March 22, 2010

Holy New Martyr Euthymios of Peloponnesos (+ 1814)

St. Euthymios the Neomartyr (Feast Day - March 22)

This holy New Martyr of Christ was born in Demitsana in the Peloponnesos. His parents were Panagiotes and Maria, and he was given the name Eleutherios in Baptism. Eleutherios was the youngest of five children (the others were George, Christos, John, and Katerina).

After attending school in Demetsana, Eleutherios and John traveled to Constantinople to enroll in the Patriarchal Academy. Later, they went to Jassy, Romania where their father and brothers were in business. Some time afterwards, Eleutherios decided to go to Mt. Athos to become a monk. Because of a war between Russia and Turkey, he was able to travel only as far as Bucharest. There he stayed with the French consul, then with an employee of the Russian consul.

Eleutherios began to pursue a life of pleasure, putting aside his thoughts of monasticism. When hostilities ceased, Eleutherios made his way to Constantinople in the company of some Moslems. On the way, he turned from Orthodoxy and embraced Islam. He was circumcised and given the name Reschid. Soon his conscience began to torment him for his denial of Christ. The other Moslems began to notice a change in his attitude, so they restricted his movements and kept a close watch on him.

One day Eleutherios was seen wearing a cross, so the others reported him to the master of the house, Rais Efendi. The master favored Eleutherios, which made the others jealous. He told them it was still too early for Eleutherios to give up all his Christian ways.

Rais Efendi and his household journeyed to Adrianople, arriving on a Saturday. Metropolitan Cyril, who later became Patriarch of Constantinople, was serving Vespers in one of the city's churches. Eleutherios pretended to have letters for Metropolitan Cyril, but he send someone else to receive them. When Eleutherios told this man that he wanted Christian clothes, he became suspicious and sent him away.

Back in Constantinople, Rais Efendi gave Eleutherios costly presents, hoping to influence him to remain a Moslem. Eleutherios, however, prayed that God would permit him to escape. He ran off at the first opportunity, seeking out a priest from the Peloponnesos who lived near the Patriarchate. After relating his story, Eleutherios asked the priest to help him get away. The priest refused to assist him, fearing reprisals if he should be caught. He gave Eleutherios some advice, then sent him away.

With some assistance from the Russian embassy, Eleutherios boarded a ship and sailed to Mt. Athos. At the Great Lavra Eleutherios was chrismated and received back into the Orthodox Church, and also became a monk with the name Euthymios.

Euthymios read the New Martyrology of St Nikodemos (July 14), and was inspired by the example of the New Martyrs. He then became consumed with a desire to wipe out his apostasy with the blood of martyrdom.

St Euthymios went to Constantinople with a monk named Gregory, arriving on March 19, 1814. A few days later, on Palm Sunday, he received Holy Communion. Removing his monastic garb, he dressed himself as a Moslem and went to the palace of the Grand Vizier, Rusud Pasha. St Euthymios, holding palms in his hand, confessed that he was an Orthodox Christian, and wished to die for Christ. He denounced Mohammed and the Moslem religion, then trampled upon the turban he had worn on his head, which led the Vizier to believe that he was either drunk or crazy.

The valiant warrior of Christ assured the Vizier that he was in his right mind, and was not drunk. Euthymios was thrown into a dark cell and bound with chains. After an hour or so, they brought him out again. With flattery and promises of wealth, the Vizier tried to convince Euthymios to return to the Moslem faith. The saint boldly declared that Islam was a religion based on fables and falsehood, and that he would not deny Christ again even if he were to be tortured and slain.

The Grand Vizier ordered the saint to be beaten and returned to prison. After three hours, St Euthymios was brought before Rusud Pasha, who said to him, "Have you reconsidered, or do you remain stubborn?"

Euthymios replied, "There is only one true Faith, that of the Orthodox Christians. How can I believe in your false prophet Mohammed?"

Now the Vizier realized that he would never convince Euthymius to return to Islam, so he ordered him to be put to death by the sword. When the executioner attempted to tie the saint's hands he said, "I came here voluntarily, so there is no need to bind my hands.Allow me to meet my death untied."

St Euthymios was allowed to walk to the place of execution unbound. He went joyfully and unafraid, holding a cross in his right hand, and palms in his left. When they arrived at the site, Euthymios faced east and began to pray. He thanked God for making him worthy of martyrdom for His sake. He also prayed for his family and friends, asking God to grant all their petitions which are unto salvation.

Then St Euthymios kissed the cross he was holding, then knelt and bent his neck. The executioner struck a fierce blow with the sword, but this did not behead him. He struck again, and failed to kill him. Finally, he took a knife and slit the martyr's throat.

St Euthymios was killed about noon on March 22, 1814 in Constantinople, thereby earning a place in the heavenly Kingdom where he glorifies the holy, consubstantial, and life-creating Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, forevermore.

The head of St Euthymios is in the Russian monastery of St Panteleimon on Mt Athos.


There is a church dedicated to St. Euthymios and Patriarch Gregory V in Demitsana. He is also celebrated by the Church on May 1 with Sts. Ignatius the New and Akakios.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Strengthened by long years of ascetical labours, thou didst endure the pangs of martyrdom steadfastly, O glorious Athlete Euthymios. For thou didst hasten to renounce error while holding the Cross and palm branches in thy hands. And with these thou dost stand crowned and rejoicing in Christ's presence.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Holding the trophy of the Cross and palm branches in thy hands, thou didst stand before the lawless judge. Thou didst renounce the false prophet openly and put his followers to shame, and gladden the Orthodox by preaching Christ as True God. Intercede for all who faithfully praise thee.

See also:

The Life and Letters of Saint Euthymios of Peloponnesos

The Life and Divine Service to Saint Euthymios