this book gleefully, like a sheaf of fresh ears of wheat (Lev. 2:14) newly reaped and most sacred. Receive and accept, O myron-laden SHIP, “like a merchant-ship bringing in wealth from afar”, as the author of Proverbs says (Prov. 31:14), Thine own Rudder.

But rather, to employ a more suitable example, precisely as Euphemia, the virgin martyress of old, by embosoming the volume of the Fourth holy ecumenical Council, kept it safe and above every calumny of the adversaries, so and in like manner be Thou, who keepest in Thyself like a treasure the relic of this very same renowned Euphemia exhaling the odor of a living body, fain to embosom the present Handbook, which contains not only the definitions and Canons of the Fourth, but simply of all the holy Councils, Ecumenical as well as Regional, and of the individual Fathers, so that by embosoming and protecting it, Thou mayest keep it safe and above every calumny of caviling critics, and render it trustworthy and indisputable as reading matter for all Christian peoples with the authoritativeness of Conciliar and Apostolic decision. That is what we prayerfully request. That is what, along with us, all other souls longing after God supplicate for, which souls are voyaging through this billowy and turbulent life towards that unruffled living of our blissful fatherland: accordingly, it is our fervent wish that we may all be spared the fate of being disappointed.

From the Sacred Monastery of the Pantocrator, situated at the Holy Mountain of Athos, December 4th, 1793.

Of Your Most Hierarchical,

Ecumenical and God-glorified Majesty, the least and at the same time most obedient children in the Lord


(A Dyad of Friends beloved in Christ)

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