|Holy Hieromartyr Reginos of Skopelos (Feast Day - February 25)|
By Aristides G. Theodoropoulos
On the 25th of February the enchanting island of Skopelos brilliantly celebrates the all-sacred memory of the Holy Glorious Hieromartyr Reginos, the Bishop of Skopelos, who honors him as their patron, protector and vicar of this fertile island of the Northern Sporades, which is endowed with unparalleled natural beauty, but made modest by its hundreds of sacred foundations apportioned to monasteries, sketes, parish churches and numerous picturesque chapels and shrines.
Saint Reginos was of Greek origin and lived in the fourth century during the days of the reign of the sons of the God-crowned Constantine the Great, Constantius at Constantinople and Constans at Rome. Since the early nineteenth century Livadia has been shown to be the birthplace of the Saint, and his parents, who lived "in holiness and righteousness," were pious and wealthy. As soon as the Saint arrived at an age to receive education, his wealthy and virtuous parents took care for him to acquire both secular and ecclesiastical knowledge and wisdom combined with chastity, prayer and asceticism, presenting him as "a most precious vessel" and "companion of God". The All-Good God seeing his virtuous and ascetic life, richly rewarded him with various gifts and made him worthy to perform many miracles by the grace of the Holy Spirit. His shining virtue and holiness made him notorious and admirable in Skopelos and the other islands of the Sporades, which led to his election and ascension to the episcopal throne of the island after the passing of the Bishop of Skopelos. Once Saint Reginos was elected Bishop of Skopelos crowds of Christians of all ages and social classes began swarming to him to receive the blessing of a virtuous and enlightened hierarch, while the sick ran to him to receive their much-desired treatment through his wonderworking grace given by God. The God-pleasing and God-like episcopal ministry of the Saint created for the pious people and clergy of the province feelings of inexpressible joy and rejoicing, since all tasted of the richly precious spiritual fruit of the high-priestly ministry of the wise, virtuous and affectionate hierarch of Skopelos Saint Reginos, who spiritually led all the faithful and pious people, while supporting and nurturing the poor, the distressed and the sinners.
However, during the prelacy of Saint Reginos there still prevailed within the Church the terrible heresy of Arius, which had caused tension and confusion among Christians. For this reason there was convened by the emperors Constantius and Constans a Synod, which took place in Sardica (today's Sophia, Bulgaria) in the year 343, which was attended by over three-hundred Orthodox bishops, though seventy-six followers of the heresy of Arius also participated. Among the participating Orthodox bishops was the wise hierarch of Skopelos Saint Reginos, who with his deep theological knowledge and fiery and constructive discourse routed the misled followers of Arius and their heretical teaching regarding the non-consubstantiality of the three persons of the Holy Trinity. The verbal arguments of the comprehensive discourse of the Saint forced the followers of Arius to leave the Synod and take refuge in Philippopolis (today's Plovdiv), where again they denounced the Patriarch of Alexandria Athanasius the Great. Saint Reginos remained at the Synod of Sardica together with the other Orthodox bishops and ratified the Symbol of Faith as formulated at the First Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea in Bithynia in 325. At this Synod, during which the divinity of the person of Jesus Christ was made clear, was attended Saint Reginos together with his uncle Saint Achillios the Bishop of Larisa (May 15), who is honored and praised as the patron saint and protector of the city of Larisa. After the work of the Synod of Sardica, Saint Reginos returned to Skopelos, where he continued his God-like multifaceted pastoral activities.
But peace within the Church again began to be disrupted when the imperial throne was occupied by the impious Julian the Apostate (361-363). The hard-hearted Christian-slaughtering new emperor declared relentless persecution against Christians in a frantic attempt to revive paganism. The persecution expanded rapidly in Greece and came to the islands of the Sporades. Many Christians were then subjected to horrible torture, but bravely remained firm and unyielding in their faith, which led to their death sentence. When the ruler of Greece discovered the wise teacher and spiritual leader of Skopelos, Saint Reginos, and was informed of his rich preaching and philanthropic activity, he arrested him and tried with both flattery and promises, and sometimes with threats, to persuade him to deny Jesus Christ. But the glorious martyr of Christ with the beneficent and fruitful episcopal ministry to the pious people of Skopelos remained constant and steadfast in his faith. The firm and courageous attitude of the Saint infuriated the the ruler, who began to torment him mercilessly to be able to bend his unwavering faith in Jesus Christ. But neither the cruel tortures he endured, nor confinement in jail, nor the constant threats overcame the fighting spirit and strong faith of the God-bearing and wise hierarch of Skopelos. Indeed, the fortitude and courage with which he endured the unbearable torture, established and further strengthened the faith of Christians, who saw within the martyrdom of their bishop the plenteous emission of the light of his holiness. When the hard-hearted ruler saw the unchanging faith of the Saint, he gave the order for his beheading. After the death sentence, he was led to the "Old Bridge", where on the 25th of February in 362 his martyric perfection took place by beheading. Indeed, according to tradition forty residents of Skopelos were martyred together with the Saint. On this spot in 1903 the inhabitants of Skopelos erected a memorial column to remember the glorious martyrdom of the Saint. After the removal of his honorable head the pious people of Skopelos received his all-honorable much-enduring body and buried him with proper honors on a hill, where until today his grave is preserved, beside which later was built the Monastery of Saint Reginos.
In 1068 King William of Sicily, the so-called "Good", seized the sacred relic of the Saint during a raid and moved it to Cyprus. Indeed until today portions of the sacred relics are kept in the Sacred Church of the Archangel Michael Trypiotis in Nicosia. In 1740 the Senate of Skopelos sent to Cyprus the provost Hadji-Konstantis to request a portion of the sacred relic of the Saint. This is confirmed by the scholar monk Kaisarios Daponte, who became the first biographer of the Saint, as well as the first hymnographer who composed a sacred service in his honor, which he published in Venice in 1746. Hadji-Konstantis succeeded and brought from Cyprus portions of the sacred relic of Saint Reginos, which were deposited in the Monastery of the Honorable Forerunner, founded in 1612 by Hieromonk Symeon and proclaimed Stavropegic in 1619. The deposition of the sacred relics of the Saint in the Monastery of the Forerunner took place in 1740, while in 1741 his icon was painted, which was placed in the Church of Panagia Eleutherotria, in the city of Skopelos, which was a metochion of the Monastery, where it is kept until today. In 1833 the Monastery of the Forerunner dissolved in accordance with the relevant decree and the sacred relics of the glorious martyr of Christ Saint Reginos were transferred to the Sacred Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ in Skopelos, where they are kept until today.
The hymnography written for Saint Reginos is rich as well, since apart from the service of praise of Kaisarios Daponte, the chanter, mayor of Skopelos and scholar of the nineteenth century John Drakiotis composed in honor of the Saint Lamentations, Megalynaria and Evlogitaria. And the Great Hymnographer of the Alexandrian Church, Dr. Haralambis Bousias, composed a Supplication Service and Akathist Canon, as well as a service for the translation of the portion of the sacred relic of the Saint to Livadia, where there is a sacred pilgrimage church named after the Saint. A service of praise and Akathist Canon was also composed by Monk Gerasimos the Mikragiannanitis, the gifted Great Hymnographer of the Great Church of Christ.
The memory of the Holy Glorious Hieromartyr Reginos is honored on the 25th of February and on the day of his all-sacred memory there is celebrated a bright feast in Skopelos with the participation of the local Bishop, His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Halkidos, Istiaias and Sporades, and a crowd of pious Christians. On the eve of the feast of the patron saint of Skopelos, February 24, the sacred relics of the Saint are transferred from the Sacred Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ to the Monastery of Saint Reginos, which was renovated in 1728 and is located four kilometers from the town of Skopelos. The new beauteous stone church of the Saint, whose foundation was laid on Myrrhbearers Sunday on 23 April 1966, is where the Celebratory Hierarchical Vespers is chanted, and in the morning of the primary day of the commemoration of the Saint, February 25, Matins is chanted and then is celebrated the Celebratory Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. This is followed by a procession of the old treasured icon of the Saint painted in 1712 and the sacred relics from the Sacred Monastery of Saint Reginos to the Sacred Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ. During the procession the Lamentations and the Supplication Service are chanted to honor the Saint, while at "Old Bridge", where the beheading of the Saint took place and a commemorative column was erected in the form of a shrine, known by the nickname "Ai-Riginakis", prayers are said for all the people of Skopelos found throughout the earth. Noteworthy is the fact that people of Skopelos in Athens annually celebrate the feast of Saint Reginos in the Sacred Church of Saint Athanasios in Thisiou, where there is a shrine with an icon of the wonderworking Saint, while his name is honored in the basement chapel in the Sacred Church of the Holy Trinity in Peristeri.
