Thursday, September 14, 2017

Saint Gerasimos the New, Founder of the Sacred Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Sourvia (+ 1740)

St. Gerasimos the New and Wonderworker (Feast Day - September 15)

Verses

Christ honors you Gerasimos above,
Granting you gladness on behalf of your sweat.

Saint Gerasimos the New and Wonderworker was from Leontariou of Megalopolis in the Peloponnese. His parents were named Theodore and Evangelia, and they named their son George at Holy Baptism. At the age of 8 he was given to a teacher to learn sacred letters, of which he especially loved the lives of the saints. So when he came of age, he entered the Holy Monastery of Panagia the Philosopher in Dimitsana, which was an important spiritual center of Greek education during the Turkish occupation. There he became a monk and took the name Gerasimos, and he also acquired an excellent education.

With divine longing he departed the monastery and went to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage. When he returned to Greece he began to preach and teach the Orthodox Christian faith in the cities and villages. This is how he arrived at the village of Makrinitsa, which is near the famous Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Sourvia. He decided to settle at this now abandoned monastery and renovated it. The Monastery of Sourvia is located in north Pelion, just a short distance south of the village of Kerasia. It is a walled monastery built in the sixteenth century by Saint Dionysios of Olympus (Jan. 23). Saint Gerasimos is considered the second founder of the Monastery of Sourvia and there also his tomb is located.

In search of more quiet he found a cave near the monastery, and there he would spend hours in prayer with tears for the salvation of the people. Because of his love and purity, God granted him the gift to work miracles. Many from the surrounding areas would come to him and confess their sins, and he would lead them along the paths of salvation. In Velstino near the Church of Saint Athanasios he had a cell where he found rest, but this and the church were burned down during the raid of Mahmud Dramali Pasha in May of 1821, which sparked the Revolution of Thessaly.

At the beginning of 1740, while in Velestino, he felt his end coming so he wrote to the abbot at the Monastery of the Holy Trinity to return to his monastery. The abbot immediately sent a mule so that he could leave secretly, since the people of the village did not want to let him go. On arriving at the monastery, he gathered together all his spiritual children and gave them his final words of advice:

"Brothers and Fathers, blessed be God for by His ineffable compassion He will today release my sinful soul from prison, namely the world, and because of this I beg you to remember the command of the Master Christ, when He said, 'Forgive and you will be forgiven.' Therefore grant me forgiveness in as much as I have stumbled as a man, not once but many times. And may God forgive you for all that you have done to me. Take care, brethren, to not break the commandments of God, and that you love prayer, in as much as it is man speaking to God. Do not neglect your rule, have love between yourselves, hasten together to confession, in as much as it is the key to paradise and without this key it is impossible for the door to be opened, nor is it possible for man to enter without confession into the Kingdom of Heaven. Do not get mixed up in secular cares, but be completely fixed in the fear of God and have the remembrance of death written in your minds."

He delivered his holy soul into the hands of God on September 14 in the year 1740. His feast is celebrated on September 15 due to the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross on September 14.

Many miracles are attributed to the grace of God working through his sacred relics, particularly his holy skull. The demon possessed have been released of their affliction and barren women have given birth to children. During a plague of locusts his holy skull was taken in procession to the fields, and they escaped their siege. Skopelos was saved from a calamity that brought destruction to their vines. In Pinakates the Saint caused a deadly plague to cease. At Velstino he saved the sheep of a shepherd. In Makrinitsa, where the hermitage of the Saint was located at its highest point, many miracles have been recorded, and a convent was also built called the Monastery of Saint Gerasimos in Makrinitsa.

Every year, on the eve of Mid-Pentecost, outside of Nea Ionia in the area of Phytoko, the icon and skull of Saint Gerasimos is taken in procession from the monastery in Makrinitsa to the church of the village. There a vigil takes place for the feast.


Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
The Angel in the flesh, and foundation of ascetics, is Gerasimos the New for the Church of Christ, a luminary whose light does not diminish, he rejoices above, with the multitude of Angels, while below there gathers together, the race of man, who chant with songs, his divine memory.

Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Sourvia


Monastery of Saint Gerasimos in Makrinitsa

Icon and Skull of Saint Gerasimos

Tomb of Saint Gerasimos

Procession of Saint Gerasimos at Mid-Pentecost

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