August 19, 2016

Saint Theophanes the New and Wonderworker

St. Theophanes the New (Feast Day - August 19)


Theophanes showed forth many virtues,
And now his relic brightens Naousa.

Saint Theophanes the New, a native of the city of Ioannina, was born in 1590. As a young man, he received monastic tonsure at Mount Athos in the Docheiariou Monastery. There he cared more for how to save his soul rather than what to eat or drink, and his hidden virtues became manifested to all. He was therefore later chosen abbot of this Monastery because of his lofty virtues.

One day Theophanes received a letter from his sister. The Turks had taken her son to Constantinople in order to make him a janissary. Theophanes therefore departed for Constantinople, and was able to get to his nephew before he was made a Muslim (some say he had already become a Muslim). Eventually he was able to get his nephew released and brought him to Mount Athos for refuge. In giving refuge to his nephew from the Turks, Saint Theophanes blessed him to enter the monastic life.

The brethren, fearing revenge on the part of the Turks, began to grumble against the Saint. He, not wanting to be the cause of discord and dissension, humbly withdrew with his nephew from the Docheiariou Monastery, left the Holy Mountain altogether and went to Beroia. Though their purpose was to return to their homeland in Ioannina, they decided to remain in Beroia. There, in the Skete of Saint John the Forerunner, Saint Theophanes was welcomed by the brethren, and he was allowed to build a kathisma or cell about ten minutes from the Skete in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos. There he abided with his nephew in prayer, fasting, vigil and asceticism. And as monks began to gather around the Saint, he became their abbot and gave them a cenobitic monastic rule.

When the Skete began to become overpopulated, for it already had over fifty brotherhoods, the Saint withdrew to a new place at Naousa, where he built a church in honor of the holy Archangels and founded there also a Monastery dedicated to the Archangels. When they were building the Monastery, the master builder did not approve the construction site. The Saint therefore requested a sign from the Archangels. They placed the construction plans at a certain spot, and prayed that the Archangels would place the plans at the site they desired for the Monastery. And indeed the plans were later found at the spot previously indicated by Theophanes. Another time a bear devoured the donkey used for carrying materials for the building. The Saint therefore had the bear replace the donkey to carry the burden. While the Saint was building the Monastery, he ordained his nephew to be abbot of the Skete of the Forerunner.

To the very end of his days Saint Theophanes did not forsake guiding the monks of both Beroia and Naousa, both regarding him as their common father. But when he became advanced in years, he isolated himself at the Kathisma of the Panagia in Boroia. In a revelation foreseeing his own end and giving his flock a final farewell, the Saint reposed in extreme old age at the Beroia Skete of the Forerunner. Even during life the Lord had glorified his humble Saint: saving people from destruction, he calmed a storm by his prayer, and converted seawater into drinking water. Even after death, the Saint has never forsaken people with his grace-filled help.

Soon after his death the monks of the Skete placed his holy skull among the other relics of the Skete in a silver reliquary while they buried his body which became a shrine. Many decades later the Turks destroyed the Skete and left the tomb of Saint Theophanes in ruins. In the 20th century natives of Naousa stole the skull of the Saint to bring it back to their city in the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos (it is now placed in the church dedicated to his name). In 1926 the tomb of the Saint in Beroia was opened and 60 pieces of bone were removed and placed in the Holy Altar. Only a few portions remain today.

God Wisely Directs The Destiny Of His Servants

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

When an unexpected misfortune happens to us who are innocent, we should not immediately grieve but rather we should try to see in this the Providence of God, Who, through that misfortune, is preparing something new and beneficial for us.

One day, unexpected news came to Blessed Theophanes, the abbot of Docheiariou, that the Turks had seized his sister's son, forced him to embrace Islam and took him to Constantinople. Theophanes immediately traveled to Constantinople and, with the help of God, succeeded to find his nephew and to secretly bring him out of Constantinople and brought him to his monastery on Mt. Athos. There, he again received his nephew into the Christian Faith and, after that, also tonsured him a monk. However, the brethren began to complain against their abbot and his nephew for fear of the Turks, for they were afraid that the Turks would find out and come and destroy the monastery. Not knowing what to do, St. Theophanes took his nephew and, with him, secretly withdrew not only from Docheiariou but also from the Holy Mountain and came to Berea.

The later activities of Theophanes in Beroea and in Naousa proved how much that misfortune was beneficial to the Church. That which Theophanes could never succeed to achieve on the Holy Mountain, he achieved in these other places to which he had fled from that misfortune. Namely: he founded two new monasteries, where, in time, many monks were saved and where countless men found comfort for themselves. In addition to this, his holy relics among the Christian people became a source of healing for the strengthening of faith among many unbelievers and those of little faith. Thus, God wisely directs the destiny of men through unexpected misfortunes, which momentarily seem to men that they are going to their final destruction.


Apolytikion in the First Tone
You became a glorious offshoot of Ioannina, and divine patron of Naousa, Theophanes, as an angel you lived upon the earth, were provided with the gift of working wonders, and grant healings to the pious, who run towards your protection. Glory to Christ Who glorified you, glory to Him Who crowned you, glory to Him Who works through you all manner of healings.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The divine instrument of secret theophany, anointed with the state of being equal to the angels, and you were glorified with an abundance of miracles. But as a great healer of God, O Saint, entreat that we may be redeemed from all tribulations, those who cry out to you: Rejoice, Father Theophanes.

The divine offshoot of Ioannina, and great patron and aid of Naousa, and a source of miracles have you become Theophanes, wherefore we revere your holy skull.

Skete of Saint John the Forerunner

The Church of Saint Theophanes the New in Naousa

Feast of St. Theophanes in Naousa on August 19, 2007