May 3, 2010

Saint Peter the Wonderworker of Argos

St. Peter the Wonderworker of Argos (Feast Day - May 3 and January 19)

St Peter the Wonderworker, Bishop of Argos in Peloponnesos, lived during the ninth and early tenth centuries, and was raised by pious parents in Constantinople. St Peter's parents, and later his brothers Paul, Dionysius, Platon and St Peter himself, all became monks. St Peter zealously devoted himself to monastic labors, and he excelled all his fellows. This came to the attention of the Italian bishop Nicholas I Mystikos (who from 895 was Patriarch of Constantinople), who wanted to elevate him to the rank of bishop. St Peter declined, accounting himself unworthy of such honor.

Bishop Nicholas consecrated Paul, St Peter's brother, as Bishop of Corinth, and St Peter went to his brother and lived with him, taking upon himself the spiritual struggle of silence. After a year emissaries came to Bishop Paul from the city of Argos, where the bishop had died, and they asked for St Peter as their bishop. After long and intense entreaties, St Peter finally gave his consent. As bishop, St Peter toiled zealously in guiding his flock. He was extraordinarily compassionate, concerning himself with those in need, especially orphans and widows.

The saint fed the hungry in years of crop failure. Through his prayers the food set aside for the hungry never ran out. The saint also ransomed captives, healed the sick and the afflicted, and possessed the gift of insight.

Before his death St Peter was called to Constantinople in 920 to participate in the Synod which addressed the fourth marriage of Emperor Leo.

The saint predicted the day of his death, and departed to the Lord at the age of seventy around 928 AD. At his funeral his face was illumined and he sweated as if alive.

His relics were placed in the Dormition of the Theotokos in Argos. His relics were transferred from Argos to Nafplion in 1421, exuding myrrh, and working miracles and healings. A Catholic bishop took them to Rome in the fifteenth century.

Since the early 1990s Argos churchmen have been trying to locate the relics. They were eventually found in a monastery chapel near Rome. On January 19, 2008 the relics were ceremoniously returned by Vatican clerics to the Cathedral of Argos. Thousands of faithful thronged the streets and church bells sounded as the relics were carried into the local cathedral and put on display.

On his feast day on May 3 the relics are processed throughout the city (as photos below from 2010 show).

Dormition Church in Argos, which originally held the relics of St Peter till 1421.