St. George of Neapolis (Feast Day - November 3)
ΓΙΑ ΤΟΝ ΑΓΙΟ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ
Saint George, the New Hieromartyr of Christ, lived in Neapolis of Asia Minor (Nev-Sechir in Turkish) in the eighteenth century. He was a priest at the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos and served his flock with righteousness and holiness as a true servant of the Most High. Gifted with the qualities of love and meekness, brotherly love and forbearance, humble and spotless was his support and consolation of the Greek Christians who then lived under the yoke of the Turks. As an angel on earth the divine George willingly served his fellow men cultivating the divine gifts and pleasing God.
In the year 1797 he was invited to the village of Malakopi, located within six hours from Neapolis, to serve at some great feast and to bless their pious Christians, because their priest was ill, or, in the opinion of others, was hiding from the fury of the Hagarenes [Turks]. The elder George gladly accepted the invitation without considering the suffering and above all the risks.
Mounting his shabby donkey, he proceeded willingly. As he approached near Malakopi, suddenly at Kobia Dere, which is translated as “ravine”, he experienced a wild attack by Turkish shepherds, who angrily fell on him with an indescribable fury. They robbed him, stripped him naked, and in the end they gave him a martyric death, cutting off his honorable head. They left his body, naked and bloodied, with his head in an adjacent canyon, but his soul flew near to his Lord to be numbered among the Venerable Ones and the Hieromartyrs.
Four days passed without the holy priest reaching Malakopi, but also not returning to Neapolis. Concerned citizens of Neapolis went in search of him. They found his holy body and his honorable head and lamented and wept over his horrible death. A shepherd hastily buried him, fearing the fury of Hagarenes. Above his grave a stone bore the simple inscription: “The Priest George”.
Some time passed, until one night the Holy Hieromartyr appeared in a vision to a pious widow relating to her what happened and urging her to inform the Mayor to look to find the location in which he was buried. The woman did not give importance to it, but when after a few days the dream was repeated, she was fearful and did what the Saint asked. Without delay the pious citizens of Neapolis, led by a priest named Neophytos, son also of priest Vasilios, a fellow parish priest of the Saint, hastened and excavated that shallow quickly dug grave. Oh, the miracle! The relic of the Saint remained whole and incorrupt spreading heavenly fragrance and grace! After they venerated it with reverence and awe, they placed it in a wooden casket and carried it to the home of Fr. Neophytos, according to the desire of the Saint himself, and kept it in a cell.
There many came, locals and foreigners, to venerate the Saint and receive blessing from his venerable relic. Miracles began to occur. The sick and disabled were healed, childless couples bore children, spiritual illnesses disappeared, and further, during drought the citizens of Neapolis fled to the Saint, and they shortly after saw the blessed rain fall strongly. All confessed how miraculous St. George was shown to be!
In 1924, with the exchange of populations, the Greeks of Cappadocia left for free Greece, each taking with him whatever he considered most precious. The then priest of the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos, Archimandrite Ignatios, perceiving his first responsibility to safely transfer the miraculous and incorrupt relic of St. George, brought it from the shore of Mersinis by steamer to Attica. During the journey they had very rough seas, but they were lulled with a miracle of the Saint.
In Attica the sacred relic was handed over to citizens of Neapolis, who placed it with reverence in the Church of St. Eustathios in New Neapolis, Perissos. Since then countless are the miracles and the healings which St. George worked to those who call on his name with faith.
Since 11 February 1999, at the request of Metropolitan Dionysios and the noble concession of Metropolitan Stephen of Trifilia and Olympia, a piece of the sacred relic of the Saint is treasured at the Holy Metropolis Church of St. George of Neapolis, as a permanent blessing for the people of the Metropolis bearing the name of Christ.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
Holy New Martyrs Lambros, Theodore and One Who Was Anonymous, Who Were Martyred in Vrachori († 1786 - Feast Day November 2)
The Holy New Martyrs Lambros, Theodore and someone else who we have not come to know by name came from the Peloponnese and were merchants in their profession.
Remaining for some time in Ioannina for commercial reasons they came to learn the Albanian language. In 1786 they decided to return home to the Morea. They departed and arrived at Vrachori (today known as Agrinio) where they decided to spend the night. At the entrance of the city stood a tax collector to collect a Harac, or poll tax, as required from the Roman subjects. The three merchants plotted to pretend to be Muslims, in order to avoid having to pay the tax. Passing by the place where the tax collector sat they greeted him with the Muslim greeting "Salaam Alaikum". The tax collector, thinking they were Muslim Arvanites, let them pass freely. They entered the city and went to spend the night in some house in order to continue on their journey home early in the morning. The Turks, however, wanted to see where the foreigners were staying and perhaps learn from them some news out of Ioannina, so they sent someone to the home in which the Saints were staying. When he approached the house he did not immediately knock on the door, but he stood outside to listen to what they were saying. The Saints inside at that time were telling the landlord of the house how earlier that day they escaped from having to pay the tax by a single "Salaam".
Once the Turk heard this he understood that they were Christians, and without going in he ran immediately to deliver the news to those who sent him. Like wicked beasts they raided the home, grabbed them and literally dragged them away, taking them to the court where they told the judge: "These three men, although Romans, passed by our tax booth and greeted us with Salaam Alaikum. They must be condemned because they said that which was customary of the Turks and not the Romans. And since they mocked the faith then according to the law they must be punished. Unless they have come to love Islam and be circumcised, for which they will be honored."
The judge then asked the Saints if all these things were true. The Holy Martyrs frankly responded: "Yes, it is true that we greeted as was customary for the Turks in order to avoid having to pay the tax, but we have not come to love Islam."
The judge responded: "Now you must certainly become Turks if you want to save your lives, or else you will be tortured and killed."
When the Saints heard this, they gave the appropriate response to the judge: "We, illustrious Master, said these things in order to save money, but for us to deny our faith is impossible. Do with us what you will."
The judge then ordered them to be mercilessly beaten and to be locked in prison.
There in the prison, each comforted one another.
Indeed, one who was literate would say, "Be careful, my brethren, do not flinch and lose out on the bargain we have received. Soon we will need to endure a little bit in order to gain eternal life. Let us not be saddened for our relatives, nor our friends, nor our temporary homeland, but let us stand gallant in the faith of Christ, that we may enter joyfully into the other homeland, that has no end."
Having fasted for several days in prison, they were again brought before the judge, who after interrogating them, ordered them to once again be beaten and imprisoned.
Five days later they were led once again to court where a judgment was issued.
The executioners took them and hung one of them from a tree near the market place, the other outside of the Church of Saint Demetrios, and the other at the edge of the square, where the main road enters the city.
So the three martyrs, without expecting it, received crowns of victory from the Lord.
St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite (of the Holy Mountan)
Note: St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, in his "Synaxarian of the New Martyrs", mentions three neomartyrs who were martyred in Vrachori in 1786, without mentioning their names however. The late Fr. Gerasimos Mikragiannanitis, after research, managed to find the names of two of the Saints, Lambros and Theodore.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
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