Sunday, November 29, 2015

St. Philoumenos

St. Philoumenos was added into the Synaxarion of Saints of the Orthodox Church on the 29th November 2009, by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. This event, the Divine Liturgy and the proclamation of his new status, took place at Jacob’s Well, at the Holy place where Archimandrite Philoumenos from Cyprus was martyred. The ceremony was led by the Metropolitan of Morfou, Neophytos, since Philoumenos, who was killed on 29th November 1979 from fanatic Jews, came from the village Orounta, within the Metropolis of Morfou, Cyprus.
Since 2000 many Orthodox faithful in Cyprus venerated St Philoumenos, considering him a Saint, before the Orthodox Church officially proclaimed him as such. Icons were painted and people wrote services in his honour. In essence, he was recognised as a saint by the people, by the Body of the Church. A book was written with his life and sent to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which was received positively, leading to his proclamation as a Saint of the Orthodox Church.

Sophocles Hasapis, as was his name before he became a monk, was born in 1913 in Nicosia. He had a twin brother, Archimandrite Elpidios. Their parents, George and Magdalene Hasapi had 13 children. The family lived in a house within the parish of St Savva, in Nicosia. The father had his own bakery and an inn, making them quite wealthy. The mother took care of the household and the education of their children.
A few years after graduating from elementary school (July 1928), without informing their parents, the twins left their parents and went to the Stavrovouni monastery, one of the holiest monasteries in Cyprus. Their father visited them two days later and gave them his blessing, when he realised their wish of staying at the monastery.
Their life, however, was to take a different path, when in 1934 the then Archbishop Timothy Themelis of Jordan (1878-1955), later Patriarch of Jerusalem, visited the Stavrovouni monastery. The Archbishop proposed to Abbot Barnabas and the twins’ father to take them both to Jerusalem to attend the secondary school. The father gave his blessing again, seeing that that is what his sons wished for. Alexander became a monk in 1937, receiving the name Elpidios. He later died on Mount Athos (1983), having served in a number of cities, including Athens, London, Odessa and Cyprus.
Fr Philoumenos, on the other hand, remained at the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. He became a monk in 1937 and in 1948 he became an Archimandrite. He served in many shrines and churches in Palestine. Finally, on 8th May 1979, was appointed to Jacob’s Well, where he was eventually martyred. He was known for living quietly and humbly. He kept the monastic ideals, the ascetic life. Many times he even acted as a fool for Christ (one of the categories of Sainthood) to hide from the world, or as Bishop Neophytos had said, ‘he acted like a fool in order to hide his holiness.’
St Philoumenos is another example of the significance of Saints in our lives. The Church exists in order for us to become Saints, to be in communion with God, to reach our potential in life, i.e. theosis. It is funny how history gives the term great to people of war, to aggressive people. However, the great examples we have in the Orthodox Church are our Saints, who show us the way to salvation, to show us that the Holy Spirit still pulls us closer to God, blesses us, as it did during Pentecost. Saints are the examples of people we need and should follow in order to reach our full potential in life. St Philoumenos is one of these Saints.

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