Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Saint Alexander, Bishop of Methymni

St. Alexander of Methymni (Feast Day - November 30)

According to tradition, Saint Alexander was the Bishop of Methymni,* and perhaps its first bishop.** He took part at the First Ecumenical Synod in 325. Also, it is said, he founded a monastic community near the village of Lafiona, where he spent the final years of his life.

At some distance from this village and near some ruins, is the alleged monastery of the Saint, where there is a large stone sarcophagus, which is believed to be where the Saint was buried. On the sarcophagus is the following inscription:

+ Ο ΤΗΣ ΤΡΙΑΔΟΣ ΚΗΡΥΞ
ΚΑΙ ΤΗΣ ΠΑΡΘΕΝΙΑΣ ΦΥ
A ΛΑΞ ΚΑΙ ΤΟΥ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ ΦΙΛΟΣ Ω
ΕΝΘΑΔΕ ΚΑΤΑΚΕΙΤΑΙ
ΥΠΕΡ ΗΜΩΝ ΕΥΧΟΜΕΝΟΣ

+ THE HERALD OF THE TRINITY
AND THE KEEPER OF VIRGINITY
AND THE FRIEND OF CHRIST
DWELLS HEREIN
PRAYING FOR US

For the correct reading of this inscription, there are many interpretations.

According to tradition and the Turkish residents of Lafonia, during the Turkish occupation, the sarcophagus was considered to belong to Ισκεντέρ Μπαμπά (Iskenter Mpampa), or Father Alexander.

We have no more information about Saint Alexander, except for what it says in his service that is chanted on the day of the Saint's feast on November 30th. There Saint Alexander is praised as a "vigilant luminary, a gentle shepherd, keeping his flock in piety, leading and shepherding with grace, putting to flight the heretical dangerous wolves." Further it says that he was as "a very shining star in monasticism." Elsewhere it says that "the body of his holy relic showed to be a healer of suffering."

Although we have no biographical or historical information, we do have the tradition of the Church and the testimony of his sarcophagus, which certainly shows he was a "herald of the Trinity," meaning that he was probably a bishop who preached the Christian faith. Also preserved in the province of Methymni is a chapel dedicated to Saint Alexander, which chants his service on his feast of November 30th. All these testify that Saint Alexander lived an worked and is imprinted on the conscience of the people.

Notes:

* Methymni is commonly translated in English as Methymna. It was a town on the island of Lesvos.

** The first attested bishop of Methymna was Christodoros in 520. In 640, Methymna was mentioned in the Ecthesis, pseudographically attributed to Epiphanius of Salamis, as an autocephalous archdiocese, and around 1084, it was made a metropolitan see under Alexios I Komnenos.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
You proclaimed the all-holy Trinity wise one, and kept the beauty of the purity of your virginity, you were perceived as a chosen Father and true friend of Christ that fervently intercedes, chief shepherd of Methymni, God-bearer Alexander, the boast of Lesvos.

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