The faith and devotion of the inhabitants of Skopelos to their protector and patron saint is confirmed by the existence of a shrine dedicated to Saint Reginos in Drokontoschisma within one kilometer of the area of Argondas, where according to local folklore Saint Reginos exterminated a dragon who tormented the inhabitants. The name of the Saint is also honored in Pyrgos where there is a shrine dating to the 16th or 17th century, and according to Kaisarios Daponte a feast is celebrated there on the Tuesday of Pentecost. Another shrine is in Gerostathis in the area of Glossas and a chapel is in the southern wing of the Sacred Monastery of the Honorable Forerunner. An example of the deep piety of the people of Skopelos towards their patron saint is by the many icons which decorate the churches and monasteries of the enchanting island. Memorable are the old portable icons of Saint Reginos in the Sacred Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ, the churches of Panagia Papameletiou, Panagia Eleutherotria and Saint Michael Synadon in the city of Skopelos, and the parish church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Glossas and the Sacred Monastery of the Annunciation of the Theotokos in Skopelos, where the artistic masterpiece icon of the Saint is dedicated from the monk Kaisarios Daponte, who also dedicated to the Monastery a portion of the sacred relic of the Saint.
The multifaceted spiritual contribution of the wise and martyric hierarch of Skopelos Saint Reginos led the Sacred Metropolis of Halkidos, Istiaias and Northern Sporades, which the island of Skopelos is under ecclesiastically, to co-organize with the Municipality of Skopelos in 2012 brilliant festivities on the island for the occasion of the anniversary of the completion of 1650 years (362 - 2012) from the glorious martyrdom. So on the Sunday of the Blind Man on 20 May 2012 there took place in the Sacred Monastery of Saint Reginos a Celebratory Multi-Hierarchical Divine Liturgy presided by His Beatitude the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos II and co-liturgized by His Eminence Metropolitan Ignatios of Demetriados, His Eminence Dionysios of Corinth, His Eminence George of Thebes and His Eminence Chrysostomos of Halkidos. In this way the proper honor was given to his God-pleasing earthly life and to the multifaceted spiritual and philanthropic work of the wonderworking patron and protector of Skopelos Saint Reginos, whose intercessions we invoke for our spiritual prosperity and salvation according to God.
* Ακολουθία και Παρακλητικός Κανών εις τον ιερομάρτυρα Ρηγίνον Επίσκοπον Σκοπέλου, Αθήναι 2006
* Καλλιανού Κωνσταντίνου, Πρωτοπρεσβυτέρου, Ιστορικό Σχεδίασμα για τις Μονές του Ευαγγελισμού και του Τιμίου Προδρόμου και η συμβολή τους στη λατρεία του Αγίου Ρηγίνου Επισκόπου Σκοπέλου, Εγκόλπιον Ημερολόγιον Ιεράς Μητροπόλεως Χαλκίδος, Ιστιαίας και Βορείων Σποράδων 2012
* Σύρου Κωνσταντίνου Ιω., Τιμή στον ιερομάρτυρα Άγιο Ρηγίνο Επίσκοπο Σκοπέλου, Σκόπελος 1996
1. Old portable icon of Saint Reginos painted in 1741 and kept in the Sacred Church of Panagia Eleutherotria in Skopelos.
2. Portable icon of Saint Reginos in the Sacred Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ painted in 1861 and gracing the magnificent carved iconostasis.
3. The processional old treasured icon for February 25 in the Sacred Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ.
4. The oldest reliquery containing a sacred relic of Saint Reginos, kept in the Sacred Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ.
5. The Sacred Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ
6. The ancient skete/shrine of Saint Reginos in Pyrgos.
7. The shrine of Saint Reginos in Drakontoschisma.
8. The stone-built katholikon of the Sacred Monastery of Saint Reginos.
9. The interior of the katholikon of the Sacred Monastery of Saint Reginos.
10. The majestic church whose groundbreaking took place on Sunday of the Myrrhbearers April 23, 1966.
11. The tomb of Saint Reginos in his homonymous Monastery.
12. Photo of the procession of the old treasured icon of Saint Reginos at "Old Bridge" where Saint Reginos was beheaded.
13. Sunday of the Blind Man, 20 May 2012, Hierarchical Liturgical Concelebration on the occasion of the anniversary of 1650 years since the glorious martyrdom of Saint Reginos.
14. Procession of Saint Reginos in Skopelos.
15. The column known as "Ai-Riginakis" at "Old Bridge".
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.