Thursday, November 4, 2010

Saint Ioannikios the Great of Olympus

St. Ioannikios the Great of Olympus (Feast Day - November 4)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

The great spiritual light Ioannikios was born in the village of Marikata in the province of Bithynia, of his father Myritrikios and his mother Anastasia.

As a youth, he was a shepherd. While tending his sheep, he would often retreat into solitude and remain in prayer the whole day, encircling his flock with the sign of the Cross so that the flock would not stray and scatter.

Later, he was taken into the army and displayed marvelous courage, particularly in the wars with the Bulgarians.

Following his military service, Ioannicius withdrew to Mount Olympus in Asia Minor, where he was tonsured a monk and dedicated himself completely to asceticism until his repose in great old age. He lived in asceticism for over fifty years in various places, and received from God a truly abundant gift of wonderworking. He healed all sicknesses and pains, drove out demons, and tamed wild beasts. He especially had power over snakes, could cross over water as on dry land, could be invisible to men when he so desired, and could foretell future events. He was distinguished by overwhelming humility and meekness. His outward appearance was that of a giant - massive and powerful.

He took an active part in the destiny of God's Church. During the iconoclast controversy, he was deceived at first, but later tore himself away from the iconoclast viewpoint and became an ardent champion of the veneration of icons. He had a great friendship with Patriarch Methodios of Constantinople.

Ioannikios lived for ninety-four years and entered peacefully into rest in the Lord in the year 846. He was a great miracle-worker both during his life and after his death.

A Reflection

Mercy is the fruit of faith. Where there is true faith, there also is true mercy.

St. Ioannikios was walking past a monastery one day. Among the many nuns, there were a mother and daughter. Evil spirits continually assaulted the young daughter with bodily temptations, and inflamed the passion of lust in her to such a degree that she wanted to leave the convent to marry. In vain did her mother counsel her to stay. Her daughter would not even hear of it.

When the mother saw St. Ioannikios, she begged him to counsel her daughter to remain in the monastery and not expose her soul to perdition in the world. Ioannikios summoned the maiden and said: "Daughter, place your hand on my shoulder!" She did so. Then the compassionate saint prayed to God with a fervent heart that He deliver her from temptation, and that her bodily lust be transferred to him. Thus, it happened. The maiden was completely calmed and remained in the monastery, and the saint of God went on his way. But as he went, the passion of lust was inflamed in him, and his blood began to boil as though on fire. He desired to die rather than to give the passion its way and, seeing a large poisonous snake, ran to it so as to be bitten and to die. But the snake would not bite him. He provoked it to make it bite him, but as soon as he touched it the snake died. At that moment the flame of lust disappeared from Ioannikios.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Venerable Ioannikios the Great

Ioannikios served the people,
The people and the prince, with great zeal,
And then withdrew from all and everything
To serve the glory of the Heavenly King.

Ioannikios was a great soldier
For the holy Faith and for pure justice;
With tears and labors for half a century
He prayed and prayed to Christ.

Glorious Ioannikios was a rich man,
Rich and more than abundant with the power of heaven,
Leading the struggle, and chanting Psalms,
Against every dark and deceitful power.

The wondrous saint, Ioannikios,
Worked many wonderful miracles
In the name of Christ and by the power of the Cross,
Mightily destroying the demons' schemes.

O Saint of God, Ioannikios,
You found mercy in the Lord Jesus Christ:
Beg mercy also for us sinners,
And from the Holy Spirit, holy grace.


Prayer of St. Ioannikios

This prayer is attributed to St. Ioannikios the Great. It is said that he would repeat a version of this prayer between verses of the Psalms, the entirety of which he had memorized:

My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my shelter is the Holy Spirit. O Holy Trinity, Glory to You.

Apolytikion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile, and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance. By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe. O our holy father Ioannikios, pray to Christ our God to save our souls.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Today we celebrate together your honored memory, and we faithfully beseech you, O holy Ioannikios that we may find mercy with the Lord.

Apolytikion in Plagal of the First Tone
Thou didst abandon earthly glory and wast illumined by the light of God's inspiration. Wherefore thou didst shine on earth like a fadeless star. For thou wast found worthy to hear the divine voice like Moses and wast also like the Angels and a treasury of grace, O holy Father Ioannikios.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
We have come together today to honour thy memory, and implore thee to obtain mercy for us from the Lord, O holy Father Ioannikios.

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