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April 20, 2011

The Holy Skull of St. Anastasia the Pharmakolytria To Be Brought To Ukraine

Following the paschal celebrations, the Holy Skull of the Great Martyr Saint Anastasia the Pharmokolitria will be escorted throughout Ukraine in various churches for a blessing to the people. This is being done with the blessing of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, under whose jurisdiction is the Monastery of St. Anastasia the Pharmakolytria in Chalkidiki of Greece. For the Ukrainians, this will be a major event and will be very much welcomed and celebrated.

St. Anastasia was tortured and endured many torments and was eventually put to death by fire in the year 290 in Rome. In the fifth century the relics of the saint were transferred to Constantinople, where a church was built and dedicated to her. This was the church where St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ was brought to be cured from his foolishness, and there St. Anastasia appeared to him in a dream and encouraged him to continue his ascetic feat. Later her head and one of her hands were transferred to the Monastery of St. Anastasia the Pharmokolitria in Chalkidiki of Greece.

The Monastery of St. Anastasia the Pharmakolytria is under the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople and is located near the village of Vassilika of Thessaloniki (Chalkidiki of Greece), at the base of one of Mount Hortiatis' summits, Adrianos. The monastery is said to have been founded by Leon sometime in the 6th Century but this has not been verified by any historian. It is more likely that it was built in 1522 by St. Theonas, who later became the Metropolitan bishop of Thessaloniki. During the Turkish occupation, the monastery owned many acres of land but the buildings were destroyed by the Turks during the Greek War of Independence of 1821 and were rebuilt in 1830.

The heirlooms of the monastery include the whole-body relic of St. Theona and the head of St. Anastasia the Healer. The monastery honors St. Anastasia on December 22.