October 5, 2009

Saint Methodia of Kimolos and her Canonization

Saint Methodia of Kimolos (Feast Day - October 5)

The article below was published in the Hellenic Chronicle in 1991, proclaiming the official canonization of St. Methodia of Kimolos to the American people. In 1987 Dr. Constantine Cavarnos wrote a book on this holy woman with the anticipated title St. Methodia of Kimolos, and the joy he feels in the proclamation of this holy woman's official canonization, who was already a Saint in his own thinking and devotion, is clearly evident. I have transcribed the article below and a short life will follow in another post.

Mother Methodia of Kimolos Officially Recognized As A Saint

By Dr. Constantine Cavarnos
July 25, 1991
Hellenic Chronicle
Boston, MA

"A Saint is the greatest benefactor of mankind."
- Archim. Hierotheos Vlachos

News evoking great joy reached me from Athens a few days ago: Mother Methodia of Kimolos (1861-1906) has been officially recognized as a Saint by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece and the Oecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The news came from Father Konstantinos D. Vastakis, Protopresbyter of the Great Church of St. George at Kypseli, Athens. Father Vastakis sent me the latest issue of the newspaper Kimoliaka Nea ("Koimolian News"), which is published in Athens. Together with it he sent me a personal card on which he wrote: "When Saints are being praised, the glory goes to the Lord."

On the first page of the newspaper there is a photograph of a recent icon showing St. Methodia, and an article by Fr. Vastakis devoted to this event. The article is a substantial one, and continues on page 3. On the second page of the publication there is an announcement by the Metropolitan of Syros Dorotheos (to whom the Church of Kimolos is subject) addressed to all the members of the committee which has been formed for the organization of the celebration which which will take place in Kimolos on October 5, the day of her repose. This committee includes both clergymen and laymen. Among the clergy is Protopresbyter Vastakis, who painstakingly prepared the papers that were submitted to the Synod of the Church of Greece and that of the Patriarchate recommending that Mother Methodia be officially recognized as a Saint. Such recognition means that henceforth her name will be included in the Hagiologion (List of Saints) of the Orthodox Church, that churches can be built named after her without any ecclesiastical hindrance, and that her memory can be celebrated in churches freely and in a grand manner.

Father Konstantinos Vastakis begins his article in Kimoliaka Nea with these remarks concerning the official recognition of the sainthood of Mother Methodia: "A great event! A just decision! Joyous exaltation in our hearts! The event is truly great and splendid. The official and canonical placing of Holy Methodia in the Tablets of the Saints of our Church is an event which has brought joy to the souls of the Orthodox, especially to her Kimolian compatriots everywhere, who honor and revere her, and through her Grace-imbued Relics are sanctified."

Continuing, he says: "Holy Methodia led her ascetic life quietly, illuminating with her pure life those about her, and strengthening those who aspired after sanctity and who believed and believe that holiness continues to exist in our difficult and sinful century. Besides, in every epoch, our All-Good Triune God shows clearly His saints. He brings to prominence personalities that hold the social organism in the spiritual life. And it is ultimately they who strengthen and inspire us to walk in the uphill path of virtue and sacrifice. Such a holy soul was our Saint."

The late Protopresbyter Ioannis Ramphos, who was the Spiritual Father and fellow-celebrant at the Church of St. George at Athens, played the most important role in calling attention to the sanctity of Mother Methodia, in honoring her, and in making widely known her virtues, her holy way of life, and her beneficent impact upon the people of Kimolos. Father Vastakis duly calls attention to this fact. He notes that what particularly prompted Father Ramphos to do this was the fact that when he was a child, his father, a priest, use to take him to the hermitage of Mother Methodia. There he had the good fortune of seeing her, being impressed by the holiness of her way of life and deemed worthy of receiving her blessings.

In my book, St. Methodia of Kimolos (Belmont, Mass., 1987) - vol. 9 of my series Moder Orthodox Saints - I note other eminent persons who believed in the sainthood of Mother Methodia, and I quote relevant statements which they have made. Among these was late Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America, Michael, at the time when he was Metropolitan of Corinth. I also speak of the foremost contemporary hymnographer of the Orthodox Church, the Athonite Monk Gerasimos Micragiannanitis. "The Life of St. Methodia" which I have included in that volume in translation was written by him; so was her akolouthia from which I have included many hymns in translation. Among these hymns is the Apolytikion, which appears at the beginning of the volume. It says:

"Let us faithful honor with hymns the venerable Saint Methodia, the offspring of Kimolos, the jewel of virtue, and truly the peer of the holy Ascetics from the earliest times, imitating the deeds of her life beloved by God, crying out: glory to Him Who gave thee power, glory to Him Who crowned thee, glory to Him Who hath numbered thee, O holy Mother, in the choir of the Saints."

Mural icon by the hand of George P. Smoilos, 1985.