November 10, 2010

Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian (+ 1924)

St. Arsenios the Cappadocian (Feast Day - November 10)

The life of Saint Arsenios of Cappadocia was written by Elder Paisios the Athonite, who was baptized by St. Arsenios prior to the Saint's death, and who safekept the sacred skull of the Saint in his Cell.

Cappadocia (in eastern Turkey) is virtually devoid of Christians now, but in 1840, when St Arsenios was born there, there were still vital Orthodox communities. He became a monk and was sent to his native town, Farasa, to serve the people as a priest. He became known as a mighty intercessor before God, praying for all who came to him, Muslims as well as Christians. His countless miracles of healing became known throughout Cappadocia; those who could not come to see him would sometimes send articles of clothing for him to pray over.

He became known as Hadjiefendis, a Muslim term of honor for pilgrims, because he made pilgrimage to the Holy Land every ten years on foot. He never accepted any gifts in return for his prayers and healings, saying: "Our faith is not for sale!" He concealed his holiness as much as he could beneath a rough and sharp-tempered exterior. If anyone expressed admiration for him, he would reply: "So you think I'm a saint? I'm only a sinner worse than you. Don't you see that I even lose my temper? The miracles you see are done by Christ. I do no more than lift up my hands and pray to him." But as the Scriptures say, "the prayers of a righteous man avail much", and when St Arsenios lifted up his hands, wonders often followed. He lived in a small cell with an earthen floor, fasted often and was in the habit of shutting himself in his cell for at least two whole days every week to devote himself entirely to prayer.

Father Arsenios predicted the expulsion of the Greeks from Asia Minor before it happened, and organized his flock for departure. When the expulsion order came in 1924, the aged Saint led his faithful on a 400-mile journey across Turkey on foot. He had foretold that he would only live forty days after reaching Greece, and this came to pass. The Theotokos appeared to St. Arsenios three days prior to his repose and took him to all the monasteries and churches of Mount Athos, which he had longed to visit and see. His last words were: "The soul, the soul, take care of it more than the flesh, which will return to earth and be eaten by worms!" Two days later, on 10 November 1924, he died in peace at the age of eighty-three on the island of Kerkyra.

In 1958 Elder Paisios transferred the relics of St. Arsenios from Kerkyra to his village in Konitsa, and the same once again transferred the holy relics to the Monastery of St. John the Theologian in Souroti near Thessaloniki. Since 1970, many apparitions and miracles have occurred near his holy relics, which reside in the Monastery of Souroti near Thessaloniki. He was officially glorified by the Patriarchate of Constantinople on 11 February 1986.  

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Your godly life well-spent, as a vessel of the Spirit, honourable, you shone, Arsenios inspired by God. Endowed with the grace of miracles, you swiftly send aid to all. Beseech, Blessed Father, Christ our God, to grant us His great mercy.  

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Cappadocia's new-sprung flower and precious vessel of virtues, Holy Arsenios, let me hymn. For as an angel he lived in the flesh, and now resides with all the Saints. With them, he ever prays to Christ to grant us forgiveness of our sins.