Thursday, August 19, 2010

Saint Theophanes the New of Naousa

St. Theophanes the New (Feast Day - August 19)

Saint Theophanes the New, a native of the city of Ioannina, was born in 1590. As a young man, he received monastic tonsure at Mount Athos in the Docheiariou Monastery. He was later chosen abbot of this Monastery because of his lofty virtues. In giving refuge to his own nephew (who had been forcibly converted to Islam) from the Turks who had captured Constantinople, Saint Theophanes, with the help of God, freed the youth, hid him in his own Monastery and blessed him to enter the monastic life.

The brethren, fearing revenge on the part of the Turks, began to grumble against the Saint. He, not wanting to be the cause of discord and dissension, humbly withdrew with his nephew from the Docheiariou Monastery, left the Holy Mountain and went to Beroea. There, in the Skete of St John the Forerunner, Saint Theophanes built a church in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos. And as monks began to gather, he gave them a cenobitic monastic rule.

When the monastery flourished, the Saint withdrew to a new place at Naousa, where he built a church in honor of the holy Archangels and founded there also a monastery dedicated to the Archangels. To the very end of his days Saint Theophanes did not forsake guiding the monks of both monasteries, both regarding him as their common father.

In a revelation foreseeing his own end and giving his flock a final farewell, the Saint died in extreme old age at the Beroia Skete of the Forerunner. Even during life the Lord had glorified his humble Saint: saving people from destruction, he calmed a storm by his prayer, and converted seawater into drinking water. Even after death, the Saint has never forsaken people with his grace-filled help.

Soon after his death the monks of the Skete placed his holy skull among the other relics of the Skete in a silver reliquary while they buried his body which became a shrine. Many decades later the Turks destroyed the Skete and left the tomb of Saint Theophanes in ruins. In the 20th century natives of Naousa stole the skull of the Saint to bring it back to their city in the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos (it is now placed in the church dedicated to his name). In 1926 the tomb of the Saint in Beroia was opened and 60 pieces of bone were removed and placed in the Holy Altar.

God Wisely Directs The Destiny Of His Servants

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

When an unexpected misfortune happens to us who are innocent, we should not immediately grieve but rather we should try to see in this the Providence of God, Who, through that misfortune, is preparing something new and beneficial for us.

One day, unexpected news came to Blessed Theophanes, the abbot of Docheiariou, that the Turks had seized his sister's son, forced him to embrace Islam and took him to Constantinople. Theophanes immediately traveled to Constantinople and, with the help of God, succeeded to find his nephew and to secretly bring him out of Constantinople and brought him to his monastery on Mt. Athos. There, he again received his nephew into the Christian Faith and, after that, also tonsured him a monk. However, the brethren began to complain against their abbot and his nephew for fear of the Turks, for they were afraid that the Turks would find out and come and destroy the monastery. Not knowing what to do, St. Theophanes took his nephew and, with him, secretly withdrew not only from Docheiariou but also from the Holy Mountain and came to Berea.

The later activities of Theophanes in Beroea and in Naousa proved how much that misfortune was beneficial to the Church. That which Theophanes could never succeed to achieve on the Holy Mountain, he achieved in these other places to which he had fled from that misfortune. Namely: he founded two new monasteries, where, in time, many monks were saved and where countless men found comfort for themselves. In addition to this, his holy relics among the Christian people became a source of healing for the strengthening of faith among many unbelievers and those of little faith. Thus, God wisely directs the destiny of men through unexpected misfortunes, which momentarily seem to men that they are going to their final destruction.

Skete of Saint John the Forerunner

The Church of Saint Theophanes the New

Feast of St. Theophanes in Naousa on August 19, 2007

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