Dear Readers: A long time supporter of the Mystagogy Resource Center has informed me that they would like to donate $3000 to help me continue the work of this ministry, but they will only do it as a matching donation, which means that this generous donation will only be made after you help me raise a total of $3000. If you can help make this happen, it will be greatly appreciated and it would be greatly helpful to me, as I have not done a fundraiser this year. If you enjoy the work done here and want to see more of it, please make whatever contribution you can through the DONATE link below. Thank you!
(Total So Far - Day 8: $2640)

March 11, 2011

Monk Methodios of Byzantium and His Long Beard

Methodios came to the Skete of Kapsokalyva on Mount Athos at the end of the eighteenth century to become a monk, yet he had no beard. Because of this, in order to not be expelled by the fathers of the Skete according to their practice, he prayed before the icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos, praying to the Mother of God that she help him so as to not be expelled. Paradoxically the hairs on his chin began to grow and eventually he had a fully formed beard. In the morning the fathers could not believe their eyes when they found Methodios inside the church with a full beard. They presented him therefore before the Synaxis of the fathers and immediately tonsured him a monastic, at which time he received the name Methodios. At the same time an all-night vigil took place to thank the Panagia for her graciousness. Yet the beard of Methodios did not stop growing that day. In fact, it continued to grow until it eventually reached beyond the height of his body. In order for him to lay out his full beard, Methodios would have to stand on a stool (this stool is still kept by the fathers as a memorial of this miracle).

One day the Turkish Governor of Mount Athos in Karyes, after seeing the frescoes of Sts. Peter the Athonite and Onouphrios, asked: "Hey, this is why you are deceived! How is it possible for people to have such a long beard?"

The Protos of Mount Athos called for Methodios, who layed out his full beard before the Turk to show that the Christians were not deceived. The Governor wrote to the Sultan about this magnificent spectacle, who asked in return that he be sent to Constantinople to see it for himself. The Governor advised Methodios that when the Sultan would offer him many gifts, he should only ask from the Sultan that his life be spared.

And so it happened. The Sultan was amazed when he saw the spectacle and Methodios asked that his life be spared. Methodios then returned to Mount Athos unharmed.

At the Skete of Saint John the Theologian there are stichoi (hymns) written in the Turkish dialect by Methodios preserved till this day. In the Monastery of Proussou there are 112 stichoi by Monk Methodios, in which he is described as the one "whose beard drags upon the earth". One of them reads:

Listen to this soul-profiting and divine advice, 
and let all the faithful sing hymns to the Panagia, 
from the mountains of Greece to Aitolia, 
she alone is all-holy, wonderful, and perfect. 

Ψυχωφελή διήγησιν ακούσατε και θείαν 
και οι πιστοί υμνήσατε, πάντες την Παναγίαν 
εις της Ελλάδος τα βουνά κατά την Αιτωλίαν 
είναι Μονή πανίερος, θαυμάσιος, τελεία

In the Chapel of St. Methodios the icon of the Dormition in front of which Methodios prayed for his beard can still be venerated.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos